**A/N: Here’s a soft-n-fluffy to get us back into this fic. Hope you enjoy!**
Several minutes passed in silence after Eric stopped the video.
No one knew what to say, what to do to either comfort the Maker who had lost his progeny or to honor the progeny who had gone out in a blaze of glory.
Then there was a hard knocking at the door.
A cursory glance about the room revealed Thalia’s missing presence – Eric didn’t remember hearing her leave but since she was one of the stealthiest vampires he knew, he didn’t think about it – so he nodded to Willa who had already partially risen to open the door.
“Where do you want him,” Thalia more demanded than asked as she stood just outside the doorway.
Her petite face was a study in feral satisfaction as she dangled the bloody stub of an arm in one hand and held the rest of the vampire captive by his neck with the other.
The manager mentioned in the video had apparently not managed to go very far.
Sookie sat up straighter in Eric’s lap and, to the shock of everyone in the room, her face brightened. She bestowed upon Thalia a smile that was only slightly less vicious, and received a regal nod in acknowledgement.
Only Eric noticed the protective tightening of her arm over her stomach.
With entirely false indifference he casually called up the camera to what had been Pam’s cell. The cleaners were in the process of gathering their supplies to leave the now spotless room…a room that wouldn’t be clean for long.
The now-former manager could bleed until the coming night, however.
“Pam’s cell will be fine. Thank you, Thalia.”
The male whimpered Eric’s name in a pleading voice, which was ignored by all in the room. The collective disdain was palpable.
Thalia blurred from the doorway with her quivering prisoner in stumbling tow.
After a moment of stunned silence, Sookie cleared her throat.
“Ok, I’ll say it; ‘Go Thalia!'”
Eric’s face displayed his surprise at Sookie’s words while Sevrin simply nodded his head in agreement.
Willa’s immediate response, a half-laugh, half-snort noise, brought even more relief to the tension now leaving the room.
Eric leaned back in his chair and ran his palms over Sookie’s internally-mobile abdomen. He wondered if the child within ever rested.
“This change in your outlook is a surprising relief, Sookie. There was a time when you would have protested her actions…”
“There was a time when I was a naive child determined to be a stupid ostrich keeping her head buried in the sand so I wouldn’t have to deal with anything. Now, we all know that ostriches don’t really bury their heads in the sand thinking that they’re invisible, but I guess I really thought that if I didn’t know all the facts then I wasn’t responsible for anything that happened to me or anybody else, but it just doesn’t work that way.”
She shuffled a little on Eric’s lap to ease her abdomen.
“I finally realized that I’m a part of the supe world and that there’s no way for me to back out of it even if I wanted to. Now, there’s a lot of stuff I still don’t know about, things I don’t like or understand, but I figure if I ask you or Willa or even you, Sevrin, about it, you’ll tell me so that I will know.” She shrugged, then began playing with Eric’s fingers as she continued.
“Do I like that Thalia yanked that asshole’s arm off? A part of me doesn’t, of course, but there’s an even bigger part of me who’s still cheering her on. I don’t like that vampire justice, or supe justice in general, is so much meaner and harsher and so much more painful than the human version because I just consider us all people, but I also know that, given time, he’ll regrow that arm whereas a human couldn’t. And, to vampires, time has a completely different meaning. It was a mean thing to do to him since he is still a person, but then, he was complicit in the Dae plans against me and you and probably Willa, too, and look at what those assholes were going to do to me! Look at what they already did to Pam and Willa!”
She turned to look at the brunette vampire and asked with the abrupt change of subject common to the easily distracted, “Willa, are you ok?”
Without blinking, Willa replied, “I wasn’t, but now I am, well I will be when I wake up tomorrow night. Sevrin arrived just in time to save the night.”
“You are not well?”
Eric and Sookie both noted how Sevrin immediately turned Willa in his lap so his dark eyes could sharply scrutinize her face for any evidence he might have missed.
Willa put her hand on his chest mostly to steady herself.
“I feel fine, just a little odd from everything. I think it’s from the combination of all the ancient blood suddenly flooding my system.”
Eric studied his remaining child then demanded, “Odd? In what way?”
Willa thought she could almost feel her Maker accessing their bond for information about the state of her “health”, but brushed the notion aside. She felt odd but not that odd.
“Just a little strange, like, I don’t know, I guess you’d call them something like power surges are running through my blood somehow. They don’t hurt, not at all, but I do feel them. I feel stronger, and I can’t explain it which is weird since I also feel smarter somehow.” She shrugged, truly at a loss as to how to put into words the effect of the ancient blood on her system.
“Why did you say nothing?” Something flickered in Sevrin’s stern gaze.
“It doesn’t feel wrong, just…different.”
Sookie could tell the moment Willa realized that Sevrin was truly concerned, and not solely about her reaction to the blood.
“If I had my d’ruthers,” the brunette started as she gazed softly into the stern black eyes staring down at her so fiercely, “I would love to go home and I would gladly go into my dayrest early, and I would especially like it if you were holding me. I truly do feel like a good day’s rest will set me right. I do,” she repeated in an effort to reassure the big vampire holding her so gently, yet firmly, in his lap.
“But I can’t, not yet anyway. We have several things we need to deal with tonight so this isn’t the time to make it all about me, you know?”
“No. I do not know this.”
Realizing that the miff was truly strong in this one, Willa sent a silent apology to her Maker and her friend for turning her back on them as she moved to straddle Sevrin’s lap.
She placed her hands on his shoulders and, instead of admiring the broad musculature, she concentrated on the male himself.
“I didn’t bring it up earlier because there just wasn’t time. If I’d been hurting or burning from the silver or anything like that, I would have whined my head off, no worries there. But this…there isn’t anything to worry about, not now at least. Let’s see how I’m feeling when I wake up tomorrow evening, ok?”
He stared down at her for a long moment then she felt the huge muscles in his shoulders relax minutely.
Sevrin realized that he might be making more of what he felt was information being deliberately withheld than he should but it galled him that something wasn’t right with her and she hadn’t brought it to him.
How could he fix what was wrong if he didn’t know that something was wrong?
The honesty was clear in her eyes, though, and while he couldn’t actively read her thoughts, it was enough.
He nodded as was his way, and was rewarded when she leaned forward to briefly peck his lips. If she hadn’t almost immediately changed her position on his lap, he would have gladly worked that kiss into something far more gratifying, audience be damned.
Unaccustomed to dealing with “relationship issues” in front of others and especially not in front of her Maker, Willa quickly changed her position on Sevrin’s lap and desperately pretended she wasn’t probably blushing a color not normal in the vampire world.
Sookie’s stomach rumbled in the brief silence that followed, and the pregnant hybrid grumbled.
“Y’all, I’m hungry and I want to go home.”
Very much willing to oblige his Sookie, Eric nodded. There wasn’t anything else to be done there that night, so home it would be.
Plans could be made anywhere.
He looked over at Sevrin and attempted to keep his expression neutral. He almost felt bad for the guy…knew exactly what he was going through, but knew it was a journey his old acquaintance-turned-friend would have to figure out for himself….and without hurting his remaining child.
At least he seemed to be a fast learner…
The dark mountain glanced down at the lady on his lap gazing up at him wistfully, and nodded.
Safe but solitary resting place versus…yeah, no question there…
Willa’s extremely pleased expression was more than enough reward.
Eric looked up in time to see Thalia reappear in the room’s open doorway minus her bleeding errand.
“No. The prisoner is secure. Go feed your woman.”
With a nod that implied respect, Thalia blurred away.
Eric shrugged as he lifted Sookie off his lap and eased her swollen feet to the floor.
“Well, you heard the little warrior – it’s time to feed my woman,” he ordered with a grin.
Sookie knew the shadow in his eyes would take time to fade, but his better humor seemed genuine. Some things would just take time and she would help as best she could.
“And,” he added after catching a glimpse of her ankles, “give her feet a nice massage, too.”
In short order but after visiting a 24-hour gas station known for having “awesome” over-powdered, non-New Orleans beignets that Willa ran inside to get for Sookie and then the drive-thru of a fried chicken place and a Chinese place, they finally reached home.
Sookie was far more interested in sampling her edibles, and Eric was far more interested in watching her enjoy her strange food choices, than in paying attention to Willa awkwardly helping Sevrin settle in. They shared a mutually amused grin over the course of true love as Sookie helped herself to another egg roll.
Sevrin was glad that he always carried an over-day bag in his vehicle when so far from his normal stomping grounds since unforeseen changes in day-rest plans weren’t exactly uncommon.
As he surveyed the large pale blue bedroom he would share with his Willa, he automatically formed and memorized several escape and safety routes, then concentrated on the woman nervously flitting about the room.
He was ready the next time she came near him and reached one long arm out to snag her by her waist. She collided softly with his hard chest, and when she looked up to speak, he gently lowered his lips to hers.
After a long, sweet kiss that he kept firmly within the bounds of “not passionate”, he raised his head.
“Today, we rest. Tomorrow, come what may, but today I hold you safe in my arms until you rest. Then I will plan with Northman and will return to you as soon as I can to hold you as the sun calls me to my rest.”
He then grinned in the way that melted Willa’s bones.
“Later I will learn your body.”
Willa looked up into his dark gaze and felt her nerves finally relax. She wanted him…oh, yes she did…but not just yet. Tonight had been very unpleasant… very, very unpleasant… and she needed some time to recover and not just from her own ordeal.
A day spent in his arms would surely help. The rest…the rest would come.
She nodded, then smiled a little.
“Ok, I’m going to grab my jammies and go shower,” she declared with a wave toward the bathroom door. “Do you want to wait in here and watch tv or go out there and watch the “See What Sookie Eats Together This Time” game?”
Sevrin shuddered. He could imagine…
This time Willa laughed.
He grunted in what was most likely agreement.
Later, once Willa had well and truly fallen deeply into her dayrest and Sookie was sound asleep after having her feet, ankles, and belly rubbed, Eric and Sevrin met in the kitchen, which still reeked of human food, knocked back a few bags of heated blood, and quickly discussed some potential plans.
Each had “a couple sources” to contact, then more notes to compare.
No mention was made by either party of Sevrin’s abilities, but the sun was only barely peeping over the horizon when they gladly rejoined their women.
Sookie woke at her usual time the next afternoon and once up and dressed she placed her now-usual call to Mrs. Bronson who kindly agreed to pick up more butter pecan ice cream and Vidalia onions if they had them…sweet onions if they didn’t…on her way over.
Mrs. Bronson had proven to have a wealth of common sense advice and a slightly bawdy sense of humor. She hustled and bustled around the upper part of the safe house without appearing to ever be in a hurry, and wouldn’t let Sookie stand up on her own or pick up anything weighing more than a pound or so.
She tittered and shooed and she fussed and she coddled and in general Mrs. Bronson provided exactly the kind of older female companionship Sookie had been sorely lacking since her own Gran had been killed.
Their hours together were spent discussing everything from colors to paint a nursery and what to expect when expecting to the differences between types of weres – although it was understood that Weres were the cream of the supe crop, of course.
No topic was off limits, but until now Sookie hadn’t revealed too much about what exactly had been going on in her life. She knew the Were’s enhanced senses had detected that there was something different about the babe in her womb but there just hadn’t been time to discuss with Eric what all would be safe to tell the lovely older lady.
Forced cheer might be a bit difficult to pull off today since she was still upset over all she’d learned the night before, but she was determined to carry on with as normal a daily routine as she could manage… and that included meeting her cravings, too.
Bless Mrs. Bronson and her love for shopping!
A few minutes later Sookie went to the fridge for a glass of apple juice – pasteurized but pesticide-free from Mrs. Bronson’s cousin’s orchards and brought to her by the lady herself two days before – when she saw the collection of creamy orange jars, and stopped.
If Dr. Ludwig really was the “tiny doctor” the creepy Dae guy was talking about, then could she trust the orange liquid? It did make her feel noticeably better and more satisfied…and it did seem to be helping the baby…but how could she be sure?
The assistant who had brought it over…Gail…she was a Were of some sort but Sookie knew that if she focused her talent and concentrated strongly, she could hear even Weres more clearly than she used to. They still didn’t come through as easily as humans but it was better than nothing. With another dose of Eric’s blood, she might could hone in even more closely on their thoughts.
Now…how to arrange to be near enough to the woman to read her…
She didn’t want the woman knowing where the safe house was but didn’t dare try to arrange a meeting without talking it over with Eric first and letting him have his hours of trying to talk her out of being involved with anything.
He deserved that much, at least, before she ignored his objections. She knew her logic was sound – she was the preggo contact, after all – but would definitely agree to whatever safeguards he would dream up.
She was sure they could come up with something, though, and she did have the woman’s card.
Somehow she just couldn’t see the blunt little doctor giving her something that would hurt her or her baby, not on purpose anyway.
However, as much as she wanted to drink the delicious orange-creamy goodness, she didn’t want to risk doing so without further investigation.
Apple juice would have to do. And milk. And yogurt. And bananas and salmon. And good hard cheddar cheese. And pretzels dipped in strawberry jam.
And butter pecan ice cream with a side of onions whenever Mrs. Bronson arrived.
**A/N: So, what’d ja think?**