“Sorry I’m late,” he whispered in her ear while Sookie contentedly continued to nurse the youngest of the newly arrived triplets in her arms. “I’ll get the Maypole up for the kids in a second.”
She beamed up at him with a joy he hadn’t seen in quite some time as it was directed exclusively at him. “Thanks, honey,” she whispered, jutting out her lips that demanded a chaste kiss from him, which he was more than happy to oblige. “Now why couldn’t you just have acted like that this morning?”
“What do you mean this morning? I just apologised for not being here.”
“I knew it! You’re not well!” Sookie said with a confirmed worry. “I’m calling Dr. Ludwig!”
“I’m perfectly fine!” he denied. “The meeting ran late! It made more sense to pick up the stuff from Shreveport now instead of going back and forth twice. I sent you a text.”
Her brows furrowed before pulling the mobile phone she never really looked at much from a kitchen drawer to see the unopened text message blinking at her with a startle. “Wait! If you’re you…” she gasped before a sheer look of horror fell over her face. “Then who did I sleep with?”
“You slept with another?!” Eric roared out in fury, which caused the youngest of the babies to cry out in anguish.
“That’s all it was!” Sookie retorted while sussing the baby at her breast.
“There’s more to it,” he spoke lowly, sensing her trepidation through the bond.
“A kiss, OK!” she admitted in exasperation. “He kissed me!”
“Where is he?” Eric demanded with another roar before their eyes locked in anguish.
“The kids!” Sookie cried out in sudden concern to a shadow of the wind as Eric had already sped out in search of them.
“Step away now,” he growled at his mirror image. “Kids inside!”
“Viki, meet Viki,” Spike chuckled.
“Don’t call me VIKI!” the two Erics cried out simultaneously.
Spike held his hands up in supplication, pointing out, “He’s harmless, mate.”
“He slept with MY Sookie!” Eric spat out in disgust.
“And she took pleasure in every minute of it,” his younger self grinned back lasciviously.
“Mate, you really want to take on yourself?” Spike hissed in warning. “He’s got a couple of years on you.”
“I can take him,” he spoke with the bravado of relative youth, while sizing himself up. “He’s gone soft, this one. Pussy.”
The last word had barely left his mouth before he was thrust into the ground causing havoc as the two vampires snarled and clawed at each other, knowing the other’s weak spots with lethal accuracy though doing little to sustain damage in the other.
“Stop!” Sookie pleaded once she finally arrived along with a larger crowd that had been attracted by the sudden outburst of violence in the otherwise peaceful setting. “Niall, please!”
“Enough!” her great-grandfather bellowed out before unleashing a debilitating light ball that had them both clutching their chests in discomfort with the painful temporary paralysis. “Behave!”
“Which one’s which?” Willa whispered to Sookie who felt a connection to the both of them. Frustratingly, they wore something similar. With the birth of their three new babies, she could barely remember what she was wearing, let alone Eric in his standard uniform of black wife beaters and jeans.
“I don’t know,” she replied carefully, eyeing them both.
“Come here, honey,” one of them said with a gentle reach towards her. “Give your husband a kiss.”
She smiled with recognition, and with a warm smile approached him while the other Eric looked on in confusion. He was about to protest, but a scolding glare from her put a stop to it as she continued on to the other Eric. “Come here,” she beckoned with a beckoning finger, and happily he lowered his lips towards her, closing the lids of his eyes slightly before shock overtook him. “ASSHOLE!” she yelled with a well-aimed punch to the nose. “MOTHERFUCKER!”
“What’d you do that for?!” he screamed in agony, while the other Eric shimmied in behind her, suitably smug, holding her possessively around the waist to him.
“We’re not married,” he informed his younger self.
“Oh,” he replied, rather defeated while righting his damaged nose, and only then did they notice the commotion of little voices behind them.
“Mommy!” Eva hissed with wide eyes. “You said a bad word!”
“Two,” Pinnie chimed in, and her greedy eyes were already filled with the entire Mattel collection!
“Fuck a zombie!” Pam exclaimed once she finally made it through the crowd and saw two of her Maker.
“That’s three, dearie,” Niall said with a disapproving headshake while the kids cried out in glee!
“Thanks a lot, Sookie!” Pam accused, forgetting the mysterious appearance of an identical Eric momentarily. “You’re taking them!”
“Am not,” Sookie bit back aggressively. “The rule is the third, not the second!”
“If we count this morning, you’re the third,” she pointed out smugly.
“You paid off the kids, and now it counts?” Sookie countered.
“PAMELA!” Niall yelled over the shouting match that was about to erupt. “Is this true?”
“Maybe,” she whispered with a fluttering of her lashes and moving hypnotically with an exaggerated sway to her hips towards him. “Let me make it up to you, I’ll make you an extra special spaghetti.”
Niall’s stormy eyes instantly perked up, “How special?”
“Extra, extra, special,” she spoke huskily as her finger dragged along his jaw, dropping another octave, “With Parmesan.”
“Parmesan?” he asked, a shiver threatening to make him weak in the knees.
“What the hell does she see in the old man?” Eric, the younger, whispered with wonder.
“Wait till you see the Maypole stir in his pants,” Spike grinned. “In three, two, o-”
“Hush, you!” Sookie scolded with a light slap while the wondering vampire got an eyeful of exactly what made the Prince of the Fae so appealing to Pam, even in his old age.
“Parmesan!” Pam grinned with a triumphant grin towards Sookie.
Niall nearly choked before clearing his throat and following his wife’s gaze, “Sookie, you’re taking the children to Six Flags!” Her protests went unheard over the kids’ triumphant cries, their long-begged-over trip coming to fruition.
Eric’s face sat in a permanent crumple as he observed his fierce progeny sprinkle the grated cheese over a selection of bowls for her children with loving encouragement. What the fuck was up with Parmesan? She dabbed the corner of her husband’s mouth for a splodge of remnant sauce before gently planting a kiss on the recently cleaned lips as he fondled on the ties of her apron. An apron! She’s fucking wearing an apron! In a rose garden. In the fucking sun! As if she’s fucking Martha Stewart!
“So this is because of the Summer Solstice,” Sookie queried for confirmation.
“Yes, yes,” Niall dismissed with little interest. “Spirits roam freely as soon as the sun turns south. He’ll be back where he belongs just as we light the bonfire.”
“Do we get to burn him?” Little Spike asked with just a wee bit much too enthusiasm.
“If he was a witch, maybe,” Niall shrugged. “It’s not really an exact science.”
“Can we burn a witch then?” the little boy pleaded with renewed excitement.
“Yes,” the displaced Eric and Spike echoed in agreement at which Little Spike couldn’t help but beam with pride, and strangely enough, Sookie seemed to be the only one to veto the idea…
“It is auspicious to do so,” Niall pondered momentarily, that is, till he saw the fire brimming in Sookie at the very idea. “Maybe next year?”
“Poop,” his son pouted, a look sported by several faces at the table.
“Can we go swim now?” Bran asked while shoving his emptied plate in front of him.
“Go ahead,” Pam answered with little regard, which prompted three of the boys to instantly disrobe and run down to the dock with delighted squeals to plunge into the cool water, Little Spike dragging the two girls along while Viggo remained anchored to his real father.
“Pam!” the Maker, and his exaggerated anxiety she’d come to know these past years, shouted out, “They’re supposed to wait an hour after eating before they swim! They could drown!”
“Stop reading those online parent message boards,” she retorted with a roll of her eyes. “They feed your paranoia. If one of them drowns, I’ll turn ‘em,” Pam shrugged with a maleficent grin.
“I always liked you when you were cold and heartless,” the other Eric chimed in with pride before he found himself at the end of her deadly stare.
“I always thought I missed this Eric,” she spoke coolly before boring him down with her signature vacuous gaze. “I find that I don’t.”
“I said I’m sorry,” he grumbled in reply.
Ignoring him, she turned cheerfully to her indulgent husband, “Perhaps you should reconsider burning him?”
“He’s not corporeal,” Niall dismissed while pulling Pam into his lap.
“He looks pretty corporeal to me,” Spike observed while scoffing down his last bite and offering his plate for another helping that was granted with an arched brow and a splat by Pam. “I should know the difference. Was non-corporeal once.”
“He’s bound to him, so there’s two now. They’ll be one as soon as the fire is high in the sky.”
“You seem awfully assured everything will work out as it should,” Sookie spoke with worry.
Niall shrugged, “Everything seems as it should be now. He’s here, safe and sound. Novikow self-consistency theory.”
“He has no memory of this,” Sookie pointed out.
“Of course not,” her great-grandfather scoffed in between a strawberry that Pam was feeding him, tonguing it as it went down and causing the entire group of them to grimace at the display that was bordering on the pornographic. “He’s memories in a borrowed vessel, nothing more. As soon as the vessel is gone, so are these acquired memories. He might remember some sensations, but that’s all.”
Sookie didn’t fail to see the pained look on the other Eric’s face. “Eric didn’t remember anything until I zapped him.”
“That’s good, my dear great-granddaughter, it means they were there when he’s in need of them again. Just needed you to activate them. How do you think a man without a thought knew how to love you? It takes more than being just a pretty face.” Pam scoffed, rather loudly, at his last statement causing Niall’s eyes to twinkle with delight, “Unless you happen to be my dear wife.”
“Watch the kids, honey,” Sookie whispered to her Eric. He nodded while she encouraged the other Eric up who was still appearing slightly forlorn to walk with her away from the immaculately decorated garden. Hired workers were still busy, placing the small candle lanterns that would light up the slowly darkening evening sky, although the promised results of Pam’s overzealous party planning were already in full effect.
“You two are happy,” Eric stated, something had settled in him with a determined answer to the question that had occupied him from the moment he woke. She encouraged him to sit down beside her on a stone bench allowing them both to overlook the entire scene.In the distance they could see the first of the Faery relatives coming through the portal bearing gifts.
“Yes,” Sookie smiled. “It took a while to understand this was our path. On both sides.”
“Is it the children? You found out you could have those with me, not Bill?”
She eyed him with a sideways glance. Her former paramour’s name had not been mentioned in a very long time and it was almost odd to hear the name again, especially in the context as a rival to Eric. She found there was little left to say about him. “Bill’s dead.”
“Is that why-”
“No,” she assured. “I saw you for you and you saw me for who I was. It’s as simple as that.”
“As simple as that kiss,” he grinned.
“Something like that,” she smiled before she took him by surprise and kissed him as if he were the man holding their oldest boy in his lap across the small lake.
“That’s not simple,” he replied in surprise once he dared open his eyes and saw her expecting gaze.
“It’s what we are now,” she grinned. “It’s different, but it’s good. We love, we learn, and we make plenty of mistakes along the way. It’s complex, deep, and rich.”
“You’re happy,” he repeated, understanding the warmth she was planting inside him. It had nothing to do with the idyllic scene before them with giggling, shouting children and an extensive family, it sat even deeper than that.
“We’re happy,” she corrected while waving at the kids when they yelled to her, wanting to show off a newly-learned skill. She yelled back with encouragement before her tone fell more serious, “You’ll have to wait for her. Be vulnerable, love her from afar, and wait. Love will ultimately see you far. She’ll come to you when it’s time.”
“What do you mean she? We’re talking about you, aren’t we?”
“Sort of,” Sookie said with a pat to his knee before giving it a soft squeeze. “Just trust me.”
He caught her gaze; seeing the memories of the past play out in her dark eyes before confessing in a whisper, “Always have.”
A/N: Thanks to msbuffy again for all that she does!
For the love of all things holy don’t ask me what Parmesan is code for… hope you enjoyed I’ll put up the last chapter of this within the next few days. Park your thoughts and other lovely offerings in the comment/review section 🙂