Chapter 26: Hello/Goodbye

Saints & Sinners

Hello/Goodbye

***

Tuesday  continued…

I’m pretty sure that my palm was sweaty before I was done shaking his hand.

Sookie made her apology, explaining that she thought he was ‘anybody but a cop in a suit that nice’. He bought it.

I gave him a nervous nod. “Nice to meet you Assistant Director.”

He rolled his eyes around… “Okay… there’s a thing… with that… you know how us bureaucrats are… paperwork, red tape. Technically… I’m the interim Director until the old gas bag retires. That arse had three months of leave on the books and announced that he was taking it all before he takes his curtain call with only a week’s notice. I don’t know though… Director isn’t wordy enough… Fuck it… You’ll call me Drew anyway.”

Sookie giggled at how quirky he was. “Since you seem to love making an entrance you could always introduce yourself by saying ‘Tonight’s guest star in the role of Director, will be…’.”

He bit the corner of his lip and fidgeted slightly. “You’re not married to him yet… I like candle lit dinners, long walks on the beach and classical music…” He wiggled his eyebrows at her.

She started laughing. “As enticing as that sounds… we’re cookout, surfing and clubbing folk… and this one put a bullet in a guy’s head for me. I’m all in.”

He blew a fucking raspberry at her. This guy was the FBI version of Jason! “Very well… Anyway… Twining… has shite for brains… When I was handed the job two weeks ago, I called him and asked for you two. Having a PTF of my very own was first on my list of essentials. I’ve been watching you since you took down Jessup. Instead of sending you, that wanker sent Pam. Like I want that twat… So… here’s the deal. I joined the FBI to be an agent, not a fucking paper mule… I’m joining your little party.”

He looked like he was startled to notice that there were other people in the room and started introducing himself around and I shot Alc a dirty look for not saying something. But he shrugged and looked just as confused as I was.

**

Once he asked to speak to us alone and insisted that Sookie stay put, he took a seat at the table.

More bravado. “So… Pam… How’s that working out for you?”

Alc and I barely had the chance to swap looks before he smiled like Lucifer himself.

“That’s what I thought… I don’t want her at my office. It wouldn’t work out. She’s already gotten one promotion she didn’t deserve from fucking me… Right about now, she’s probably trashing her hotel room. I just called her to tell her she’s got the same job as before… in New Orleans.”

Sookie cut him off when she yelled for Corbett.

“Daddy, Pam may very well be trashing the house. She just got transferred back to the NOLA office.”

Instead of being worried, he started laughing. “Oh… I doubt that. She’s too lazy to give a proper half and half… She’s too lazy to get herself in that kind of trouble.”

Sookie threw herself forward and laughed into her hands and Goddammit… Alc and I lost it… the morning had just been too bizarre to hold it in. Even ‘Drew’ was laughing and still was when Sookie sent her Dad back out again.

**

“Alright… So!… dededahhh… Yeah… Pam’s a lazy twat: established. I’m along for the ride: check. Very big fish in the fridge: affirmative. Petulant accomplice fucker type mutilated and stripped of his pride: BONUS! Veerrrry well done, by the way. I talked to Jennifer Cater this morning and was informed that after more than a hundred hours of interrogation, you had him confessing to the Zodiac killings in two hours… I think we have a cause for celebration, we do! Nice work.”

Alc eyed him. “You know that Sookie and her student are the only reason we got this asshole, right?”

His eyes went wide and he sat forward. “OH! I DO! I love it! I ‘Google searched’ Mr. Lanier as well. Yes… In fact… I’ve filed papers to add him to the payroll as a paid consultant. I hear he’s going to Columbia. That boy is a find! I’ll be paying him a visit later about his new allowance. He has a remarkable eye for patterns and I’m sure that a file or two once in a while shouldn’t be too much of a distraction from his school work. ”

Sookie bounced in my lap from being so excited. She wanted to get up and go hug him, but she resisted the urge… Damn it. Back to pouting.

**

Conversation didn’t continue for long before it came to a screeching halt… The boys came crashing through the front door and ran through the foyer, down the hall and then back to come into the kitchen. Looking for Sookie.

Hadley and Hunter came in carrying grocery bags and set them on the counter. Jack stared at me, expectantly… wanting me to let him ‘have’ Sookie. So I stood up and set her in the chair… he was climbing into her lap before I was completely upright. Had gave me a wink and kissed my cheek.

Before I had the chance to introduce anyone, Drew’s eyes nearly bugged out at the sight of Hadley kissing me. “You greedy asshole! You have two of them.”

We all started laughing, but I pulled it together first for a change. “That one is mine. This is Hadley, Sookie’s cousin and her son Hunter… This is our new boss, Drew Marshall.”

Alc turned to face Had as she tried to shake Drew’s hand, but had her hand kissed instead. “What’s up?”

She put her hands on his shoulders and gave them a squeeze. “Wonderful parents that we are… We were too distracted with everything to remember that school is out today. Voting day. I covered my embarrassment by casting my ballot and then went to the showroom to announce that I’m playing hooky. I was going to take them back to my place since I don’t know what you have to do today, but they insisted on coming home. Jack wants to be around Sookie. Helping around here is a great excuse to hang out for the day. Unless y’all need some quiet?”

He smiled up at her. “Thanks. That seems to be the plan… Just hanging out. Even Corbett is slumming it with us today.”

She smiled back and poured a cup of coffee. “Sook, I’m stealing some bum-wear from you…  The boys groaned at me when I suggested that I go change first.”

Sookie told her to help herself, but Alc turned around looking confused. “You realize you’re the grown up, right?”

She bit her lip and popped his cheek like she was trying to wake him up. “Only when I have to be. Besides, it’s kinda hard to throw the ‘grown up’ card when I’d just told all of my employees to ‘bite me’ and ‘nannie-nannie-boo-boo’ on the way out the door, rocking a shoulder digit.”

“Shoulder digit?”

She smiled and turned around to walk out… holding her hand at shoulder level… middle finger up. Alc watched, but I’m not sure his eyes were on her hand…

Once Alc’s focus was back on the asses in the room with him, Drew went back to making jokes. “Soooo… where’s my room?”

I shook my head, unable to imagine what things would be like once Jason was back in town. Fuck. 2 of them? “Sorry. The inn is full.”

“Oh… You liar. Pam, useless as it is, has a big mouth… She says your family is leaving today.”

His slam on Pam was worth another snort… “But the Herveaux clan is still here. If you want to stay, you can sleep under the piano.”

“This is all because I was flirting with her, isn’t it?”

“No… It’s because you don’t meet the dress code standards.”

He started laughing. “You ARE right about that. I don’t ever wear those undershirt things… Except as an UNDERshirt.”

Alc started laughing at him… and flexed, popping every muscle in his arms and back. “If you got it, you show it… When you don’t, you hide it under a suit… Marsha.”

Jack and Sookie started giggling.

“That kid being in the room makes it IM-possible for a come back!”

Alc snorted at him. “No one said life’s fair.”

**

Alc and Drew talked PG rated shit back and forth at each other for long enough that Had came back into the room to start unloading the groceries that she brought in… in Sookie’s wife beater and jeans.

That was when Drew gave up and started saying his goodbyes, telling us that if he found out we did any work for the next two weeks he’d write us both up… And telling Hadley and Sookie, if they came to their senses, they’d know where to find him.

He was finishing his flirt when Corbett nearly knocked him over blowing through the room in long hurried strides. He bent over to kiss Sookie’s cheek. “Got a call. Pep Boys on the highway is going up. Jim and Hunter want to go with. We’ll be back in a little bit.” He even thought to ruffle Jack’s hair and tell him that the next time he could go as long as Alc said it was ok and it wasn’t a ‘HazMat’. So Sookie ended up explaining ‘hazardous materials’ to Jack.

All three of them charged through the door fast enough to leave it open. He’d come and gone fast enough that it if I blinked, I’d have missed it.

As soon as Drew was out the door too (pouting about picking the wrong profession since the fireman got to kiss the pretty girl), Had sat in the chair next to Alc, propped her feet up on his leg and lit a cigarette. “So since Pep Boys is having bad luck today, I’ll help you make lunch and then Daddy will be your dinner tutor.”

“Thanks, but y’all should worry about what they’re eating once we’re out of here this weekend.”

Jack’s eyes had shut while Sookie ran her fingers through his hair, but when he heard Alc mention moving, he sat up and he looked stiff as a board. Sookie put her arm around him and pulled him back against her, shushing him. Corbett was right. That poor kid needed more time. The problem was going to be getting Jack off of Sookie’s lap long enough to see what she thought about them staying an extra week.

Hadley did her best to keep the conversation going. “I wouldn’t worry about that too much. Sookie and I worked out a schedule for you. For a while, you’ll get two lessons a week and a crock pot or casserole from each of us. You won’t have to worry about Monday nights, for obvious reasons, and that gives you two nights a week to either cheat and order out, or stretch your legs on your own. By summer, you’ll be pitching in for cook outs.”

“Oh, I’ve got no problem finding my way around a grill. It’s the kitchen I get lost in.”

“Then it’ll just be like getting used to a new cell phone. Subtle differences.”

“If you say so.”

Jack sat back up, unable to bottle things up anymore. “What if she comes back? I don’t want to live in that house. She knows where it is.”

Alc just stared at him and Sookie was trying to calm him down. Leaving me… Fuck. “Jack, she knows where this house is too.”

He gave me a hairy eyeball. Nice. “She wouldn’t come here though. She hates Sookie. She knows Sookie won’t be at the other house. She would go there.”

“Your Dad would have to give her your address no matter where you live, but if she shows up you can call 9-1-1 and Kenya will come arrest her for trespassing.”

“What if she wants us back? She could take us.”

Alc finally piped up. “Over my dead body. That WON’T happen. She wouldn’t get far before an Amber Alert has every cop, fed and spook on her tail.  You’re with me. That doesn’t change until YOU say so.”

Jack opened his mouth to say something, but started crying instead. Sookie hugged him and whispered something in his ear. I watched him nod and then he started sliding from her lap. Sookie reached out and patted Alc’s hand before she looked up at me and asked me to take her to our room.

**

“Where am I putting you?”

“Bathroom.”

I took her in and set her down, but when I turned to leave, she closed the door. Thank God!

I didn’t even give her the chance to say what was on her mind. “You’re Dad thinks they should stay an extra week with everything going on. I’m starting to see the logic.”

She heaved out a deep breath and smiled up at me. “Thank God! I was worried you’d mind.”

“I might have if it was just so Alc could learn a couple more recipes. This is different… You don’t seem surprised to hear that your Dad mentioned it.”

“He talked to me about it last night in the kitchen. He reminded me that Jason and I acted just like that when we left Dallas and any time Sheila came back from Karen’s.”

“You’re not worried that Jack’s getting too attached to you though, right?”

“He’s not anymore attached than he would be to a sister. We both love music, have dyslexia, and have a soul sucking mother. He’s commiserating with me. He knows I know what he’s going through. How much of a fight do you think Alc will put up?”

“No telling, but there doesn’t seem to be much fight left in him… Why isn’t Carm showing any affect though? His age?”

“It’s part of it. Part of it is that he’s just not wired as heart strong as Jack. This morning he told Jack to cheer up because ‘Daddy’s shot people for less’.”

I couldn’t help it. I laughed. “Ok. Do you really need to go?”

She looked down at the toilet like she’d forgotten we were in the bathroom. “No. I just wanted to talk without little ears around. We’re going to take in some iPod therapy and maybe grab a nap. He could use it.”

“Yours or his?”

“Mine. He wants to shop for new songs to add to his.”

I nodded. “I’ll grab my laptop and add those mp4s to his for him while I talk to Alc. You’d better make sure you don’t fall asleep though. He might sneak a peek at your movie list if you doze off.”

She gasped and her eyes went wide. “He wouldn’t!”

“Sure he would. He’s a smart little shit… Now go get in bed.”

Her eyebrow shot up and she smirked at me. “I can chill out right here.”

“You’re really going to win this bet, aren’t you?”

“Oh hell yeah, I am. The look on your face will be priceless. We can go out to the mall tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow!? You’re fucking killing me! You’re not even going to give me any time to brace myself?”

“If Jack didn’t need some quiet time tonight, I’d suggest we hit the mall in Bossier City on the way back from the base tonight. The piercing joint there has more choices on hardware.”

I growled as I picked her up. “I hate you.”

She laughed. “You won’t hate me forever. You’ll probably like it once you get used to it.”

“I don’t want to talk about it. Change the subject.”

I could tell by the look on her face that she wanted to tell me I was pouting, but she kissed me instead.

Good subject change.

I started walking and stepped into the tub. She broke the kiss by laughing. “I don’t think so!”

“Why not? You brought it up.” I leaned back in for another kiss.

She pulled back. “There’s a line forming behind Jack. I’m going to deal with his trauma first. Once he’s snapped out of it, I will help you get over your grief. Promise.”

“You’d better.”

She kept her eyes locked on mine on the way to the bed where Jack was waiting.

I gave her another kiss once I put her down.

She giggled.

“What are you laughing at now?”

“That things could be uncomfortable for a while so we better enjoy it while we can.”

“SHIT!” I didn’t even think of that. I… we… FUCK! Ugh.

Her and Jack were both laughing at me. I went to the desk and snatched my laptop and stomped out to the kitchen. Knowing I’d have to settle up with the Carm. He could’ve heard me from the street.

**

I put my laptop on the table hard enough I thought I might be going out to Best Buy again.

Alc looked up at me. Worried face. “What happened?”

“I’m a fucking retard.”

I could see him trying not to laugh. “Ok. Why were you carrying Sookie? I didn’t even notice that she hadn’t gotten up all day. She alright?”

I clenched my jaw, dropped my pouting ass in a chair and opened my computer . “That’s all part of my retardation. She was spent last night after running errands. Corbett said that he hadn’t found a way to get her to take it easy so I bet her that she couldn’t stay off her feet today.”

Had started to snicker. “Eric… What did you bet?”

I growled, “A piercing.”

She threw her back and started laughing and Alc joined her. “Oh! You are SOOOO getting stuck!”

“I hate you too.”

They were having too much fun… for too long. They were laughing so hard both of them had teared up.

“Shut up.”

When Had finally settled down, she tried to make me feel better. “It’s not that bad. Daddy says his didn’t hurt.”

“Alpha!?”

She nodded. “Jason too, but he’s a crazy mother fucker. I didn’t think that’d make you feel better. JB and Laf too.”

“I knew Laf has his nipples…”

“He’s got his junk done too. They all do.”

“The whole family?”

She took another sip of her coffee and nodded her head. “Yeah. Last year a nasty storm pretty much shut everything down when we went to the Super Bowl. We were all hanging out in the hotel bar, bitching about being bored. Some guy came in after a walk and he said that there wasn’t anything but a tattoo shop open. We all ended up swapping dares. I even let Hunter get his nipple done.”

Alc and I were both staring. I’m sure he was trying to figure out what she had pierced, but since I knew, I was stuck on the idea that I was marrying into a family who enjoys genital mutilation.

She giggled at both of us. “Sookie took out her Nefertiti because it caused problems.”

I narrowed my eyes at her. “Like an infection?”

“No… like it was hard to walk straight without… praying.”

Oh my god… Now I’m even more pissed about losing the bet… I’d pay to see that. Shake it off, shake it off… “So all the guys have a Prince Albert?”

She started giggling and pulled out her phone. She cut her eyes at me a few times, but she wasn’t answering me. Then I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. “Brace yourself.”

Oh fuck. I had to talk myself into taking it out at all.

When I opened the link to the Wikipedia page Had sent… ‘Dydoe’. Holy shit! “They all have that?!” There was a barbell going through the rim of a… Fuck ME!

“No. That’s what Jas and Laf have… The next one is what JB and Daddy have.”

I showed the ‘dydoe’ to Alc and his head jerked back. “Holy Shit SON! You’re screwed.”

When the next link came through… ‘frenum ladder’… No fucking way! “If I shoot myself, do you think she’d let me out of it?”

Had bit her lip and shook her head. Alc pulled my phone out of my hand… “Oh my god! The sweet spot!?!?!”

“What if I get HIM to shoot me?”

“Quit being a baby. Daddy has 2 of those. He lived. You will too.”

I was more worried about healing time now… How long would it be before… SHIT!… No Id… wait… come back….

I was moping quietly. Plugging in Jack’s iPod and loading the disc into the drive. Silently. The two clowns at the table with me were watching me.

Fuck them.

**

When Carm came into the room, with a smile on his face and hand out, I didn’t even wait. I pulled out my wallet and slapped a pair of twenties into his greedy little fist.

He looked confused. “I only heard the brown word.”

“Keep track. I’m in a mood.”

The corner of his mouth pulled back slightly, but he caught it and ran off. Smart little man.

Alc wasn’t smart enough to not laugh though. I almost bitched at him until I realized that my inevitably impaled prick was keeping his mind off of his woes. I gave him this one.

Especially since the recording of Dirges was over and Smom and Marnie were joining us. I can’t believe they sat through it all over again.

Smom came right over to me and kissed my cheek, rubbing her hands across my shoulder. “What’s got my sweet boy so prickly?”

Had and Alc started laughing all over again. PRICK-ly. Fuck them. “You clowns need to knock it off. I have a great memory.”

Smom looked down at me, still rubbing my shoulders… waiting.

Shit. Deep breath… “Sookie wore herself out yesterday so I bet her a piercing that she wouldn’t stay off her feet until we left to take you to the plane.”

She snickered. “You poor thing! What’s she going to make ya get?”

I really didn’t want to come out and say it. I just looked at her… and watched her face go from amused to horrified.

“She wouldn’t!”

Had laughed out a ‘she would too!’

Marnie grabbed a couple of teas out of the fridge and put one down next to me and took a seat. “You remember when you bet Dad your hair?”

Shit. Not until she mentioned it. “Yeah.”

Alc dug… “You bet your HAIR? I gotta hear this!”

Marnie took the wheel. Thank God. I hated this story. I hated telling it even more. “Eric and Dad went toe to toe when they moved the last time. Dahlgren to San Diego. Eric’s shit had been lost in like 3 moves…”

“Four.”

“Sorry… Every time we moved, he had to go shopping and replace like every stitch of clothing and his CDs and… well everything… So Eric told Dad that his shit wasn’t going on the truck. He’d drive across the country with his stuff. He was sick enough of losing his shit that he was willing to drive 27 hundred miles by himself. Since the Belle Air is so old, Dad even offered to let him drive Mom’s Cherokee… Eric always kept his hair long and Dad always HATED it. So as a joke, Dad bet him his hair that the truck would arrive with our stuff, safe and sound, before he could get to San Diego. He had 8 days.”

“He didn’t make it in time.”

She shook her head and I watched for it… but, she wasn’t getting any enjoyment out of my misery. “He would have. He got all the way to Memphis on the first day. Like a third of the way… But when he stopped at a motel for the night, the Cherokee was stolen from the parking lot.”

I clenched my jaw… That was a deflating experience. Checking into a motel, confident in the odds of proving my father wrong after driving that far and walking out in the morning to find that not only was my mom’s first ever new car gone, but so was everything I fucking owned with it. “They busted the window and hotwired it.”

“He stayed in Memphis for a couple of days hoping to at least get the car back, but they never found anything. Then by the time he went to the airport, the first flight that would get him to San Diego got him there a day late. When he got there, Dad offered to let him out of the bet since he would’ve won, but Eric pulled it back and buzzed it off anyway.”

“I fucking hate moving.”

Alc narrowed his eyes at me. “You didn’t mind this time.”Implying Sookie was an incentive.

“All three of us were armed and we drove straight through. I brought 3 suitcases with me from the west coast and didn’t buy a damn thing until I got to New Orleans a year later.” And Sookie was… one hell of an incentive, but I didn’t need to say that.

**

Once they were done making fun of me, Had hauled Alc out of his seat so that they could start making lunch.

I started laughing at the look on his face when she pulled out a couple of electric woks and told him ‘the lumpia are the hard part’. Lunch was going to take two hours for them to make.

I’d been clued in when I noticed that she had put bok choy and egg roll wrappers in the fridge because I wasn’t checking out her ass like he was. Ha ha.

He looked like he was actually scared at the look she gave him for suggesting that he could feed everyone Chinese food in under an hour by ordering takeout. Then again, she was wielding a 7 inch santoku. She was serious enough to fish his phone out of his pocket and toss it to me for ‘safe keeping’.

He even got a whack for asking if he could go wake up Sookie because Hadley was scaring him. I’m pretty sure that he hadn’t been joking.

**

Right around noon, there was another knock on the door.

Opening the door I saw a large box truck before my line of sight drifted down to look at 5 very short men.

“Meez S’boy.”

I did my best, but even after I had them repeat it, I still couldn’t figure out what ‘meez s’boy’ was or why they thought they’d find it at our house.

I asked them to wait on the porch and worried that they might not have understood me.

From the kitchen door I asked, “Uh… Meez S’boy?”

Had whipped her head around with a smile. “My crew?”

I shrugged.

She giggled at me. “5 guys, Filipino, make Sookie look tall?”

I nodded.

She rinsed her hands and told Alc to keep working. “Meez S’boy… Ms. Savoy. They’re my ‘Sea Bees’. They’re here to preset materials and get some things out of the way like siding and insulation.”

**

As soon as she was through the door, I went over and watched my poor miserable bastard of a partner fumble his way through putting together a spring roll.

I washed my hands and pitched in.

While the terrified bastard struggled with one, I did three.

“How do you know how to do this?”

I looked over my shoulder and waved Smom over to help. “Smom did these a lot. She has a recipe for Saint Paddy’s day… Corned beef and cabbage with a whiskey horseradish sauce… I used to help her put them together because Dad always took a couple hundred in to the chief’s mess.”

Smom giggled. “We always had to make an extra hundred or so to keep at the house for Eric. They freeze really well.”

“The boys will probably like them more than these…”

Smom cut me off with an elbow to the side. It didn’t hurt, she just didn’t want me to say anything mean about Had’s recipe. Sweet. “They’re better than hot pockets… You can make anything into a spring roll as long as you have a good dip for them… I used to keep the freezer full of them for Eric. I never had to worry that he hadn’t eaten.”

With me and Smom helping, we had the last of them done in 20 minutes. It gave us just enough time to wash our hands and sit back at the table, well, Alc and I kicked back with a beer. Smom and Marnie went upstairs to start gathering their things.

**

A minute alone.

“You alright?”

He clenched his jaw and took a long draw from his cigarette. “The more I think about it, the closer I get to ‘premeditated’.”

No sense beating around the bush then… “You should stay here an extra week.”

He looked surprised. “You’re shittin’ me? I was thinking that I should get them the fuck outta here ASAP. Just go buy what we need to get through.”

“Okay. Why?”

“Haven’t you noticed how needy Jack’s gotten with Sookie?”

I nodded. “That your only reason?”

“I don’t know. I guess. He might as well call her ‘mom’ at this point.”

I shook my head. “It’s not unhealthy. Sookie had told him about her mother. He’s comfortable with her because he knows she’s been there/done that/got the t-shirt.”

“He hasn’t adopted her?”

“No more than you have. Think about it. Until the ‘boogie man’ called last night, you didn’t have any reason to think twice about being here.”

“He’s not the only one to worry that she’s going to come back though.”

“Yeah, but you have a gun for every room of your house and keep a sniper rifle in your truck. He’s smart enough to know that he really doesn’t have any say in the situation. If you did take her back, he’d have no say.”

He gave me a nod. “This was Sookie’s idea?”

“No. Corbett thought of it first.”

“Corbett?”

“He’s seen all this before.”

That got his attention. His jaw clenched and he nodded again. “You guys were going outta town though.”

I laughed. “OH! We still are… They’ll still be here… Where Jack feels safe and the time we’ll be gone will do the three of you some good. They’ll see that you can take care of them without help. You can go over with the boys and unpack some of their stuff and then come back to their comfort zone. Once Sookie is home and goes back to work, things will normalize for Jack… he liked last week’s schedule. Sookie still plans on taking them to practice and having you guys over for dinner until you’re more comfortable cooking. We should’ve seen it coming when they were so relieved that she wasn’t moving with you. Sookie didn’t even expect it though.”

“Alright. I guess we’re staying here a little longer.”

“Ask him.”

“What?”

“You know staying longer is what he wants, but it’ll make him feel less powerless if you talk to him about it.”

“I was just going to say that we needed extra time to get everything we need.”

I snorted at him. “You want to talk to Sookie about dealing with monstrous maternal figures. I’m the one you talk to about having a father who sets himself up to look like he doesn’t care. I’ve got almost no relationship with my dad because he never gave me any reason to like him. Talk to him. Let him… them see that you give a fuck.”

**

We both heard Hadley on the porch griping in what I think was Tagalog.

Alcide’s hand shot out and he demanded his cell phone.

I gave it to him, warning him with a look that if he ordered Chinese takeout, I’d end him for getting me involved.

He slid it back to me a split second before Had swung the front door open.

I risked a look at the screen. He texted Sookie. ‘wake up. save me. had’s a kitchen nazi.”

I had to bite the inside of my mouth to keep from laughing and busting him.

Had was smiling when she came in, but when she saw Alc smoking and the pile of finished lumpia, she snarled at him. “Who helped you?”

“Smom. She said it was painful to watch, but I didn’t dump it on her. I kept working until it was done.”

Her smile came back. “God bless her. She really is a sweetheart.”

My phone started vibrating from the table and I rolled my eyes. Sookie. “I’m up. Can I hitch a ride 2 the kitchen?”

I replied with, “Your legs aren’t broken.”

Alc looked pissed that I didn’t get up and go straight back to get her, until both of our phones went off at the same time. He stabbed his hand through the air in a ‘gimme’ gesture.

My text said, “UR pouting.”

His said, “Eric es ser un pendejo. ¿Va a llevar conmigo a la cocina?”

“What the fuck does that mean?”

“She asked me for a lift because you’re being an asshole.” He laughed his way down the hall…

…And all the way back.

Asshole…

Asshole carrying a smug bitch. I smiled at her when he set her down. “You’re a brat.”

“I’m not the only one.” She stuck her tongue out a little and giggled.

**

Corbett was the first one through the door, reeking like burned oil and apologizing that he’d gotten my father ‘high’. The smoke from all of the different accelerants catching on fire made Corbett worry enough to set them up with oxygen tanks while they watched from the cab of the ‘tele squirt’ whatever that is. Dad looked dazed to say the least.

Once they were back, Alc and I noticed an almost instant change in Hadley’s mood. She still wasn’t as patient of a teacher as Sookie, but it was easy to see that her mood had been the result of worrying.

It was just after 1:00 when Alc had tossed the pancit together to Had’s satisfaction. While she’d supervised him, she ‘threw together’ pot stickers and shrimp and chicken chow mien.

I wonder what she considers a picnic lunch?

Corbett joined us fresh from the shower with Jack attached to his back and a book under his arm.

It looked like a photo album.

A fat, heavy photo album.

“Daddy? What do you have up your sleeve?”

“A tattoo.” The whole damn family… deadpan… funny bitches.

She giggled. Then she waited.

“I’m taking Jim shopping.”

“What for?”

“I told him about the fundraiser and told him there’d be a million and one costume ideas all in your pictures.”

I guess that’s one way to handle it. Showing him pictures of the Corbett and every other man in town in full costume drag instead of just telling him to dress like a woman would probably make him laugh before he threw out a ‘ain’t no fucking way’.

I scooted my chair closer to Dad and Alc did too. Our curiosity had been peaked. We’d wanted to see these pictures since we heard about ‘What A Drag’.

When Dad opened the cover, the first picture got our attention right away.

Sookie. Fire fighter turnout pants and helmet. Red suspenders. Black sports bra. She was shiny…

I raised an eyebrow at her. “Baby oil?”

She smiled at me, biting the corner of her lip. “That was the first one. I was 14.”

Ok. Now I felt like a dirty old bastard. But Damn! Officer, I swear, I didn’t know…

The next couple of pages were of her and several friends dressed as the South Park characters. She was dressed as a sexy Mr. Garrison, complete with Mr. Hat. Tara was dressed as Chef.  Jason was the scary bus driver. Dad still wasn’t catching on.

The next spread wasn’t much more revealing. It was another grouping of her and friends dressed in theme… Goodfellas… they were all wearing dark suits and Tara had her face drawn up doing a bad DiNiro impersonation. Alc and I laughed our asses off at Jason who was dressed like Karen Hill. Big New Jersey hair, bad 80’s dress.

The next set of pictures really got my attention. Sure there were pictures of Frannie, Sookie and Jason ‘just’ in costume, but once my eyes scanned across the page and saw ‘the one’ I was lost. They’d dressed as the Boondock Saints that year, proving again that we really were peas in a pod. P-coats, wife beaters, jeans, boots, ray-bans, rosaries… Sookie and Fran were dressed as Connor and Murphy… Jason was dressed as Smecker in drag and it was frightening…

‘The One’… Sookie and Fran on the dance floor at Dirges… Kissing. Not friendly… but, checking for tonsils kissing. Oh my aching cock!… Alc’s hand came from out of nowhere and slapped the back of my head. It snapped me out of it enough to realize that my Dad was leaning in closer… Making sure he wasn’t imagining it.

I looked up at Sookie and she shrugged with a wicked smile.

He finally pried his eyes away to look at Sookie. “That’s you?”

She nodded. “And Frannie. It was a phase.”

He stared. He was completely locked up. And the bad part (for her) was that she couldn’t get away because of our bet.

“Keep going… One year Lafayette and Jason went as Cuddy and Cameron from House. Now THAT was a kiss!”

Corbett interrupted mine and Alc’s hysterical laughter. “It was more show stopping than when they went as Ellen DeGeneres and Woopie Goldberg.”

Yup… More laughing. We couldn’t help it. We couldn’t get to those pictures fast enough.

I reached across and flipped the page, hoping to distract my father from staring at Sookie.

… The sexiest fucking Robin Hood EVER!

I might have been drooling. “Can I get that in wallet size?”

She giggled and leaned forward to kiss me. “You’re sweet.”

There wasn’t a ‘sweet’ thing on my mind at the moment… except maybe Sookie’s…. No. Not going there.

**

My father finally caught on. Seeing Jason in drag 5 years in a row gave him NO clues… Funny all by itself… Seeing Corbett as Madonna (in her BDSM phase), a slutty Dorothy with ‘dates’ dressed as the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Lion… and then with Bravo and Terry as Rachel, Monica and Phoebe from Friends is what finally made him realize that there was a theme. The Paris Hilton pictures were just icing on the cake.

“So everyone in town dresses in drag?”

We all nodded.

“This is the day after Thanksgiving?”

Another round of nodding.

“How can you be sure that your costume will fit?”

Corbett snorted. “We work most of it off playing ball. The rest gets worked off climbing houses and trees the next day putting up our Christmas decorations.”

Dad snorted. “I’m in. I’ll dress in anything to get out of Black Friday. Last year Deb dragged me out at 4 am.”

I swapped looks with Smom for a minute. We were really stunned that he was willing to go along. I think Marnie was just as locked up as Dad had been when he saw Sookie’s ‘I Kissed A Girl’ pic.

We weren’t even done eating and my father had been handled into wearing a dress.

Beautiful.

**

Unfortunately, lunch was cut short. We stretched it out as long as we could. Smom must have mentioned needing to get ‘in gear’ 3 times before she actually got up to get the last of their things out of the dryer.

Sookie’s eyes welled up watching her take the corner to the porch. My fiancé liked my mom enough to miss her before she was through the door. That was the kind of thing Alc should slap me for. That was one of the things that made me a lucky bastard.

It seemed like it didn’t take long enough to get the car loaded with their luggage and the boxes Corbett had brought for Smom. It was an alien feeling. Usually after a visit, I couldn’t get to the cab fast enough. Usually coming up with the excuse to skip the next visit before I was at the airport. I never used it, but coming up with it was good therapy. I always missed Smom before my bag was checked, but the tension between me and dad usually had the ‘2 days and a wake up’ I spent with them nearly intolerable.

This visit had been more than different.

Smom, as expected, proved that she was the coolest mom on the fucking planet; bonafide.

I was actually starting to be friends with Marnie and you could knock me over with a feather every time I thought about how much I liked her now. Even when she ‘slipped’ yesterday morning, it was manageable. At worst, the mood she was in reminded me of the years of cranky I put up with from Alc as opposed to the years of psycho she’d put us through.

Oh… and then there’s ‘dear ole dad’… Rather than the usual tight, uncomfortable silence… Even though he had his moments… He seemed to come out of his shell a bit. I’m not sure who to thank more since Sookie and Corbett both handled him, but I was actually going to miss him when he leaves.

Sookie had to finesse herself away from Jack so that we could leave for the base. He’d quietly waited for Sookie to finish eating and then put her plate in the sink for her and climbed into her lap. I watched her wrap her arms around him and whisper into his ear again. When she pulled away he stared at her for a minute and then slid off her lap and ran out of the room, returning with a sweatshirt for her.

She started sliding her arms into the sleeves and explained, “Alright so while we’re gone our Daddy’s are gonna put dinner in the oven so that we can get right to watching the movie when we get back from the base. Sofa party, dinner, and then we can play until bedtime if you want to. We’re a 6 man band tonight. You and Carm should get started on our movie snacks while the big guys cook. You can handle that, right.”

He beamed at her and stretched up to kiss her cheek before he ran off to get Carm.

**

The ride to the base was quiet. Miserably quiet.

I chickened out of suggesting they stay longer a couple of times. The trip to Miami, Rachael and Lexi, The Boogie Man Drama… with everything going on… It didn’t seem reasonable, just selfish.

Bravo wasn’t out front waiting again, but our ‘porters’ were, making us all laugh.

Sookie climbed out of the back seat and held hands with Smom and Marnie on our way through the terminal to the check in desk.

When military flies, they fly ‘Space A’.  There’s always a risk of being bumped from a military flight because of being ‘deprioritized’. They could have flown commercial, but why pay $1500 when $200 seats were available…

Smom, Dad and Marnie were on vacation. He didn’t have a ‘leave chit’ that was about to expire and there were no orders demanding that he got to anywhere in a certain timeframe. So as far as MAC flights go, they were the lowest on the totem pole and would be the first ones to get excluded if there were suddenly a run on the chance to get to San Diego through Denver.

Part of me hoped there would be.

An airman sitting at a computer overheard Dad checking in and all but shoved the clerk out of the way, and immediately called Dad ‘Master Chief’ while he started rattling on about their check in being taken care of.

Dad looked over at me. “Bravo?”

“Who else?”

He started laughing. “Make sure you tell Colonel Flood that these kids spit shined my shoes.”

The guy behind the counter breathed out a huge sigh of relief as he took care of all the shit that was involved in registering them for the flight.

**

The five of us stood together waiting. Quiet. Just as we had in the car. None of us knew what to say until Sookie led us into talking.

“It’s only 2 weeks.”

Smom smiled at her. “You’re right about that. Only two weeks.”

“And when you come back, you’re gonna show me some recipes, right?”

“Oh, you know I will. And I’m going to start collecting decorations for that apartment.”

“See. Two weeks isn’t long enough when you think about all the stuff we have to do. You still have costumes to put together.”

“And you have a wedding to plan.”

They stopped talking long enough to smile at each other. “By the time you leave from Thanksgiving, you’ll only have three weeks to get ready for New York.”

“This is so exciting. I can’t remember a time when we had so much to plan for.”

Dad was watching them with a smile on his face and Marnie was promising to set up facebook and Twitter accounts so they could keep up with each other when they were interrupted by the announcement for boarding.

Smom’s eyes overflowed at record speed.

Sookie’s eyes welled up and she put her arms around Smom’s shoulders. “I’m gonna miss y’all too. The house is gonna feel empty without y’all.”

When Sookie finally let her go to hug Marnie next, I went in to get my hug from Smom.

“I don’t know what I’m gonna do now that I’m not worrying about you, ya know?” She was blubbering.

Marnie wasn’t in much better shape. She started crying harder when I returned her ‘miss you’ and told her not to wait until they come back to talk to me.

By the time I got over to Dad, expecting to get the ‘guy hug’ he was choked up. Whatever Sookie said to him had gotten to him enough that he gave me a real hug… and didn’t jump at the chance to end it.

**

I didn’t even wait until we were out from under the overhang at the entrance to the terminal.

As soon as the car was in gear, she slid over and hugged my arm. “What did you say to him?”

“If I wanted you to know, I wouldn’t have whispered.”

“Oh! Come on… It’s bad enough that I lost the bet… Throw me a bone here.”

She smiled up at me. “You’re a very bad looser… All I did was thank him.”

“Thank him for what?”

“You.”

Choke. I couldn’t think of anything to say. All I did for a minute was try and get rid of another lump in my throat.

“See. That’s why I wanted to keep it quiet. Mind your own business next time.” Noted.

“You really got to him.”

She giggled into my arm. “All he really needs is a perspective shift. He spent a lot of years with the UCMJ as his bible and surrounded by people who had the same straight laced proprietary standards. We won’t be able to teach the old dog new tricks or anything, but we won’t have any trouble loosening him up.”

“I almost didn’t want them to leave.”

“If it weren’t for Miami, St. Louis and the monster under Jack’s bed, I probably would have insisted they stay longer.”

I chuckled and kissed the top of her head. “Same here.”

Really. Uncanny sometimes. Amazing.

**

As we pulled off the highway, I found myself behind some pain in the ass in a minivan who didn’t know the difference between their gas pedal and their brake.

I passed him/her the first chance I got. I wasn’t in a rush to get home per-say; I just wasn’t in the mood for the shit.

Sookie shot up in her seat as we passed the van. “Shit! Eric. That was Amelia.”

“Are you sure?”

She nodded as she pulled her phone out. “And you know damn good and well she recognized this car.”

She spent the next couple of minutes on the phone with Alcide. Her first question was if he wanted to ‘fold or check’. When he decided to check (stay at the house and deal with her as opposed to finding a reason to leave the house), she spent the rest of the drive trying to calm Jack down… Fuck.

The driveway seemed to be longer than usual. Sookie looked like I must’ve on the way to the florist. Her knee was bouncing as she wrung her hands and her whole body tensed when the van turned onto the driveway behind us.

Alc was standing on the porch with his arms folded across his chest. On watch.

Sookie had barely shut the door behind her, before Jack came running out… faster than his little legs should have been able to carry him and straight for Sookie…

She sucked air past her teeth when his body hit hers, but her arms went right around him. She rocked from one hip to the other, shushing him… whispering to him…

When I got to the porch, I didn’t have the chance to ask…

“While Jack was on the phone with Sookie, I called Kevin. He’s already parked around back if shit gets ugly. Laf is calling me back in a few to tell me when we go to court for a restraining order.”

“You think it’ll come to that?”

“Trespassing charges or putting up legal razor wire?”

“Yes.”

“You’ve met her.”

I gave him a nod as Amelia started getting out of her car. “Where do you want me?”

“Witness.”

I gave him another nod and took his gun out of his belt… and slid it next to mine.

Amelia tried to head Sookie off before she got to the porch with Jack.

She touched his shoulder and if I didn’t know better, he looked like he was trying to climb inside of Sookie.

“Jacky, I missed you.”

He only answered her by sobbing louder and she shot a dirty look at Alc.

“Don’t look at me like that! They told you that they didn’t want you around last night. Don’t you dare act surprised that he’s upset!”

“You mother fucker! You’ve turned them against me! You bastard!”

“I haven’t done anything.”

I leaned against the door jamb, resisting the urge to say something. My tongue was going to get bitten off. I could tell already. When Carm came out, he went straight over to Alc and put his hand up to be held.

“Then why are they acting like they’re scared of me?”

“They don’t want you here anymore than I do.”

“I left you!”

“Funny how that worked out. You had everything all set and still didn’t say anything until I told you I wanted a divorce.”

“We shouldn’t talk about this in front of them?”

“Why not? I don’t have anything to hide. I’m not ashamed of anything. I love my boys. I’m going to raise them and none of us want you to be anywhere nearby.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes.”

“I want to hear them say it. I want to hear them say that they don’t love me.”

Sookie snorted as she walked up the steps.

“What do you think is so funny? Busybody cunt.”

“That you would want them to say something like that… Then you can make them feel guilty by behaving in a self destructive way.”

“You bitch! I’m a good mother.”

“Keep telling yourself that.”

“What makes you think you know me?”

Sookie stared up at Alc for a minute and then kissed Jack’s head and handed him to his father.

Sookie trotted down the steps and stood directly in Amelia’s face. “My brother and I can smell you from a mile away. We were raised by you. The best thing you ever did for those boys is sign them over to their father. You can love them until you’re blue in the face, but they don’t know it because you’ve been too busy punishing them when you’re angry with your husband.”

“He told you that?”

“Not Alcide, pumpkin. Your son.”

“What could he have told you?”

“Enough… Look, your sons were relieved when they found out that you wouldn’t be living with them now. Last night they stood up to you and told you that they don’t like you. And here you are, proving that rather than thinking about their emotional well being, you are itching for a fight with Alc to feed your selfish need to be the center of attention. You won’t get it here, even now while I’m trying to talk you into getting in your car and leaving, my concern lies with them. Your son has been on my lap every chance he’s had since your call last night. He had a nightmare that you’d come back…”

“I don’t know why! I’m a good mother!”

I didn’t know it was possible, but Sookie got closer to her. “A ‘good mother’ would understand that this behavior is terrifying her children. A ‘good mother’ would have waited until her children mentioned missing her to plan a visit. A ‘good mother’ would have spared a look towards her children while a childless stranger lectured her on motherhood.”

“YOU FUCKING CUNT!”

I watched Sookie ball up her fists, but she managed to choke back the urge to beat the shit out of Amelia. I don’t know how. Sookie turned around and walked back to the porch, picking up Carm when he reached for her, then Jack and sat on the swing with them.

We were all staring at Amelia, wondering when she’d get the hint and leave… Or drop dead. That would’ve worked too.

“You’ve stolen my fucking kids from me! You fucking whore! You should just have your own and leave mine the fuck alone!”

Alc started shaking his head, probably fighting off the urge to take his gun back from me. “Sookie hasn’t stolen anything from you. All she’s done is be their friend. They needed one.”

“Is that right? What’s she been doing for you, Asshole?”

“Reminding me that not all women are on the rag 24/7.”

“Oh, like you’re a fucking prince!?”

“I never said I am, but our downward spiral started years ago. The only thing we’ve agreed on in years was in the envelope you gave me.”

“What’s that?”

“That we need to be apart and the kids need to be with me.”

“I never said that the kids needed to be with you!”

“You included custody papers…” He was interrupted by his phone ringing from his pocket. He held a finger up as he answered it. She was so pissed that I had to try to not laugh while Alc was speaking cryptically ending with ‘see you at breakfast’.

She started flying off the handle again before his phone was back in his pocket. “You have balls! You’re going to stand there and let that bitch call me a bad mother, but you’re answering the phone while we’re in the middle this shit.”

He snorted at her. “I ‘let’ Sookie call you a bad mother like I’d ‘let’ Carm say grass is green. And the phone call was important. It was my lawyer. He was letting me know that we have a date with a judge in the morning to get a restraining order.”

“RESTRAINING ORDER?! You fucking bastard!”

Alc nodded and the kids both stared at the back of his head, surprised that he’d really do ‘it’.

“What grounds could you have for getting a restraining order?”

“For starters, you signed over custody to me and now you’re standing in the yard screaming like a loon and cussing up a storm in front of the kids who are obviously traumatized by your visit. I’m just a cop, but the psychologists on the porch might be able to clear it up for you that what you’re doing is considered emotional abuse.”

“I am not!”

Carm yelled out to her, “Seventy five dollars!”

“What?”

“You cussed 15 times. You cussed 15 times and you owe us $75 for the cuss bank.”

“You started a cuss bank?”

Carm nodded. “Sookie said Daddy and her cuss too much, but when we move we’re only gonna get money for the ‘f-bomb’ because we’ll get an allowance for chores.”

“Why don’t you have chores here?”

“Because Sookie takes care of us. She says we’re on vacation.”

“SEE!”… Carm nearly jumped out of his skin. “…We’re back on that bitch hijacking MY family!”

That was the last straw for Jack apparently. I heard his feet hit the porch before I looked up to see him stomping over to charge his mother. “WE ARE NOT YOUR FAMILY! I HATE YOU!”

“Why?” No shit. She asked ‘why?’ what’s more, her face had nothing on it. She didn’t seem the slightest bit hurt. Fuck. I think my feelings would be hurt if Jack said he hates me.

“BECAUSE YOU’RE MEAN. BECAUSE YOU’RE ANGRY. BECAUSE YOU YELL AT US FOR NO REASON. BECAUSE YOU SEND US TO OUR ROOM FOR NO REASON.”

“I have my reasons.”

“LIKE WHEN YOU SLAP ME, JUST FOR LOOKING LIKE DADDY?!” He kicked her and before I had the chance to react Alc was off the porch pulling Jack away from Amelia, kicking and screaming. Full rage. Alc was having a hard time getting a grip on the boy.

“Amelia, you need to leave.”

“What if I don’t?’

“Then I’ll have you arrested for trespassing.”

She shrugged. “Nothing would come of it.”

“You’re probably right, but you wouldn’t be arraigned in time to be in family court.”

“You would seriously put the blue wall up between me and my kids?”

Alc finally managed to get his arms around Jack’s waste and pick him up. “No blue wall. No ‘you and your kids’. Me and my boys will do what we need to do to keep your poison out of their lives. Leave.”

“I’m not going anywhere! You fucking…”

“Kevin!”

Amelia stopped mid-‘son-of-a-bitch’ to see Kevin Pryor, Deputy Sheriff step out of the house and join them in the yard. “You sure, Alc?”

“Yeah. She’s not catching on.”

“What’s the charge? Disorderly conduct, trespassing?”

“Both if she doesn’t leave right now.”

Amelia stood there staring at her soon to be former husband like she was daring her and then the stupid bitch actually hauled off and slapped Alc while he was holding Jack.

Kevin started snickering as he reached out and clicked a cuff around her wrist. “Ma’am, you shouldn’t have hit your husband. You’re under arrest for disorderly conduct, criminal trespass with the intent to assault and assault. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you. Do you understand these rights as they have been given to you?”

“Fuck you… And fuck him.”

I heard her cuffs get closed a little tighter. “Do you understand these rights as they have been given to you?”

She snarled at him. “Yes.”

“Cool. Alc, I’ll see ya in court in the morning. Want me to bring her with?”

“Might as well. Even in a county jumpsuit, she should get the chance to tell the judge why she deserves a chance to terrorize the kids.”

Kevin started chuckling as he led Amelia around the back, stopping to grab her purse once she told him that her migraine medication was in it.

We sat outside and watched  Kevin’s squad car pull out from behind the house… down the driveway… gone. Ding, dong… the wicked witch is dead…. For a while at least.

**

Sookie herded us all inside because the boys were going to ‘catch their death’.

“All right, lady and gentlemen… we’re behind schedule. We should’ve started the movie twenty minutes ago. Jackson, did you get the snacks squared away?”

Jack slowly pulled his face out of Alc’s neck. “Yeah. They’re on the table.”

“Well then, let’s get our veg on.”

Jack actually grinned.

“I told you, didn’t I? Movie, dinner, music. We might be running a few minutes late, but we’re not gonna let her ruin our night, are we?”

He shook his head and gave Alc a hug before he slid down to the floor to run off to the kitchen with Carm right behind him. I swear, she could handle nearly anyone.

As soon as they were around the corner, she started singing slow like a lullaby…

“…Father, hear me when I call your name
I need you to answer me now
Father here I am weak at your side
Can you rescue me now
I’m crying out can’t figure it out on my own…..”

Jack called to her from the kitchen, “Don’t stop.” No shit. Don’t stop. Beautiful.

She smiled and gave me a wink. “That’s it though.”

He came to the doorway with a suspicious look on his face. “That was a hint.”

“Yes sir, it was.”

“That’s all of the song?”

She nodded. “Unfortunately. I’ve looked and looked and can’t find a full version.”

He broke out a smile. “Sing another one then.”

“No. Hurry up with my snack so we can watch the movie.” Then she honked his nose, making him laugh and he went back to the kitchen.

Alc looked at her. “How the fuck do you do that?”

Sookie smiled up at him and patted his chest. “I’ve got a lot of practice staying sane while drama bombs get dropped all around me.”

“So we aren’t pretending it didn’t happen?”

“Nope. We were there. It happened and there’s no ‘back button’. She isn’t allowed to treat y’all like that anymore and you’re going to live your lives IN SPITE of her.”

“That’s how you managed?”

She snorted at him. “That and voodoo dolls.”

He started laughing so she slapped his shoulder and went to the living room with both of us tagging along.

**

We were still waiting for the boys to bring the snacks in, when Corbett and Had joined us with fist fulls of beer.

“So… uh… did Sookie lose the bet?”

I growled at my future father in law for reminding me. “No! The bet only covered until we left for the base.”

Sookie reached down and pinched my leg. “Stop pouting.” Alc and Had started snickering again. Fuck them.

Alpha was entertained. Asshole. “Alright, someone tell me what the bet was.”

Deep breath. “A piercing.” He started laughing, making Had, Alc and now Hunter crack up. Fuck all of them.

“It’s not that bad. I’ve got two. Wanna see?”

“NO!”

“Healing time was the worst of it. Couldn’t fuck for 2 months. I was a cranky bitch.”

Fuck him. Fuck him. Fuck him. “I hate all of you.”

More laughing.

Assholes.

They had to calm themselves down to start the movie.

**

‘… Sometimes the world tries to knock it out of you, but I believe in music the way some people believe in fairy tales…’ It was nearly five minutes of a child narrating, before the title for the movie graced the screen.

August Rush.

But the boys were already rapt. Completely.

I spent almost as much time watching them as I did watching the movie. I’d been to the movies with them before and they (usually Carm) would rattle with questions about things… Not this time.

No. Neither one of them said a single word, except for a single outburst from Carm. ‘That’s his Daddy!’ during the chance meeting.

It was phenomenal that he was wrapping his head around things. Even though the movie was really deep. The damn movie gave me more than a couple lumps in my throat.

The second the credits rolled, Jack slid to the edge of the couch and ordered, “Rewind it.”

Sookie didn’t even ask, nor did she have to guess. 1 hour, 23 seconds into the movie was the scene where August plays with Louie in the park.

When it was over, he wanted to watch it again. She smiled as she watched him get hypnotized by the scene for the third time.

“I want it on my iPod.”

“I think that can be arranged.”

“Can you do that?”

“Yes sir, we can play it upstairs after dinner.”

He whipped his head around to look at Alc. “Is it ready yet?”

**

While the grownups went to the kitchen to set the table and finalize the food, Sookie grabbed some oranges and kiwis from the fridge and took the boys ‘for a walk’.

Corbett watched her walk out the door with a smile on his face. “She got it from my mom you know… Being so good with people… My mom could read a person from a mile away.”

I smiled at the thought. “Where is she taking them?”

“You ever see that movie Twister?”

Alc and I nodded.

“You know that scene where they finally get that contraption where it needs to be so that all those little sensors go up in the funnel?”

More nodding.

“Well the woods back there are full of bats.”

“She took them out there to feed bats?”

Corbett snorted at Alc. “In a manner of speaking… It’s black as pitch back there at night… Sookie’ll find a good spot and rip open the fruit, drop it on the ground around them and that’ll bait the bugs… the bats will flock so fast it’ll cause a breeze… they’ll be standing in the middle of a swarm… a tornado of bats… if I know my daughter, she’ll tell the boys that no matter how scary things get, there’s always a constant in the middle of all the shit.”

“What’s the constant?”

Corbett smiled at him. “How much their father loves them… And then she’ll catch a bat and let them pet it while she explains that shit isn’t as scary when you take it apart.”

I know I was smiling like a retard. I didn’t care. I didn’t even care when Alc caught me. Sookie is amazing. There wasn’t any point in hiding that I knew it… Or that I was happy that I found her.

**

When the three of them came in, Sookie hadn’t just caught a bat… Both boys walked into the kitchen with their hands cupped together and went straight to Alc while Sookie turned off the overhead light.

“What do you have?”

Both of them answered in unison, giggling. “Bats.”

“No, really?”

Jack smiled at him. “They’re cute. Can we keep them?”

“Uh… lemme think about that… NO.”

Carm sneered at him. “What about the snakes?”

“What!?”

They both shushed him so that he wouldn’t spook the bats.

“No, really… what’s in your hands?”

Jack held his hands up to Alc and he cringed, but put his hand out. Jack looked like he was handling the most delicate thing on earth as he put a small furry bat onto Alc’s palm.

Alc drew in a sharp breath, readying for cranial detonation, but managed to not fire off a loud ‘holy shit’ or something of the like.

Curiosity got the best of me so I went over with my hand out asking for Carm’s little friend.

It was cute and hideous at the same time. It was trembling in my hand, no doubt terrified… It was kind of like a winged hamster more than anything. “Awww… come on Dad. Why can’t we keep them?”

“They eat bugs. Bugs that you’d have to bring into the house.”

“Nuh uh… The pet store sells sterile crickets for feed. They only cost…”

“Can it Northman. Bats aren’t pets. They’re wild.”

I was having fun, but I dropped it. “Do you guys really have snakes?”

Alc grumbled that they weren’t keeping snakes either while they both pulled small snakes out of the pockets of their hoodies. They both found little corn snakes.

I traded Carm his bat for his corn snake. The temperature was dropping low enough at night now that the thing was barely moving. “Guys, the snakes need to go back outside. You should put them next to the house where it’s warmer so the cold air doesn’t shock them.”

“That’s what Sookie said. She told us it’d be wrong to take them away from where they need to be. We just thought we’d mess with you.” Jack’s a funny little shit.

Alc laughed at him and gave his bat back to him and pointed to the door.

I went over and gave Sookie a kiss. “How does a person catch a bat?”

She went to the sink and started washing her hands. “Ahhhh, glass-hoppah. You muss be crick rike ninja!”

I laughed while I waited for her to finish before I washed mine… no rabies with my dinner, thanks. “And?”

“You gotta have the constitution necessary to handle grubs. They’ll land in the palm of your hand if you’re calm enough. The boys caught them on their own.”

“How’d you get the boys to calm down enough?”

She smirked at me and told me to close my eyes. When I did I felt her hand on my face… her thumb rubbing across my forehead… soft… like a feather… rhythmic… soothing… fuck… I nearly fell asleep within seconds.

When Alc accused me of exaggerating, she reached up and did the same to him. I bit the inside of my mouth to keep from laughing when he started to sway.

**

Alpha had walked Alc through making roasted chicken with zucchini and squash and mashed potatoes. Alc was excited that it tasted so good because he wouldn’t need a recipe since it was so easy. Happy for him. There wasn’t any telling if the recipe was as easy as he thought or if he was just getting more comfortable in the kitchen, but it didn’t matter in the long run. He was getting the hang of things.

The kids barely breathed… hell, barely chewed is more like it… they inhaled their food and then complained that everyone was taking too long so Sookie started chewing faster and sent Jack upstairs to get the ‘wooden one’.

As soon as her fork hit the plate, Jack made us all laugh by shoving the guitar at her and taking her plate to the sink.

“You can’t play the one from the park.”

“Not until Alpha’s done eating. We’ll play that one when we get upstairs.”

She gave him a wink and started playing Over The Hills and Far Away…. then Little Wing… then Tears In Heaven…

Again… She almost put me to sleep with Tears In Heaven. She wasn’t even singing. Just playing. And the boys were watching her fingers move in a trance.

Even as the rest of us quickly loaded the dishwasher and put the leftovers away she played Dead or Alive and they stood inches from her while she played the song through… this time she and Corbett sang along. Even if the kids didn’t know the difference, Bon Jovi never sounded so good.

**

The first thing they played upstairs was the Dueling Guitars song, making the boys very happy… Happy enough to want to hear it again and excited enough to clap both times… So Sookie promised to add the movie’s whole soundtrack to Jack’s iPod when she gave him the movie.

Corbett asked them what they were in the mood for and when Jack said that he liked the ‘irish music’ from Dirges (and Carm agreed), Sookie hissed at them grabbing her violin. 5 minutes of tutoring later, they were playing Drunken Lullabies… What’s left Of The flag…

Since the boys really seemed to like the sound of the violin, they played Jump Rope (having the kids join for the chorus) and All Fall Down before they ‘let’ her put it away.

Sookie announced that it was her turn… She yanked Hadley up after grabbing a guitar and as soon Sookie said ‘Balle Balle’ Corbett went behind the drums to help Jack.

So. Help. Me. God… all four Stackhouses started singing in Punjabi! It was fucking insane. Not to mention confusing, but when it was all over Jack was sweaty and laughing about how much fun the song was. She promised that our next couch party would be for the movie it was in… Then she started playing another song…

Carm started laughing. “Dats from Transformers!” She gave him a high five for knowing it.

The boys tied figuring out that I’m A Believer was from Shrek.

Jack was still learning the drum track when he recognized it as Men In Black. Alc and I almost rolled our eyes until Corbett and Hunter swapped off doing the vocals.

When that was over, Hunter took his ‘turn’. Pump It… By the time that one was over Jack was drenched, but judging by the grin on his face he didn’t give a shit.

Hunter picked Complete Control next and then the funny little fucker ‘dedicated’ a song to Alc… When he first started playing, I knew it was country, other than that, I couldn’t figure out why the fuck Alc was laughing so hard… Until I realized the damn kid was singing (and playing) Irreplaceable… but he was singing it with a twangy accent and had basically turned it into a song Garth Brooks would be proud of… With Sookie and Hadley singing back up… It was a fucking trip!

The punk version of an old Lita Ford song was almost as fun…

When Hadley announced ‘pumpkin time’ she nearly got lynched. We were all having so much fun, none of us had looked at our watches since we got upstairs. It was after 8 and the boys (especially the little drummer boy) needed a bath before bed, but it didn’t mean that we had to be happy about it. Sookie managed to talk Had into staying for one more song… ‘for the newlyweds’.

Alc and I used our phones to record their version of Deliverance… While I was planning on sending it to Jason with a ‘miss you & congrats’ type of message, Alc was going to upload his as a companion to his Jager Tango post.

**

Once all the ‘squatters’ were hustled out, Sookie broke the news to us that she’d be wanting our suits for steaming… FUCK. Hate suits. Court be damned. Hate. Suits.

The boys were both happily getting ready for bed while Sookie stood on the back porch toiling over our clothes so that we wouldn’t have to.

“You’re amazing.”

She giggled at me. “You’re easily impressed.”

“No. No, I’m not. Whatever you’ve been saying to Jack, the movie, the music… all of it.”

“I might be good at figuring out what they need, but it just reminds me why murder charges come in degrees.” No shit.

“Can I ask? What you were saying to Jack in the yard… to calm him down?”

“No, sir. That’s none of your business.”

I raised an eyebrow at her, knowing that after she choked me and my father up within minutes of each other, minding my own damn business was in my best interest.

…And then Alc came to the door. “Is it any of my business?”

“You sure you want to know?” I started shaking my head behind her back.

“Yeah.”

I hid calling him stupid under a ‘cough’.

Sookie smiled at me. “It’s just something that makes him feel better. Like a mantra.”

“Then what is it?”

“…Let me tell you a secret
About a father’s love
A secret that my daddy said
Was just between us
He said, daddies don’t just love their children
Every now and then
It’s a love without end, amen
It’s a love without end, amen…”

He stood there like he was watching a train wreck and she wasn’t even done before he turned around and went back to the kitchen calling her a bitch.

She laughed at him. “You asked for it.”

He cleared his throat. “Yeah, I did. You’re still a bitch.”

I tried to make him feel better. “You’re in good company. She got me and my dad at the terminal.”

She slapped at my arm. “Alc, did you need something or were you just in the mood to be a glutton for punishment?”

“The boys wanted to know if you’d sing to them.”

She rolled her eyes and smiled at her busy work. “Tell them to give me 5.”

**

Alc had managed to get rid of any evidence that she’d gotten to him by the time we went back, beautifully pressed suits in hand.

As soon as she got to the door, the boys sat up with excited smiles on their faces. They were in the bed instead of on the mattress.

Carm chirped, “Will you sing the one from church?”

I nudged her back. “You didn’t tell me you sang at church.”

She furrowed her brow at me. “Uh, it kinda slipped my mind… duh… Guys, I don’t know if I can…”

That was a stupid slip if ever I had one. I guess it would have made sense for her to forget to mention singing just hours before her brush with death.

Jack practically growled at her. “We know you have stitches. We don’t understand it anyway… PLEASE.”

She went over to them and gave them both a kiss goodnight. “I just can’t say no to you two… Y’all get comfy. I’m going to go to the piano. I feel naked singing without music. K?”

“Sing loud.”

She giggled at him. “Loud enough. Night guys.”

On our way out to the living room, Alc gave her a skeptical look. “You really think you’re gonna put them out?”

“I put Carm out with American Pie. I bet I can put YOU out tonight.”

He started laughing, looking right at me. “Nope. I’m smart enough to not bet with you. Consider it a dare.”

Dick. I flipped him off.

She giggled and gave him a thud on his stomach, calling him a chicken shit on her way to sit at the piano.

He disappeared into his room and I figured I’d play along, so I stretched out on the couch. “Do you usually sing at church?”

“Father Riordan has puppy dog eyes. He sucks me in EVERY TIME.”

I started laughing. “Smom will cry again when she hears I’m going to church… even if it is just to hear you sing.”

She blew a kiss at me and turned around…

The piano was soft enough to induce a coma as it was, but when she started singing Ave Maria…

I don’t think I lasted long. I dozed off. I don’t even remember fighting it…

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28 thoughts on “Chapter 26: Hello/Goodbye

  1. As usual this chapter was bloody brilliant! Loved te mix between funny and heartbreaking. The longer chapter was more than welcome even though I know it had to be a bitch to write. S&S has to be one of my all time fav Fan Fic’s. You’re a brilliant bitch, you know that right?

    We wait with baited breath for your next stroke of genious

    • You know… Every time i read one of your reviews, i love you even more.
      You’re responsible for most of the mass in my swollen ego.
      You thank me for writing.
      I thank you for reading.
      *hugs*
      -Angela

  2. OMG.. I’ve been in a bat storm. I have never read a description of that phenomenon. So cool!

    This was an incredibly sweet chapter. I greatly enjoyed it. Love Corbett hanging around. Love the sadness over the folks leaving. Love the whole Jack/Sookie relationship. I love how Eric recognizes Sookie’s amazing traits and how awesome she is. It shows how un-egocentric he is. I DON”T like that he is going to have to get a piercing. hahaha! Surely you can give him an out! hahaha – I know you are into piercings… but I cannot embrace the Gracioius Plenty being fucked with. LOL!

    • I had a friend show me waaaaaay back in the day.
      It’s so cool.
      The fruit didn’t always work as fast we wanted it to, so we’d collect bugs like little kids to take them with us.
      We have bats here, just not enough to get the same tornado…
      *pout*

      • We did not ‘call’ the bat tornado actually. My brother and I drove out to a pond where a bunch of my cousins were fishing – at dusk. The bats were swarming around the pond. None of the guys were phased like it was a common occurrence. I steadfastly sat down with beer in hand a good 2 feet below the bat storm. 🙂 scaredy-cat that I am. My brother stood tall… The wind from the bats was so amazing. It is one of my favorite memories.

        We live in Alabama where the bats are numerous most of the year. Walking the dog last night we felt the breeze from bats several times. Bats are a good omen.

  3. Between spitting my strawberry jam at the screen in the beginning, to weeping at the end, it was just one solid gold hit after another.

    Eddie Izzard at an FBI Director! Only on wordpress and HBO!

    I know why I wait for your S & S chapters more than any other. I love them.

  4. I loved this chap so much, I txted my cousin and told her about the gracious piercing, she was horrified, you shouldn’t play with perfection but personally I’d wanna see the look on Eric’s face, I bet it’d be hilarious LOL Can’t wait for the next chap.

  5. You know this is one of my favorite stories on FF..I love the character interaction.I am glad Amelia got her ass hauled off to jail. and Carm with the cuss bucket is so cute…poor Jack though i feel sorry for him…thanks for the update. it was great as usual

  6. This is my favorite paragraph:

    Sookie’s eyes welled up watching her take the corner to the porch. My fiancé liked my mom enough to miss her before she was through the door. That was the kind of thing Alc should slap me for. That was one of the things that made me a lucky bastard.

    Reading this chapter I really felt the loss at the parental units leaving and Jack’s fears. Truly the sign of a great writer!

  7. Um….so worth the wait!! Especially the long chap…I sometimes feel like Im stalking your webpage *lmao*

    Dont judge me….

    The paragraph above is also my favorite. I just have to say *again* that you are an excellent writer. I wish I had half the skills you do. If you keep writing, I’ll keep reading!!

    **Im horrifed for Eric, if you have any kindness in your heart…have mercy!!**

  8. I can’t get enough of S&S. I’m so bloody excited every time I see there is an update. The dialogue and story lines are really smart, entertaining, emotional, funny… just brilliant!
    I love your Eric and Sookie.
    Looking forward to the next update!!!

  9. I am till speechless after reading and all i want to do is give you a huge round of applause as my words of praise will be a pitiance of what i am feeling when i read this story. Brilliant as always.

    signed an active member of your referal service!

  10. I ‘m so happy to have this new chapter. this is truely one of the best stories I’ve read, funny, deep and emotional. I love the Eric point of view, seems to add so much more to the story, love the long chapters and your writing skills. I guess Eric will have to be brave, but the worst part will be healing time, I don’t think they could go too long without sex, poor Sookie will be cranky, lol. So glad to have this story to read, and reread.

  11. Again, You. Are. Awesome! I just absolutely love how developed your characters are. I’ve read your other stories, and they are jsut as developed it really helps me to visualize and relate to them. Thanks so much for writing this and your other stories as well. They are all great. Eddie Izzard was just who I pictured even before I could put a name to him, he just fit. I can’t wait to go to Miami and meet Eric’s sister. Careful iwth the piercing, they may not be able to consumate their marriage!

  12. Just because I’m ‘that’ sort of person, whatever ‘that’ means, I looked up the different kinds of male genital piercings possible. Of course, Sookie may have a heart, and not put her sweetie through this, a nipple ring ain’t bad.

    should tell you all you need to know. There also an index for female piercings if anyone is inspired. If I was younger…

    • Your links are brok’ed…
      I’m not gonna delete your comment, but I’m going to edit them out…
      *
      Y’all need to stop worrying about Eric’s WANG! LOL
      My bro is a piercer. I am pierced (and tattooed) It’s not bad!
      *
      Gawd! Y’all are so silly… You’re putting up more fight than Eric.
      For the record, with the use of a condom, there’s only a week in the ‘no fly zone’.
      *still giggling*
      Here’s the links ‘Had sent Eric’:
      (Not for children)
      Dydoe
      Frenum

      • Because of this story and Dead Tired I have been studying genital piercings. Bahahahaha! You’ve opened up new ‘worlds’ for folks – me at least. I have a lot of friends that are pierced, but I don’t know anyone with genital piercing. I am just squeamish about puncturing the goods. hahaha I think what gets to me is that it is a vulnerability – a piercing can be yanked out. I know… I am weird to even think about that. I totally admit I am silly.

        Now I could see Eric getting a fly tattoo’d on his shaft.

        If you don’t mind sharing… where all are you pierced?

      • You know how guys always get that look, and cross their legs when someone else gets hit in the balls? I guess we all just love Eric sooo much, that we’re too empathetic.

  13. Ha!!!! I stopped reading and went to Wiki “Dydoe and Frenum” first thing,I´m belly pierced and tattooed too,but don´t know anything about genital piercings,sorry,too much for me.
    Oh,by the way,I´m spanish (from Madrid),and my english skills writing sucks,but if you ever need to put a spanish expression or a simple phrase,feel free to contact me :laurablanco76@gmail.com.
    “¿Va a llevar conmigo a la cocina?” is wrong,very wrong….we say “¿Me vas a llevar a la cocina?”,or in this case,because she wants to be carried,”¿Vas a cargar conmigo hasta la cocina?”.Just saying.
    Ah!!!! I LOVE THIS STORY!!!!!!

  14. this story became my favorite weeks ago, my goodness how does your awesomeness grow with each post? i adore you. please never end this story, and when on earth do we get to meet the darned bird haha. final thought, is there someone telling you daily how amazing you are? if not can i be that person? ❤

  15. Greaaaat chapter!!! I think it’s one of my favorites!!! Poor Eric, but I’m betting he won’t regert later, I have a tatoo and I’m considering a piercing, but I don’t know.
    Jack could stand up to Amelia!!! That was relly great for him, I’m sure!! And I hope that Alcide kicks her ass in court!!
    On another thing, you have made me a Hadley and Alcide fan and now I read waaay too much in every little interaction the have.
    Lastly, and that is just an observation, but it’s really amazin how one language varies from country to country, here in Argentina we would never say: ”¿Vas a cargar conmigo hasta la cocina?”. We would say: “¿Me llevas a la cocina?”
    Really can’t wait for more, thank you for sharing your story with us!!

  16. I always enjoy chapters from this fic. I was shocked to see Amelia show up. But I guess we need closure if we want Alc and Had to start dating.

  17. I think I almost had more fun reading the comments here than the chapter! Almost.

    I’ve never been in a bat tornado, but I have been in a situation where we’ve been dive bombed by multiple. (We were camping, I’m guessing they were going after the mosquitos, but either way, it was pretty awesome).

  18. WOW! People really did put a fuss about Eric getting pierced! lol.

    I had the opposite reaction. All this reading about tats and piercings is making me want to run back to get more. I’ve only got 3 tattoos and 2 non-facial piercings and because of your story I feeling like I’m going into withdrawal. I’ve even mentioned to Hubby that I might be getting back on that wagon sooner than later.

    So glad Amelia got carted off. It was a great way to give closure to that relationship.

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