For a second I wondered why he would come all the way to New Orleans to see me, remembering when he’d literally disowned me just a few nights earlier, but then I remembered that…well…he couldn’t remember. Eric had ordered the guard to wipe his memory clean of our visit, but now I had some hope that maybe we could actually reconcile.
Maybe he’d just been angry since he was still locked up when we’d visited.
Maybe now that he was free he would just be happy to know I was alright.
My head automatically turned towards Eric and I could tell he wasn’t too happy about Jason being there, but I also knew better than to argue with him in front of the one of his guards.
I wouldn’t disrespect him that way.
But you could be damn sure I would fill his head with my complaints if he said no.
‘I want to see him,’ I silently pushed into his head.
‘I know,’ he pushed back.
We sat there in a silent stare-off while Eric filled my mind with pictures of the last time I’d seen my brother. Reliving through his memories how sad I was and how worried that had made him, but to me the man in Eric’s recollections wasn’t my brother at all. While similar in appearance, that man was a vile and hateful creature. He was nothing like the boy I’d grown up with – the brother I loved, laughed, cried, played, and argued with – so I sent back my own memory movie reel in response.
Jason taking the training wheels off of my bike when I was five, only because I begged him to, and then trying to teach me how to ride it. He had to carry me home when I fell over and hurt my leg, getting a spanking for his troubles, but it didn’t stop him from taking me right back out and trying again as soon as I felt better.
Jason taking me to fish at the pond out behind our parents’ house on the day after their funeral where we both cried into each other’s arms and then how he cheered for me later on when I caught my first fish.
Jason finding me, crying all alone one afternoon, during my freshman year of high school, because no one asked ‘Crazy Sookie’ to the Homecoming Dance that night. He was the captain of the football team and had throngs of girls wanting to be with him, but instead of going to the dance, he took me out in his truck and taught me to drive a stick shift.
It had been one of the best nights of my life.
‘Don’t you see?’ I silently pleaded. ‘No matter what…that is how I’ll always remember my brother. I love him Eric and I know somewhere deep down, he still loves me too.’
“Give us a few moments,” Eric finally said out loud to the room, with his eyes never leaving my own. As soon as Pam shut the door behind her and Phil, he sighed and explained, “I do not want you alone with him. I do not trust him to not harm you. The fact he’s here at all and asking for you tells me that he knows you’ve been keeping the company of vampires. His reaction will likely be the same as before.” His eyes took on an intensity I could feel just as strongly coursing through our bond when he added, “I love you Sookie. We are fully bonded now. What I feel for you, I have no words to describe. But I can say with absolute certainty, if your brother was to strike you again, I will undoubtedly kill him myself.”
Eric was never one to mince words, but I couldn’t be mad at him for them. So much had changed and in so little time – me included. It had only been days earlier that I had been clutching at Eric’s arm and begging him not to hurt my brother. Begged and pleaded with Jason to still love me – to forgive me for something I had no control over – only to be shunned by his hatred.
And it wasn’t the first time he’d rejected me.
If I insisted on going down memory lane, then I couldn’t ignore it wasn’t paved with rainbows and sunshine. I knew deep down Jason had loved me growing up, but he’d had his fair share of moments when he’d spurned me too. I’d always been known as Crazy Sookie and even though his own sense of family made him stick up for me, that didn’t mean he didn’t sometimes feel the same way. That he didn’t hold what I had no control over against me. Even if he hadn’t told me on more than one occasion that he wished he’d had a normal sister, I always heard it loud and clear in his thoughts.
Did I really believe now would be so different?
Eric was right when he’d said my brother had changed. I’d seen it with my own two eyes and heard it from his very thoughts on the night we’d gone to see him.
Would getting me back be enough for him to let go of his hatred?
Family meant everything to me, but I couldn’t deny even to myself the membership had changed. I loved my brother. I truly did and I would do nearly anything I could to try and mend our relationship, but I couldn’t truthfully say I would do it at any cost. All I had to do was close my eyes and imagine a scenario in which I could only choose one to live while the other would die to know there was no one more important to me than Eric.
I’d choose him every day of the week and twice on Sundays.
Hell, I had exploded the equivalent of Eric’s vampire dad only hours before because – among other things – he’d dared to call my bonded his. I could only imagine with my hotheaded temper, I had the potential to explode the entire palace in my fury if someone actually hurt Eric. Hokey pokey tapestry horseshit or not, my connection to him ran deeper than anything I could describe either. Milky white oracle eyes apparently worked like x-ray vision because I really did feel like Eric was my other half.
Not even in a swoony romantic sense, but if I had to describe it I would say it was as though my soul knew his. When our bond was completed it was like the sense of coming home after having been away for far too long. Fate or not; demons and fairies and build-a-baby realm skeleton keys; wars to end all wars – none of it mattered to me, so long as I had Eric.
And it was when that thought filtered through my head that I knew what I needed to do.
If I had to give up on trying to have a relationship with my brother for now, I would have to accept it. I had more to worry about than whether or not he could accept this new me. I barely even knew who the new me was and Jason had already proven his intolerance for the abnormal long before vampires had ever stepped out of the shadows.
Besides, if I chose not to see him now, I would likely be extending his life. I didn’t doubt Eric’s words he would kill my brother. Not when I could feel the sincerity behind his warning. I couldn’t even get upset with him for it.
How could I when I knew I would do the same?
“Send him away,” I finally sighed, resigned that it was in everyone’s best interest. “But can you have someone glamour him to find out how he even knew I was here?”
I hated the thought he could be there under the guise of wanting to see me only to spy on Eric for the Fellowship, but it was certainly a possibility considering who had paid his bail.
Eric nodded, pleased with my request and yet still subdued, probably because I was feeling that way too, and asked, “What would you like for him to be told in regards to you?”
Well that was the million dollar question.
Cheesy soap opera amnesia story?
A three hour tour turned year and a half stay on Gilligan’s Island?
I was poofed away by our fairy great-grandfather into Never Never Land?
Finally, I said, “Make him believe whatever he was told was all a big mistake. The woman who lives here looks a lot like me, but it turned out it wasn’t. When we come up with a plausible story, I’ll go to him. It’ll be better if we do it on our terms.”
I could feel Eric’s pride coursing through him, but feeling my sadness over turning away my own brother, he merely hugged me and said, “I’m sorry it hurts you, lover. I’ll do all that I can to see you reunited, but I agree that time should not be now.”
His hand reached towards the phone on his desk to carry out our decision when I stopped him by saying, “Do you think it would be better if I at least tried to listen to him?”
While Jason had already shown he was susceptible to glamour at the prison, that didn’t mean he couldn’t still keep secrets. Whoever glamoured him would have to be very specific when asking him questions, but I could hear every thought in his head if they just asked him.
“Pam could ask him a few questions while I’m in the next room, listening to everything he isn’t saying,” I offered. I wanted to see him, but I knew it would be a bad idea. Even if they erased his memories of seeing me again, they couldn’t erase my own.
I wasn’t that much of a glutton for punishment that I wanted to subject myself to that all over again when we didn’t know where he stood.
Eric looked like he wanted to argue with me and while I might’ve agreed all of the supernatural threats against us were daunting enough on their own, I didn’t think that meant we should discount the human threat.
And I didn’t want to view my brother as a threat, but his association with Steve Newlin made it impossible to overlook, so I reminded him of it by saying, “The Fellowship paid for his bail. They could’ve sent him here to get information on you.”
And like Hugo, my brother had better get the same amnesty he was afforded if that was the case.
While we had our silent stare-off – a tie in the end – I could only assume he dialed-a-child by calling Pam when she strolled back into the room saying, “I’m not your beck and call bitch, Eric. Either let me stay and witness your pussywhip firsthand or pick up a phone and call your bitch Burnham to fetch your coffee.”
He glared at her in return and ordered, “You will have Sookie’s brother brought to the outer office where you will question him as to his reasons for being here and why he believes Sookie is at the palace. You will not use glamour, nor will you confirm her whereabouts to him, and are to await further instructions. And, for your insubordination, when you are through, you will acquire your own beck and call bitch by placing a call to Alaska. I believe you are ready to try having a pet of your own. A ginger salmon will do nicely, don’t you think?”
“I think your grumpy ass is due for another dose of Vamprin,” she muttered, walking back out of the room and shutting the door behind her.
I wanted to remind them how rude it was to speak in other languages around me. I wanted to ask if a pet salmon would be considered punishment because of how big of a fish tank it would need and inform them they couldn’t be trained to come when called like a dog could. Pam seemed more like an angel fish type of gal to me – or even a clown fish – but I said nothing instead because I could hear Jason coming towards us.
‘Creepy as fuck vampers.’
Well that didn’t bode well.
While my external hearing was better thanks to having Eric’s blood, it wasn’t up to the same snuff as vampires, so I got up and pressed my ear against the door so I could hear what was said.
“Jason Stackhouse,” Pam began. “While our kind can be both fast and furious, if you’re here to audition for a role in some action packed car chase movie, I believe you’re about nineteen hundred miles southeast of where you want to be.”
Huh. I guess Jason did look a little Vin Diesel-ish now.
Jason didn’t get Pam’s sense of humor or the movie star resemblance and only thought, ‘Huh? How’d she know what I was feelin’ drivin’ down here?’ Creepy fuckin’ fangers.’
Aloud, he explained, “I been away awhile,” in prison, thanks to you sorry fuckin’ pieces a shit, “And when I got back, a friend a mine said I could find my sister here. Sookie Stackhouse.”
Sam told him where he could find me. I could see in Jason’s memories how Sam had pulled him aside when he walked into Merlotte’s with Hoyt and told him in hushed whispers where I was. I could tell from the expression on Sam’s face he thought he was doing right by me and Jason, but I could strangle him for it anyway. Sam might not have been told the reasons why I’d disappeared, but I thought we’d made it pretty darn clear that I was in danger.
Why on earth had he thought I would want my brother dragged into it without asking me first?
Pam followed up with, “Describe her to me,” and when he was through – leaving out the parts where I was ‘disabled’ and ‘ain’t too bright’ – she purred, “Well she sounds simply scrumptious, but unfamiliar. My mind is a vault, so I’m sure I would remember her though.” Using a slightly raised voice, she added, “If I had her here, I certainly wouldn’t be wasting the night away in my office asking boring questions when I could be gorging myself between her thighs.”
Oh for Pete’s sake…
Jason’s mental ‘Eww’ echoed my own, while Eric picked up his phone and spoke too fast into it for me to catch it all. But I was able to pick out the words ‘flight’, ‘tomorrow’, and ‘ginger’.
No ‘fish tank’ though.
But Jason’s next thought brought me back from my mental trip to Petsmart when he thought, ‘Newlin hadn’t a been kiddin’. These fangers are an aboriginal…an abominable…what was it he said again? Oh yeah. An Obama nation, whatever that means. I seen the guy on Oprah one day over at Gran’s. Maybe he’s one a them sympathizers?
Seriously? Now who ain’t too bright?
I slapped the mental dunce hat onto my brother’s head and then wanted to slap him for real when he went on to think about how excited Newlin had been to learn his sister was living with the head vamp in Louisiana. Instead of running straight to New Orleans to find his sister who’d been missing for a year and a half, Jason had called him as soon as he got back to Hoyt’s house.
After he’d shot a round of pool and drank a pitcher of beer.
Jason wasn’t there for me. He was there for Newlin and the Fellowship’s cause. He hadn’t even planned on trying to talk me into coming home with him because I was ‘already a lost cause’ and ‘a fangbangin’ whore’ who would be more useful to them if I stayed right where I was, so Jason would have a reason to visit me and gather more information about Eric. Newlin told him they had big plans for Louisiana, but Jason didn’t know what they were yet.
But he didn’t care. In his mind, I was no longer his sister.
“Send him away,” I whispered as I slumped against the door. “Glamour him to believe I was never here. That it was all a mistake.”
Just like it was a mistake to believe my brother truly had come because he missed me.
Eric was at my side in an instant, pulling me into his arms and using a normal speaking voice when he said, “Glamour him into believing Sookie was never here and send the idiot away before I snatch his balls through his throat and kill him where he stands.”
Whatever it was he’d said, I was sure Pam could hear him just fine. By that point I didn’t care I couldn’t understand a word of it. I was just grateful Jason’s thoughts had finally dwindled down into nothing when Pam’s influence took over his mind, but whatever he’d said, I knew Eric wouldn’t hurt him.
Not yet anyways.
“What did you hear, lover?” Eric whispered into my ear once they were gone and he had me in his arms on the couch.
Even though I probably shouldn’t have, I waited an extra amount of time to give him an answer, thinking Jason could use the head start to get farther away from Eric. Eventually I said, “Sam told him where I was.”
The growl bubbling up in Eric’s chest told me Sam was pretty lucky to be far away from Eric right now too.
But I ignored it and explained, “Sam thought he was doing a good thing. He knew how much Jason had wanted to find me and he didn’t have any clue how much Jason had changed. Sam wouldn’t have told him anything if he’d known…if he suspected…” I took a deep breath and pushed back the tears that threatened to fall from my eyes as I admitted, “If he knew Jason would run home and call Steve Newlin.”
Pam and Phil walked in then, so I told all of them everything else I’d heard.
And I ignored the coincidence that I’d spoken very fast and Eric was quite furious.
Phil let his fangs snap down, drawing my eyes to his face in time to see him run his tongue over one when he looked at me and offered, “For this I am willing to forego trying to fuck you and be your brother instead. I will kill your brother in name only on your command. He is not worthy of being your kin.”
Well that was sweet, sort of. Refraining from trying to fornicate his way towards his true death – because I had a feeling, brother or not, Eric would kill him if he really tried – while offering to off the one who hurt me was probably a pretty honorable thing in their circles.
But I didn’t want Jason killed. I wanted my old brother back. He may have been flawed back then too, but I’d gladly deal with that version of him over how he was now. He hadn’t hated me then. He just wished I was normal.
I had wished for the very same thing back then, so I couldn’t hold it against him.
But now I was just angry. Angry that someone like Steve Newlin had weaseled their way into my vulnerable and easily swayed brother’s life. He didn’t care about Jason. He was just using him.
And pardon my French, but it pissed me the fuck off.
“What if we did the same thing?” I asked no one in particular. “What if we use my being Jason’s sister to find out what The Fellowship is up to? You may have glamoured away Jason’s memories, but Newlin still knows what Jason told him. I could call him. Invite him back and say it was all a big mix up. Play into his plans to use me and feed him false information, while learning what their plans are.”
Our bond smacked me with Eric’s silent, ‘No!’, so I smacked him back with my verbal, “It’s a good idea. I’m not saying I should go to him or even meet up with him alone. I can have him visit me here during the day and have Alcide with me. Jason always thought I was just a little crazy. He never really believed I could read minds, so he’ll have no reason to think something’s up. I can even act like I’m the dutiful little fangbanger sycophant he thinks I am, so he won’t suspect a thing and we can get the upper hand on whatever Newlin has planned. But if you have a better idea, I’m all ears.”
We silently eye fought with one another for long enough that I heard Pam whisper, “This is better than Survivor. Do you want to bet again? We can go double or nothing. I think Eric’s balls are about to be voted off the island.”
Eric’s eyes narrowed even further upon hearing his child cast her vote, while I fought the laughter bubbling up inside of me, as Phil said, “I never bet against a sure thing.” His next question was for Eric when he asked, “Would you like to phone a friend, brother?”
Both Phil and Pam made a show of gabbing to one another on their finger phones – Phil even waited patiently while Pam answered her call waiting to confirm her order of two shiny new balls for her maker – when Eric finally reached over and picked up the real phone on his desk, barking into the receiver, “Have Herveaux come to my office. Now.”
I lost the fight with my smile now that I’d won the battle, but Eric didn’t return it when he said, “At no time will you be left alone with your brother. If he attempts to lay a hand on you the Were will kill him. You will meet with him near sunset and within the confines of the palace so I can come to you if needed. You will only get one shot. If anything happens and you are injured in any way, I will remove your access to the security system in my lair and you’ll never leave it again without me.”
I supposed my feathers could’ve been ruffled over his threat of locking me away in a gilded cage, but I knew how much it was costing him to agree. I could feel the warring going on inside of him. His need to keep me close. To keep me safe.
Eric wasn’t trying to exercise his control over me.
He was giving up control over his own wants and needs to give this to me.
“My temper is a bit more fairytale fiery too,” I reminded him. “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and blow my brother down myself if he even looks at me wrong.”
“Sister?” Phil asked. “If I look at you right, will you just blow me?”
“Uncle,” Pam interrupted and possibly saving his life, when Eric’s fangs snapped down hearing his question. “I think you’ll have better results if you just rub the lava lamp in your pants. I doubt a genie will pop out of it, but I’m sure something will. You can even name it Spoogkie.”
“Oh Pammy…don’t act like you don’t know firsthand just what cums when you rub me the right way,” he smirked. “If you’ll recall, we both do.”
Given the look on her face, if Pam could’ve blushed, I was sure she would be bright red. And because this situation was akin to seeing Halley’s Comet pass on by, I couldn’t stop myself from adding to her awkward by saying, “Pam doesn’t forget anything. You have a vault, right?”
“She does,” Eric added, loosening up now that he wasn’t at the brunt of their teasing. “And it doesn’t lock at her knees.”
“Why do you think I prefer the fairer sex now, uncle?” she asked, finally unlocking her voice, just as she’d apparently unlocked her knees for Phil at some point in the past. “I’ve sucked clits that were bigger than that little match stick you call a dick.”
Turning his eyes down towards his lap, Phil asked, “Do you hear how she speaks of you Ladon?”
He named his match stick Ladon?
“Ladon was the serpent like dragon that wrapped around the tree in the Garden of Hesperides, guarding the golden apples,” Phil replied, turning me bright red since I must have asked the question out loud. “And he’s done quite well guarding my golden apples for many centuries. Care for a bite of the forbidden fruit, my queen?”
A loud knock at the door kept me from having to answer and thankfully halted my lesson in Dragon Lore 101 as Alcide stepped into the room at Eric’s barked out, “Enter.”
The crude banter had done its job at lessening the tension we’d all been feeling after my brother’s visit, but still.
I doubted I’d be able to eat another apple ever again.