Sookie played with Lukas on the carpet of the large den. The boy seemed to understand that his new mother was distracted, but he happily laughed at the playful tickles she ran up his sides. Lukas reached and cooed for the stuffed puppy she dangled above his head. Life had never been so much fun for the little one!
When the large figure of his new mommy’s vampire appeared in the doorway of the den, Lukas crowed happily and reached for him. His daddy was home, and Lukas wanted to be wrapped up in cool, silent arms.
“What happened?” Sookie asked, still playing with Lukas, and not looking up at her Bonded.
“I killed a man by the name of Carter Wright this morning. Then I went to New Orleans to speak with Godric,” Eric revealed to her after he came to sit on the sofa near where Sookie was entertaining their son.
“Who’s Carter Wright?” Sookie asked, still not looking at him.
Eric paused a moment, then in a voice heavy with emotion, said, “The man who intended to purchase you from Hale.”
Setting down the stuffed animal, Sookie sat up, and finally turned to Eric, “You found him? How?”
“The image you gave me,” Eric pointed to his head. “I had the DMV hacked and obtained the licenses of men fitting his description. Pam has spent the last few years sifting through them, looking for Wright.”
“She found him last night. That was the long-term commitment,” Sookie realized sadly.
“Yes,” Eric nodded. “I went to his home. He was actually expecting me.”
“Were you hurt?” Sookie asked.
Shaking his head, Eric reassured her, “Not physically, but he did have a tape of you. Sookie, why did you never tell me that Hale videotaped you?”
Frowning, Sookie picked up the stuffed animal again and began plucking at its fur, “I thought everything was destroyed in the explosion you coordinated. I didn’t know Hale gave anyone a tape of me.”
Eric nodded in understanding, “I brought the tape to Godric. The short amount Wright made me watch was enough to make my soul burn. Godric watched it for me and gave me the details. He was quite shaken up by it.”
“Why did you two have to watch it at all?” Sookie asked forlornly. “Eric, it’s my past! I want to leave it there.”
“I have always tried to avoid doing things to you that could remind you of your past,” Eric told her. “Godric assures me that will never happen.”
“I’ve told you it wouldn’t!” Sookie snapped furiously.
“Sookie, it took over a year for you to be able to masturbate,” Eric reminded her.
“I know, I know,” she whispered, her anger slowly dissolving. “What was on the tape?”
“Godric is coming up to talk to you about it,” Eric whispered. “He is meeting us at Fangtasia tonight with the tape. He does not wish you to see it, but understands if you must.”
“I don’t think I care to,” Sookie replied woefully. “Why do you want me to talk to Godric?”
Eric shrugged, “You know of his past and the abuses he suffered, not in detail, but you know of them. Godric wanted you to have an opportunity to speak candidly about your past, and believed he would be easier to talk to than me.”
Sookie gave him a soft smile, “I can talk to you about anything, Eric.”
“Does it still hurt?” he asked desperately.
Her smile grew sad, but still remained, “Yes, sometimes it does still hurt. When it sneaks up on me like right now? It hurts.”
“I am sorry to have been the one who threw it at you,” Eric apologized.
“It’s all right, Darlin’,” she assured. “Sometimes I forget that you have to know everything. You hate mysteries.” After a moment of silence, Sookie let out a long sigh, then laughed. “Is it over now? May we go back to our lives?”
Eric smiled down at her, “Yes. Let us close the final chapter of your past and look forward to the new story we are writing, Sookie Northman, the Mother.”
Sookie laughed, rose on to her knees, and crawled over to the sofa. She reached her lips upward and let her Bonded kiss her slowly, comfortingly. When Lukas crawled over to them, Sookie laughed and scooped him up. “Come on, Kiddo! Let’s go pick out a book for Daddy to read to us. You’ll love it. Daddy has the best reading voice ever!”
Smiling to himself while Sookie went to pick out a book, Eric reclined against the sofa, and waited for her return. When she did, handing him a copy of Dr. Seuss, he laughed and rolled his eyes. Sookie settled between his legs, with Lukas in her lap, and Eric had to reach his long arms around both of them to hold the book in Lukas’ sight.
“’Green Eggs and Ham’…” Eric began.
Fangtasia was packed when Sookie arrived with her Bonded and child. The three went in the service door to the office, settling Lukas in with his toys. Sookie sat on the sofa, reviewing the club’s books while keeping an eye on the baby boy.
“I must go out onto the floor,” Eric announced, kissing Sookie’s head.
“’Kay,” Sookie tilted her head back and grabbed his neck to receive a proper kiss. “I have to be at the Gate at eleven for this month’s updates from Claudine,” she reminded him. “Sit with him while I’m gone?”
“Pam or I will sit with him,” Eric promised.
“Thank you,” She beamed upward, watching while Eric left his office. “These books are a mess! No wonder Pam shirked this on me,” she muttered to herself. She felt restless, and there was a bloom of discontent or conflict building inside her. Though the conversation about Carter Wright had torn at one of her emotional scars, part of her was more frustrated about the anger it brought. Unresolved anger had always been her biggest foe.
As eleven o’clock approached, she called out mentally, “Eric or Pam, I am leaving.”
Pam appeared in the office, and Sookie gave Lukas a big kiss before she left to perform her duties as Gatekeeper.
As Sookie walked out of the club’s back entrance and teleported to the Gate, the mists were already swirling, announcing that a new arrival was imminent.
“Papers!” Sookie barked once the swirling mists of Elfyria opened and a tall figure appeared. Before she could think, her arm was raised, and deflecting a sword, hacking toward her shoulder. “Oh, you have perfect timing!” she reveled as she pushed back against the attack and sent her assailant stumbling backward.
Rather than blowing the fairy to pieces, Sookie allowed the sparring to continue, working out some of her anger within the violence. She parried and sidestepped, her grin widening while her eyes narrowed with the adrenaline rush of a good fight. Her leg kicked out to catch her opponent in the stomach, knocking him to the ground.
“C’mon! Don’t make this so easy!” Sookie laughed excitedly, and the fairy snarled when he jumped back to his feet and attacked with increased ferocity.
“That’s it!” Sookie rejoiced while her arms had to move much faster to keep up.
A flurry of platinum hair hid the transverse swing that the Gatekeeper only had a split second to evade. Arching away from the blade’s point, she felt the sharp metal graze her belly, and, instinctively, she blew the fairy’s hand off with her telekinesis.
“ARGH!” the attacker cried, clutching at his handless arm while Sookie felt her abdomen in apprehension. With an anxious breath, she felt her flesh tear further, so she quickly blew apart the rest of the man.
“Shit. Shit!” Sookie gasped in a panic. The wound was slowly splitting wider with her panicked breaths and she could feel a sharp burn searing the edges of her injury. Lifting her shirt above her stomach, Sookie looked at the injury and found it was actually quite shallow and normal looking. “Oh!” she let out a relieved sob.
Before she could teleport away, the sword in her hand vibrated, and another figure approached from the mists of Elfyria.
“PAPERS!” Sookie shouted, preparing to blow apart the next blitz instantly, rather than risk another injury.
“It is Colman!” a voice rang, though his appearance was still undecipherable. Sookie kept herself braced for an attack regardless. When the familiar fairy finally became visible, Sookie stabbed her sword into the ground and used it to kneel down slowly. “What happened?!” he knelt beside her.
“I-I just need to calm down!” Sookie spat, shrugging away from his inspecting hands. “It’s only a scratch. I just got a bit of an adrenaline rush when the Gate opened again.”
Colman finally peeled the clothing from Sookie’s injury and recoiled, “Lemon!”
“I’m immune to lemon,” Sookie reminded him and Colman relaxed.
“That’s right, I forget,” he laughed uncomfortably, taking several steps away. “I have your updates,” He extended a thick, leather binder toward her, and Sookie accepted it after she rose back to her feet. “Will you be all right?”
Sookie shrugged, “Yeah, I’m fine. It just stings like a bitch. Eric will patch me up when I get back to the club.” She blotted at the wound with the tail of her shirt, grimacing as it flowed freely. Eric was going to be pissed! He had just told her the other night that the Gate would become harder and harder to protect. ‘Then I had to go and let off steam instead of just do my freakin’ job,’ she admonished herself.
Colman nodded slowly and looked back to the portal from which he had just passed. “You’re doing a very fine job in this realm, Sookie,” he offered.
The Gatekeeper raised her eyebrows at the comment, “Are you gonna fire me, or give me a raise?” She laughed.
“It’s in the report,” Colman mumbled.
Frowning, Sookie looked at the leather binder and nodded, “I’ll see you later, Colman?”
“Yes,” He nodded and turned back to Elfyria.
Sookie stared at the documents in her hand, then opened them. Mostly it was garbage she already knew; a data dump on how many times the Gate had been accessed. With the time difference between Elfyria and the human realm, the kingdom provided her with a two-month report for them, a nearly two years’ report for her.
Normally, Sookie did not care much for the records. She kept her own in an attempt to anticipate movements in and out of the gate and to prepare herself for attacks versus scheduled visits. However, there were two Gate accesses Sookie did not recall. At the very beginning of the Elfyrian month… She would need to sit and do the math to be precise, but it was nearly a year and a half ago with very loose calculations.
Sitting in the grass, Sookie tried very hard to remember the instances in which the Gate had opened in such rapid successions nearly two years ago. She had never missed the Gate opening, not even during her ‘power comas.’ Pam had dutifully held her sword during the two power comas Sookie had undergone since becoming Gatekeeper, and the vampiress had never once said anyone had passed into the realm in those twenty-four hour periods.
The only way it could have happened was if something other than Empyrodite had opened the Gate. As far as Sookie knew, that was impossible.
Closing her book for the time being, Sookie decided she needed to talk to Pam to be absolutely certain her sword had not resonated while the Gatekeeper had been indisposed.
Teleporting as close to the club as she could, Sookie strolled into the service door and went straight to the office.
Pam was not there. Neither was Eric.
Sookie’s heart lurched painfully once she realized Lukas was not on the floor playing with his toys.
“LUKAS!?” the new mother shrieked, falling to her hands and knees. She looked under Eric’s desk, she crawled to the closet, and flung open the door. “Lukas? Lukas, where are you!?” she called in a panic.
“Sookie?” Eric’s voice was above her. “You are bleeding!”
“Where’s my baby!?” Sookie screamed at him, still scrambling around the room and leaving droplets of blood in her path. “Why weren’t you with him!? Where were you!?” she yelled as her Bonded went to the couch and pushed it further from the wall. There was Lukas, sucking on his hand and giving Sookie the most heartbroken look she had ever seen. “Oh, baby! Baby, I’m so sorry!” she sobbed while she scooped him into her arms and kissed his head over and over. “You weren’t supposed to be alone for a minute! Are you okay?” She looked the baby over frantically, only finding that he was in need of a diaper change.
“Sookie,” Eric whispered. “You are bleeding.”
She ignored him, and Eric could feel her anger growing inside of her. He closed the door behind him and waited for her tirade.
“How could you leave him in here alone? Where was Pam? Where the fuck were you for that matter!?” Sookie demanded.
“I was on the floor. I needed Pam for only a minute-”
“Your office ain’t baby-proofed, Eric,” Sookie snapped. “One minute, and he coulda killed himself in here!”
“You are being overly dramatic-”
“You said we were doin’ this together!” Sookie howled as she quickly changed Lukas’ diaper and cleaned him up.
Next, she stripped off her shirt, took a roll of duct tape from Eric’s desk, and taped off her wound.
“Let me heal it,” Eric tried to offer.
“I am pissed at you, Eric!” Sookie told him while she stomped to his cabinet and took out a ‘Fangtasia’ t-shirt. “I don’t want your blood in me right now. I want to be angry at you, not fuck you!” She yanked the shirt over her head, then glared at him.
“I fucked up!” Eric flung his arms in the air. “I have not been in charge of a child in over a thousand years, Sookie! Excuse me for-”
“What if someone had come in here and taken him, Eric?” Sookie cut him off. “He’s not old enough to run to you or me. We have to be here!”
“Then why don’t I feel any guilt!?” Sookie demanded. “Nothing. You don’t care!”
“I do-” Eric cut himself off at the glare she was giving him.
“You care that I’m mad at you! You don’t care that Lukas could have been hurt!” she accused. Eric lowered his gaze from hers and bowed his head. Sookie took a deep, calming breath that made her wound twinge painfully. The pain was good. It distracted the anger moderately. “Do you remember what you told me shortly after we were Bonded?” she asked in a calmer tone.
“I told you many things, Sookie,” Eric reminded carefully.
“You said we were equals,” Sookie told him. “You disciplined me because I risked Pam’s safety, but you said if you ever fucked up, it was my right to discipline you. Well, I was a stupid, spontaneous girl then. You are a fucking thousand-year-old vampire, and “forgetting” that our son is too small to be left unattended was a stupid fuck up.”
Eric’s shoulders loosened. He could not remember the last time he had been disciplined, but Sookie’s reminder of their conversation actually sparked the desired guilt. When she felt the regret trickle into the Bond, he could feel her anger receding.
“I am angry,” Sookie told him calmly. “I am angry that just the other day you were saying how you are as devoted as I am to raising this child, and then you left him by himself where he could be in danger.”
“I am sorry, Sookie,” he whispered contritely.
“I can’t hurt you,” she told him. “I am literally incapable of causing you any physical reminder of how big of mistake you made.”
Eric nodded silently, and he could feel her grasping at some sort of punishment.
“But I do know something that will never let you forget what you did. I want you to know that I am not going to do this as a way to get even with you for a spankin’ you gave half a decade ago,” Sookie told him. “I am doing this so you never forget you have a son now.”
“Yes, Sookie,” Eric nodded. “I understand that.” There was no sense of enjoyment in her. He knew that whatever punishment she had decided upon was being given to him for the correct reasons.
“Come with me,” Sookie marched out of the office and toward the floor. “Pam, have the DJ turn off the music and turn on the house lights over the dais.”
As Sookie came onto the club floor with Lukas on her hip, everyone murmured confusedly after the music stopped abruptly. Everyone was whispering in uncertainty while Eric Northman followed his woman to the dais, which had been flooded in overhead lights. All eyes were on them as Sookie turned to her Bonded.
“Be contrite, Eric,” Sookie told him firmly.
She could feel his humiliation when he dropped to his knees before the eyes of humans and his subordinate vampires.
“What did you do?” Sookie demanded. “Say it loud enough for everyone to hear.”
Eric’s jaw clenched when he noticed one of his subordinates staring at him in shock, “I willfully left our son unattended.”
“And are you sorry for that, or sorry that I’m making you admit it in front of everyone?” Sookie asked sharply.
Eric’s shoulders tightened, “I am sorry I left our son unattended, Sookie.”
There was humiliation and guilt surging through the Bond and Sookie smiled gently at him. She reached out her free hand and silently beckoned him to rise. “I forgive you. It’s in the past,” she told him with a soft kiss. “Now you can glamour the humans into forgetting this whole thing.”
“Thank fuck,” Eric snarled and dove into the crowd. Between him, Pam, and the other vampires in the club, a mass glamouring was put into effect, and not a single mortal recalled the sight of the great Viking on his knees, begging forgiveness from the petite woman holding a baby.
“That was very impressive, Sookie,” Godric smiled after he approached his Child’s Bonded. “A very appropriate means of making sure Eric never forgets the child again. I guarantee you, he will remember that lesson long after Lukas is in college.”
“Hello, Godric,” Sookie greeted her Bonded’s Maker. “I only knew I could do it and get away with it because his subordinates are more than aware of what I am capable of doing. Otherwise, I couldn’t risk lettin’ Eric be that vulnerable in front of them.”
Godric smiled, “You really thought this out,” he sounded impressed.
Sookie stroked Lukas’ back as she stood in awkward silence before Godric. Finally, she managed to utter, “I guess you were wanting to meet with me?”
The older vampire nodded slowly, “How have you been?”
“Good,” she assured. “Upset, but good.”
Leading Sookie back to the office, Godric sat her down on the couch with Lukas, “So, is this my grand baby?” Sookie laughed and nodded, holding Lukas out for the ancient vampire, “He is a very precious gift for you, Sookie.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” Sookie told him happily. “He makes it easier to let go of the past. Between him and Eric, I don’t even care about it. I don’t care that Wright had that tape of me. I don’t care that you or Eric have seen it. I don’t have to see it. I don’t want to. The girl on that tape doesn’t exist anymore. She isn’t dead, she’s healed.”
“Is she?” Godric asked curiously.
“Oh, yes,” Sookie nodded. “Like any old injury, it might ache sometimes, but all I have to do is hold Lukas or my Bonded, and it’s like a massage for my soul. They work out the pain for me, they make it easier to manage and cope when old injuries flare up.”
“You are ever persevering, Sookie,” Godric praised.
Sookie laughed, “I guess, but they make it easy.”
“Here I thought I was running up from New Orleans to be your confidante or kindred spirit, and now I find you like this? I am very proud of you, Sookie,” he told her.
“I guess I just needed a little more light in my life to find my own,” Sookie told him softly when she took Lukas back into her arms.