Chapter Twenty-Nine: Dallas
“It feels wonderful receiving you, Eric and Sookie!” Godric beamed at the pair on his doorstep. “I have noticed a great strain on you these past few evenings,” he commented comfortingly to the vampiress.
“I said my final goodbyes to my former colleagues. It was an emotional parting,” Sookie told him.
Nodding in understanding, Godric ushered them inside where Emily stood with open arms. She was much more ‘hands on’ than the vampires Sookie was used to, and Emily embraced both her and Eric.
“I’m so glad to see you again. Pam told us all about what you two have been up to this past year,” she grinned. “And back in December, I felt the most amazing sensation of awe! Would it be inappropriate for me to ask what happened?” she asked excitedly.
“Oh,” Sookie laughed nervously, “I saw snow for the first time! The girls really enjoyed themselves playing in it! We had a snowball fight, so Mags and Junes were catching them in their mouths and making little snow dens. It was really fun!”
Emily laughed at the explanation. “That’s right! You were raised down south, weren’t you?”
“Yup,” Sookie nodded as Emily and Godric lead them to the sitting room.
“Where are your dogs?” Godric asked curiously.
“In the car. We just wanted to pop in before going to the Hotel Camilla,” Sookie told him.
“I thought you would stay with us?” Emily pouted.
“We have not made any definite decisions yet,” Eric explained. “We have not determined whether to stay in Dallas or if we wish to go further north.”
“I see,” Godric frowned. “Well, you should know that the FotS situation has gotten rather troublesome in Dallas. The Hotel Camilla has received bomb threats almost every month of this year. Four in total so far. I would insist that you stay with us rather than head to the hotel.”
Eric frowned, “Their activity has escalated?”
“So it would seem. I take it Europe has been calm this past year?” Godric inquired.
Eric shrugged, “For the most part. Turkey and the Middle East have been the most troublesome as far as anti-vampire activists go. Russia has had a couple moments here and there, but has mostly remained amicable. As far as Europe as a whole, I would not say they have shown anywhere near the animosity that the United States and Middle East have.”
Godric nodded in understanding, “Every year it seems the extremes fluctuate that much further. We have had an influx of donors at the hotel, but also much more retaliation from the Fellowship of the Sun.”
“I see. Well, we will still need to stop by the hotel momentarily. I had some documents forwarded there for Sookie.”
“Sookie,” Godric smiled, “I heard your legal name is now Susannah Northman?”
Sookie bowed her head, “On paper, yes. I’m still going by Sookie, but… I guess you could say I wanted a fresh start when I returned to the US.”
“Is the documentation you mentioned related to your name change?” Emily asked curiously.
“No, Trent took care of my name change when the department filed my Certificate of Vampirism last year. He and I talked a lot about me becoming a vampire before Chlebowski shot me. When Eric was forced to turn me, Ben informed the Captain about my wishes,” she explained. “The documents at the hotel are about real estate.”
“Oh, well, please hurry back. I’d love for all of us to catch up!” Emily beamed happily.
“Feel free to bring the dogs inside. They can stay-” Godric began, but stopped at the look on Eric’s face. “What is it?”
“You have not heard about the dogs?” Eric asked in surprise.
Godric frowned once more, “No…? Are they unwell?”
“It’s a long story,” Sookie grimaced. “We’ll tell you about it when we get back.”
“I see. I look forward to it,” Godric’s smile returned, but was guarded.
Hand in hand, Sookie and Eric left the home to return to the rental car where Mags and Junes were impatiently waiting. They drove to the hotel in companionable silence and when they arrived, Eric went into the lobby to retrieve the documents and cancel their reservations. Sookie took the opportunity to stand on the sidewalk and take in the night sites of downtown Dallas.
It was beautiful with its tall buildings and bright lights. The scents in the air were dusty and warm, making a welcoming sensation build in the pit of her stomach. A new, but desirable scent came to her nostrils as she examined the flavors of the city. She could taste blood in the air and her body compulsively was drawn to it. Having only taken two steps in its direction, Sookie forced her body to stop, and she reached out with her telepathy.
‘Ow, damn it! This lure better bring a fanger by or I’m gonna be pissed that Terry made me the fucking bait! Let him be a fucking cutting board for a change!’ Sookie growled at the musings and remained rooted in place.
“Ready, Dear One?” Eric asked, arriving at where she was frozen.
“There’s a FotS in that alley. He cut himself trying to lure a vamp,” Sookie explained.
Growling himself, Eric stomped toward the alley, Sookie in tow. When they arrived, the telepath only had a split second to react as a silver net came lunging toward them. Unaffected by the metal, Sookie took its impact as Eric sprung at the attacker. An explosion distracted Sookie from untangling herself from the trap, and she looked at the mouth of the passage as a campfire glow illuminated the street.
As Sookie clambered to her feet, Mags and Junes in their ‘Beast Forms’ appeared beside her. Junes only paused a moment to assess Sookie’s condition before jumping into action. Eric jerked out of the way as Mags let out an ear shattering howl and the FotS attacker froze.
As the assailant became stone, June’s massive jaws enveloped him and he was gone in an instant as though he had never existed in the alley.
“Well, I suppose I will not have to hide a body now,” Eric grumbled, his bloodlust left unsatisfied by Junes’ interception. “You know, Fenrir, I was perfectly capable of handling that myself.”
Junes let out a disinterested huff as if to say, ‘So what?’
“Girls, get back into your Shepherd shapes. The police will be here any minute!” Sookie sighed as the dogs began to shrink. “God, I hope the security cameras didn’t see them change!”
“Sookie,” Eric looked at her in surprise, “Cameras and human eyes cannot see Garm and Fenrir. They are ethereal creatures. They can only be seen in the Shepherd forms.”
“A-are you serious?” she asked in surprise.
“Why do you think I never objected to them running with us in that form?” Eric laughed.
Sookie blanched at never questioning his lax attitude, “I figured you just knew they’d have time to change back without being noticed.”
Eric shook his head, “No. When they are in their true form, they are inter-dimensional creatures of the Void. Only supernaturals can see them in their true shape.”
“No, they will merely cast an indistinguishable shadow on the film.”
“Oh, well, that’s a relief,” Sookie let out an anxious exhale.
“Come, Dear One, we must be leaving now,” Eric took her hand and lead her along with the dogs down the alleyway. “We will return to Godric’s.”
Sookie nodded and looked around nervously as Eric hailed a taxi. The cab driver grumbled as the Shepherds jumped into his taxi as well as the two vampires, but he drove out of downtown at Eric’s command.
“Eric,” Sookie hissed too quietly for the driver to hear, “should we be leaving like this? If my instinct is right, it was our car that just exploded back there! Should we really be leaving the site of a bombing?”
“It was our car that was bombed. That diversion was meant to keep us away from our vehicle long enough for a bomb to be planted by a secondary FotS member. The bait was only meant to silver us and run away. We would have gone back to our car to flee and then been blown up,” Eric confirmed.
“Why did it go off? Shouldn’t it have been ignition triggered?” Sookie demanded. “Or was it on a timer?”
“The bomb exploded when Mags and Junes took their Beast Forms,” Eric explained in a hushed voice.
“Why are we running away?” Sookie asked again. “It won’t take long for them to pull footage and trace back the rental car to your name! The police will be at our door by tomorrow evening if not just before dawn today!”
“The Camilla would not release the footage to the human police. It will be given to Godric.”
“So we’re safe?”
“That is a rather optimistic view,” Eric admitted.
Sookie groaned and leaned her head against the back of her seat. “Well, this was a marvelous way to come back to the US.”
“Yes,” Eric growled under his breath. “And why did Godric not know of Mags and Junes?”
“I bet I know the answer to that one,” Sookie whispered.
“Yeah, and when Godric forwards the attempt on my existence to the Council, I’m betting we’re going to have a visit from Diedre.”
“Really?” Eric looked at her in surprise.
Looking at her Bonded, Sookie blanched guiltily, “A lot is making sense, Darlin’. Call Godric. Tell him not to contact anyone about the Camilla bombing. Not another soul.”
Eric whipped out his phone and dialed his Maker, praying that he managed to do so in time.
“Master,” Eric began quickly, “you are going to receive footage from the Camilla if you have not already. I beg that you do nothing with the information until Sookie and I arrive back at your home.”
“Eric, I have already received a text, but have not gotten any footage yet. It is on its way by courier as we speak. What has happened?”
“Nothing I can discuss over the phone. Please, wait until Sookie and I arrive and we will explain everything.”
“I shall do as you request. Hurry back.”
“Yes, Master.” Eric hung up his phone and let out a sigh of relief. “You heard?”
“I did,” Sookie nodded. “Thank goodness Godric is not an alarmist.”
“Yes,” he agreed and mimicked her posture by leaning his head back into the seat. “Will you share your theory with me before we arrive?”
In the same imperceptibly low voice, Sookie spilled her suspicions, “The International Council didn’t tell the Continental Councils anything about Mags and Junes. You, me, and the International Council are the only ones who know anything. Endymion told me that he and the Pantheon can’t make decisions for humans or vampires. He could only tell the highest ranking officials and that was it. This only means two things. The International Council is keeping us under wraps for our safety, or fear of us.
We have two inter-dimensional hell beasts at our disposal. We could rule the world if we wanted, and the International Council is keeping their hand breasted until they see which way we lean. If Diedre finds out I was almost killed tonight, she’s gonna try and convince me to go underground like the Magister did. Well, not as aggressively, but she’s gonna make a huge push for it.”
Eric nodded in understanding, blown away by Sookie’s observations. After a moment of processing her theories, the Viking laughed, “Your detective’s mind is far more impressive than I ever thought! You make connections so swiftly that even I am left disoriented by them!”
“We can’t let Godric release that I could have been killed tonight,” Sookie insisted.
“So what do we do?” Sookie asked.
“We will find an area that is not abundantly inhabited by activists like the FotS and go about our existences as normally as possible,” Eric shrugged. “If that is not a possibility, we will merely fly under the radar.”
“How so?” she pressed.
“Ventures such as Fangtasia will need to be forgone. I will resume my usual manner of conducting business under false aliases, maintaining a human façade. With my ability to remain aware during most of the day, I can conference call and hold video meetings.” Squeezing her hand, he continued, “As long as you maintain honey in your nourishment, you are able to remain aware large chunks of the day as well. We can pose as a married human couple.”
“So, we’re just going to pretend not to be vampires?” Sookie asked.
Sookie slumped against her seat, “That feels like we’re going to be in hiding….”
“In a sense we will,” Eric confessed. “But, to be honest, your personality might find it far more enjoyable.”
“What about yours?” Sookie insisted.
Eric smiled at her and brought her hand to his lips to kiss. “I have you. That is all I need for happiness.”
Sookie shook her head, “You’re a warrior as much as I’m a cop at heart, Eric. You can put the Viking in suburbia, but you can’t put suburbia in the Viking.”
“Then every decade or so, we will give our raping and pillaging a go. How does that sound?” Eric teased.
“I’ll have to cuff you.”
The remaining drive to Godric’s home was made in amused silence, Sookie’s head leaned on Eric’s shoulder and the dogs sprawled lazily across both their laps. As they pulled up to the driveway, Eric handed over the fare and glamoured the driver for good measure.
Once they all clambered out of the cab, the door to the house opened as Emily and Godric stood waiting anxiously for them.
“Are you all right? Why do I smell explosives?” Godric demanded.
The four entered the house and adjourned in the sitting room.
“Our rental car was blown up,” Sookie told them. “We’re all perfectly fine though,” she assured.
“Blown up!?” Emily cried.
“A FotS member lured us from the car while a second planted the bomb,” Eric explained. “The bomb went off before we could return to the car. Judging by some of the stench, I would say the FotS securing the bomb was caught in the blast.”
“I see,” Godric sat heavily on the loveseat, Emily folding naturally into his side. “I am glad that you are all well. Even the dogs!”
“That is something we must discuss,” Eric reminded.
“Yes, you did say you had something to explain about them,” Godric remembered.
“Our first night in Öland, we received a visit from the Voice of the Pantheon,” Eric began the tale. Godric and Emily sat in rapt fascination while the identities of Garm and Fenrir were revealed. By the end of the accounting, Godric was leaning forward with wide, disbelieving eyes.
“That is remarkable!” Godric shook his head as if trying to wake himself from a bizarre dream.
“Quite,” Eric agreed.
“Now, why did you wish to prevent me from contacting the Council about the matter of your car being bombed?” Godric demanded calmly.
“Sookie made a rather impressive observation. You see, the International Council knows about Garm and Fenrir, but they did not make Sookie’s status public. She believes that Diedre is waiting to see if remaining exposed to the public is safe, or if we have any plans to abuse our resources. If Diedre finds that it is unsafe in any way, she might attempt to lock Sookie away as the Magister had tried,” Eric explained.
Godric’s lips twitched minutely into a stunned grimace, “A rather impressive observation, indeed.”
“What are you two going to do now?” Emily asked worriedly.
“We are considering taking ourselves out of the public eye, and committing to the pretense of being human,” Eric told them. “Maybe if the activist agendas calm down in a few decades we will resume our vampire roles, but for now, a human existence is more practical.”
“You are probably right,” Godric sighed sadly. “I am sorry about all of these pressures, Sookie,” he apologized to the young vampire. “You have had far greater hurdles to overcome than any vampire so young has ever needed. I have to admit though, you have done so gracefully.”
“Thank you, Sir,” she barked naturally.
“Godric, please,” the Master of the Bloodline smiled kindly, attempting to sooth her tendency to revert to a police officer.
“Thank you, Godric,” Sookie reiterated in her official law enforcement tone.
“Where do you think you will go?” Godric asked after shaking his head amusedly when his attempts to relax her failed.
“I am thinking Minnesota. The two-natured packs up there are quite cordial, and I think Sookie will enjoy some of the relationships she could nurture with them. Also, she and the girls really did enjoy the winter seasons and snow while we were in Sweden,” Eric laughed.
“Will you at least stay for a little while?” Emily begged.
Smiling indulgently at his Maker’s Bonded, Eric nodded. “I still need to purchase us a home, and Sookie and I have not really discussed where we were going after Dallas. We may find that another state or city is more to our interest. Until we have acquired a new home, we will stay here as long as we are not imposing.”
“My Child is never an imposition,” Godric assured.
“Thank you, Master,” Eric inclined his head gratefully. “If you will excuse us, Sookie has some paperwork to do, and requires my assistance. Afterwards, would you all like to go for a drink?”
“Yes,” Godric nodded. “I must wait for the courier and review the materials so that I can give my Area a statement. I also need to leave a message with the Anubis airline that any vampires coming to Dallas be informed that vehicles have been bombed at the Camilla and hyper-diligence is warranted.”
“Of course,” Eric nodded. Rising from the seat he and Sookie had occupied, Eric lead his Bonded through the house to the guest room they would be using. There was a small desk that Sookie sat at while Eric hovered over her shoulder, pointing and explaining the paperwork he extracted from his breast pocket. “You are certain about this?” Eric asked as she handed back the document.
“I was certain when we signed and notarized it last night,” Sookie smiled up at him sadly.
“You are breaking my heart with that look, Dear One,” Eric moaned.
“Sorry, but even though it’s what I want, it hurts,” she admitted, batting at an unwanted, red tear. “Can you give me a minute? I want to write a letter along with this, and I think I need some privacy to do that.”
Kissing the top of her head, Eric murmured into her hair, “I understand.” With that, he left the room, and Sookie stared nervously at the stationary sitting on the far corner of the desk. A heavy sigh whooshed past her lips and she finally reached for the pen and paper.
Jason Stackhouse flipped through his mail casually, groaning at the mounting bills that he prepared to drop onto the table by the front door. Instead, his hands froze curiously on a thick envelope that appeared more personal than financial. Frowning, he flung the bills on the table and opened the strange letter.
The first page inside the envelope was a rather official document emblazoned with the words “Caddo Perish Deed Transfer.” Jason’s eyes widened in surprise, skimming the document and nearly dropping it to the floor in his shock. Carefully he placed the deed on the table and looked back in the envelope. There was another folded paper inside and as he opened it, two smaller pieces tumbled to the ground, but he ignored them when he saw his sister’s familiar handwriting on the page.
I’ve wrote this letter a million times in my head these past seven months. I’ve wrote it nearly a hundred times this evening, and I still don’t have the right words.
I know how you’ll find this gesture of signing Gran’s house over to you. You’re probably thinking this is my way of getting the last word, or some sort of pity or apology, but you would be wrong. I’m leaving you a P.O. address in the event that you ever did want to contact me, even if it’s in the form of sending this deed back to me in shreds.
The truth is, I don’t want the last word, but you won’t know how to find me. That’s a selfish thing on my part, and I’m sorry. I just can’t cry anymore over you. You hurt me deeply on so many levels, but most of all you hurt me by how helpless I am at loving you. I can’t stop. As much as I tell myself it would be easier to hate you how you hate me, I can’t stop loving you. You’re my big brother, whether I’m alive, dead, or something in between. I’ll always love my brother.
Still, I can’t ever go back to the farmhouse. There’s no Gran there. There’s no you there. It’s not my home without my family. So, I’m making a new one, and I hope that you are too. We both have so much love in us, Jason. You and I never were able to love each other right, but that doesn’t mean we can’t love others the right way.
I don’t want apologies, and I don’t want to apologize any more. So, if you are at peace, then I am at peace, and we should just continue our lives as we have. I hope that you keep our family home. It needs a Stackhouse to take care of it.
I guess that’s all. Please keep these mementos as a tribute to better, happier times.
I will always love you. No matter what.
Love, your baby sister,
Jason slid to the floor and picked up the pair of pages that had fallen. Flipping them over, he gazed at the captured memories. Their mother holding Sookie, their father with his hands on Jason’s shoulders, and their Gran leaning her head against Daddy’s arm. He looked at the second picture of Sookie’s high school graduation, him and Gran so proud of the youngest Stackhouse graduating with honors.
The oldest Stackhouse remembered the accusations he had thrown at his sister that night, thinking that she had cheated her way into an Honor’s Chord with her telepathy. He had known better, but he had been so envious of her. Gran had been so proud, much prouder than of Jason’s football record.
“I didn’t deserve you!” Jason howled at the pictures as big tears rolled down his reddening cheeks. “I didn’t deserve to be your big brother!” he sobbed, clutching the photos hard. “I promise. I promise. I promise!”