Kate Lynn (katers007) wrote,
Kate Lynn
katers007

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"True Blood" Fic: Early Risers, Part II (Godric, Jason)

Title: Early Risers
Author: katers007 
Fandom: “True Blood”
Summary: “What is to give light must endure burning.” While with the Fellowship waiting to meet the sun, a sleepless Godric and Jason share a morning neither expected to see. Amidst the growing threat of war their encounter will catapult them onto a course to defend a world in which they no longer fit. In the end, each must answer this question: is the road to salvation really one of sacrifice or self-service?
Characters: Godric, Jason, Steve, Sarah, Luke (with Eric, Sookie, Bill, Stan, Isabelle, Pam, and Nan later)
Rating: R
Genre: Drama, AU after episode 205: “Never Let Me Go”
Status: Part 2/?
Word Count: 5,911
Warning: Strong language, some eventual violence via explosions and combat
Disclaimer: All things “True Blood” are not mine and I gain no compensation from this work aside from the pleasure of playing around with the characters. The quote used in the summary is by Viktor Frankl. Quotes in the story are centered and from Andrew Boyd’s “Daily Afflictions.” Many thanks to smarvelous  for the awesome beta job.

Click Here for Part One.




Part 2: Lines Drawn by Darkness

 

The boy said nothing. Godric watched as Jason’s fingers tightened on the bars before shoving himself back as though they were searing. Without moving from sitting upright on the cot, Godric noted his appearance. Wavy hair plastered across his forehead, drying stiff and salty. Rough hands, calloused and sure. The Fellowship's shining star. Godric smiled softly, thinking to himself. 'What child is this?'

"How’d you know me?" Jason finally asked. For a moment Godric noticed him shifting his weight, as though contemplating pacing before discarding it as weak.

Nothing about the boy gave the impression he'd move to run away.

Godric answered, "Your reputation precedes yourself." Godric now had visual reference for the accolades they’d given Jason: a true Christian. An excellent shot. A brother to his fellow soldiers. An instrument for war. A leading example of how to be a follower. When Jason's expression didn't change Godric elaborated, "I've heard about you. And from you." With a slight flick of his glance upwards, Godric indicated he'd overheard Jason and Gabe above.

Jason followed his gaze, confirming his suspicion. "Vampire." The implication of this, and the cell, slowly dawned on his face as well. The sacrificial slaughter. Vampire turned lamb.

Turned.

Into nothing.

Godric blinked, pulling out of himself by force to refocus on his surroundings. Jason still stood rooted where he had been. "I won't harm you," Godric promised.

Jason's gaze narrowed, looking skeptical. "Are you hurt?"

It was a fair question. From the outside looking in, why would anyone capable of escaping remain contained?

Assuming, of course, that one didn't have the perspective that existence itself was confining, so any smaller manifestations of it weren't worth causing upset. Which, since he'd asked such a question, set Jason outside that category.

"I'm uninjured," Godric assured him, although he supposed in retrospect that was anything but reassuring. "I'm here by choice."

At that Jason paused, seemingly torn between slight relief he wasn't involved in a clear cut murder set-up and puzzled over why that was the case. Interesting he didn't just assume it was God's will being done and calling it a day. He also didn't seem motivated by blood lust of the human kind, or else he'd have been disappointed Godric wasn't fearing for his life. Godric wondered what then did motivate Jason.

He wondered if Jason even knew himself.

“Oh.” Jason didn’t seem to have an answer, but then, Godric didn’t know how one would respond to hearing that someone willingly incarcerated themselves. Finally Jason offered, “I couldn’t sleep.” When Godric said nothing Jason added, “That’s why I’m here.” Further silence prodded him to shift awkwardly and continue, “In case you were wondering. Which you probably weren’t. So. Yeah.” He looked around, possibly for the nearest exit, or for anything that would reciprocate with an actual response.

What should he say? Godric knew silence worked with Steve, who was more than happy to fill the stillness himself. Gabe had never tried to make actual conversation. Godric offered honestly, “I don’t know what to say.” Jason gave a small grin at that, as though for this human not knowing something wasn’t a catastrophic event.

Jason shrugged. “That’s all right. I probably shouldn’t stay long, anyway.”

“And you often do as you’re told?” Godric asked.

Jason shrugged. “More often than not,” he said, then a bit bitterly added, “The often being when I shouldn’t.”

Godric cocked his head, his voice soft and devoid of judgment and feeling. “Why do you say that?”

“Because it’s the truth.” Jason’s answer was just as soft, though infused with guilt and anger and more emotion than Godric could name. A part of Godric, the part that had been a father, struggled to care enough to comfort him. Then again, perhaps Jason would be better off without any guidance Godric could offer. The love he felt for Eric regardless didn’t negate the fact that Godric had guided him poorly.

Instinctively Godric’s eyes fell to where the truth ring rested on Jason’s finger, quietly musing, “It seems like such a simple thing, doesn’t it? To tell the truth. To say things as they are.”

Without looking up, Godric could hear the shrug in Jason’s voice as he said, “No simpler than sleeping should be.”

“I am afraid I can’t help you there,” Godric said, with a hint of self-deprecation. “Daylight hasn’t been any kinder to me in that respect than the night is being to you.”

“Really?” Jason looked him over. “Thought y’all were dead dead during the day. Ed – someone told me that.” He clammed up, and Godric decided not to pry.

Godric gave a faint nod. “Usually, we need to rest during the day. It can’t be helped.” It was a gamble, offering this information, but Gabe likely had already noticed the faint stains of blood on Godric’s clothing. There wasn’t much of it, as Godric hadn’t fed in forever, but Gabe was observant. Whether it’d be realized yet that this was a result from not sleeping, Godric wasn’t sure. However, Jason was the first person who wasn’t outright revolted by Godric, or at least didn’t seem to be, and wasn’t bridging understanding part of what Godric desired?

“What happens if you don’t?” Jason asked. He didn’t appear to want to know for any reason other than curiosity, and Godric doubted Jason could fool him. After so long, it wasn’t hard to see through most people.

Simply Godric said, “We become ill. There’s blood involved.” When wasn’t there? “But as you can see, not life-threatening. Merely unpleasant.” In Godric’s case, at least.

Jason leaned against the wall, raising an eyebrow in incredulity as he pieced this new information together with what he’d previously heard or seen. “So, lemme see if I got this right. Y’all can fly, move faster’n a speeding bullet, and kill like a ninja Godzilla, but skip a nap and it’s bleed me a river time?”

Godric paused. “Well, not all of us can fly.”

“Huh.” Jason thought this over, then said, “I guess NyQuil or a beer wouldn’t work for you, for sleeping.”

Godric shook his head. “I doubt human food would agree with me.”

“But you’ve never tried it?” Jason looked surprised. “Really? Never?”

Did it really have to be pointed out? “Not since I was turned, no.”

“How do you know you wouldn’t like it, then?” Jason persisted. He really wasn’t one to let things rest. A proverbial dog on the scent, unsure what he was after but pursuing it just as relentlessly. Godric reflected in passing, how it all would fit. What initially drew Newlin to Jason was precisely what would ultimately repel him. Jason could take things into his own hands. He could act, pursue, be dogged, and be challenging, and ultimately, he would be all of those.

Godric shrugged. “Blood is what nourishes us, and all we crave.”

“I’d still try something, or at least not knock it ‘til I have. I mean, some foods make me sick after I eat them and aren’t really in the basic food group chain, but they’re still worth having. While you’re eating it? Like heaven.” Jason concluded his imagery with nostalgic smile, clearly having particular memories tied to his blanket statements.

There was no need to force the point, so Godric merely said mildly, “Would you try anything?”

Jason stiffened, knowing what was meant. “Not just anything.”

Godric attempted a smile to put him back at ease. “Sometimes it’s good to have boundaries. Oddly, it can help things grow.”

“You know,” Jason said after a moment, “You remind me of somebody.”

“Somebody good, I hope.” Godric had meant it lightly, but as soon as he said it he realized that in these times, the concept of good was anything but light. For some, it was everything.

Jason merely nodded. “Right.” After a beat he looked around for something, anything, else to latch onto. “Hey, they got games in here?”

Godric followed Jason’s eye line to a shelf stuffed lined with several board games. “Apparently so.” He watched Jason go over and begin perusing them. In honesty, Godric hadn’t even known they were there at all.

After a moment of reading the titles, Jason shoved the games back in place. “… guessing you haven’t been playing those.” Godric assumed that meant they weren’t typical boxes of Monopoly.

“I’ve never played,” Godric answered. He didn’t know exactly when board games had come into fashion, but they’d never been an activity he’d adopted.

“Never?” Jason asked in surprise again. “They’re not bad, not really my thing. But how long have you been around?”

Godric tilted his head. “Why?”

A shrug was his answer, followed by Jason elaborating, “For someone wanting to die, seems like there’s a lot of stuff you haven’t yet done.” When Godric made no reply he hurried to add, “Not that it’s any of my business. It ain’t.”

“It isn’t,” Godric agreed. “But it’s fine.” He doubted Jason had meant any offense, and knew there wasn’t any way he could understand.

After a beat Jason asked, “Do you at least like sunrises?”

Godric paused, then answered quietly, more to himself than anything. “I don’t remember.”

“It would just seem too bad, to have the last thing you see be something you don’t like,” Jason said. “It would sorta be like over-salting the wound.”

“That presupposes there’d be a wound at all,” Godric replied, but smiled softly to show there was no offense. He wanted to burn, it wouldn’t be an affliction.

Jason nodded, seemed about to say something, then clearly changed his mind and went with, “I should get going. Thanks for, uh, sharing your…” he paused, not sure what to call the room. It was more akin to a jailhouse than bedroom, and while that much was obvious, he didn’t seem to want to state it. “What do you guys call it, where you stay?”

“Vampire homes are nests,” Godric answered. “Although I wouldn’t call this one.”

Jason nodded. He started to leave, then looked back with an afterthought. “Why do y’all call it a nest anyway? Makes me think of – “

“Animals.” Godric found that fitting.

“Yeah,” Jason agreed. “Like little birds sitting around being fed worms or somethin’.” After a beat he added, “No offense,” with a look of, ‘do you expect this by now?’

Godric smiled slightly again; this time, it didn’t feel entirely forced. “I don’t know why.” The smile faded as he added, more quietly, “We just do.”

Left with nothing else to say, Jason headed back upstairs, stopping himself just before leaving Godric’s sight. “Hey.” Once he had Godric’s gaze he asked, not without a level of awkwardness, “What’s your name?”

“Godric.” This time, given upon request. “Sleep well, Mr. Stackhouse.”

Jason caught the irony and gave a wry, “You, too.”

With that final exchange of words, of well-wishing both knew wouldn’t come to pass, Jason left. Godric heard his steps recede, heard the basement door and church door open and close.

Another encounter that didn’t end in bloodshed; one that didn’t end in anything negative at all. Godric didn’t feel much of anything, not lighthearted or optimistic. But he knew he should.

He knew, at least, a part of himself wanted to.

###

"Looked sharp out there today," Luke said that afternoon after training, giving Jason a grin blooming from the seeds of sarcasm. The truce between them was uneasy though undisputed. Ever since Jason had helped Luke on the obstacle course there existed between them the cornerstone of brotherhood through service. Us versus them. Being willing to lay down your life for someone didn't mean you had to always like them. Jason might hate eighty percent of what came out of Luke's yap, but he'd fight like hell to make sure Luke lived to keep on yapping for years to come. He'd kill a vampire in Luke's defense.

... provided the vamp deserved it.

Images of Eddie and Godric came to Jason's mind, unbidden and almost as bothersome as the invasive thoughts of Sarah. He couldn't imagine Eddie harming anyone, and Godric... well, Jason wasn't sure what to make of him. But Godric hadn't even done so much as raise his voice, let alone fang out. If the Fellowship was based on taking down evil, why not focus on the biggest evils?

'Because their evil’s all the same,' Steve Newlin's voice twanged in Jason's mind. 'It's like a woman being pregnant. She either is or she isn't. Vamps can't help being demonic spawn through and through, but that isn't an excuse.'

There was no part of Jason that wanted Steve to be wrong.

Maybe Steve just didn't know. Godric wasn't exactly the talky type, and as far as Jason knew, Steve's only other personal experience with vampires was hearing that his family was slaughtered by them. Jason couldn't blame him for wanting to protect his people from a threat he didn't know might not be real. And Newlin seemed to want to hear Jason's thoughts; he seemed to like talking to Jason at least.

Giving himself this silent pep talk, Jason went straight up to Steve's office, standing in the door way and knocking on the partly open door. "Got a minute?"

"Jason." Newlin smiled up at him from where he sat behind his desk, twirling a pen between his fingers. He pointed it at the door, gesturing for Jason to close it and enter. "What's on your mind?"

Jason swallowed, suddenly slightly nervous. "Well, uh," he froze in front of the visitor's chair, suddenly realizing he was in clothes twice-stained with sweat and bits of dirt and grass now as well. He should have showered first before charging in. He cursed himself, then promptly forgot about it, remaining standing. Somehow, even though he was now taller than Steve, it didn't feel like he was looking down at him. "I was at the church last night."

"I know." Steve didn't pause or blink. "Gabe told me." Jason wondered how much else Steve knew, and how badly he'd be punished when Steve found out he'd been downstairs. If he found out, but if Jason claimed to have met Godric upstairs, it might get the vampire in trouble. Then again, with only a few days left before execution, how much worse could it get for him?

Jason cleared his throat, deciding to leave it as vague as he could. "Well, I figured it was open since it was a church -"

"Jason," Steve cut in. "You're not in any trouble for going to a church to pray." His eyes betrayed nothing to Jason over whether he knew it went further than that. "After all, that's what we're all here doing. We should all be asking our Lord for strength and guidance." He tilted his head slightly, regarding Jason. "Did it bring you any clarity?"

"Well... not exactly," Jason admitted. "But things kind of got interrupted." He paused, choosing his words carefully. "First by Gabe... and then Godric." Again Steve's expression didn't react at all, so Jason hurried to add, "Nothing bad! We just... met."

"I see." While the preacher's expression might still be curled up into one of calm benevolence, Jason noticed Steve was decidedly quieter than usual. He hoped it meant Steve was listening. Newlin set his pen down and added, "Jason... why are you coming to me with this? If it wasn't anything bad, as you say."

"No, no, definitely not something bad," Jason agreed quickly. "But it was something, so I thought... I wanted... to tell you." After a beat he added in full honesty, "It felt right."

Newlin nodded, repeating, "I see." He twirled the pen on the desk a moment, then gave Jason a smile. "Well, acting because you think something is right is every man's duty. I'd expect nothing less from you. Just the same, I don't think it'd be a good idea for you to be out and about there again. Wouldn't want all the soldiers trying it. Some might not be as ready to handle Godric like you did."

Jason couldn't figure out why he felt complimented and insulted by that at the same time. Before he could ponder on it Steve added, "Was there anything else?"

"Yeah. Yes. Just... Godric. He didn't try and bite me," Jason explained.

"Well, he's locked up," Steve pointed out easily.

"Any vamp could've busted through that cell," Jason replied, then paused, unsure whether he'd just revealed that Godric hadn't come to him and over how Steve would take being argued against. Jason hurriedly added, laying it all out, "I don't think he's a threat."

"Based on him refraining from murdering you for one night." Newlin didn't even bother trying to make that into a question, clearly not finding the point worth discussing.

Jason rallied, sitting up straighter. "Well, he hasn't killed anyone while he's been here, has he? How long has he been here?" If only for one night, Jason had to admit Steve might have a point.

"Godric has spent thousands of years murdering people. Men, women, children, he'd admit to all of that. Did you ask him?" Newlin leaned forward, folding his hands on the table. "He wants to die, Jason. He came to us. Now, whether it's to atone for his sins or not, does it matter? If he's as good as you think he might be, why would you want to stop it when it's what he wants?"

Jason frowned slightly. He hadn't meant that he thought Godric was as good as Steve was making it sound like he thought. Newlin had a way of reasoning out whatever Jason said to make it sound laughable, and Jason wasn't keen on the idea that Steve might think less of him. "I didn't mean he was definitely good, just maybe not... that bad. Maybe. I dunno. Seems like there should be a good reason to kill something." Even if it was what Godric wanted, Jason couldn't bring himself to believe that the reason the Fellowship was having him meet the sun was for a mercy offing. Then again, was it wrong if both Godric and Steve agreed to it?

Newlin leaned back in his seat, fingertips tapping rhythmically on the polished desk top. "We're saving the world here, Jason. Isn't that reason enough?"

Well, when put like that... "I know that's the goal, it's mine, too," Jason replied. He pressed his own hands flat on the armrests of the chair, leaning forward instinctively as though to keep the gap between them at equal distance. The Fellowship had given him a lot, he didn't want to throw it all away. "I just wasn't sure this was the right - the best - way to go about it, I wasn't sure if you'd talked with Godric, so I thought I should ask about it."

"Well I have," Newlin said reassuringly, then smiled. "Relax Jason. Did you think I'd throw you out for asking me a question?"

And just like that, Steve managed to reduce the confrontation... discussion... whatever it was to a simple question easily flicked away. A part of Jason internally breathed in relief, although he didn't entirely think the issue was settled. "No. Well, yeah, maybe I thought that for a second," Jason grinned.

Newlin mirrored his expression and pointed at him. "You need to have more faith in people, Jason." He then paused, appearing to think, and added, "You know, maybe it's my own shortcomings. That the finest soldier for Christ I have doesn't know how valued he is."

"No, I do," Jason quickly reassured. "You've been great to me."

Steve shook his head. "No, no. I mean, you almost took a vampire's words over mine. What kind of leader does that make me?"

"Godric didn't say anything about you, really. You're a great leader," Jason added, then after a beat, "I didn't mean to upset you." Newlin waved the concern off, but Jason insisted, "Is there anything I can do?"

"Well..." Steve spun his chair slowly to the side, picking up a paper pad and writing on it. "Since I know you can handle yourself. I do have a lead on our enemies. If you still trust me enough to want to."

Jason craned his neck to try and read the address even before Steve finished writing it. "Of course I do. What do you want me to do?"

"Just do a little reconnaissance. See how many vamps there are, what they're doing. Make sure our intel is right. From a safe distance, of course." Steve slid the address across the table to Jason. "And you'll have backup. Take Luke with you."

"Luke?" Jason looked up in faint surprise from the paper in his hand to Steve, then quickly added, "Sure. Sure." Luke was hotheaded, but Jason supposed he was dedicated and the second most fit soldier there. Now really wasn't the time to question Steve, anyway. Besides, who knew. Maybe the vampires would be sitting around not feeding on newborns and Jason could show Steve it wasn't just Eddie and Godric who might not be completely evil. Despite being demon spawn.

Newlin smiled. "Thank you, Jason. Wait for tonight, and may His holy light guide you there and back safely. Report to me when y'all get back, don't worry about the time."

"All right," Jason nodded, rising with a smile. "Can count on me." He headed for the door, opening it and nearly colliding with Sarah Newlin who was standing just outside it. "Whoa, sorry! Sorry." Jason thumbed the honesty ring on his finger thinking, 'I'm so not sorry. But I want to be?' "... sorry." That last one wasn't directed at anyone in particular, as Jason steadfastly avoided looking at her as he passed by.

"Jason?" he heard her say, which made him stop and turn to face her. She was wearing a dress suit of bright yellow, and he could perfectly picture her in the glowing church. There had to be an even lower ring of hell for guys who not only lusted after a preacher's wife but had their fantasies place said wife in a church.

He forced a grin. "Hi! Afternoon. Sorry, I didn't see you there." He gestured back at the door.

"Oh, no," she waved that concern off, also wearing a smile that seemed strained. "Don't worry." After a beat she added, "I just wanted to say good luck."

He nodded and smiled. "Thanks." Unable to think of anything else to add with Steve's office situated between them he added, "Well, best be off," and headed down the hall. He told himself he was hurrying to brief Luke on the mission. That was way the hell better than a Stackhouse just running away.

*

As Jason passed her Sarah had felt his touch without making any actual contact. Breath caught in her lungs, giddy and resentful signals crossing inside her. It shouldn’t be possible that someone, a simple man, should have such energy about him that she could feel his heat and electricity from inches away. Especially someone who was not her husband.

Then again, her husband shouldn’t leave her in the dark, forcing her to loiter outside doors for snatches of information like a child snoops for presents before Christmas.

Particularly when what she overheard sounded like a death sentence.

Once alone with Steve she stared at him a moment, then shook her head slightly in disbelief. "What are you doing?"

"Hey, honey," Steve greeted her, his smile distant. She knew that expression; either his mind was elsewhere, or he was ticked off at her greeting. What did it say about their relationship that she hoped it was the latter? At least distaste over something she did was having his attention on her.

There might also be the tiniest part of her that wanted nothing more than to anger him. She refused to allow herself any further pettiness than that. "Steve." Her tone was clear, firmly just shy of pleading. She wanted an answer to her inquiry.

Steve sighed. To her it sounded fake, and that was confirmed when he said, "I assumed you were listening at the door and that it was rhetorical." His tone wasn't malicious, but it didn't have to be to make his point obvious.

"If you told me yourself I wouldn't have to find out like a child would," she replied, and added as she saw his jaw drop open to speak, "And don't even think about calling me a child." That was the tactic he'd have resorted to. They'd danced this dance before, every day for days now it seemed, their steps rote and played out and without any music by now. It wasn't just Jason, wasn't Jason at all, although perhaps she was less willing to put up with the changes in Steve since meeting him. If they were in fact changes. Steve wasn't a real partner, and she felt betrayed, as though he'd offered her a future he'd never intended to fulfill. As though it was partly her fault for having wanted that future at all.

“Sarah.” Steve’s tone was thin. “I don’t have time for this.”

‘Then answer the damn question,’ she thought, apologetic over the silent cursing, but left the words to boil in her mouth. Pushing Steve a third time would only bring another rebuff, another denial of the truth. How Saint Peter of him. Only Peter had acted out of fear, and then felt shame. Many things could be said of Steve, but she’d never once seen him ashamed of himself. She was left without means or desire to accuse him further, left again as the one who had to defer to him. Softening her voice, she adopted a placating means. “I want to understand. Sending Jason – and Luke –“ she quickly added, “after vampires-”

“Will only secure their loyalty to us,” Steve cut in.

“What about your contact?” Sarah tried, careful not to use Hugo’s name. “Isn’t he supposed to be keeping an eye on things like that?”

“Sure,” Steve nodded. “When he’s not canoodling his soulless whore of damnation.” Automatically from such a lascivious act came doubt and disdain.

Was bedding a vampire worse than cheating with a married woman?

Leaning back in his seat, Steve looked directly at her. “Remember, even our Lord endured tests. Jesus was tempted in the desert and came out stronger for it.”

She should be more surprised by Steve’s logic than she was. “So should we thank the serpent for trying to tempt him, or God for arranging it?” Her implication was clear. ‘Which one are you seeing yourself as?’

Which one should he be seen as?

“If they follow the plan, neither should be tempted at all.” Steve stood up, crossing to her. “Jason will make sure our information is correct, and Luke will provide backup… should the need arise.”

There it was, nestled between the lines, sounding almost cozy delivered in his warm voice. If Luke fell in line, they'd simply assess their intelligence. If Luke became overzealous, if his penchant for destruction took over, Jason would either stand beside him or try and stop him. Either case had the risk of fatality.

For Steve, unquestionable conviction would be worth that risk. After all, he held it himself; Steve was utterly devoted to his cause, and saw no failure in his future. Certainty was settling like that.

Sarah nodded quietly, turning to leave. At the door she paused, not looking back at him as she added, “Only in the Bible, God didn’t work like that. He didn’t arrange it.” ‘Where does that then leave you?’

“But He didn’t stop it.” Which, to Steve, was just as good. She could feel Steve looking up from the papers in front of him to stare at her. “There must’ve been a reason for that.”

Otherwise, it was madness.

Sarah swallowed and offered a hollowed, “Must be,” before leaving the room.

She should have known better by now than to ask.


###

“Are you sure this is right?” Luke’s voice sounded dubious. Right after sun down they’d set out to look for the location Steve had provided. Jason peered at the paper; some directions had been scratched down, but they meant little to him as nothing in Dallas was familiar. Couldn’t there have been some MacDonald’s landmarks or something thrown in?

“It’s right,” Jason said with more confidence than he felt. Maybe this was a test, he reasoned. To see how much they could be like real soldiers, dropped in the middle of nowhere, with only their senses to sort out where to go. Like Black Ops, only with it being the Fellowship of the Sun, maybe it should be Light Ops. Only that didn’t sound too intimidating.

At a cross section Jason stopped cold, hearing Luke grumble as they nearly collided. “Stackhouse, what now?” Even though Steve had helped equip them both, Luke had to be chafing that his briefing had come through Jason. That knowledge helped Jason not rise to Luke’s level of irritation.

“It’s supposed to be near a hotel, just west of it. The Hotel Carmilla.” Jason squinted up from the paper to look at the signposts nearby. “There’s gotta be a way to find it.”

“We can’t just ask somebody,” Luke chastised.

Jason frowned. “Wasn’t planning on that. People ain’t the only way. There’s phone books.”

Luke couldn’t argue that, so questioned, “Where’re we gonna find a phone book?”

A hotel? Jason started to say, “Well, or we can maybe call information and –“

“You boys lost?” A voice cut him off. Both Jason and Luke spun to see an older-looking gentleman beside them waiting for the crosswalk to let them pass.

“No,” Jason and Luke answered simultaneously. The man shrugged and looked back ahead, possibly content his offer sufficed as his good Samaritan deed for the day.

Luke looked at Jason, then back at the man and said, “Well, maybe just wondering what’s a good place to eat near the Hotel Carmilla.” His look of innocence was as heavy-handed as the attempt at being covert, and internally Jason face-palmed.

“The hotel?” The man jerked a thumb back in the direction they’d come. “Know there’s a diner not far from the hotel’s bar, and cheaper too. Should be back that ways, and to the right.”

“Thanks!” Jason interjected quickly before Luke spoke again. “We appreciate it. Have a good night.” He turned and tugged Luke’s arm with him to go.

Luke yanked himself free when out of sight of the man, hissing, “What the H E double-L you doing, Stackhouse? I got us directions!”

“Yeah, that didn’t look suspicious at all,” Jason pointed out dryly. “Why not go all out and wear a sandwich board next time saying Nothing World-Saving Goin’ on Here.” Luke’s gaze darkened even further, and Jason sighed. “Let’s just regroup, all right? We did need the directions. But remember the training, don’t get ahead of yourself.” After a beat he adopted what he thought was a tone of “Braveheart” gravitas and tapped Luke’s head. “First learn to use this,” he said, dropping his hand as Luke batted it away, then pointed at Luke’s chest, “And then – what the fuck?” He tapped Luke’s chest more firmly, feeling a thick vest of sorts beneath it. “What’re you packing?”

Luke shoved his hand away again and started walking. “Nothing. Vest’s just in case of trouble.” Glancing back he added, “Good soldiers prepare for anything.”

“There’s prepared and then there’s alien invasion alert level,” Jason muttered, starting to walk as well. “This is just a reconignation –“ was that the word? Jason amended it to, “recon mission.” With full authority, and equal measure concern, he stopped once more and touched Luke’s shoulder. “Hey.” He waited for Luke to look at him, then gave a nod. “Just that. All right?”

After a moment Luke nodded grudgingly but in seeming submission. “All right.”

Jason nodded. “Good.”

They started up once more, managing to find the hotel in double the amount it should have taken. A short while later, this time with only two incorrect streets taken, they stood across the street from the address on the paper slip.

From behind a thick tree Jason looked the house over. It was large yet sleek, with a car parked in front and light illuminating the inside. “Why would a vampire live with all them mirrors?” He wondered quietly. “Seems like a death trap.”

Oh. Right.

From his backpack Jason pulled out a pair of binoculars, taking a moment to adjust the focus. They were heavy and looked new, and Jason got a small, giddy rush as he often did when using Steve’s field equipment. Boys and their toys.

But this wasn’t a game. Jason sternly forced himself to focus. The place wasn’t empty, and slowly he got the images of the moving figures to sharpen. He counted five figures in all. Three men, two women. “Well, there’s people in there all right. I count five, but not sure if they’re the ones Steve was mentioning.” Beside him Luke said nothing, just shifted. “Did you hear me? We can’t get close enough to –" Jason's voice dropped off as something inside the house caught his eye.
He couldn’t hear what was being said, but Jason recognized who was saying it. There, beside Bill, stood his sister. “What. The. Fuck?” he whispered incredulously, in confusion. Beside him Luke stirred again, as Jason looked through the lens another time to make sure. No mistake, it was Sookie. “Luke…” Jason began, not sure what to say, then words failing altogether as he saw Luke’s hand was reared back, ready to throw something small, hard, and dark.

Without thinking Jason lunged himself at Luke, tackling him, trying to knock the grenade out of his hand. It might kill them instead, but Jason reacted before such logic seeped in. It wouldn’t have mattered, because he’d still have died for his sister.

It didn’t matter, because it was too late.

While falling Luke still hurled the grenade at the house, aim skewed but still heading for a window. Luke’s eyes grew large in anticipation, and in that brief moment it looked like he was about to say something. A prayer? An explanation? Damnation over Jason's betrayal?

Before Luke had a chance to praise any holy light, Jason’s fist knocked him into darkness. Luke’s body slumped over, unconscious, immediately forgotten.

“Sookie!” Jason screamed, out loud and in his mind, as loud as he could, hoping she’d hear one way or the other as she always somehow seemed to.

Flames danced through the thick black smoke spilling out of the house, tall and orange and lighting the sky. Death should not be so bright.

Dawn. Gran. Amy. Now Sookie. He’d heard that it wasn’t possible all could be lost.

But it could. Here. Right now.

‘We’re all connected,’ he heard echoes of Amy’s stoned voice whisper. ‘We’re most alive when we don’t think about it. When you care about someone, you can’t say where you begin and they end. Whether that heartbeat is yours or mine, it doesn’t matter.’

Bullshit.

Witnessing what might be his sister’s death, Jason had never been more and less aware of his own life, and everything about that could not matter more. Leaping forward into the flames, his only thoughts were a half-formed prayer, or a wish, directed nowhere in particular, running haphazardly of its own accord.

‘Holy fucking hell!

Please, not her.

Take me.’

###

Click Here for Part 3: Where a death from the grenade sinks Dallas into political turmoil, family reunions get interrupted, Godric and Jason make amends, and Eric does what he does best: manipulate things to his advantage.



 

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