“Stop with the fuckin’ pacin’, bitch. You’s gonna put a rut in the whole fuckin’ floor,” Lafayette said.
Pam stopped and put her hands on her hips. “You are one to talk. You have been pacing all night.”
Lafayette intoned, “Yeah, bitch. I may have been, but I ain’t doin’ it at fuckin’ vamp speed. Look at the fuckin’ rug!”
Pam looked down. Indeed, the area rug where she’d been treading was damaged. Pam glared at Lafayette, “You could have told me this earlier—hooker.”
Tara joined in, “Bitch, earlier, we couldn’t even see yo’ ass. You was movin’ too damned quick.”
Pam looked at her child, “Jessica, you could see me. Why didn’t you stop me?”
For probably the tenth time that night, the redhead burst into tears. She turned her face into Jason’s shirt, and then she said something about Hunter starting to stand just like Pam with his hands on his hips and how cute it was and how they’d probably never see him do it again.
Pam rolled her eyes, and then looked down at the rug, “This is a hideous rug anyway. I will leave it to you—,” she looked at Jesus, “and only you—to find a replacement.”
“What’s wrong with me?” Lafayette asked in an offended tone.
“If you purchased a replacement, it would most likely have a cheap-looking animal print on it. He,” she pointed at Jesus, “will try to match Eric’s style.”
“Why don’t you just get it?” Tara asked with an eye roll of her own.
“Because—if I shop when I’m not feeling,” she paused, “myself, then I only want to buy pastels, and that would be a fucking disaster in this room!”
Tara and Lafayette laughed a bit, and Jessica looked at her adopted maker with an almost-smile.
From the other side of the room, Miranda piped in, “Is that how you explain your shirt?”
Pam looked down and recalled that she was wearing a light pink sweater with her designer black jeans.
Pam leveled Miranda with a glare. “Pink is always in style,” she said.
“Well—amen to that at least,” Lafayette agreed.
Pam continued, “Plus, this color makes me look sweet and benign. I get more non-fangbanger types offering me blood when I’m in pink.”
Tara said under her breath, “I don’t think they make a shade of pink pastel enough to make you look sweet.”
To this, everyone in the room started laughing again with the exception of Pam, whose hands once again went to her hips, and Jessica, who was once again crying into Jason’s shirt.
Pam huffed and zipped into the bathroom, returning with yet another warm rag. She bent down in front of Jessica and stroked her shoulders soothingly. Jessica turned in Jason’s arms to face Pam as her adoptive maker wiped her red tears away and cleaned her cheeks. Pam spoke in a low voice, but everyone in the room understood the impact of her words, “It’s only thirty minutes to dawn, Doll, and Eric will be coming back soon. Maybe Hunter too. Either way, you can’t show these, no matter what—remember?”
Jessica hiccupped and nodded. Pam stroked her cheek with more gentleness than seemed possible for the vampiress and looked at Jason’s blood-streaked shirt.
“You should change, honey,” Jessica said contritely. “I’m sorry.”
Jason smiled comfortingly at her, “It’s okay, Jess. I got lots of shirts here.” He kissed Jessica’s forehead and left her in Pam’s hands.
Tara looked at Pam closely. “Do you think he’ll come back?”
Everyone knew that the ‘he’ Tara was referring to was Hunter.
Pam sighed. The task of telling everyone that there was a real possibility that Hunter might never be coming back had fallen to her earlier that night. Eric had asked that they be prepared after he and Hunter left because her maker didn’t want to answer a lot of questions if Hunter didn’t return with him. Pam knew that the truth was that Eric would be incapable of answering any.
She figured that she would be lucky to get him inside and safely into the cubby before daybreak if Hunter didn’t come back.
Pam was angry at her maker over his current hair-brained plan. First, he’d be losing his nightly dosage of dream-Sookie nookie. She shook her head. Since the fairy bond had been healed and since Eric had been making regular visits to the telepath’s dreams, he’d been so much more content.
The hollowness, depression, and fatalism she’d felt from him had been replaced by a sense of acceptance even before the bond had been reactivated, but Eric still hadn’t felt ‘right’ to her. In the last month, however, he’d felt more like himself than he had for more than a year. And now he was not only encouraging Sookie to once again cost them a huge chunk of time, but also allowing Hunter to choose whether to stay with his mother.
Hunter was emotional and—for lack of a better word—human. And that meant that he might make the wrong choice because of those emotions.
Pam remembered her own childhood—a cruel father who ordered her mother and herself around like cattle. A passive mother who just stood there when her father’s frustrations turned violent. Her mother had called it her “duty” to receive the punishments of her father and to try to please him even more―so that he would not need to punish her again. Pam looked back at her memories of her human family with distaste even as she squeezed Jessica’s hand a little.
She felt ashamed to remember how there was a time when she had been just like her mother—trying anything possible to please a man who was impossible to please. She sacrificed years of happiness to try to be the dutiful daughter her father said he wanted, but it was never good enough. And there was nothing Pam could have done to change that. Even perfection would have been seen as failure by him. Only much later did Pam realize that it was her father who was the one that wasn’t good enough.
She just hoped that Hunter would not sacrifice himself for a mother who was clearly not good enough for him either.
Eric’s plan was fucking insanity—in her point of view.
Tara was looking at Pam. “Well—what do you think? Will he come back?”
For one of the only times in her long life, the vampiress shrugged. “I don’t know.”
Pam spoke evenly, though there was an undercurrent of trepidation to her voice that everyone heard, but no one commented on. “I have been reading much research on the matter and have found that children of Hunter’s age generally choose the mother when divorce cases occur. And normative thought in this country also suggests that the mother should be preferred to the father when a child’s early upbringing is considered, so I have,” she paused, “prepared myself.” Pam tried to keep her voice steady and strong. She certainly was not ready to become emotional in front of the humans. Pacing was one thing, but she was not going to fucking cry until she was alone in her fucking coffin, which she’d brought to put into the cubby earlier that night so that Bubba couldn’t see her either.
Jesus scoffed, a sound that was not generally heard from him. Everyone turned to look at him.
Of all the people who had been participating in the all-night vigil and waiting to see if Hunter would return with Eric, Jesus had been the calmest. He’d also been the quietest until that moment. “When has ‘normative thought’ ever had a place in this household?” He took his fiancé’s hand. “I know that Hunter will be coming back. He loves his mother—of that there’s no doubt—but he needs to be with Eric.” His voice got a faraway quality to it. “When I was young, I never felt quite right—never quite fit with the people around me.”
Almost everyone in the room sat forward a bit to listen to Jesus because almost all of them had felt what he was talking about too.
Jesus continued, “My mom and dad didn’t quite know what to do with me—my mom because of the brujo thing and my dad because of the gay thing.” He chuckled. “And my abuelo—well―,” he squeezed Lafayette’s hand, “you met him.”
“Yeah,” Lafayette agreed quietly, “he’s one crazy motha fucka.”
Jesus nodded. “My mother’s mother―mi abuelita—was a widow, and she lived alone in her tiny house even though mi madre and mis tios y tias always tried to get her to live with them. But she told them that she was going to stay in her own space.” He chuckled again. “If she hadn’t always told them with such sweetness, she would have been thought of as crazy or just stubborn. But she had a way about her.”
He sighed. “I used to go over to her house on the weekends to do chores for her, and I was always allowed to stay overnight on Saturdays. Those were the best days of my childhood.”
He took a deep breath. “And when I was seventeen, I stayed there with her for many months after she got sick with cancer. She wouldn’t let anyone else stay with her, but she let me take care of her. That’s when I decided to become a nurse.”
Lafayette squeezed his fiancé’s hand comfortingly.
Jesus smiled. “She was my parent—not by birth, but by love and just because of the feeling of her. She made me feel okay. I loved my other relatives, but mi abuelita was the only real family I had—until I came to Bon Temps and found Lafayette.” Jesus shrugged. “Eric is Hunter’s abuelita—so to speak. He’s his person—the one that is his real family.”
Everyone listened to what Jesus had said and took it in.
“Damn straight,” Pam said. And then quieter, she added, “Eric is mine.”
“Sookie is mine,” Lafayette said.
“I had an uncle that taught me all I ever needed to know,” Jarod added. “My parents tried to hide what they were, but he weren’t afraid to be as he was. He shifted into a Brumby and was as cunning as a dunny rat.”
Everyone looked at Jarod in confusion.
Miranda laughed and supplied, “Those are good things. My mum was that for me. She was the biggest badass I ever knew.”
Jason piped in, “Sookie’s mine too. I could screw up every day of the week and twice on Sundays, but she’d be there to help me.”
“Me too,” Tara added.
Jessica looked at Pam sincerely. “You’re mine, Pam.”
Pam smiled at her vampire child and nodded.
They all looked at each other and the family that they had formed, and they all hoped that Jesus was right.
Tara looked nervously at the clock on the wall. “How long till dawn?” she asked Pam.
The vampiress stood. “Twenty-one minutes. It’s time I went out there to meet,” she paused, “them.” She said the last word like a prayer.
“Amen to that,” Lafayette said quietly.