Chapter 6: What I Cannot Change
“Com’on Sam,” I grunted from under Sam’s arm as I tried to haul his staggering body to our hotel room. “Get your feet under you.”
Sam was drunk. And I mean drunker than a skunk. I’d never even seen Sam close to tipsy before, let alone slurring, falling-down-drunk.
“My feet’r under-der me,” Sam stammered.
More like they were all over the place and under me—but close enough. I finally managed to get Sam to stagger into our hotel room, and dumped him on the bed. Almost instantly, he was out and snoring.
Shaking my head, I decided to go down to the lobby and get something to snack on; I figured I deserved it after hauling Sam’s butt from the wedding to our hotel. I wondered why it was that the weddings I went to always had to get all turned around. The last wedding, I went to as a bartender, had to step in for a bridesmaid, had to shoo my ex away from jumping me, all before ending the night as a bartender again. This time, I went to a wedding with a friend, said friend got into a shouting match then fight with his brother’s new family, then got drunk after the fight was broken up, and finally I had to drag him away from the bar and put him to bed.
I wasn’t quite sure how I had envisioned this weekend going, but I had made a promise to Sam, and I would see it through. I couldn’t really blame Sam for getting upset with the new in-laws for the comments they made, I was pretty upset too. At least before that we managed to have a little bit of fun. I danced with Sam, and got to know his mother. It all almost felt normal. Of course, it felt normal until the fight about the rights of the two-natured broke out. It took everything Sam’s mom and I had to get him under control. At that point, it seemed like a good idea to get Sam focused on drinking instead of fighting.
I sighed to myself; I guess I wasn’t meant for normal no matter what.
As I was putting money into the vending machine, I suddenly had the feeling that I was being watched. I cast out a mental net, and found a blank spot not far behind me.
I slowly turned around, and was surprised to find Heidi. It took every effort not to sound surprised or frightened. “What are you doing here, Heidi?” I asked in what I hoped was a calm manner.
“Watching you,” she answered just as calmly.
Ok, wasn’t expecting quite such a direct answer. “And what would your reason be for watching me?”
“I was ordered to.”
I carefully considered this little development. I knew Heidi was under Victor’s thumb, so I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised that she was watching me, but I was surprised that she would let me know that she was.
“Did Victor order you to watch me?” I asked after I had considered the situation. I at least wanted to confirm that much.
“Yes,” she answered. I didn’t think she was going to say anything else, but then she continued. “He did not give me orders to talk to you though.”
I waited for a few moments again. “So why are you talking to me?”
“The boy reminds me of my son,” she answered shortly. It took me a while to realize that she was talking about Hunter.
I wasn’t sure what to say, so I settled for, “He’s a good boy.”
Heidi nodded and stepped closer. Until now, she had been standing nearly 10 feet away, but now she stopped right in front of me. She was wearing a black t-shirt and black jeans; I guess it was so she could watch me from the shadows more easily. “You love the boy, and he loves you,” she said quietly, all the while looking down at me and not blinking.
I didn’t know how to respond, so I just nodded.
Heidi seemed to nod to herself. “Victor was going to come here himself to deal with you, but Eric’s plans meant that his attention was required elsewhere.” I wanted to ask her what Eric’s plans were, but she went on. “His plans won’t work unfortunately, at least not this time. Victor’s spies have alerted him to Eric’s plot and Victor has maneuvered accordingly. He will continue to watch you and wait for his opportunity to kill you. Victor’s ambition will not allow him to stop his plan.” She seemed to be searching for what to say. Finally, she settled on, “A battle is coming between those two; you should do anything you can to ensure that you and those you love don’t end up in the middle.” Heidi looked me over, and then pulled that vampire disappear thing.
Not knowing what else to do, I gathered up my junk food and headed back to the room I was sharing with Sam. In the back of my mind I wondered what Eric would think of Sam and I sharing a room, but at least if was one of those suites with two separate bedrooms and bathrooms. I figured it was probably safer anyway if we were in one suite together, especially since there seemed to be vamps watching me, and I wasn’t altogether sure if they were friendly or not.
As I settled into my own bed, noting that Sam was still snoring away in his, I considered Heidi’s “warning”, if that’s what it was. I wondered just what was headed our way next.
As we were driving back the next day, my mind was still on Heidi’s words from the night before. I considered talking about what had happened with Sam, but decided that I didn’t want to drag him into anything else. He had enough going on in his life.
I thought back on the wedding last night. It had been educational I guess, to attend the wedding as Sam’s “date.” I had always wondered what my life would be like if I settled down with Sam. In my mind, I always wondered if it wouldn’t be my closest shot to a normal life—the great American dream. The kids, the white picket fence, the dog in the yard. Only, the dog in our yard would probably be Sam, there wouldn’t be a picket fence, just the bar, and any kids of mine might possibly turn out like me. Yeah—that wasn’t quite the great American dream.
And no matter how much I didn’t want to consider the implications right now, Sam just wasn’t Eric. Dancing with Sam last night had been fun, like dancing with any friend would be, but in his arms, I tried to make myself see if there wasn’t any kind of a chance that Sam and I could have a quasi-normal or happy life, but no matter what, I just couldn’t see a future with him. I wasn’t sure what my future with Eric was either, but something in the pit of my stomach said that I wanted to find out.
“I’m sorry about last night,” Sam apologized again.
“Really, Sam, it’s alright,” I assured him. It’s not like he was the first drunk I’d dealt with.
We rode again in silence for a while. I could tell that Sam was still embarrassed about last night, and I was using the silence to consider the Victor situation. As we were nearing Bon Temps, Sam finally broke the silence.
“So, why’d you need to get back home so early this afternoon?” Sam asked.
“I needed to be home to babysit.”
Sam’s eyebrow rose. “Who are you babysitting?”
I sighed, I wanted to keep the knowledge of Hunter as limited as possible, but I knew I could trust Sam with it. “I’m watching Hadley’s son, Hunter, for the night. His dad called right before we left to see if I’d watch him tonight since he has a job interview real early on Monday in New Orleans. He works construction and wants to get into management. The company he’s hoping to do some work for is headquartered in New Orleans and wants him to come there for the interview. He didn’t want to drag Hunter down there, so I said I’d watch him.” Plus, he needs me to keep working with Hunter on his shields. I kept that part to myself. The less Sam knew, the better.
Sam nodded, “I didn’t know your cousin had a kid before she—you know—became a vamp.”
I nodded too. “I only found out a while back, and I’ve been trying to get to know him,” I answered truthfully.
“If you ever need help with him, you just let me know,” Sam said, looking over at me. “I can’t thank you enough for coming with me this weekend. I’m not sure how I would’a gotten through it otherwise.”
“No problem, Sam. You’ve always been there for me.” I could tell that Sam was gathering his courage to say something, and since I had a feeling that I knew what it was, I decided to deflect the conversation to more appropriate topics. “So, how’s Jannalynn? You gonna see her sometime soon, after being gone for the weekend.”
Sam sighed, and I knew he could tell I was changing the topic, but he let me anyway. “Yeah, I think we’re gonna go see a movie or something tomorrow night. How are things with Eric?” he asked through gritted teeth.
Now it was my turn to sigh. There was sure no love lost between those two, especially since I knew Eric had called Sam and given him a list of what he would and wouldn’t do to protect me this weekend. To his credit, other than getting drunk last night, Sam had followed Eric’s instructions and never said a word to me about them. Didn’t mean he didn’t think about them though.
That was another reason things would never work with Sam. I could never fully relax around him, not without hearing his thoughts. Except for the occasional slip, I never heard anything from Eric and I could really relax.
“Eric’s Eric,” I answered with a shrug, unsure of what else to say. I definitely wasn’t dragging Sam into the Victor mess if I could help it. “Things are pretty good I guess.” That was true enough; we were both working harder at understanding each other and learning to compromise, and really trying not to argue with each other.
As stubborn as we both were, the compromise and not arguing thing was almost harder than anything else.
Remy and Hunter were just pulling into my driveway as Sam was pulling out. I was glad the timing had worked out so well.
Hi, Aunt Sookie! Hunter screamed in his head as he raced out of Remy’s pickup.
I scooped him up in a hug, answering in my head as well, Hey, Hunter, how’s it going kiddo? “How are you Remy?” I asked as Remy stepped out of his pickup with Hunter’s backpack.
“I’m doing well, thanks so much for doing this on such short notice,” Remy told me tiredly.
“Of course,” I answered, “I’m glad to help.”
We walked into the house together. Are we gonna play catch with Claude again? Hunter asked in his mind. I could see from his thoughts that he’d been telling Remy all about Claude, so I decided to answer out loud.
“Well, Claude was only staying with me for a little bit and now he’s moved back to his place, but if you want, after dinner, you and I can go play catch in the yard.” I briefly wondered where Uncle Dermot was. I hadn’t seen him since I left for Texas with Sam. He’d said he would be nearby in case of trouble, but I hadn’t seen him all weekend. I could see that Remy was still uncomfortable with us talking in our heads, but I guess I couldn’t blame him.
“Okay,” Hunter answered a little gloomily. I guess Claude had really made an impression on him.
“Well champ, I need to get on the road,” Remy told Hunter, setting his backpack down in the kitchen. “Give me a hug before I hit the road.”
I set Hunter down and he ran to Remy, giving him a quick hug. “Bye, Dad,” he said before he took off for my box of toys. “Come on, Aunt Sookie, let’s go play!”
Remy actually did smile at that. “I guess that’s my cue to leave,” Remy said with a chuckle. “I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon.” He left quickly and quietly. I wondered if things had gotten harder again, Remy sure seemed to be in a hurry to leave.
We saw Kristen at the store and I told her that she was bad for thinking mean things about me and that she wasn’t gonna be my momma again ’cause you were, Hunter replied in answer to my thought. I would have to remember to reinforce my shields around Hunter.
Out loud, I carefully answered, “Hunter, you know I’m not going to be your mom. But I’m happy to help you as much as I can and try to be a good aunt to you.”
“I know,” Hunter answered, rather dejectedly. “Daddy said that same thing. But I still wish you would be. You’re the only one that understands me.”
“I’ll help you as much as I’m able,” I promised again, not knowing what else to say.
We spent the afternoon practicing for Hunter to recognize what I was thinking and what I was actually saying. He was still struggling with it, but considering he was just five, I thought he was doing really well. I figured I’d take Hunter out somewhere to practice more, tomorrow morning before Remy came back.
I was washing our dishes from dinner, and Hunter was playing with his toy cars in the living room when I felt arms slide around me from behind.
“Jesus Christ, Shepherd of Judea!” I exclaimed before I was spun around and kissed thoroughly.
“It is good to see you, my lover,” Eric said as he kissed my jaw line.
Aunt Sookie, who’s that? Hunter questioned warily. I pulled away from Eric and could see that Hunter was trying to listen to Eric. Is he a vampire too? he continued, sounding more excited.
Remember to speak out loud, Hunter. “Hunter, this is—” I cast about for what to call Eric, “my boyfriend, Eric.” I turned to Eric, who was eyeing Hunter curiously, and took his hand leading him closer to Hunter. “Eric, this is Hadley’s son, Hunter.”
Eric nodded in understanding and squatted down in front of Hunter. Even squatting he had to seem like a giant to Hunter. Holding out his hand, he said, “I am pleased to meet you, Hunter.”
Hunter only hesitated for a second before putting his little hand in Eric’s big one and shaking it. “You’re cold! Is that ’cause you’re a vampire?” Hunter asked enthusiastically.
Eric glanced at me before answering. “Yes, it is.”
“Cool!” Hunter exclaimed.
Eric looked confused at the human vernacular, so I decided to intervene. I had a few questions for Eric anyway. “Hunter, why don’t you go back into the living room and keep playing, I need to talk to Eric.” Hunter looked disappointed to be sent away, but went anyway.
As soon as Hunter was out of the kitchen, I swatted Eric on the arm. “That’s for scaring the tar out of me,” I said quietly so Hunter wouldn’t overhear.
Eric followed my lead and quietly answered, “I was not aware that I would startle you so, lover. Why have you not told me that the boy was your relation sooner? He is the same boy you watched before.”
“You didn’t ask who he was,” I answered. Eric’s eyebrow rose in challenge. “Alright, I just found out about him not long ago, and have been trying to get to know him. I thought it was best to keep him away from all of the other stuff in my life,” I answered truthfully.
“You care for this boy?” Eric asked.
Eric nodded. “Then it likely is a good idea to keep him away from all of the other ‘stuff’ in your life,” he agreed.
I looked outside; it was just barely after first dark. I wondered how Eric had gotten here so soon. “What are you doing here?”
“I spent the day here so that I could be with you as soon as the sun went down.”
“Why’s that?” I questioned, my hands going to my hips. Heidi’s warning instantly came back to me.
“Do I really need a reason to want to spend time with my wife,” he answered, lifting his eyebrow, but I could feel a slight nervousness coming from him.
“How was your weekend?” I decided to ask.
“A few things did not go to plan this weekend, but I always have other plans in place,” he hedged. I could tell from his tone that this wasn’t something he was going to explain any further. But I gathered that what Heidi had said was right and that Victor had been ready for whatever Eric had tried. Part of me wanted to know what was going on, but I was starting to think that maybe it would be better not to know.
“Aunt Sookie, I’m bored,” Hunter said, coming back into the kitchen. I wasn’t really surprised, little kids got bored quickly.
Looking at Eric again, I said, “Look, I’m sorry that I can’t spend the evening with you, but I’ve got to look after Hunter.”
“Can Eric stay too; he can catch fireflies with us!” Hunter exclaimed. I had told Hunter during dinner that we could go outside after dark and catch fireflies; he was excited because he’d never seen a firefly up-close before.
Eric gave a slow smile and squatted in front of Hunter again. “I would be delighted to,” he answered, picking Hunter up and running outside. It wasn’t quite at vampire speed, but still pretty fast. Hunter was giggling all the way. I gathered up some mason jars and took them outside too. I don’t know why I was so surprised that Eric would be willing, let alone want to stay and spend time with a child.
Hunter was already running around trying to catch fireflies in his hands. I handed him a jar, saying, “Here Hunter, use this to catch them.”
Eric zipped back in front of us with his hands clasped in front of him and a smirk on his face.
Did you catch one? Hunter asked in his head, forgetting in his excitement to ask out loud.
Out loud, I reminded him.
“Did you catch one?” Hunter asked again.
Eric glanced back and forth between us, almost as if he could sense something. “Yes, I did,” he finally answered. “Would you like to see it?” At Hunter’s frantic nodding, he slowly opened his hands. A firefly hovered in his hands for a moment before trying to dart out, but Eric quickly closed one palm around it. With his other hand, he took a mason jar and then put the firefly securely into the jar. Handing it to Hunter he said, “There, now you can see it more clearly without it flying away.”
“Why do they light up?” Hunter asked.
“My Gran used to tell me that they lit up to make sure you followed them, and that if you followed them long enough or caught enough of them, they would show you the way to the fairy doors,” I explained fondly, remembering when I had chased fireflies with Jason as kids and had actually wanted to see a fairy.
Hunter looked the bug over for a long time, and then handed the jar back to Eric. “I wanna catch one,” he told us as he grabbed his own mason jar again and ran off.
I laughed at his excitement, and Eric moved behind me to wrap his arms around my waist. Giving me a gentle squeeze, he said quietly, “You would make an excellent mother.”
I could feel my throat get tight at the thought. I shrugged, and tried to answer nonchalantly, “I guess it wasn’t meant to be.”
I could feel Eric watching Hunter’s running form over my head. After a time Eric dropped his head to my neck and whispered, “I am sorry I cannot give you children, Sookie.”
A bitter pang, bit at my insides. We had never talked about this kind of thing before, but it meant more than I could imagine that Eric genuinely felt sorrow for me. It was somehow soothing to feel that from him. I ran my hands slowly over Eric’s arms at my waist. “Me too,” I answered simply. No sense wishing for something that couldn’t happen, right?
After a while, Hunter got tired of trying to catch fireflies, they were still a little too quick for five-year-olds. “Can we play hide-and-go-seek?” Hunter asked, running up to us. I was surprised he still had energy.
“Of course,” I answered, detangling myself from Eric and picking Hunter up. “Why don’t you and I go hide, and Eric can find us.” Eric’s eyebrow rose in question, and I could tell he didn’t understand the game. With a laugh, I explained, “You stay here with your eyes closed and count to 100, then come find us. When you do, we count and you hide. But no cheating,” I said, swatting his chest and giving him a significant look so that he would know that I meant no vampire stuff.
Eric smiled, “This sounds like an interesting game, but the rules shall go both ways, dear one, no cheating,” he said with a challenging look before he closed his eyes and began counting.
I set Hunter down and together we started running for the trees and a place to hide. I knew we didn’t stand a chance of course, Eric could find us with his eyes closed, but Hunter seemed to be having a blast.
“Shh,” I kept reminding him from our hiding place behind a big oak. Hunter was so excited he was quietly giggling.
Suddenly, I felt cool lips at the base of my neck. “I like this game, lover,” Eric whispered in my ear, before he bent down and grabbed Hunter and started tickling him. I could feel Eric’s pleasure, and I guess it made sense that the predator in him would like hunting and chasing. He finally set Hunter down, saying, “Your turn,” and then disappeared into the night.
It took us longer to find Eric, and I was determined not to cheat by looking for the blank spot that was his mind, so Eric would make some noise so Hunter could find him. Eventually though, Hunter was finding Eric faster and faster and Eric wasn’t making any more noise either. As we were running through the yard, I finally decided to dip into Hunter’s head to see how he was finding Eric so quickly. I realized with a start that he was doing what I would have done—looking for the blank spot.
Just as I was realizing this, Hunter looked up and shrieked, “Found you!” pointing to Eric who was hovering above us.
Eric landed in front of us, saying with a smirk, “Yes you did, you are a very smart boy.”
“I think it’s time to get you cleaned up and in bed, Hunter,” I said quickly, unnerved by the knowing look on Eric’s face. I picked a protesting Hunter up, and carried him inside. I could tell Eric was following me closely.
I started running a bath for Hunter. “Why don’t you ready Hunter’s room while I bathe him, dear one,” Eric offered from the door. I was surprised by the offer and not just a little wary since I was fairly certain Eric knew something was up.
Seeing my hesitation, Eric came closer and drew my body to his. “The boy is in no danger from me; I have suspected for some time that there was more to the boy. I wish only to keep the boy happy and safe because he makes you happy.” Eric lightly kissed my lips and cupped my cheek in his big hand. “Trust me,” he said quietly.
I considered everything we’d been through, and just like going to that orgy with Eric, I trusted him implicitly. I had wondered then if it was right, but now, I felt in my stomach that it was. I nodded. “I didn’t realize you would know how to give children baths,” I wondered aloud.
“I did bathe my own children occasionally when the chore was required,” he answered quietly. I gave him a quick kiss, and went across to Hunter’s room to get it ready. I could hear Hunter animatedly telling Eric about the ducks and what he’d named them, and that he was their king.
Finally, Eric emerged with Hunter changed into his pajamas. I laughed at the sight of Eric’s wet shirtfront and jeans. “Who was taking the bath, you or Hunter?” I asked him between giggles.
“I do not recall this procedure having been so difficult in my past,” Eric admitted with a scowl. Even though he was scowling, I could feel Eric’s pleasure, and knew he had enjoyed spending time with Hunter, even if the prospect was a little wet. I took Hunter from Eric’s arms and settled him into bed.
“Will you tell me a story, Uncle Eric,” Hunter asked. I raised my eyebrow at Eric. Apparently, Eric told him during bath time that Hunter could call him that.
Eric settled onto the edge of Hunter’s bed. “Of course, Hunter. Would you like to hear a story from my youth, when I was a Viking?”
Hunter’s eyes widened, “Yay!” he squealed in excitement.
I stepped back and listened as Eric apparently told the equivalent of a Viking fairy tale. I always forgot that Eric had children of his own, and I found myself amazed at how well he handled Hunter. Not only how well he handled him, but that he seemed to enjoy spending time with him. It seemed so unvampire-like, but then again, Eric often did surprise me.
When he’d finished, and Hunter had fallen into an exhausted sleep, he stood and moved to the foot of Hunter’s bed. He stood there and looked down at him. I could feel sadness and regret coming from Eric and knew he must be remembering his own children. I moved behind Eric, and wrapped my arms around his waist, pressing my face into his back.
“I wish I had more time with my own children,” Eric said quietly. There wasn’t much I could say, so I settled for squeezing him tighter around the waist and sending him as much love as I could. Eric’s arms came up to settle over mine. His fingers entwined with my own. So quietly, that I almost couldn’t hear him, he whispered, “I wish we could have children. They would be magnificent.”
I couldn’t argue with his wish, watching him with Hunter tonight, I’d never wished more that I could give Eric a little blond-headed, miniature Viking to follow in his footsteps. Watching Eric tickling Hunter, or bathing him, or telling him a story, I had caught myself several times imagining that it was a little boy who looked something like both of us. I couldn’t deny that I wanted so badly to create something that would be a part of each of us, physical—everlasting proof of our love.
I pressed my noise harder into Eric’s back, inhaling his dry, masculine scent. I couldn’t help but feel grief for what could never be, but with determination, I told him softly, “You’re enough for me.”
Eric turned in my arms and led me back to my bedroom, shutting the door. I could tell by the look in his eyes what he had in mind. “Don’t you need to get back to Shreveport?” I questioned, still feeling the need to whisper. I was sure that Hunter wouldn’t hear a rampaging herd of elephants going through the house, let alone Eric and me.
“There is nowhere else I would rather be, lover,” he said, as he gently ran his hands up my t-shirt.
We slowly undressed each other, a piece of clothing for a piece of clothing. Once naked, Eric settled me into the middle of my bed. Placing gentle kisses over my shoulders and neck, he trailed his fingers down my side and found my hot core. As he scraped his fangs across my clavicle, he curled his fingers in me, finding that delicious spot and pushed me over the golden edge. He brought his fingers to his mouth and licked them, moaning deeply. “You taste divine, lover.”
Still panting, I raked my fingers down Eric’s back, and hooked my feet behind his thighs, pulling him closer, needing him closer. Now. I slipped my hand between us, and after giving him several quick strokes, started guiding him into me. Eric’s eyes were nearly black with lust and desire as he slowly slid into me.
I was careful to keep my voice quiet, and I noted Eric was as well. He more than made up for his quietness with his kisses and his touches. My hands trailed down Eric’s arms and clasped his hands, gripping for all I was worth. Eric drew my arms up over my head, still clasping my hands, and pinned them down as he stared into my eyes and thrust into me. My legs wrapped around his waist for leverage as I met each of his thrusts with one of my own.
My mind kept going back to our evening, how I wished this very act could have a more lasting physical result. I was happy with what I had with Eric, but that didn’t stop me from wanting more. I had very little family left, and what I once had had been taken from me very early. Was it so much to ask for? I had been beaten, maimed, raped, tortured and much more, was this one thing so much to ask for? I didn’t want telepathy, I didn’t ask for the essential spark either. What good was having magic if it couldn’t give me the one thing I wanted more than anything else?
As I neared my peak, Eric bit into the curve of my neck and shoulder. Wishing with all of my might that I could make Eric a part of me, I turned my head into Eric, and bit down hard on his shoulder. I could tell that Eric wanted to shout out, but instead he came with a shuddering groan. Eric’s blood filled my mouth, and as I came, everything else faded away.
When I came to, I was still slightly panting and tucked into Eric’s side. I almost laughed to myself; I’d never orgasmed so hard that I blacked out before. I could feel that Eric was still … melancholy? “I wish I could give you children,” he said again, this time in a thick voice. I felt a red teardrop fall onto my forehead.
A silent tear of my own rolled down my cheek. “I know,” I answered quietly. “I know.”
A/N: It took me a little longer to get out than I hoped, but I’ve finally got it done. I wasn’t able to get much work done during the week, but I had a blast instructing at the roping clinic. It was muddy, and rainy, and hailed one night, but we had fun anyway, and had a few mud fights too. I really do feel sorry for the mothers though, a bunch of the kids were head to toe caked in mud. Any of you who have kids of your own—my heart goes out to you, I can’t imagine the work that must go into them!
What did you guys think of True Blood?
And as always, let me know what you think!