Eric felt laughably little surprise at neither Godric’s statement nor his delivery. The vampire could be the most deviously sinister being on the planet when he wanted to be, and the base situation surrounding Sookie would make any decent person furious. Before he could ask what he would have intended to be a suspiciously banal question, however, Sookie, apparently being familiar with his Maker’s ways, piped up.
“You have a house in Vegas? Really? Um…so…,” Sookie tilted her head to the side rather like a confused golden lab, “Why do you have a house in Vegas?”
Sookie had felt that bit of a chill in the air from the way Godric had informed his audience of the house’s location, and while she respected his anger and felt gratitude that the anger was on her and Eric’s behalf, she knew that ancient vampire. Even though she was impatient to get the evening going so she could have some time with Eric, mouthing around with Godric was always a blast…plus she needed to be certain the ancient being wouldn’t take off into the night and spark the vampire version of a world war.
“Why wouldn’t I?” Pure too-innocent blinks did nothing to hide the humor now gleaming in Godric’s occasionally expressive – gloriously expressive at that – eyes.
Erich fought to not roll his own eyes. With the ease of a master spy, the ancient vampire could present at will a facade so impenetrable that even those closest to him couldn’t decipher his true thoughts. Yet when he wished to do so, he could delight, intrigue, and amuse with his incredibly fluid display of perfectly timed animation. Even a thousand years later, Eric was still sometimes in awe of his Maker’s ability to switch so completely from deadly to playful.
Such mutability had been known to scare the hell out of enemies.
Accustomed to his ploys and thrilled that he was playing along – a playful Godric was not a sight to miss – even while more than ready to go to this house somehow mysteriously appearing in Vegas of all places, Sookie grinned and whined playfully, “Goooodric…”
Also accustomed to his Maker’s ploys, Eric quirked his usual brow and waited. Dealing with Godric, especially when he was in certain moods, often required lots of patience.
The ancient vampire had to laugh. The current threats were no less dire; in fact, the severity had increased exponentially. However, with this new information, things were different now. In the back of his mind plans were forming, had been forming since he’d first heard of the situation, but the additional intel had allowed him to narrow potential strategies from the hundreds down to a far more comfortably manageable double-dozen or so. Being able to discard some of his more drastic options was a huge relief.
He now had a location that wasn’t only identified but was actually more logical given all the vile objectives, and he had two specific names, three if the kingling counted for more than ash in a field…which he really didn’t. A flick of his littlest finger would dispose of that one.
Godric paused for part of a second to decry the fact that Sookie hadn’t ended the disgustingly useless kingling from the safety of the vehicle when she’d had the chance, but he understood her reasoning; he’d had the same need himself in the past. Also, if she had done so, then de Castro and, mostly, Madden’s interests in such foul schemes wouldn’t have come to light. Staying her hand had, in the long game, done them more good than harm.
The hidden objective behind the summit’s change in location was more than obvious…a change that would have taken time to effect meaning the game, as such, had been in the works likely since Compton became aware of Sookie’s return…or was this a continuation of plans made before her disappearance and were now simply resumed?
It was all so gloriously complicated! If the end game didn’t involve his people, beloved beings under his care and protection, this could almost have been fun.
As it was, his relief as he worked, reworked, honed, and expanded his plans in the back of his mind was a joy, and so he could tease at will. And besides, after all the recent stress, and given that once his child was able to disappear with his sweet hybrid he knew he’d see neither again for hours if not nights, indulging a little humor at the moment wasn’t a bad thing.
Anticipation did make the…whatever. Really, Sookie could be a bit of a spoiled brat when she wanted to be, but it was always meant in good fun. And if his delaying tactics made sweeter whatever it was that anticipation was supposed to make better, then where was the harm?
Kids these nights…always so impatient…
“Sooooookie,” he moaned back in perfect mimicry of her tone. Claudia’s snicker was icing on that proverbial cake.
“Godric,” the telepath demanded playfully albeit with slightly increasing impatience. She truly did want to know how he’d come to own a house…there, and he knew it, the rat.
“Sookie,” he repeated, thoroughly enjoying the game originating back in the other realm.
Claudia was having a hard time trying to stifle her laugher; those two could carry on for days. Her cousin tried so hard to be responsible and serious and, truly, she had been in such a different frame of mind when they had first met, but somehow the powerful, sometimes unfathomable being by her side had been able to draw her out of her protective shell. Between herself and the vampire, no matter how feared at the time, they had managed to remind Sookie that humor and play did exist in the worlds and that such did, indeed, have merit.
Sookie faked an aggravated huff, an aggravated huff now totally belied by her laughing grin. “So really, how is it you so conveniently have a house so conveniently situated in Vegaaaaas?”
A surreptitious glance around the room revealed bemused curiosity interspersed with barely hidden grins. Pamela sat with her usual professionally unaffected facade intact, but the glimmer of humor in her pretty eyes proved she was enjoying the lighthearted moment. Pere and Niall, not being strangers to their games, were patiently being patience itself, although the younger blond’s eye did quickly dart to the younger vampire sitting beside Sookie.
Eric, Godric was relieved to note, was thoroughly enjoying their by-play. Although it had been far too long since he had been able to have such amusements with his child, he was glad to see that Eric understood the manner of frivolity he was able to share with Sookie.
Alas, it was time to settle down. The night was passing them by and a change in location was strongly warranted. He had made them wait long enough.
“As you wish, my dear. Approximately eight years before my second death, on the advice of my attorney I purchased a home in a residential area away from the main strip, if you will, from an elderly Dae couple wishing to retire elsewhere. It was a good investment, perfect for some necessary modifications, and I didn’t have a residence in that region yet. It made sense,” he concluded with a carefree shrug.
Claudia smiled. Trust her Godric to use that sort of convoluted logic and yet somehow make it work in his favor.
Niall cleared his throat to gain the vampire’s attention. “It seems almost too logical yet would be eminently suitable. Can you teleport within this realm?”
Godric shrugged again…then disappeared.
“I guess that’s a yes,” Sookie mumbled as she exchanged a look with Eric.
When five minutes passed without his return, everyone started to worry. Maybe he shouldn’t teleport in this realm?
When he returned just after the ten-minute mark, it was to a worried and therefore slightly angry crowd. Godric calmly accepted the glares from Sookie and Eric, but it was when he saw Claudia’s expression complete with angry-red hair that he took an involuntary step back.
“Woah, wait, before you start, I should tell you that the garage door leading into the kitchen is unlocked, the inside lights are on, and the outside perimeters seem safe. Even the privacy hedges planted along the fence-line have grown enough to be useful. The house is indeed ready for occupation.”
Eric knew that meant Godric had scoured and secured the entire area inside and out else he’d never have opened the house much less flipped on the lights.
“Niall, Pere, each of you take an arm and I shall teleport you to the garage so that you can set the destination in your mind. Afterward we will return to escort the others. You may yell at will after we are safely in the new location.”
He looked askance for a moment at Sookie’s rather threatening growl, smiled as he shook his head – being so obviously cared for was a new and heady experience, and waited for Niall and Pere to each grab an arm before teleporting them all away.
This time the return took only moments…
They completed the transfers with astonishing speed. Godric gathered Claudia in his arms while Niall embraced Sookie and Pere placed a hand on Eric’s shoulder. After appearing in the garage, the ancient vampire escorted everyone into the safety of the kitchen before he, Niall, and Pere disappeared to finish the transfers.
Godric and Pere returned moments later with the ever-unflappable Pam and a trembling, paler-than-usual Sari. Niall remained behind to dispose of the fairy and vampire shelters.
Eric had recovered instantly from the transfer and began blurring throughout the main and belowground levels of the house to familiarize himself with its layout and potential security concerns.
Sookie and Claudia, joined by the amazed Sari, began their own slower, more sedate explorations of the above-ground floor beginning and ending with the kitchen area…where there wasn’t a bite of food to be found.
To the fairy component of the trio, the lack of even bottled blood substitute was a bit worrisome. Then something occurred to Sookie as a blur somewhat resembling Godric sped by.
“I bet there’s either a mini-kitchen or maybe even just a fridge and a microwave somewhere downstairs where the vampires would be staying anyway. Maybe it’s stocked?”
“That makes sense,” Claudia agreed with relief then grimaced when her stomach rumbled.
“Hungry again?” Sookie started to tease her cousin but then her own stomach betrayed her with a distinct growl. A pointed glare at her midsection didn’t seem to help.
Claudia snickered at her cousin and waived her hand toward the mostly empty counters.
Although the house had a dedicated dining room complete with never-used table and chairs that would easily seat twelve, the kitchen boasted a long breakfast bar with six never-used stools. Once the three diners filled their plates and took their seats, Claudia kindly asked for and magically delivered their drink orders.
After the first dozen bites were basically inhaled, the three ladies settled more circumspectly into eating their dinner.
Eventually Sookie broke the silence.
“Claudy, how long are you planning on staying here? I know you want to spend time with me and with Godric – and don’t think I’ve let that slide you sneaky miss – but I also know you’ve got stuff going on back home that you probably need to get back to by now.”
“Stuff it, vampire bait,” the now blue-haired fairy replied after swallowing. When Sookie had first arrived in her realm, there was no way she would have teased her thusly, but after her mood had improved drastically and they had become solid friends, such teasing had been fun.
“There’s nothing going on back there that I have to rush to oversee, and honestly it’s time the triplets at least pretended to earn their keep, so I’m going nowhere. While I’m sure the Prince will gladly supply some of the ladies from the household to help with daily chores and such, I will be on hand to take care of food, water, and other such things as they become needed.”
Sookie noticed that Claudy hadn’t said anything about Godric and made a mental note to haul her whatever-times-removed cousin to the side for a formal inquisition later. For now, the mac and cheese, potato salad, salmon croquettes, and whatever the orange stuff happened to be were going down easily. She wasn’t sure if her hunger was a product of her healing or if she was just hungry, but whatever…Claudy’s food experiments this time around were spot on!
When Niall arrived in the kitchen a bit later, he wasn’t totally surprised to be greeted by the sight of a massive buffet. His beloved descendants and that witch were sitting on stools at what he guessed must be an exceedingly informal eating area of some sort busily picking from mostly full plates.
He looked back over to the side to see steaming dishes filled with colorful and aromatically appealing foods artfully arranged over all the available counter space. To his surprise, most of the foodstuffs even appeared to be edible.
Heavy serving pieces that he recognized as formerly being silver but were now gold graced each distinct dish, and at what had arbitrarily been decided by the smiling Claudia as the beginning of the line sat a stack of fine china, silver-now-gold flatware, and the softest cloth napkins he knew she could conjure.
She had done well.
Niall served himself – an odd experience, that – took a seat beside Sookie, and began taking appreciative bites. Hunger wasn’t just a condition of the young, unfortunately. After a sip of the wine he’d conjured for himself, two more stools magically appeared and the bar surface elongated by two additional feet.
Having noticed his act of kindness, Sookie sat her glass of apparently mandatory light water down and patted his hand in thanks. There was now enough seating for everyone in their little group.
The elder Prince huffed and straightened his shoulders as though irritated by her observation but then sent her a wink before returning his attention to his calamari. Claudia had truly done well; it wasn’t at all chewy this time. The state of…whatever that purple mass in that one dish was…and the brown mass on that oddly-shaped platter, however, were none of his concern. He had long since learned to avoid some of his beloved Claudia’s more…esoteric…conjurings.
Eric, finally satisfied with the home’s security, strolled in a bit later followed closely by Godric. The younger vampire took his place by his hybrid – no one commented on how he’d slid his stool closer to Sookie – and the elder vampire visited the buffet then took the seat left empty beside his Claudia.
“Pam and that fairy must still be running the perimeter,” the Viking stated as he tried not to watch too closely as Sookie ate. He wanted to be sure she was eating enough but the way her lips closed around her fork wasn’t good for his pants. Patience for time spent with her wasn’t a virtue he was willingly planning on acquiring.
Sari, who had yet to say a word except for politely stating her drink preference (“wine, and a lot of it, please”) but had been more than able to eat curiously well from her nicely filled plate, chuckled suddenly.
When everyone glanced over at her, she shrugged.
“Well, he’s a fairy and she’s a vampire. Wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a lot of running bein’ done.”
As hard as it was, Eric bravely managed to keep his laugh from escaping at the mental picture and, upon consideration, immediately called his child to his side. Really, she didn’t have all that much self-control, and while he wasn’t at all certain he cared much for that particular fairy, it simply wouldn’t do for Pam to…
Moments later the vampire in question entered the kitchen followed eventually by a thankfully healthy Pere. Pam, looking as though she had just returned from a stroll through a mall, rolled her eyes at the massive food offering but promptly took the new stool by her Maker’s other side.
Pere, hair windblown and cheeks faintly pink from exertion but eyes glowing in amusement, grabbed a plate from the handy stack.
No one seemed overly inclined toward conversation while the eaters ate – including Godric who had filled a plate with the calamari, a slice of the half Beef Wellington, black eye peas, and a portion of the more-colorful-than-necessary pasta salad.
Once Pere had quickly if neatly emptied his well-laden plate, he glanced around the table then caught Niall’s eye. He lifted a brow in query. Niall, still daintily picking through his remaining portion of that same overly-colorful pasta salad, shrugged, and immediately thereafter Pere silently disappeared.
Before anyone could ask, the male fairy returned with three large individual containers of blood, fashioned as before to hide their true contents, which he placed before each vampire including Godric. He then returned to the counter, refilled his plate, and calmly began eating again. As an obvious afterthought, an enormous stein of some sort of beer appeared near his plate.
Eric raised his container toward the fairy he thought he might eventually begin to somewhat…dislike less, thanked him, and sipped. Although he wasn’t thirsty again and, barring accidents or odd circumstances, he could easily go weeks without a full feeding, unlife was certainly more comfortable with a full stomach.
Thankfully the fairies were still cloaking their delectable scent. Whether through their own or, far more likely, Niall’s magic, it didn’t matter so long as the cloaking held. As for himself, he wasn’t concerned. Unless he was in bloodlust he could easily control his own reactions, but Pamela for all her control simply wasn’t quite old or experienced enough to trust, not yet anyway. She was a quick learner and truly did have remarkable control, but it wouldn’t be fair to her, much less any victims, to place that kind of responsibility on her head before she was ready.
He wasn’t sure if Godric’s return to some sort of fairy state had negated the impact of their scent or what, but the old man didn’t seem affected.
More power to that little Claudia, then. Thankfully her hair had calmed down to a less dizzying state now that all were safe.
During his previous investigation of all parts of the structure, he had come upon the surprisingly spacious vampire quarters. The erstwhile full basement had somehow been enlarged to almost half again the size of the visible house which meant the vampire floor had expanded bedrooms with their own large bathrooms, a sparsely appointed kitchen room of sorts, and a large gathering area at the base of the steps. Ample storage rooms rounded out the area beneath the house.
Godric, ever the perfect tour guide, had shown him several well-hidden yet easily accessible escape routes from both the upper and lower levels. He had indicated which “bedroom with en suite” would be his and Sookie’s, and, with a smirk, had made sure Eric knew where the laundry room was. Eric had decided that Pamela needed that knowledge instead.
With a hidden smirk of his own at the memory, he drained his blood and waited impatiently for Sookie to finish her meal. He was glad to see her eating well, but his impatience was growing rapidly. Given her lack of dawdling, as she would call it, over her plate, he correctly guessed she was ready for some privacy as well.
As if on cue, the moment she rested her fork on her plate and placed her napkin on the table, he rose and extended a hand toward her.
If anyone happened to roll their eyes at just how ready he was to leave the room, he ignored them.
Sookie, to her credit, grinned before draining the last of her light water.
“But we haven’t yelled at Godric yet,” she teased even as she rose with speed belying words.
Playing along, Eric looked toward his Maker even as Sookie took his hand. “Don’t worry, you can yell at him later,” he promised with a glare. He truly had been concerned when it had taken Godric so long to return to them but since he had already “yelled” at the elderly bastard in private, he felt reasonably able to jest about it now.
“Good. Godric, you’re in for it later. Right now, though, I need my Eric. So,” she said now to the group at large, “y’all have a good night and I’ll see you guys tomorrow sometime.”
Niall inclined his head toward her. “Clothing and toiletries and such other things will appear either in your rooms or somewhere up here,” he waived his hand negligently. “I may or may not be present when you awaken, so I bid you to remember not to use your powers in any way yet. Claudia and perhaps some staff will be on hand to tend to your needs. You should be feeling much better especially after taking your vampire’s blood, but you are nowhere near fully recharged.”
He then turned resolutely to his plate so as to ignore his descendant’s leaving with the vampire, a plan Sookie foiled when she approached and kissed the old fairy’s cheek.
As Eric escorted her to the door leading down to the vampire level, she heard Godric ask Eric for his phone so that he could contact Desmond. In a move that would make any professional ball player jealous, Eric extracted the phone from his pocket and, without looking, tossed it back over his head directly into his Maker’s deft hands.
Then, to the muted laugher of several and eyerolls from a few, he opened the “basement” door, scooped his Sookie up in his arms, and blurred down the steps to the soft tune of her happy laughter.
Godric downed the remainder of his blood, nodded for Pamela to do the same, then rose to stand beside Claudia’s stool while she took her last bite.
“Well, the sun will be rising eventually so I should take my leave as well,” he said to the group before turning to face his fairy as she took a final sip of her wine. “Allow me to escort you to your room?”
Claudia blushed a color that suddenly matched her hair but nodded sweetly. Within moments he was slowly escorting her to her room on what they were calling the mortal’s level.
Pam sighed as she stood. Her thirst soothed once again by the blood brought by the handsome fairy – she wondered where he had managed to acquire such a delicious blend but hesitated to ask for fear of having the supply suddenly dry up – and while she and her ilk had gained some waking time due to their more westerly location, events of the past few nights were still making their presence known.
As much as she would wish to deny it, an early rest wasn’t a bad idea. Next thing she knew she’d be wanting to take up tatting and wearing bed caps…and woolen slippers… She glanced over at the remaining fairies.
“Pamela, I am not escorting you anywhere,” Pere quipped as he rose to reload his plate for a third time.
She and Niall both snorted. “Too bad, fairy boy. We could have had some fun,” she volleyed, then added, “You’re not my usual type but I would make an exception.”
This time Pere snorted.
Niall shook his head at the both of them, finished his plate, and waved a hand to clear all but Pere’s mess away. He figured the younger fairy could deal with the foods, too…if he left anything to deal with.
After Pam said her goodnights and while Pere continued stuffing his face and Godric continued bidding his adieus to Claudia, Niall silently reinforced the magical wards he had put into place earlier. He sensed no danger at this point and had ensured that no trace of their presence remained in the woods near the portal, but one could never be too careful.
And, on that note, he strengthened the magic hiding the fairies’ scent.
That Pam…not to mention any dogs de Castro or Madden may have roving around the state. Sookie would need to bake in the sun on the morrow…he would have to erect the proper shields…much to do, much to do…
But he wasn’t going anywhere until Godric exited his granddaughter’s bedroom…!
**A/N: And so there ya go…can’t imagine what Eric and Sookie, and to a far lesser extent Godric and Claudy, are up to…no idea…none at all… So, what did you think of this chapter?**