pierce // (pîrs)
v. pierced, pierc·ing, pierc·es
1. To cut or pass through with or as if with a sharp instrument; stab or penetrate.
2. To make a hole or opening in; perforate.
3. To make a way through
Why? Why in god’s name did I bet a piercing?
I should’ve known better. I should have seen this coming.
It’s not like I bet her that she couldn’t swallow swords or juggle Molotov fucking cocktails. I bet her that she couldn’t stay off her feet. Anyone could do that…
Deep breath… deep breath… deep breath
I’m taking one for the team, right? Sookie needed to take it easy. She needed to stay off her feet. Even if I knew that she never loses a bet, I was worried enough about her recovery to have risked it.
She’s on four different medications. Antibiotics, steroids, antihistamines and something to help her sleep… 5 if you count the pain killers she won’t take…
It’s for a good cause.
It’s for a good cause.
It’s for a good cause.
Shit. That was actually helping.
I could pussy out. I could run like a cat from a bathtub, but I’d never live it down. Never.
N E V E R period
The Green Mile.
Dead Man Walking.
The longest fucking mall… ever.
And we parked at the other end.
I swear, that fucking ass clown partner of mine was out of ‘gimmies’. He was still laughing.
“Hey Eric, that store has sweatpants… you know, for after… If your camos aren’t loose enough.” Wheezing.
“I’ve got your back. I can run to the pretzel place to get you a lemonade with extra ice… you know…”
“I’m going to shoot you.”
Sookie giggled and hugged my arm. “Calm down. You know you brought this on yourself.”
I growled at her. “I know.”
“Alc sucked it up and let someone shoot him with a sandbag.”
“A) he’s a fuck’tard. B) not in his dick.”
“You’re being very cranky.”
“Let’s just get it over with.”
He started laughing again. Asshole. “You think you’ll have to hover over the head… so you don’t dribble?”
I turned around… no shit, I was about to hit him, but the asshole ducked behind Sookie. Still laughing.
Sookie reached up and pulled my face to hers. “You don’t have to.”
“Can you please just shut him up?”
“I could, but in all fairness, we’d be cracking up if it was him.”
Fuck. Always fucking right.
Goth. No. Halloween. The fucking shithole has black walls and red counters. Bella Lugosi’s fucking crypt.
I rolled my eyes as we walked in and stopped when I saw the ‘cashier’. The human fucking pin cushion had more holes in her face than a cheese grater and I had to wonder how the fuck she ate anything with 1, 2, 3, 4, FIVE holes in her lips.
Straight up National Geographic shit.
“Hey, I’m Sookie. I think we talked a little while ago.”
The girl’s lips chinked when she smiled at Sookie with her hand out. “Yeah! Eunice. Nice to meet you.”
Sookie leaned over the counter and started looking through the selection of barbells and hoops and spikes and… oh shit… pad locks.
Pinhead pulled a piece of paper out of a folder and put it on the counter in front of Sookie. “Disclaimer, aftercare, consent. We need that before we can do anything.”
Sookie grinned at me while she looked it over and Alc peeked over her shoulder. He turned green. Fuck. “What’s that called?”
“Apadravya…” She turned her attention back to Pinhead. “Do you have it in black? Maybe a little bigger too?”
“The bead or the gage?”
Sookie shrugged. “Preferably the bead, but the gage can be slightly bigger.”
“What? No. Small gage. Small.”
Pinhead snorted at me. “If it’s too small, it’ll tear.” Shit. Sucking air. Feeling light headed. Wishing I hadn’t left my gun at home… I could shoot myself.
I pretended to be calm and held my hand out for the consent form. Sookie handed it to me with a smile and blew me a kiss before she leaned over the jewelry cases again.
When I looked at the sheet, there was a picture of a top to bottom impaled dick. A barbell. Straight through. A nail gun horror story. Except the nail gun would be faster. Hurt less.
…Id was gone. No forwarding address. Just gone. Witness protection.
Alc had stopped laughing and truly looked like he felt sorry for me. “At least you don’t have a choice. Some fuck tards do this shit for fun.”
It earned him a dirty look from Pinhead.
I gave him a nod. “I guess I should just be happy that the bet wasn’t a tattoo.”
Sookie giggled without looking back. “Why do you say that? I liked your pinup idea.”
FUUUUUUUCKKK! I could do that standing on my head. “Now you tell me.”
More giggling. This time she looked back and gave me the dimples. “Don’t worry, love. Plenty of time for that.”
Fuck that. ‘Bet’ is now a bad word. B E T delete. No longer in my vocabulary.
Alcide tried to follow us to the back room, but Sookie headed him off. He scowled at her, but he stayed out in the shop.
My body felt hot and cold at the same time. I actually had a physical reaction to seeing the tray full of surgical implements and normally I like white noise, but the humming from the autoclave was making me queasy. Fuck.
-Changing out of my suit in favor of camos and a wifebeater: Yay me.
-Eating lunch in the atrium at school while the boys found out that the judge was awesome: Yay me
-Walking into a torture chamber with a full stomach: Not such a great feeling
Sookie held my hand and went over to sit on the edge of the big upholstered table and I don’t know why, but I joined her.
“It only takes a minute.”
I growled, “Yeah.” I was aware of how cranky I was being and didn’t care.
“Wanna back out?”
Never live it down. “No. I’ll deal with it.”
She smiled at me and it made me feel better. Damn her. “You should try to relax. You’re going to give yourself a heart attack.”
Pinhead excused herself to take care of a few things.
“Got any suggestions?”
I started laughing. God help me, a 3 inch barbell was about to get stabbed through my cock and she made me laugh. “I hate you. What else do you have?”
She hummed while her eyes rolled around, thinking. She flashed a dimply smile at me and told me to close my eyes. Almost instantly, I felt her thumb start to brush across my forehead and my eyes rolled back behind their lids. Mmmmm. Then, almost a whisper…
“Birds flying high, you know how I feel… Sun in the sky, you know how I feel… Breeze driftin’ on by, you know how I feel…”
Damn her. I was about to get my dick stabbed and she had me close to sleeping…
The song was too short and since I blamed her for my stress, I had no shame asking her to sing another one. I was spending too much time with Alc… and the boys… food. music. happy.
“I want a little sugar, in my bowl… I want a little sweetness, down in my soul… I could stand some lovin’… Oh so bad… I feel so funny and I feel so sad
I want a little steam, on my clothes… Maybe I can fix things up, so they’ll go… Whatsa matter Daddy… Come on, save my soul… I need some sugar in my bowl… I ain’t foolin’… I want some sugar in my bowl…”
I didn’t even care that I heard someone coming into the room…
When the song was over, I didn’t want to open my eyes. I was worried that I might see and honest to God nail gun.
Sookie gave my hand a squeeze. “You ready, Love?”
“You’re going to keep singing, right?”
“Why?” She slid off the table so I opened my eyes and looked at her.
“Because it’ll keep me calm.”
She smiled. “Glad it worked. Pay the girl so we can go home.”
Confused. I know I looked it too. “Huh?”
She giggled and pulled the hem of her shirt up…
She had her belly button pierced?
“Eric, if we bet a million dollars and I won, would I give you the cash? No.”
“YOU BITCH! You let me think…”
She was gigging again. “Excuse me, sir, you made it too easy.”
“That shit with Hadley telling me about how everyone else in the family is…”
She snickered and took a step back to the door.
“None of them are pierced are they?”
“I want to go on record. I never lied. I just didn’t correct any of the bullshit you were fed.”
I slid off the table and she took another step back.
“I told you that you wouldn’t hate me forever, that it wasn’t that bad…”
“You let me think we were going to be broke for two months!”
She took another step back, hand on the doorknob. She shrugged. “Your tongue wasn’t going to hurt.”
That funny fucking bitch! That tacky guy saying ‘your mouth doesn’t get a period…’ OOOOhhhh!
She knew she was in for it. She bolted through the door laughing as she tried to ‘get away’. I was cracking up right along with her.
When I caught her at the front of the store, I scooped her up and gave her a kiss. “The Pac-man tattoo was a nice touch.”
Her face got more serious. “No shit. Seriously, don’t ever bet with Jason. He’s fucking crazy.”
Skeptical. “Kevin really has a tattoo on his balls?”
“I have a picture at home. Jason told him that it didn’t hurt when he got his. They were both drunk as shit and Kevin lost a bet and don’t even remember it, just that Kevin said if Jason could get ‘nut ink’ he could too.”
“Jason has a tattoo on his balls?” Gag. Cartoon mother fucker. But still… gag.
Sookie rolled her eyes. “Yeah. He has eggs tattooed on his balls and bacon on his dick.”
I shook my head. “What the fuck? What bet was that?” I knew he was weird. Shit. Maybe deranged was a better word.
“You’re full of shit! You’re fucking with me again.” Had to be.
She rolled her eyes and huffed. “My brother, Jason Stackhouse, member of the Triple Nine Society and landscaper has bacon and eggs tattooed on his genitals because… wait for it… breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
I believed her. I laughed so hard I nearly dropped her, but I believed her.
I was paying for ‘my’ belly button ring, snarling at Eunice for being in on the prank, when Sookie came up behind me and hugged around my waste. “No hard feelings?”
“Plenty. I’m going to milk that heartlessness for years.”
She giggled into my back, making it really hard for me to treat her like I hadn’t already forgiven her. Chills… “I’m not the type to dish it out and not be able to take it.”
“That’s good to know.”
“You know I love you, right?”
“Uh huh. Right.”
“You act like you’d be happier with a spike through your cock.”
I laughed. “I’m allowed to be annoyed that I was duped.”
She nibbled my back. Ungh. “Does it make you feel better to know that I insisted on coming today because I felt guilty for fucking with you? I didn’t want to drag it out.”
“And that I never had any intention of having you get something pierced. That’s why I worded the bet so loosely.”
Another nibble. “If I win, I get my naval pierced because we’ll both have fun with how much it annoys Quinn. If you win, you put one wherever you want so that we can have fun that way. Win/win.”
“Am I allowed to pout now that I know that?”
She giggled as she pulled away, putting her hands on my shoulders and dragging her nails down my back, scratching soothingly. Fffffuck…“Can I offer a silver lining?”
“You can try.”
“Think about how much more fun Miami will be.”
She nibbled again. “King sized bed, fireplace, tub for two, room service, no kids on the other side of a thin wall… This way nothing gets in the way… we can cover our room with sweat and come and… cherry massage oil… all weekend. The only time I want to leave our room is to use surfing as an excuse to fuck on the beach… in the ocean… being punk’d is a good thing.” Fffffuck… being handled isn’t so bad either.
I lifted my arm to put it behind her, twisting to put my mouth to her ear. “I’m only pretending to forgive you.”
She smiled up at me. “I can live with that.”
I was about to get a kiss. Her lips were close enough to mine that I could feel how warm they are… when my phone rang. Fuck.
“Northman.” Sookie grabbed the bag with her new jewelry and we started to leave and begin our search for Alc. He took off to find an GameStop.
“Eric, Hey! It’s Chow.” I know. Caller ID is cool like that.
“Hi there. How’ve you been?”
“It’s been pretty stale ‘round here. The Dixons on 4 moved out this weekend though.”
I started laughing. “Fucking figures. I move out and THEN that yapping ass dog leaves.”
Sookie laughed into my side and told me I was still being cranky.
“How about you? Got any ticks out there in the boonies?”
I snorted at him. City folk. “Not yet. So… Did you just call because you miss me?”
“Is something wrong?”
“Well, that depends on how you look at it.”
Seriously. I hate it when people do that. They think they’re easing you into something, but what their really doing is making your asshole pucker. “Spit it out.”
“Can I buy Tippy from you?”
“What? Why? You don’t even like her.” Not that his like/dislike was a factor.
“It’s not that I don’t like her. She picks on me.”
I started laughing again. She really does. She takes caps off of pens and draws on him. Ok. Stabs him, but drawing seems like a nicer way to put it. “Then why would you want her?”
“It’s not… Jane is still in LA. You know how she is with tech. So she’s been calling me. I go over and write everything down then call her back if she has messages. When I told her that you called again the other day about the bird… she sounded upset. I don’t think she’ll say anything, but I think she’d like to keep it.”
Fuck. Shit. I told him to hang on. “Sookie, how attached to the idea of having Tippy are you?”
She stopped walking and looked confused. “Why ask me? What’s going on?”
“Chow said that when he gave Jane my message about getting Tippy back she got upset. He thinks she wants to keep her.”
“It’s your bird.”
“I know that, but…” It wasn’t a matter of ownership… guilt I guess. I love that damn bird, but… I only really got her to keep me company… Fuck. How pathetic is that?
“But what? Eric, it’s your pet. If you want her back, get her back. If you want to give her to Jane, do that. Your vote is my vote.”
“You wouldn’t think I’m throwing the bird away now that I have something else to keep me busy?”
She giggled. “No. I’d think it’s sweet of you to sacrifice your pet so that Jane isn’t lonely. And I promise, I won’t tell Jas that he’s your new pet.”
I started laughing through my nose. “And you wouldn’t think I’m a prick if I put my foot down and get my bird back?”
She raised her eyebrow. “No. I’d think you’re justified in wanting Tippy back. She’s yours.”
More giggling. “Life’s full of hard choices. This one is all you.”
“She can go with us or stay with family. I’m sure Hunter would get a kick out of her. Hadley won’t let him get any pets.”
“Shreveport is a hike, but I’m sure they have an avian vet or two.”
“She wouldn’t have to worry about opossums if you take her out to exercise during the day. Sorry. There aren’t any excuses. It comes down to what you want.”
I want my fucking bird back, but I think I’d be a prick to take Tippy back from a lonely old lady. Time. Maybe time will help me figure it out…
“Do me a favor and give Jane a message to call me. Sookie and I are going to be doing a lot of traveling for the next couple of months. Let her know I want to ask her to look after Tippy until the new year.”
He started laughing. “Hoping she’ll be pissed that you ask?”
“What are you going to do when January rolls around?”
“Hope Tippy’s killed enough if her plants that she wants to give her back.” Or that I just don’t miss the damn bird anymore.
We had tried the GameStop at the end of the mall, with no luck and as it turns out there’s another one… all the way at the other end.
Sookie had us stop at Bath & Body Works along the way. That stop was actually fun… Cinnamon, coconut, cherry, peach, apple pie… with everything I bought, Sookie would smell like dessert for a year. Happy camper.
I got a confused look when I had Sookie dip into a store with me. I bought 10 pairs of jeans. The fun part was that I didn’t even have to explain why. All I had to do was show her what size they are.
We were taking our time since we had a while before we needed to be back in Bon Temps.
Whatever extra time we had was done for when we saw that the mall’s Christmas shop was open. Santa’s Nook.
We both stopped dead in our tracks and had the same retarded grins on our faces.
She went to take off, one excited stride and I put my arm out. She giggled at me and tried to look intimidating. “D’you wanna fight?”
I laughed back. “No. I need confirmation. Blue, white, silver for New York. Is there a color theme for home?”
She smiled and shook her head. “I usually do white lights, but I get so many ornaments from students and parents that there’s no way to stick with a color scheme. Most of what I get is red though.”
“Alc will need a lot of decorations. Amelia only ever let him put up outside decorations and there was a small tree in the front window with nothing but gold ornaments.”
Her eyes lit up. “We could buy the boys little trees so they can each have one for their room.”
“And Rene will need decorations too.”
She bit her bottom lip while we thought about it… We both looked like door busters, speed walking to the store once we realized that we had our list.
That’s exactly how Alc found us to let us know that we’d eaten up an hour in the store. It was time to leave…
We both pouted as we checked out.
We went back to the house so that Alc could go get the boys and we could go to the grocery store… more importantly Rotten was too full of bags to fit the boys.
The whole yard smelled like sawdust. The racket of hammers and workers chattering away baited our curiosity, so we walked around to the back of the house.
Gone. The back corner of the house where the bathroom used to be was gone. And the remainder of the house had a bit of a ‘cake missing a slice’ vibe to it. Bizarre.
The tub was sitting on the back of a flatbed with the toilet, cabinets and sink. The wood that used to be the frame and subflooring were in a pile and the new subfloor and frame were already going up. The door to our bedroom was now a fire exit. It was all split apart…
I looked up at the old tub and faked a sniffle. “Goodbye, old friend.”
Sookie crashed into my side laughing and putting her arms around me. “When you see the new one, you won’t miss that tub anymore than you miss your old house with the low ceilings.”
“We’ll see. I’m pretty sentimental.”
“Oh my. Then you should start preparing yourself now… Mattresses should be replaced every few years.”
“That’s just cruel. Why would you be so mean?”
“Just giving you time to prepare… especially since ours gets more wear and tear than most.”
She grabbed my hands and started pulling me back to the front of the house…
“We still have a car to unload so that I can go to the store while you perpetrate your revenge.”
“Do we by chance have a seam ripper?”
“I can’t be involved, my dear. It would be very wrong of me to tell you that there is a sewing kit hiding in the back of the pantry.”
Curious. “Why the pantry?”
“That’s where Gran always kept it. The kitchen has the best light for ‘reminding buttons of their proper place’.”
“It sounds like your Gran was a trip.”
“She was… and she would have loved you to death.”
“Because you make me smile.” She stretched up on her toes to give me a kiss.
She rushed off to the grocery store after we got all of our purchases out of the car. It only gave me half an hour to take the Christmas stuff upstairs and complete my act of Assholery (and cover my tracks).
If it weren’t for Id’s devilish laughter and handwringing, I would have been tempted to go through our new Christmas directions… Can you call a guy my size ‘giddy’?
After collecting the instrument of my evil fun and making a quick visit to Alc’s closet and some minor tinkering in the bathroom… I was finished just in time to go upstairs and get to some of the real fun…
I was separating ornaments into piles, noticing that Sookie and I had picked a lot of doubles, when Alc got home with the boys.
I was having enough fun that I didn’t even go downstairs right away. I might as well have been a kid in a candy store.
The kids were already talking excitedly when they announced that ‘Sookie and Eric’ were home. I laughed when I realized that they hadn’t realized I was in the house.
I quickly went to the landing and slid down the banister, quietly landing behind them. I put a hand on each shoulder and gave them a ‘boo’ and a squeeze at the same time. They both yelped like they’d been attacked and turned around swinging. I protected my crotch and laughed at them… getting more abuse for telling them they ‘hit like girls’.
We all went out to help bring in the groceries and Alc’s eyes lit up when he peaked at the contents of the one he grabbed. “Think it’s too late to get the judge to change my name?”
I laughed and tried to look, but he spun away from me declaring ‘mine’.
Sookie laughed at him. “We’re celebrating, right?”
He grunted and nodded.
“So… what better way to celebrate than ribs, cornbread, cranky balls and a chocolate cheesecake so good it’ll make you cry?”
Without a word, he stomped into the house with a retarded smile screwed on tight. The four of us watched him and laughed. He was going to make my prank too easy…. Well, one of them…
I was going to have too much fun making up for lost time…
While Alc and Sookie were in the kitchen, I found the boys watching a movie in their room, propped up against the headboard.
“I have a job for you two.”
Carm smiled. “How much does it pay?”
I had to smile. I’m gonna miss them when they move out. “$20… each.”
“What’s the job?”
“I want you to put your earbuds in for a few minutes and listen to something loud.”
“Show me the money.”
I paid the little mercenary and waited for them to grab their handhelds and start playing a game…
I went to our room and quickly logged onto the internet… lubetube… categories… big cocks… the first video…
Cranking up the volume on the surround sound…
Grabbing my phone and hiding, recording from right inside the bathroom door…
“Oh yeah… oh FUCK!… oh… oooooohhhh…. Ohyeah! Fuck!….”
It took about a minute, but Alcide came running down the hall like he had been hit with a hot poker… and Sookie was right behind him.
“Ohh yeah…. Oh yeah…. Yeah… yeah…. Oh yeah baby…. Fuck me…. fuck me… like that…. Yeah…”
He went into his room first and Sookie gave me a dirty look when I crept out of my hiding place and to the door of his room. The look on his face was priceless!
…And then he swung at me.
I fell flat on my ass dodging the swing, but I was laughing too hard to care… and I’d be laughing at the recording… forever.
“I thought my kids were watching porn!”
I was still laughing too hard to come back… his face was still somewhere between red and green.
The prank was only slightly modified from a dorm Fave. Steal a guy’s remote and put a six hour porn into his player and turn the volume all the way up… Wait for ‘mom & dad’ or ‘new girlfriend’ to go into the guys room and turn the TV on… It was always good for a black eye, but worth the fucking laugh.
I got to my feet and turned off the speakers, then monitor so Alc stomped humorlessly to the front of the house and Sookie cornered me at the desk.
“That was mean.”
“Then why are you trying so hard to not laugh?”
She choked back a giggle. “Not the point. Don’t post that.”
I pouted at her. “Can I send it to Jason?”
Her chin puckered, trying to stay ‘stern’. “Just Jason. And you have to promise him you won’t post it.”
Still pouting. “Promise.”
“Why’d you do it? With the other stuff?”
“Kansas City Shuffle. He thinks I consider us even now.”
“You’re a son of a bitch.”
I gave her a kiss. “Thank you.”
I followed Sookie back to the kitchen and grabbed a couple of beers, taking one to Alc. “Peace offering. Sorry. I won’t post it.”
He growled and yanked the beer out of my hand. “That was low. You know I let Jack use my laptop to look for music.”
I faked being ashamed and sipped my beer while Sookie and Alc started putting dinner together.
Funny part: He grumped at me until Hadley and Hunter came in from practice.
Had made a bee line into the kitchen and didn’t wait for a greeting. “What happened?”
Alc smiled at her. “Sookie stacked the deck.”
“You ended up on Sarah’s docket?”
He nodded. “Six month TRO and she waved the year separation. The divorce will be final by Thanksgiving.”
“Holy shit. How bad was she in court?”
“She didn’t hit anybody, but other than that she was pretty much just as squirrelly as she was last night. Her nasty whore friend hired a Texas lawyer for her and then sounded just as fruity as Amelia.”
He chuckled. “Meanwhile, Sookie and Eric sold me like a new car.”
Sookie broke in, “Bullshit! We didn’t exaggerate a damn thing.”
He didn’t argue with her, he just rolled his eyes. I guess it was hard for him to believe that he really is a good dad… after all the years of being told otherwise.
After Had gave him an unreturnable hug (his hands were kacked up with rib rub) she zeroed in on me.
She grabbed a beer and sat on my lap.
“How are you doing?”
No eye contact. “I’m not talking to you.”
I stared at the ceiling.
She leaned back against me. “Errrrrriiiiiiiic….”
Not looking at her.
“It was Sookie’s idea.”
“You lied to me.”
“Oh come on… I told you I let a 13 year old get his nipple done.”
Still… not looking at her. “And other than that, the story sounded exactly like some crazy shit you people would do.”
“Sookie and Laf have their nipples done and you’ve got your hoop, Frannie has hers. And you’ve met Jason. Enough Said.”
“No you’re not.”
She laughed and put her arms around my neck trying to get me to look at her. “You learned a valuable lesson though.”
“Not to trust anything you say?”
She whispered into my ear. “Playing folks goes both ways.”
Fuck. Saturday. Alc, Fran, Jas, JB, Had… Shit. I cleared my throat, clearly busted. “Point taken.”
I still wasn’t looking at her and she decided that she was fed up with it… she started tickling my ribs.
I nearly tossed her out of my lap accidently, trying to get her to stop. “Thanks A LOT, Sookie!”
She looked over her shoulder and laughed seeing me trying to fight off Had. “I didn’t tell her you’re ticklish! Blame Fran!”
Had wasn’t letting up. “I’ll cuff you! Sssssto… Stop… Stoppit!”
She raised her eyebrow at me like I’d dared her and moved her attack from my ribs to under my arms.
I was trying to keep from pissing my pants when I saw my chance. I put my hand between her legs… high on her thigh… and started tickling her like my life depended on it.
Her body drew up in a tight ball, laughing hysterically… Calling a truce…
I stopped just long enough to blow a raspberry at her and then go right back…
I probably would have risked being pissed on if we weren’t interrupted by a knock at the door.
I wrapped my arm around Had’s shoulders, pinning her wrists to her chest and took her to the door with me like a hostage.
Now that I wasn’t tickling her, she was laughing again… and trying to bite me.
“Hey! How’s it going?”
He rolled his eyes at us and huffed. “Well… now my day just seems like utter shite in comparison, thanks for asking.”
I laughed. “It’s not all fun and games. You can’t let your guard down around these girls. They’re evil.”
“Is Sookie tied to a bed somewhere?”
I chuckled for a minute, about to tell him ‘of course not’ when Sookie called from the kitchen. “No sir, he let me go so I could make his supper.”
He shook his head and shut the door behind him. “I’ll save that for later… I came by for a visit, is this a bad time?”
“No. Standard dinner routine. The kids are playing in the back, the ‘adults’ are playing in the kitchen. Come on in. Can I get you a beer?” I bent over and grabbed Had’s knees and carried her to the kitchen, setting her in a chair. “Sit. Stay.”
She blew a raspberry at me, but she ‘stayed’.
“I don’t suppose you have anything stout?”
“Coming right up…” I inventoried drinks and grabbed fresh drinks for Alc and me too. Having Guinness on hand earned me a surprised smile.
Sookie turned around and held her hand out for his coat. When he shed his designer version of a P-coat he was wearing a navy blue dress shirt and tie with his jeans.
She giggled. “Nice to see you so ‘relaxed’.”
“Oy! I had to make myself not go back and change… Don’t judge me.”
She smiled and put his coat over her arm… loosened his tie… unbuttoned his top button… giggled at the constipated look on his face… and undid his 2nd button… “There. That wasn’t so hard. I’ll be gentle next time too.”
His hand went to his collar and futzed uncomfortably. “I… I don’t know about this… Realllly… I feel like… I might as well be a Chippendale’s dancer.”
She snickered and put her hand to his face, squeezing his cheeks together to make him look like a goldfish. “Don’t worry about that… no one’s going to make that mistake.”
His face was offended, surprised, indignant, amused… the rest of us were laughing our asses off. “You are evil…. Verrrry well done… Now kiss me to soften to blow.” He jutted his chin out, so she gave him a peck and then swatted his ass on her way to hang his coat.
He might fit in nicely.
“Ok… so… business… small doses, get it out of the way quickly, yes?”
Alc turned around and leaned against the counter and Had offered to leave, but he shook his head so Sookie perched on my lap.
“I called an old friend who retired to Brazil years ago. He did the research and the vampire avoided press there by doing girls in rural areas as well… 23… he completed the Portuguese alphabet nearly a year before he started here. He didn’t break any records, but the bloody bastard is up there… It only took my friend a few days once I sent him the files from Sookie’s work. He hadn’t taken the steps with the posing, but the birthdays were the tell-tale.”
Daunting. I shook my head. “The first was his mother? Girlfriend?”
He smirked at me. “His wife. The locals were looking at her lover… Did you gents have any theories as to the IDs of the 3 fresh mounds at DeCastros nest?”
I gave him a nod. “A homeless guy, George Broward and… maybe the florist.”
His head tilted to the side. “George Broward?”
“Victor Madden was threatened with a video of a woman being stung to death by wasps. He was told that it was the girlfriend of the last guy who didn’t want to help. That’s how DeCastro got his cooperation. Alc looked it up, the victim had a boyfriend. George Broward.”
His eyes rolled. “Geeeeenius! I’ll have to make sure my paperwork includes that Miss Ravenscroft hadn’t bothered herself with mentioning it in her reports. SPOT ON!… The florist?”
“It was normal store hours when Sookie found him, alone. It’s a guess.”
“Everlee Mason… again, inspired judgment… Now… How did you guess about the vagabond?”
“The only sign of life on the first floor of the Loudermilk estate was an empty beer bottle and beef stew can next to a fireplace. It still smelled like a fire had been lit.”
“The poor bastard was at least killed quickly, he’d been arrested for vagrancy in October in Plano…. No wonder you two were coveted in New Orleans!… Anyway… Mr. Burnham informed me of all of it this morning in response to your text… I told him that you are on a forced vacation… his crew managed to gather enough evidence that it’s safe to inform the families. Would you like to do the honors?”
Alc and I answered quickly and unquestionably with a ‘yes’.
He smiled, beamed really. “Alright, I heard about your adventure this morning in court… My condolences on the family matter, Herveaux.”
Alc gave him a serious nod. “How’d you find out about that?”
“Oh, sir… I didn’t get to my position by being a bottom. I try to keep my finger on the pulse… I looked your little ones up and found nothing… I brought a couple of DNA swabs and fingerprinting kits… If you’re half as paranoid as I am, it might give you some piece of mind to put them in the system… If I’ve learned nothing, it’s that ex-wives can be dependably hostile.”
“Thanks.” I really starting to like this guy.
“You could take them on a field trip to the police station as a cover, if you’d like. It might not raise any questions if they think of it as a game. I hear they’re quite sentient.” Really. Fucking. Like. This. Guy.
Alc gave him another nod and quietly went back to work on dinner. Sookie went to join him, but I took her hand and asked Had to help Alc.
I shut the bedroom door behind us and sat in the computer chair.
“What’s up, Eric?”
I smiled at her and pulled my phone out. “You’ve been up to your ass in the ugliness of my job… This is the good part…”
I found Mr. Anderson’s number and dialed. Speaker.
“Mr. Anderson, Special Agent Northman.”
“oh. Hello.” His voice held no hope.
“Sir, I wanted to call you because we have news.”
“Did the photos you asked for help?”
“Yes sir. The suspect was in them, stalking your daughter. After getting photos from the families of the other victims, we found that he’d done the same thing to the others.”
“Thank God. Maybe now you can track him down.”
“Sir, we have.”
“You found him?”
“Yes sir. Unfortunately there won’t be a trial. He was killed when we tried to apprehend him.”
Sookie and I sat and listened to the man sob for a few moments and she cried right along with him. “He’s dead? He can’t hurt anyone else?”
“No sir. And his accomplice will never see the light of day again.”
“How? After all this time, what changed the case?”
I smiled at Sookie. “A teacher emailed the bureau about a club that had taken an interest in the case. Her students had noticed patterns from news footage. As soon as we were made aware of their theories we concentrated on their work. We found the Vampire’s hiding place and his accomplice shortly after I spoke to you thanks to them. We caught up to the killer on Sunday.”
“His name was DeCastro. We found him in Reynard Parrish.”
“Pardon my French, but fuck him. I want to know where to send my thanks.”
I laughed quietly and Sookie continued to weep. “The club is called Serial Interrogative. Bon Temps School. Rene Lanier is the student who did most of the work.”
“You know we’ve been talking, the other parents… we’ve kind of been holding each other’s hands through things… we might not know how to move on… some of us have been eaten up for so long…”
He’d been the one suffering the longest. Geri had been the first American victim… “Take a little while to be happy that he can’t do to anyone else what he did to your family… We’ll be calling everyone tonight before the press gets wind… I’m sure you’ll be getting calls from your comrades as we let them know. I’m sure they all share your feelings.”
After a few more minutes with him, I decided to drive it home… Bethany Cronican’s mother.
Sookie sobbed right along with Mrs. Cronican as I told her that the search for her daughter’s killer had been stopped. Relieved. Grateful. And just as confused as Mr. Anderson had been about how to move on.
I only called the two families, knowing that Alc wanted to help. He got the same closure from it as I did. It was validation. It was reassuring. Their comfort almost drowned out the echoes of second guessing ourselves. Why hadn’t we found him faster?… round after round of self-ass-booting… the families never blamed us for not working better/harder/faster/smarter… they were just… thankful… thankful that it was all over so that they could get to the part of missing their loved ones, rather than wallowing in anger.
Sookie wrapped herself around my neck and cried quietly.
I rubbed her back. “It’s all we get since we can’t bring them back.”
“I’d do it again.”
I wrapped my arms around her, squeezing… God. No.
“I’m sorry, but….”
I tried shushing her.
“I’m sorry, I know how stupid it sounds, but if you hadn’t killed him…”
“I wasn’t thinking of the others… I was only worried about you.”
“It doesn’t matter. He killed 43 people. You’re still a hero… mine… those families…”
I started getting pissed with myself. Hearing her say she’d risk her life all over again hadn’t been anywhere near my goal… I just wanted to give her a taste of closure… not justification. “You’re a stubborn bitch, Sookie.”
She nodded and gripped me a little tighter. “And proud of you. Don’t forget that. You saved us.”
When I got back to the kitchen, Had was sharing a cigarette with Alc and I got a dirty look right away.
“You called them?”
“Anderson and Cronican. We’ll do the others later.”
He looked like he was thinking about it for a minute. “Sookie?”
I nodded. He dropped the subject… He has his moments.
“So when’s dinner going to be ready?”
“Problem. Mensa doesn’t have a grill.” Had shrugged and Alc was actually pouting about the hurdle between him and ribs. I laughed at him and went to the fireplace to get a couple logs from the stack.
I carried them out, with him close behind like a curious child, and grabbed a shovel out of the shed. Fucking jarhead. He spent years in the sandbox and never built a fire pit. Goon.
I dug a small hole and dropped the wood in then headed over to the construction for some cinder blocks.
He acted like he’d never been camping when I brought the bottom rack for the oven out and set it on the blocks over the would-be fire pit. “There, princess. Happy now? Quit your crying and light it.”
Jack had the same look on his face when he was done playing his first song and if I hadn’t left as quickly as I had, the goofy bastard probably would have hugged me.
When Sookie joined us in the kitchen, Alc was grabbing the ribs and on his way out.
“Oh, good. You found the charcoal.”
“Charcoal?” Alc and I shared a confused look.
“Yeah… It’s… How?…” She went out to the porch and started laughing at the now roaring campfire in the side yard… Hysterical… “The grill is in the cellar! It’s a little old… so when that nor’easter came through last month… That’s fucking brilliant!” Still laughing like a loon.
Silly me. I assumed that Alc had checked the cellar.
Sookie went to the pantry and came out with kabob skewers and a bag of marshmallows, calling for the boys. Hunter’s eyes lit up when she handed the junk food to him. “When you boys are done setting up the picnic table and chairs, you can have a snack. Don’t ruin your appetites.”
She went over to Drew and sat on his legs, lifting his hand to unbutton his cuff and roll up his sleeve. “You’re aware that there are these things called ‘cookouts’, yes?”
His head pulled back incredulously, making his chin disappear into his neck. “I’ve heard.”
She giggled at him. “We’ll be nice, since you’re a virgin.”
“Why are you rolling up my sleeves?”
“Because, my friend, you’ll be eating with your hands tonight.”
“I’ll use a fork. I’m civilized.”
“Now, now… calm yourself. If you behave at dinner, I’ll let you use a fork for dessert.”
I reminded her that macaroni and cheese is on the menu.
“See! A safety net. You can use your fork for one thing.”
“You’re quite serious?” She took his other hand and started working on that one.
“Yes sir. We’re celebrating Alc’s good luck in court today. We are dining on ribs and cornbread and chili mac and crab balls…. The chili mac is the only thing you can eat with a fork… And I’m warning you, the tea… will be cold.”
“Sookie, let me take you away from all of this… savagery.”
She started laughing again. “Oh no… Welcome to the south, Mr. Marshall. We’ve got you. Now we’re going to turn you into one of us.”
“You sound like a… a Branch Davidian!”
“Awww… we’re armed and all, but we’re peaceful, like Hare Krishnas. You’ll do fine. We’ll walk you through it.”
I was biting the inside of my mouth to not laugh. It wasn’t working.
“We’re going to go outside and eat like cavemen? Educated people actually do this? Eat in the wilderness? With bugs and without the use of cutlery?”
She nodded, still giggling. I couldn’t tell if his act was for show or if he really hadn’t ever been to a cookout before.
“I’ll take you into the city right now. I’ll take you to a restaurant with multiple flatware choices, each of them have a purpose, yes! And they… they play chamber music… It’s quite relaxing… Five star restaurants have no bugs… no wilderness… no… no…”
She smiled at him. “You can leave, if you’re scared.”
He clenched his jaw (probably his asshole too) and grimaced. “Is that a dare?”
“I’d rather call it a bet.” I lost it. I got up fast enough that my chair slid back so that I could go laugh my ass off in private.
As I walked out, I heard him ask, “What would you like to propose as the wager?”
Cold beer. Lawn chair. Leaned back. Still laughing at Drew’s foolish pride…
My phone ruined it… or so I thought.
It was a 323 area code.
“Hi Eric. It’s Jane.”
“Hey! How’s the great grandbaby?”
“He’s a moose! He was the biggest baby in the nursery and he’s precious!”
“I guess it’s a good thing she went into labor early then.”
“That’s what she said. If he’d have gone the last 3 weeks… Who knows… Now I hear from Chow that you have news for me.”
“Yes ma’am. I finally took your advice. I found a great girl and I’m getting married.”
“Smarter than me.”
“She feed you?”
“Like a pig, she does my laundry, understands my job and my family loves her.”
“I need to meet Miss Perfect. I need to know where I was wrong all those times.”
“She said she wanted to meet you so she could thank you for taking such good care of me for her.”
“Now don’t that beat all! I like her already!”
“There’s nothing not to like.”
“Ok, now… Chow told me that you need a sitter for Tippy.”
Shit. “Yes ma’am. Only if you’re willing.”
“I love the little brat, but… I’ve decided to move out here. I need to give her back. She isn’t fond of the accommodations. She doesn’t get any exercise and… I think she misses you.”
I’d be lying if I said I was disappointed. “Aww. She’s been behaving though, right?”
She laughed. “Eric Northman! You know better than that… But she has been better than I thought she’d be.”
“So what’s going to be easiest for you? Do you want to ship her or…?”
“Well, I’m coming home to pack my apartment. I can have Chow take her to the airport and you can pick her up in Shreveport or you can come get her. I just don’t want her to have to go all the way from LA alone.”
“The middle of the week will be great. We get back from vacation on Monday night and we leave again Friday.”
“She’s talked you into taking a vacation!?”
“Yes ma’am. We’re spending the weekend in Miami and St Louis is next. We’re getting married in New York. Sookie has tricked me into having a lot of fun.”
“Well, God bless her! You’re a good boy! You deserve to have some fun!”
“Yes ma’am. She’s even taken to Alc.”
She snorted. “How’d that happen?”
“She took the time. I like him now too.”
She laughed again, and interrupted herself… “Oh! Eric, I have to run. Jumbo’s up. We’ll shoot for Wednesday. I’ll call you when I set everything up.”
“Yes ma’am… Thanks Jane.”
“Love ya kiddo. Kiss that miracle worker of yours for me!”
I didn’t even have to do any of the work.
Alc got a huge booger of Barbeque sauce on his pants and ran in to change…
… when he squatted next to the fire again to check the ribs, the ass of his pants ripped out…
The look on his face was too good. His eyes got wide like he had accidentally shit his pants. He stood up, annoyed more than anything and ordered me to keep my eyes on the food…
He came back out, wearing another fresh pair of jeans, and bent at the waist this time… testing…
When he squatted again… rrrrrriiiiipppppp….
I couldn’t help it… If I didn’t say something, he’d know I knew something. “Did you just rip through another pair?”
“Shut up.” He was gone again and I lost it.
It took me most of the time he was gone to get myself together again.
He didn’t squat again… He bent over the fire, risking his eyebrows as opposed to his pride…
He lit a cigarette… “You… uh… you haven’t gained have you?”
“3 pounds… but it could be off a pound or two… different scales and all. Why?”
“Nothing.” 9 pounds, 9 pounds, 9 pounds Ha! mother fucker HA, HA, HA! I adjusted the digital scale! Haha’ hahaha HA!
“Liar! You’ve gained! That’s why you asked. Your lard ass split your pants! How much?”
He grumbled, “14.”
“OH MY GOD!” I started oinking at him.
“That’s not funny!”
“Oh yes it is! You’ve only worked out once since you got here and you’ve been eating like you just got out of jail!”
“I’m going to call Corbett, see if I can use his setup in the mornings.”
“That won’t help if you eat three breakfasts every morning.”
“I was STRESSED OUT!”
I raised my eyebrows at him, he’d actually gained the same 5 pounds I had… and not noticed… Just like Jason said we wouldn’t… “Whatever… b’dee, b’dee, b’dee, that’s all folks!”
He went back to tending to the ribs and when he went to put them on the plate… when he leaned over to get the rack of ribs furthest away from him…. Rrrriiiiipppppp!
I died! I rolled to the ground and took my chair with me. Sookie came to the porch and saw me holding my ribs… saw Alcide’s look: angry/backed up… she started giggling too and went back inside.
And came out to join me… Hadley and Drew in tow.
“What’s so funny?”
I was laughing ‘too hard’ and pointed to Alc, making him explain. “That retard thinks it hilarious that you made me fat!”
Sookie started laughing. “What the hell did I do? I was inside the whole time!”
“Your cooking… I gained enough that I split my pants.”
“Awww, turn around, maybe I can fix it.”
She giggled at him, “Alc, you’re single now. You should watch it. Girls don’t like fatties.”
Had snuck around behind him and pinched his ass through the hole, making him jump and nearly drop the plate of ribs. “You watch it.”
He clenched his jaw and handed her the plate ‘so he could go change’ and once it was in her hands, he reached down and flicked her… on her hoop.
…And ran inside, leaving her with a tangle of expressions on her face… horny was winning the race to take over her face until she gave me a dirty look. I guess it was because he wouldn’t have known it was there if it weren’t for me.
I stuck my tongue out at her. “Why don’t you go tell Fat Albert that he has new jeans on my bed. The whole bag is his.”
She shoved the plate at me and went after him.
I finally righted my chair and took my seat again and Sookie sat on my leg, leaning back against me.
“You seem to be in a very good mood, Mr. Northman.”
I grinned from ear to ear. “Why wouldn’t I be?”