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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chapter 62 ~ Sookie Has a Moment, Pam Gets Hers

“So how exactly does this work?”

“You're going to think it's gross.”

“No, I think it's foolish. We already know what these tests are going to say so I really don't see the point of them, but I would still like to know how we take these tests.”“We don't, I do.”

“Then how do you take the tests?”

Sookie's face flushed as she stuttered, “Uh … well, I have to-uh, pee on it.”

Eric arched a brow, incredulous, as he clarified, “You are going to urinate on that little stick and it is going to tell you that you're pregnant?”

“Yes.” She saw his lips twitching and ordered, “Don't you dare!”

He dared.

Eric burst out laughing, took one look at Sookie's outraged expression, fell back on the bed where he was sitting and laughed even harder. “You have got to be kidding me!”

Still clutching her first pregnancy test in her hand where she stood in the middle of her bedroom, Sookie stomped her foot, her face on fire and hissed, “You stop laughing right this minute! This is serious!”

“You're going to relieve yourself on a stick to find out something you already know!”

His whole body was shaking he was laughing so hard. The entire situation was absolutely ludicrous, and he couldn't believe his Sookie was so determined to carry out this entire endeavor. She'd always been such an intelligent woman, and he wondered why that had suddenly changed. Trying to contain his mirth, Eric sat back up and looked at Sookie as he asked, “This is how humans test themselves to find out if they're breeding? They urinate on sticks? I'm beginning to think the old ways were better.”

Sookie didn't find it funny. Not in the least. Here she was, trying to share a very important parental moment with Eric, and not only was he entirely unappreciative, but he was actually making fun of her! He was already in the doghouse and he certainly wasn't doing himself any favors by ruining her Mommy moment!  She stared at him and he met her gaze, holding it for a moment before he guffawed again.

“Eric! Stop laughing at me right now!”

Were he a normal man he would be crying right now he was actually laughing so hard, but Eric was able to regain some semblance of control. Sitting back up he shook his head, and replied, “Alright, I'll humor you. If you feel these tests are so important, I will not point out to you how hilarious it is for you to pee on sticks to find out something you already know.”

Smiling directly into Sookie's angry expression he continued, “Urinate away, my Sookie. I promise not to laugh at you any more. Not to your face at least.”

Sookie tossed one last angry glare towards her Viking before whirling around and storming into the bathroom muttering about rude and insensitive men that didn't known when to shut the hell up. Coming to stand at the bathroom sink she took one more look at the instructions for the test she'd selected to use first, just to make sure she knew what to do, and then made her way to the toilet. Here came her second problem of the evening, after her Viking, of course, she just didn't have to go. Aggravation rising, she stomped away from the toilet, slung the bathroom door open and leveled a murderous glare at her mate.

Eric sat just as he had been on the bed. Forearms resting on his knees, and that damnable smirk on his face proving just how pointless he thought this whole endeavor. When he saw Sookie come out of the bathroom, and having heard that she certainly hadn't done any urinating, he arched a brow and asked, “Problem, lover?”

“Don't call me that! I'm still pissed at you, and yes, there's a freaking problem!”

He chose to ignore the first part of her statement, and pressed, “Which is?”

Crossing her arms over her chest, Sookie grumbled, “I don't have to go.”

He thought that a fairly easy problem to fix and suggested, “Well then, we'll just wait until you do.”

“No! I want to take them now! The sun will be up soon and we still have things to do tonight, and I don't want to wait to do this another night.”

Shrugging, Eric offered, “You can take them during the day just as easily.”

He just didn't get it, and the fact he didn't even seem to care that he wasn't understanding why this was so important to her made Sookie even madder. “I'm not doing it without you! Damnit, Eric! Don't you understand anything?”

Eric could easily tell that Sookie was getting very aggravated about the situation, and asked, “Why don't you explain it to me?”

“I shouldn't have to explain it to you! You should just know!” Eyes narrowing dangerously, Sookie hissed, “You are such a man!”

He didn't understand why that was suddenly such a crime. She'd always seemed appreciative of his male status before. He also wanted to point out how her statement of 'he should just know' was beyond the realm of sane, but for the sake of self-preservation he decided to keep that opinion to himself. Instead of arguing the matter with her, Eric said, “Well we'll just have to wait until you have to go, it seems.”

Sookie didn't like that suggestion and said as much. “I deserve to get to do this now!”

“But you just said you don't have to go, and, from what you told me, I'm fairly certain you can't take them now if this is the case.”

“I know what I just said, you big jerk! Go downstairs and get me a big glass of water. I'll make myself go!”

Eric couldn't understand why she was so hell bent on all of this. Even more he couldn't understand why she was so determined to do it now. Right this moment. She was acting like the fate of her pregnancy depended on her getting to take these tests. He thought to point out how irrational her behavior was, but one more look at her dark expression had him backing down. He was an expert tactician, and he'd seen enough of war to known when it was time to save his own ass. He had enough obstacles to face concerning his little fairy, and if it would make her feel better to urinate on sticks then he would get her a big glass of water so she could do just that. Slipping into the role of martyr quite easily, Eric sighed, “Very well, my Sookie. I'll get you some water. Would you like ice? Straw?”

“Don't make me kick you!”

He simply chuckled as he strolled out of the room and headed downstairs. Pam was seated on the couch in the living room, thumbing through a fashion magazine she had undoubtedly had in her car as his Sookie certainly wouldn't have had one on hand. Pam had elected to return with him and rest here in Eric's underground shelter so that they could get a head start tomorrow evening. Haldar was also scheduled to arrive just before dawn this evening and would also need to take shelter here.

Eric, after having learned of Sargon's continued existence, had ordered the Council to summon Haldar's Maker and tell him to return to Sweden so that his friend could come to help aid him in the wars he now had to fight. He knew Haldar's Maker had released him centuries ago, but just as he had with Godric, Haldar had such love and respect for his Maker that he followed his commands willingly. Eric trusted Haldar above all other vampires save Pam, and he had fought beside him many times over many centuries. Haldar was just the type of warrior he currently needed at his side, and he'd arranged to bring his long time friend here. He had decided to make Haldar the general of his army, and that would leave Pam available to work on more delicate matters for him as his Lieutenant and right hand.

Eric couldn't help but smile to himself as he imagined his child's reaction when she found out that Haldar would also be sharing the underground chamber with them. It would be a tight fit, but he planned to make it perfectly clear that he was not sharing the bed. Those two would just have to find some way to share the remaining limited space available in the underground panic room. He could imagine the argument now. Those two hadn't exactly parted on the best of terms the last time he'd taken Pam to visit Sweden. Not. At. All.

Suppressing his amusement at the impending confrontation, Eric tried to ignore Pam. He headed into the kitchen to get his Sookie her glass of water, knowing his child had heard the entire conversation and not wanting to deal with her poking and prodding. He should have known she wouldn't let an opportunity like this pass her by.

Pam's eyes glittered ferociously as she moved in for the kill. She was Eric Northman's child through and through and had certainly inherited his “mindfuck” skills. She had most certainly heard every word of their conversation and had actually wanted to go upstairs and thank Sookie personally for all the ammunition the girl was giving her to use against her Master, but somehow, through sheer force of her superior will, she had refrained, but now that Eric was literally standing right before her, she couldn't hold herself back.

“Ah, the thing's a man does for love. How disgustingly sweet,” Pam taunted as she flipped through yet another page of ridiculously priced clothing she was going to use Eric's credit card to obtain for herself quite soon. “Fetching your Sookie a glass of water so you can help her pee on a stick! You were correct earlier that you aren't whipped, you definitely passed that point ages ago.”

Coming to stand in the entryway with the glass of water his mate had requested, Eric growled, “One more word, Pam, and you'll be on diaper duty for the rest of your existence.”

Shaking her head, Pam countered, “Oh I doubt that. You see, Master, I've been doing some thinking, and if this child of yours, and the ones that follow, truly are vampires, well then I don't think there will be any diapers. We certainly have no bodily wastes, so why would they?”

Eyes dancing merrily, Pam teased, “Hurry along now, Eric, your beloved wants to pee on a stick, and you simply must cater to her whims. That's what lovesick men do.”

Eric stared into Pam's triumphant gaze, and hissed, “Fine then, if I can't put you on diaper duty, I'll just have to settle for banning you from women and commanding you to take only male lovers. Only dick for the rest of eternity.”

Pam's eyes widened, horror filling her at the mere notion. “Eric! That is beyond cruel!”

Shaking the glass of water a little, he arched a brow and asked, “Anything to say?”

Flipping another page of her magazine angrily, Pam hissed, “Absolutely nothing.”

“That's what I thought.”

She was pissed that her fun had been ruined so soon. 'I'll just have to regroup and find another angle to come at him from. This is simply too good to pass up. Had I known having Sookie around would provide such amusement and opportunity to harass my Master, I would have procured her for him myself.'
Sparing his child one last withering glare, Eric headed back up to the bedroom where he found Sookie practically pacing a hole in the floor. Holding out the large glass of water, he announced, “Here you are. One large glass of water.”

“Took you long enough! What happened to vampire speed?”

He was getting tired of her whining. Her whining and her ridiculous demands that made absolutely no sense. Her childish behavior coupled with Pam's incessant teasing was wearing his control down, so when Sookie took the glass and began chugging the water, Eric asked, “Is your erratic behavior because of that hormonal imbalance that I read about?”

Sookie lowered the glass slowly and asked in a deathly quiet voice, “What?” She was fairly certain she knew what he was asking, and if she was right she was going to have a Viking-skinned rug very soon.

Eric, either not picking up on the very dangerous situation he was creating, or not caring, continued, his tone matter-of-fact. “I did some research on my phone and read that women experience significant hormonal imbalances while pregnant. So significant, in fact, that it causes them to act irrationally. I'm simply hypothesizing that perhaps your increased hormone levels are causing you to act this way. I was hoping that your increased hormone levels would make you horny, but apparently they make you bitchy. Perhaps this is the cause for you failing to accept why I was right the other night. Your hormones are preventing you from being reasonable.”

The FUCK he just did! Sookie's hand acted of its own volition as she tossed the rest of the water into his face. She shook the glass a few times to make sure she'd emptied it all on him. When her glass was empty, she thrust it back into his hand and hissed, “Go get me some more water, you arrogant, overbearing, insensitive, self-centered, A-hole! And hurry the hell up about it!”

Eric watched Sookie spin around and stomp back into the bathroom. He actually flinched when she slammed the door shut behind, her muttering even less flattering descriptions of him as she went. He stood there for a moment, water dripping off his face, and nodded to himself. 'Bitchy, her hormones definitely make her bitchy. I'll have to find a way to redirect that bitchiness into horniness.'

He thought briefly about changing clothes before going down stairs, but, with his mate's current mood, he didn't think he could spare the time. Instead he sighed in resignation and headed back downstairs. Without sparing Pam a glance, he growled, “Not one fucking word, Pamela.”

He heard her self-satisfied laugh but continued to ignore her as he collected another glass of water and went to take it to Sookie, reminding himself to keep his mouth shut unless she asked him a direct question. Coming to stand at the bathroom door he rapped his knuckles against the door and said, “I have your water.”

Eric watched as Sookie flung the bathroom door open, glared at him like he was the lowest form of flesh-eating bacteria in creation, snatched the water out of his hand, and slammed the door shut in his face. Not uttering one word. Though he didn't think words were necessary at that point. He got her message loud and clear, and again reminded himself not to speak unless spoken to until he learned how to handle this Sookie who was clearly unbalanced. Unbalanced and bitchy.

In the bathroom Sookie downed the water, set the glass on the counter, and then took up a seat on the toilet to wait until she had to go. A few minutes passed. A few minutes more. After the third count of the tiles on her floor, she let out an angry huff and headed for the door, flinging it open. Eric was still standing right where she had left him with his hands clasped behind his back. When he arched his brow at her, nonverbally asking her what was wrong now, she said, “It's going to take a few minutes, and it's boring in there. Tell me what you talked about with Ahmose while we wait.”

He wasn't certain talking with her in her current condition would be helpful with his plan to work his way back into her good graces, but he couldn't share that. “Very well.”

Eric gestured to the bed, indicating Sookie to take a seat on the bed. He waited until she was comfortable before once again claiming the rocking chair and beginning, “Ahmose and I discussed at length the security problems we now face, as well as how we can counteract these problems.”

“Are you going to share them with me, or is my human mind too feeble to grasp any of it?”

Ignoring the sneer on her face and the sarcasm of her tone, Eric reminded himself that Sookie was tired, angry, hurt, and most importantly, pregnant. He had to be the mature one here, and he would not rise to her baiting. “I had planned to discuss it with you. Much of it pertains to you and your personal safety, and I told you before that I intended to keep few secrets from you anymore.”

Chastised now, Sookie apologized, “I'm sorry. I shouldn't be attacking you like that. You've been very upfront about what you're doing to fight this war, and I shouldn't have belittled that fact. Especially since I know you're not big on sharing. Go ahead. I'm listening.”

Eric's face showed his surprise and he wondered if all pregnant women could jump from one mood to the next that quickly. Moments before he'd been feeling anger, outrage and resentment from Sookie through the bond, and now he felt remorse, affection, and a strong desire to connect with him. 'I will truly never understand this woman. She took me on an emotional roller coaster before, but this is just ridiculous.'

Deciding his mate's dip and sway of emotions was an issue to ponder another time, Eric quickly explained to Sookie everything that he'd discussed with Ahmose. First, he outlined his concerns about having any vampire work for him that was still under their Maker's control. How he couldn't afford to take the risk that Sargon might get to the Makers and order his allies or warriors against him. He told her of Ahmose being the Ancient Pythoness's child. Then he moved on to his concerns involving Niall and the rest of the Fae: the dangers they could present, as they didn't necessarily need him or their bond specifically to ensure the survival of their race. He warned her that the faery cousins Niall was sending to teach her could, in fact, be waiting to see how he would fare against Sargon, and if they thought he would lose they might betray them to make a deal with their enemy and kidnap her. He also explained the benefit of the magical bond Ahmose had described to him, and when he was done, he asked simply, “So what do you think?”

Sookie could really only think one thing at this point and said as much. “I think we can't trust anyone.”

He was pleased by her assessment, as it had been exactly the same as his. “I was thinking the very same thing.”

“So what are your plans?”

He had definite plans, but first he asked, “I was wondering if you have anything to say about the development that your faery relations might be bigger threats than advantages. I know the importance you place on family and I need to make sure that you can view the situation objectively should the need arise.”

Understanding Eric's reasoning, Sookie replied, “I am big on family. Our family. I've never met these cousins of mine, and while I'd never wish ill will on them, I won't let the fact they are blood blind me to the fact they could be threatening to you or my child.” Holding Eric's gaze, Sookie swore, “Eric, I'm committed to doing whatever I have to in order to protect my baby and our life together. Now that you've alerted me to the fact that these cousins of mine might be spies or future enemies, I'll be careful around them. I'll learn as much as I can from them, ensure I'm never alone with them, and see if I can read their minds. If I can, then I should be able to see any betrayal coming.”

Eric's eyes widened. He had neglected to factor in the fact that Sookie was supposed to be able to read all supes now, not just the weres he had her currently investigating. He'd been so used to her only reading certain species he hadn't really been factoring her gift into his plans as much as he should have been. As her powers developed there would be no being in creation capable of shielding their thoughts from her except him. “This pleases me, my Sookie. It pleases me you are learning to think not only as a mother, but as a queen.”

Smiling, Sookie replied, “I'm glad you see that I have some hidden depths of my own.”

“I wish you to begin cultivating your telepathic skills as much as possible. Begin trying to read vampires and faeries as much as you can. Practice on Han and Ivan and any other vampire I allow close to you. Practice on all the supes now guarding you.”

“I've already started.”

Now Eric was really surprised. “You have?”

“Yes.”

“And have you heard anything?”

Shaking her head, Sookie replied, “No clear thoughts, but I was able to pick up on emotions from Han and Ivan the other night, buffered though.” Biting her lip, Sookie added, “I'm not sure if I'm describing it correctly. It was like I could feel the thoughts in their head, but couldn't actually hear them. I was just aware that they were there.”

Eric thought it over for a moment, and offered, “I'm sure you just need practice. Your mind is incredible, so I have no doubts that you'll be able to master this skill. I don't want to pressure you, but I need you to develop this skill as quickly as possible. I need you to tell me who is trustworthy and who is not. Especially when it comes to Niall and the other faeries that are now a part of your life.”

“What do you intend to do about the royal faery guard?”

“Monitor them. At the first sign of betrayal or deceit I will execute them.”

Trying not to let the dark look on Eric's face affect her, Sookie said, “Well if they take the pledge they should be trustworthy, shouldn't they?”

“In theory, but remember Sookie, we know little of fae magic. Even Ahmose made it clear he did not understand the spell completely. We cannot be completely certain they are loyal to us until you are able to read their minds and assure us of this fact. Until then, we must be wary.”

“Why don't we just ask them?”

“Pardon?”

“Why don't we just ask them if they are loyal? Ask them if Niall is loyal? Heck, why don't we ask Niall if he is loyal or if he'll betray us?”

Eric thought the answer to that was fairly obvious. “Because they will simply tell us what we want to hear or what we need to hear in order for them to remain close to you.”

“Then we'll know they're lying.” Leaning forward conspiratorially, Sookie added, “Eric, if they deny that they might betray us when it's obvious that they could or might have to in order to survive, then we know they are already planning to betray us. Only liars deny that they lie. Honest and honorable people admit their faults and weaknesses. If they are genuine about wanting to help us now, genuine about their dedication to us and our cause at this moment, they'd outline what circumstances would force them to switch sides. They'd tell us now what would cause them to have to betray us, and they'd tell us how best to circumvent their betrayal in the event it does take place. That would prove their loyalty.”

As Eric's eyes widened, Sookie continued, “If they are loyal to us right now, they'd outline exactly how they could be used by Sargon to hurt us. They'd explain their weaknesses, and tell us exactly how to circumvent their betrayal if and when it takes place. If they refuse to do all of this than it means they are either already in Sargon's pocket, or they are waiting to see where the chips fall before committing. Either way we wouldn't be able to trust them at all and should go ahead and get rid of them … or find a way to make their betrayal work for us.”

Eric sat in stunned silence for a moment. He was literally in awe of Sookie's cunning. Her sheer brilliance. Suddenly he leaned forward, cupped his hand behind Sookie's neck and pulled her forward for a hard fast kiss that left them both panting. When he pulled back his fangs were distended and he growled huskily, “Damnit, Sookie, you make me want to fuck you when you say things like that. You are without a doubt one of the smartest people I know. That is fucking genius.”

Sookie blushed prettily at Eric's praise. She might still be mad at him, but his honest declaration had caused butterflies to zing in her stomach and had her ducking her head to drop her gaze to her lap as she muttered, “It's no big deal.”

Taking her chin, Eric admonished, “Sookie, what have I told you about belittling your worth?” Stroking his thumb over her plump bottom lip that he sorely wished to take between his teeth and nibble on, Eric continued, “Lover, Ahmose and I discussed at length how best to handle Niall and the threat he and the other fairies pose. Between the two of us we have over four thousand years of experience, and yet neither of us came up with this plan. You did. You came up with it, Sookie, and it is not only a good idea, but one of the best tactical maneuvers I've ever heard. You astound me. Completely and utterly astound me.”

“Do you really mean that? You think my idea is good and aren't just humoring me to try and get in my pants?”

“I assure you, my Sookie, that my words are genuine. Your idea is perfect, and tomorrow night when Niall returns we will sit down and discuss this with him. Though, if my praise in any way advances my return to your bed, all the better.”

Sookie rolled her eyes, her mouth twisting into a grin despite her efforts. “What about my lessons tomorrow? Do you want to put them off?”

He shook his head, stroking Sookie's cheek before slowly bringing his hands back to his lap. “No. Continue with your lesson and try your best tomorrow to read your faery guards and your cousins. See if you can get anything. If Niall does deny that he might betray us or fails to outline how he would betray us you might not get another magic lesson. So I want you to learn as much factual information about wielding faery magic tomorrow as you can. The mechanics of it. Get directions, and if need be, I will have witches help you as best they can if your cousins or any other fae are no longer available.”

Nodding her head, Sookie agreed, “That makes sense. I can—“ Sookie's words stopped abruptly before a brilliant smile broke out over her face. She jumped up from the bed and rushed past Eric as she squealed, “I have to go! Time for the tests!”

Eric watched as Sookie darted past him into the bathroom, slam the door closed, and basically abandoned him without a second thought. Shaking his head at Sookie's irrational behavior, he mused, 'Her hormones are definitely making her crazy.'

In the bathroom Sookie set two of the tests on the rim of the tub while holding the third in her hand. She could hardly contain herself. She knew that Eric found this entire endeavor ridiculous, and to an extent she could agree with him, but he was missing the obvious. Pregnancy tests, the taking of them and the sharing of the news was what normal couples did. It's how all mothers and fathers found out about their babies. Mothers certainly weren't told by their thousand year old Viking vampire mates on the eve that they found out their only brother and last human relative was viciously stolen from them by a crazed vampire queen determined to make them a slave. Nor were the days following the joyous news supposed to be filled with ominous prophecies and ancient evils lurking at every corner. No: the news of a new life was supposed to be joyous and normal, and Sookie was determined to have this bit of normalcy if it killed her.

With that in mind, she made quick work of peeing on the three pregnancy tests. She was grateful that these newer tests didn't have as much of a waiting period and within moments of peeing on them the words and symbols she'd been longing to see appeared. She had two “Pregnant” signs and one plus sign. All three boldly telling her what she already knew. She was pregnant. She and Eric were having a baby.

Eric watched as Sookie opened the bathroom door, and suddenly all the torture he'd endured over the past few hours, the buying of these unnecessary tests at his nemesis WalMart, the horrific ordeal of prepping Sookie to take them, the amount of teasing he'd endured at Pamela's hands and would undoubtedly suffer for centuries to come, was most definitely worth it. The beautiful smile on his Sookie's face was entirely worth everything he'd suffered. She was radiant as she walked out of the bathroom holding her precious tests in her hand and he waited for her to speak. This was the “Mommy moment” she'd wanted so much, and he would follow her lead.

Sookie's eyes filled with tears as she announced breathlessly, “I'm pregnant.”

“You're pregnant,” Eric reiterated enigmatically.

Sookie burst into a wild laugh and hurled herself across the room to tackle Eric where he was sitting on the bed. Her arms wrapped tightly around his shoulders as she buried her face into his neck and squealed, “We're going to have a baby!”

Her joy, her happiness, her sheer delight, flamed inside him as the bond opened wide. Sookie's emotions roared through him, bright and scalding as warmth overtook him entirely. Eric wrapped his own arms around Sookie just as tightly and buried his face into her hair as he shared in her exuberance. “Yes we are, my Sookie. We are having a baby. A son.”

“Oh Eric! I'm so excited! I never thought I'd get to have baby because of my hand—uh,  gift! And now not only do I get to have a baby, but I get to have your baby! I'm going to have a baby Viking!”

Her words pleased him more than he'd ever be able to say. The fact that she was not bemoaning this unexpected pregnancy in anyway was truly a blessing as it was obvious it would not be easy for either of them. The fact that she was even more excited by the fact that it was his son inside her had him wanting to chain her to his side, mark off any and all territory around her with his scent so all would know she was claimed. He wanted to pull her into his body, absorb her into his very skin. Make her completely one with him so that nothing could ever separate them. He was obsessed with Sookie Stackhouse, and he was just as obsessed with his son currently growing inside her.

Stroking his hand up under her shirt to stroke her smooth back, Eric promised, “You will only ever have my children. Sargon's seed will never take root inside you as mine has. I swear it.”

Sookie pulled back and put her fingers to Eric's lips. “Shhh. No talking like that. No talking of war or enemies. This is our moment, Eric, and no one else is going to intrude on it. Our time alone, ours and our son's.”

Holding Eric's gaze, she continued, “Right now we pretend the world is safe for our baby. We get to pretend we're normal parents and talk about only normal baby stuff. Ok?”

Of course it was ok. He would take anything he could get from Sookie right now. Besides, pretending that everything was normal and safe and getting to converse of their son sounded delightful. Moving to lay Sookie on the bed so he could wrap his body protectively around hers, Eric asked, “Have you made any plans for the baby?”

Sookie knew she shouldn't be allowing Eric to snuggle her on her bed like this. She knew she should be holding tight to her anger and making sure he knew that things were not right between them, but she'd earned this moment. She'd earned a few moments in time where she could pretend that everything was ok, and she was going to take it.

She snuggled into his chest, and murmured, “Yes I have. We'll redo my old room to make it into a classroom because I've decided I'd prefer to home school our children.”

“I agree with this. The American public educational system is pathetic. It is sad that one of the greatest, most developed countries in the world has one of the worst school systems. They teach their children little to nothing but how to conform in public schools. We will hire the best tutors to educate our children.”

Tracing Eric's markings on his chest, Sookie countered, “We will have to have some tutors, but I want us to teach him as much as possible. I know you'll be busy running your kingdom and all that entails, but I expect you to be a large part of our children's lives. I'm pretty sure I can handle the first few years of education. I was looking up homeschooling on line and there are prep courses I can take to help our children learn to read and write, and I'd really like to try that 'Your Baby Can Read' program that teaches infants how to read, but I need you to help with other stuff. Math and the early years of science shouldn't be to much trouble, but eventually we will have to hire tutors for advanced math, biology, physics and coursework like that. I want you to teach little Peanut about history, and teach him to play all the instruments you play. I only want to bring in tutors when absolutely necessary. I want us to teach him everything else.”

“I will find the time to teach my son, Sookie. I did not mean to infer that I would abandon his care to others.”

“That's good.” Her fingers danced across his cool skin as her eyes closed in contentment. She knew the pattern of his markings from memory and continued to run her fingertips across them as she continued, “I also decided that the nursery will always be in our bedroom. I don't like the idea of our baby being down the hall.”

He enjoyed the feeling of her in his arms, the feel of her fingers running along his chest. He missed the feel of all this. The distance between them was not right, but he knew now was not the time to address that particular issue. Instead he concurred, “I do not understand humans today when it comes to their children. Statistics show that most parents today spend less than four hours a day with their children. The rest of the time the children are cared for by strangers. Such will not be the case with our children.”

“I thought you said back in your days parents spent little time with their children.”

“No, fathers spent less time with their children because we worked the fields and were out exploring and raiding. Mothers, however, were with their children from sunup to sundown unless the children were gone playing with their friends or learning skills from their fathers. And families did not sleep apart, especially not small children and parents.”

Looking up at Eric, Sookie asked, “What do you mean?”

Eric stroked a lock of his mate's hair back, and clarified, “Homes back then were mainly one room, so the entire family slept together. Girls remained in their parents home until they married. Only boys moved out of the family home without being married. They moved to the men's lodge, which was where the unattached warriors went when they hit puberty and were considered men. Babies, young children, and unwed girls remained with their parents. Such will be the case with our children.”

Indicating the space beside the bed, Eric continued, “I will build a cradle and it will be here. Our children will sleep with us.”

“I like that. I decided to turn the guest room into a playroom and once Peanut is ready for a big boy bed we'll turn it into his room.”

He noticed she hadn't mentioned changing her brother's room, but had no intention of asking about it. He knew it would be too hard for her to go into that room let alone try to change anything about it. The first night he'd stayed here he'd asked her why her brother still had a room in the house despite not having lived here for years, and Sookie had simply shrugged and told him that her Gran always said this was their family home and she and her brother would always have rooms here. Instead, he said, “Provide me a list of what you'll need and I'll have Bobby procure it all for you.”

“Absolutely not! Eric, we're not having Bobby buy our baby's things. We're going to buy them. Going baby shopping is another parental moment that we're going to share.”

“Sookie, I do not like the idea of you leaving the barrier. We can do our shopping online.”

“No, Eric. I told you I'm on board with the advanced protection and not exposing myself to danger like I did before, and I think I'm doing a pretty good job of changing my lifestyle so dramatically, but I'm not going to stay locked up in this house for the rest of my life. I know you're really busy and have lots of things to do, but this is important. One night you and I are going to go to Shreveport and shop for what we need for the baby. Us. Together. Mommy and Daddy.”

Testing the bond, feeling the depth of her emotions, Eric observed, “This is really important to you.”

Nodding against his chest, Sookie affirmed, “Very important.” She sat up to look down at him, wanting him to realize how serious she was about all of this, why she was so determined to have these moments with him. Taking his hand she put it on her stomach where their son grew inside her, and explained, “Eric, this isn't something I thought I'd ever have. A mate? A baby? A family of my own? Those were things I was certain were never in my future. Because of my telepathy I knew from a very early age I could never be with a normal man. I was certain I was doomed to life alone. I thought I'd grow old, be the town's crazy ol' cat lady, and die a virgin. I thought that was my future.”

Tears glistened in Sookie's eyes as she continued, “Then vampires came out and I found out you guys were silent to me. I knew it wouldn't be possible to have a family with a vampire, but I thought maybe I wouldn't be alone. Maybe I could finally touch someone, be touched by someone without hearing every thought in their head, without feeling their emotions as my own, without living their worst memories. I thought maybe I could have something in my life besides loneliness.”

Stroking her fingers across Eric's hand spread across her stomach, Sookie whispered, “But now I have more. Eric, I have a life with you now. You're my mate and this is our baby. I have a family with you. I never let myself dream about what it would be like to do things like this with a man I love. It hurt too much because I truly believed this fate would never be mine. Now it's happened. Granted, it's happening amidst a shit storm, but it's still happening for me. You can't take this from me. You can't take these opportunities from me. Not even to keep me safe.”

Reaching out to stroke his cheek while his hand cupped her womb, Sookie pleaded, “Planning our life together, shopping for our baby together, picking out toys and clothes and blankets, arguing over paint colors, all of it is something I could only hope for. Now it's really happening, and the thought of not getting to do these things with you breaks my heart. These are my greatest dreams, Eric, and I'm begging you not to destroy them.”

Eric felt her words down to his core. Through their intense connection he could feel how desperately Sookie yearned for these experiences she was describing. He could feel how the young woman in her, the woman that had truly believed this life would never happen for her, longed to share these moments with him as though they were a normal couple. He could feel the little girl inside her that had been beaten down so harshly by the world crying out at the thought of having yet another dream broken, and he couldn't do it.

His mind, his logic, all his thousand years' worth of experience argued that allowing Sookie to step one foot outside of the barrier while Sargon was still alive and at large was a mistake of catastrophic proportions. Logic dictated he should keep his mate and unborn son locked inside the barrier until he could destroy his enemy and make the world safe for his family. Every survivalist intuition and rule he carried that had kept him alive throughout the centuries screamed at him to deny Sookie's request … but he would not. Could not. He could feel how desperately she wanted these things with him, how desperately she longed to share these simple moments with him, how desperately she needed this small sense of normalcy in their lives, and he vowed she would have it.

Taking hold of her shoulders to pull her down into his embrace, wrapping her tight in his muscular arms to fit her perfectly into the curve of body, Eric kissed his mate's temple and swore, “You will have your dreams, my Sookie. You will have every moment of them. I'm not sure how I'll make them happen for you with all the security problems these outings present, but I will find a way. We will share these parental milestones you so long for.”

Sookie's smile was radiant. “Oh Eric! You don't know how much that means to me! I know it will be hard, but I really want this with you!”

“And you shall have it.” His mind was already formulating plans, calculating odds, and running through various security precautions and scenarios. It would be hard, but he would find a way to make this happen for Sookie. Even if he had to buy the entire city of Shreveport and shut the whole damn thing down so that he could ensure Sookie would be safe while she went from baby store to baby store.

For long moments they simply stared deep into one another's eyes. There was no question that things weren't right between them. They had quite a bit to resolve between them. Mountains to overcome, but at this moment everything that was right between them hummed through the bond: the love (even if a certain stubborn Viking refused to admit his), the trust, affection, hope, desire, and so much more. All of it was shining bright and hot inside the Chosen One and her king. No words were spoken for some time as they simply lay together. The silence was comfortable yet filled with emotion before Eric finally blurted out, “Absolutely no pink.”

“What?”

“When we pick out colors, no pink. No variations of it. No shades. None. Pam is going to try and talk you into it, going on and on about how metrosexuals are all the rage and some nonsense like that, but I forbid you to listen to her. There will be absolutely no pink in my son's nursery, classroom, toy selection, or wardrobe.”

Stifling a giggle, Sookie teased, “I happen to think pink is a very masculine color when worn by the right man. I'm sure our son will pull it off very well.”

“No, and any gifts Pam buys in that color will be promptly thrown away.”

“Eric! You can't throw gifts from Pam away!”

“Watch me. I've already warned her about trying to turn my son into a doll, but she never listens to me if it's not about safety. She's going to do her best to get around my rules by going through you. You must swear to me you will not fall for her tricks.”

Laughing outright now, Sookie replied, “I promise no such thing. If she buys him something I think Peanut will like or look good in, we're keeping it.”



Before Eric could say anything more his phone vibrated in his pocket. Pulling it out and checking his new message he grinned and said to Sookie, “Haldar is here. He came ahead of his guards he brought to fight with us. Invite him in the barrier.”

Feeling the growing excitement and mischievousness growing inside her mate through their bond, Sookie asked, “What's got you so geared up? You weren't this excited to see Haldar in Sweden … oh, and I invite Haldar in.”Jumping up from the bed and pulling Sookie up as well, Eric replied, “Because Pam wasn't there with us. Hurry, my Sookie, you're not going to want to miss this!”

“Why? What's wrong with Pam and Haldar being together?”

“Let's just say they have a very unique relationship.”

“Eric, what aren't you—“

“ERIC!”

Pam's voice was filled with rage. Her scream shook the house before the loud booming voice of Haldar filled the air with, “Pamela! It is so good to see you again, my love!”

Eric wasted no time in sweeping Sookie up bridal style in his arms and dashing from the room to bring them to a stop at the bottom of the stairs. The great hulking form of the former King of Sweden filled the doorway. His hands were behind his back and he sported the most devilish smirk that stood out from his flaming red beard. Pam's body stood poised, hands fisted at her sides, as she blocked him from entering the house. She was literally shaking in anger as she hissed, “Get the FUCK out of here, you idiot! I can't believe Eric sent for you! GO! Or I swear by all that I hold sacred I'll stake your ass!”

Shaking his head, Haldar brought his hands out from behind is back, revealing that he was holding a dozen red roses, and pouted, “My love, how can you say such things! I have come so far to see you! It wounds me you are not as happy to see me as I am to see you. Here I thought you would throw yourself in my arms that we might mend fences and once again find bliss in one another's embrace. Come to me Pamela, let me show you what it is to be loved by a man of worth!”

Snatching the roses out of Haldar's hands, Pam threw them on the floor and ground them beneath her ridiculously expensive heels and growled, “Get out! You're lucky I don't stake you where you stand! I should have killed you last time!”

Whirling around, Pam turned her murderous glare upon her Maker who was standing on the bottom step with his arm wrapped loosely around his mate's waist. Sookie seemed shocked at what was happening in front of her, but Eric's expression was glee-filled and she knew he'd planned this. Stomping her foot, she said, “You did this on purpose! How could you?!”

Adopting a completely innocent façade, Eric replied, “Whatever are you talking about, Pam? I called Haldar here to help us with the current situation.”

Pam wasn't buying it. “Bullshit! You brought him here to punish me! Is this about Sookie? Fine! You win! I won't tease you anymore! Now send him away!”

Eric wasn't offended in the least by his child's outspokenness or lack of respect as she addressed him. In fact, it's what he'd been hoping for. He congratulated himself for not warning her beforehand that he was bringing Haldar in. 'Definitely one of my finer moves,' he exulted to himself. Continuing to play the innocent, Eric said evenly, “My child, this has nothing to do with your lack of respect. Haldar is a fine warrior. He will be a valuable asset to our cause.”

“He'll be nothing but a—“

Pam's words stopped abruptly. She could quite clearly feel a hand on her ass. She whirled around and socked Haldar in the jaw causing him to stumble back on the porch. “You fucking bastard! Try that again! I dare you!”

“My love! I couldn't help myself!”

Pam rushed him, throwing her body into his to send them both tumbling away from the house. They rolled down the stairs and were a blur of motion as Pam began attacking Haldar with everything she had. Her fury was great, but Haldar did have many centuries on her and managed to dodge every one of her attacks as he teased, “Love of my life! If you wanted to spar before we relearn one another's bodies and enjoy hours of carnal delight, all you had to do was say so!”

Sookie's eyes had widened as she'd watched Haldar step into the house while Pam was speaking, and she was sure she was seeing things as she'd watched the giant vampire reach out and fondle Pam's ass. When they tumbled out of the house, she leaned towards Eric and whispered, “Are we really seeing this?”

“Most definitely.” Eric took hold of Sookie's wrist and tugged her out onto the porch. Pam and Haldar were going at it hard, and all of Sookie's guards were standing at varying points throughout the yard and watching the duo.

Watching them go at it, Sookie was truly stunned. She had never seen the vampiress lose her cool like this. Pam had always been snarky, but never anything less than poised. The outburst she'd heard from Pam earlier that night while she'd been upstairs with Eric was the closest Sookie had ever seen to true emotion coming from the other woman, but now? Now Pam was practically foaming at the mouth! “What the hell happened between those two? I've never seen Pam like this! Eric, did Haldar really grope her ass?”

“Oh yes, he most certainly did, and I don't doubt his words that he couldn't help himself. When Pam and Haldar get together it is always explosive,” Eric laughed.

Sookie watched Pam rip a tree out of the ground and swing it like a bat at Haldar, and pressed, “Okay, spill, what went down between those two to have Pam acting like this? And you need to talk to Pam later about ruining the landscape around my house.”

Shaking his head, Eric watched Haldar grab the tree and toss it over his shoulder as he blew kisses towards Pam. His flippancy only further enraged his child and she launched herself at him. When the duo flew backwards in a tangle of arms and limbs as they battled for dominance, Eric replied, “If you want the particulars you must ask Pam. She swore me to secrecy, and I'll be sure to tell Pam she is not to ruin your trees anymore.”

“Good,” Sookie replied. “Oh! She got him! Look! He's bleeding!”

“He let her land that hit, but don't tell her that. It would only make her angrier.”

Still watching the two vampires go at it, Sookie pleaded, “Come on, tell me what happened between those two to cause these problems.”

Shaking his head, Eric said, “You could try Haldar, but I doubt he'll tell you. He'll be trying to get Pam into bed with him his entire stay here and he'll want to earn himself some of those brownie points you were telling me about.”

As Pam slammed her elbow into Haldar's jaw, Sookie commented, “I don't think it will help.”

“Me neither,” Eric grinned.

Haldar continued to trade blows with Pam, allowing her to vent her frustration, before swatting her fist away when she went to punch him and taking control of the situation. He wrapped one of his massive arms around her, pinning her arms to her sides, and bent his head down to claim her lips in a quick kiss. Pam responded by sinking her fangs into his tongue. He drew back, a small trickle of blood dripping from his lips while his tongue healed quickly, and laughed, “I've missed you, Pam! No woman excites me like you do!”

Pam was shaking in rage and thrashed against Haldar's stronger arms as she screeched, “Let me go! I'm going to fucking kill you! If you're here, that means you don't have that stupid crown to hide behind anymore and you're fair game!”

Back on the porch, Eric decided the situation was getting out of hand. He squeezed Sookie's waist gently for a moment to reassure her that everything was all right, and then stepped forward and took hold of both Haldar and Pam with his telekinesis to separate them. Another thought had them both flying forward to hang in the air directly in front of the porch where he and Sookie stood. All around them the royal guard and Sookie's friends looked on in varying states of shock and amusement. Ignoring the crowd, Eric crossed his arms over his chest and asked, “Do you think you can both behave?”

With the most pitiful expression dressing his face, Haldar whined, “Eric! My friend! You ruin my fun yet again! I was only trying to show Pam a little affection! She needs another man in her life besides you!”

“ERIC! Put me down so I can stake him!” Pam found absolutely no humor in the situation and she swore Haldar would pay for all his past transgressions towards her and for the embarrassment he'd caused her tonight.

Eric looked between the two of them and continued, “We have much to discuss and dawn approaches. The two of you can continue your little lover's quarrel tomorrow night if time allows. Right now I need you to focus and put your personal issues aside. Is that understood?”

When it looked as though they both were going to argue, Eric growled, “Your acquiescence isn't really an option. You will both behave while we conduct business.”

Still pouting, Haldar agreed, “I can be good long enough for you to explain why it is you've called me here.” Casting his eyes around, taking in the sight of all the supernatural guards, he added, “I'm guessing whatever it is is going to be fun.”

“I have no problem behaving,” Pam stated through clenched teeth. Jerking her head towards Haldar next to her, she groused, “It's him you have to worry about!”

Shaking his head at their antics as he lowered them both to the ground, Eric said, “I expect you both to be professional for the rest of the evening. We do not have time for this foolishness.” Eric then turned around and headed into the house after capturing Sookie's wrist so he could pull her along after him. Dawn was fast approaching and Haldar had to be brought to speed about the situation.

When Eric returned inside the house with his human, Haldar gallantly gestured for Pam to enter ahead of him. “After you, my lady.”

“I'm not your anything, you useless pile of human fecal matter!”

“You're not still upset about that tiny little incident that happened decades ago, are you?”

Eyes narrowing into slits, Pam seethed, “You just wait! As soon as this problem is resolved, and Eric no longer needs your help, I'm going to end you!”

“We'll see,” Haldar laughed. He again gestured for her to enter the house and continued, “I believe Eric is waiting for us.”

Tossing her hair over her shoulder, Pam started up the steps, and huffed, “It surprises me you even remember how to behave like a gentleman and let a lady go first.”

Falling in line behind her, Haldar teased, “Gentleman? I'm not doing this to be a gentleman. I'm doing this to get a nice view of your ass, and it's just as beautiful as I remember it.”

Spinning about, fangs down, Pam snarled, “You son of a bitch! I'm gonna—“

“Pamela! You can pummel him later for ogling your ass, right now get said ass in here!” Eric barked from inside.

Pam's eyes promised violence as she glared at Haldar for a moment longer before turning back around and stomping into the house. She made a beeline for the end of couch and squeezed herself in beside Sookie. Her murderous gaze never left her nemesis as he sauntered in behind her and stretched out lazily in the chair across from them.

Sookie, obviously shocked at the behavior from the normally lofty Pam, looked back and forth between her and Haldar. She didn't know what had happened between them to have Pam so hell bent on causing Haldar harm, but she was determined to find out. She looked at Eric from where he sat next to her and he only gave her the barest smirk to remind her that he wouldn't be spilling the beans anytime soon. 'Whatever happened between them must be epic. Truly epic. I can't wait to find out!'

When everyone was seated, Eric began, “It's time for you to learn why you were summoned here, Haldar.”

Blowing one last kiss towards Pam, the younger Viking answered, “Indeed, my friend. I know I said I'd visit, but I didn't mean so soon. So what has happened that you needed me to bring my sword?”

Eric jumped right into the explanation, and wasted no time with flowery words. He was matter-of-fact and succinct as he detailed why it was Haldar had been summoned. To his credit, Haldar remained silent through the entire recitation, and when Eric was done, he sat in silence for a few moments before leaning forward and remarking, “Eric, you've dragged me into some crazy shit over the years, but this tops it all. How do you manage to cause this kind of trouble?”

Holding one finger up, Eric countered, “First, you were the one that always landed us in trouble, and I was the one saving you. Second, I didn't exactly cause all of this on my own.” Nodding his head towards Sookie, he added, “She should have to shoulder some of the blame.”

Sookie's outraged gasp was ignored as Haldar quickly commented, “You fuck hundreds of thousands of women over the years and you just had to fuck the only woman in the world capable of popping out vampire babies. I'm not sure if that makes you the luckiest son of a bitch or the unluckiest.”

Looking over at Pam, Sookie commented, “I can see why you wanted to stake him. I have some spare wood piled up around back if you need something to whittle down.”

“I'll keep that in mind,” Pam replied humorlessly.

“How can you say such things, my sweet?” Haldar's expression was the epitome of wounded love. “I come halfway across the world to save you, to rescue you from whatever trouble it is that Eric has dragged you into yet again, and you spurn me! I'm hurt.” His hand tapped his unbeating heart.

“Listen you throwback to Homo neanderthalensis! I'm not your anything! And if Eric didn't need your help with this shitstorm we've landed in, I'd have staked your ass by now! So shut the fuck up and try to help for once!”

“Pamela, enough!” Eric barked before his eyes turned to Haldar as he added, “Can you stop aggravating her long enough for us to finish our discussion? I promise to arrange play time for the both of you in the future for you to work out your relationship issues.”

“We don't have a relationship!” Pam cried.

Haldar looked pensive for a moment before nodding his head and replying, “I'll behave … for now. Though it is hard to keep from exciting her when she so clearly wants to leap across the room and fuck me senseless, my friend. She's so in love with me it's ridiculous.”

“I'll show you love, you piss-poor excuse for a vampire!”

“Pam! Sit down! Haldar, stop provoking her!” Eric's tone was beyond exasperated, and the silence was only broken as Sookie lost her battle for self control and doubled over in a fit of laughter. Looking down at his mate next to him, Eric asked, “Sookie? What is wrong?”

Fighting for control, Sookie giggled, “They're like and old married couple! Pam has emotions! Like real emotions! This is just too good!”

Haldar latched onto Sookie's words, figuring if she wasn't going to be serious at the moment then he didn't have to be either. Focusing on Pam he purred, “You see, my love? Even Sookie realizes we are meant to be together! She sees we are practically married.” Patting his knee he added, “Come, sit on my lap so we can snuggle.”

Pam shrieked in outrage, rose swiftly and broke one of the legs off the coffee table, her intent clear. Sookie watched unhappily as the stack magazines on it went sliding to the floor as it tilted at a crazy angle. Unfortunately, by the time she took a step forward, Eric was standing as well and had hold of her wrist to stop her. Turning her eyes up at her maker, Pam hissed, “Didn't you hear what he said to me? He told me to snuggle with him! I can't let that go! He must be staked!”

Eric forced himself not to laugh as Pam practically spat out the word “snuggle”, but somehow managed to remain expressionless. Just barely. “Pamela, you can bitch about Haldar's desire to snuggle with you later, for now you need to keep control of yourself.”

Prying the stake from Pam's hand, Eric looked at a smirking Haldar and admonished, “Didn't you just promise to behave?”

“Did I? The centuries are beginning to take their toll on me old friend, I don't recollect saying those words. And really? When have I ever promised to behave? It goes against Viking nature! You must have heard me wrong.”

Pushing Pam back down into her seat beside Sookie as he retook his own, Eric argued, “If you want to fight this war with me, Haldar, you have to at least pretend to be mature upon occasion.”

Pouting, Haldar parried, “But Eric! I've been stuck in that stuffy court for so long!” Throwing his arms wide he continued, “I'm finally free, here to reclaim my woman, to fight and fuck alongside you, and you won't let me have any fun!”

“You can have fun on your own time, now it is my time, and I need your help. So stop pestering Pam and get serious.”

Sinking back in his chair, clearly sulking, Haldar conceded, “Fine. I'll be mature and serious, but I maintain it is cruel of you to ask this of me. I spent a century having to do that crap while my Maker wandered and left me the throne. Now I'm finally free, and you're putting the yoke on me again.”

“You need a muzzle and leash,” Pam hissed.

Pointing his finger at Pam, Haldar complained, “If I have to behave she does too!”

Shaking his head at their antics, Eric looked around Sookie at his child, and deadpanned, “Pamela, you will stop acting childish!”

Rolling her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest, and sitting back angrily, Pam huffed, “Fine.”

Looking down at his still giggling mate, Eric said, “Well, Sookie, everyone's ready to behave but you. Can you stop laughing now so we can finish discussing business?”

Wiping the tears from her eyes, Sookie set her jaw. “Yes. I'm good. Let's get started.”

Since everyone had finally settled down, Eric turned his attention to Haldar and stated, “Our position is most precarious. Especially with our limited resources. Sargon is a step ahead of us, and we have no time to waste.”

Haldar, turning serious, continued asked, “So who do we trust? What's your game plan? And what do you need me to do? It sounds to me like the first order of business is in finding a way to counter this man's surveillance. There's no point in making plans if he will know all of them.”

Nodding, Eric explained, “Sookie's home is finally secure. The statues Ahmose sent have been erected around the property within the barrier and everything we discuss here is safe.”

“What of everything else? Our words outside the barrier need to be protected too. We need to be able to use phones to coordinate our forces,” Haldar pointed out.

Nodding towards Sookie, Eric answered, “They will be. Over the years Sookie has discovered several hackers, and I've ordered them retrieved. They'll be here tomorrow night.”

“A few hackers will not defeat Sargon's resources,” Pam admonished.

“Hackers that have waltzed in and out of every major government or government agency mainframe world wide will,” Eric replied with a smirk, already making plans for all the ways he would utilize this new resource once it had been secured.

Eyes widening, Pam looked down at Sookie and pressed, “They can truly do this?”

“Yes, they can,” Sookie affirmed. “They are the best in the world apparently, and have been doing it for years. There are three of them.”

Pam, thinking much like her Maker, looked to Eric and suggested, “You shouldn't bond them all to the same vampire. That way in case one falls the other two would still be under our rule. Unless you are planning to bond them all to you?”

Much like her Maker, Pam hadn't even given consideration to asking the hackers if they would join their cause. No, instead, just as Eric had, she immediately decided they should be enslaved to their will in order to ensure loyalty. When Eric remained silent, Pam tilted her head in confusion and asked, “Is that not your plan?”

Eric shook his head, while he still thought his original plan to enslave the hackers was the best way to go, he was willing to compromise with Sookie on this one thing. Not only had she given him proof that these hackers weren't driven by the desire for money and power, but he needed to handle Sookie delicately until he could heal the wounds between them.

“Sookie has assured me that such measures will not be necessary, Pamela. As she discovered these assets, I am willing to allow these humans to prove they are trustworthy and will aid our cause.”

Pam, while she was coming to terms with the place Sookie held in her Maker's life, could not help sneering down at the girl, “Your foolish human ideals are going to get us all killed. You must learn to think like a survivor and our best shot at survival entails us having these humans bound to vampires loyal to Eric so that we know they cannot betray us!”

Sookie forced herself to remain calm in the face of Pam's outrage, and explained, “And you need to stop thinking like vampires are the supreme being. It's time for the world to change, and that change starts here. Right now.”

Pam refused to back down and pressed, “Sookie, you are being ridiculous! You are a mother now and you do not have the luxury of foolish dreams! Stop thinking that everything is right or wrong, black or white! We are fighting a war for our very survival and that means we have to do everything in our power to make sure we're left standing! We can leave nothing to chance! We all must make sacrifices to protect each other!”

Setting a hand protectively over her stomach, Sookie hissed, “I'm more than aware of what's on the line, and I've proved I'm ready to make sacrifices to win! I said goodbye to my best friend in the world today, basically kicked her out of my life in order to protect my baby and everyone here! That doesn't mean I'm going to become a monster or tyrant! I wouldn't be insisting on this if I wasn't sure these people will do the right thing!”

Pam, despite hating the fucker, shared a look with Haldar, asking him without words to intervene. Haldar gave a barely perceptible nod, leaned forward, and countered, “Sookie, I respect the fact you want to change things. I'll be the first to admit the supernatural world is not ideal, but now is not the time. If you wish to fight for the equality of humans so be it, but let it be after we ensure our victory. Survival first, idealism second.”

Shaking her head, Sookie argued, “I'm not going to become a monster just so I can fight a monster. If we have to lose ourselves, sacrifice who we are and what we're fighting for in order to win, then there's no point in fighting because there's no way we can win. We have to do this the right way.”

Eric, sensing the situation was about to get much too heated, set his hand atop Sookie's knee and declared, “Sookie and I have already discussed all possible angles over this particular matter, and we have come to an agreement. The hackers will be brought here tomorrow night, Sookie will then inform them of the situation, then while monitoring their thoughts she will ask them if they will aid our cause. If they agree, and truly mean it, I will not enforce a bond on them, but if she detects even the tiniest bit of deceit or doubt on their part, even if only one of them is uncertain, they will all be bound to vampires loyal to me.”

“Eric, you can't—“ Pam began.

“I have spoken, Pamela,” Eric growled. His eyes narrowed to slits. While he did not wholly agree with this plan, he would allow it if it would ease Sookie's mind. He'd already outlined advanced security measures to ensure the human hackers would not be vulnerable to kidnap. It was a small step in regaining her favor.

As the room lapsed into silence, Sookie asked quietly, “Is there a way to bond a human to a vampire without the human becoming a slave?”

All eyes turned to Sookie, and she explained, “My issue with the bonding is that, from what I understand of it, a bond makes a human puppet. Apparently my bond with Eric is unique. I should have become a super devoted slave to him the moment we bonded. My only thoughts or actions should have been about or for him, so I'm wondering if there is any way to avoid that if a human is bonded to a vampire? One that can perhaps be severed after all of this is done?”

Eric's brow arched, as he asked, “You would not oppose us binding humans with a bond if they were still capable of free will?”

Before Sookie could answer, Pam scoffed, “There is no point then. If they still have free will then they could still betray us. It is best to bond them to ensure they can't betray us.”

Refusing to acknowledge Pam, Sookie focused solely on her mate and clarified, “I don't want them to be slaves, but it would be useful for us to be able to monitor their locations and feelings, to be able to calm them or give them strength while their working, and for them to feel like they have a bigger stake in all of this. I just don't want them to become puppets.”

Wanting to be clear, Eric again asked carefully, “If this were possible, you would be agreeable to my bonding them to vampires loyal to me?”

She shook her head briskly. “No, I'm saying they might not be opposed to voluntarily becoming bound to a vampire for the duration of this fight. It might ease their mind that if they were somehow taken we could easily track them through their bond to a vampire. It might make them feel like they are better protected, and it would also serve as another means of protection for us. If there is a way to bond them to a vampire that doesn't make them a mindless drone, a bond that can be broken after all of this mess is taken care of so they can go their own way if they choose, perhaps we could ask if they would be willing to allow it. These hackers always see the big picture, so if they knew it was simply a way to keep track of them, monitor their emotions, protect them and ourselves, and if they knew it was temporary but they still refused it, then just like with the fairies we'd known we couldn't fully trust them.”

Haldar looked directly at Eric and asked, “How do you keep your hands off of her? She's sexy as hell when she's plotting.”

Eric's eyes were quite heated as he gazed down at Sookie. “Reluctantly, my friend. Very reluctantly.”

Pam's smile was all fang as she purred at Sookie, “You are positively delicious. You would have made an excellent vampire, little Sookie. An excellent vampire.”

Looking around the room, Sookie admonished, “Can you all quit looking at me like you want to bite me? Sheesh! Put your fangs away! It was just an idea!”

Leaning over to sniff at Sookie's hair, Eric growled, “Quit saying things that make you so fuckable if you don't like us drooling over you. That, my Sookie, is a brilliant idea … and there is a way. I can't believe I didn't think of it before now.”

Refusing to acknowledge the lust on the three vampire's faces, Sookie asked, “Well? What is it?”

Scooting closer, Eric answered, “Magic, my little mate, magic. There is a spell that can bind a vampire and human together in a way that much resembles a blood bond, but it works differently. In a blood bond, the vampire has all the power and the human has none, which you have an issue with. However, in this particular bond both sides are equal. Each can feel and track the other. Also, the bond can only be entered into willingly by both parties, and it can only be broken by death or by both parties agreeing to sever it. The bond was created by a witch that needed to bond to a vampire during a war, but didn't want the bond to be permanent. It is rarely used.”

Shaking herself out of her lust, Pam pointed out, “The humans having any power over the vampire could be a problem.”

Eric tore his eyes from Sookie to answer his child. “I phrased that wrong. Neither side is actually able to affect the others emotions; they simply feel them. They can feel each other in the world and track each other, but they cannot send emotions to each other. It is not as strong as a blood bond, but it will fulfill the requirements we need. It will allow us to know beforehand if these humans will betray us, and it will allow us to keep track of them.”

Looking down at Sookie, he asked, “You are agreeable to this?”

“Yes, I think it's a good idea. It protects us all.” Slanting her eyes towards Pam, she added, “It allows us to protect ourselves without becoming monsters like Sargon.”

When Pam glowered at Sookie, obviously gearing up to say something snarky in response, Eric quickly began, “The sun is coming up. We will have to finish this discussion another time.”

 “Hold on, there's one last thing to do.” Haldar stood, stepped forward and bent his knee while bowing his head as he vowed, “I Haldar the Norseman, pledge my life and loyalty to you till final death takes me. Where you go I shall follow. Your life will always be my utmost priority. I will shed blood for your safety. I will face any foe that threatens you, and fight to the death to keep you safe. As long as I walk this earth, the only way to you during the night will be through me. This I solemnly vow.”

Eric smiled at his brother in arms, and said, “Your vow is appreciated, old friend. I'm going to need it.”

“Obviously.” Haldar stood from the ground and grabbed the tablet and pen that sat on the edge of the precariously balanced three legged coffee table and began writing quickly. He stopped to tap his chin and then began scribbling away again as he asked, “So where am I resting this day?”

The other three occupants in the room were all very curious as to what Haldar was so engrossed in writing. Pam was certain Haldar was making a list of ways to torment her. Sookie thought it might be a list of things Haldar was going to need while he stayed here. And Eric? Eric was certain whatever his friend was writing was going to outrage at least one of the women in the room. Smiling to himself he answered, “You will be resting in the underground lair with me.”

“Then where am I staying? I don't have time to make it back home,” Pam pointed out.

Eyes glittering mercilessly, Eric announced, “You will be sharing the underground chamber with Haldar and I. I regret to inform you there is only one bed, so you and Haldar will have to get creative with the remaining limited space as I have no intention of sharing.”

Pam's eyes narrowed as she demanded in a dangerously soft voice, “Define limited.”

“Oh, about twenty square feet.”

“What! Absolutely not! I'm not dying for the day that close to him!”

There was no doubt in anyone's mind who him was.

“You can't be serious, Eric? You know how much I detest that bastard! Why are you punishing me? I promised not to tease you anymore!”

Eric wasn't budging. “There is nowhere else, unless you wish to sleep in the ground.”

“I hate getting dirty! You know that. Make Haldar sleep in the ground and we'll share the panic room.”

“Now what kind of a host would I be if I forced my friend that has flown so far to offer his aid to sleep in the ground?” Eric was having so much fun he actually regretted not having brought Pam to Sweden when he took Sookie. He could have left her with Haldar at court while he spent the rest of his time with Sookie at the cabin. Now there would have been some prime punishment for his outspoken child.

“Eric, this isn't fair!”

“You say that like I care.”

“Eric!”

Arching a brow, Eric asked, “Are you going to stomp your foot to accompany this temper tantrum of yours?”

Sookie slapped her hand over her mouth to stifle her giggle and then tried her best to compose herself when Pam's murderous gaze slid to hers. 'This is so funny! She's acting like a child! Pam! Who would have thought she was capable of it? I have got to find out what happened between those two!'
“Eric, I'll do anything if you'll-“ Pam's words died off as she focused on Haldar. Through her entire argument and rant he hadn't jumped in once to try and annoy her. No. Instead the entire time he'd continued on with his writing, not baiting her in the least, and she couldn't help but screech, “What the hell are you writing?!”

Finally looking up from the tablet, Haldar answered, “My list.”

“What list?” Pam demanded.

“My uncle list,” Haldar stated matter-of-factly.

“Uncle list?” Sookie's expression was all curiosity as she asked, “What's an uncle list?”

Tapping his pen on the tablet, Haldar explained, “Eric and I are blood brothers. In olden times that would have made me the child's uncle. As uncle, I am making sure the boy will have what he needs to be a proper man. Eric will only think of the logical things. Swords and books. All work and no play kind of things. I need to ensure the boy's education and lifestyle isn't lacking.”

Getting an uneasy feeling in her chest, Sookie held out her hand and said, “I need to see that list.”

Handing it over, Haldar replied, “Alright, but I warn you, I haven't had much time to fully ponder the matter, so it's not very detailed. Only the base necessities have been included, but don't worry, Sookie, I fully intend to put my mind to the matter as soon as possible and really flush it out.”

Taking the tablet Sookie's eyes scanned the “uncle list”. Almost immediately her cheeks heated and she sputtered, “Oh. My. God.”

Glancing over Sookie's shoulder Eric smiled before looking at his friend and teasing, “For number one, you're only going to supply twelve?”

Pam looked at the list over Sookie's shoulder as well and sneered, “Of course you would half ass it, Haldar. I shall provide 20. As sister I am obviously better equipped to provide for the child. And number 7? Really? Like you'd even be able to keep up with my brother!”

Shaking her head violently, Sookie cried, “Absolutely not! No! No way in hell!”

Not understanding her outrage, Haldar asked, “What is wrong?”

Glancing down at the list as though it were diseased, Sookie seethed, “You aren't doing any of these things for my Peanut! Not one!”

“Peanut? Why would I do anything for a peanut? I'm talking about providing for my nephew,” Haldar answered.

Shaking his head, Eric interjected, “We've discussed this, Sookie, no Peanut, and Haldar has started a fine list for Egil.”

“Sword! A fine name, my friend, a very fine name,” Haldar agreed.

“I still say 12 is too small a number for the first item. If he's anything like you, Eric, he'll need double that number,” Pam offered seriously. Holding her hand out to Sookie she said, “Give me that, Sookie, I'll start a proper list for my brother. You can't trust Haldar to do anything right. Don't you worry, I'll make sure Egil has everything he needs.”

“Peanut! I'm not naming my baby after a weapon! And no list!”

“Sookie,” both Pam and Haldar began before the vampiress whirled on the former King of Sweden and hissed, “You stay out of this! I'll make the list!”

“It was my idea!” Haldar argued.

“An idea you were carrying out badly! You're worthless. For number one you were only going to get my brother 12! He is a prince! He'll need far more than that!”

“It's a good start!”

“For a pathetic excuse for a man like you! Egil is twice the man you are so he'll need  twice that many!”

Stepping forward, Eric offered diplomatically, “How about you both submit your lists, I'll go over them, and tell you which one meets my approval and which one doesn't?”

“Fine!”

“Fine!”

Pam's eyes were filled with malice as she baited Haldar, “My sister list will be much better than anything you can come up with for your pitiful little uncle list, which you're not even really. I'm Egil's blood! You're just trying to hitch your wagon to his shining star!”

Getting offended, Haldar growled, “I was shedding blood with Egil's father before your great grandfather many times over could even find his dick! Let alone find a woman to stick it in!”

“Why you son of a—“

“STOP!” Sookie stood before the three, fists clenched at her sides, as she declared, “NO LISTS! I don't even want a freaking memo or post-it note!”

Pointing an outraged finger in Haldar's direction, Sookie seethed, “You walk one, and I mean ONE, concubine into my house as a gift for Peanut and it will be the last thing you ever do!”

Leaning towards Eric, Haldar whispered conspiratorially, “What is this peanut she keeps going on about? Is she hungry?”

Sensing Sookie was not to be pushed further, Eric whispered back, “I'll explain later.”

Sookie paid them no mind as she turned to Pam and added, “And you will not compete with Haldar to see who can corrupt my Peanut the most! He's going to be a sweet boy, Dammit!”

Arching a disbelieving brow, Pam scoffed, “Have you met your baby's father? He couldn't pass on 'sweet' genes even if he wanted to. You're getting a miniature Eric, and any son of Eric's is going to need far more than 12 concubines. I'm beginning to think that 20 won't do it either. I remember one time in Morocco with Eric and he—”

“Pam!” Eric did not want his child informing Sookie of his past dalliances. His mate was pissed off with him enough as it is. She certainly didn't need to hear about the time he worked his way through every harem in Morocco in less than a month on a bet. A bet he so totally won.

Sookie's eyes shot to Eric as she asked, “What was she going to say?”

Innocent face on, Eric shrugged his shoulders and denied, “Who knows, and the sun is coming. We must go to ground.” He was not running. He never ran. He was simply thinking of the safety of his child and friend. The sun was going to rise in about 15 minutes, and it would take them some time to get situated underground. Perhaps Haldar even had some luggage he needed to see to. So no, he was definitely not running from the fire in his fairy's eyes. Not even a little.

Sookie stared at her mate for a moment longer before deciding to let it go. She faced Haldar and Pam and stated, “I'm serious you two, one more freaking word about those lists and I'll toss you both into the sun myself. You will not corrupt my Peanut.”

“There she goes about that peanut again,” Haldar groused, clearly upset that his uncle duties were being waylaid.

Sookie couldn't believe she was in this situation. Glancing down at the list again she actually cringed at number 7 before shaking her head as she tore the sheet off the tablet and crumbled it up in her hand.

“My list!” Haldar cried in dismay.

Before the situation could get out of control Eric stepped forward, dropped a kiss to Sookie's brow and announced, “We are going to head to the panic room now. You have much to do today and you still need to get some sleep. We will see you tonight, but remember I'll be monitoring you through the bond to make sure you don't overdue it with your first magic lesson today. If I call, you need to answer.”

Still glaring at Haldar, who was now glaring back at her for having destroyed his list, Sookie answered, “I will. I'll see you tonight.”

“Let's go,” Eric announced and led the way towards the hall closet where the panic room hatch was located.

Haldar shot Sookie a dirty look and said, “Eric will give me more paper.” He then turned and headed off after his friend.

Setting her hand on Sookie's shoulder, Pam announced, “You see why he needs to be staked? Do not worry, I will prepare a proper list for Egil. You won't be disappointed.”

“It's Peanut! And no list!”

Pam simply patted Sookie's shoulder and followed after Haldar and Eric. She was going to have to find a way to convince Eric to let her have the bed because not only did she NOT sleep on the floor, but she definitely did not die anywhere near Haldar. That bastard would do something to her while she was out.

As her three companions made their way to the underground chamber Sookie headed upstairs to get some of her own well deserved shut eye muttering, “Vampires. They're all crazy.”

3 comments:

  1. Laughing at her is not the way to go bud. You are digging a deeper hole for your self. Stay strong and dont give in Sookie. Pam wants a punishment doesn’t she. ROFL for throwing the water at him. You havent seen anything yet with mood swings….not that he has room to talk about mood swings. Sookie is so smart sometimes. Like the baby talk. OMG Haldar is hilarious. Pam is so funny. Cant wait to hear this story. Glad Sookie took Pam and Haldar on about the hackers and Eric actually supported her. And to bring up concubines to a human mother???? what a moron. Crazy indeed. Sookie is a little nute with sweet, but corrupt will not do either.

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  2. love Pam and Haldar.... KY



    oops
    1-"It surprises me you even remember how behave like a gentleman and let a lady go first.”
    "remember how to behave like a gentleman"
    2- "can see why you wanted to stake him. I have some spare wood piled up about back if you need something to whittle down.” s/b " piled up around back if you"
    3-"we've landed in I'd have stacked your ass by now! So shut the fuck up and try to help for once!” s/b "i'd have staked your ass by now"



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  3. Very awwww chapter which is most welcome in such a dramatic story! Loved that Sookie got her mummy moment and that Eric actually 'got it' and even compromised to go baby stuff shopping... And the Haldar-Pam show... they deserve a spin off... X rated for sure between the fighting and the swearing and yep, I am sure they'd get down and dirty eventually...

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