A/N: Okay—so this chapter gives us another jump in time. For clarification, Sookie went into Faerie proper on January 31, 2011. This chapter is set six months later on July 31, 2011. Jesus is going to be getting us “caught up.”
It was cool for the night of July 31st—cool and rainy.
Eight beings sat in the living room in the farmhouse enjoying Hunter’s current favorite: Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
Jesus looked around the room and thought of the wonderful diversity represented there. There were two vampires, one Britlingen, one human medium, one fairy-hybrid, one full-blooded fairy, one half Werelion and half shifter, and himself—a human-demon-brujo. Jesus smiled, thinking about how even within this small room, there were so many kinds of life.
He tightened his arm around Lafayette’s shoulders affectionately. Earlier that day, he and his mate had finally taken Eric up on his offer to build them their own house on what the vampire now called the ætt land, which—Jesus had found out—meant “clan land” in Old Norse.
After he and Lafayette had accepted Eric’s offer, the vampire told him that there were very few words from the language of his birth that had survived through time without revision; “land” had been one of them. It was because land endured. Knowing Eric so well, Jesus had read between the lines of his comment and had realized that the vampire wanted the same to be true for the “clan” that he was working so hard to protect and nurture.
The issue of them living on the “clan” property had been brought to a head after a tornado had damaged his and Lafayette’s home in late May. In fact, they’d been living with Tara in the guesthouse that had been built with her in mind. Luckily, it had been completed about a week after the tornado.
Before that, they’d stayed with Miranda and Jarod, but now that Miranda was pregnant—a fact that they’d found out a few days after the tornado—the growing family would need more room. Indeed, they’d need even more room now that babies two AND three were on the way. Jarod was ecstatic about the prospect of twins, as was Pam—since Miranda would get even bigger during this pregnancy. However, the Werelioness was still getting “used” to the idea.
Eric had approached Lafayette and him a few days after Scott Cusmano had assessed the damage on their home. He wanted to build them a residence that they had a hand in designing beyond the creek so that they could maintain their privacy but still be inside the enclosure of the protection spell.
For the last two months, Lafayette and he had debated over whether to accept Eric’s offer or to rebuild their own home. The damage to their place had been pretty extensive, however. Two of the major support beams for the already-rickety home had snapped like twigs, and the back wall had collapsed because of that. Another wall was cracked all the way down the side. Scott had told them that it would probably be better—safer—to rebuild completely, rather than try to repair.
Lafayette sighed as he recalled the frightening minutes during and after the tornado. It had occurred at night, and everyone on the ætt land, except for Eric, had been safely stowed in the cubby. Lafayette and he didn’t have enough warning to seek a better shelter than their hall bathroom, however, where they had huddled under a hastily-dragged-in mattress. Eric showed up even as the tornado passed and held up one of the support beams in the middle of the house—an act which probably saved the whole house from imploding. Given the fact that debris was swirling around at the time—some of it in the form of wood—Jesus was thankful that his vampire brother had not been killed. He’d almost certainly saved his and Lafayette’s lives that day.
Eric had gotten them out of the unstable building as soon as the tornado had passed, and then he, Pam, Jessica, Duncan, and Thalia had shored up the building and packed up all their belongings, most of which were now in storage.
In the end―despite their attachment to the old place―the trauma of riding out the tornado was a bit too horrific of a memory for them to want to stay there, though Eric had promised that a proper storm shelter would be put in if they did opt to rebuild. But, after much debate, he and Lafayette had agreed that all the sentiment of the house would be lost with a rebuild anyway. And both of them were happy that they were going to remain closer to the rest of their makeshift family.
Jesus smiled. As Pam always joked, it seemed that Eric was—indeed—trying to establish his own zip code with the number of dwellings that had been erected on the property. In fact, in March, the vampire had bought two additional acreages adjacent to the ætt land, which he’d put into Sookie’s and Hunter’s names so that the protection spell would apply to them. Both parcels of land had actually been part of the original Stackhouse property, but Adele and Earl had been forced to sell them off over the years. Jesus smiled, knowing that Adele Stackhouse would approve of Eric even more for his reacquisition of the family—the ætt—land.
In addition to the home now being planned for himself and Lafayette, another dwelling was already under construction, this one for Duncan, Pam, and Jessica—though Jessica usually stayed with Jason, whose house had a protection spell of its own now. The “Vamp Cave,” as Lafayette had taken to calling it, was to be mostly subterranean. It was situated on a hill on one of the newly acquired land parcels so that it was above the water table. Once completed, it would be a vampire stronghold—literally. It was going to have iron reinforced walls, which encased a thin silver layer, so that no Supernaturals could breech it. Pam had insisted on separate entrances for herself and Duncan, so it would be almost like a duplex, and the two vampires had argued for weeks over the plans for common spaces in the dwelling.
Jesus glanced at Duncan, who was currently sitting in the large leather recliner, which had been recently added to the living room. It was a Sunday night, so Fangtasia was closed, and he was on ‘were-sitting’ duty. Godric was drifting in and out of sleep on the Scotsman’s chest, and he was sucking on one of Duncan’s fingers like it was a kind of teething ring.
It had not been long at all after Duncan arrived that Miranda and Jarod realized that Godric calmed whenever he was around the new vampire in their midst. About two weeks after Duncan’s arrival, Miranda had tested her theory by thrusting Godric into Duncan’s hands and announcing that she was taking her husband to bed and would collect her child before dawn. Everyone had been a little surprised, but Godric had nestled contentedly into the vampire as if he were a surrogate parent. Since then, whenever Duncan was home, the now year-old Godric was to be found nearby.
Duncan liked to brag that he was the reason why Miranda had conceived because, otherwise, Miranda and Jarod would not have gotten as much “alone time.” And—out of the earshot of Miranda, of course—he also liked to joke that he was the reason why Jarod had been walking around so jovial lately. In fact, Miranda had been extremely “horny” during this pregnancy. Pam liked to tease that she was “fucking for three” now.
In fact, Duncan had—with Miranda and Jarod’s permission—given Godric a sip of his blood on the child’s first birthday. During the little party they’d had for him, Godric had been in extreme pain because of teething. After all, the teething of a Werelion was not the same as the teething of a human, and there was no relief for the infant.
Duncan had wanted to alleviate the child’s pain, but Miranda and Jarod also knew that the vampire wanted to be able to “keep tabs” on the safety of their son. They’d been honored and had accepted his offer. And that was how Duncan had officially become Godric’s “godfather.”
Yes, love—and a lot of sex—had been in the air for the Werelioness and her shifter, but things had not been so easy for the Scotsman in that department. At least, it had not gone as smoothly as the newest member of their household may have liked.
Despite the handsome Scot’s best efforts after he’d first arrived in Area 5—and those efforts had been quite amusing to witness—Pam had resisted the vampire—vehemently—except for one early morning when she was drunk on “Claude.”
Jesus looked over at the fairy in their group. Claude had begun spending Sundays with the “family” almost immediately after Sookie had left for Faerie.
Of course, Pam had not taken to the fairy’s regular presence well at all. Finally, Claude had offered Pam a deal: one vial of his blood for one year of her “acceptance” of him in their lives. After several days of contemplation, Pam had gone with the blood so that she could experience the daylight.
To her credit, Pam had treated Claude with at least tepid respect since then—though she had already told him that the next year, she would require two vials: one for herself and one for Jessica. Claude had already agreed.
As for Pam’s fairy “high”—well—she had “enjoyed” it so much that she decided to “enjoy” Duncan before she watched the sun come up.
Jesus laughed to himself. It had been Miranda and him whom Pam had trusted with dragging her inside when the sunlight began to affect her. But dealing with a drunken Pam had been well worth it because they’d gotten to see the look of wonder and glee on her face.
Pam still denied that she’d “succumbed” to Duncan’s charms that morning, and she had certainly rejected him after that.
Jesus chuckled as he thought about the first time Lafayette met Duncan. The debonair Scotsman had raised Lafayette’s hand to his lips in a courtly gesture that had literally made his beloved go weak in the knees. If Jesus hadn’t been laughing so hard at Lafayette’s need to fan himself, he might have been a bit jealous. Of course, he knew where Lafayette’s true affections lay, but he still liked to tease his mate about Duncan occasionally, especially since Duncan and Lafayette had struck up a pretty close friendship since their first meeting.
Duncan—or Uncle Loki, as Hunter liked to call him—had also been an immediate favorite of Hunter’s, and the Scotsman often joined Eric and him on their rides when he was not at Fangtasia.
Fangtasia was still closed each Sunday and Monday, and Duncan stayed on the property all night on Sundays through Tuesdays in order to take over Bubba’s guard duties so that the new king-consort of Louisiana could spend more time with Thalia. Of course, Bubba didn’t want to alter his well-loved routine too much, especially since Eric still periodically stocked the woods with feral cats. But the king loved having extra time with his lady.
Jesus knew that Eric felt better having Duncan around, especially when he went to Fangtasia to conduct Area 5 business, as he did most Sundays after Hunter went to bed. Despite the gentleness with which Duncan handled Godric, the Scotsman was obviously a formidable warrior and only a few hundred years younger than Eric.
In addition to settling into the family dynamic well, Duncan had also settled into his role at Fangtasia with glee. He’d taken over Eric’s old throne, and on the nights when he “enthralled the vermin,” profits were up. For that reason alone, Pam tolerated him and had become his “wardrobe assistant.” Apparently, when she dressed Duncan like a swashbuckler and he played that role with his natural charm, the take was double what it was when he wasn’t there. On the nights she put him in black and insisted that he brood all night while sitting on the throne, the take was almost triple. And when she made him wear a kilt and speak in his Scottish brogue all night—well, as Pam put it—Duncan almost broke Eric’s old records for drawing in profits. In fact, there was now a Facebook page—complete with statistical data and graphs—devoted to guessing how Duncan would be dressed each night. Pam, of course, had started it to help create buzz.
Duncan—whom Pam had also made the new Mr. January since Eric didn’t think Sookie would approve of ‘sharing her goods’—always took Pam’s micromanaging in stride.
Jesus snickered as he recalled the look on Duncan’s face about a week after Pam’s Claude-blood drunkenness when he’d mused aloud that Pam might actually really prefer women—that that was the only explanation for why she wasn’t falling all over him. Of course, the Scotsman had waited until Hunter was in bed before making that announcement. And luckily, Pam was at Fangtasia working on bookkeeping that night, so she’d not heard him, but it was still quite funny.
Not long after that, Duncan had turned his considerable charms onto Batanya. Jokingly, he’d told Lafayette that he wanted to try to “prove” that he could bed anyone and that “the Pam thing” had only been a fluke. But given the sincerity of Duncan’s attempts, Jesus had thought differently—even from the beginning.
The Scot had been “cautious” and “careful” in his approach of Batanya, which Jesus could not blame him for. He’d also been quite heartfelt and earnest, however. Each night, he would make a point of speaking to the Britlingen, who—when she let her guard down a bit—was quite beautiful actually. Of course, she didn’t let her guard down much, but when Eric and Hunter were practicing with their swords or in their workshop, she would allow Duncan to speak with her—even if she didn’t speak back.
Of course, she didn’t make it easy; at first, she had answered his attempts to court her with sneers and threats to cut off his balls. Even when she stopped threatening him outright, she would rarely say more than two words together to the dashing Scot, but Duncan didn’t seem to mind. He had clearly become quite enamored with the Britlingen—to the point that he no longer even tried to flirt with Pam.
Jesus’s perceptive eyes moved from Duncan, who was watching the movie and soothingly patting Godric’s back, to Batanya, who was standing off to the side of the room at her customary post. Her gaze was locked on Duncan almost predatorily. The dangerous look in her eyes made Jesus think that Batanya was contemplating something with the vampire; whether it was to screw him or to stake him, Jesus wasn’t quite certain. But given the intensity of her stare, he pitied anyone who tried to get in the way of whatever her purpose was.
Jesus glanced back at Duncan, who had obviously felt Batanya’s stare and had turned his head slightly to give her a little wink.
Jesus certainly hoped that Duncan knew what he was getting into. Jesus had been present when Eric had had a little talk with Duncan regarding Batanya. He chuckled as he recalled the content of it. Basically, Eric had demanded to know Duncan’s “intentions” and then had warned him that they’d better stay honorable.
Eric had also told Duncan what he knew of Batanya’s past—that she had once been married according to Britlingen custom and had fulfilled her duty to produce two children with her husband. After raising her daughter and son to adulthood, the Britlingen had severed her ties with her husband―as was a Britlingen woman’s right―and had become a guardian. Of course, what little Eric knew had come from the A.P. many centuries before.
Once Duncan had assured Eric that he intended to court Batanya as she deserved, the Viking had been satisfied. Jesus had to bite his bottom lip to keep from laughing―especially since the movie was not on a particularly funny scene—as he remembered how Eric had warned Duncan that Britlingen mating habits were rumored to be quite spirited, even violent at times.
To that, Duncan had gotten a wistful look in his eyes and had said merely, “I’ve always fancied strong women. That one could likely tear me in two if she wanted.” The Scot had ended the conversation with the words, “We’ll have fun seeing who is the stronger.”
Looking back and forth between the Scotsman and the Britlingen, Jesus was pretty sure it was going to be a tossup. He just hoped no one ended up dead or—uh—finally dead, he thought with a smile.
Jesus’s eyes next went to Claude, who was watching the movie with great amusement in his eyes. He had grown to like and respect Sookie’s fairy relative, whom Jesus recognized as his counterpart in many ways in that Claude had a similar relationship with Sookie as he had with Eric. Always during his visits, Claude would give a brief report of what was happening in Faerie.
Of course, it was not sparse because of any unkindness on Claude’s part. No—the brevity of his reports had been caused by the shortness of the time that Sookie and Hadley had actually been in Faerie due to the time difference still existing between the realms. Though Jesus couldn’t quite grasp it, Claude was somehow living two timelines concurrently as he stayed in the “in-between” place.
In fact, though he’d taken Hadley’s new rocking chair back with him months ago, Claude was still waiting for Hadley to make her first visit to him so that she could collect it, for it had been less than a day since she’d left for Faerie from her perspective.
Claude had reported earlier that night only that Sookie and Hadley were well, and that―according to Faerie time―Sookie had been in that realm for almost fifty-two minutes.
Jesus had no idea how Claude managed to keep things straight, given the way time worked in the “in-between” place. Moreover, he’d stopped trying to figure it out; it had to be magic. And Jesus had learned enough about magic in the last years to realize that some questions simply had no answers.
Regardless, Claude’s visits were always welcomed by Hunter and Eric, who were both thirsty for any knowledge the fairy might bring.
One thing Claude had been able to report was that time had been syncing up more and more between the two realms since Sookie had been in Faerie proper. Jesus knew that it still felt like a very long time to Eric, but with the knowledge that time was working less and less against them, everyone in the household was relieved.
Eric was also bolstered by the fact that Sookie had said she would spend only an hour in Faerie, and that meant they would soon be getting her home unless something happened, and Claude knew of nothing altering the original plan.
Still—despite all the assurances that Claude could give and despite the fact that Duncan’s presence and Claude’s presence had added to the family dynamic, everyone seemed to be in a kind of holding pattern.
Jesus recognized that for the past twenty-one months, their little clan had been building itself up around Eric and Hunter, but they all still felt incomplete—Eric more than anyone else.
The Viking vampire might have fit naturally into his role as the heart of their ætt, but he was still missing his own heart: Sookie.
So they were all waiting.