Chapter 7: Change In the Making
I woke the next morning to find my Uncle Dermot looking down at me with a strange expression on his face. Eric of course, was nowhere in sight.
“What have you done?” Dermot asked quietly.
I sat up groggily, noting that it was after eight in the morning, and Hunter was still sleeping. He must have been really worn out last night. “What are you talking about Uncle? What are you doing in here so early?” I asked as I slipped out of bed, careful to keep the sheet around me until I could pull my robe on.
Dermot looked confused and actually stepped closer to me and sniffed me. The whole sniffing thing that supes did was starting to really annoy me. Pushing Dermot out of the way, I walked out into the kitchen to start some coffee. Dermot followed close behind me, his face still a mask of confusion. “Did you teleport somewhere last night?” he asked as I turned the coffee maker on.
“What? What are you talking about? I haven’t teleported anywhere in several days. What’s going on Uncle?” I asked, turning around and placing my hands on my hips. It was way too early after such a long night for these kinds of riddles.
If possible, Dermot looked even more confused as he stared at the floor. Finally, he looked up at me and said, “You reek of magic. The feeling of it coming from you is overpowering. I’ve never felt such strength of magic come from you. If you haven’t teleported anywhere, then what have you done?”
I felt my forehead draw together in confusion. “I haven’t used my magic in days though, not since our last practice before I left for Texas,” I explained. “Wait, you can feel and smell when I’ve used my magic?”
Dermot nodded distractedly, and began pacing in the kitchen. “Yes, as you grow more accustomed to your magic, you will be able to shield others from smelling or feeling the effects, but it will take time to learn,” he explained with a wave of his hand as he kept pacing. I noted that he was finally wearing some new clothes. For a while now he’d been wearing some old clothes that Jason had given him. (That is when he wasn’t wearing what I thought of as his fairy clothes. They were usually leggings and tunics like I’d seen some of the other fairy wear.) Now he was wearing some nicer dark wash jeans and a dark blue sweater, though I would have thought it was too warm for a sweater. I guess he’d bought himself some new clothes with the money he made from Merlotte’s.
“What did you do last night?” he finally asked, coming to a stop in front of me.
My face grew hot and I’m sure was quite red thinking about the last thing I’d done last night. “Well,” I began, trying not to stutter. Dermot was really worked up so I figured I needed to bite the bullet and just explain. “I’ve been babysitting for a friend … actually it’s my cousin Hadley’s son, Hunter.” I figured since Claude knew about Hunter, I might as well tell Dermot. “Then Eric came over and we played with Hunter some, and then … well, Eric spent the night,” I finished lamely.
“You did not use your magic to do anything last night or this morning?” Dermot asked, placing his hands on my shoulders.
“No,” I answered honestly, shaking my head.
Dermot sighed, and turned to the coffee maker, pouring two cups of fresh coffee. Handing me one, he said, “Whatever happened will likely reveal itself in time. I suppose there is no sense in dwelling on it.”
I took my cup of coffee and sat down at the table. I could feel Hunter’s brain stirring, and knew that he would be up soon and that I should start some breakfast for him, but I wanted just a moment to myself to think about things.
Eventually, Hunter came running into the kitchen and skidded to a halt when he saw Dermot seated at the table with me.
Who’s that? Hunter asked timidly.
Smiling, I said, “This is our Uncle Dermot, Hunter.” In my head, I reminded him, Speak out loud around others, Hunter.
“Good morning,” Hunter said quietly.
Getting up, I made my way to the stove. “What would you like for breakfast, Hunter?”
Hunter bounced up to me. “Can we have pancakes again? I like your pancakes!” Hunter told me excitedly. “Where’s Uncle Eric?”
“Sure,” I told him. “Uncle Eric is sleeping. He’s a vampire, remember? They have to sleep during the day.” I could hear him processing this and thinking it was pretty neat that Eric could sleep all day, and wishing he could too so he wouldn’t have to go to school. “Why don’t you go play in the living room while I make breakfast?” I still had a few things I wanted to talk to Dermot about. Hunter nodded and ran to the living room. I had to smile at his energy level; I wished Eric could be around to help wear him out during the day too.
“Perhaps it would be best if I come back this afternoon to help you practice? That way you can have time with the boy. We work again tomorrow during the lunch shift, yes?” Dermot asked me.
“That’s fine; I think Hunter’s dad is coming to get him sometime this afternoon or evening. We actually work both shifts tomorrow since I was gone this weekend and Sam has payroll to catch up on so he’ll need you at the bar if you’re willing,” I told him.
Dermot nodded and then disappeared before I could say anything else. Those fairies.
After breakfast, I took Hunter into Bon Temps to walk around the town square. I didn’t want to take him anywhere with too many people too quickly, but I figured just walking around the square would probably be enough of a workout for a five year old telepath, not that there was an instruction manual for us.
Remember to build a fence between your mind and the minds of everyone else, that way you can focus on what they actually say, I explained to Hunter.
We were walking along, Hunter was holding my hand so that he could focus on my mind and shield more easily. I was worried that I might be pushing Hunter too soon to learn how to shield, but I knew from experience that it was an important and vital tool to survival and more importantly, sanity.
Hunter was focusing intently on trying to shield, but he was still having trouble. Focus on my mind and see how I do it, I told Hunter, and then built my own shields. I could feel Hunter pushing at my shields and examining them. I lowered my own and sent to Hunter, Can you hear me? I could tell by the look of concentration on his face that he was still focusing on his shields and hadn’t heard me.
I tugged on his hand. “It’s working, Hunter,” I told him with a smile.
Hunter’s eyes snapped to mine. “Really?” he asked with excitement.
“Yeah, you didn’t hear me.”
Hunter grinned at me. “Do I have to do it all the time? It’s really hard work,” he told me.
“You don’t have to do it all the time, just around others, and it will get easier the more you do it, Hunter. I know it’s hard work, but if you want to be able to have a normal life, you have to learn how to do it,” I explained.
Hunter nodded and I could see him thinking about his dad’s “normal” friends.
We worked on shielding for a while longer, but Hunter was getting tired and irritated pretty quickly, so I figured it was time to call it a day.
I wanna go play, Hunter grumbled in his mind. I could feel that he was mentally exhausted, so I loaded him in my car and took him home. I knew he was too tired to play very much and would probably just fall asleep in front of a movie.
I was right.
“How’d it go with Hunter?” Remy asked when he came late that afternoon.
“It was good, we worked on blocking others out, and he made really good progress for his age,” I explained. Hunter was still in the guest bedroom, playing with his Duplos.
“Well that’s good,” Remy said, still looking uncomfortable with talking about his son’s ability.
“How’d your interview go?” I asked politely.
“It went well,” Remy said. I could tell that there was something he didn’t want to talk about, so I didn’t pry. “Hunter! Are you ready to go buddy?”
“Daddy!” Hunter shouted as he came running out and threw himself at Remy.
For the first time since his arrival, Remy’s face brightened as he bent down and hugged Hunter. I felt a pang of regret that I would never have a child of my own like Remy did. I hoped he cherished that blessing, even if Hunter wasn’t like other boys.
I gave them a moment alone and went to the guest bedroom to gather up Hunter’s things. When I came back out with Hunter’s backpack, Remy looked like he was ready to go. I guess I was good enough to help his son, but Remy was still uncomfortable being around me knowing that I could read his mind.
Taking Hunter’s backpack from me, he said ruefully, “Thanks again so much for watching him. If I need you to watch him again, I’ll try to give you more of a heads up.”
“I’m happy to watch Hunter anytime,” I told him honestly. I had enjoyed last night with Hunter and my vampire more than I thought possible.
Remy hustled Hunter out the door quickly and into his pickup. I wondered about how quickly he seemed to want to get out, but my mind quickly wandered to my Viking. I could tell he’d spent the day in my hidey-hole, and I had a few things I wanted to talk to him about. I knew we hadn’t had the chance to talk about the Victor thing last night, and even if Eric didn’t want to give me specifics about what was going on, I still wanted to know more.
That afternoon, my magic seemed to come easier than it had before. I was surprised after having several days off, but maybe I was rested up. I still couldn’t do anything all that impressive, at least in my opinion, but I was real excited to be able to teleport twice. I teleported from the backyard to the kitchen and back again.
Dermot had smiled with pride at my feat and said that magic would keep coming more easily as I used it and stretched those muscles so-to-speak. He still seemed quiet and when we were done, he left real abruptly saying he needed to talk to Claude and would see me in the morning.
When Eric woke up and climbed out of his hidey-hole, I was waiting for him with a warm bottle of TrueBlood. He gave a slow smile when he saw me sitting cross-legged on my old bed. I handed him the bottle, and he drank it down in a few quick gulps. Setting the bottle down on the nightstand by the bed, he began trying to push me backwards onto the bed, all the while kissing at my throat.
“Sookie,” he moaned, “you smell so sweet.”
“Wait, Eric. Stop. We can’t right now,” I told him, pushing on his shoulder, trying to stop him.
Eric leaned up and looked at me curiously. “Why? I can tell the boy is gone,” he told me.
“Because we need to talk,” I said slipping out from under him.
Eric reclined on his side, his head propped up on his hand. “You are a hardhearted woman,” Eric said in mock reproach, but I could see a little twinkle in his eyes.
Taking the empty TrueBlood, I started out of the guest bedroom, throwing over my shoulder, “Come on Eric, we need to talk and a bedroom isn’t the best place for it.”
I could see the smirk on Eric’s face as he got up to follow me. I went to the sink and rinsed out the bottle, when I’d turned around Eric was waiting for me in the living room, sprawled out on the couch. I started to walk past Eric to sit on the other end from Eric, but his arm shot out and pulled on me until I toppled over onto his lap.
“Eric, come one, I need you focused. We need to talk,” I said as I tried to stand up, but Eric kept his arms wrapped around me until I was straddling his hips with Eric nipping at my neck and shoulders again.
“Indulge me; I want to taste your skin. I can focus just fine, lover. Talk away,” he said between kisses.
With a laugh I said, “Yeah, but I can’t focus with you doing that.” I pushed again, and while Eric did let me lean back and stopped attacking my neck, he didn’t let me up. Realizing that this was as good as it was going to get, I continued, “So, about this whole Victor thing … Heidi came to see me this weekend at the hotel.”
Eric’s face never changed, but I felt him stiffen ever so slightly beneath me. “She spoke to you,” he stated more than asked. I nodded. “I knew she was likely to be following you. Where was the shifter that she was able to approach you at all?” he asked in a slow, deadly voice.
“He was in the room, I’d gone down to the vending machine to get something to eat,” I carefully explained. I figured Eric didn’t need to know that Sam was passed out drunk at the time.
“I’ll kill that shifter and Maxwell,” Eric hissed, his hands tightening slightly at my waist.
“Maxwell? What’s he got to do with this?” I questioned.
Eric studied me, and I could tell he was gauging how mad I might get by what he was going to tell me. “I sent Maxwell along to watch you as well. Obviously he did not watch you well enough, if Heidi was able to get near you.”
My initial reaction was to be mad that he didn’t trust Sam, but we had both agreed to argue with each other less. I sat back and studied Eric for a moment as I thought. If Eric breathed, I would have said he was holding his breath. Thinking about the weekend, I guess it was a good idea to send someone else to watch too. Heck, even then one of Victor’s vamps came up to me. Although, I wasn’t really sure where Heidi’s loyalties lay, I guess so long as they had her son—they had her.
I nodded, and decided that if Eric wanted to send a vamp to watch me, I would go along with it. Moving on, I said, “Well, she told me that Victor knew about your plans and that he was ready for them. She said something about there being a spy in your camp or something like that. I think she just wanted to warn me. She said I should do my best to stay out from between you two.”
Eric was silent as he considered my news. His hands went from gripping my waist to kneading it and making small circles with his fingers.
“So what happened with Victor while I was gone?” I finally asked.
Eric’s hands stilled again. “The details are unimportant. Suffice to say I had come to the conclusion that he had a spy of some sort when my plan failed, but not all was a fail. We did learn important lessons in how to handle Victor the next time.”
“What do you mean?”
Eric moved one hand up to the back of my neck. “Battle strategies are much like chess. Have you played chess before?” he asked. I shook my head. “Then we shall have to remedy that sometime, lover. Well, when you are fighting an opponent, or playing chess, your opponent’s first moves are almost always the same. We may not have taken out Victor and his faction this time, but now we know how he is likely to respond to a threat again.”
I thought about what Eric said, and it made sense. “Was anybody hurt?” I couldn’t help but question.
Eric smirked, “Believe it or not lover, but I have my own spies in Victor’s camp as well, so I knew soon enough that he had discovered our plans and could keep any of my people from being permanently damaged, though Victor could not say the same. Even more importantly, Victor did not go to Felipe with news of the event.”
My brows furrowed together. “What does that have to do with anything?” I wondered.
Eric’s hand threaded through my hair. “My actions could technically be considered treason, dear one. The fact that Victor did not take my actions to the king means he’s closer to taking control of the state himself than I thought. At least I won’t have to worry about him going to the king.”
“Can’t you go to the king though and tell him what Victor’s doing?” I asked.
Eric shook his head sadly. “De Castro has bitten off more than he can chew in taking over Louisiana. It is in tougher financial shape than he anticipated after Katrina, and vampires have been slow to return to the state, instead wanting to settle into states with more established monarchies. With the current economy, Nevada has been having dire financial problems themselves. De Castro had counted on having Victor to run this state while he ran Nevada, and now that Victor has gained his own following, he cannot afford to take arms against Victor.”
“So we’re on our own to deal with Victor. We either have to take him out or let him take over the state,” I said, my hands gripping Eric’s shirtfront.
Eric sighed. “We have to take Victor out. We cannot—we will not fail in this. If Victor continues to move forward in taking over the state, neither you nor I will be here to see it happen,” he said sadly.
I leaned forward, leaning my head onto Eric’s shoulder. Eric’s arms went around me and held me tight. “I just want this to be over,” I said quietly.
“I know, lover. I will do my best to bring this to conclusion as quickly as possible.”
How long we stayed like that I wasn’t sure, but it was nice to push the world and our problems away for at least a while.
“Whatever I can do to help, you know I will, right Eric?”
I could feel Eric’s amusement, and heard him chuckle softly. “I have no doubt you would stake Victor yourself if you thought you had the chance, dear one. I wish to keep you as far away from the fighting as possible this time.”
With a faint smile I said, “That would be different. I always seem to end up in the middle, whether I want to or not.”
Eventually, Eric’s phone rang and he said he had to get back to Fangtasia. It was odd how quiet the house seemed tonight without Hunter and Eric around. Eric especially was always bigger than life. I even found myself missing Dermot. It was strange how a vampire, a fairy and a child could bring a house to life, and without them, how dead it became.
I settled into bed, knowing that my double shift tomorrow was going to make for one long day.
A/N: As always, let me know what you think!
And big thank you to Michele Buchanan for pointing out my grammar mistake on weary/wary. I’m pretty good at catching mistakes, but it’s always harder to catch your own mistakes, so thank again! Again, big thank yous to everyone for reading, or adding this story to alerts or favorites! It means a lot!