8/23/10 I have a blog now thanks to my friend AOP:

death dot eatin dot a dot cracker dot blogspot dot com

I'm getting ready to start posting stuff in the next few days. I'm gonna tell stories and bitch my ass off there about fic thieving and other sorry practices. It ain't going to be pretty, and I'm not holding back. Be prepared :)

A/N Okay, yeah, I know I said I wasn't going to write anymore fanfic, but someone made me angry and I got drunk at the beach and wrote this when I was supposed to be writing something else. Sonjita, don't kill me. Consider it an exercise in male POV and present tense, both of which I was struggling with in our original story. So I got this out of my system, parts of it have been in the back of my mind for a while. This takes place a couple years after DEAC, when Hunter is about eight years old. Miss you guys and take care, misscyn

Viking War Bed Games

It is summer.

Which means my nights are shorter, but I have prepared. All winter long, the boy and I have cut and sanded the long oak boards, getting ready. The old barn is rebuilt now, and we labored inside it every long winter night that we could. We work for an hour or two, accompanied by Starkard, my stalwart canine companion.

By spring, we have enough.

It started out as one of the many history lessons I have taken upon myself to share. The boy is smart, and eager. He has been afforded little in his short life. I want to open his mind, let him see his potential. He looks at me after we prepare a few boards and asks, with big, dark eyes, if we can build a Viking boat, a real one. To him, if we can plane a few boards, we can do it all.

I tell him I'll consider it. Later that night, I tell my wife and expect to share a chuckle with her about the boy's innocent request. Instead, she looks at me with big, blue eyes, instead of brown, and says, "You should do it. I think it would mean a great deal to you both."

She is right.

I have much to give a child.

The unsettling thought hovers over my sternum for several weeks, before sinking in.

So I order more wood and we keep working. A quarter scale model, it is still huge, but I have the land next door now, and an empty field where one day our house will stand. We sand and polish and stain. I spend months in the spring hunting for the correct metal alloy. My mostly worthless brother-in-law knows a bit about welding. The little-more-than-worthless Civil War veteran across the cemetery can't stand it and starts hanging about, offering suggestions. He actually has some valuable information about antique methodology, so I tolerate his presence.

Neighboring men are drawn to the project, and offer their help. My wife admonishes me, tells me to accept it, that it will be good for relations. So I allow a few with skills to participate, and they do exceptional work.

My wife assures me that, given my demeanor, they would not consider giving anything less than a hundred percent to the project. As it should be, I reply.

But no one knows the boat, no one except for me. It is my boat, and the boy's, and somehow everyone understands this. I work on the dragon's head alone while the boy watches. He reaches out to touch it with one finger from time to time, and I allow it.

We did not have marine varnish in my time but I insist that we varnish it to protect it. We add sides of sheet metal. It is glorious, stout, and could sail if we were near an ocean, and not in Northwest Louisiana.

My wife watches from the kitchen window for a few nights, but she is not the type to watch anything for long. Soon she is helping us, putting the boards together the old way, and she is not a girl about it, hurts herself with nails and hammers, and bites her lip while I heal her. We talk and laugh and the boy is happy. When his school is out for the summer, he waits impatiently for me to rise. His father grants him permission to stay up two hours past sunset until school starts. After that, I have to see to the bar, but the boy's enthusiasm and the nature of the project brings out the testosterone, and many nights the other men stay with him and work under my strict direction.

I reinforce the boat with great beams and pillars, to support it. Finally it is done, and it is magnificent.

As there will be no oarsman, we hang two beds by heavy iron chains where they would sleep below deck. Made up with white linens, they swing back and forth. It is a childhood fantasy of hers, to sleep on swinging beds, and the boat is strong enough to accommodate them. She claps her hands with glee.

By the Fourth of July it is finished. The boy is beside himself with happiness, and spends his days almost exclusively in the boat. Neighborhood boys who would have no truck with him before begin showing up. Graciously he allows them to play, as long as they recognize that he is the captain of the ship.

He is a leader who is not yet burned by his gift. He is not evil in any way, but he will not hesitate to use his advantage; I can tell already. He reminds me of my long-ago son, and of my wife now, at the same time.

His father is committed, but clueless. I have no doubt that one day he will concede, and the boy will come to see us as his parents. I will teach him to be strong, to lead. My wife will teach him not to fear the thoughts of sheep. I have great hope for the boy.

He is captain of the ship during the day and I am at night. People gravitate to it, sit around it, tell stories. I regale many with my Nordic travels, and adults and children alike sit slack-jawed as I speak. As if the Civil War wasn't miserable enough the first time, the neighbor insists on sharing it also. My wife gives me a pleading look, and I suffer his stories, as long as they are of the sea. He knows a few ironclad battles to share, and they are actually decent tales.

The woman, Catherine, seems to enjoy the gatherings more than most, never missing one, even when her vampire is absent. My wife says she watches the children play on the ship during the day with an unbridled protectiveness. I ask why, and my wife looks thoughtful. Finally she remarks that Catherine had been isolated from healthy humans, and particularly children, for more than forty years, and must be hungry for whatever she may cull of their lives.

I think I somewhat understand what she means.

The cow watches the construction warily from some feet away, swinging her tail and chewing her cud. She looks slightly disgusted, as if she is aware that what we do is impractical, whimsical. We know it is finished when Starkard begins to guard the boat, circling it and barking as unknown people approach.

My child comes by and watches. She looks at the boat and shakes her head and laughs.

"She is good for you," she says, nodding toward my wife. She has never said that before, and my chest swells.

"You two are both idiots at heart," she continues, true to form.

After walking the deck, complete with sails and stern, my wife announces that she wants to learn to sword fight. I agree but insist she wear protective clothing and we use teaching swords until her skill level is reached. She sweats and fights, and, if I use human speed she is good, very good.

Summer fades and the air cools. On this night we head to the ship to spar, after everyone else has gone home. She wears a ridiculously small suede skirt and fringed bikini top, her hair braided down her back. She is magnificent, tanned, toned, and sure of herself. I wear brown buckskin pants and nothing else, as requested. Her eyes dance and she practically skips with anticipation. It is infectious, and I chop at the weeds with my weapon and grin at her as we walk.

As we approach the ship, she informs me that we will be fighting not on the deck, but below. Silently, I follow her down the stairs.

"I call this Viking War Bed Games. I am an Amazon Warrior princess," she proclaims, spinning her sword on its tip, her stance wide and her chin held high. "You are the Viking raider come to claim my village, and you have kidnapped me and brought me to your ship. I will fight you to the death."

I cross my arms against my chest and lift an eyebrow.

"My Amazon sisters have taken the rest of your crew prisoner. You and I are the only ones left," she continues.

"Xena fantasy?" I ask, on a hunch. She nods.

"You have thought about this," I remark.

"For a while," she says with a curve of her lips.

"It is historically inaccurate, as you are mixing myth and culture, as well as time tables. Vikings never raided the Amazon, and we certainly never fought anyone," I waved my arm dismissively at her leather bikini, "dressed like that."

She lifts her chin.

"I created Viking War Bed Games. If you want to create your own game, you can make up your own rules. I am wearing this."

I look at her chest and mentally calculate the probability of one or both her breasts becoming uncovered by the small suede triangles during combat. The odds are decidedly in my favor.

I acquiesce.

She explains the handful of rules. The game begins. We grab our swords and jump on the beds, roll on the rough floor, and chase each other around the boat. To even the field, I use human speed, and, at that rate, she is a formidable opponent.

She jumps on a bed and loses her sword at once, and I move in. Quickly she grabs a chain in each hand, rears back, and kicks me in the chest. I did not expect it; I fall back, then lunge forward as she again grabs a chain, wraps her legs around it, and slides to the floor, where she picks up her sword. As predicted, her top falls to one side.

I forget the game and stand proud, smirking at her. She sees my gaze and tears the top off, throwing it to the ground. I pause, my eyes widening. She sees her advantage and pushes forward with the sword, barely grazing my chest with the tip.

She has done that to an opponent before, who, unfortunately, was not me. It is cheating. She knows this.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander, so I cheat also, as winners often do. With vampire speed and grace, I fall backwards, away from the sword, catching myself on my heels and jumping in the air.

"That is not fair!" she stamps her feet and her chest jiggles, much to my delight. "No Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon shit, I told you!"

I laugh and catch the chain, sliding down the bed to her. We fight bare-chested, and it is celestial.

She launches herself at me and I throw my sword down, so as not to hurt her, and we continue to wrestle nearly naked. She is slick and salty, her hair loosened, her eyes wild and full of life. Her blood is warm and beats near the surface.

Her skirt and my pants are lost and we christen the beds, one at a time.

There is nothing but legs and lips, mouths and hips, fangs and nips.

The beds swing wildly, clanging against one another, accompanied by the scent of the oak and metal. I can almost smell the sea air, feel the Norse wind in my hair. Moisture covers all her perches, and I have to grasp hard to hold her. We share her slickness and warmth and soon we feel the same, her body and mine, both warm, both sliding against each other.

After, we change the sheets and make our way home with the soiled ones, laughing and holding hands like illicit lovers, and not a married man and woman.

I turn and look at my Viking ship, standing in the browning grass, and understand why so many boats are named Folly. Her eyes follow mine.

"There's no reason you couldn't put it in the water," she says, carefully stepping over one of Guinevere's cow pies, left steaming and, suspiciously, in the middle of our path. "It's watertight, and you built it to sail. They move yachts all the time. You could get it to New Orleans and put it in the Gulf if you really wanted to. Hunter would love it."

It is impractical and somewhat silly, but yet again, she is right.

We smile at each other as we swing hands all the way home.

The following night I go to the bar, bark orders, maneuver, manipulate. I am surrounded by the slithery minds of vampires and con artists of various supe persuasions. I stay five, six moves ahead of them all. I make a show of viciously beating a shifter drug dealer and thief on the sidewalk. I call the condo and speak loudly and strongly to my wife through the answering service. I make a mental note to erase that message later.

I hear a vampire whisper that there must be trouble in paradise. I catch the eye of my child and wink. She smirks back.

I leave her to lock up the bar and head for home. As I round the corner to Hummingbird Lane, I can see the dragon's head of my ship rise against the skyline. My chest tightens as I am transported, just for a moment, back in time.

I have a wife who I love more than I could have ever imagined possible; a strong, fierce, sensual woman, with a heart and mind I sometimes struggle to comprehend. She surprises me on a regular basis.

I didn't expect to find love after all these centuries. I most certainly did not expect to be surprised.

I have Pam, a wondrous child, superior to all others. I have a dog, a true fighting man's companion. He thinks I rule the universe.

I have a boy.

I may be undead, but I have a life. I will protect it.

And I will not fear the thoughts of sheep.

OOOooooOOOooooOOO

A/N Thyra10, our resident Viking expert, has informed me that Viking ships were pretty much just one level, so I took artistic liberties, because, well, you all know how much I love swings, and these two needed their Viking War Bed games in the worst way ...

So like I said, I miss you all and would love to hear from you! Happy Fourth of July, cracker crunchers. You kids stay cool :)