**A/N: The last chapter was fun – Sari is a blast to write – but this chapter? Not quite so much. Since it’s SOOKIE Takes Charge, I thought we’d start off with her for a bit.**
“What did our…attorney have to say?”
Sookie silently seconded Godric’s question as she waited for Eric to elaborate. While she was trying to remain as calmly patient as she could, the whole situation struck her as being a tad surrealistic – “tad” being an understatement, of course…
Here she was, a fairy-hybrid, casually hanging out in a magical “bubble” with three other fairies (a well-armed, highly-trained quick-witted, ethereally-gorgeous warrior, a Prince who was really a King who was also her familial grandfather, and a whatever-times-removed cousin whose hair color changed at will), who were all hanging out in a magically cozy space with their literal mortal enemies: vampires – an actual vampire family of three at that.
Of those vampires one was an actual Viking – a tall, blond, gorgeous Viking whom she had come to rather like once upon a time but who had then kidnapped her, tossed her into his filthy basement and then chained her up, fang raped her and held her down while a disgusting 3,000 year old…ugh…ugh…ugh… But at least she could adore him now, right? He had said his pretty sorries and had since proven that she could trust him…plus she actually kind of knew him now. That helped.
And then there was his older-than-dirt young-faced master of a Maker whom she had met scant hours before having to watch him (so he wouldn’t be alone) suicide atop some hotel in Dallas freakin’ Texas – the same vampire she then met again when she had been taken to another freakin’ realm to hang out with her fairy freakin’ relatives! He might have been fairy before he was Turned but then he’d become a vampire but was somehow able to return to Fairy after he’d…ugh.
She glanced around for an Alka Seltzer but didn’t see any hanging out all handy-dandy like.
And, last but not least in the Happy Vampire Family, there was Pam – snarky, surly, bitchy child of the tall, blond cutie-vamp who was child of the young, ancient scamp’y-vamp who had become one of her best friends while in the fairy freakin’ realm…yeah.
Pam – who couldn’t stand the air she breathed but who had also appeared just in the freakin’ nick of freakin’ time to literally save her literal life.
But wait…there’s more…
Then there was the red-headed, info-laden ex-Bill-victim witch…a real witch with a strong accent, a snarky attitude, and girl-balls of steel… Thankfully the witch – a real freakin’ witch! – was definitely on their side.
Red, as Pam had called her, had a beautiful vengeful streak.
And now, of course, here she sat after having been attacked during an attempted kidnapping under the guise of an almost successful ambush during which she had somehow managed to almost deplete her magical core – all of which had been wrought by her ex-boyfriend who had sought to claim her, her blood, and her powers for himself after having happily been sent to procure her for his vile ex-queen whom he had ended so he could play king-a-ling.
Goodness gracious and bad sideburns…
I hadn’t much more than gotten used to the fact that vampires are real before finding out that fairies are, too, and guess what – I’m a fairy! Oh, hey, and shifters and demons and witches are real, too! Go me! Effin’ hell, is there a bar nearby? A fairy, a witch, and a vampire walk into a bar…
Sookie mentally shook her head and hoped her “I’m not being emotional right now” face was still on. Not displaying emotions, or at least keeping a lid on them, was one of the many tactical-type things that she and Godric had talked about back in Fairy.
She glanced over at the ancient vampire in question. Teaching was in his blood whether he realized it or not. He had helped her grow accustomed to and then hone her “hey, I’m a fairy now” powers, yes, but he had also taken the time to discuss things like strategies and tactics and life choices with her, too. She couldn’t tell any difference between the two of the three, but she’d listened to him. She might have been, and to an extent still was, a little naive about the world in general, but she wasn’t stupid.
At least, she wasn’t any longer.
She thought back to one example of his ability to guide her thoughts and encourage her to actively think. He heartily, enthusiastically, and more than a little evilly approved of her actions with ol’ Russell Edgington; he’d told her so many times, but he had also shown her how to think about what her other options with that ancient freak had been.
At that time she hadn’t realized it, but he had been doing with her what he’d done all along with Eric – take what was known and what action was chosen and compare them with what wasn’t known and what other or additional actions could have been taken.
He and she had both agreed that ending Russell had been the right thing to do. Eric had certainly had his reasons for wanting to do what he’d wanted to do, but his reasoning hadn’t been solid, hadn’t been exactly…logical. His wishes had been valid, certainly, and definitely warranted given his past history with the insane asshole-vamp, but the only course of action that had made sense was to end ol’ Russell.
Godric had agreed with her whole-heartedly. He might not agree, however, with her desire to talk to his child now about her actions then. Sookie still felt as though she should talk to Eric about it all, that she owed him at least an explanation and maybe…maybe a small apology, too.
Now that she knew more about the world, well, worlds, she could see more clearly how her Viking had been feeling then, and if the circumstances had been different – if the evil vampire hadn’t been so damn old and so damn strong… Hell, nowadays she might have offered to be Eric’s lookout while he tortured the bastard to get some of his family’s own back…but she would still have insisted on ending him whenever Eric felt his job was done.
Ironic, she thought, that most of her better understanding about such things had come from Eric’s Maker himself. Godric had a way of discussing things with her that made the weirdest things make sense, that both told and showed her how acting and thinking in certain ways in certain situations would be more to her benefit…
…like not “showing your hand” too much when there’s someone in your midst you may like but you’re not too sure about how much you can trust.
As for herself, she trusted the witch. She’d been in the woman’s head for goodness sake, but Eric…the Viking was another story.
Eric not only didn’t trust the woman, he didn’t trust any witch. His bias against them had briefly popped up in conversation before – and she could tell from how Godric acted that he wasn’t quite certain of the woman’s loyalty either.
Maybe it was a vampire/witch thing…
Out of respect for them both, she made the decision to bide her time. With new grace the telepath accepted that the responsibility of vetting the witch really did come down to what she could find in the woman’s mind after an obvious-to-the-vampires thorough search.
Using her opportunities as they’d presented themselves, she’d delved a bit further into the red-head’s mind every now and then as they’d all sat around listening to the witch’s story. And so she’d read…and read…and read. She might have still been weak from stupidly draining her core so badly, but thankfully that hadn’t affected her telepathy, and she was glad that said telepathy allowed her to see – yet again – that Sari was one of the good guys.
Bond-speak wasn’t one of her talents – she’d been practicing sending to (and trying to figure out what she might be receiving from) Eric but didn’t feel that she’d come anywhere near to mastering it yet, but she’d just now done her best to let him know that Sari was clear.
Sookie hoped their bond would be strengthened if she and he were ever…ever…left alone together so that he could give her his blood again and perhaps feed from her at the same time. If that meant what he’d said it did, then maybe the link between them really would be stronger and she would know instantly whether or not he’d gotten whatever hint or nudge she might be trying to send him.
If they could just end this eternal, infernal meeting…
When Eric kissed her temple as he rose from the sofa arm she still wasn’t sure, but when he began pacing as he spoke freely about his conversation with Cataliades, she knew he’d gotten her message.
The proof was in the Eric-pudding, as it were…and she was glad. She knew Sari was trustworthy, well, at least as trustworthy as a telepath could be without having spent years in the woman’s company.
Who cared if she was a witch?
“In a turn of events that should surprise no one, Sookie and I are wanted for ‘questioning’ by what passes for the local authorities. It seems a small group of the King’s Guards was attacked the night of his little party and we are rather conveniently the prime suspects.”
In a former life Sookie might have burst forth in splendid outrage; now she just snorted.
Eric nodded in agreement while Godric quirked a wry brow. Sari hrummphed loudly but Niall, Claudy, and Pam just rolled their eyes. Pere continued listening.
“He stated what we already suspected, that we are to assume that all our known homes and businesses are currently being monitored, of course, as well as the local airstrips we tend to use. They may be private, but we must assume they’re being privately monitored.”
No one save the witch seemed concerned about that revelation. The witch had also seemed to miss Eric’s tone indicating that only their known properties were under surveillance.
As even Sookie knew, no one could surveil properties they didn’t know existed.
“Based on the information I’ve given him combined with what he knew already, the attorney has theories of his own about this situation. He stated that he needs time to gather more intel from some of his harder-to-reach sources but,” Eric nodded to Niall still sitting just outside the group, “we expect him to contact us sooner than later. In the meantime, we relocate.”
Eric now turned to face Godric. “He supplied me with a list of several locations he deems safe and I am inclined to agree with him. For reasons he did not choose to elucidate, all five properties remain in my esteemed Maker’s name.” He raised a brow at Godric but appeared more amused than anything.
Godric simply nodded in acknowledgement although his eyes sparkled with humor. Not even the law-demon knew of every property held under his or other names. The ancient vampire had specified to certain other…unrelated parties that his loyal, cherished Eric be notified about those additional properties if five years passed without contact, so he hadn’t been concerned. He should probably consider making an extensive list for the boy, though…at some point.
Sookie and, oddly enough, Pam suppressed grins. The humor in the elder vampire’s gaze was contagious.
“Your choice, Master. You know these properties best.”
Godric nodded again, his face smoothing as he considered the suitability, safety, and defensibility of his various properties…including the ones unknown to Cataliades.
After pacing for a moment, his progeny added suddenly, “It appears that Compton’s little party was a complete failure. It limped along for a while, mostly minus the esteemed host, then ended for reasons unknown. It also seems that a conference of some sort had been scheduled to occur some time after the party ended and that the kingling was terribly disappointed when he had to cancel it…for reasons yet again unknown.”
Everyone snickered…some more than others. Eric’s amusement was also contagious.
“Specifically, word has it that a lingering guest overheard Compton in a side room loudly cursing into his phone over having to cancel this previously unknown conference. No one as yet knows the purpose of it or exactly why it was so suddenly cancelled, but the king…was not amused.”
Eric’s droll delivery brought forth actual laughter. Humor, even of the probably morbid variety, was still badly needed.
Everyone took the opportunity to stand and stretch after Eric knelt on one knee before Godric to engage in a low-voiced conversation.
As she slowly moved to loosen muscles tired from being unused, Sookie looked at her vampires, their dark and light heads close together in what she imagined to be a timeless tableau.
When he finally caught her eye, Niall gave Sookie a stern look then with a casual flick of his hand an opaque – for the witch’s benefit – glass of light water appeared on the low table before her vacated seat on the sofa. With a grimace she took the hint, reclaimed her seat, and began gulping quickly before the witch could notice anything unusual about the glowing liquid.
Once she finished with her always-delicious dose, she glanced over to Eric still in inaudible conversation with Godric. The link she shared with Eric hummed with a steady stream of banked excitement tinged with glorious purpose, so she concluded that they were most likely discussing alternate places to…
“Oh hey wait,” exclaimed Sari, who had been casually pacing before suddenly stopping to speak to the room at large. “What the big guy said reminds me of something from…do vampires have different types of conferences? I mean, not just with local business leaders and such but bigger ones with each other?”
The witch was lost in her thoughts and didn’t notice how the full attention of several vampires and one fairy-hybrid were suddenly and intently focused on her.
“Why do you ask?” Godric’s voice was smooth as silk. He glanced at Sookie and saw that she was wearing her listening expression…and thus saw when her face grew cold.
“Well, I’ve been trying to remember more about my time in the Leaky King’s presence, right, because I heard so much stuff there that I’m sure you guys could use or at least would want to know.” She glanced around the room but didn’t seem to notice just how strongly everyone was focused on her.
Sookie could hear that the witch was simply glad that she had everyone’s attention and that they were listening because what she was remembering just might be important.
Sari continued. “While a lot of it is still foggy, chunks of it are coming back. See, ol’ BillyBoy did have a meetin’ scheduled for after his little party, and he did call it a conference, but he also talked in his ‘I’m a big self-important stud’ way about some other type of conference, too. Only…it seemed like it was an even more important event than the one scheduled for right after his party. That one was just some out-of-towners sneakin’ in while the party was goin’ on. They were gonna hole up in that other room he had made a real big deal of redoin’ in the basement just so he’d have a secret room for them to gather to place dibs on whatever sunshine is.”
Their fangs descending with a loud snick, Eric and Godric surged to their feet.
Claudia appeared both worried and confused. She wasn’t sure why everyone seemed so suddenly concerned, but when both Godric and Eric stood at vampire speed, she knew it was bad. Godric’s stance blocked her from seeing the witch, but she could still see her cousin’s face clearly, and the fear in Sookie’s eyes made Claudia almost instinctively reach for Godric. She couldn’t know how very comforting the ancient vampire found her light touch on his tense back.
Niall stood as well. Pere, however, had never reclaimed his seat.
Pam raised her brows.
“Sunshine?” Eric growled the word as he fought to keep hold of his anger.
Yes, Sookie had told him in the limo about some of Compton’s ‘plans’ for her and while he’d known that she’d omitted some details, he could read between the lines and so knew what those ‘plans’ had entailed.
Hearing about it from that source in person, however, was a completely different story.
He blurred across the room and had his Sookie in his arms in an instant.
Sookie couldn’t hold her Eric close enough. She turned her ashen face into his chest and concentrated on inhaling his soothing, addictive scent.
It took a moment but Pam hissed when realization dawned. She wasn’t thrilled about being caught up in Sookie’s shit, not at all, but somehow found her irritation not quite as irritating as she’d have expected. She was certain she hadn’t started liking the hybrid, though…well, fairly certain. Either way, from what she knew and from what she was piecing together, nobody deserved the shit-show Compton had apparently arranged, even a fairy-fucking-hybrid.
Not even Sookie.
Pere was automatically ready for action, but without a tangible enemy or even a plan in sight, he felt utterly useless. He wasn’t wholly sure of the exact situation but the context was certainly clear enough; that and he most definitely remembered both the fight and the odds against the blond couple when the Prince had popped them to this realm.
His friend and cherished member of The Royal Family was in danger, and while no plan had yet been made, knowledge was power. So, he listened.
Sari’s expression became even more serious as she read the room – the tense silence and alarmed expressions couldn’t be misunderstood, but she neither cowered nor blanched. Instead she nodded even as she wondered why the one girl’s hair changed to bright red.
“Yeah, I heard him on the phone several times goin’ on and on about how he was certain he could ‘secure’ whatever he meant by sunshine, that whoever he was talkin’ to could trust him to…,” her voice finally trailed off as her gaze found and locked onto Sookie being held so tightly in the big vamp’s arms.
Her eyes grew huge.
An uncomfortable silence descended upon the room before Sari quietly coughed and began speaking again.
“I knew he was…that he’d set up something… I knew he was after her and I even made a point to warn her that night…,” she floundered. “But I didn’t put that particular two and two together…the meeting after…until just now. Well…damn…that certainly explains a lot, then, doesn’t it… What a conniving piece of shit! So,” she took a deep breath before continuing, “um, yeah, ok, back to the conference bits. He..he went on and on about them. The one that was planned for…for after the party had, I don’t know…I’d guess about five, six, maybe eight people coming? No more than nine, though, I’m sure of that. It seemed like a lot to me for a meeting in a basement but…but he kept being pissed off that there weren’t more coming. They were supposed to come in under the radar while everybody else was concentratin’ on the party which was supposed to last until at least after midnight. I think the…the conference, that one, was to begin maybe around one in the morning.”
“What else,” Eric demanded after an excruciatingly long half-minute of silence.
She regarded him with sympathy. This situation couldn’t be easy for the big guy…and Lord have mercy, that poor girl… She cleared her throat.
“I’ve been dealing with you vampires since before y’all even came out of the coffin, for goin’ on twenty years now, off and on,” she began slowly, “and I’ve never heard of anything but the regular kind of business conferences where you guys are concerned. But a few minutes ago I remembered, you know, something he said about some big conference coming up and I didn’t know if it was important information for y’all or not so I thought I’d bring it up…better safe than sorry. Anyway, sometimes he called it a summit like it was something important,” she trailed off to clear her throat again.
A bottle of water showing condensation appeared on the table before her, and she didn’t even blink an eye at the magic. She took the bottle and, after a “thank you” and a long sip, she began speaking again.
“I keep hoping that more will come back to me…ugh! It feels like it will but damn it seems to be taking forever. As frustrating as all this is for me, I can’t imagine how you guys feel,” she said as she began pacing.
“Well, ok, just remembered something else about this big-deal conference…summit, whatever, the one he acted like he’d be the king of that’s coming up in I think about two weeks or so. It’s bein’ moved from someplace I don’t remember to one of those big, highfalutin’ over-done casinos in Vegas. The Castromendous, I believe he called it? It must be a new one because I’ve never heard of it.”
**A/N: At least that’s not a cliffie, right? Oh, it is? Oops… So, what did you think?**