So where the heck did this come from? Well, I always wanted to end it, in a more real way, and it wasn't until about five hours ago, that I figured out how to do that, exactly. I hope if you remember this story, that you enjoy! This is really, really it for these guys!
Thanks to Linds K for the pre-read!
Five years later...
I was helping Ava with her homework when the doorbell rang. "Who's that Dad?" She looked up from her work, which was basically colouring.
"How should I know? I'll find out though." I got up and signed for a registered letter, from, the estate of William Compton. What the fuck?
Ava glanced at me, expectantly. "So?"
"Something for your Mom, I think." I wouldn't open it without her. I'd learned my lesson with the PI and Compton years ago.
"She's working late tonight."
"I know. We can look at it when she gets home. You almost done? It's almost bed time. We need to get a story in."
"Is Jake coming over this weekend?"
"Yep, and we're going to go Paradisbukta, remember?" The beach.
She nodded. "Just making sure. Okay, I'm done. Let's go read." Ava was smart, smart as a whip. The slightly odd family situation we were in, with Pam, and Jake's other mom, Claudine, was still something she sort of struggled with. Hell, I'd struggled with it for years. Pam and I had worked out a pretty easy visitation schedule, and were flexible with it, which made things easier than they could have been. Jake spent about half his time here, and half his time with his moms, which worked out well for Pam, since Claudine, as the head buyer for a major department, store travelled quite a bit for work. She went with her quite often, since they married a couple of years before. Ava had been their flower girl, which was pretty fun for her. Because her and Jake were close in age, they were really close, staying up all hours of the night telling each other secrets until we busted them and sent them to their respective rooms.
I finished two stories with her, and shut the light out. Summer holiday was just around the corner, so the days were quite long. I closed the blinds, and gave her five kisses, one for each year, which I figured was going to get awkward when she started hitting double digits, but for now, it was fine. We spoke English at home, and she spoke Norwegian at school, and with Grandpa.
My mom had succumbed to breast cancer about two years earlier, after a battle that had started around the same time Ava was born. Having the wedding that we had here, no matter how opposed to it we'd been at the time, had been a really great decision, because it meant the world to her, and having that time, for her to look back on, before her world fell to shit, was really important. She'd suffered terribly, at the end. It had been something that I never would have been able to imagine, before it actually happened. There was no remission, and she held on, for every special occasion she could, finally giving in about three weeks before Ava's third birthday. Sookie and I had spent a great deal of time with Dad since then. It almost broke him, losing her, and I was fairly certain he'd never date, or move on again. He doted on my kids though, and they both adored him, and in some way, with maturity beyond their years understood that they had to be careful with him, and be as fun as possible. Jake was a natural comedian, just like I'd been, and the two of them would spend hours laughing about movies or TV shows, or really just about anything. We had him for dinner at least once a week, and either Sookie or I went to check on him at least once or twice a week as well, to make sure he wasn't too down. I was fairly certain he was on anti-depressants, but I'd never ask him about it. He wasn't the kind of man that would ever want me to know he was having a hard time dealing with things. He was dealing, and that was what was important.
We'd decided we wanted another kid, when Ava was about three, after Mom had died, and we had a bit of a life is too short revelation, but we'd had no luck. I had no problem making unintentional babies, but the intentional ones seemed to be a different story. After a year, we checked out a fertility clinic, and they saw no real reason why we'd have an issues. We both checked out fine, so they were reluctant to put us on any sort of hormonal treatments. After two years, we'd kind of just said fuck it, and left it under the realm of 'it'll happen if it's meant to happen.' It wasn't like we weren't busy enough, with me taking over the company for Dad, who had officially retired, but was still unintentionally butting in whenever possible, and Sookie's new tutoring company. She'd gotten her Masters in TESOL while caring for baby Ava, somehow, and started tutoring, first at home, and then in a small office. She now had a couple of other teachers working for her, and offered a number of certifications for students both from abroad studying in Norway, and for Norwegian students that wanted to go to universities in English speaking countries. It was a lot of work, at first, but now that she had some help, it wasn't so bad. She worked late two nights a week, since students usually took classes in the evenings, and two early shifts on the weekends, as well as the managerial duties that she'd undertaken, owning her own business. I was proud of her. She was very responsible with her business, and was turning a profit within a year of starting in her own office, which was impressive.
I was in my office, looking at some of the paperwork for the month, when I heard her come in the door. I'd almost forgotten about the letter, until she came in looking at it, a curious look on her face. "Did you sign for this?"
"I wish you hadn't bothered."
I shrugged. "I didn't know what it was at the time. I was helping Ava with her school work."
She slammed the letter down in front of me. "He left me everything. What the fuck is that?"
"What? He's dead?"
"I guess so. Says here he was killed in a car accident three days ago, outside of Shreveport and that he left me everything."
We'd been keeping tabs on his whereabouts for years, since the last time we were in Louisiana, and he'd never once tried to make his way to Europe. "Is there a letter or anything?"
"Nope. He just wrote it in his will, a year ago, according to the lawyer."
"That's so weird."
"I don't want it. Any of it."
Of course she didn't. "Then donate it to some charity or something."
"Why would he leave it to me? After all this time. I hated him." She curled up in my lap.
"Lover, I have no idea. But seriously, did anything Bill Compton ever do make sense?"
"I guess not." She sighed. "I still hate him. I don't care if he's dead. He's still trying to make me think about him, even from beyond the grave."
"Yea, I have no idea what his motivation would be for that, except he's a twisted fuck. But we already knew that."
"I know." She wrapped her arms around me, and we sat there quietly for a minute. "I think I need to go to the funeral."
"I know, I know. I have to know he's really dead. I know, that's weird too, but I need the closure." After his weirdness, she'd spent a lot of time internalizing what had happened with him. He'd creeped her out, and he was still out there, and now he wasn't. "I'll sleep easier, if I know." She turned around, straddling my lap until we were face to face.
I brushed some hair out of her face. She was so teachery in a pencil skirt and a blouse, and her black pumps. "Really? Back to Louisiana? You really want to do that to yourself?"
"No. But I think I have to."
"Was he still bothering you?"
"No." She was quiet for a minute. "Maybe a little. You were there. It was creepy, that whole thing in New Orleans. If he ever came here, and anything ever happened? I don't know what I would have done. Maybe it'll feel better, going back now."
"A lot of things happened on that Louisiana trip, that didn't have anything to do with Bill, if I recall. Alcide?"
She laughed. "He's no problem. Jason said he married some chick about a year ago, and that they practically fuck at Merlottes. He's not interested in me anymore. Alcide was always overt, with his crazy behavior."
"Yea, I'd say he was pretty overt. Our lives have been so tame, since then."
She raised an eyebrow. "Oh yea. If you don't count Pam's whirwind romance and marriage, separation, and recommitment ceremony as wild."
"Oh yea. That was pretty wild."
"And your Mom? Not quite on the same scale, but certainly not tame." She gave me a half smile. "Your Dad called me today. I invited him to the beach this weekend."
"That was nice. I hadn't thought of that. He'll bring the dog, yes?"
"Yea, he asked if I minded. Ava would be devastated if he didn't. She loves that dog, and it means we don't have to get one of our own."
"What if we just get a little one." I smiled. "Come on."
"I don't know. Let's talk about that some other time." She kissed me.
"No fair distracting me, like that."
She kissed me again, harder this time, and her hands went to my chest. "Carry me to bed."
"I love it when you're bossy." I stood up, and she wrapped her legs around my waist. "So are we going to Louisiana?"
"I also love it when you're decisive. I don't love the idea of Louisiana, but I guess we should show the kid where her better half came from."
"We'll avoid Bon Temps like the plague and spend a couple of days in New Orleans. We can show her where we got married."
"And she does have an affinity for Sam and Lafayette, so I guess we'll have to let them know the deal, and Jason, of course."
"I'll call Jason when we're there. I'm not giving him a bunch of notice so he has time to tell everyone. You know how he is." Gossipy. That's how he was.
"I do." I glanced in on Ava, who was fast asleep, and made my way into our room, depositing Sookie on our bed, before closing the door. "I'm working from home tomorrow."
She sat up, unbuttoning her blouse, to reveal a very non-mommy black silky bra that I loved, even more because I knew there were likely matching underwear under the skirt. "And I'm not working at all."
Thursday. The best day ever. I loved being self-employed. "Well then. What are we waiting for?"
"You're the one still in your pants." She slipped her skirt off. I was right on the underwear. Black and silky. "Get over here and fuck your wife, before someone has a nightmare, or has to go the hospital for something, or Pam decides she wants to borrow some sugar or something." She wasn't just making it up. That had happened before. More than once.
I walked over to the door, and locked it, before heading for the walk-in closet, and reaching for the shoebox near the back, out of reach of little hands, and pulling out a set of handcuffs. I twirled them around my finger, and came out in my boxers. "Oh, that's how you want to play, is it?" She squirmed a bit, a smile crossing her face. Since we were pretty far removed from the whole pregnancy, child birthing, 2am feedings part of parenting, we'd become quite comfortable experimenting with each other, when we had the opportunity not to have to make it a quickie or worry about being interrupted. Sookie, despite being quite in charge in most areas of our lives, quite liked being dominated in the bedroom, from time to time. I grinned, as she took her bra off, tossed it on the floor, and assumed the position, as I cuffed her to the headboard.
"The rules are as follows. You are to be as quiet as possible, and no finishing until I give you permission."
She bit her lip and nodded. I got up, and checked the door again, not wanting whatever kind of psychological damage would come from Ava seeing her mom chained to the headboard, and turned the light off, and the bedside lamp on. I looked at her laying there, for a minute, vulnerable and accepting of whatever I had to give. She was fucking fantastic.
One Week Later...
We'd had Jake for the whole week, since we were heading the the US for ten days, and he looked a bit mopey when we dropped him off at Pam's on our way to the airport. "I want to come."
"Next time. Your Moms have big plans for the week. Something about heading to Stockholm for a few days. I'll call you. Pam said she'd have her cell."
"I want to go with you though." He'd been a bit like that, with me lately. I gave Sookie a glance, and she raised an eyebrow. She did a pretty good job of leaving the complicated job of parenting a child with someone I didn't like a lot of the time to me, which was nice sometimes, but other times I wish she'd give a bit of input. She did, if I asked for it, but not otherwise. Her and Pam had a fragile peace at times, and she didn't like to mess with it.
"Sorry Jake. Can't do it." I grabbed his bag and carried it up to Pam's condo. "We'll do something when I get back, just you and I."
"Can I pick?" He'd pick fishing. It was a given. Fishing was our thing. Not like boat fishing, although he did like the big boats, but like sit on a wharf fishing, and shooting the shit, crap, whatever you shot with a seven year old.
"Sure." I gave him a kiss. "Be good to your Mom, and I'll call you."
"Bring me back something good."
"Will do." I smiled at him. "Love you."
"You too Dad." He went inside. I gave Pam a shout, and she shouted back, and we were on our way.
It turned out that Ava was a really great traveler. We'd gone shorter flights before, to other parts of Europe, but the flight to Louisiana, through New York, was certainly the longest one she'd ever been on. She slept for hours, right alongside Sookie. When we finally landed in Shreveport, I was exhausted, and they were wide awake. "So, we're going to see Uncle Sam, right? And Lafayette?" She grinned, as we stepped into the humidity that was Louisiana in late June.
"Sure will. Let's go for dinner, and we'll call them from the hotel later." Sookie looked up at at me. "You look exhausted. Do you want to do take out?"
I shook my head. "No, we can go out if you want."
Ava piped up. "I want to go out."
"Then we'll go out."
Despite almost falling asleep in my gumbo, dinner was good, and the hotel, or bed and breakfast rather, that Sam had booked for us was nice. "I'm going to bed. If you guys are going to go see Sam and Lafayette, I'm going to pass." I slumped on the bed.
"No, we'll see them after Bill's funeral tomorrow." She hopped in the shower, leaving me to discuss what she'd said.
And then Ava finally realized why we were here, even though we'd told her a few times. She scrunched up her nose, in a way that my mom used to do. "Who's Bill?"
"Your mother's old boyfriend, from a million years ago."
"And he's in heaven, with Granny?"
"Sure." That was questionable at best, but I wasn't getting into any existential issues with a five year old.
"Okay. And we have to go visit him, like we visit Granny?" We did go leave flowers for Mom a couple of times a year.
"Kind of. This is like the first visiting time, so it's a bit of a big deal. Like the first goodbye."
"There are more than one goodbye, when you're dead?"
"Sometimes, with someone like Granny. But not with someone like Bill. This is it." I highly doubted Sookie would want to spend any more time with dead Bill than absolutely necessary. I figured a quick coffin glance would do it. "He wasn't as special to us as Gran was." That was fair.
"Okay. Can we get pancakes tomorrow?"
"Yes, that we can. Do you want to call your Uncle Jason, let him know we're here?" I figured that way Sookie wouldn't have to. Her relationship with him was strained at best, after our wedding. Better to let the kid do the dirty work.
Ava smiled. She loved chatting on the phone. "Sure."
She called, and informed us, when Sookie got out of the shower, that he'd call us tomorrow to make dinner plans.
I slept well, despite being in a strange bed, and woke up to Ava's face in mine. "I want pancakes. You slept a lot."
"Okay, okay. I'm getting up. What time is it?"
"11am. Mom went to talk to a lawyer about Bill. She said to wake you up soon, but then I watched cartoons."
The funeral was at 1pm. "Okay, I'm getting in the shower. You watch some more cartoons, and then I'll get you ready. When did your Mom say she'd be back?"
I got back from the lawyer, around noon, and despite their arguing with me otherwise, left one hundred grand, plus personal effects, to an organization that I'd found online that dealt with battered women. Fuck Bill and his leaving me shit. I'd never buy anything for myself with that money and feel good about it. This I felt good about. It had taken me a long time to realize it, but the shit that Bill had pulled, had been manipulative abuse, pure and simple. I'd dismissed it as him, being crazy, which he was, but it was still that, and I actually felt hugely relieved at his death, even though I wanted to see it with my own eyes. Despite the fact that he hadn't presented an outright threat in the past five odd years, I had still felt a bit of a perceived one, even from across the Atlantic, because he was so unpredictable, and irrational.
I did see it, later that afternoon. The funeral was open casket, and while Eric and Ava sat near the back, I did a round past the coffin. It was him, for sure. I wondered, looking at him, what I'd ever really seen in him, especially when I looked at Eric, with our kid on his knee. He was really one of a kind, and despite our differences, we meshed fantastically. We rarely fought, over anything fundamental anyway, and he was a fantastic dad, to both of his kids, despite the difficulties we had with Pam at times. She wasn't ever completely unreasonable, we just had different parenting philosophies in many ways.
Once I was convinced that Bill was really dead and gone, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I ran into Lorena at the wake, and she'd parted ways with him after our run-in in New Orleans. We had a few awkward minutes of conversation, and a strange embrace, before Eric swept in and saved me from the whole situation. He was good for stuff like that. We left early, not having anyone there that needed an excuse for our absence. I didn't care what Bill's people thought of me.
My visit with Lafayette and Sam, was, as predicted, very enjoyable. They made the effort to come visit us in Norway every year or so, since they only had to pay airfare, and there were so many other great places to visit close to us, in Europe. Ava loved them to bits, and they both doted on her through dinner.
Jason was another story. He brought his latest girlfriend, who was a younger, and even trashier version of Crystal. He was short with me a couple of times, and I noticed Eric getting edgy about it. The incident at our wedding, with him and Hilda had really caused a breach with us. He didn't give a shit about my feelings, and I had a hard time caring about his, knowing that. He was sweet with Ava though, giving her a few things of Gran's that he had around, including a pendant that I'd always wanted, and wondered where it ended up.
When we finally packed up and headed the rental car to New Orleans, Eric looked over at me. "We survived."
"We did." I winked. "And you haven't even been injured or anything."
"Don't jinx me. We're still in Louisiana."
Ava piped up from the back seat. "Mom, everyone here sounds like you."
"They sure do."
"Can we go visit your parents?"
Eric and I looked at each other. "Honey, my parents aren't alive anymore."
"So. We still visit Granny." She had a point, except my parents were buried in Bon Temps, and we'd both sworn to avoid Bon Temps.
Eric glanced at me, and I shrugged. "Okay, we'll do it. But quick, and quietly."
We drove in, parking in Bill's family home, across the cemetery from my house, which looked occupied. I was pleased to see that someone had painted it, and it looked loved. Gran would have liked that a lot more than it sitting empty for the sake of a Stackhouse owning it. We picked some wildflowers, and left some for my parents and for Gran, and I answered the glut of questions that Ava had about my old life here. I was glad she'd pushed us to stop. When I left, it had been so awful that I had no plans to ever return, but as often happens after time, the vivid, awful memories had faded, and the muted ones that were left weren't so bad.
By the time we headed for New Orleans, Ava was fast asleep in the back seat in minutes, and Eric and I spent the five hour driving just talking about the silly little things that people rarely get the opportunity to just talk about, because life so often gets in the way. Stuff from work, funny things that the kids had done, or his Dad. I backed down on the dog thing, and agreed we could start researching breeds when we got back. His rationale was strong, and both kids were old enough to help out a bit, which was one of my concerns.
We ended up getting a suite with an adjoining room for the kiddo at the W, where we'd stayed last time we were here. Eric carried her up, and deposited her in her bed, tucking her in, before closing the door halfway and joining me. "I think the time change has her wonky."
"Agreed." He laid back on the bed. "She's not the only one. Do you want to order room service, and then she can have the leftovers when she wakes up as soon as we fall asleep?" He was right, that was bound to happen.
"Sure." I smiled. "We haven't had sex in a week."
"Sharing a room with a five year old will do that." He grinned.
"I know, but we aren't sharing a room with her anymore. And I can be quiet, if you can." I licked my lips. "A quickie?"
"How am I going to say no to that?" He pulled his shirt off, and climbed under the covers. "How's this. Fuck, food, and then sleep, then feed the kid, when she wakes up. That way, she's unlikely to interrupt the important stuff."
I climbed in with him, and kissed him, relishing in the warmth of his embrace. "Now that sounds like a plan."