Chapter 22: I Can Change
I stepped out into the parking lot still fuming. My feet quickly carried me in my agitation to the back of the parking lot where Robert and Eric would be waiting for me. I immediately saw Robert step out of the shadows, but didn’t spot Eric right away. I felt for him, and sensed that he was near. Looking to my right, I saw him further from the parking lot, standing near a clump of trees, talking on his cell phone.
“What has happened?” Robert asked cautiously, obviously sensing my mood.
Eric quickly ended his phone call and sped over to me to listen.
“I found out who took Barry. I just need to figure out where now,” I replied. “Who were you calling?” I questioned curiously.
Eric raised an eyebrow. “You are not the only one who is setting plans in motion,” he replied. I could tell he wasn’t going to continue, so I didn’t press. I was keeping secrets too. “What have you discovered?” he asked.
“It was Lattesta,” I told him. “I’m not sure how he finally found Barry, but I suppose when I left, he decided to focus his efforts on finding the man in the picture with me from Rhodes, and he’s an FBI agent, so I guess it was just a matter of time.”
Eric’s brow furrowed. “I would have thought Stan would have been careful to keep his telepath out of any official record the FBI could have used to find him.”
I shrugged. “I guess not careful enough,” I replied. I reached out and took Eric’s phone from his hand. “You’ve got internet on this thing, don’t you?” He nodded and I started searching for the nearest FBI offices. “There’s an FBI building right here in Dallas, I think we should start there. I’m guessing the guys I saw in Danika’s mind following them were from here. They seemed to know their way around the city as they were following Barry and Danika. Maybe we’ll even get lucky and they’ll still be holding Barry here in Dallas.” I handed Eric back his phone. “Well, what do we do now?” I questioned of my two vampires.
They looked at each other and seemed to be sharing a conversation in their look. Finally, Eric turned back towards me. “It would be prudent to keep this information from Stan until we have either secured the telepath himself, or his location,” Eric answered. I was surprised that he wanted to leave Stan in the dark. Seeing my confusion, Eric went on. “Stan’s main goal will be getting his asset back, not protecting you. We will be more likely to recover his asset and protect you if we keep this knowledge amongst the three of us for now. If it is simply humans that have taken the telepath, then two vampires of our age will be more than adequate to retrieve him.”
I could see Eric’s point, so I nodded in agreement. Thoughtfully, I said, “Why don’t I snoop around the Dallas office a bit and see what I can find out first. They might not even be holding Barry here; we need to know where he is before we make too many decisions.”
Both vampires bristled, but Robert spoke first. “I don’t like the idea of you going into an FBI building, lígo mitéra. This, Lattesta, he is the FBI agent you told me had been giving you trouble before you left, yes?” he asked. I nodded. “Then it would be ill-advised for you to go in there looking for him. They know what you look like as well, yes?”
I laughed. “Yeah, but a little disguise would take care of that. Besides, they’re not looking for a pregnant woman. I’ve found that it makes a wonderful disguise in itself. People consider pregnant women to be pretty unassuming, they’d never suspect me,” I assured them. They both raised their brows at me, but I just smiled sweetly back.
“Though I hate to say the words, I agree with Caras. It could be dangerous to send you into an FBI building, even to simply gather information,” Eric said, still eyeing Robert disdainfully.
I gave a frustrated sigh. “Would you two nock the attitudes off?” I turned to Eric and exaggeratedly gestured towards Robert, “Eric, this is Robert.” Turning to Robert, I gestured back to Eric, “And Robert this is Eric.” I moved away from them so they were standing beside each other facing me. Looking them both in the eye, I folded my arms over the top of my belly and continued, “It’s not Norseman, or Caras, or him, or that vampire, or anything else you two can come up with. If the two of you can’t treat each other in a more civilized manner, I’ll leave ya’ll standing here grunting and glaring at each other like a couple of bulls in mating season and I’ll go look for Barry alone. You’re both important to me, but I will not keep riding this testosterone train,” I threatened pointing at the both of them accusingly.
Eric’s eyes narrowed at me, but Robert started laughing, startling Eric. “Only you, lígo mitéra, would so admonish two vampires, each with more than a millennia of age on you. Nevertheless, you are right my dear. Though neither of us has been fond of the other in the past, I think we can put that aside in the interest of more pressing matters,” Robert chuckled. With a mirthful look, he turned to Eric and held out his hand. “I believe, Eric, that this is how humans in this age put their differences behind them.”
Eric looked disdainfully at Robert’s extended hand, and then turned to me, “Only for you do I do this, lover,” and then he turned back towards Robert and gripped his forearm. They both reached their other arms across and grasped the other vampire’s elbow as well while they shook hands. Eric simply said, “Robert.” Their faces were still carefully blank, but it was a start. It wasn’t quite how humans shook hands these days, but I could appreciate that they were both from very different times and I considered it a miracle that they were shaking hands at all. It reminded me that I needed to ask one or both of my vampires at some point what their history was, but now wasn’t the time.
I nodded, satisfied. “That’s better. Thank you. I suppose you can both at least come with to the parking lot again,” I said with a smirk.
Eric sighed, and shook his head. “There is no guarantee that you can find the information you are looking for. Let—” he paused and sighed, “Robert and I go in. We can glamor the humans to find what we’re looking for,” he insisted.
“You wouldn’t know what humans to glamor though. You could spend all night glamoring and not find the right information or not ask the humans the right questions. Humans are easy for me; I can see their thoughts and know just what to ask and who to ask. I just go in, ask to talk to someone at the top, and sift through their memories,” I rationalized.
“Eric is right; I do not like the idea of you trying to sift through the memories of a higher ranking FBI human. That would just be more dangerous,” Robert spoke up. They were both still standing side by side, staring down at me. Their combined heights made me feel very small, but I held my ground in front of them. I looked over into the parking lot and saw a young couple just exiting their car to go into the bar. I could tell by their thoughts that they were just human, but seeing them gave me an idea.
“Alright, you think I can’t handle some humans? Watch this,” I told my vampires. I willed the man and woman to turn around and come back towards me, pressing my desires on them, until it was their desire to listen to me. The two walked slowly towards us with blank looks on their faces.
Both Robert and Eric were tense and ready for the humans to do anything, which made me chuckle. The man and woman were completely under my influence and wouldn’t make any conscious movements that I didn’t direct until I had released them.
When the humans were standing in front of us, I spoke to them, “Hello, Cassie and Joseph.” I looked into their minds for a moment and spoke again turning to the woman, “Now Cassie, I know you think you should keep it a secret from Joseph since you’ve only been going out for a few months, but he should probably know that you got married once when you were 17. Don’t worry about scaring him away, there’s something he hasn’t told you either.” I turned to Joseph and addressed him next, “Joseph, you should tell Cassie that you have a daughter with your ex-girlfriend. Don’t worry, it won’t freak her out. She helped raise her little sister and loves kids.” I exerted a bit of will for them to tell each other the truth, and they both nodded slowly in agreement. “Wonderful! Now, Joseph, I really need to use your cell phone. Can I have it?” Again he nodded slowly, and I dug several hundreds out of my pocket to give him in exchange. “Now, go into the bar and tell each other your secrets,” I directed. Again they nodded and turned around to go to the bar.
I turned to see both Robert and Eric staring at me in shock. Eric of course had never seen me use magic like that, but Robert hadn’t either. He suspected, I think, that I could do more than he knew, but he was very careful never to really question me about what I was capable of.
“Why would you need their phone, and why would you pay for it?” Eric finally asked incredulously.
I frowned as I answered. “Well, I needed a cell phone that can’t be traced back to me in any way, and I wasn’t going to just take it from him. He’ll need to replace it, and I needed to pay for the minutes I’ll use.” It was true I could have compelled him to give it to me without giving him money, but I was still having a hard enough time with the knowledge that I could compel people to do things. I knew I would need to if I wanted to find Barry, but that didn’t mean I had to be abusive with my magic. It was only fair that I pay Joseph what it would cost to replace his phone when he realized he’d lost it.
I shrugged, “Anyway, does that satisfy you?”
Eric stepped forward and held my upper arm. “You can do that with any one? Glamor them as we can?” he asked. Robert stood rooted, simply staring at me. He was starting to realize that there was much more to me than he had ever thought.
“I can do that with humans. Weres, shifters, and such are a little harder. I can’t really totally control them like I can humans, but I can influence their desires and get them to want to do what I need them to do,” I answered thoughtfully.
Eric’s head dipped down to look me in the eye. “And vampires?” he asked pointblank. I was a little surprised that he was actually asking the question; though I had the feeling he was terrified of what the consequences might be of my answer.
I shrugged. “Whoever heard of being able to glamor vampires?” I looked at my watch and saw that it was still relatively early since it was winter. “It’s only ten o’clock. Let’s head to the nearest mall to get an adequate disguise and then go to the FBI building. There should be less people around at night to deal with, but maybe we’ll get lucky and I can snag the right one.”
“Very well,” Eric said reluctantly, as he swept me into his arms and took to the sky. He stayed low enough for Robert to run and follow us, but I noticed Robert was being very quiet since my revelation. I hoped he would be able to come to terms with it by the time we got to the nearest mall. I didn’t like Robert being quiet. I liked his quick wit and humor.
An hour later found me dressed in a light yellow, flowered maternity dress and wearing a brunette colored, short bobbed wig. Both of my vampires had been very quiet as I quickly made my way through the mall to gather what I needed, but they were both impressed by just how much of a transformation the wig alone gave me. Luckily, my hair was dirty blond, so my eyebrows were darker anyway and blended well with the brown wig. Paired with the dress I had picked out, I looked like the most unassuming, harmless little woman to ever walk through the front doors of the Dallas FBI offices.
There were only a few cars parked outside of the five story concrete building, but I was hoping they weren’t all security guards. As I walked through the front door, a quick mental sweep of the guard behind the front desk revealed a human. I wasn’t surprised they were using strictly humans, there was still a huge backlash against the two-natured, and agencies like the FBI, CIA, NSA, and many of the bigger police and government forces were pushing the two-natured out, saying they were agencies and forces for humans only. The courts and the government still hadn’t figured out how to rule on these cases.
Pushing my will on the guard as he stood to question me, I said, “I was looking for an Agent Lattesta. Do you know where I might find him?” The guard shook his head, but I could see from his memories that he knew who Lattesta was. I almost snickered at the guard’s thought that Lattesta was a pompous ass who was rude to the guards. “Is there anyone here who might be able to tell me where to find Agent Lattesta?” I questioned. I needed to be careful of what I asked, especially down here in the lobby since the security cameras were still going.
“Agent Baker, Henry Baker, he’s still upstairs transcribing his notes from his last case. Henry’d know where to find Lattesta, ma’am,” he said in an even steady tone. His eyes never left mine as I walked over to him.
“Would you mind showing me up to Agent Baker’s office, sir?”
He slowly offered me his elbow. “No, ma’am. Right this way,” he replied, leading me towards the elevator.
We rode up in silence, and he led me to Agent Baker’s office door. “It’s right here ma’am,” he quietly said.
I patted his arm. “Good. Now, you wait right here until I’m done talking with Agent Baker, and then you can escort me back out,” I replied. I knew if anyone saw the security tapes, they wouldn’t be too concerned about a pregnant woman being escorted through the building by a security guard.
I knocked once, and quickly opened the door, instantly catching the agent in my sway. He waited with a blank face at his desk while I sat down across from him.
“Tell me everything you know about Agent Lattesta,” I directed.
Perhaps a half-hour later, I walked quietly out of the FBI building. Neither the agent, nor the guard would be able to have more than just the vaguest recollection of a woman looking for her lost car keys in the building, and helping her find them.
I walked out to the edge of the parking lot and once again, Robert and Eric materialized from the shadows before me. My arms were wrapped around me, struggling in vain to warm and sooth myself. Robert and Eric stood beside each other again, looking down and waiting for my answer. I knew they could both feel my frustration and exhaustion. I had used my magic to hold four humans under my sway, and to control the memories of aWere, but no matter how tired I felt, I had the satisfaction of at the very least knowing where Barry was. Eric started to reach out towards me, but stopped mid-way, as though he was unsure. I looked up into his eyes and simply nodded to let him know I wouldn’t push his embrace away, and he quickly wrapped me in his arms, once again sweeping me off my feet.
It felt good to have the weight off my feet, and I leaned my head against his shoulder, savoring the quiet and calm that came from Eric before I answered their unasked questions. “I found an agent who not only knew Lattesta, but had been part of the detail to capture Barry. He doesn’t know why Lattesta wanted Barry so bad, but he does know that they’re holding Barry in New Orleans and have been running tests on him. I’m guessing they’re trying to determine if Barry’s telepathic and just what he can do,” I answered quietly.
Eric’s deep voice in his chest rumbled against my shoulder as he spoke. “This is not good Sookie. That is in Victor’s territory.”
I looked over at Robert’s grim face to see that he seemed to agree with Eric’s thoughts. “I know,” I whispered. “But we can’t just leave Barry there. They took him because Lattesta couldn’t get me.”
Eric softly kissed the top of my head, saying, “Come, I can feel you are weary. Let us retire to the hotel so you can feed and rest. I am sure you could use more blood.” I nodded silently and he turned towards Robert. “I would guess you will be staying at the hotel as well, Robert.”
Robert finally gave a smile that seemed much more like him, saying, “But of course, Eric! Where else would I stay? It seems to take more than two thousand years worth of vampire to keep the little one out of trouble. Go ahead and take Sookie back, I’ll run and catch up.”
I rolled my eyes at his comment, but didn’t argue. I hadn’t needed one bit of their help tonight, other than as a handy alternative method of transportation, but it sure felt good to know I was being backed up by more than two thousand years of vampire just in case I needed it. I was pleasantly happy to hear them call each other by their first names as well, even if it was only for my benefit. My arms wrapped tighter around Eric’s neck as he took to the air once again.
Eric carried me through the hotel, and only sat me down once we were through the door of our suite. I looked curiously at the door, surprised that the hotel staff or someone had so quickly repaired the doorjamb where Robert broke through earlier in the evening. When I turned around, I gasped in surprise to see Robert himself sitting at the kitchenette table, drinking a TrueBlood.
He grinned at my surprise. “Did you think just because Eric could fly, that he was faster? I am much older,” he chidingly reminded us.
I felt Eric’s indignation, but he remained silent as he disappeared into his room and returned with several bottles of blood to heat in the microwave.
“How’d you get in here?” I asked Robert as I pulled the brown wig from my head and scratched were it had been itching. I carefully took out the bobby pins, releasing my hair around my shoulders once again.
“Eric was kind enough to give me a key card to your room while we waited for you outside the FBI building. It is more convenient this way than letting myself in,” he said with a grin.
I knew Eric was heating blood for me as well, but I wasn’t looking forward to having to drink more of that synthetic blood tonight. I knew with using my magic came the necessity of drinking more blood though to sustain the babies. Robert had obviously just started his own bottle and handed it to me as I sat beside him at the table. Without a word, I gulped the bottle down, trying not to make a face.
“You would think after five months, you would be used to the taste, lígo mitéra,” Robert teased.
“If that’s what it tastes like to ya’ll, I’m not sure how you ever got used to drinking it,” I replied, thankful when Eric set a bottle of water in front of me. It would at least help to wash the taste out of my mouth.
Eric set a bottle of blood down in front of each of us as he joined us at the table, sitting on the other side of me. “Real blood is far better than any imitation,” he purred. He gestured to the bottle in front of me, “Drink, you need more sustenance.”
I glared at the bottle, hating the vile substance, but steeled myself and quickly drank it as well. I gathered my empty bottles, washed them out before putting them in the recycling, and made my way to the phone. Blood may have been one of the things that the babies needed, but we all three needed food as well. I quickly placed an order with room service and made my way back to the table. We waited in comfortable silence for a while, but very quickly, room service brought my meal. Eric stood to retrieve it for me and laid it out in front of me.
“When do we leave for New Orleans?” I asked as I eagerly dug into my chicken alfredo.
Eric looked cautiously at Robert before addressing him. “Perhaps it would be wise if you did not accompany us to New Orleans. It is one thing for you to come into Davis’s territory, but it would be another for you to walk into the middle of the mess with Madden and de Castro as the monarch of California,” Eric advised.
Robert waved it away. “I shall leave my guards here in Texas and come with you. It would be better to have both of us there to protect Sookie should something go wrong. You said you were making an alliance with Davis, so I’ll leave my guards here with his men. They can arrive with his forces should they be needed.”
I was surprised that it seemed like Eric and Robert had been sharing at least some information with each other while I was busy. “So wouldn’t it be best for the three of us to slip into New Orleans and try to find Barry. I can go to their FBI building and do exactly what I did tonight until I find where they’re keeping Barry,” I added.
“And what if this is a trap on Victor’s part?” Eric said in agitation as he stood and began pacing the kitchen. “I cannot think it is coincidence that the FBI found Stan’s telepath and are now holding him in Louisiana.”
I knew Eric was right, but I also knew I couldn’t just leave Barry to his fate. “Well, then wouldn’t it be best to sneak in and find out what we can first? If Victor’s involved we’ll deal with him or kill him if we have to,” I insisted.
Both Robert and Eric stared at me. “You understand that could be seen as treason in the eyes of de Castro, regardless of the fact that Victor is attempting to overthrow him?” Eric warned cautiously as he returned to his seat. Robert was studying me again as though he’d never seen me before. And maybe he really hadn’t, he didn’t really understand the lengths I would go to in order to protect what was mine.
I stood wearily, pushing away my now empty plate and looked down at my seated vampires. It was a powerful feeling to be able to look down at them since they both normally towered over me. “I understand that Felipe can either accept what’s going to happen or he can deal with the consequences of them,” I assured them. “Now, I’m going to New Orleans tomorrow night, one way or another, so I think I’ll get some sleep.”
Both vampires stared at me in amazement for a few moments before Robert stood and came to me. Kissing me lightly on the cheek, he said, “Very well, lígo mitéra, I shall retire for the rest of the evening as well.” Turning towards Eric he added, “I’ll take care of our travel arrangements for tomorrow evening.” They nodded towards each other and Robert silently left the suite.
Eric was still staring at me, his face holding a look of wonder or amazement. I was just about to break his gaze by turning towards my own bedroom when he zipped out of his chair and came to stand in front of me and look down into my eyes. “Rest with me this day,” he whispered. I started to hesitate, so he added a quiet, “Please. I need to feel the comfort of your body against mine as dawn takes me.” It broke my resolve since I knew how hard it was for him to say that word to anyone, and could hardly remember him using it with me.
I nodded and carefully took his hand to follow him into his bedroom. It looked no different from my own, save for the lack of a balcony. His room did have a large window with the dark vampire proof, tinted glass however. I turned to him to start to ask him if he could get my nightgown, but he anticipated my question and ran out and back quickly, returning with my nightgown in his hand.
We never said a word as he carefully helped me shed the maternity dress and undergarments I had been wearing as part of my disguise and he was careful to only gently caress my arms and back as he helped to slide the nightgown over my head. After it had slid into place, he continued gently caressing my bare arms as he stood behind me. Then he stepped around me and gently led me to his bed. After I was settled under the covers, he knelt beside the bed and kissed my forehead, “Sleep well, lover.”
He started to stand and turn away, but I grabbed his closest hand. “Where are you going?” I asked.
“I need to place a call to Pam before I retire for the day. If we are going to New Orleans, I would like to have my child by my side again,” he replied quietly.
I immediately sat up, swinging my feet over the edge of the bed again. “Will you let me talk to her? I’d really like to speak with her,” I pleaded urgently.
He brought the hand that was still grasping his up to his mouth and gently kissed it. “I am certain she would like very much to speak to you as well,” he said, his voice almost sad. I knew something had to have happened between them for Pam to ask to be released and leave Eric, but I hadn’t been able to find out yet just what had happened.
Eric sat beside me on the bed and quickly dialed Pam’s number. I could hear her stiff voice, laced with confusion as she answered, “Master?”
“Your Mistress would like to speak with you, if that is your wish,” Eric replied into the phone.
I heard a quiet sigh on the other end, followed by an unsteady, “You are releasing me from your command?”
“Yes,” he breathed shortly.
Her response came in a steady voice, “Yes, I wish that.”
Eric handed me the phone, and I felt a tear slip down my cheek as I held it to my ear. I couldn’t speak for a moment, but I heard Pam’s voice prompt, “Sookie?”
I gave a quiet laugh, “It’s so good to hear your voice again, my friend.”
“You have returned to my maker?” she questioned.
I sighed and quickly explained, “We’re in Dallas. Barry’s gone missing and we’re here looking for him. I found out that that FBI took him and have him in New Orleans, but Eric and I were hoping you could meet us there. We’re gonna leave here tomorrow night.”
“So much trouble,” Pam lightly laughed on the other end. “I will of course meet you in New Orleans tomorrow evening. It takes more than one vampire to keep you out of trouble.”
I rolled my eyes but said, “Thanks, Pam. Oh, and Pam. Before you leave Minnesota, could you give that package I left with you to Anna-Marie with the instructions of what to do with it?”
I felt Eric’s surprise as he twisted next to me and looked curiously down at me. “Of course, Mistress. I shall see you in New Orleans,” and with that, she hung up the phone.
“You have seen Pam?” Eric immediately asked in surprise as I handed him back his phone.
“You said she couldn’t look for me or talk to me. You didn’t say anything about me looking for her, or her writing notes to me instead of talking to me,” I replied with a faint smile. It felt good to know Pam would be there too. I missed her snarky comments and her different but welcomed companionship.
“What is this package? And why should it be delivered to Queen Anna-Marie Sonier of Minnesota?” Eric demanded.
I moved towards the middle of the bed to lie down again. “Part of a plan I hope never has to be implemented,” I replied shortly.
“When did you see Pam?” he finally asked his voice tight and his eyes avoiding mine.
“I went to see her almost three months ago. She never went against your command. She didn’t look for me and she didn’t speak to me,” I replied defensively.
He sighed, and kissed my temple, finally meeting my gaze. “I am sorry that in my distraught emotions, I commanded such a thing of my child. It was wrong of me. I have amends to make to her as well as you. How did you find her?” he asked with open curiosity.
“I realized after your maker showed up and I could feel him, that if I concentrated, I could feel Pam too. I’m guessing it’s since we’ve all had your blood or whatever. I just had to do a little probing within the bond to find the part there that’s her and then go find her,” I explained.
He was still sitting on the edge of the bed, twisted sideways and staring down at me. He wanted to push me on the matter of my visit to Pam, but I sent him my resolve through the bond so he would know that I wasn’t going to tell him any more. He would be safer the less he knew. It was the same reason Pam didn’t know anything about what was in the package either or what to do with it. I had found a witch to seal the envelope of instructions so it would only open under certain circumstances. If the envelope were to open, then whoever had it only had to follow the instructions inside. I knew I could trust Anna-Marie to follow those instructions; she was quite fond of Pam.
I held out a hand and whispered, “Aren’t you going to join me?”
Before I could blink, he had shed his clothes and climbed into the bed on my other side. I rolled over, carefully placing my head on his chest, and one of my knees over his thigh to relieve the pressure in my hips and back. His hand carefully found my belly and began stroking it through the cotton nightgown. “We will be a family one day,” he swore quietly to the top of my head.
I tilted my chin up to look into his eyes. “Everything I’m doing is to ensure we at least have that chance,” I assured him, before I burrowed my head under his chin again and started drifting off to sleep.
“As everything I do is to ensure the same,” I heard him whisper back.
A/N: We’re 22 chapters into the story now, so 10 points and a naked Viking vampire to ravage you in your dreams tonight to anyone who can figure out how I’m naming the chapters. I’ll give you an easy hint: every chapter has the word change in it, but where are the titles coming from? 😉