Chapter 5 – Family Secrets
I’ll give Eric his due; he didn’t interrupt me once during my recollections of my life since Bill had walked into Merlotte’s. When I was done he just nodded and looked at me carefully for a few minutes before speaking.
“That explains the feelings I sense from you. In this universe … we had a different relationship.”
“I’m guessing we were never together huh?”
“Yes and no. We had sex, once. And just like in your world, there was always a mutual attraction but you denied me because of Sam.”
Eric told me the history of us from his universe. It was a lot simpler. Sam and I broke Eric out of a detention cell along with Pam and Longshadow. We flirted but I was with Sam. That’s the way it stayed until Sam was taken out by a bullet to the neck while trying to free a group of two-natured. The only time I had sex with Eric in this world was one week after the resistance buried Sam in a makeshift grave at the side of I-55.
A week after that I was dead. Well, the version of Sookie that lived in this world was dead.
“So it was grief sex?”
“I suppose so.” Eric shrugged. “It was satisfactory.”
My mouth gaped. Sex with Eric and it was satisfactory? “I … why would you tell me that?”
“Because I want to see if you’re better in bed than the other Sookie, you would at least be familiar with what pushes my buttons.”
I guess I was surprised at his bluntness, I hadn’t always appreciated my Eric’s comments of that variety but I appreciated them even less from this Eric. But before I could shoot him down he was right next to me, pressing his body against mine. He smelled like my Eric. I pushed him away and he moved, I guess that was something else he had in common with my Eric.
“I won’t sleep with you. You look like my Eric, you sound like my Eric and you smell like my Eric … but you’re not.”
“Are you saying that being in a strange world, after going through so much, you would hold something as trivial as a difference in history against me, when I can offer you comfort?”
“I won’t cheat on my Eric.”
“Suit yourself. If you’ll excuse me, I need to have some supper.”
I nodded and he took off into the sky. When I got back into the room I was sharing with Claude, I was almost run over by Niall coming out the door as I was about to go in. He stopped right in front of me and I knew the look on his face very well – guilt. But why would Niall feel guilty about being caught coming out of me and Claude’s room?
“Is everything okay, Great-Grandfather?”
Now there was some shock added to the guilt. “We never told you in this world. When you and Claude referred to each other as ‘cousin’, I had an idea you would have known or guessed what relation I was to you.”
“Actually, you … brokered an introduction to me through Eric. You sought me out.”
“Well, it’s natural for someone to seek out extended family.”
I smiled at him but didn’t really feel the love. Ever since that fancy meal, I’d been wondering why Niall wanted to be introduced to me. The only things it brought any of us were pain and grief. I said goodnight and hugged him, it wasn’t infused with the same affection that our hugs were in my world. Maybe, in this world, I’d done something to piss him off.
When I entered the room Claude was wrapped in blankets, lying on his side with his back to the door. Claudine had left some sweats on a chair for me to sleep in. I changed quickly and snuggled up to Claude, expecting him to seek comfort like he had been doing recently. But he just patted my hand and whispered for me to have sweet dreams.
Sometime before dawn, I woke up. Not long enough to open my eyes, but long enough to hear the door of the room closing softly. Reaching out with my feet, I confirmed that Claude was still in the bed with me and went back to sleep. The next time I woke up it was to Claudine’s voice and her hand gently shaking my shoulder.
“Sookie, there’s breakfast waiting for you and we’re having a meeting to determine which area we should move to next.”
I sat up and rubbed my eyes. I felt rested, which was the best feeling I’d had in days. It was even better than the clean feeling I had after my shower the night before.
“What time is it?”
“A little after seven, there’s a lot to do and I thought you’d want to be part of it.”
I nodded and noted that there was another pile of clean clothes waiting for me. “Is there a maid service with the resistance? I can’t remember the last time I had clean clothes set out for me in the morning.”
That wasn’t strictly true, I remembered quite well the last time that had happened. It was my Gran that had done it and I had still been in school. I took a moment to revel in the memory of a time where my life was simple – or as simple as the life of a telepath could be.
Claude was obviously already up and about seeing as he wasn’t in the bed with me. I was a little sad that he didn’t wait for me; he had seemed so needy since we got pulled through the first portal. But maybe, with other Fae around, he was stronger and his confidence was coming back? On one hand I was happy about that, on the other I was torn because if his confidence was back then I could let rip about how stupid he had been messing around with that portal in the first place!
After another great shower and a very hearty breakfast, I was herded into the living room of the house we were camped out in with all the other two-natured, Fae and humans that were sympathetic and had joined the resistance. Niall and Quinn led the meeting. It was reported that our position was still fairly secure but that we should move on soon. Apparently these guys moved around a lot and never used the same abandoned properties more than once.
“Our next camp should be strategic. Most of you have met our visitors.” Niall indicated me and Claude. “And, for the moment, our mission is to help them get back to their own world. That means finding the least secure portal facility and taking out the security detail.”
There were murmurs of complaint about that. I squeezed Claude’s hand and he smiled at me, but he didn’t squeeze back. When I looked around the room I noticed there was only one Claude. That preyed on my mind the whole time Niall and Quinn were pointing to a map of the USA and circling the areas where all of the portals were. Some were crossed out right after circling because the resistance knew how heavily guarded they were, the others that hadn’t been crossed out would need to be scoped out to determine how secure they were.
The meeting dragged on for hours, members of the cell called members of other cells to try and get information. I dragged Claude over to the map to see that the Bon Temps portal had been crossed off already.
“I wonder if Gran’s house is still there.” I said it to myself more than anyone else as I traced I-20 with my finger.
“Oh it’s there alright.” Niall said from right next to me. I jumped a little, not knowing he was so close. “Or it was a little time after you died anyway. Claudine visited the area to see if they’d had the decency to bury you in the same place as your ancestors, as your human tradition dictates.”
I nodded, wondering what kind of mess the place would be in. Would there be soldiers living there now? Did they use it as a barracks for guarding the portal in the woods?
“That’s actually something that I wanted to discuss with you.” Niall put an arm around me and steered me out of the room, along with Claude, and into the kitchen. “You know that I’m your Great-Grandfather, so I assume you know about Fintan and his relationship with your Grandmother?”
“Yes … well, I know he got her pregnant twice. I’m not sure how he tricked her into cheating on my Grandfather.”
Niall looked confused at that, I always struggled with how little Supes cared for the notions of monogamy when offspring and sex for pleasure were more important.
“Fintan … he took something from me. He loved your Grandmother very much and I think he may have given it to her.”
“Like a ring or a necklace? Oh! Did he steal the royal jewels?” My hand flew to my mouth thinking that Gran had been given stolen goods for services rendered.
“Not quite jewels, a very special object. It could solve all of your problems with one wish.”
“A wish?” I snorted. “Did he steal a genie?”
I could see Niall was getting annoyed and sobered up. Obviously this wasn’t the time for wisecracks.
“No, it would have been small, green and would have looked like something a woman would use for powdering her face.”
He watched intently as I tried to remember seeing something like that around the house. “I don’t recall seeing anything like that.”
“Oh you wouldn’t just see it; you would know how special it was from how it felt to the touch and being close to it.”
“Then I definitely don’t know what it is or where it might be.”
Niall looked even more annoyed, his frown deepened into his handsome face. “If only you could find the Cluviel Dor, you would have the power to get back to your own world without all of the hassle of mutating the portals.”
I brightened at that. “Really? You said it granted wishes, right? I could just wish for me and Claude to be back in our own world?”
He nodded and I squeezed Claude’s hand, offering him a smile that he couldn’t help but return. It seemed like an easy option to me, perhaps a little too easy but sometimes the easiest option really was the right one. A plan of action was quickly formed and Niall called Claudine through to the kitchen to let her know where we would be going.
She quickly refused to have any part of it, calling it a suicide mission for something that probably doesn’t even exist anymore. I realised that something was off, why would Niall let Claudine in on the plan but not Claude? Where was Claude – this world’s version not the one I was hanging on to? I asked out loud where he was and Claudine simply glared at Niall before popping out of the room.
“Claude … our Claude, was disturbed by having another one of him walking around. I think he’ll be keeping a low profile until we find a way to send you back.”
Niall looked solemn as he spoke but it didn’t make sense to me. If there was anyone Claude loved looking at it was himself, but maybe something was different about the Claude in this world to the Claude I had next to me.
By late afternoon I was dizzy. I had been popped here there and everywhere. Recon – Fae style – was not agreeing with my inner ear. When we got back to the resistance base, I needed to lie down for a while. We’d established that the entire Stackhouse property was surrounded by iron fencing but the house was pretty much iron free. The guards were a different matter. I had used my telepathy to gauge how many guards were in the house and try to determine whereabouts in the house they were. The only part of the house I couldn’t detect any brains in was the attic. Which turned out to be serendipitous (I really needed to get myself another word of the day calendar when I got home) because, I figured, the attic was the only part of the house I hadn’t turned over after Gran Died.
Claude hadn’t stayed with me when I went back to our room. He preferred to stay with Niall. It irked me because he was so ready to shrug me off after what we’d been through, it was only the night before he wouldn’t let go of me during that meeting. I thought about what had happened after that. I went outside to talk to Eric and when I came back … Niall! Niall had been in the room with Claude. Had he said something to Claude to make him act so aloof? Well, aloof in comparison to before being left alone with Niall. The more I thought about it, the more annoyed I got. And scared.
What if Claude wanted to stay here with his Fairy kin?
I shook that idea out of my head. He seemed to want this Cluviel whatnot just as much as I did so we could get back to our world. I could understand that, the couple of times he’d used his magic on the portal had left him drained. If I was in that state I’d be desperate to get an easier way out too.
Claudine came to get me for dinner, she more touchy feely than usual. I got a hug when I woke up and another before I got out of bed, then one more before we left the room. I liked it; I had missed Claudine’s hugs since she was killed by Breanden’s men. It was still fairly light while we were eating but the sun was starting to go down as we got back to Bon Temps for the most important phase of our mission.
I took a deep breath as I gave Claude the signal that I couldn’t sense any people in the area we’d appear and then he put his arms around me and popped us to the attic of my Gran’s house. Niall’s orders were clear – we were to stick to each other like glue (not a problem for me at all) and search the attic for this Cluviel thingy. When (or if) we found it, we were to pop back to the base ASAP. The attic was pretty much empty apart from some large pieces of furniture. I remembered there being lots of boxes and smaller bits and pieces the last time I put something up there. I also remembered where the pull-cord for the light switch was.
“We should check the furniture, drawers and hidey holes.” I whispered.
The buzzing of the minds of the soldiers beneath us was distracting me but I tried to tune them out and took a step toward where I figured the pull-cord was. A floorboard squeaked in protest beneath my foot and I winced. I felt out the current occupants’ state of mind – they were still thinking about the same things they were thinking about before I made any noise. The house was old and creaky; many a time I’d heard the groans of the building during a light breeze. I hoped that the soldiers would put any noises Claude and I made down to the same reason.
We tentatively opened drawers and moved around the attic searching. It didn’t take long as there wasn’t really a lot up there but I kept being drawn back to an old desk that we had searched first. I don’t remember it clearly, I just knew that it had belonged to my Grandfather, but it felt more familiar than that somehow. I tugged at Claude’s hand and pointed to it; he nodded and helped me move it away from the wall a little. That was something that was very hard to keep quiet doing but, somehow, we managed not to create too much of a disturbance. I kept monitoring the brains downstairs, listening for any signs that they were getting suspicious. It was tiring, keeping so much focus while trying to do other things. Multi-tasking in that capacity wasn’t something I had ever enjoyed doing.
I crawled under the desk, feeling the wood with my hands and gasping as I noticed something not quite right. I couldn’t really see properly but there were hinges, or what felt like hinges at the back of the space someone’s knees would fit. I kept rubbing at the area, noting the grooves where there was obviously a door of some kind. I pressed and pushed, trying to find a hole for a key, just as I was about to give up and let Claude have a turn, I pressed on a panel of wood and there was a rusty click.
My heart leaped but as I was about to lift the door and feel around for hidden treasure, Claude pulled me out of the way. I bumped my head on the underside of the desk and bit my lip to stop for yelping. I was still rubbing the sore spot when Claude came out from under the desk and held up an envelope that had held a dress pattern, once upon a time, and a small pouch with a drawstring. He threw the dress pattern at me and gazed at the little bag with wonder.
I set my jaw and stood up, grabbing the little pouch from him. “My house, my things.”
It was rude, but then Claude had been rude shoving me out of the way so he could get at something my Gran had left for a Stackhouse. He glared at me and took a step toward me. For the first time, I was scared of him.
“We need to get back to base.”
He lunged and I stepped back, something was up and I didn’t like it at all. I could see he was about to make a grab for me again but before he could another two people appeared in the attic.
“Touch her and you die Fairy!”
It was Eric and … the other Claude. Eric rushed the Claude I was scared of while the other Claude came to me and took me in his arms. There had been a big mistake – this was my Claude. The other Claude, who was trying to get out of Eric’s grip, was the Claude from this world. I had been duped.
By my kin.
I gently removed myself from Claude’s arms and held up the little pouch.
“I’ve got it, I found the way home!”
My Claude was confused and in our wonder at what the small bag might contain, we missed the other Claude getting away from Eric and coming towards us. The bag was snatched out of my hand and, before I could say anything, the other Claude had emptied it into his hand.
“I wish the portals were unguarded and the humans would forget their existence!”
There was the sound of thunder, then the floor of the attic came up to meet me as I passed out.
When I woke up, my head was pounding. I opened my eyes and the light for the attic was still on. Someone groaned to my left and my Claude sat up. I looked over to where the other Claude had been. He was sitting, staring at the trinket in his hand. Until Eric regained consciousness, then the trinket was on the floor and the other Claude was up against a wall with an angry vampire’s hand around his throat.
“Eric!” I wanted to say ‘stop’ or ‘don’t hurt him’ but the words just wouldn’t come. “Let’s find out if his wish worked.”
I couldn’t sense anyone else in the area at all. We opened the hatch and climbed down the steps. My house looked just like my house. Some things were a little different, but it was still recognisable as where Gran had raised me. There were no soldiers in the building at all and when we got outside, there was no iron fence either. We walked back to the woods and checked out where the portal was – there was not a soul around.
Claude, my Claude, raised his hands and got the look of concentration on his face. I put a hand out to stop him. “Not right now, they used us to find that hoodoo trinket – I think we deserve something in return.”
I looked to the other Claude and pointed at him, wearing what I hoped was a stern expression. “We’re going back to your base and you’re going to do us some favours seeing as we solved your little transportation problem.”
The other Claude smirked but it was soon wiped off his face by Eric wrapping his arms around him. “If we end up anywhere else, I will eat you.”
The dilation of Eric’s pupils and the fact he was salivating when he said it must have scared the bejesus out of the other Claude. When my Claude popped us back to the resistance base, Eric was being restrained by Niall and Quinn and Claudine was pressing a rolled up t-shirt to the other Claude’s neck.
I had minimal sympathy.
I also had the urge to march right over and sock my Great-Grandfather right in the chops. My mind was going a mile a minute thinking of how ready he was to use me to get what he wanted. No matter how I tried to convince myself that things were different in this world, I couldn’t help but remember how powerful he said the Cluviel Dor was. It was entirely possible that Niall in my world was only favouring me because I held what he really wanted – power.
Once the drama of our return had settled, I laid out my terms. “We’ll have that map of all the portals, a bag of foods and drinks and whatever you Fae folk can supply to make sure Claude regains his strength quicker when we jump universes.”
“Impudent child!” The other Claude shouted but he was soon subdued by Claudine pressing very hard against his neck wound.
“What makes you think you deserve anything?”
I was shocked speechless. Fortunately, Claude wasn’t.
“You held me prisoner and duped Sookie into leading you to the Cluviel Dor – a mission that could have ended in her death if they’d been caught!”
Quinn loosened his grip on Eric and looked at Niall. “Is this true? We just got Sookie back and you put her in harm’s way?”
“I found a way for all of us to be free again!”
“That’s not true!” I blurted out. “Claude only wished for the portals to be unguarded and humans forget their existence – he didn’t do jack squat for the other Supes!”
Quinn let go of Eric completely and the other vampires and two-natured started surrounding the Fae members that were present. As suspected, they all popped quick as a wink, except Claudine. I went over to her, not that I could protect her if they decided to attack.
“Your cousin is safe, Sookie. She came to me and told me of their plans when I rose for the evening.” Eric nodded to her.
“She also made sure I was strong enough to use my powers.” Claude added.
The other Supes backed off and Claudine relaxed. “I’ll stay and help you fight, it’s what Sookie – the Sookie we all knew and loved – would have wanted.”
Quinn came over and put a hand on my shoulder and the other on Claude’s. “We’d sure appreciate you guys sticking around – we could use all the help we can get.”
I looked at Eric and he smirked at me and quirked an eyebrow. “Ah … I understand you guys wanting us around but we’ve got our own world, our own people, to get back to.”
“And now we have extra help!” Claude went over and took the map of the USA with the portals marked on it down from the wall. “If you add in the fact there may well be another Cluviel Dor in another universe … we’ve got more hope of finding our way home than we had before.”
We smiled at each other and Claudine popped off to get some kind of elixir that Claude could carry with him to help him regain his strength quicker. Quinn donated a backpack, which we filled with goodies from the food store and a change of clothes each. We decided to get one more nights rest before making the jump the next day. Who knows when we might get another chance to sleep in a bed or have a hot shower?
I wasn’t surprised when I had another pre-dawn visit. I had suspected that it had been Eric who had come to visit me the morning before and when I switched on the bedside lamp and saw him smirking at me from next to the bed it was confirmed. I opened my mouth to ask why he was there but quickly found any words muffled by his lips and tongue.
Don’t get me wrong, kissing Eric in any universe is an experience. This Eric was itching to tap a Sookie just for the sake of his own curiosity. But my Eric was waiting for the Sookie he fell in love with.
That thought made me a little more determined to get back to the world I belonged in.