Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
When Eric traveled to his Queen’s court, he was prepared. He timed his arrival to coincide with the end of a one of her formal Assizes. It assured there would be vampires from all over the kingdom assembled in the large ballroom Freyda used to hear petitions and settle disputes. Eric made a point of asking that he not be announced. Instead, he registered his name among the petitioners and placed himself as one of them in the line who would approach Freyda that night.
When his turn came, Eric stepped forward, walking slowly, allowing the whispering around him to grow. He kept his eyes downcast, knowing it would intrigue his much younger wife. When he reached her chair, Eric fell to his knees in an overly dramatic gesture. No one knelt like this to rulers anymore, so there was a chance his act could be interpreted as mockery, and Eric spoke quickly to head off any speculation. “I am here to petition for my wife’s forgiveness,” he said in his clear, deep voice.
He looked up at her now, and smirked, hoping she would see his humor and react favorably. She did, her lips tilting slightly, “And what have you done, Husband, that would require my forgiveness?”
The hissing around them was growing. In all the years they were together, the Court had seen them comfortable with each other, but not playful. It was time for that to end, so Eric grinned his pirate smile, the one that spoke of mischief and adventure.
“So many things, my Queen,” he purred, and he willed his eyes to be dark and interested. Freya smirked and then Eric knew the time for flirting was over.
Dropping his voice, and laying his hand on his heart, he said, “But there is only one that is important. I wish to be forgiven the sin of living too far from you. I am here to beg the favor of being given apartments here. I wish to be allowed to live under the same roof with you, my Queen.” Eric rose, holding her eyes with his own, “Freyda, I wish to make my home with you,” and then he leaned closer, “I wish you to be my home.”
Her eyes widened and her mouth fell open a bit. Eric knew Freyda enjoyed his company. He suspected she wished more, but she had carefully kept him at some distance. Eric respected that about her. As a younger vampire, controlling herself would be difficult. He had only his own recent history to show how hard control could be. What he was proposing would signal a fundamental shift in their relationship. As Queen, it was her place to invite him, as it was her place to invite him to exchange blood. It was one of the formalities. As Queen, Freyda could drink from him. As Consort, he needed her permission to take from her, but both knew that what Eric was proposing would make them more equals.
Freyda was watching him carefully. The smile dropped from her lips and, for a moment, he saw vulnerability flash behind her eyes. She wanted to believe what he was offering was true, and it gave him confidence. “Why the change?” she asked.
Eric thought of all the reasons he had reviewed in his head before coming here; why a life with Freyda was best. He thought of her intelligence and her ability to be kind. He thought of her business savvy and her unerring way with politics. If she cared for him and believed he cared for her, she would be devoted. She would make his existence pleasant. They understood and complimented each other. In time, she would bond with him and name him her King. “I missed you,” he told her.
Eric waited. It was Freyda’s turn. She would either believe him or not. For one long moment he thought he’d read her wrong, but then a brilliant smile broke across her face. She held out her hand and, turning to her Master of Arms, said, “Please bring a chair for my husband.”
When the chair was brought and set just behind her right shoulder, as was customary, she said, “No, my husband sits at my side.” Freyda smiled up at him and said, “Welcome home, Eric.” Her eyes were shining. Eric reached forward and took her hand in his. He pulled her to him and she rose gracefully. Eric didn’t hesitate. He wrapped her in his arms and he kissed her in front of her Court. There was scattered applause and it was done.
“I just think a motorcycle is just too much!” Sookie hiss-whispered.
“If you were still living in that shitty Louisiana backwater town where you grew up, he’d probably have two already,” Fran wheezed. “Besides, how will he be able to compete in motocross if he doesn’t have a bike?”
“I still don’t know if I’m giving him permission to do motocross.” If Sookie hadn’t been standing on a ladder she would have stamped her foot. It was Christmas, and she and Rick had traveled to Boston to spend the holidays with Fran. The B&B was officially closed for the holidays, but Lora stayed behind, inviting her sister and her family to stay and visit Chester.
Sookie had returned from the Narayana Summit only the week before. The sessions were tense and she barely had time to speak with Rubio or Mr. Cataliades. She had the impression the demon was involved in some secret mission. When she did see him, he looked stressed and barely spoke. He was thin and told her he’d recently become vegetarian, which Sookie took as a bad sign.
For her part, the nights were crowded with meetings, followed by a complicated series of dances and feints to avoid finding herself alone with Felipe de Castro. He was being charming, but the ‘accidental’ touching and the lingering looks were back.
Sookie had managed to keep out of any compromising situations, but Felipe apologized as she was leaving, promising that next time, he would spare more time for her. He told her he found her captivating and complimented her in a way that made her think he might be half-serious. “I’m too old for you!” she told him, willing to throw her pride to the winds. “Next time you see me, I’ll be older still. You should find yourself someone younger, who can run faster!” she’d joked.
“You are like wine,” he’d breathed against her hand, delicately sniffing. “You improve with age. There is no one comparable to you.” From somewhere, he’d produced an orchid. It had several perfect blossoms on a single stem. The flowers were all pale green, and he said, “Like these, you are ever green to me.”
It shook Sookie, how the Nevada King had read her so well. She crumpled the flowers as soon as she stepped on the plane and threw them into the trash bag the flight attendant brought past her seat. Sookie dreaded the next time she’d see the King, knowing he would pressure her further, and she slept too much the next week, seeking escape from her troubles.
It was on the drive to Boston that she and Rick finally spoke. “So, are you okay now?” he asked.
“Better,” she told him. “I’m sorry. I haven’t been myself.”
“Was my Father there? Was he at the Summit?” Sookie glanced at her son. He looked hopeful and she realized that some part of her had been hopeful, too.
“No, he and his Queen didn’t come,” she smiled tightly. There had been almost no talk of Eric at the Summit. It wasn’t that that was unusual, but Sookie got the impression that those around her were purposely avoiding the subject. When she’d confronted Rubio, he’d laughed, telling her she was paranoid, but the idea that they were hiding something hadn’t gone away.
“Oh,” Rick said, and then looked out the window. After sitting quiet for a bit, Rick said, “Aunt Fran is pretty old.”
“Yes, she is,” Sookie answered, and she had the sinking feeling she knew what was coming next.
“Do you think this is the last time we’ll see her?” Rick asked, and the question made tears spring to Sookie’s eyes.
“I don’t know, Sweetheart,” she answered, then laughed shortly as she brushed away the tear that fell anyway. “No one really knows those things.”
“Sure,” he said in his moody way. “I guess.”
“It’s nature’s way,” Sookie said, somewhat helplessly. “So, what do you want to see first?” she asked, purposely moving their conversation to safer ground. They talked about the order in which they’d see the lights in Boston Garden, the displays in the shops they liked best, and when they’d have dinner with Sean Bailey at his restaurant. It was understood Sookie and Rick would attend the annual Wiccan bonfire welcoming the turning of the year without Fran. The witch couldn’t stand out in the cold too long since it triggered her asthma. Rick promised his godmother he’d video everything with his phone so she could see it on the flat screen later.
In almost no time, they were pulling into the double garage behind the brownstone and walking through the warm kitchen. For Sookie, it felt as though, for the first time in weeks, she could let her breath out.
The tree was in the library waiting for them, and now they were seated around it, boxes of ornaments scattered around.
“He’s going to ride motorcycles whether you say it’s okay or not,” Fran said in her reasonable voice, the one that really pissed Sookie off. “He’ll tell you he’s with friends, or he’ll just disappear all day and lie about where he’s been when you see him next.”
“He won’t if he knows what’s good for him!” Sookie fumed.
“Like he didn’t lie to you about tree climbing or hang gliding?” Fran asked. “He’s a dare devil, and denying that part of him just makes him push harder! At least if I give him his first bike, you’ll know it’s new and as safe as it can be. Who knows what he’s been riding behind your back? Probably some cobbled together smoke-choker he pieced together from parts. I’ve never seen a more able boy when it comes to mechanical things!”
Sookie was about to say something else when she heard the sound of Rick’s foot on the stairs. “You can stop talking about me,” he announced, walking in with the extra boxes of decorations the women had sent him upstairs to find. He looked from his Godmother to his Mother on the ladder. “Must have been good, though. You look like you’ve been sucking lemons, Mom!” and he laughed in that full-throated way that sounded just like Eric.
“You should take a bath,” Sookie snapped. “Doctor Ludwig is coming tonight to examine you. You don’t want to be dirty.”
“What am I?” Rick snapped back, “Two? I promise, I showered this morning, I washed behind my ears and I used soap on all the good parts. If you need me to leave so you two can keep fighting, just say so! I’ll go downstairs and get myself something to eat.”
“Your Mom is just pissed off that I’m giving you a motocross bike for Christmas,” Fran sniffed.
“Really, Aunt Fran? You are?” and Rick bounded over, dropping the boxes on a chair, and wrapping his long arms around the frail woman.
“I still haven’t decided,” Sookie stammered.
“But you will say yes,” her fresh son winked, and he hugged his Aunt Fran again.
Rick picked the boxes back up, set them on the table, and then positioned himself beneath his Mother’s ladder. He pulled the box of ornaments from her hand and took over the job of pulling them from their tissue paper, one by one, and making sure they had hooks. He handed them up, allowing Sookie to concentrate on placing them.
“Are you nervous about tonight?” Fran asked Rick.
“What? About meeting the famous Amy Ludwig?” Rick’s grin split his face, “Heck, no!” Sookie stared at her son, and she could see he was lying. It was in the slightly tight way he held his shoulders and the way his eyes creased just at the corners. Sookie sighed, knowing if she confronted him, he’d explain why he wasn’t lying, just finessing the truth, and in that way he was like his Father, too.
“Did you tell her why she needed to come here?” Sookie asked Fran.
“Hell, no!” Fran laughed, and then started to cough. Rick set down the ornaments to pick up a glass of water and hand it to his Aunt. When Fran recovered, she gasped out, “Where would be the fun in that? I told Amy there was an unusual specimen she might want to catalogue and if she wanted to see it, she was going to have to transport herself up here because I couldn’t be bothered to bring it to her.”
“I’m sure that went over well,” Sookie sighed.
“She knows more swear words than I do,” Fran chuckled.
They finished with the tree and all admired it as the room darkened. Sookie headed downstairs to take over dinner from Trudie, Fran’s new housekeeper, so she could head home. “Come on, Auntie,” Rick helped Fran stand. He allowed her to lean heavily on his arm and they walked slowly and carefully to the elevator. “You feeling okay?” he asked as the car lowered to the ground level.
“Right as rain,” Fran patted his arm, “Don’t you worry about me.”
While Rick understood the natural course of things, his Aunt Fran had always been there, and the thought that she would be gone someday seemed impossible. As if sensing his turn of thoughts, Fran laughed her dry laugh, “Don’t be putting me in the grave too soon,” she assured him. “I still have a few things I need to straighten out with your Mother. She is altogether too hard on you!”
“You know it, Aunt Fran!” Rick agreed. “I’m counting on you!” Teasing Sookie was something they both enjoyed, and his Aunt’s mischievous grin helped lift his mood.
The doors opened, and Rick helped Fran as she shuffled forward. When they got to the door of the kitchen, Fran stopped suddenly, and Rick glanced down to make she was okay. “How come you get to look like that?” His Aunt was looking into the kitchen, and Rick turned to look forward, too. There, standing at the table beside his Mother was a short, brown-haired woman. She seemed as wide as she was tall, and she squinted at him. Her eyes looked huge behind the thick lenses of her glasses and Rick wondered if she was legally blind.
“Well, will you look at that!” the stranger exclaimed. “I haven’t seen one of those in centuries!” Fran jiggled his arm to get his attention, and Rick started moving again, helping his Aunt into the kitchen and then lowering her into her chair. The whole time the stranger was staring at him as if he was some weird thing she wasn’t sure she wanted to get too close to.
When Fran was settled, Rick stepped around the stranger toward his Mother, but the woman reached out and grabbed his hand in a surprisingly strong grip. Before he could react, she had licked the palm of his hand, and then gaped up at him, “Why aren’t you drinking blood?” she demanded.
“Eww,” Rick huffed, pulling his hand from her. “What are you? Some kind of freak?”
“This is Doctor Ludwig,” his Mother said in her ‘be polite’ voice. “And no, he’s not drinking blood,” she replied to the woman. “Why are you asking?”
“Has anyone told you he’s anemic?” Doctor Ludwig turned her back on Rick as if he wasn’t there. “That he was low on iron? Something like that?”
“Yes,” Sookie nodded. “Rick’s been on iron supplements since he was an infant.”
“Rick?” the doctor chuckled, “That’s good!”
“My name is Corbett Eric Hale,” Rick announced. “I’ve been called Rick since I was little.”
“Huh,” and the Doctor turned to face him, “so you can speak for yourself. Go figure,” and she smirked, “You even sound like him. Good trick!”
“So, you’ve seen people like Rick before?” Sookie asked in her ‘let’s get down to business,’ voice.
“Damphir,” the doctor nodded. “Yes, I’ve seen them before, but not in a long time.” She stalked around Rick, looking him up and down. “He’s a good specimen. Sometimes the mix doesn’t work so well, but seems you and the Viking must be well-suited.”
“I didn’t think it was possible,” Fran said.
“Only happens when vampires are really old, and there’s not many of those left,” Amy nodded. “Last time I saw these,” and she jerked her chin at Rick, “was in Eastern Europe. There were vampires there living as nobility and since no one was trying to kill them, they got old enough to reproduce.”
“Are they still there?” Sookie asked.
“No,” the Doctor said, her attention focused on Rick as she walked around him
“What happened to them?” Sookie asked.
“Who knows?” Doctor Ludwig shrugged. “Politics. Famine. At any rate, the humans rose and killed them all. Being a vampire isn’t an easy life. Every few generations, humans with something to prove find torches and stakes and go vampire hunting.”
“Mainstreaming will change that,” Sookie said.
“We’ll see,” Doctor Ludwig shrugged. “In the meantime, let’s see how far you’ve developed, young man,” and she advanced on Rick. “Can you do me a favor and take off your shirt?”
Rick glanced at his mother before he pulled his t-shirt over his head. He was well-muscled, although still immature. Doctor Ludwig nodded, apparently satisfied. “Developing well. Pale, but we’ve covered that. You need to start feeding, young Rick.”
“I don’t understand,” Sookie stammered. “Rick eats regular food, like me. I don’t even know how he’d…” and Sookie blushed, not sure how to continue.
“How he’d do what?” Amy squinted.
“Well… never mind. If you think it’s necessary, I’m sure we can figure something out,” and Sookie shrugged at her paling son.
Amy Ludwig squinted first at Sookie and then at Rick. “Come over here, Vampire Boy, and sit down,” the Doctor barked at Rick. The young man shuffled over to sit in the chair the Doctor indicated. Sookie stepped forward as well, poised to intervene.
“I’m not going to hurt him!” Amy laughed at Sookie, then turning toward Rick, said, “Open up! I want to look in your mouth, and try not to bite me, okay?”
“I’m not sure about this,” Rick said, and suddenly he wasn’t a cock-sure preteen. He was a nervous boy being told more information than he was ready to absorb.
Sookie reached out and took his hand, “I trust her, Rick and she can tell you things I can’t. Just open your mouth. I won’t let her hurt you.”
“As if I would!” Amy snorted. When Rick opened his mouth, she said, “Lean your head back! Look at the ceiling!” When he did, Amy took her pointer finger and massaged the roof of his mouth.
“What the Hell!” Rick cried out and he jerked his head forward. Doctor Ludwig jumped back, snatching her hand away.
Sookie jumped, too, “What happened?” she shouted. There was blood dripping down her son’s chin and he was holding his mouth. When she pulled his hand away to look, there were two fangs extended over his lip.
“They were waiting for the proper stimulation to break through,” the Doctor explained, wiping her hands. “He’ll stop bleeding in a minute. It’s just the protective barrier tearing.”
Amy grabbed a towel and tossed it to Sookie, who helped her son clean up. The doctor pulled a chair over, so she could sit next to Rick. When he was mostly cleaned up and looking a little less stressed, she said, “My guess is you’ve been noticing some other changes lately.”
Rick glanced at his Mother before nodding.
“Puberty usually triggers these things,” the Doctor explained. “Your fangs were ready to drop. You’ll need to start taking in blood now. Bagged will do, but fresh would be better while you’re growing.” When Rick made a pained expression, the Doctor shook her head, “If you don’t take blood, you’ll get sick.”
“Aren’t there pills or something? What about bottled?” Sookie asked. She could see Rick was starting to look nauseated.
“Sorry!” Doctor Ludwig was full-out laughing. “No substitutes!” Turning to Rick, she clapped him on the knee, making him jump, “You’ll have to suck it up, Buttercup!” and then she laughed harder at her own pun.
There was a flash and the doctor was gone, but, before Rick could ask, she was back and walking to the microwave. “Is that…” and Rick couldn’t finish. His eyes were large.
Sookie sat down beside him, “Look at me,” she said, and persisted until he turned away from the sight of the Doctor dancing a little jig. Sookie took a deep breath, “You are the bravest kid I know. Nothing about the unknown scares you. You’ll try anything. Why should this be any different?”
“Mom!” Rick protested. “It’s blood!” He was lisping around his fangs. He was stressed out and Sookie’s heart hurt for him, but she couldn’t discount Amy Ludwig’s words.
“It’s what you need,” she said in her best, no-nonsense way. Standing up, she walked over to the counter just as Amy pulled out the mug. “He hasn’t been able to retract his fangs, and I doubt under the circumstances, he will. He won’t be able to use a glass, so let’s see if we can find another way to get this into him.”
Sookie opened cabinets and pulled drawers. Finally, she lifted out a turkey baster. She filled it up and then wrapped a towel around it. Walking toward Rick, she said, “Okay, just open up and then close your lips around the tip. Close your eyes.”
“Mom…” he protested, but it was Fran who stopped him.
“Rick,” she wheezed. “There are plenty of things I’ve done in this life that didn’t look like a good idea, but were. You’re holding onto some idea that is not you. I’ve always told you you were special, Son. Well, sometimes being special comes with some things that don’t sit well at first. This is one of those times. Give it a try. If it really doesn’t work for you, we’ll figure something else out.”
Rick was a ball of tension, but he nodded and closed his eyes. When prompted, he opened his mouth a little and Sookie squeezed the warmed liquid into his mouth. He grimaced, and then he groaned. He started to suck at it until it was gone. His eyes opened, “That tastes really good!” he exclaimed. Sookie could see the wonder battling with the revulsion.
“What can I say, Kid?” she told him. “You’re a vampire now!” and she laughed in an effort to make it all right for him.
Once he’d figured out he craved blood, his fangs retracted. “It may take you a little while to figure them out,” Sookie told Rick. “Stress or emotions always seem to trigger them,” and she pointed toward his mouth.
“Or the need to feed,” the Doctor added. “If you feel your fangs itching, it’s generally a sign.”
Rick didn’t mention his feeding triggering other needs. Eric told Sookie once that fucking and feeding naturally went together. She knew the day was fast approaching when she’d need to give her son the sex talk, but she was glad that, in this case, Eric might have been ‘feeding’ her a story. Telling her son he’d have to drink blood seemed like enough life-changing information for one night.
“Does this mean I have to give up French fries?” Rick asked as things settled back down.
“Nope, you get it all, Little Fanger. Human food. Vampire food. Sunlight. Pretty much everything,” the Doctor told him.
“Other than blood, is there anything else that will change?” Sookie asked.
“Damphir are part-vampire. He may manifest some other gifts as he matures. Chances are he’s already stronger and faster than his human friends.” When Sookie nodded, the Doctor pulled out a tablet and wrote something down. She walked over to the wall switch and turned off the lights. There was still some ambient light coming in from the backyard, but it was dark. “How clearly can you see things?” the Doctor asked.
“Like the lights are on,” Rick answered.
While the Doctor turned the lights back on, Sookie asked, “When were you going to mention that?”
“Soon,” Rick looked guilty.
“I’m guessing it’s been a pretty handy trick,” Fran gave her godson an arch look and Sookie wondered how often Rick had used his night vision to sneak out of the house.
Doctor Ludwig ignored the pointed looks shooting between mother and son. “You may not have had a chance to test this yet. I figure your Mom has kept you pretty well under wraps, but you may find you have a kind of built-in vampire detector.”
“Like how?” Rick asked.
“Like you can tell when there are vampires in the area well before anyone else. It’s like an alarm bell to you. You can tell where they are and how many,” and Amy leaned back, waiting for an answer.
“Yeah,” Rick nodded. “I can. There was a vampire in Chester. Once I knew that’s what he was it was like he was a video game playing in my head until he left.”
“It’s a good think you kept him secret,” Amy told Sookie. “Damphirs were used by humans as vampire trackers. His gift will make vampires nervous. They won’t know what it is, but the touchy ones will want to kill him on sight.”
“Come on over here and show me those new chompers of yours,” Fran challenged Rick. He smirked and was soon sitting next to the witch, trying to figure it out.
When his frustration resulted in the groan, the Doctor said, “Do what I did. Stroke over the knobs on the top of your mouth.”
The result was impressive and Rick pierced his own finger. “Wow!” he said. “How did that happen?” The puncture healed almost as soon as it was made.
“Yup, all the best of both worlds,” the Doctor chuckled. When Rick settled into his practicing, cheered on by his godmother, Amy turned to Sookie. “He’ll finish growing in the next year or so, and then he starts his final transformation. He won’t be immortal, like them, but pretty close, provided nothing happens to him.”
“Same vulnerabilities?” Sookie asked.
“Silver won’t phase him,” the Doctor replied. “Other things will, though. He will become invulnerable to all but wood, but it will take a long time, maybe hundreds of years. Until then, a bullet can take him down the same as a Were, although as long as it doesn’t hit somewhere too critical, he’ll heal.” She glanced at Rick again. “You should think about getting him among his own soon. I’m not kidding about the blood. If he’s the only vampire, it will be hard for him to adjust.”
“I’m trying to figure out how I’ll get my hands on bagged blood in a small town like Chester,” Sookie bit her lip.
“I have to hand it to you,” Amy laughed, slapping Sookie on the knee and standing up. “You handled this like a champ! I always considered you my favorite breather!” She glanced again at Rick, “He’s a handsome boy. When it’s time to take him to his Father, you let me know. I’ll explain anything that presents a question.”
Later that night after Sookie got Fran settled in bed, she walked into the bedroom her son was using. His bed was still made, so she followed his sounds to the open door of the bathroom. Rick was standing in front of the mirror, practicing dropping and retracting his fangs. “You’re getting pretty good at that,” she said out loud.
Rick jumped and gave her that guilty look all boys give their mothers. “Sure didn’t think tonight would turn out this way,” he laughed, and then looked in the mirror again.
“Me either,” Sookie grinned, then walked in to sit on the closed toilet seat. “Funny. I always thought the talk I’d have with you in front of the bathroom mirror would have to do with shaving, not fangs.”
“I guess,” Rick shrugged, but he was blushing. “Oh, shit!” he said, and then blushed some more, “Sorry!”
“What is it?” Sookie asked.
“Nothing… I mean… I guess they’re just sensitive,” Rick was blushing more.
“Oh,” Sookie breathed out, figuring out the problem. “I’ll just wait for you in your bedroom while you sort it out.” Rick walked out after a minute. The fangs were retracted, and he flopped down in the chair rather than sit next to his Mother on the bed.
“So, I heard the Doctor Lady say I’ll live a pretty long time,” he said tentatively.
“Yes, she did,” Sookie nodded.
Rick looked away the way he did when he was turning things over in his head. “Does that mean I can make other people vampires?” he asked.
Sookie frowned, “I don’t know,” she answered him. “It didn’t occur to me to ask. Why? Is that important to you?”
“Well,” Rick said, “If I could, maybe I could help out Aunt Fran.”
It clicked then for Sookie. “Oh,” she said, gathering what she needed to say next. “I know the thought of death is pretty scary,” she told her son. “Goodness knows, it scares me, but there is something about it. It’s part of life. The old need to make room for the new.”
“But why should we lose her if we can keep her forever?” Rick asked.
“It’s more than what you want,” Sookie spoke carefully, “It’s what the other person wants. I want you to know that it gives me some peace of mind knowing you’ll be around for a long time, but that kind of existence isn’t for everyone. Some people look forward to the end of a life well lived. They feel… well, they believe that something waits for them and if they don’t die in this world, they can’t grow further in the next.”
“Is that why you left my Father?” Rick asked. Sookie found her eyes lasering in on him, but he was looking purposefully away.
“I didn’t leave your Father,” Sookie said, her words a little more forceful than necessary. “I didn’t,” she repeated. “He left me.”
“But you didn’t want to be vampire, did you?” Rick looked at her now. Suddenly, Sookie saw things through different eyes. If she said she hated the idea of becoming a vampire, she’d be telling her son she hated some part of him. She couldn’t do it, and, in her moment of clarity, it occurred to Sookie for the first time what saying the same words had sounded like to Eric.
“I didn’t at the time,” she said carefully, “but things change.”
Her son seemed satisfied, and he moved closer to her. “Everything will be okay, right, Mom?” he asked. He laid his head against her shoulder and Sookie realized he was as tall as she was.
“It will be now, Rick,” she wrapped her arm around him. “You going to be able to get up tomorrow and make yourself your own special cup of Joe?”
“Very funny!” he nudged her, then he looked worried. “How am I going to manage this when we get home? We have guests and folks in and out of the kitchen all the time.”
“Well,” Sookie breathed in, “In vampire-friendly places they have mini-refrigerators in their bedrooms and microwaves, too. We can get you set right up!”
“I love you, Mom,” Rick said quietly.
“I love you, too,” Sookie told him back.
That night, Sookie thought about everything she’d heard. She thought about what it meant and what was coming. Sookie realized that whether she wanted it or not, their days of hiding in Chester were numbered. Rick would need help in growing into his heritage, and he would need protection. ‘Two more years,’ she thought and it was as much a prayer as it was a promise.