Chapter Thirty-Two: Christmas Traditions
“Jason, noooo!” my sister whines while I explore our old house.
Really, I shoulda known better, but without thinkin’, I opened Gran’s old bedroom door and got exactly what I deserved for my lapse in judgement. Fuckin’ sheets everywhere, ropes hangin’ off the bed frame, clothes thrown all over the floor, and blood on just ’bout everythin’. The fuck were they doin’!?
I close my eyes, walk backward, and close the door gently in front of me, “I didn’t open that door. It was closed the entire time. I have absolutely no idea what this room looks like,” I tell her and myself.
“Jason, why did you go in there?” She has her face buried in her hands, and I know she’s wishin’ she’d taken the time to straighten things up before I arrived. I hear Godric chuckle from the living room where he’s tryin’ to stand the tree up.
“It was just Gran’s room in my head,” I mumble, “but it don’t matter, ’cause I didn’t open that door. I have no idea what that room looks like anymore.”
Sookie shakes her head at me and tugs me toward the kitchen. “I want to start comin’ up with some new Christmas traditions,” she tells me. “I think it would be nice if we started doin’ somethin’ special that the whole family will enjoy.”
I frown at her, wonderin’ if she realizes that her and I are the only two of the five of us that give a shit about Christmas, “How you mean?” I watch as she looks at her feet, and her little hand starts tracin’ its nails against her belly. OH my GOD! “YOU’RE PREGNANT!”I scream.
She looks at me in alarm, “No! No, but… Well, I will be someday if what Endymion said is true… I guess I just want my kid to appreciate Christmas like you and I did…”
I relax now, knowin’ that I’m not about to be an uncle. Even if she is, and I will be immortal, I’m just not ready to be an uncle yet, and she ain’t ready to be a mom, either. I know she talks a lot about bein’ a teacher, and blah blah blah, but I know the second she pops out a kid, she ain’t goin’ back to work for a good long while. Hell, the kid’ll probably graduate high school before she goes back to work.
It takes me a second to remember she’s got eternity to be a teacher, so a couple decades outta the game’s not really a big deal, especially ’cause Sook’s always been a caregiver, and I know it means more to her than bein’ a teacher. She’s got those mommy instincts that she uses on me all the time, and I’m her big brother!
“Okay,” I tell her, “you just keep that oven cold for a few years, all right? No preheating until you’re at least thirty.”
She rolls her eyes at me, “I don’t think it’s anythin’ I got a say in, Jason. It’ll happen when it happens.”
“Doc given you any clues about when that’ll be?” I ask curiously while she starts movin’ around the kitchen to make us Christmas Eve dinner.
Sookie shakes her head and frowns, “No. She said my body’s coolin’ off on the fertility stuff and she thinks that means I’ll have a twenty-five-year ovulation like the fairies.”
“Yeah?” I sit at the kitchen table and watch her work. I know better than to get in her way in the kitchen.
“So, there’s a chance I’ll get pregnant around twenty-five or twenty-six years-old,” she whispers.
“You sound less happy than I thought you would,” I confess. She shrugs, and I get up to pull her into my arms, “What’s up?”
Leanin’ her head into my chest, she admits, “I don’t want to wait twenty-five years between kids. I want my babies to grow up together and watch each other’s backs in school, like you did for me.”
I smile and kiss the top of her head. “Well, maybe you’ll have twins,” I tease.
Sookie groans, “Ludwig said that might be more on the likely side. She said fairies often have twins, sometimes even triplets!”
“Fuck, that’d be a lot of kids,” I tell her.
She nods in agreement, “I guess I’m just bein’ selfish. I get to have Eric’s babies. I should be thankful for that instead of pinin’ for more.”
Kissin’ the top of her head, I tell her, “There’s nothin’ wrong with wantin’ something. You can’t help how you feel.” She nods again and I hug her tight. “Besides, whether it’s one or five, I’ll be their Uncle Jason. I’ll watch out for ’em like a big brother.”
“I wonder if my kids will be able to reproduce? If they can… Will their kids be immortal? Can the world sustain that many immortals?” Sookie begins to babble and I hug her tight.
“Who knows? Would Endymion?” I ask curiously.
She shakes her head, “Probably, but when he came to see us after we were Bonded, he refused to tell us more than ‘It works out.’.” She rolls her eyes.
“Why is that all he told you about your own kids?” I demand angrily.
Sookie shrugs and pulls away from my arms, “Mostly because knowin’ too much about your own future might alter it. Also, he can’t give much away without tellin’ about other dimensions, so he’s very limited in what he’s allowed to say.”
All I can really do is nod. Sookie and I are chin deep in the supernatural, and we’ve begrudgingly come to find we gotta just nod and smile through most of what we’re told. For two academics like us, it’s complete bullshit. We like our facts and rule sets. Bein’ told “because that’s the way it is,” doesn’t fly too well with us, and the past year has been nothin’ but vague answers and reasonless rules.
“I have the tree up!” Godric calls proudly from the living room, and I smile while I go check it out. I got no doubt it’s perfect, even though Godric’s never put up a Christmas tree his entire existence.
The thing is just the right height to leave room for the angel on top, and standing straight up. I’ll admit, he got that done a helluva lot quicker than Sooks and I ever could have. “Looks great!” I tell him with a grin.
Godric gives me a sheepish expression before confessing, “I have never done this. Can you imagine? As old as I am, you would think I had the curiosity to try it at some point.”
“To be fair, you really predate Christmas trees,” I tell him.
“I predate many things I have embraced,” Godric teases while I help him start clippin’ out the bent and overly long branches, so it’ll be nice and conical.
“Yeah,” I laugh, “but those are everyday things, not annual observations.”
“Hmm,” he’s thoughtful a second, “I suppose that is true… I think it has something to do with so many holidays being food-based. After all, vampires cannot have several annual slaughters to celebrate our thanks, and attributing a mass murder to any savior would be rather counterproductive…”
“What about Fourth of July?” I ask curiously.
Godric smiles a bit, “I quite enjoy that one. Depending on which city I am in, the fireworks can be rather magnificent.”
“Shreveport doesn’t do too bad a job,” I offer. “Too bad we were in England for the Fourth. With any luck, I’ll see plenty to last an eternity while I can.”
“While you can?” he asks curiously.
I shrug, “If we aren’t out to the world as immortals, we’ll have to travel often to keep from bein’ found out. I’m sure we’ll end up out of the US at some point.”
Godric smiles again while we finish trimmin’ the tree, “You and your sister are surprisingly adept at coming to correct conclusions and asking very good questions about future events.”
“Well, with everythin’ we went through after Gran died, losin’ the house, havin’ to kowtow to CPS rules, findin’ a new place to live… A whole lot of shit… I guess we learned to ask questions and think ahead pretty far,” I tell him thoughtfully.
“What do you think you will miss about being human?” he asks me softly.
I consider his question a minute before confessin’, “Eatin’ food. Sookie and I are bonded through food, y’know? Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and gravy? I smell that, and it just makes me think of our family. Gran, Ma, Pops, Sook, and me all sittin’ ’round the table, sayin’ grace, and then diggin’ in like we were starved…” I shake my head ruefully. “I’m not worried about it ruinin’ my relationship with Sooks, y’know? I’m just worried I’ll forget our family.”
Before Godric can reply to my concerns, the front door opens. Pam and Eric stroll in, lookin’ annoyed while they take off their jackets and hang ’em up, all domestic-like.
“Hey, guys,” I greet. “How was Sheriff shit?”
Both shrug, but Pam offers, “Exactly that. Shit. With the Revelation coming, everyone is following protocol much more readily than before. Right now, our biggest concern is some trafficking. All roads should have been closed by now, but someone is keeping theirs open.”
I frown for a moment, trying to figure out what she’s talkin’ ’bout, and then it hits me like a slap in the face. Human trafficking. Ugh, I feel sick at the thought, but all I can reply with is a dismayed, “Oh.”
“All roads had the last five years to be closed,” Eric informs me as he gives the Christmas tree a concerned glance. “We wanted to steadily decline trafficking instances, so that when vampires made themselves known, there would be no single instance before the Revelation where trafficking and missing persons plummeted.”
“Did you ever have a road?” I ask cautiously.
Eric shakes his head, “No, but I will not pretend I would not have opened one in my youth if Godric had not forbidden it.” That surprises me and I look at Godric who shrugs as if to sarcastically say, ‘Yeah, it’s my fault he’s not a completely heartless son of a bitch.’
“Eric is very… Industrial. He does not often consider the people when it comes to business and profits,” Godric offers apologetically. “His kindness is given out of pragmatism, not affection.”
“They know this,” Eric snaps at his Maker and I don’t know what it is, but Eric’s really off his game tonight. Something’s got his feathers ruffled. This thought is only confirmed when my sister comes outta the kitchen and curls herself around Eric. “I am home,” he tells her with a smile that overshadows his earlier foul mood. Godric’s frownin’, too, and I’m wonderin’ what’s up.
Before I can start askin’ questions, Pam takes my hand and leads me upstairs to where my old childhood bedroom used to be. It’s an office now, but Sookie replaced one of the sofas with a futon, so I can sleep here when I visit.
“What’s goin’ on?” I whisper when we’re in the office. Pam frowns and starts strippin’ off her clothes. “Oh, no,” I shake my head warily, “if you’re tryin’ to distract me with sex, it’s gotta be bad!”
“It is not my place to tell you what is bothering Eric,” Pam tells me as she drops her skirt and is now standin’ in a pair of pale, pink panties and matchin’ bra. Fuck, she’s gonna do the whole sweet girl routine, and I’m gonna forget all about Eric and his mood. “Why are you looking at me like that?” she asks in that fake “sweet and innocent” voice she somehow manages to pull off, despite being the sexual deviant she is.
I let out a long sigh before pullin’ off my shirt. Let Sookie figure her man out herself.
“What is it?” I ask my Child while he holds his Bonded tight to his body.
He remains silent a moment before stating, “Grissom.”
It scarcely takes a second for me to recall the vampire to whom he is referring. Grissom is over nine-hundred, and I am particularly less than fond of him. He is a Child without a Master and has been for many centuries since his Maker was lost in the Vampire/Fae war.
Grissom made his name by procuring restricted magical artifacts, stolen prophecies, and many desirable humans. He is vicious to humans; discovering delicious samples, abducting them, and modifying them to make their appearances just as covetable as their blood or abilities. He glamours them to near-lobotomy, creating beautiful, pliant, functioning blood factories. I believe he has earned the title of being my antithesis. Everything I hold precious is merely a shell to break and reshape into a product for Grissom.
“What about him?” I ask, trying to keep the edge out of my tone while Sookie looks between me and Eric curiously.
Looking at his Bonded, Eric kisses the top of her head and pats her rear, “Dear One, I do not want to talk about Grissom in front of you. It will upset you,” he tells her.
“We are going to take a stroll,” Eric tells her softly and offers her another consoling kiss.
Her gaze softens a moment before she sighs, “Okay, but you owe me an edited version when you get back, all right?”
I feel regret in the Bond as he nods his agreement. With her momentarily placated, I follow Eric to the door.
“What has Grissom done?” I ask once we are heading down the hill toward the graveyard.
“No surprise, he is still trafficking,” he grumbles.
“Did you cite him?” I demand angrily.
“Yes. The Magister will be coming at the end of the month to try him. That only gives me six days to find him.”
“Other than his absence, what is the problem?” I ask.
Eric places his hands to his face and groans, “There were three humans in his facility… I thought it had been properly decommissioned, but apparently, I was misled. He had been playing by the new rules so graciously, I thought he was finally growing the fuck up!” Eric is snarling angrily, and I am surprised at his vehemence.
“Eric?” I say guardedly. This reaction is far more than a simple case of an insubordinate vampire.
“I was walking his property and I could smell her,” Eric growls.
“Zoey Roth,” he whispers.
Roth… Roth… The name is familiar.
“One of the girls on Sookie’s softball team. She is the one Sookie subbed for in the game you attended,” Eric tells me after I hesitate to respond. “I only met her once, very briefly, one evening after I picked Sookie up from dinner with her team.”
I outwardly flinch, “How long had he had her?”
“Judging by the state of her body, I’d say about three weeks,” he murmurs. “She is quite a mess. The bruising and incisions from her modifications are still healing, but she will be quite beautiful. Unfortunately, Grissom had already begun her mental deconstruction.”
“Bad enough I could not repair her,” Eric runs his hand through his hair in frustration. “I called Sophie-Anne to send up Compton. He is one of the most skilled in her court with glamour and restoration. She asked why I did not just put the girl out of her misery, and I did not know what to tell her other than she is a friend of my Bonded. The truth is… Zoey was a sweet girl… Ordinary, but sweet…”
Smiling, I reach over to place my hand on Eric’s back. He stiffens since we do not usually resort to physical acts of comfort, but I feel his amused annoyance in our link. He knows that I am proud about his compassion for a human other than his Bonded and her brother.
“When will you begin your search for Grissom?” I ask after my moment of annoying Eric has run its course.
Eric frowns, and then I feel his remorse, “As soon as I have explained to Sookie…” He does not finish his explanation. I know that he regrets bringing an obstacle between his Bonded and her holiday spirit.
“It is vital that you not waste anymore of your time here,” I tell him sternly. “You have already given Grissom a head start. I will tell Sookie what is happening-”
“I would prefer to do it,” he tells me softly. “It is her friend, and-”
“She would want you to find the individual responsible more than she would like to hear it directly from you,” I argue. “Go. Now.” Eric frowns, but I know that in his gut, he agrees with me. “Hurry back and let us hope you can salvage the remainder of Sookie’s winter break.”
Before he can come up with an argument, Eric nods and takes to the sky. I watch him ascend into the stars, and I am not surprised when I hear Sookie come running out of the house. There is no need to turn and see her confusion or irritation.
“Where’s he goin’!?” she asks me, a strange culmination of frustration and amusement in her tone.
“He must find a fugitive vampire,” I tell her. “Grissom is a vampire not adhering to the ban on human trafficking. He is ruthless and without compassion, even more than Eric ever was.”
Sookie raises her eyebrows. Though she has only heard stories of her Bonded’s previous escapades, even she is surprised to hear someone could be more impartial to humans than Eric. She knows that Eric only puts up with her human friends for her sake, and that Jason is the only other human whose company he consistently enjoys.
“Why didn’t he just tell me? Or call and go straight from the warehouse?” she asks.
I close my eyes before delivering the bad news, “He wanted to tell you himself, but I warned that he had already wasted precious time… A friend of yours, Zoey Roth, was one of the humans taken by Grissom for… Repurposing.”
Sookie looks at me alarmed. “Wh-what do you mean by repurposing?” she whispers. I explain Grissom’s methods to her as delicately as possible, but I see the heartbreak on her face. “Did he come after her because of me or Eric?” Her voice is uneven and coarse.
I shake my head, “No. I am certain if Grissom knew that girl had any connection to you or Eric, he would never have taken her.”
“Will she be all right?” Sookie asks next.
“I do not know, Sookie. The Queen is sending her procurer from New Orleans to see if he can reverse any of the damages, but it is tricky.”
“Procurer?” She gives me a curious look.
“He would have had a similar job as Grissom before the end of human trafficking,” I tell her. “Of course, his methods are nowhere near as brutal, but only vampires very adept at glamour are hired for any Royal Procurement seat.” At Sookie’s curled lip, I quickly add, “Out of all the procurers I have known or of whom I am aware, Sophie-Anne’s is quite honorable.”
Sookie’s expression turns into a scowl, “A kidnapper is still a kidnapper. Bein’ less of an asshole doesn’t change the fact he steals someone’s child.”
I cannot help but chuckle. Sookie calling someone an asshole is quite a rare thing. In fact, aside from her recent adaptation to using the word “fuck” in moments of pleasure, I have not known her to swear easily.
“An asshole, Sookie?” I smile at her consolingly.
She takes a long, slow breath and releases it with a huff, “Sometimes, the vampire stuff… It’s real hard to accept when it bleeds into the human stuff. Zoey doesn’t deserve havin’ to go through this.”
Patting her shoulder, I admit, “I very much agree. It was one of the reasons I was so adamant to teach Eric compassion. He and Grissom are cut from a very similar cloth, but Eric had me as a Maker to subdue some of his ruthlessness,” I look at her worriedly, hoping she does not ask for explanations.
Sookie swallows hard, but does not say anything. Her expression takes me by surprise because it is very telling.
I feel my eyebrows raise, “He told you about my Maker?”
She nods, “Yeah. Day after we Bonded, and all the stuff with Hadley and my aunt happened. We got talkin’, and it kinda came up.”
“I see,” My face falls as I experience the frustration of one so young knowing my past. Despite having made Eric for the purpose to help myself heal, he was the only youth I spoke candidly to about my experiences, even after a thousand years.
“I didn’t understand,” Sookie continues, not looking at me. “I didn’t understand why you fell so far, or why you made Eric as your confidant. What I did understand is that every ounce of compassion he had in the beginning that eventually made him the vampire I love today is because he loves you. He hurt for you and couldn’t bear to see anyone else suffer, not from abuse in any such form. You taught him very important things to be a compassionate creature, even back then, when you thought he was so ruthless.”
I look at her hopefully, wondering if she is really forgiving about my deplorable human life. She turns her gaze to find me staring at her and smiles. Taking my hand, she gives it a brief, comforting squeeze. “That’s why the vampire stuff is so hard at times. I still can’t understand how vamps like your Maker could do things like that. It’s not just the ruthlessness, it’s the complacency that unnerves me.”
Nodding in understanding, I withdraw my hand, “Complacency is one of the torments of immortality. After you have seen centuries of deplorable acts, you find ways to turn a blind eye to keep from going mad. Other times, you find yourself becoming a deplorable person who performs those acts. However, I swear to you, I will do everything I can to protect you from that. I hope you stay the same sweet, compassionate woman my Child fell in love with.”
She smiles at me and laughs, “Godric, if I don’t, Endymion will probably clip my wings.” I give her a soft chuckle in response, but, secretly, I think she is quite right.
“You know,” I mumble exhaustedly, lyin’ naked on the futon, “the world would be a much more peaceful place if every woman wanted a fuck as much as you. Us men wouldn’t be out startin’ fights if we had sexy ladies ridin’ our dicks all the time.”
Pam gives me a playful smirk, “Well, if mortal men could fuck as well as you do, maybe sex would be more enjoyable and less of a chore.”
“That’s pro’lly the nicest thing you ever said to me,” I laugh, and tug her to sprawl across me. I’m playin’ with her pretty li’l fingers a few moments before she moves to climb off me. “Where you goin’?”
“You have been getting far too cuddlesome lately,” Pam tells me annoyedly. “It makes me uneasy about what you think this is between us.”
I roll my eyes, “I like to cuddle. I think it’s sexy havin’ a naked woman lyin’ across me. Ya don’t like it, bring another girl in here, and I’ll cuddle her after.”
Pam’s eyes light up at my suggestion, “You would be all right if I brought another woman in here?”
She does realize I’m a man, right?
“Yeah, if she likes dick, too,” I try to shrug nonchalantly, and not let on that I’m already startin’ to get hard again from this conversation. “I don’t wanna be sittin’ on the sidelines, y’know?”
Pam claps her hands gleefully, and I find it a little weird that she can have such a delighted, childlike expression while negotiating a threesome. “I have been eyeing just the girl!”
“No glamouring,” I tell her sternly.
“Of course not,” Pam scowls. “That would be cheating. I was thinking that President of Kappa… Cynthia,” I watch Pam’s face darken with lust.
I choke on a laugh, “Cynthia! Aw, man! Pam, if you can get her into a threesome with us, I will worship you for a month straight. Shit, I’ll do that thing you like when it’s time to party,” I give her a wink.
Her eyes narrow, and her lip quirks upward, “Keep your mouth shut?” I nod and her lips turn into a wide grin. “Challenge accepted.”
All I can do is grin. Holy shit, my first threesome! And if anyone can make it happen, it’s Pam!