I laughed at her, taking her hand and watching as a bruise faded to nothing. “Adele, you need to settle down… It’ll take a while yet for my blood to heal you completely. In the meantime, Pam is glamouring your nurses and doctors to lose your ex-rays and…”
“Pam, Bubba… Alcide, Jason and Sookie… You know, the Shreveport chapter of your fan club.”
She beamed for a moment before she became curious. “Wait… What time is it? The last thing I remember is…”
“You’ve worried everyone all day long.”
“Oh Lordie! You need to go let ‘em know I’m alright! Sookie can’t be in hospitals… You should’ve seen her when Linda was… You need to git… Go on!”
She swatted my knee and started shooing so I kissed her forehead and did as ordered in spite of laughing at her…
A heart attack at breakfast, but a spitfire again by dinner.
Sookie practically tackled me again when she spotted me returning to the waiting area.
“What took so long? Is it bad news?”
When I decided to give Adele my blood, my only concern was that Sookie wouldn’t take the news well… I knew that Adele would see the sense in it as long as it didn’t fuck with the natural course of things as far as she was concerned. Had the heart attack been more severe, she wouldn’t have wanted for me to ‘fiddle’ with things… I knew Adele would be pragmatic about my excuse to not see her suffer…
It was Sookie’s reaction I was worried about.
Not that Sookie would have wanted to stand by and watch Adele’s slow recovery, just that she might over react out of exhaustion… or another reason that hadn’t occurred to me…
Then again, I might have just been a little shell shocked since we’d argued so recently.
“Eric? You’re scaring me…”
That much, I could tell. “Sookie, she’s fine.”
She exhaled such a deep breath that it warmed most of my chest. “The concussion hasn’t caused any more damage?”
“It hasn’t caused any damage.”
She put her chin on my chest to look up at me. “The doctor said… well, thought that she’d be punch drunk for a while… Is she conscious?”
“She wants to go run her errands.”
Sookie snickered and started crying again. “She would… So, is she fussing about getting her knee replacement as a rush job so that she can get to Walmart before the bakery closes?”
“Sookie… She doesn’t need a new knee. Her old one is fine.” When I left Adele, the black and purple covering most of her leg had faded to yellow…
I waited, feeling her out as she focused on my eyes, moving her hands away from my back to rest on my arms. “What are you saying, Eric? How is Gran fine?”
I leaned to her ear. “I gave her my blood.”
She robbed me of any clues… I felt nothing from her. She simply stared at me in a daze for a few seconds…
Of all of the scenarios that I had envisioned as Sookie’s reaction, she managed to surprise me… by crumpling into a heap at my feet. I’d been so preoccupied with looking for hints of her reaction that… I didn’t anticipate any part of her collapse.
I crouched down, realizing that she really was unconscious. Out cold.
It took a moment under the watchful eyes of Jason, Alcide, Bubba and a passing nurse who’d been considerate enough to offer her help instead of just gaping like her co-workers, but when Sookie’s eyes opened again, she wasted no time climbing me…
Surprisingly, she perched herself on my knee, wrapping her arms around my neck and burying her face. And I was still getting nothing from the bond… If it was tangible, I’d have kicked the fucking thing for all the help it was being.
“Sookie, are you alright?”
“I will be now… Thank you.”
“You haven’t heard what I want as payment.” A smile, a laugh…
She hummed. Close enough… “Anything.”
“I was worried that you wouldn’t take it well.”
“She wouldn’t have made it…”
“Her heart is healthy enough. She’d have recovered…”
She shook her head, leaving it in the crook of my neck. “No… the knee surgery… being laid up… The doctors didn’t say it, but…” I was sure that there was plenty I didn’t know about, but blood clots weren’t on the list of items that I’d disregarded over the years… Either one of Adele’s subsequent injuries might have barely given her the time to plan her own memorial.
“Shhhh, we don’t have to worry about that now though.”
She kissed the side of my neck. “Thanks to you…”
“Or Pam… I hadn’t told her that I planned on healing Adele and she had every intention of doing it herself.” Pam would have turned her if the situation had been more critical.
Her arms tightened around me as she seemed to break… Her emotional state was devastated over the course of her day… Rightfully so. The longer she sobbed and shook in my arms, the more sympathy I had for what she’d gone through.
“Sookie, it’s over now… She’s already ordering me around and complaining about not having a book with her.”
She laughed weakly.
“I’m worried about you though.”
“I’ll be… Eric, do you mind if I hide? One of the families in the waiting room…” She didn’t need to ask. I was suffering from the onslaught and it was no longer an altruistic desire for her to numb herself… I was beginning to need the relief as much as she did.
“Do what you need to do… I’ll take care of explaining to Jason.”
As I stood up with her, she whispered ‘I love you’ and then she was all but gone again…
I motioned for Alcide, Bubba and Jason to join us in the corridor.
Jason seemingly braced himself, folding his arms across his chest. “How’d the tests go?”
“I’m not sure. She’ll be given a referral to see her regular doctor for angina and released shortly.”
“Released!? Is this about her insurance?” The squirrels must’ve been as exhausted as the rest of him.
Hard as it was to do without jostling Sookie, I had to grab his wrist to keep him from giving an innocent nurse a piece of his mind that he might not be able to spare… I spoke directly into his ear, “It isn’t her insurance. Pam is glamouring the staff as we speak so that no one remembers how she was when admitted because it would raise too many questions as to why she’s fine now.”
He took a step back, closed his eyes to shake his head and then widened them again… “Fine?”
“She’s eager to be released.”
“Released? But she’s… Why would they cut her lose?” I had to remind myself that he still knew little about vampires.
“Jason, you understand that vampire blood healed your sister…”
I waited for him to give some sign that he understood, but Bubba was too pleased (maybe because he finally managed to win an intellectual footrace)… He leaned over and whispered to him, “Mr. Eric fixed Miss Adele right up… Bet she’s fit enough to mow the lawn already as old as he is.” Yay for Bubba. At least he whispered it.
Jason jerked to give Bubba a shocked look… then me… then Bubba again… It went on long enough that I almost laughed at him (especially since Alcide already was).
“No surgery or medication or… she’s gonna be fine… like it never happened?”
We all nodded.
“Then what’s up with Sook?”
“She’s just been through too much today. What time did it happen? How did they get here?”
Jason was still working with a technical delay, so Alcide explained. “I couldn’t get much out of her, but she managed to get Mrs. Stackhouse into her car. She called me because she didn’t know how to get here. It was about 9 when she called. I met her here since I was on site a couple miles away… Jason wasn’t far behind. How is Pam going to manage… Is everyone just going to forget Mrs. Stackhouse was here?”
“Unfortunately, that’s the downside to computerization… memories will just be altered. The heart attack will be changed to angina and the injuries to bruises.”
“They aren’t just bruises on medical records though. Contusions and whatnot…”
I nodded. “Pam will handle it.”
He was about to let it go, but he caught on… “Med school or a crush?” I decided to ask another time if he’d come to the conclusion that Pam was ‘quirky’ on his own or if he’d become a student of gossip, but it was still amusing that he’d ask…
He started laughing. “She’s got taste…”
“Dr. Hotlips… you know, MASH…”
Jason offered an ‘Amen’.
All three of them were nodding.
“Judy Reyes and Donald Faison from Scrubs…”
Alcide snorted out a chuckle. “Both of them?”
“As far as I know, that’s her plan… and most recently Edie Falco… Not as Carmella Soprano, mind you… Only as Nurse Jackie. I think it’s the scrubs.”
Alcide, Jason and Bubba were adding to the list of ‘do-able’ nurses/doctors while we settled into the waiting room again… Moving from the hallway had been Alcide’s suggestion. He knew well enough that hospital staff tends to get anxious about vampires as though we were angels of death. Not that the stark florescent lighting didn’t make everyone look like a vampire, but I needed to either ‘sit down or start acting like Sookie weighs something’ because my ‘telepath necklace’ would eventually start attracting attention…
With Sookie being safely nuzzled into my neck I centered on Pam, finding that she was not only ‘right as rain’, but most likely flirting with a nurse…
When Jason’s phone started ringing, he looked as though he’d been punched. “Shit… I left a message for Hadley, but how do I tell her Gran’ll be ok?” How the hell did he explain that she’s had a heart attack in the first place?
I took the phone to ‘save’ him…
“Oh my God! I just got Jason’s message!”
“What’s wrong? If you’re answering…”
“Hadley, I’m trying…”
“Oh my God! I just got her back and…!” Pam was never that bad…
“Hadley! Put your maker on the phone.” Jason snickered to Alcide that Hunter wouldn’t make me use ‘that voice’ more than once.
There was only a moment… Even if Sophie-Ann hadn’t been nearby when Hadley had gotten the message, she wouldn’t have been able to ignore her child’s panic for long. “Sheriff.”
“Majesty. We are only waiting for Adele’s release. She’s in perfect health.”
“I’m sure it was accurate, but circumstances have changed.”
She began chuckling lightly. “You certainly take the responsibility of their safety seriously.”
“Should we postpone our plans for later in the week?”
“I don’t see why we would.”
She was quiet for a moment. Understanding her ability now, every damned moment of silence from her was going to make me wonder if she was silently communicating with one of her children. “Very well… Considering Hadley’s mood, thanks are in order. We were expecting more grave news.”
“That was the general consensus.”
She chuckled again. “Give them time. It won’t take long for your family to learn what I’ve known of you for a while. Disappointment will become stranger to them too. We’ll see you soon.”
She hung up leaving me with not only her compliment, but her ‘family’ suggestion to think about…
I’d been trying to ignore the conceptual black hole… distracting myself with problems or ideas that were solved too quickly when Jason caught my attention…
He nudged Alcide with his elbow and barely muttered, “Shiiiiit… that ain’t good.”
I turned to see a doctor approaching from further down the hall and couldn’t come up with a reason why he’d be apprehensive… And it didn’t look like Alcide was anymore clued in.
The doctor was giving nothing away. Her stride and facial expression didn’t even hint that she was coming into the waiting room until she was reaching for the handle on the door…
The family huddled in the far corner of the room was anxiously on their feet and I watched it all play out with interest…
Somehow ‘ain’t good’ had been an understatement…
Before the doctor uttered her first word, Sookie’s arms tightened around my neck…
The child that had been mowed down crossing the street on her way to school hadn’t done well in surgery…
The term ‘brain death’ sent the mother flying into hysterics and my companions alternated their attention between Sookie’s muffled sobs and the grieving mother’s pained wailing… Unfortunately, Sookie could only ‘hide’ from so much it seemed and her breathing was labored to the point of lightheadedness when the family was finally led away to ‘say goodbye’… Leaving Aldele’s ‘family’ alone in the waiting room since the other family had since gone home.
A hospital was not the place for a telepath. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
Once Sookie settled down, curling herself into a tight ball on my lap, I was able to spend some time thinking about Jason… Finally.
That ‘lazy’ simpleton…
He’d spotted and ‘guessed’ about the drainer in my club…
He’d somehow known to segregate the Fellowship applicants, not to mention the rest of his ‘genius’ behavior that night…
His well guarded message about the ‘Disco Triplets’ success…
His quick acceptance of vampire cultural differences… And he was already more friendly with Pam and me than I could’ve anticipated. ‘Comfortable’ would be fitting…
He seemingly never approved of Bill Compton spending any amount of time with his sister, but ‘defended’ me to old friends…
I’d be curious to compare notes with Sophie-Ann… It might be the case for Hadley, but ‘allure’ wasn’t the whole story for Jason…
Sophie-Ann was relatively predictable herself… she had turned several, but she had a very practical and justified reason for every fucking one of them.
Hadley wouldn’t have been any different.
Her blood, if it was half as exotic as Sookie’s might have been why Hadley was a favorite pet, but once she became vampire, it wouldn’t have remained the same.
There had to have been something about Hadley…
The 5 of us waited for another hour before Pam joined us just long enough to fetch Jason… Sookie had finally calmed so much that risking her reaction to whatever ailments and tragedies were waiting further into the unit weren’t on my to-do list… She was content… And I intended to leave her that way.
It was nearly midnight when Adele was finally released. She held onto the shopping list she’d made while she was waiting for all of the ‘fuss’ and put up a fight over being ‘wheeled out like an invalid’…
Yes… Adele was indeed ‘fine’.
Bubba’s offer to help her into the back of the Escalade was rejected. She proudly slid into her seat without the struggle she usually had and waited almost impatiently for me to put Sookie on the seat next to her.
It took Sookie longer than it had before, but she took notice of the fact that we were outside first and began to panic…
“No! Eric… I don’t want to… I won’t leave her…”
Adele started to chuckle behind Sookie. “Do you give him a hard time about everything?” For the most part…
Sookie spun around in her seat to see how perfectly healthy Adele was… and promptly began to sob… again…
This time was different… happiness and relief. The type of tears that I couldn’t bring myself to mind…
Sookie hugged Adele until the woman had to remind her of her need for air…
Alcide took his leave, planning to be at the house first thing in the morning to keep Adele from getting ahead of herself… Pam, Jason and Bubba decided to return to the house to ‘take care of things’ since Adele was insistent on running her errands.
Sookie stayed within arm’s reach of Adele every step of the way through another Wal-Mart visit even though the woman was moving more easily than she had in years…
The stubborn woman insisted on helping to unload the groceries once we returned to the house too. I might have argued against it as Sookie had if I didn’t know that she really was feeling fine. As it was, Pam, Jason and Bubba made short work of putting everything away… They’d already tended to the remnants of breakfast, the washer and dryer were both running and the smell of cleaning supplies filled the air. The three of them had made an excellent advance-team.
While Pam and Sookie followed Adele, Jason watched them go into the laundry room…
“What the fuck did your blood do to her?”
“I’ve never given my blood to anyone as elderly as Adele. This will be a learning experience for all of us.”
“What would it normally do then?”
“Heightened senses and strength. Your sister can move quickly enough to make you dizzy. I can tell you that Adele tends to get worn out after an outing, but at the moment she has energy to burn. She isn’t experiencing any aches or fatigue. I’ll need to talk to her about calming down a tad. Just because she feels fine doesn’t mean that she can’t give herself another heart attack.”
“You said Sookie can move fast… and she got Gran to her car… She’s had your blood?”
I nodded… Now that we were alone there wasn’t any point in avoiding it. “She has, yes.”
“That what you were talking about? That bond thing?”
“You said that you could feel her the other night… when she freaked out about the drainer at your bar.”
“That’s part of it… but so you know, that comes with blood sharing. Now that Adele has had my blood I can sense her emotions and location as well. The effect will wear away for her, but with Sookie, it’s permanent and Sookie can sense me… It’s one sided with your grandmother.”
He stared at me for a minute, considering which question to ask next. “That’s how you knew Pam and Sook got attacked though, right?”
“So… uh… when you woke up tonight, you like… got hit like a ton of bricks feeling all of Sook’s worrying… then Pam freaked out because she felt yours.”
“Sounds like a pain in the ass.”
“So… if something else happens to Gran, you’ll know right away as long as you’re awake, right?”
I nodded. “Right now all three of them are annoyed… Pam and Sookie want to dote and Adele won’t let them… She wants to take advantage of her second wind.”
“But… if Gran has another one…” All of the explaining… That was Jason’s preoccupation… not that I’d been sharing blood with his sister, not that his grandmother was ‘high’ from my blood… Jason only cared that I’d be a walking heart monitor. The poor boy was more traumatized than he’d been letting on…
“I’ll know. I’ll know when she’s tiring out. I’ll know when she’s hungry. I’ll know when…”
I stopped short when Adele shouted, “I’ll be damned!” She charged into the kitchen holding one of my shirts by the collar… “I can read the care label!”
I grinned at her. “Have you gotten bored with my library already?”
“Lord no! But I can cancel my appointment with the eye doctor! I was needing a new prescription!”
“You can cancel that one for now. And I was serious about settling down. If your heart were damaged, my blood would’ve healed it, but you have a blockage. You’ll still be seeing a cardiologist so that you don’t scare everyone again. Sookie will be making that appointment in the morning.” I pulled my phone out and texted to have Bobby find the best cardiologist in the area while the idea was still fresh… I still had Sookie to worry about later.
“You bet, but I’m… I feel better than… better than I can remember. Decades… I’m not even stiff.”
She laughed. “I guess you do… It’s a good thing ‘it’ worked so well… I’d hate for you to walk around feeling like an old woman!”
Jason decided to stay… Pam tried to, but ended up taking Bubba back to her house so that they could be over early… Their guise for looming was helping prepare for Hunter’s arrival…
While the house had been empty, the front stoop had been littered with packages of Hunter’s clothing and needs… Pam was too pleased to announce that the pile was only a fraction of what they’d ordered.
Adele was not amused over more ‘fuss’ in her behalf, but didn’t say anything to be contrary once I reminded her that she’d made bread pudding for a convalescing vampire.
If I had let her, Sookie may very well have climbed into bed with Adele.
She actually whimpered when I took her hand in spite of the reminder that Jason would be in the room next to Adele’s.
She stood in our room while the water filled the tub, pouting and standing stonewall, leaving me to undress her… lead her into the tub… She stared at the water flowing from the faucet as though it was annoying her.
“Sookie, I’m going to need you to help me.”
“Helping you to relax. I hate seeing you like this.”
“She could’ve died and it would’ve been my fault! I… I let her fall… She was hurt because I was worried about burning the eggs.”
“No. She fell because she’s been eating ‘country fried’ food since she broke her first tooth. She’s 82 years old, Sookie. You’re ignoring how impressive it is that she’s in such good health.”
“Fine. Since reason won’t work… Since you’re content to play the ‘if game’… If you had been in Bon Temps… You might have been at work… You could have come home from an 8 hour shift to find her at the bottom of the stairs.”
“But I had my shields up… I was here. I was less than 100 feet away from her and… I didn’t think anything of how she called me… I…”
“Stop.” Her guilt wasn’t doing either of us any good.
“No. Sookie, you did everything you could. You even thought to call Alcide…”
“I was shaking too bad… the GPS in the car… I couldn’t hit any of the right buttons…”
“I was worried about moving her… I was worried about calling 9-1-1 to the house…”
“You did well though…”
“I was so scared… I kept thinking about you… ‘What would Eric do’?”
I started taking my clothes off now that she was talking and slid into the tub behind her. “Isn’t it ‘what would Jesus do’?”
She snorted. “Walking on water wouldn’t have helped… I was too busy fighting with you in my head anyway.”
“What did we fight about?”
She took my arms away from the sides of the tub and wrapped them around her. She huffed, “You were an asshole. You wouldn’t fight with me… I was jealous that you can stay so calm…”
“I wasn’t ‘calm’ though… I had you and Adele to worry about.”
“You were doing better than me.”
“I just have a lot of practice at seeming unaffected. You might feel better if you had seen me while I was waiting for the sun to set.”
“I didn’t see anything broken.”
“You haven’t seen the pile of rags by our closet.”
She almost managed to giggle. “Do you think Paulette could manage some kind of ward that keeps bad shit from happening during the day?”
“That would be nice, but I doubt it.”
“I don’t want to lose her, Eric… I can’t stand the thought of it.”
“She’s been everything to me for so long… and now she…”
“She’s an amazing woman. You’ll miss her for the rest of your life once she’s gone, but you still have her. You can’t treat her as though she’s on her death bed for the rest of the time she has left. It’s not fair to her.”
“I know you’re right… Today kinda forced things down my throat.”
“We’ll all miss her. You won’t be alone in that.”
“You could turn her.”
“I could, but I won’t. She doesn’t want it. She isn’t afraid of dying and as selfish as I am, I respect her too much to go against her wishes.”
“I hate it.”
“That assholes like Bill get to live forever… but I’ll have to bury my Gran.” Bill wasn’t going to live forever… he wasn’t smart enough… and if kept on the path he’d set for himself, he probably wouldn’t be getting another month.
“There’s a saying… ‘Heaven doesn’t want us, Hell’s afraid we’ll take over.’ Pam’s fond of saying it when the tourists ask her why vampires exist.”
She managed a true giggle this time. “In Pam’s case, they’re afraid she’ll change the dress code.” Hearing her make a joke improved my mood on a number of levels.
“I wonder if Sax 5th Avenue ships to Hell… I’m sure the shoes would be the first to go.”
“What about Heaven?”
“If Pam’s right, Versace is already taking care of that franchise.”
She giggled again. She was still fighting to hold on to the fear she’d saddled herself with… but I was endlessly grateful that she was finally becoming herself again, even if it was slowly. “So what are we doing tomorrow?”
“Monday is getting a do-over.”