Sookie calmed a little at the misinterpretation, startled to find Jason was still thinking about all the information he’d received that afternoon. “If we’d grown up with those crazy-ass Brigants we’d be insane, too,” Jason shrugged. “Imagine how they’d deal with that. You’d be in a padded cell like that Dermot, too.”
They were interrupted by the waitress momentarily, taking their order for coffee and desserts, of which Jason ordered many. Sookie fondled the spent napkin on the cleared table, looking to Eric for direction.
“It’s a thought,” he offered, pointing out, “Dermot and you could have the same ability. His teenage years were troubled like yours.”
Sookie didn’t want to contemplate that possibility. Mental insanity was always something of which she was accused, but always something from that she refused to believe she suffered. The thought that Dermot’s state was foreshadowing her own scared her immensely.
“Being taken advantage of that way by an older woman who’s supposed to be your new mom? That shit’s rough,” Jason said in a manner that troubled Sookie. It was almost as if he spoke from experience. “Even if he had only half the quirk you have, it would be enough to make him certifiable in that equation.”
Jason didn’t like thinking of the woman who had taken his virginity. At the time it seemed the greatest thing on earth, however, when he’d reached her age, and then regarded girls his age at that time, it had all stopped making sense. Somehow the entire encounter had become dirty, coming to a crash when he’d come across his old teacher by accident in the Bon Temps convenience store. Adding insult to injury, she had tried to apologise after she’d had sex with him again following that meeting in the PigglyWiggly, confirming his worst suspicions that he’d so carefully ignored.
She was right, making it all the more confrontational, she had taken advantage of him. Still raw from his debacle with Crystal, it had hit him harder than he’d liked to admit, making him look at his entire sexual past in a new light. It had been his reason to agree to come to Switzerland when Claudine suddenly showed up on his doorstep. He needed to be as far away from home and anything that reminded him of his sordid past in that moment.
He had always felt justified in his instincts to keep the Brigants at bay, even more so now, but his state of mind in that moment had overridden it, a mistake he wasn’t eager to repeat and wouldn’t allow his sister to do either. It had gotten their parents killed, he and his sister manipulated, and a nasty scar on the side of his skull, though he had to admit it was rather bad ass, and the blonde two tables over seemed to agree.
Sookie hadn’t uttered a word in reply while Jason and Eric moved on to small talk, she remained painfully silent until they arrived home. She sent Jason and Eric up ahead of her while she collected the mail, opening a thick envelope from the hospital, assuming it was important to Jason’s care. Instead it was a stack of cards once attached to the never-ending bouquets of flowers Sookie had turned away without ever looking at them. Most were signed N.B. or had the Brigant family crest with some form of an apology and well wishes, which she disregarded instantly. Among the last was a smaller envelope with a blank card, calling her attention. Shivers ran down her spine when she flipped it open, revealing a telephone number and a message; It was no accident. We should talk.
Eric didn’t even need to trace the phone number on the unsigned card, a Google search sufficed to match the number to the institution in which Dermot was interred. It only made the entire message all the more suspicious.
“It’s not him,” Eric concluded, causing Sookie to regard him in confusion. “I mean it’s him, but too many fingers point his way. He’s old and disliked by most of the family, it’s too obvious to be him.”
“You think Russell lied when he said it was Dermot?” Sookie questioned. “What would he have to gain? He was sincere in the end.”
“I don’t think it was a lie,” he sighed. “You have to understand when we get our assignments, sometimes there’s a point of contact, more often enough there isn’t. We’re the loners of the underworld, it suits everyone involved that we’re detached. I’ve gotten assignments from a Mrs. Clause, return address in the North Pole. A name isn’t everything, using him as a scapegoat may just be a longstanding Brigant tradition.”
“Should we call?”
“A face-to-face would probably be better,” Eric said carefully. “Who knows who else is listening on the other end?”
“Jason’s recovery is going to take months,” she sighed. “I could go alone, I mean it has to be me, right?”
“We could get Jason that nurse he’s been wanting, maybe call in Pam,” he offered. “Don’t know how secure I’d feel with you on your own or Jason on his own, for that matter.”
“If we call in Pam you have to tell her,” Sookie whispered. “Jason will slip inevitably with her here. Either that or she’ll find everything in your little cave.”
“I should have told her before, it just never seemed right,” he said with another tired sigh, staring out the window of their bedroom to take in the grey sky. Her arms wrapped around him from behind, hugging him tight in comfort.
“Russell said it was okay,” she said soothingly. “Your relationship with Pam was more important than what she thought of him, he told me so.”
“He’s the best thing that ever happened to her, and I never wanted to take that away from her.”
“That’s not true, you found her. All Russell did was pick up the pieces. She’ll hurt for a bit, then get over it,” Sookie mused. “She’ll see sense soon enough. Russell, he wasn’t all bad, neither are you and neither is she. You’re all so complex; right and wrong don’t always seem what they’re supposed to be with you lot, but you’re all good, no matter what your flaws. She’ll get that eventually.”
“Like you did?” he whispered.
“Yeah,” she replied, urging him to turn his body towards her. “It took me a lot to forgive what you came to do to me, or to understand why you do what you do. It’s not love that made me blind, it’s just you opening my eyes. It isn’t all that black and white.”
“Good to know,” he grinned, cupping her cheeks and kissing her gently. “Didn’t ever think I would find that with anyone.”
She smiled back, “Didn’t know this was out there, but I’m glad it is.”
“This was not the deal, man,” Jason grumbled lowly while eyeing nurse Yvetta who was sorting through all his medications. “I was promised some hot Euro Ass,” he hissed, audible to everyone.
“You’ll like Pam,” Eric grinned. “I promise.”
“Don’t get his hopes up,” Sookie scolded in between her conversation with the nurse. Sookie had worried the Estonian wouldn’t be the best fit for Jason, considering that most of the help he needed was of a physical nature, helping him in and out of bed and the shower. Still, despite her frail nature, Yvetta proved to be as strong as an ox, something which Sookie hadn’t sought after the woman who was nearing retirement age. She looked pointedly at her brother with a warning glare, “Pam’s a lesbian.”
“Fuck, yes!” Jason cried out, high-fiving Eric in the process. “I’ll definitely like Pam! Tell her to bring a friend! They can give me some physical therapy any time they like.”
“Oh, Jason, behave!” Sookie scowled, her nerves already frayed with the upcoming trip and the phone call she’d have to make to Dermot in preparation for it.
“Is he always like this?” Yvetta demanded brusquely.
“Horny?” Eric posed, receiving a swat from Sookie in the process.
“Yes,” she replied succinctly with her heavy accent.
“Pretty much,” Eric answered despite the glare from Sookie, meekly he offered, “the accident made it worse.”
“I will make him drink the birch juice,” she nodded, pausing to add, “and leave him outdoors during the day. Cool mind, cool loins.”
“Sis!” Jason cried out. “Get me someone else!”
She merely glared at him again, her patience already running thin alongside her elevated nerves. “We Stackhouses aren’t built for this weather,” she informed Yvetta instead. “He stays indoors, and don’t make him drink anything he doesn’t like. It’ll only come back to haunt you. Trust me.”
“Very well,” she agreed with a look of supreme disapproval. “If you want him to stay ill.”
Jason continued to look at her pleadingly while Yvetta disappeared into another room to take stock of the necessary equipment for his physical therapy. With a sigh, Sookie conceded softly, “We’ll see if there’s anyone else available, but I’m not making any promises.”
“Fuck,” Eric groaned, panting above her before falling onto the mattress beside her with a heavy thud.
“You think Jason heard us?” she whispered, they really hadn’t intended to be so loud.
“Sure as fuck he did!” her brother yelled out from the floor above them. “Pam better be fucking pretty!”
“Oh God!” Sookie groaned, she’d be blushing excessively if she wasn’t flushed from exertion already. “This all your fault!”
“Don’t start again,” he warned, “it’s what got us here in the first place. Let’s not treat Jason to an encore.”
“You’re right,” she said with a grimace. They both had a phone call to make. Both didn’t want to make that call and instead had started to pick at each other, looking until it had blown up into a full-fledged fight over the correct placement of a set of plates. Subsequently, in an effort to settle who was right, clothes had been ripped off, the outcome of little interest to either one of them at that point, as it proved the most efficient way to forget the phone calls they’d both promised to make. “Maybe I can call Pam and you can call Dermot? Never mind I know how stupid that sounds.”
“Would be nice though,” Eric sighed, pulling her closely into his side.
“I need to piss!” Jason cried out, interrupting their moment of basking aftermath.
“Now he’s just doing it on purpose,” Sookie grumbled while getting up, finding her shirt missing a good amount of buttons.
“I’ll go,” Eric offered, slipping into his jeans and kissing the top of her head.
“Thanks,” she murmured while reaching for the burner phone that he’d purchased for her to use.
“Gonna call now?”
“Might as well,” she grumbled, glaring at the digits before her. “No point in putting it off any longer.”
He nodded, pausing briefly by the door before exiting, wondering if she’d ask him to stay, but Sookie appeared determined to do this on her own. It didn’t take long to be connected to Dermot and with every ring her nerves increased, bathing her in fear and a cold sweat. She wasn’t quite sure what caused her more anxiety, that he could pick up the phone any second now, or that she’d have to withstand the entire ordeal again if he didn’t.
“Hello?” The voice was aged with a croak, reminding her of Gran and her friends, the cost of life and illness on the body so easily discernible.
“I received your note,” she said carefully.
“I was expecting to hear from you sooner,” he replied, not betraying a hint of any particular emotion.
“Only just got it,” she shrugged. “Didn’t really tell me anything new.”
He chuckled, the action frightening her more than it should. “So, why did you call?”
She took a deep breath, “Figured it was the polite thing to do.”
“You are a delight,” he beamed. “Were you such a hit with the rest of the Brigants, too?”
Sookie wrinkled her nose with the thought of her long, lost family, she wasn’t quite sure what to think of them, but they were far from her favourite people right now, “I think they liked Jason better.”
“Perhaps not,” Dermot pointed out with an astuteness she hadn’t been expecting. “Notice anything odd about them?”
“Should I have?”
“You expect me to answer when you won’t even respond to my questions?” he tittered.
“They can’t lie to each other,” she conceded, not that it was a secret. Niall had given that information rather freely. “You can, can’t you?”
“How would you know?”
She had to take another deep breath, she had to ask, but she really didn’t want to know the answer, “Because I can too. People they…” she drifted off, unsure whether she wanted to share this information or not. Unsure whether he was someone to trust or not, innocent or guilty, she somehow felt compelled.
“Tell you things,” he finished for her. She remained silent, not answering verbally, but the absence of an answer making it abundantly clear regardless. They didn’t need the words, ‘whether you want it or not,’ to know independently from each other exactly what it meant.
“I’d like to meet you,” she finally managed. “Would that be ok?”
“I don’t usually allow any visitors,” he spoke carefully.
“Ok, then,” Sookie replied with a dejection she hadn’t expected to feel.
“You didn’t let me finish,” he interrupted. “You can come.”
“Thank you,” she whispered in relief, unsure exactly where that had come from.
“And Sookie,” he added moments before disconnecting the line. “Be sure to bring that boy of yours, the tall one.”
All she could do was stare at the phone in disbelief, wondering what she’d done, if it was of any good. She hadn’t engaged in a conversation this draining since meeting Russell. After downing a glass of water, she found Eric in a similar state of distress in the living room. He pleaded Pam’s name before angrily tossing the phone to the other end of the sofa.
“She’s pissed,” he grumbled when her arms came to surround him in comfort. “Not very surprising.”
“She’ll adjust soon enough,” Sookie soothed. “Did you warn Talbot?”
He nodded, pulling her into his lap. “I’ll call her tomorrow,” she whispered to his chest.
“Smart,” he smirked. “She’s not good at saying no to you.”
Pam had agreed to look after Jason and much to his delight, had fired Yvetta upon her arrival and demanded the care agency send over resumes with pictures, which had Jason and Pam instantly bonding over the process while bitterly complaining over the lack of hot Euro Ass available.
Arrangements had been made, Cataliades expediting a timeline to ensure Sookie’s safety while they returned to the States. It didn’t matter that they were far away from Bill and Lorena, after the events with Jason there was no precaution Eric didn’t take when it came to her safety. They’d arrived in New Hampshire with little issue and checked into a rather anonymous roadside hotel, taking them both back to those early days with mixed feelings. While enjoying the nostalgia of it, they couldn’t help but appreciate where they were now more.
It hadn’t stopped raining since they’d arrived in the small town that existed of little else beyond a desolate main street and a scattering of homes. In contrast, the mental facility where Dermot resided was a statuesque sprawling property, an orderly cast iron fence surrounding it, making anyone that passed it wonder whether it was keeping anyone in, or rather, keeping the world out.
“Ready?” Eric asked, squeezing her hand for reassurance while she remained firmly seated, seatbelt untouched.
She breathed in, turning to him, she pleaded, “Give me a minute.”
He nodded, pulling the keys from the ignition and they watched the headlights dim slowly, the only source of light now in the distance from the imposing stone building. Sookie was about to open her door when his hand suddenly stilled her intended movement.
“What?” she questioned, only to be answered by a large SUV pulling up in front of the gate that was met by a guard. They couldn’t quite make out the conversation despite Eric carefully lowering his window, after a quick exchange and an assortment of hand gestures the SUV backed onto the main road again, roaring off with a clearly annoyed driver. The glimpse was quick, but neither one of them had missed recognising Claudine in the passenger seat, talking frantically on a phone, the driver unknown to them. They exchanged a look briefly before Eric pursued the brake lights in the distance, only switching on their own lights when they reached a busy road again.
“Do you think they knew we were coming?” Sookie whispered, as if the other car could overhear her.
“No,” he replied with a shake of his head, eyes unwavering in the pursuit ahead. “It seems we’re not the only ones who want to speak to Dermot.”
The SUV pulled into a strip mall, bringing them almost out of state and nearing Boston, some sort of conversation took place between Claudine and the unknown man then she hopped out of the car and into her own.
“Who do we follow?” Sookie asked, looking to Eric for guidance.
“We don’t,” he said while browsing through the photos he’d attempted to take in the relative darkness. “We go back, at least we’ll know for certain we’ll be alone.”
“It’s late,” Sookie pointed out. “Visiting hours will be over.”
“Not for you,” he said, tapping the temples of her face lightly.
“Yeah, okay,” she sighed before he kissed her gently, hoping to calm her nerves, but failing miserably.
It seemed even darker and more ominous the second time they arrived at the imposing property. The guard didn’t even need encouragement, with the mere mention of her name and who they had come to visit, they were taken through. Where before she had been the nervous one, she couldn’t fail to notice Eric had become more and more anxious as they were guided through the large property that resembled more of a mansion than an institution. A knock was placed on the heavy set of doors that guarded Dermot’s private rooms, noticeably different from any other residents.
“Enter,” the frail voice croaked before they carefully treaded into the dimly lit room, the imposing vastness suddenly revealed to them with a flash of lightning from the raging thunderstorm that carried on outside. He was faced away from them, Eric and Sookie exchanging a nervous glance as the door was closed behind them, they moved towards the seating arrangement that sat before the marble fireplace, the low embers doing little to reveal the rest of body connected to the set of legs it illuminated on the turned sofa.
“Mr. Brigant?” Sookie started, polite as ever, her fingers digging into the squeaking cellophane wrapped around the bouquet of flowers that her Gran’s manners had dictated you brought to any ailing person you visited. She startled at the sight before her, the loss of distance revealing all that she had been unable to see along the long trek across the expansive room. The close resemblance to Jason and how he would most likely look like in a few decades should have been the thing that startled her, frighteningly so, considering just how much they looked alike. Sookie didn’t even have time to contemplate that, her fingers growing weak and without much notice loosening the hold on the offered flowers, tumbling softly onto the plush carpet with a crackle while she gasped as two sets of voices replied in unison, “Yes?”
A/N: I know it’s a terrible place to cut off but you know needs and such… I’ll do my best to get the next chapter up before the Christmas break but I’m making no guarantees…
So who is the other Brigant? And let us not forget poor Jason and his continued lack of Euro Ass while having to listen in on his sister, the poor lamb… More next time! Thoughts and things always fun for me to read 😀
Thanks as ever to msbuffy, my beta extraordinaire.