**A/N: Just a note: I don’t tend to italicize Godric’s thoughts simply because I want to reserve that demarcation for Eric’s thoughts, but it’s extremely obvious, I think at least, which “thoughts” belong to that certain Viking and which belong to his delicious Maker. Also, I don’t bother trying to follow texting format in a story. That kind of piffle is just too annoying. Anyway, ignore any (the many?) oopsies, goofs, etc., and enjoy the Part!
(Oh, yeah, and general disclaimer: I don’t own the recognizable characters or plots, but I do own the original characters and plots. There’s an official disclaimer somewhere on this site…somewhere. It keeps moving so I dunno where it exactly is right now, but it exists if you’re bored enough to try to find the damn thing.**
Eric rolled his eyes at the timing when his unofficial phone began to vibrate barely a partial second after he shut the SUV’s door.
Oddly enough, his regular phone had remained suspiciously silent of late. Sure, there’d been a few generic messages regarding businesses he no longer actually owned as it seemed the relevant people hadn’t gotten the memo yet, but nothing much more than that.
That, however, was to be expected.
What struck him as odd? There hadn’t been a single screech – not even one nails-on-a-blackboard peep – from his former Queen who by now should have found something questionable to annoy him about. It was one of her fortes after all, and she was rather talented at creating her own issues and then either blaming others for them or conning/commanding others to fix them for her…but whatever, she hadn’t called a single time.
And I can’t even enjoy the fucking peace because that would be to fucking simple… I could grow a delusion and hope that maybe she just hasn’t realized that I’ve slipped her noose yet? Hmm…tempting… Fuck, note to self – nothing really is ever that simple. Wonder how long it’ll take her to figure it out…if she ever does. She’s so fucking clueless…after all, she’s the moron who actually trusted Compton – of all ass-lickers…Compton! – to procure Sookie…how stupid could she be…?? Don’t answer that. But…would think she’d sense by now that something is up with me but, then again…
Eric’s eyebrow itched and he took a moment to scratch it as he let his mind momentarily wonder while Godric messed around in the SUV. He’d learned the hard way not to immediately grab for his phone when it vibrated as human electronics generally weren’t developed with vampires’ speedy reflexes in mind. Reception of whatever message would complete in another second or so.
Maybe she sent the Berts to spy as they dumped Billy’s Mommy off on me… Ha, ha, not my problem now! But knowing her, maybe her only objective truly was to rid her Area of that whiny drudge. She has the patience of an actual gnat so I could see that…and couldn’t blame her there… That Andre of hers, though…he always was the brains behind any of her “operations”.
Eric squeezed his eyes shut and gave them a hard rub. In a bout of true irony, the Queen was now giving him a headache by her absence rather than with her presence!
Ludwig really did need to develop a line of vampire headache remedies.
Odin but those could have come in handy during Pam’s toddler years… Oh, for fuck’s sake, for all I know she’s caught up in buying yet another clothing line that’s going out of business and is so wrapped up in coats and scarves she’s forgotten I exist…or maybe she’s finally branched out into the wonderful world of puggles? She’s yipped about them often enough…not for herself, of course…no dog worth its bark would have a thing to do with her… Still, this silence from her end is strangely deafening…
After enough time had passed for him to think it safe and with the speed of light or sound, he never could remember which was faster, he finally withdrew the phone and clicked for the message. At this point in his current activities, he figured it could be from Pam, Rasul, some other contact, or even Desmond although the old Dae preferred to leave succinct voice mails to texts.
Technophobe…but what can you say, he’s a Dae. You’d think after so many centuries the elders of his species would be able to keep up…but then again, there are The Flowers…
Pam, he was glad to note as he leaned back against the door, was in her usual element.
Knock, knock – who’s there – 2 twins – 2 twins who – 2 twins wandering around the fucking bar, that’s who. Don’t the big lugs have a home? Oh, wait…scenery infinitely better even in the bar’s bathrooms. Can’t blame them. They make nice scenery, of a sort…from behind.
Would consider investigating the proportions of the dynamic duo’s asses if they were my type.
I might could be persuaded – you know how flexible I am when it comes to persuasion.
On a completely unrelated note, daddy, can I have a set of twins for Christmas? I’ll bring bells…
Speaking of bellends, haven’t seen or scented Taryn. R’mate popped in for a bite, said all her things are gone. Buh-bai.
Vermin are $uitably entertained – pops would be happy w/ his new bar – they’re soooo glaaaad to pay to be back in here paying for drinks and glares. Local vamps behaving, no visitors otherwise. Will miss the buffet if not the stench.
Or the pleather. Be glad I don’t chafe.
Thought the old lady was off a month? Popped in for 3 laps of the bar then down the stairs she went – v. curious/not really – even more curious? Twins talking abt the fucking weather, that’s what. Am assured by same old lady the guests remain all tucked in with lollipops and pudding.
No, I didn’t ask. I warrant they couldn’t either.
Margo left v-mail, 2 representatives en route to retrieve trash tmro night. Gushed w/ appropriate thanks and your Odin only knows what else. No word from Warm Piss, ShortTheif still whiny. Should I mail papa a finger?
So, daddio, how *is* the weather? Enquiring twins apparently want to know.
While staring at the screen, Eric thought quickly about what and how to reply to Pam’s “I’m missing my Maker but wouldn’t dare to ever actually say such a thing to him” verbosity. The longer they were apart, the longer her messages became. He suspected she had some sort of “number of nights gone” to “length of message” ratio plotted in her brain somewhere but wasn’t going to ask.
He thought it was…sweet; well, sweet for Pam anyway.
Fuck I hope she leaves that damn throne right where it’s at…ass just now plumping back out from all those interminable hours sitting on that piece of shit…was I supposed to be hatching chickens or something? Fuck. Anyway, so…Hot Rain hasn’t responded yet…can’t really blame the guy considering that his progeny fucked up to the tune of $60,000…lot of money to those two… If Pam gets it back, she can have it, but it’s not looking too good so far. We’ll see…not really worth contacting the fucking Magister over…more the idea of that jumped-up little fuckhead trying to swindle me than anything…
Then he smirked.
Oh, Pammy…WP would surely bust a steam cloud if he showed up at the bar thinking he could try to be intimidating…especially while Thalia or the Berts were there. Thalia would end him with a mere glare and the Berts? *pfft* They would sit on his ribs and play bouncy-pony. It…wouldn’t end well from anyone’s point of view. Certainly not his…and the twins would be sad that their “pony” died so fast…bad night all around. Of course Pam could handle him easily enough…my child just appears to be a bit on the dainty side…a fact she uses to her advantage just like her daddy taught her… His ribs would still suffer…true…but more likely from her heels…and then I’d have to replace them….but in the end “Warm Piss” would turn into a tepid little dribble.
Eric nodded to himself as he glanced back at the message. Obviously Thalia was the old lady but her reasoning behind the latest laps in the bar was confusing since he’d supposedly given her (in front of witnesses at that) a month break from bar duty. She was supposed to have made a point to be seen elsewhere – far enough away that her alibi would hold but with her ancient vampire speed, returning to rid the world of scum wouldn’t have been a problem. After that….now, though, more and more often he considered inviting her to join his merry little band at daddy’s house when her last task for his Area was complete.
We could have secret handshakes and give each other code names…she could be “Curly”…Sookie could be “Blondie”…Godric of course would be “the old fart”, or Death, depending on the mission…matching shirts, specific ringtones, maybe their own website…
He snorted. It could happen…
Thalia, though… She would be returning when Pam called to let her know the prisoners were released, so why show up the very next night? The foundation for her innocence in the “unfortunate events” that bastard and his Maker would suffer had already been assured!
Maybe she there to keep an eye on the Berts and give Pam some obvious back-up? That seemed the most likely reason…or maybe she was murdering two fowls with one slab by also ensuring that her scent permeated more of the building? It was true that she didn’t usually spend much time out on the floor but that was mainly for the vermin’s sake…
At this point and until I learn otherwise, back-up plus smell is what I’m going with. Good girl…lay that funky scent you lovely Grecian thang…
After devoutly hoping Thalia never learned how to read vampire thoughts then wondering about the strange longing he suddenly had for over-played ’70s-era music, he returned to his contemplations.
Thalia…very old, maybe thought of something else…wouldn’t waste time in the bar unless whatever it was happened to be important to her. She could always just be excited for an allowed kill or two…two kills for the “price” of one…buy one, get one free… Undoubtedly she loves that deal. Ok, moving on…
The “guests” were, apparently, still all nicely “tucked in” and he couldn’t wait to ask Pam if the lollipops and pudding were literal or figurative. Pam had a cat’s sense of curiosity and an unparalleled aptitude for torture. He knew she would eventually ask and he devoutly hoped blueberries were involved.
She didn’t ask? My nicely defined abs she didn’t, or at least she would at some point soon..nosy as one of those naked cats, she is… Her aptitude for torture, though…brings a tear to a proud father’s eye, it does…her code name could be “Lady P”…for Pam or Pink…both would do… “The Hairless Naked Cat Lady” just wouldn’t work… “The Shoe Lady”? “Lady Bitches-A-Lot”? Must think about this… Hope blueberries were involved somehow… “The Stabby Lady”? Could describe Thalia, too, though… Eh, the twins, though…
It appeared that neither Sigebert nor Wybert were in a rush to return to New Orleans and he couldn’t blame them. Pam would have indicated if either had seemed off, or too different from the previous night, or if they’d asked about him or, more specifically, Sookie. That she’d said nothing in conjunction with them about the telepath meant neither twin had said a word, which was curious…but not too curious. If they hadn’t suspected anything or if they’d suspected but approved, they wouldn’t have mentioned Blondie anyway.
Their “small talk” about the weather, however, was…notable.
No pointed questions about me or Sookie, either our absence or current location, but a pointed question about the weather of all things? Small talk…the twins? Yeah, no. Can’t say I’d be in a rush to return to their Maker’s court either…but… Curiouser and curiouser… Is Godric still fucking around in the vehicle? Note to Maker – you can’t play with the dashboard if the key is out of the switch… Wonder if the twins know that. Bet they sound like little earthquakes when trying to sound laid-back and small talk-y….the grumbling rumbles were sure to have been massive…
He grinned suddenly.
Ohhh, did Sookie break them? Maybe they need oiling…spark plugs could be damaged…with Sookie anything’s possible. But really, what’s up with them? The fact that Rasul hasn’t sent anything could mean…anything…no fixed schedule of check-ins from him, but… Oh, hell, if he hasn’t checked in by tomorrow night, I’ll nudge him.
When Godric joined him after setting the alarm on the vehicle, Eric angled the screen so the old man could read Pam’s message.
“The weather,” Eric muttered pensively. Were the twins referring to their safety in that he and Sookie had “blue skies” meaning they’d made their break – if they were even thinking on those lines, or were they referring to the actual climate in a bid to locate them, and if so, for what purpose?
And why were they even still there?
After a long moment, Godric stated quite blandly, “Reply that the weather is nice and warm with a cool breeze approaching.”
Eric nodded, then added with a raised brow, “And for her to be sure to offer the lost puppies dinner – bags or live, their choice. She needs to use up the remaining bagged supply anyway.”
Godric curled his lips with humor as he nodded, then narrowed his eyes thoughtfully.
“Add in your own talented style that we have a large table as well as easy weather. Your Pamela is bright; she will find a way to say this. If those puppies need a new home, it shall be done.”
The two vampires locked eyes for a long moment and thus a plan…for a plan of sorts… was born.
“Sigebert seems to understand cats.” The fact seemed relevant to the conversation therefore Eric’ made sure it was known. Godric’s nod of appreciation for that snippet of knowledge rewarded his supremely magnanimous gesture.
The “merry little band” seemed to be evolving into a zoo with cats and fairies and Weres and vampires and demons on the periphery and whatever Sookie’s brother Jason was.
And now…possibly puppies. Oh my.
Eric thought for a few minutes about how to word his reply to Pam. He needed to remind her to have someone glamour or get rid of…whichever, that employee’s roommates. Pablo? Paolo? Whatever…his roommates needed to be dealt with.
That would be straightforward enough, but there were things that needed to be said…in certain ways. His child was bright, very bright in many ways, but in the vampire world she was still considered on the young side.
If she were to suddenly find herself without a Maker, he had no doubt that she would do well, but while she was still his, it was his job to teach, lead, and protect. He had brought her into this world and so it was up to him to steer her through it.
Just as with Sookie.
Time to play the “assess the bond” game…
Eric paused for a moment to concentrate on his small…tiny…miniscule itty-bitty little baby bond with the hybrid and was glad to feel that she was content. Her emotions were on an even keel…perhaps she was slightly bored? Thankfully he sensed no pain or upset or, if he concentrated strongly, no hunger, either.
All seemed to be well so he turned his concentration to his reply to Pam. Afterward he stowed the phone and nodded to his own Maker…who was still guiding him even at this late date. He had no doubt that if the situation warranted it, Godric would rise to his defense as surely as he would gladly go Viking to protect Pam…and Sookie.
But who guides my Maker? Who protects him?
The sudden thought almost brought him up short.
Wait…who does Godric have to fall back on if he has questions? We both know that he can talk to me about anything…can’t imagine anything coming up that he couldn’t handle, but still, I’d like to think he would bring whatever it was to me, but…but it’s not fair that he doesn’t have an elder – he is the elder! But he doesn’t have anyone like a Maker he could go to even if he wanted to, much less if he needed to… I can’t imagine it… Who cares for the elder?
Eric then smirked by habit. He cared for the elder. So long as he lived, he would care for his Maker – it was a done deal, no questions asked. After settling that unsettling thought as best he could, he shook the thought off for the moment. This was his first meeting with those under Godric, and he knew he needed to make the traditional vampire first impression upon them.
The building was quite a few stories tall and so blended in with the surrounding area, but Eric reasoned that most vampire business was carried out on the ground floor or below. Either way and even without having seen the other faces of the building, the whole thing felt as though they were entering via the back door…which they probably were. He never could understand places with fine facades yet had all their parking in the back. Why not make the most-used entrance function and appear more as the front?
Once they crossed the covered parking lot, the two bypassed the small elevator bank to arrive at a door hidden in the shadows just beyond.
He drew himself up to his full, intimidating height as Godric keyed a code into a box beside the doorframe. Under the box was a red button with a “Press For Help” sign under it that Eric guessed must be for visitors.
Once the door clicked, he and Godric proceeded in synch from working together for too many centuries to count, and both vampires assumed the veneer of hardened, imperturbable vampire as they strode through the doorway.
When he felt his face assuming the generically aloof, indifferent expression that was expected of a powerful vampire, it struck him yet again that he didn’t like it. He’d never given it much thought in the past centuries, only enough to ensure he was presenting himself to “the public” the way first Godric then life had taught him, but it dawned on him yet again that he wasn’t that vampire any longer…and that he was somewhat…maybe…glad about it.
But it does serve the necessary purpose, and it does dissuade most Supe species from annoying me with absurd challenges and insults, so…whatever. At least I don’t have to keep it up at home…why bother…it doesn’t even scare that damn cat and Sookie would probably just poke me in the chest and tell me to knock it off. Pam sure does…
As he stayed a purposeful half step behind his Maker down a badly illuminated – to human eyes, anyway – hallway, Eric wondered what his and Godric’s theme song should be. Together they had presented the same united front far more often than even he could remember…to the point that even their steps were timed to fool the unwary into thinking one being approached rather than two. They really did need a theme song in some situations…it simply wasn’t right that they didn’t have one…
Security cameras, like the ones both outside and inside this building, unfortunately gave away their number these nights, but the timing and formation of the approach could still be useful.
Concentrated sniffs both indoors and out told of many vampires and more than a few Weres having visited the area. Quite a few, actually, and if he wasn’t mistaken – which he wasn’t, of course – even several demons. His nose wrinkled when he detected the past presence of a shifter or two. The most recent odors told of mainly vampires, probably employees, and a human. The hairdresser, maybe?
Finally they reached the end of the hall after passing several of the unmarked doors that seemed to be a theme with the structure, and without a word Godric entered yet another set of codes in the box beside yet another plain door. They stepped inside when the door audibly unlocked. Inside were three guards standing at polite attention around something of a security station.
The open room – maybe they’d ran out of boring code-protected doors? – was obviously a glorified if wide “pass-through” hallway of sorts that contained a bank of monitors surveying the entire parking lot, a bit of the surrounding area beyond, and of course the hallway they had just taken. A side bank of screens revealed images of other rooms, offices, and hallways.
The level of security made Eric wonder for a second. Dallas was a larger and more populated Area than Shreveport, sure, but given the meandering entryway, the pass-codes, and the nicely outfitted security sort-of-room, what would warrant all this? From what he understood this was just the official location where the Dallas Area’s vast, somewhat complicated, but mostly peaceful business was conducted – this wasn’t even the Area’s main nest.
I can almost see the need for a guard station, and all the monitors and the cams for them…but why have three on guard on what seems to be a typical night? Is there more trouble around here than I’d heard? Well, there’s that silly cult…based somewhere around here, I think… Maybe they’re more trouble than I’d heard…will have to ask…
Now wasn’t the time to ask the questions, though he did carefully scrutinize all the many, many corners…perfect places for spiders, those, and the covered parking lot had seemed a bit webby…
Without pausing but with a slight nod to the three guards, Godric strode directly through the room, down yet another nondescript hallway – Eric began to wonder if the all these hallways had names so visitors could keep them straight – but slowed down as they approached yet another unremarkable door.
At least this one was already open.
Even without a theme song, silence descended in the well-equipped, tastefully decorated and properly windowless office as over 3,000 years of vampire walked in slow and steady. Godric was the oldest thing in the building; Eric, the second oldest, and it was obvious that everyone knew it.
An automatic scan of the room revealed two doors, the one they’d just entered and another at the back of the room partially opened to show what appeared to be a more refined inner office. The golden plaque on the door had the name “Beaumont” in a fine script so Eric theorized they were currently in her outer reception area.
The presence of what seemed to be her secretary’s desk, office-appropriate prints on the walls, and several barely used sofas with end tables supported that thought. Tidy if formulaic beige carpeting muffled their steps on the floor.
Although the reactions of gathered vampires were admittedly subtle – their faith in Godric a credit to their loyalty as not one single hiss escaped – still, by nature they all tensed at the arrival of another ancient being, even, perhaps especially in Eric’s opinion, one whose scent proved his tie to Godric. The Viking smiled inwardly; once their memories retrieved the information, they would remember that Godric’s progeny had a reputation all his own.
The formidable expression on his Maker’s face relaxed just enough to signal to one and all that they were not actually under imminent attack regardless of Eric’s presence, and their demeanor immediately reflected the unofficial stand-down order.
Wary but respectful nods ensued as was Godric’s due.
To Eric’s critical eye they all seemed properly alert and ready to spring to their Sheriff’s defense, but he was vaguely thankful that no one had run screaming from the room.
It could happen…had, indeed, in past times. Apparently his and his Maker’s combined sudden appearance could cause panic and chaos.
Who knew? Fucking cowards… I dunno…when faced with either a cold or a snarling Godric coming right at you? Yeah…right to be fearful…
With a supremely hidden gleam in his eye as he, too, remembered past events, Godric spoke.
“Eric, my child, this is most of my Area retinue. Isabel Beaumont,” he announced with an indicative gesture to the female vampire currently standing at attention near a desk, “is my First Lieutenant, or by some protocols my Second in Command. Either way I have full trust in her ability to lead the Area in my absence.”
Eric nodded dutifully – but only once, of course – as he instantly took her measure: strong and proud judging by her presentation and expression, fierce going by the glint in her eye, lovely… It wouldn’t do to underestimate her. His equal-opportunity Maker wouldn’t have it any other way. Her vampire age wasn’t immediately obvious meaning, to Eric, that she must be very near 500 years Turned…perhaps a little more.
Godric continued the introductions with gestures toward each vampire as they were named and single nods of acknowledgement were given.
“Errol Fontaine, Townsend Black, and Arthur Cannes.”
Overall they seem competent…at least nobody’s wearing khakis. Kind of on the young side, no one in this lot appears to be much older than 250…maybe 400 at the most…guess you have to be young before you can be old, right? Annoying fluorescent lighting…does fuck-all for skin tone… Can we get the ball rolling already? Need the hair cut so I can get back home… Oh, yeah, and I get a toy for going along with this bullshit…do need that damn hair cut, though. Fucking buzzy-assed fluorescent lights…
“Has the boy who cuts hair arrived yet?”
Before anyone could answer Godric, a clamor was heard from the hallway outside, a clamor seemingly automatically accompanied with an “It’s just me”. An amused look ghosted across Fontaine’s otherwise perfectly impassive face. Curious, Eric turned toward the doorway and missed Godric’s brief flash of tolerant exasperation.
“And the thundering herd approaching is Gemma Anderson,” he announced as a young…a very young vampire loped happily into the room.
“World’s only clumsy vampire at your service,” she declared then nodded her head at Godric then Eric. “Who’s tall, blond, and handsome, Guv’nah,” she asked pertly in a blatantly, and horribly, fake British accent.
It was an effort but Eric remained impassive in the face of the new vampire’s apparent disrespect toward his Maker. The other vampires’ expressions, however, told Eric that this was normal behavior for the newcomer. He wasn’t sure what to think of the newest arrival; she seemed…rude, given how subordinate vampires were supposed to behave in the presence of vastly older vampires…not at all poised or even remotely impassive, and so painfully, terribly…sigh…young.
What has Godric done…
“Gemma, this is my child, Eric the Northman. She,” he said with true patience as he turned back to Eric, “is an…assistant of sorts, perhaps more of an…intern?”
When the short blonde automatically made to raise her hand to shake before grimacing as she then lowered it, he knew.
Godric has unofficially adopted a fucking toddler vamp…too old to be a baby but…what is she, five…maybe eight years Turned? At least she seems… Oh, hell…like a fucking newbie. Damn. Trust Godric to attract the lost ones… She seems right happy to be here, though…guess I have to give her credit for that? Oh, come on, do I have to, daddy? Gaagh…fucking toddler vamps… Does blood come in sippy cups now? Does she have her own crib? Oh, Godric…
With a shrug the young female gamely stuck her hands in the back pockets of her jeans, and Godric slightly nodded in praise – and gratitude – when she didn’t automatically give her vampire age, her human age, or the number of accidents she had already had that evening. She was learning…slowly, slowly learning…
Had he ever been that young? He didn’t think so. He did wish, however, that Fontaine would vamp up and “adopt” the baby right out from under his extremely agreeable nose, but that esteemed vampire would have annoying morals and proper reticence. The child was on the young…the very young…side, but it seemed Errol’s not-quite-hidden affections ran true. Maybe he could disabuse him of the necessity for such chivalrous notions as “waiting until she was older” and “giving her time to grow” sooner than later. As badly as he felt for the lone toddler, he honestly did not have the time necessary to dedicate to her raising. Fontaine, however, did.
There was also the fact that Godric simply didn’t want to assume that kind of responsibility.
Responsibilities…he had plenty of them and it had been on the tip of his tongue to ask if she had fed properly that evening, but he wouldn’t embarrass her by asking about it in front of a stranger. Not that she would even realize that she should be embarrassed…
He would ask the others after she stumbled from the room.
“I’ve set the hairstylist up in the locker room, figured clean up would be easier if everything could just be rinsed down the drain,” she announced with what amounted to a bounce in her step.
“Good,” he approved with a nod toward the girl who immediately beamed. “Eric, let her show you where to go while I tend to some business.”
With a deeper nod to his Maker and a well-hidden lift of his brow, he turned and allowed the vampire version of a happy, clumsy puppy to lead him to the locker room.
Oh, goodie…more hallways and now I’m being led by a puppy. Clumsy vampire indeed… Where the hell are all the lost ones coming from anyway? Is there a sign somewhere with an arrow pointing at us?
At least I can finally get this damn hair trimmed.
Short…but not too short…enough off the top to keep the hair out of my eyes…leave enough in the back for Sookie to run her fingers through. Pam’s going to shit…first thing she’s going to do is try to add highlights…or is it lowlights now? Only her fashion magazines know for sure… Either way that shit stinks…maybe I can hide behind Sookie and she can make Pam leave both me and my hair alone… How many fucking hallways does this place have, anyway?
We’re at the more/less half-way point, so go pee and grab a coffee (iced is fine, even better when made with coffee poured over ice dream, and no, the whipped cream is NOT optional, well, unless you’re out of it because you already ate it all ’cause that shit’s addictive), toss the laundry in the washer/dryer (or, you know, don’t…it’s not like it’ll get dirtier if you make it wait a bit), grab a snack, um, poke anyone who’s snoring but wait until you’re finished reading before dropping any large, echo-y pots/pans by total oopsies, but go ahead and turn off the oven you forgot was on (or is that just me?)…
Once back in the vehicle, Eric relaxed. All in all, things had gone better than expected, well…if “Gemma” could have been expected. She reminded him oddly of what Ginger might have been like if she’d been Turned back when she retained use of most of her brain.
He’d made a point to have as little interaction with the mutt as he could get away with without being openly rude to her. At that age, such obviously insecure lone newbies tended to either die from stupidity or become clinging vines to older vampires who mistakenly showed a hint of kindness. She wasn’t honeysuckle and the extraction process could become quite bloody.
So…he had nodded his thanks for her “assistance”, a courtesy she hadn’t actually earned since she was doing her fucking bidding, but…hell, it wasn’t her fault she’d been left without a Maker.
Unless she’d ended her Maker…it was rare, but it could happen. Doubtful, though…too fucking clumsy…
Otherwise things were fine; he’d glamoured the hair boy to forget the encounter, no hair had dared fall down his shirt, and he was happy enough with the cut. It was well-trimmed, yes, but not too short…Sookie would still have plenty to run her fingers through, he was glad to say. The kid wielding the scissors hadn’t chatted overmuch, hadn’t eaten anything smelly recently, and had apparently even showered before arrival, so even he had been tolerable. The fact he hadn’t acted like a traditional fangbanger was definitely a plus.
Mission: Accomplished. Can I get my treat now daddy?
“Ok, pops, where to now? You know I’ve been a good boy – I didn’t even hiss at the hair guy.” He grinned and batted his eyes as though expecting kudos.
Godric, his thoughts apparently having been elsewhere, choked out a laugh. “Yes, yes, you have been a very good boy. Time to get you a toy, right? Or maybe a lollipop or an ice cream?”
The old man may have initially had his thoughts elsewhere but his tone could carry a thousand meanings. Eric snorted but grinned anyway. True, he was looking forward to returning to the house, but time out with his Maker still felt like a too-rare treat. He wondered if Dallas had an all-night putting range…the old guy really did need to get out more.
As said Maker exited the Area’s parking lot, Eric checked to be sure he hadn’t missed any messages. Nothing had come in so far, but as he shoved his phone back into his pocket he suddenly recalled the amount of security he’d noticed in the first room.
“What’s up with all the security back there? I can certainly understand having some, but unless there are more threats out here than I’m aware of, that seems a bit much. Is it a Were problem?”
Godric shrugged and nodded.
“Unfortunately there are more threats than we’ve advertised, but it’s not the Weres. They’re fine for the most part. In fact, we deal unusually well with the local Packs, but that is based more on need than respect although a couple of their Pack leaders are worthy individuals. Our accord is based more on the old saying that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
He paused to take a right at the next light before continuing in a colder tone.
“You may have heard of our mutual enemy, the oddly strong anti-vampire Fellowship of the Sun. They’re based in Dallas and pretend to be a Christian organization, but their focus is far more on denigrating vampires than on observing their savior’s teachings. Members present themselves as being religious yet for the most part they are vile. Generally harmless but quite vile,” he spat.
Godric ceased speaking for a moment to concentrate on driving by a badly loaded truck, yet Eric sensed an enormous “but” coming. Unfortunately, he wasn’t disappointed.
“But,” his Maker added in a voice now filled more with sadness born of disappointment in his fellow being than with reasonable anger, “while most of the FotS members are simply misguided and uninformed, some at the core of the false church are becoming increasingly known for subversive activities against vampires and vampire-owned businesses. They show themselves to be more of a rabid, thoughtless terror organization rather than a cult of religious fanatics who gather in a supposed church to worship their hatred of vampires.”
“Home-grown hate-based terrorists using religion as a cover, then,” Eric noted.
His mind reeled. Of course he had heard of that fake religious group – the vampire gossip machine was an active beast and most of the news passed along did tend to have at least one foot based in reality…usually…but he hadn’t thought that particular group had become much of a threat, honestly. No wonder Dallas vampires got along so well with the local Packs – a threat against one supe group was likely to become a threat to them all.
While it was wise to consider all threats valid until proven otherwise, the sense he’d gotten of Newlin’s Mewlings, as the great and glorious vampire gossip line called the dick’s “preachings”, was that his followers were more like children running around proudly displaying their ignorance by throwing temper tantrums about what they wanted “their God” to have said or thought or…or something.
It was strange how doggedly stupid uninformed religious followers tended to be when they were so rabidly passionate about whatever it was they were on about that night.
It really is strange how these angry piss ant zealots spend so incredibly much time foaming at the mouth as they indulge the hatred that they try to blame on some deity or other…while at the same time trying to pretend that this same deity is a god of love and family values and harmony or some such rot… If that were true then wouldn’t their hatred and intolerance be in direct contradiction of said deity’s life goals or whatever?
Eric snorted mentally.
It’s like the were hired to give their chosen god a bad name. Humans are strange. It’s also odd how closely ignorance tends to be linked with hatred and lack of compassion…the inability to see reason… History proves that humans never do seem to change…no wonder so many of us see ourselves as superior.
“Yes,” Godric continued, “at heart that is exactly what the worst of them they are – hate-based terrorists who use religion as their excuse for such hatred and violence. I like to believe that most of their members are simply misled through ignorance, perhaps willing to believe that all vampires are evil beasts because some of us truly are. Or it may be that they’re willing to go along with Rev. Newlin’s brainwashing disguised as preaching simply because they haven’t learned better or learned how to think for themselves. That one, Newlin…he tries very hard to equate hatred of vampires with having a strong religious faith although I’m unsure of the faulty logic behind his words. Regardless, we must be even more careful these nights.”
“What can be done about them?” Eric had a few ideas…many of which were becoming more specific by the second.
“Visibly? Not much at this point, but we have infiltrated their home base and several satellite locations with quite a few members from the local Packs. Weres and the other supes are of course still hiding safely in obscurity, but the shrewdest among them realize the danger posed by this cult and wish to eradicate them before…” Godric shrugged then returned to the point.
“The wisest course of action would be to give them enough rope to proverbially hang themselves and we are working toward that end.”
He cut his eyes toward his sometimes-hotheaded progeny. The boy loved a bloody battle more than most, Odin love him, but could also be a strong tactician…when he gave himself the time to plan which, given his temperament, didn’t always happen.
“I know what you are thinking, my son, but no, we cannot simply remove them from this planet in the bloodiest way possible,” he added sternly but with a twinkle in his eye. “We need to see if giving them time to self-destruct will work first. As you know, while there are those who detest and revile us and there are those who worship and desire us, in these times there are far more humans who choose to maintain a mostly neutral or, perhaps, a more undecided attitude to our presence. Well, many may instinctively fear us but they at least allow intellect and common sense to overrule that sad fear of what is unknown or foreign to them. Anyway, those are the humans we wish to see the truth of this FotS for themselves.”
Eric fought a smile as Godric’s voice settled into teaching mode. He had missed these times when his father, or brother or son depending on the subject, would share his thoughts and findings, his general wisdom, or even his flights of incredible fancy – the old man did have quite an imagination when he wanted! As an infant and a toddler vamp, the results of the first of these kinds of talks had saved his unlife more than once in the past. Later, after his most precarious “learning times” had long since faded into history, these talks…sharings…whatever had given him much food for thought.
His old man had a mind worth respecting.
“You can understand why it would be far better for that general public to see for themselves what this cult is really all about, to see the FotS for what they really are. Should that happen, it would be to our benefit to let that far more moderate public opinion carry as it will, and let it hold sway on current and future small-minded hate groups because you know there will always be some group prone to ignorant hatred popping up here and there. It would be much better to allow the FotS to hang themselves than to let this generally neutral group of humans even suspect that vampires had a hand in this cult’s destruction. They need to see the cult’s fanatical hatred for themselves instead of seeing vampires as blood-hungry monsters…which, of course, we can be.”
Godric smirked inwardly. Sometimes his battle-hungry child was not wrong…but wars benefited from a planning session…or twenty…whenever possible.
Of course, sometimes the number of what they now called “planning sessions” needed depended on ever how long it took to calm his impetuous child before releasing him into the wild.
Not that planning was always possible…oh, those were the nights…
“But do keep in mind that, either way, when the time is right, things will…change.”
Eric nodded and pretended his bottom lip was not in all actuality poking out.
He wasn’t sulking, not at all. Vikings didn’t sulk, well, at least Vikings named Eric didn’t. He was planning, that’s all, just like Godric wanted…that’s it, just planning.
It’s just fucking absurd that my Maker – MY MAKER – has a fucking hate group camped out right in his own back yard! I want to end them! I need to end them! Why am I not allowed to do away with them? THEY NEED TO DIE! He really should let me end them. Really, he should. I can be quiet…and I’d shower afterward, I promise! Do fake religious people taste different? Is this where that God Particle thing comes into play? It might be…bet they’re tart, definitely a little nutty… Fuck, Godric doesn’t need this stress at his age. Hell…I don’t need this stress at his age.
Eric huffed, the exhale both unnecessary and more than a bit grumpy. Thankfully he completely missed his Maker’s knowing grin.
Godric thought the barely noticeable, to a human at least, sulk was kind of…cute, like a child being told to do their chores before being free to play. He could understand Eric’s frustration, though, having felt the same himself since the brat had first agreed to serve the Whiny Baby Queen. No one wanted to see cherished family treated poorly or threatened in any way. He shook his head at the soft rumbles coming from the tall blond vampire in the seat beside him and would wager his year’s salary that the child had no idea that he was growling softly. Ah, sweet progeny…
Unbeknownst to said progeny, the ancient vampire thought with a hidden smirk, King Texas agreed with his child’s battle-prone ways more than what Godric thought necessary to reveal.
That one was more than ready to call down the hounds of war although he had…eventually…agreed with Godric’s current waiting strategy. Naturally he was using this waiting time to gather information, form strategies, and position resources. It would perhaps be wise to limit the time those two spent alone together – no one needed that much potential chaos in one state…at least let him leave the continent first…
Beside him, Eric seemed to be calming down although he knew it was more of a “planning lull” than anything resembling true serenity.
Serenity wasn’t one of Eric’s strong points…
Oh, hell…do need to plan, though, damn it… How many are there? Where are they all located? Who are our people on the inside? How long would a total clearance take? I know how many I can take out in a night, but if there are that many, not to mention these damn inconvenient satellite locations… Don’t know how many of those there are, either. Hmmm…may need to bring Pam along, perhaps even Godric himself. He hasn’t let Death out to play in…huh…far too long… Pam needs the practice, too, of course, plus she’d have a blast… Ugh, public opinion, though – what a fucking bore. Guess it would be better if this Fellowshit group exposed their own selves to the world at large…show how very ugly religion-excused fear and hatred is… Yes, of course he’s right…he’s always right… But daddy did hint that maybe-just-maybe, if things take too long according to some timeline I don’t know, we might could bathe in their hate-filled blood…bet it does taste nutty but probably more sour than anything…but it’s still something to look forward to, Maybe. I guess… *hrumph*
After working through his non-pout, Eric happened to notice the bright lights concentrated ahead.
“That, my child, is one of several larger 24-hour shopping centers in Dallas and the surrounding area. They were originally built for humans before the Reveal, but once things settled a bit and owners realized that vampires had been shopping peacefully in such places for years anyway, more of these mall-type centers opened with most having more 24-hour shops and services added to suit our needs.”
With an eye toward safety, Eric surveyed the site they were approaching.
“What about this Fellowshit group? Have they been a problem?”
Godric snorted at Eric’s terminology but other than rolling his eyes, he didn’t bother commenting on it. The brat always did have a way of turning the odd phrase.
“There have been some protests, but humans have already grown so accustomed to the convenience of 24-hour shopping, dining, and…whatever else they do inside that the protests have failed miserably. Humans do love their conveniences and will fight harder to keep them than for most anything else.”
Maker and child shared a wry snort over that universal truth.
“Managers of these types of malls are naturally very aware of the problem and have wisely hired vampire guards for night shifts, and although the owners don’t know it, most day guards and support staff are Weres. A few of the newest centers are vampire-owned although that of course isn’t common knowledge.”
Eric nodded even as he kept an eye on the place.
An excellent idea but how wise is it to have a place where vampires are known to gather…too close to those fanatics to guarantee any sort of safety. According to him there are several of these shopping centers, though…but would that make it harder to coordinate attacks? Easier since there are more targets? Do humans congregate in large enough numbers to keep attacks against vampires at bay? Something to think about…still, an excellent idea…really should let me just end the FotS and be done with it all…much simpler…
Once they were inside, he remained alert although they had dropped most of the traditional veneer. As he and Godric had left the vehicle, his Maker had named some of the many stores and services available within and had briefed him on the normal security details, but Eric wanted to check things out for himself.
The place had an extraordinary number of exits, always a bonus in crowded areas but that also made security more difficult in its own way. The number of cameras inconspicuously located all throughout his enhanced field of vision was yet another plus. So were all the skylight panels…well, if a vampire could, say, fly…which he could…
Humans were everywhere, he was glad to see. It was actually kind of surprising to him to see that many out and about so late at night. In theory those Fellowshit nutjobs would be somewhat less likely to attack their own species. Well, he hoped. History didn’t exactly support that line of thought. Humans had always attacked each other over the stupidest things…apparently it was some sort of habit.
Hmmm…this place does seem to draw human late-night shoppers out in droves, and Sookie does need frequent human contact to keep her shields strong…
The safety aspect still concerned him, though.
As they passed by a service-centered annex that held enough businesses to enable a less-wealthy vampire to forego the need for a day person, Eric nodded thoughtfully. Vampires often needed clothing dry cleaned, shoes and leather goods repaired, real estate sold or purchased, banking matters tended to, and Pam certainly loved having her nails “done” although she would turn her delicate little vampire nose up at the laundry facility.
Unfortunately the farther they went into the mall-type area, the stronger the food stench became. In the parking lot it hadn’t been so bad, but now it was becoming overwhelming.
Apparently many different kinds of foods were necessary in this place?
Oh, well…Sookie liked to eat…maybe that was something they could do? It would help provide some proximity to humans and there were obvious exits nearby…
He inclined his head toward Godric and whispered, “Do you feel this place is secure enough for our guest to visit?”
The expression on his Maker’s face hardened accordingly as he glanced at the crowds and security measures with new eyes.
“I would speak with the manager first,” he began hesitantly but then continued more strongly. “There is another center such as this diagonally nearer to our home, slightly smaller and possibly better protected. It is certainly in a better and more secure location. Perhaps we should investigate it as well…before extending the invitation.”
Eric nodded. Several sections of what should have been the broad common walkway were somewhat sectioned off into mass seating areas where anyone could – and did – congregate in small and larger groups. Allowing for such mass congregation in a potentially compromisable public setting didn’t scream “safety” in Eric’s advanced experience.
He didn’t see himself bringing Sookie anywhere near this particular center.
As they passed through a very large food court, he simply chose not to inhale. The toxic stench of too many foods being prepared in such unnecessarily close proximity didn’t seem to bother his Maker.
“The other location has what I believe to be better dining options,” that lucky Maker suggested wryly.
It would have to… How can these cattle stand to graze in this noxious miasma? Everything would taste the same! According to the signs, they’ve decided to mix Chinese, Middle Eastern, Greek, Mexican, German… Gaagh…! Even I can’t think they would be at all palatable so mixed together!
He glanced around warily as though fearing an attack by said foods.
I’ve heard of “fusion” cuisine but this mess is be ridiculous – even humans should think so! Sookie definitely deserves better…eat at a place that smells like what it’s supposed to be… Mexican food that smells like Japanese food? I do not think she would go for that…she might, but I doubt it. That cat of hers would slap the shit out of her if she came back smelling like this.
Finally they left both the food court and the worst of its lingering stench behind and Eric couldn’t be happier.
At least none of it had touched him.
En route to whatever Godric’s destination might be, he noticed quite a few clothing, novelty, “dollar”, and electronic-type stores – oddly, his Maker’s eyes seemed to linger a bit on those – but they finally came to a stop when Godric paused before a rather large pet store.
Pet store? Ha! Caught you, old man…yeah, a toy…right – for Tina!
“Shall we?” The elder’s invitation came with a twinkle in his antique eyes, and Eric couldn’t help but grin. Sometimes his Maker was definitely the “son” of the two.
Anything for the cat…or scratchies as Sigebert would call them… Wonder if they have any hamsters or whatever that small puffy rodent is…turn it loose…watch the old man scampering after it to save it from Tina’s deadly caress… Oh, maybe they have aquariums! Could stock one with jumping fish…or those little frogs that love to jump out of them and die behind furniture! Or, maybe acquire some frogs anyway…
The store did, indeed, stock both small fluffy rodents and filled aquariums available for purchase, but, sadly, the raised-brow “no way in hell” look from the oldest vampire in most of the northern continent put paid to both ideas.
Although the shopping cart – he knew his Maker’s shopping tendencies when he got started – was still empty at this point, Eric remained steadfastly optimistic.
Just as he thought, the cart wasn’t empty for long because the wind-up and battery-operated toy aisle came next. There, amongst other things, Eric had – had – to procure a remote-controlled snake…for Pam. Not even the old man whose eyes brightened at the sight could resist the temptation to torment the snooty blonde vampire whose screams could be heard for miles.
Eric grinned softly in reminiscence – she had never lost her fear of snakes even after having been Turned for so long and her snake avoidance dance was hilarious!
Both vampires rather kindly resisted the urge to purchase doggy toys for the Weres currently working in the home although the lure was…quite strong. Eric was determined that all Weres needed flea collar…and flea powders…although Godric didn’t quite agree.
Godric did tend to be nicer in such ways than Eric ever thought about being, but that was understood between the two of them. And besides, his Maker stated quite proudly and with a repressed grin, his lawn was treated against fleas and ticks, thank you very much.
A slightly more adult-oriented set of aisles located toward the far back of the store contained an abundance of novelty items, some of which were rather tawdry. Those immediately caught Eric’s attention and when he approached the slightly bawdy key chain display, his eyes gleamed.
While Godric for some unfathomable reason perused the cat litter aisle with serious intent, Eric enjoyed a hunt of his own.
Sookie does need keys to the vehicles and…um, yeah, she needs keys…and naturally she needs something to put all those keys on, right? Yes, she does….oh yes she does…
**A/N: Heh, yeah… So readers-mine, what did you think?**