“The bug,” she said before moving his hand to rest over her belly where he could sense the slightest movement. “It responds to you.”
He observed the life beneath him with curiosity, the accelerated heartbeat so foreign in contrast to the absence of his. “Might be the blood.”
“Maybe.” She paused. “Probably.” They shared a smile while collectively feeling a flutter of movement. “Still, it’s nice to know it’ll have more than just me. I’m going to try and love this, Godric.”
His eyes lit up with wonder with her words, “What made you decide?”
“Because you decided to do the same, I’m done with pain,” With that, Tara tentatively pressed her lips against his. In a slight daze and extended period where neither dared utter a word, they stared at each other briefly before falling to laughs.
“Yeah, we’re definitely not in love,” she exclaimed all too cheerfully, her newfound freedom fueling her mirth.
Godric’s face fell instantly, all previous levity gone, unable to hide the sudden stab of pain.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, taken aback by the effect of her words. “I didn’t mean it like that.”
“No, no,” he assured, only then did Tara come to realise the pain hadn’t been inflicted by her, but was altogether physical as if he was burning from the inside out. “I-” Godric struggled to sound out before his teeth started to clatter against each other and becoming unable to hide the shaking of his body, becoming all the more obvious and causing Tara to cry out in concern.
“Breathe,” she begged, as if he was human, and it was this small gesture that pulled a tiny smile from him, despite the assault that racked his body. His eyes connected with hers as it took its course, the sensation almost becoming familiar in its echo. After losing Cecily he had hoped never to experience it again. “Please, don’t go,” Tara whispered with wet eyes, her hold on him tightening, the pent up frustration of days of imprisonment catching up with her as pleas fell to sobs, and soon she was the one shaking while Godric’s body found its natural state again.
“Shhh,” he urged. “I’m here. I’m not going anywhere.”
Her sobs didn’t dissipate, and her hold shifted, now he was the one comforting her, knowing it was a rare allowance from the otherwise defensive woman. Some time had passed before she managed to ask coherently, “What happened?”
“Eric,” he answered simply, her eyes raised expectantly when he failed to elaborate. “Gone.”
“The Authority disbanded?” Salome queried with a feigned yawn.
“Exactly as we planned; they fell like a house of cards,” Niccoló grinned. “The thought of taking on Russell and the Gaul had them running home to their Makers with their tails between their legs. Where is your newest Childe?”
“I sent him home with his old Maker.”
“You allowed him to leave?” Niccoló fumed. “With nothing in return?”
“The telepath will be ours,” Salome preened, seemingly unimpressed by the cloud of testosterone erupting before her. “Talbot is ours by blood now. He is simply out on loan.”
“You are certain Russell will deliver us to her?” he asked suspiciously, anxious over her independent handling that disregarded their mutual strategy.
“He offered it himself,” she boasted while he continued to eye her warily. Niccoló scented the air carefully, the remnants of spilt blood still lingering. “You lost Franklin in the transaction?”
“Yes,” she emitted with a sigh while studying her nails, pondering if it was time for a manicure. “Probably for the best. He always left such a mess behind.”
“Can’t sleep either, Ms. Stackhouse?”
“I wasn’t aware you slept, Mr. Edgington,” she returned in a faraway tone, remaining perched in the rays of the sun of the window seat where he stayed safely in the shadows.
“Something in the air,” he noted.
“Yes,” Sookie agreed. “It leaves one restless. Did you manage to calm Talbot?”
“Eventually,” he answered with a small sigh. His beloved put up quite the resistance in being without his ‘Maker’ and no other memories of the new cast of characters suddenly surrounding him. “Whatever this is, it did not help.”
“Something is coming,” Sookie whispered to herself before her steady gaze moved from the sunny outdoors to Russell. “Soon.”
With little thought, she rose from her position and moved to sit beside him on the sofa, knees pulled to her chin. “It must be hard to have him, but not truly,” she noted sadly.
Russell gave an acquiescing nod before he questioned, “Why are you so trusting of me, Ms. Stackhouse. Bottom surely isn’t, and I may have to agree with Pam on your seeming lack of survival instincts.”
A small snort escaped her nostrils before her face fell serious again. “You won’t hurt me,” she spoke with confidence. “It’s not your style. You want the chaos of passion, not of war. That got old a long time ago. It’s why you’re here, with us. Isn’t it?”
“You seem awfully certain.”
“I know things,” she conceded, though offering little explanation as to how. He recognised the inherent appropriation of it regardless, the Fae were an unusual sort.
“What do you know?”
“You made a trade,” she posed at which he gave a minute nod. “Not your kingdom, was it? That has no value any longer in these changed times.” Another nod was given in acquiescence. “Me.”
He didn’t bother nodding the third time, they were both acutely aware of the answer and that it had not been a question that was posed. “You’re not the first, but you will be the last,” Sookie said. “I’m no longer an asset.”
“How do you know?” he replied with a grin.
“I know things,” she repeated in that faraway tone again. “Don’t you feel it?”
He repeated her earlier words, “Something is in the air.” She nodded in agreement, his eyes deep in thought as to what it could be, offering with a similar certainty, “Power. I seek a favour.”
“I’m in need of a Faery.”
“For Talbot?” Sookie ascertained, at which he hummed in accordance. “Not this Faery?”
“Ah,” she exhaled while tracing the moons of her pink toenails.
A threat was uttered by Russell, but in a tone that suggested they do lunch sometime, “It’s that or I take you to the other side.”
“Perhaps that’s where I want to be taken,” she grinned up at him, a picture of innocence with veiled hidden depths he was only too eager to explore.
Her excitement was contagious to him, “You wish to be a Trojan Horse? Helen suits you more.”
“Destructor and bringer of war all because of external beauty?” she questioned derisively. “A thing one has no say in to own or earn? I think I prefer to be the horse.”
“I want my Talbot back.”
“See it as a blessing,” she offered with a kind smile while caressing the bite marks Eric had left behind on her skin. The others had faded away with each mutual connection. This one, brand new and the third and final one, was etched with a sense of permanence. “After hundreds of years you both get to fall in love all over again. Try it, it’s wonderful.”
He scrutinised the woman before him, attempting to grasp exactly what it was he saw before him, “You speak as if from experience.”
“I am neither young nor old,” she shrugged. “Time is a strange thing.”
“Why take a mate?” he posed, his eyes following the strokes her fingers caressed over the newly marked skin she appeared to be purposely displaying.
“Why be alone?” Sookie countered. “Did you enjoy being without Talbot?”
“It’s why I advocate being alone,” Russell replied, a touch of fragility creeping into his tone. “One then does not suffer the loss. It’s kinder to the heart to never have known.”
“It’s better to love,” she smiled back, patting his knee gently. “Gives one reason to fight. I’ll seek out Claudine for you.”
“Why?” he questioned when she appeared to be giving so generously without counter demands.
“You never stopped fighting for the one you loved,” Sookie answered. “You certainly won’t stop now. I would rather have you fighting by my side.”
“So it’s a fight that’s coming?”
“I’m not sure,” she answered with a frown. “I want you there anyway.”
“Then have me you shall,” he replied with a sense of hunger. Violence, excitement, desire, whatever shape it would take, Russell knew he had just the appetite for it.
“That was all she said?” Godric asked. “You are certain they completed their bond?”
He nodded before offering, “That is all I have to tell.” His attention shifted back to a sleeping Talbot who even in his day rest was seemingly distant on the farthest edge of the bed in a physical demonstration of recoil from his former Maker.
“That doesn’t sound like Sookie at all!” Tara protested. “He’s lying!”
Jason held her back, knowing the foolish bravery that could possess her all too well, “Sook hasn’t exactly been herself lately.”
“Two people don’t just disappear after completing that bond thing-a-ma-jiggy!” Tara fumed. “You gonna trust what old, wrinkly, fang-face has to say over there?”
Russell couldn’t help but chuckle before complimenting Godric, “I see her appeal.”
“This is not right,” Godric mused, the anxiety unable to leave his weary bones. “Eric is always so vigilant in regard to his safety. Tara is right, one does not just disappear as they have; this property is impenetrable.”
“Maybe they left to do some penetrating of their own,” Jason grinned before realising he was speaking of his sister and was soon wincing in revulsion.
“You don’t appear troubled?” Godric scrutinised Jason. “Your sister and her mate disappear, and yet you seem the least concerned of us all.”
“Don’t feel like I should worry,” he shrugged. “Y’all are making a big deal out of nothin’.”
“Don’t feel like I should worry?!” Tara cried out in outrage. “Jason Corbett Stackhouse, do you hear yourself?”
“Careful now,” he replied, unimpressed by her display of indignation. “Don’t wanna upset the baby, now.”
“You told him?” Tara immediately accused Godric, who hastily denied any betrayal.
“Nobody told me,” Jason acknowledged. “Just know those type of things is all.”
“Now you’re sounding like his version of Sookie! How in the world do you know these things, Jason Stackhouse?” Tara demanded.
He shrugged nonchalantly, “Just do. Cookie?”
“The wolf appears to be missing too,” Russell pointed out after Godric ushered out a fuming Tara with Jason’s help. “Yet I’m the first one you accuse.”
“I made no accusations,” Godric replied quietly. “Tara has been through much-”
“Don’t excuse or indulge that type of behaviour,” he countered. “Makes for terrible children.”
“Will you stay?” he asked as they both observed a weary Talbot awaken uneasily after his day rest.
“Made a promise to a Faery, didn’t I?” he smiled with a hint of melancholy when it became obvious through Talbot’s instinctive caution that he still didn’t recognise him. “Though his Maker,” he sighed, switching to an ancient tongue that only the truly ancient in the room could understand, “might come looking for him.” The heavy set of his well lived-in face barely masked the bitter truth of his beloved Talbot belonging to anyone other than him. Tentatively, Talbot smiled at him in appeasement of his ‘captor’.
“We can handle her,” Godric noted with a cool determination that frightened him slightly in its reminiscence of his past self, the moral nihilist who lived for little consequence of actions beyond the moment, right or wrong no longer a concern when there was a right now. His rational self finally persevered through the cloud of confusion, “There’s a powerful witch in my court, and she can shroud him from his Maker’s detection. It will keep you safe until we know more of his… condition.”
“He is so young,” Russell whispered. “I’ll lose him forever if we end his Maker, If he even survives it.”
“You intend to bind him to you,” Godric posed, purposely omitting the question mark from the statement.
“Not like this,” Russell answered with a shake of his head. “Who knows what magic may be at play here? I want him returned to me as he was.”
“I’m hungry,” Talbot interrupted in tandem with a growl resonating from his stomach, while his eyes bashfully traced the intricate patterns of the bedding before uttering, “The blonde boy smells nice.”
Russell’s spirits dropped further, recognising the glint of lust that accompanied his last statement. There was no denying the Stackhouse boy smelled very nice, looked it too, and most assuredly tasted it too. In their days of old, he would have had no objection feeding him the treat, perhaps indulging in a nip or two himself, the bond, care, and companionship of ages standing in no competition to any sprightly Adonis, but now? Now Russell was no longer his sun around which Talbot orbited, not even a distant satellite making its journey home. He was a stranger whom he neither trusted nor with whom he sought to seek contact beyond the polite necessity of his own survival.
“Let us find you something to eat,” he offered gently, hoping that the Viking had some decent blood available for his Talbot’s once refined taste. A twist of optimism settled into him with the thought of sitting down at an elegant dining table, a unique blend of bloods in a porcelain soup tureen at the ideal temperature as they once dined each and every night. Everything was so vulgar to his Talbot in the world of Supernatural and Russell had indulged it all to elevate his years of crude existence to one of elegance and decorum, even when it had become tedious and in the years without him, it was these small rituals and mannerisms that kept him alive to Russell when all other traces were lost.
“Is this your home?” Talbot asked politely while taking in the decor. It delighted Russell to see the hint of recoil for the rather bland decor, but he missed the usual vitriol that would have once accompanied Talbot’s distaste of their surroundings.
“You’re my home, dear boy,” he sighed while caressing the familiar smooth cheeks of his face. “Any palace or mansion you wish, you shall have it.”
“I’d rather go back to my home,” he replied softly.
“You hate Greece,” Russell scoffed, falling into an old argument rather than the present. “You constantly complain of their boorish ways and disrespect for the classics. Even their sweat offends you! Why would you want to go there?”
Talbot’s eyes shifted nervously in their sockets with the sudden outburst from the ancient vampire, holding a breath he didn’t possess. “Sorry,” he amended, gently pulling him along the sudden distance that had fallen between them. “I promise not to yell anymore.”
“OK,” he sighed in relief before following him to the dining room that had gone unused for decades by its usual vampire resident. He waited patiently while his dinner was served, Russell precisely ladling the heated blood out of the fine bone china, careful not to spill a single drop that would ruin the harmony of the elegantly laid-out dinner table. “Elbows off the table!” he instructed quite sternly causing Talbot to immediately remove them and sit up with a stiff posture. A smile crept over Russell’s face at the sight, assured his Talbot was in there somewhere with the amended pose. “You taught me that, you know?” he continued, “You always thought me so uncouth till you taught me better. Such a fine breed you are.”
He nodded with confusion before carefully putting the spoon near his mouth, uncertain of whether or not he was allowed to eat when he appeared to be the only one at the table who was eating. A small smile of indulgence was given, his shoulders finally relaxing once the much-needed nutrition travelled down his throat and Talbot found himself physically straining not to gulp the entire contents of the deep plate in one go.
“Can you tell me about where you’ve been?” Russell asked kindly.
“We travelled through a portal of sorts,” he replied. “I only remember my Maker awaking me, and her,” he said suddenly at the sighting of Tara, who at present was doing a very poor job of ‘inconspicuously’ lingering in the kitchen.
“Frankenmonster!” Tara gasped at the recognition of the deep green eyes she had once chanced upon before muttering an apology for the nickname.
“Tara has told me much about this place,” Godric explained while nudging his untouched plate towards Talbot after he caught him eyeing it hungrily. “I think it’s a plane between here and Faerum. He was kept submerged in a bath of blood.”
“You know me?” Talbot asked Tara excitedly. “My Mother?”
“We only met briefly,” Tara shrugged. “I left as soon as I could. Your ‘Mother’ insisted I become your sister.”
“Oh,” he said with a hint of disappointment before a spark of excitement brimmed in his eyes. “Maybe she’ll come looking for you.”
Tara’s eyes grew wide, and instinctively her hands fall once more to her stomach to find the slight bump. Godric was beside her in an instant, soothing away her worries to little avail, assuring her of a safety he was not certain that even at this point he could guarantee.
“Did Mother tell you anything as to why you’re here?” Russell asked carefully.
“She told me stories when she fed me,” he smiled like a small child. “How we will return to the order of old, power being restored to where it belongs.”
“We have company,” Godric discerned suddenly, the foreign sounds invading on his tonal periphery. “Is this your doing?” he addressed Russell, suspicions of his missing Childe not yet relented from the other ancient being, the conditions of his struck bargain that resulted in his repossession of Talbot still unclear.
“Now is that any way to greet family?” Russell grinned, the amusing sparkle in his eyes resurfacing with recognition of the incoming sound. With giddy excitement, his eyes locked with Talbot’s, “Come say hello to your Mother.”
A/N: *insert generic shocked response -slash- profanity of choice* Yes, it’s another cliffy, yes I’m cruel and all that and a bag of chips. On a positive note I’m putting the finishing touches to the final chapters of this and as soon as I have I’ll start updating this story at a higher frequency relate, beta allowing. Now that we mention her, much love to msbuffy for her stellar work on this.
I think I may have cried wolf one too many times but Eric and Sookie have mysteriously disappeared next time we’ll find out what, where, and how… sorta…