Like A Rock
While Sookie and the children ate their meals, Cort’s mood seemed to deteriorate again… and so did Sookie’s.
While Cort seemed to become angrier with every passing minute, Sookie managed to maintain her usually bright mood, but she was more serious… By the end of the meal, I missed Sookie’s playfulness.
There was no way to be sure, but I was beginning to doubt the wisdom of glamouring someone in front of the children… they were smart enough to be cynical.
When Sookie excused herself to use the restroom, Connelly asked what crawled up his chimney and died, but Cort grumbled, “Nothin’.”
It was less than convincing, but if he wasn’t willing to talk about it, I was going to be forced to wait until Sookie could offer a guess.
I was actually hoping Sookie might say something to him in the privacy of the car, but Sookie made the mistake of asking Edward and Richard why they weren’t Red Sox fans since they were Bostonians for much longer than New Yorkers.
They’d been New Yorkers for a century before baseball became a professional sport… There. I told the whole story in less than half an hour. Less than a minute. Thirteen words.
Meanwhile, Edward segued in and out of other stories and monopolized the entire drive between Hooters and the ball field…
Sookie didn’t seem to regret asking though. She was rapt, perhaps as much as Adele had been while I spoke of Willem, and completely awed to hear that Francesca’s role as professor had allowed thousands of Vampires to blend into society. Using Francesca as a reference, claiming to be Columbia Alumni, went a long way towards legitimizing oneself… Especially when a graduation date could be adjusted every so often to match our apparent ages.
Cort had remained quiet for the ride, listening to the conversation, but stewing rather than participating… and it was becoming clear that he was upset with his mother again.
And he had the extra time to sulk (giving me time to wonder) because of the traffic at the stadium… Spoiled little assholes or not, Edward and Richard had the right idea of being chauffeured. Parking would have been a nightmare.
Edward’s plan to have the usher admit seven people with only six tickets was, at the very least, a brief break from Cort’s mood.
It wasn’t until the rest of us had left the limo that Cort and Hunter realized our party was two bodies short.
As Edward stepped out, carrying a backpack, Hunter leaned into the car and demanded, “Less go, Rishard. I want balls signed by…” He began backing up. “Both teams.”
He was staring at nothing… and showing no reaction.
Edward and Richard, their ability, their Vampire gift… they had the amazing capability to disappear. Not completely, mostly. Even with the benefit of having heightened senses, they could easily sneak up on other Vampires. They were completely invisible to Humans, but Hunter was behaving as though he could still see Richard… like eye contact was possible.
Edward watched with a raised eyebrow as Hunter whispered, “Tha’s how we’re sneakin’ an extra person in?” The boy looked stoned by his discovery.
Richard didn’t make a sound, only nodding, testing Hunter’s sense of him.
Even though I could only faintly see the outline of Richard’s head move, Hunter chirped, “Cool!” and turned to Edward. “You too?”
“Yes, me too… I’ll take his things to the bathroom and he’ll dress again. We’ll find you in the stands.”
Connelly grunted, “Perceptive little arse.”
Sookie giggled, “You should have seen the look on Eric’s face when I warned him about explicit innuendo. Damn kids don’t miss anything, I swear.”
Polite. Articulate. Strategic… Completely comfortable in the company of Supes.
All dismissible attributes considering their mother’s personality, values, and talents…
But there was no way Hunter should have been able to see Richard… and for that matter, Cort didn’t seem surprised to see his brother talking to him…
And then there was the way Cort described glamouring…
Any of the impressive aspects by themselves wouldn’t have meant much to me, but together… Styrofoam was harmless until it was mixed with gasoline.
I was almost sure Sookie had let my inexperience with children cloud the fact there was more to the boys… more to her.
What’s more… when Sookie caught me staring at them, she cringed.
As planned, we walked through the entrance and parted ways with Edward and Richard on our way to our seats, but we stopped at a vender’s booth long enough for Sookie to buy four large bags full of World Series souvenirs… and we stopped at booths geared to the specific teams, walking away with another large bag from each of them.
Sookie made the joke that she wouldn’t have normally bought so much and elbowed Connelly to point out that she suddenly had extra spending money.
Extra spending money… because she couldn’t be glamoured.
She’d been adamant that her grandfather hadn’t been a Were, but even if he had been, it wouldn’t explain anything on my list of hints.
I might have thought something of her Benjamin Button joke if I hadn’t already fed from her. If she was Dae, her blood would have made me ill.
While we settled into our seats, I tried to narrow down the possibilities, the reason why she couldn’t be glamoured, and how the boys were so ‘perceptive’…
Kitsune? Of all the time I spent in Asia, I’d only met two. They smelled of clay and salt… Sookie smelled and tasted far too sweet, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t a descendant of a Kitsune. How the fuck would I know what happened when they bred with Humans?
Kitsune were shapeshifters. Sookie had a plethora of Weres as friends… For that matter, Kitsune were associated with foxes and one of the Weres on Sookie’s property had been a Fox.
Kitsune were known to be tricksters. Sookie had already proven her sense of humor included practical jokes. She could lie so convincingly it was impressive.
Kitsune were known to have an inherent wisdom. Even if Sookie hadn’t already displayed a remarkable grasp of loyalty and reasoning at a young age, Cort and Hunter’s apparent maturity was worth mentioning.
When I remembered that Cort knew his mother’s name phonetically translated to the Japanese word for love, I began staring. Suki. The legends also implied literacy was a trademark, a tell. Then again, Vampires didn’t have reflections either.
I found myself analyzing everything I could, picking apart every conversation we’d had. It only really made sense to assume Adele’s husband would have been responsible for any genetic contributions because Hunter was no less impressive than Cort intellectually. Adele was so completely Human nothing more than her zeal for information had stood out.
And then there was fucking… Sookie didn’t fuck like any Human I’d ever been with. Her stamina aside, it was as though she was tailor made just for me. Every fucking move she made was perfect.
But unfortunately… the legends also suggest Kitsune couldn’t reveal themselves to their lovers.
Kitsune. Without a full library, that was all I had to go on. I actually used my phone to take my chances with a cell-phone search engine.
As Edward and Richard joined us, Sookie asked, “Do you guys have the driver’s number? I went on a souvenir spree and killed our leg room.”
Richard chuckled, “You’ll return in proper attire, yes?”
Sookie giggled as she removed an adult-small Yankees T-shirt from one of the bags. “Of course.”
He beamed at her and fished his phone from his pocket while she turned to me and asked, “Could you give me a hand?”
Cort jumped to his feet and shouted, “NO!”
There was no way to know what that was about.
She began digging through another bag and said, “I promise to bring him back,” and offered World Series stamped balls to him and Hunter… and gave him a long stern look when he refused to take his from her.
He looked like he was close to tears when he threw himself back into his seat.
His reaction to the idea of me schlepping bags with his mother actually distracted me from my other puzzle.
Sookie remained quiet as we walked through the stadium concourse, and had a bright smile waiting for the driver as he opened the trunk for her… She apologized for making him deal with the traffic again and once our hands were freed, she asked him if he’d mind taking us for a spin or two around the stadium.
Judging by the smirk he gave her, he assumed we’d be testing the shocks on the limo, but she giggled and told him to get his mind out of the gutter.
My ass hadn’t touched the seat before she asked, “If we’d met a year ago, would you have told me you’re a Vampire right away?”
A year ago? Months before the Revelation? As much as I enjoyed her company, I would have needed a very good reason to divulge that information.
Not only did she make a fair point, but it seemed like I was going to get answers without being forced to ask.
“Look, I can tell that you’re upset, but I wasn’t lying or hiding anything from you… I guess I can try to get away with saying I’ve just been guarded, and it doesn’t help that Cort’s vehemently against you finding out because he’s terrified of your reaction and… I’m sorry, but I am too, kind of… and I was already going to tell you, even wanted to tell you before we had sex, but I chickened out… then the thing with V and Nat and then your friends showed up with tickets to the Series… And the boys were supposed to play things close to the vest, because even though we trust you, Connelly, Edward and Richard are variables…”
“Sookie, you’re rambling.”
She cringed and whimpered, “We’re telepathic.”
She pinched her face together and closed her eyes. “Big Jack is 99.999% sure… Faeries.”
That would explain Sookie’s incredible sweetness.
“You don’t know for certain?”
“No. If it’s Faerie, whoever it was, snuck into the family tree. Jack went to the Packmaster at the time and he said to stay the fuck away from Faeries because you can’t trust them as far as you can throw them. Apparently he prefers Vampires because they’ll look you in the eyes when they kill you and Faeries won’t think twice about stabbing you in the back… and we aren’t like that. I mean, we have our moments, but we aren’t evil, not in a bad way. A fun way…”
After her husband died, the sympathy of her neighbors drove her to a pot-induced oblivion.
“You’re rambling again. Calm down… Did anyone bother to mention that Faeries should avoid Vampires because their scent is intoxicating? Chumming for sharks comes to mind.”
Her color drained from her face. “Oh my God… No. Jack couldn’t give specifics without risking anything… I have problems, like getting a lot of attention, but… I guess I’m better off than if I was full-blooded or something.”
“I suppose. You smell and taste much better than a Human does, but at least I can control myself… What made Jack suspect you’re Fae?”
“It was Aunt Linda… They hadn’t been together long when she woke up from a dream and told him she dreamt he was a Werewolf… He tried to laugh it off, but after the way she described his shift… You know the movies get it all wrong, and she totally nailed it down to the sound his body made while everything rearranged… and that he’s black with a silver patch on his chest… and that Alcide is all black… So with all that, he started banging his head against the wall. The one thing he got from Nestor was that lemons kill Fae, like on contact. It wasn’t definitive, but Aunt Linda got a nasty rash from citrus. She had to wear latex gloves when she made anything with oranges or limes or lemons. And that totally sucked for her to have that reaction when docs push-push-push citric acid on cancer patients.”
It wasn’t just innuendo she didn’t want the boys exposed to, it was the imagery it would inspire.
“Was your father telepathic as well?”
“No… Aunt Linda wasn’t a telepath either. She… Growing up, we just thought she was just super-imaginative. When she told Jack about her dream, the one with Werewolves, he bought her a journal to keep in the nightstand. She humored him for a while, but then stopped using it when she got sick… Mostly because she was having some really wacked out dreams because of all the meds she was on. She was obsessed with all things Hadley for a couple of weeks, and then she showed up with Hunter. I’m not sure if you know Nestor, but he was in a car accident… She dreamed about it, before we knew it happened… She was writing it in her journal while the pack was at the hospital. Once we convinced her that she wasn’t just dreaming, she told Gran it wasn’t a coincidence she was at the house when the Chaplain came to tell me JB had been killed. She’d been washing dishes when she visualized what happened to him… It was a couple of days before I found out. What it came down to was that her dreams were embellished by her imagination, but when she was awake and had a sudden gleaning, or whatever, they were really accurate. I witnessed a couple of her visions telepathically. They weren’t like her normal thoughts. More vivid, I guess.”
She’d said she used the gifts God gave her to support her children and refused to feel guilty about it.
“Without explanation, your aunt witnessed scenes she wasn’t present for? A psychic?”
Sookie shrugged. “I guess. We never put a name to it.”
The Fae allure… it explained so much.
“And you and the boys are telepathic?”
“Me, Cort, Hunter… Brandon and Julie…”
“All of them?”
She cringed again when she nodded. “Jason has something different going on. He’s… sympathetic, I guess. The boys had a little light bulb come on when you described your connection to Pam because Jason can tune into and even affect other people’s moods… How upset are you?”
“I’m livid. You’ve been cheating at Round Robin all along…”
She whimpered, “You’re safe. We can’t hear Vampires.”
“Would you tell me if you could?”
She nodded. “Full disclosure and all that… And the more you’ve told me about being a Vampire, the worse I felt about not coming out… Ummm… Right now, the driver is trying to figure out what we’re up to back here. He can’t hear anything, so he can’t decide if I’m quiet or if you don’t know what you’re doing. He’s going back and forth between picturing muted porn, and then clumsy virginal groping.”
Hooters… The boys hadn’t been betting blindly; they’d heard the thoughts of the waitresses.
“Your ability is that specific?”
She nodded. “But I can only get a sense of your mood. I know when you’re full of shit though.”
“When have you gotten a sense of that from me?”
“Sorry. By you, I meant Vampires. When you lie as a joke it’s different. Like when you said you sound like a cat on a tether too.”
“Are Vampires the only breed you can’t hear?”
She shook her head. “No… There’s another kind, but I don’t know what they are. I’ve only come across them a few times and it wasn’t as though I could say, ‘excuse me, but I’m a mind reader and your brain sounds like television static, so I’m curious.’ The lawyer that did Hunter’s adoption and a handful of customers…”
“Incredibly unique names, of Greek and Turkish origins perhaps?”
Her eyes widened. “How’d you know?”
“Daemons. They aren’t very common, not in my Area…”
“I’m gonna guess they’re no more like biblical demons than I’m like Tinkerbell… They were crawling all over DC when we went to the Smithsonian. What was up with that?”
I chuckled, “I’m not sure about the reasons for the stereotypical nature of their vocations, but Dae gravitate towards politics and legalities. It might be their talent for remembering minutia. Whenever possible I employ a Daemon lawyer because once they swear to protect you or your interests, they can’t break that pledge. It’s magical, like a Vampire’s invitation to a home.”
“I bet that comes in handy.”
“It can… Did your ability have anything to do with your rescue mission with the Gorgon?”
She shook her head. “No. That was because Alcide was your alibi… but I would have known. You didn’t lie while you were being grilled and the Detective was furious that you weren’t tripping yourself up. She was even pissed that you were willing to describe the victim so accurately. She was hoping you’d confuse her with another meal so she could discredit you…” She paused to clear her throat. “It had a lot to do with why I trusted you with my kids though. You haven’t given me a reason not to trust you and you actually enjoy them, rather than just dealing with them. I can tell when moods don’t match facades too.”
“Why didn’t Cort want you to tell me?”
Sookie frowned. “Because we’ve spent enough time in Bon Temps for him to know the general consensus about telepathy. It scares most people… Cort was a good enough reason to leave that town behind without considering the income I get from the dealership. I grew up there, and I was the town freak… so now they wonder if he’s a freak like his mother or a retard like his father. Even though Weres don’t think anything of our ability, and he isn’t an island like I was because he’s got other telepaths around, he’s still worried about your reaction.”
“He thinks you’re a freak too so you’ll be okay with it. Like our Were friends.”
“Have bets been placed between them?”
She shook her head. “Cort’s too upset for wagers. It’s one of the reasons why he was pissed when I got to Miami. He knew I wanted to tell you about us, and the trip wasn’t just about baseball. He wanted to hold off the debriefing. He tried to negotiate for me to wait a month.”
“Why a month?”
She shrugged. “A stall. No particular reason. He just thought time might make a difference in your reaction. I tried telling him that if we hid it for that long, it would make a difference, and not one he’d be happy about.”
“He thought I’d be too attached to you. He didn’t consider that I’d tally the amount of lies I’d been told.”
She nodded. “Yeah… He’s only five… his rational thought process is hit or miss when he isn’t cheating. It’s akin to knowing the sky is blue, but having no concept of the molecular science that causes it.”
“Your ability is responsible for their advanced reading level, yes?”
She nodded. “When I was little, I used to close my eyes and watch the book in the mind of who was reading to me. The pictures were there, but the focus was on the words being read. I was talking coherently and reading to myself by the time I was two. Julie, Cort and Hunter are even more advanced than Brandon and I were because, as parents, we knew what had worked best for us… Neither one of us are really impressed with what they’re learning in school either. Julie and Cort are bored out of their minds. We’re homeschooling next year. Their shields are already stronger than ours were, so we can just keep them in practice by taking them out.”
“Yeah. We’d go nuts if we couldn’t ignore other people’s thoughts to an extent. I’m much happier since I met Brandon. Once we started comparing notes, we realized we had different techniques and combining them made a huge difference. Telepathy is much less cumbersome for the kids than it was for us.”
“What is your range? How close do you have to be?”
She chewed her lip for a moment before offering, “As is, I can eavesdrop on anyone in the hotel… and I scanned every mind in Hooters to be sure no one was hung up on Vampires being there. The only ones who noticed were the Weres. The boys can reach out to three floors, a floor further than they could during the summer.”
She shook her head. “No. Closer is better. If we’re touching a person, it’s like a bullhorn. Some minds are easier to read than others and all that… So… I can’t believe you aren’t pissed, or upset…”
“I can understand why you were guarded about the detail. It wasn’t until tonight that I even began to notice there was more to them… More than just being smarter and better-behaved than other children…” I took her hand and led her to sit on my lap. “Should we spend the rest of the ride answering the driver’s questions?”
She giggled, “We really shouldn’t,” and wrapped her arms around my neck. “Thank you.”
“Why are you thanking me?”
“Because… I’ve never really told anyone.”
“Well, not anyone I’d hate to be rejected by.”
As a rational adult, I couldn’t imagine how much anxiety that caused for her… let alone Cort.
Before I could think of a response, my phone vibrated between our legs.
Our quiet time was over.
I rolled my eyes and growled, “We’re being summoned.”
Sookie shifted to take her Yankees T-shirt from the seat so she could don her proper attire and giggled that she didn’t want to know how they cock-blocked me before cell phones.
It didn’t matter that she didn’t want to know…
I gave her one example after another as we made our way back to our seats and she was laughing hard enough to be crying when we reached our section.
It was hearing that Pam had lubricated the top of my fucking desk… multiple times… for centuries that made her laugh until she was lightheaded.
Cort’s eyes were glassy and as wide as they possibly could be.
I motioned for him to come towards me since there were three bodies between our seats and leaned over to whisper, “Calm down. It’s better that I was told now because it hurts to find out someone you care for is hiding things from you.”
He whimpered, “Ya don’t hate us?”
“Of course not. It wouldn’t be fair of me to be impressed by all of the pieces, yet reject the whole.”
“But we’re assholes.”
I had to assume he’d heard the rumors about Faeries.
“What a coincidence… so are Vampires.”
As I leaned back and lifted my legs to rest them on the railing, I quoted, “All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.”
He stared at me as though he was letting that sink in for long enough I thought Nietzsche was over his head.
He finally grinned and offered, “Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has them and some of them stink.”
While Sookie groaned at Cort’s language, I chuckled my revision, “Opinions are like assholes. Give the loudest ones the widest berth because you more than likely don’t want to carry the traces around with you.”