“Sookie would be forever tied to Bill Compton without her intervention.”
Eric hissed with venom at the mere thought of it. Not so much for his own loss but the thought of her fate, everything that he cherished in her spirit would be extinguished from her bright eyes that he loved so much. No liked so much.
“Her manipulations and Sophie Anne’s placed Sookie in that position. One doing does not recuse the other. Do not see it as your calling to save her too,” Eric advised his maker with disbelief that Godric would even consider such actions.
“Without those manipulations you and Sookie would never have met,” Godric pointed out. “Is that how you would have preferred for events to have unfolded?”
“If it had spared Sookie that pain, then yes,” Eric replied, his honesty on the reversal of his opinion even taking him by surprise. There was nothing in the world he would not give up for Sookie and it was an odd realisation that it could even include his own presence in her life. Now that he had felt that ache that Bill Compton had created inside her, robbed her of a rare purity, there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t give to liberate her from it.
“You were always a better man than I.”
“You were always the better vampire,” Eric offered sincerely of their shared past, somewhere inside him believing it could be a truth once more.
“I fear I can no longer take pride in that,” Godric returned as he failed to meet his child’s eyes.
“Know that I always will, for the vampire that was and raised me.”
“Wolf will you just do this already!” Pam hissed outside Russell’s private chambers. “He needs something to cheer him up and unfortunately I can’t deliver on certain fronts.” To emphasise just that she gestured to his crotch and her clear lack of one.
“There’s repaying depth and then there’s repaying debts,” Alcide returned shaking his head adamantly. “That is above and beyond.”
“I’ll be right next door the whole time, he knows not to get out of line,” she informed with her arms crossed, patience running thin. “Three sips and your debt is done.”
“Three sips,” he finally agreed. “Nothing more.”
Pam grinned displaying far too much teeth to be comfortable as she dangled the gold speedos that were evidently a size to small in front of Alcide’s face. “Wear this.”
“Fuck no,” the werewolf groaned.
“It’s that or nothing,” Logan informed with a wink directed at Pam. “Be glad she gave you something at all.”
“This is FUCKING demeaning,” Alcide growled as he re-entered the room in the piece of spandex that barely covered a thing and a far too short silk robe in a colour to match.
“We know,” Pam and Logan replied in unison as they snapped away their camera phones at him.
“So this is your home?” Sookie said looking quite impressed at the large manor at the end of the circular drive.
“No it’s a safe house, one of many. I never used it until recently.”
“Can we walk down instead of drive,” she requested. “We’ve been cooped up inside for so long.”
“Sure,” he acquiesced while putting the car into park by the curb and sped over to her side to help her out before her fingers had even reached the door.
“I didn’t expect you to be all gentlemanly,” Sookie observed. “Is this because of Pam?”
“Partially,” he smirked.
“What’s the other part?”
“You bring it out in me,” Eric confessed with a saucy wink and helped her up and out of the car.
“You make forget I aspire to be a lady,” she returned with a flush to her cheeks with his obvious attentions as she demurely patted down the black skirt that had given him a slightly risqué view of what was hidden between her thighs. A chuckle bubbled from his lips as he pulled her to his side without comment.
Sookie had jumped at the chance when Eric proposed she accompany him along to the safe house to make sure the Newlins left it behind intact. She had wanted to be there for Tara emotionally but as the night wore on it became apparent she avoided all company and only tolerated Godric who saw her home safely.
It took a good five minutes of leisurely walking before Sookie could take in the large house in full view. The old fashioned masonry was lit in the eve of the night with strong lights beaming up from the ground making the house appear all the more impressive with its historical facade. Sookie was momentarily lost in appreciation till thoughts started to flitter into her mind like radio static.
“Bastards,” she whispered almost inaudibly. With that comment Eric too became alert and finally came to notice the three human heartbeats inside.
“What’s going on?”
“They’re in there with an appraiser,” Sookie replied at a low volume. “Cataloguing every single item in there and its auction value.”
“How much?” he smirked.
“Can you discern an item and its value from their thoughts?” Eric clarified while Sookie’s face remained lock in confusion to his lack of disinterest in the Newlins blatant defilement of his home. “Indulge me.”
“An 18th century cloisonné enamel twin-fish Buddhist altar ornament, estimated at $7000-$10000,” Sookie offered taking the latest thought from the appraisers mind as he jotted it down on his clipboard. “Why doesn’t this piss you off?”
“Everything in there is as fake as Sarah Newlin’s shade of blonde hair,” he replied smugly. “The vampire world is small Sookie, there’s always someone after my spoils from war and travels. Pam runs a whole factory in China that churns out the replicas for all my homes. Even she doesn’t know where the originals are stored.”
“The things a vampire must do to keep chugging along with the ages,” she sighed with the preposterousness of it all.
“Aren’t you glad I made it so long,” he whispered into her ear.
“I’d never complain about that,” Sookie replied as she moved her body round in his arms seeking a sweet kiss. “Now do I get to show them some Southern hospitality and kick their high and mighty Texas hinds out of your house?”
“Tempting,” Eric grinned his loins stirring along happily with the images that built in his mind. “But I didn’t survive this long by seeking out every brawl that presented itself to me.”
“So we wait? And what?”
“We wait while all the pretty cameras record every word they’re saying,” he replied pulling her gaze to the extensive array of recording devices around the property. “I like to know who is trying to fuck me over before I rip them apart. Or in this case who is trying to fuck over my maker.”
Nan Flanagan was glad to depart from the ravaged town of Bon Temps only to find New Orleans in a similar state. She had directed her elite troops to the palace and quickly secured Lorena as her own security staff was all too happy to relinquish the former queen with the news of Russell’s return to the crown.
Lorena was predictably incensed at her received treatment, tearing her guest room apart while Nan awaited news of her retrieval by the Authority. She found herself a willing bite to eat from another vampire’s pet that had stopped feeding from her in persuasion of Godric’s teachings. The pet was a pitiful sight, offering her neck up to any vampire walking by where poorly applied makeup covered up former possessively placed scars.
Nan had to glamour the girl to stop crying with excitement with the prospect that someone was actually going to bite her again. She had been all too eager to rid herself of the clingy pet as she was bringing Nan seriously close on reconsidering her no feed and kill policy. The spokeswoman realised while walking the palace grounds that she had seriously miscalculated Godric’s potential reign. Northman was right in describing the atmosphere as cult like. The fine paintings that once graced the delicate silk papered walls had been replaced by austere portraits of the Gaul. Silence reigned where possible and for a vampire that was constantly cleaning up the messes of others it was disconcertingly eerie.
Nan had retreated to an outer courtyard to contemplate the state of affairs while smoking a cigarette. It was a remnant from her human life. The nicotine had no effect on her anymore but the oral exercise satisfied an urge in stressful times like these. She had been at this game long enough to realise the Southern states were standing at attention to an upcoming conflict. The Viking’s threats were by no means idle, nor could his presence be easily ignored.
Nan Flanagan hated the wild cards like Eric Northman who remained skilfully out of the grasp of all authorities with their careful and considered moves, not revealing true motives until they had the upper hand. She liked her charges predictable and boring, where she had always considered the calm and collected Sheriff a reluctant ally it had never failed her mind that this might happen one day. Boring and predictable would never be words uttered in the same sentence as the thousand year old vampire’s name.
With a particularly long inhale that dragged an impressive line of ashes from her cigarette did Nan Flanagan come to realise how he had played her so effectively all along for his own gains and there was little to be done about it now. The possible reach and power of the Authority was unknown even to her despite her role as their representation to the outside world. At this point she was unsure whether the states would turn on each other or on the Authority first. It unnerved her greatly that it was looking far more likely to be the latter and the outcome was far from predictable.
Her buzzing phone pulled her from her thoughts as it announced the handover of the former queen to the Authority. Instructions were made to her troops to deliver Lorena at the agreed upon exit where she would join them soon. Nan informed the aid of Godric’s regime of their imminent departure as she finished off the necessary paperwork before stepping out into the cool air again reaching for another cigarette from her quickly emptying pack.
To her surprise the retrieval unit was still parked outside, their usual expedience usually had them long gone by the time she re-joined her personal troop of guards. Before she could even contemplate their continued presence or light up the dangling cigarette from her mouth a silver chainmail hood covered her head and an injection of silver nitrate shot through her spine immobilising her as she was hurled into the back of the van. Her own troops had simply stood by and allowed the intervention without repercussion.
The vehicle quickly departed hurling her through the back, her body oscillating between the metal walls of the van. Without colliding into another body made of flesh Nan Flanagan deduced that she was alone, which meant that Lorena had either been set free or their destinations were a different one. Unable to discern the length of time that had passed or the direction of her destination, she emerged dazed when unloaded in an underground facility. She hissed out in pain as the silver hood was removed along with the skin formerly attached to it.
“Welcome Ms Flanagan,” a chipper blonde vampire said holding a clipboard in her arms against her ridiculously frilly pink dress. “I trust your travel was pleasant?”
“Just fine,” Nan gritted out as she started to regain her previously lost senses. She found herself strapped into a wheelchair, her body still limp from the silver running through her veins. An almost identical version of the first cheerful vampire wheeled her to a large conference room she vaguely recognised as the contours of her weekly black screen meetings.
A blindfold was placed over her eyes and all she seemed to be able to distinguish were the shadings between light and dark. Footsteps softly announced the arrival of the Guardian and other members of the Authority.
“Our directive to you was clear Ms Flanagan,” the Guardian spoke with a hint of condescension. “The Northman remains a free agent when he should be holding Louisiana’s crown.”
“I believe you said that you would be attending Sunday mass when Godric defeated the Maenad,” Nan spat back with venom, incensed by the brutal treatment of her person. “I am not the orchestrator of events beyond my control.”
“Who says we’re not attending this Sunday?” the distinctly elder voice said in response.
“You’re not serious about that are you Niccolò?” a whiny female voice exhaled.
“When am I not?” Niccolò replied coolly.
“Let us concern ourselves with Ms Flanagan for now,” the Guardian interceded the internal squabble. “Has Northman agreed to be heir apparent?”
“No, Guardian,” Nan replied respectfully to the man in charge. “He is using the destabilising state of affairs as a threat against your authority. Northman is exerting the power he’s gathered against you rule. He owns his maker’s ear while his progeny holds that of Russell’s. He and Stan Baker seemingly go way back in the Old World. ”
“If anyone can band together the powers in charge it’s Northman,” the usually taunting female vampire spoke seriously. “We would do well not to entertain such threats.”
“He has never wanted a crown,” the other female vampire offered. “His threats are idle. What does he want if not a Royal title?”
“Northman is more concerned for his independence,” Nan offered. “He will fight to retain that but he has no loyalty to his maker’s reign. He can do as he pleases and he is astutely aware of it.”
“How are things at the Louisiana court? We have been having difficulty establishing spies internally,” the Guardian informed as he testily regarded his fellow members.
“I fear his congregation is larger than we anticipated,” Nan explained of her findings. “They are devoted to him and follow him blindly. From my accounts the seams will start to fall apart soon with the exponential influx of vampires.”
“What do you propose to do about the instability of three neighbouring states?” the vampire she now recognised to be Niccolò asked.
“You pay me to run interference between the different vested parties,” Nan replied pointedly as she tried to express a modicum of respect. “The decisions should come of the Authority.”
“You must learn to listen carefully Ms Flanagan,” Niccolò replied. “I asked for a proposal not a decision.”
“Stan is relatively young,” she said thoughtfully. “He is more susceptible for an impending attack. New Mexico and Oklahoma are too weak to act. Mexico might make a move, unless we hold him off. Stan might choose to work with us rather than against us.”
“Continue,” the Guardian commanded.
“Russell has little recognition for your authority while Godric has no necessity for it,” Nan explained of what she expected would be the Northman’s reasoning of confidence. “Provoke Russell to react to your rule and let the Gaul fight your cause. Wipe the field clean and the unattached Northman picks up the pieces. Reinstate Lorena if you wish and take out Stan when his use is lost. Offer the promise of his state to Mexico in encouragement of staving off invasion plans for now.”
“How would you provoke Russell?” Niccolò asked.
“You may release her blindfold,” the Guardian instructed to the blonde vampire who had wheeled her in. Nan Flanagan took a few moments to adjust her eyes to the brightly lit space as she took in the faces of the Authority for the first time.
“Welcome to the Curia, Ms Flanagan.”
“You know I’d really like to get my things back from Mississippi,” Sookie voiced to Eric as she rested her head against his chest. They were softly swaying on her Gran’s beloved porch swing listening to the song of the cicadas upon their return from Eric’s safe house, leaving the Newlin’s to dig their own grave with recorded evidence. “I haven’t been able to pay for a thing or drive a car legally.”
“Pam will send these things for you,” Eric said. “Things are going according to plan with Russell.”
“She’s not in danger with him is she? He’s not like homicidal insane right?”
“Pam seems to handle him just fine,” he replied while restating the conversation he had with his progeny earlier that evening where he was brought up to date one the latest developments on her end after Nan Flanagan’s unannounced visit. “Besides, she is under no obligation to stay. Apparently Russell made himself seem more insane than he is.”
“He’s still a little insane then?”
“Very few vampires reach his age with their sanity wholly intact,” Eric offered in explanation. “His penchant for wolves is a little peculiar for a vampire. He misses his lover and only child.”
“Talbot,” Sookie supplied remembering from what Pam had told her. “My Gran mourned the loss of my Grandfather every day he was gone. She always believed he could come back. Sheriff Dearborn told us he had abandoned us but my Gran refused to believe him.” She traced the knuckles absently with the memory that made her see the similarity between his and the rough worked hands of her grandfather.
“He was like me you know,” Sookie confessed in a whisper. “He heard things too. Everyone in town was always thankful for him. A family was saved from a burning building, marital crises averted, missing children found. No one spoke of it but they respected him. Were thankful for him.”
“But not you,” Eric noted running his fingers through her hair soothingly. As he had come to know her ‘people’, that consisted of the small congregation of the supernatural affiliated and Tara, this much had become clear to him. He had observed the town’s interaction with the telepath who could show no gratitude for her actions that had saved many of them from the madness of the maenad. Those that freely associated with her were either related by blood or they shared her outsider status in the small minded community. In Eric’s opinion Sookie had received an inexplicable amount of discrimination from her neighbours without actual notable cause.
“Not me,” she whispered with watery eyes. It wasn’t something Sookie liked to dwell on, her grandmother had raised her to steel the turbulent tides after all. With Eric that neatly erected fortified wall could be loosened with his mere presence, it was almost like lowering the mental shields of her telepathy. It offered more solace than the silence of his mind ever could making it disconcerting and welcome all at once.
There was a liberation there that she had never experienced with anyone else before. Sookie allowed herself to be vulnerable with him, knowing he found no weakness in that. Never could she detect a hint of judgement as there was no hiding from him in the bond and where that had initially scared her, now it soothed.
“Women are far more frightening than most would care to admit,” Eric said from his thousand years of observation. “Why do you think I turned Pam?”
“You sound like Lafayette and his theories that all men are frightened what lies between a women’s thighs.” Sookie let out a small snort at the thought. “Besides, I think Pam would be scary no matter what her gender.”
“Very true,” Eric chuckled. “She’ll be pleased to hear that.”
“I’m sure she would,” Sookie replied her spirit lifting with the levity they shared. “She wasn’t ready to leave your side you know.”
Eric hummed in acknowledgement. “I don’t think I was ever ready to leave Godric’s either.”
“I’m sorry,” Sookie expressed when she understood what her demand of his freedom had caused. “I never considered that.”
“Shh,” he admonished as he kissed her forehead lightly. “I am forever grateful for my release. It was just much to digest after releasing Pam.”
“Is that the reason you wanted to bond with me?” she asked with a hint of insecurity.
“Maybe. Not consciously,” he answered after some contemplation. “I admit it was strange to be without the presence of others but this is different.”
“How long till it starts to fade?”
“Is that what you wish?” Eric enquired as he scrutinised their connection.
“Stop that, it tickles,” Sookie giggled as she writhed in his arms. Once calm again she answered it was merely curiosity. Eric had to admit he was unsure of the exact timeline.
“I want to show you something,” he informed while guiding her up towards where Godric had pointed out the Fae portal. “You see the air moves differently here.”
“Huh, I never noticed before now,” Sookie answered as she moved towards energy field. When she moved her hands across it sparks of light suddenly emerged from her fingertips. Frightened by the sight she instantly yanked her hand back upon her body. “Eric what did I do?” she asked nervously as the portal became more visible and active before them. They both instinctively took a step back as the air around them continued to charge audibly.
“I don’t know,” Eric stated with restraint as they gazed hypnotically as the swirling portal sprung to life. Deafening screams were now emerging out of the depths further driving Sookie and Eric back in caution. Her fingernails dug into his hands, drawing blood but she was too paralysed to notice the damage she was unintentionally inflicting. The whirling winds seemed to upsurge into an impending explosion when instead the portal closed upon itself anticlimactically.
In a momentary aftershock the portal trembled once more and a body crossed through before the vortex closed permanently.