“Yeah,” I whispered, the disappointment not lost to the others. “If you open up a media file on me, what the people of Bon Temps have described me as you would know.”
“If you knew what you were looking for,” Shahbaz added. “They would know exactly what you are.”
Silence settled over the possible implications but my thoughts were somewhat elsewhere.
“I fear for Staci’s safety,” I shared with concern as we were nearing Bon Temps.
“How so?” Shahbaz asked curiously.
“Her mind is getting more difficult to read,” I explained. “There is not much room for her to take on any more of their specific mind holds. I worry what will become of her when it does.”
“They were happy to sacrifice her if that meant taking out André,” Godric noted considerably. I had a quick catch-up to do with the status of a Sanguine companion, but I was informed that André would have been severely punished, most likely with death by drinking from me without permission. Staci would have been banished from court and glamoured to not remember a thing but she would be a loose end that would surely be cleaned up in an unsavoury manner officiously. Godric seemed to share my concerns, “Perhaps whoever is addling her mind is already aware of this, grooming the next mark. You must tell me when the time is near; I shall claim Staci as my own.”
“You are not known for this type of behaviour, Aurelie,” Shahbaz spoke carefully. I knew from Pam it was common enough for the Sanguine to claim the pets or companions of the Impurus as their own. Sometimes out of charity for the maltreatment of the pet but more often than not simply because they liked the look or smell of one.
“Things change,” Godric shrugged. “I have sired a child when I never intended too. Perhaps I am finally moving with the times, Shahbaz. And I insist you address me as Godric we have known each other too long for you not to do so.”
“Times certainly are changing,” Shahbaz remarked with a sly smile that seemed to infect even Godric’s serious stance.
I collapsed on the padded floor in exhaustion after the fourth round. “Have you grossly been over exaggerating your stamina again?” the mocking voice teased, not for the first time this afternoon and most surely not the last. The smile that was held with it was far too familiar, one I had taunted many with as my own, when my appetites were far from satiated for the night.
“No,” I croaked out while desperately trying to find my feet again to stand fully erect.
“Come on, big boy, show me what you’ve got.”
I contracted every tired muscle in my body as we took our familiar positions again. I was dripping with sweat, more than ever before. An amused eye watched as it glistened down the exposed expanse of my muscled chest.
“See something you like, Lover?” I leered suggestively before launching forward and striking deeply. Despite my impeccable aim, I missed my worthy adversary when it moved away from my grasp with a quicker speed than my own.
“Your sword is quite impressive,” the response came with a mirrored look of my own as the eyebrows waggled back provocatively in return.
“Make sure to tell Pam,” I returned triumphantly when holding the wiggling body to my chest in a firm grasp marking its rear to indicate exactly of which sword I was speaking.
“No need,” the woman herself drawled at which I lowered the other sword which was held precariously close to her maker’s neck. “Sookie already told me,” she finished with a saucy wink.
“Humlebi,” Kristian smiled widely at his progeny and she instantly stood in front of him pecking him on the lips. “Why don’t you show young Eric here how it is done?”
“You want me to fight you in vintage Dior?” she asked incensed. “It’s Couture!”
“Prove to me you can keep it free of blood and I will buy you twenty more,” he returned, grinning widely as soon as Pam’s mind was churning out the odds. I hoped she would take on his challenge as it would finally give me some time to recover from the mild injuries that had speckled blood all over my body. I grabbed the ripped pieces of fabric that started off as my t-shirt and soaked away the traces of my wounds and exertion.
Pam’s eyes narrowed with discern. “Why do you sweat?” she asked, no doubt offended by the scent that came along with it.
“He always has,” Kristian replied for me while pulling her face to his again with the hidden strength of his finely tuned hands. “Now are we duelling or not?”
“Challenge accepted,” she returned with an undeniable threat in her tone. Pam proceeded to slip off her intimidatingly high stilettos till Kristian objected with a tone dripping with sex, “Shoes stay on.”
It seemed that was the only side of their relationship where Pam acted submissive as her lip quivered slightly with anticipation but a sly smile quickly emerged in its place. I assumed that never lasted long there either. “You just gave me two extra weapons.”
He looked at the lethal footwear appreciatively where the stilettos were glistening with gold studs near the tip of the heel, “Valentino, I presume?”
“Yes,” she returned in a quick breath before landing her first blow with the back of her dainty elbow knocking the undefeatable Ærø firmly on the floor. Pam caged his body instantly, pinning down his hands on either side. “And you will be buying me twenty more pairs.”
“First one to draw blood,” he proposed, and the agreement was sealed with collective nods of their heads.
Her momentary victory was short-lived as they were both quickly on their feet again repeating a choreography that was ingrained in the soles of their feet as the metal of their swords clashed in a great cacophony. Pam had the advantage of being light on her feet and her inability to fly properly did not leave her unskilled in momentary speed.
“You still carry your sting, Humlebi,” Kristian complimented as they moved in a large circle facing each other off once more. He launched himself towards her and, despite Pam’s sidestep his trajectory moved in accordance, knocking her to the floor and flying her sword away. “Give up so easily?” he said smugly when she had regained her sword in an instant.
“Never,” she said defiantly, before propelling towards him at great speed once more. It was not unlike how my impeccable aim had completely missed my target, however, proving that Pam really was here to show me how it was done; her course and stance changed in accordance before Kristian could comprehend. She crouched low at great speed sliding into his lower body on the soles of her feet, ripping up the padded floor below her with the tips of her sharp stilettos as if she were the incarnation of the Silver Surfer gliding with ease. She lay firmly on his strong form with her limited weight, but managed to knock both their swords out of grasp in the process.
“Give up?” she asked triumphantly.
His indignation was short-lived as she hungrily kissed the lips it came from. While Pam proved to be a worthy observation in the art of battle I assumed this was why Kristian had suggested I stay and watch. In total stealth and silence her shoe slipped off her foot and into her hand. A happy smile on her maker was mirrored with a fraudulent version of her own when they disengaged, without pause and time to process it happened; the stiletto was lodged firmly into his chest where his heart once beat. Had he been foul-blooded, Pam’s outfit would be stained crimson by his remains with that particular movement. Now merely a few drops brimmed to the surface around the metal decoration of her pump.
“I win!” Pam shrieked in excited victory, the high-pitched tones bouncing of the tightly plastered walls were quickly swallowed by the lips of her maker. Fearing I would become a voyeur to what were effectively my family members getting it on I moved to get up, but Kristian commanded I stay, so instead I continued to stare at a particularly uninteresting corner in the opposite direction.
“I do not know if I would consider that an outright win,” Kristian remarked darkly, holding up the shoe dripping with his blood from the heel while calling me to attention again. A small huff escaped from Pam’s nostril with this technicality as they both looked towards me to settle their dispute.
“I was to keep ‘it’ free of blood, which was spoken in reference to my vintage Dior,” Pam rattled off from her perfect memory. “You acknowledged the shoes as weapons, they are not part of ‘it’ as much as my sword is.”
“You see, Eric,” Kristian said with great contentment with Pam sitting astride him while he rested on his elbows. “That stinger behind her lips is a better weapon than any I have given you. Everyone assumes I call her Humlebi because of her fumbling skills in flight, but, in fact, it is in honour of the lethal weapon that is her tongue. Come.” With his final command, he patted the upturned floor beside him where I diligently sat beside their intimate pose.
“How would you rule, Eric?” Pam asked with curiosity.
“Twenty new outfits but no shoes,” I concluded after weighing both their input.
“Cruel, but fair,” Pam pouted with a roll of her eyes. “Like a true Aurelie.”
“Fair to you,” Kristian mocked while pulling the bottom of her lip down to break up the childish hold of her mouth. “Now let us show Eric what it is to give blood. Drink from me?”
Pam’s head needed no nudging as her lips clasped over the point of impact that her stiletto had caused. Her hands shoved aside the punctured fabric with a ferocious rip while she continued to suck down from his chest. I expected them to both be writhing against each other in a dry ecstasy, but instead it was gentle and calm as he nursed her with his hands running through the long tendrils of her hair.
“Our blood listens to our intent,” Kristian explained when Pam finally let go of the wound as it had healed in on itself. She lay with a contented smile on his chest while his ministrations continued through her blonde tresses. “This is what my care and responsibility for Pamela looks like, the duty of my charge. Simply project what you wish for the blood to carry and it will find its new host intact.”
“Choose carefully,” Pam supplemented. “She will have blood dreams of you, whatever intent is encoded in the blood will manifest itself in those dreams. This one had me rubbing up against any vertical surface in dry heat the first time I ever had a sip. He had to drain me to my death to stop it.”
“It was not that bad,” he admonished with abject denial while placing her small foot back into the former deadly weapon. By now I had taken it as accepted fact that the truth between them would always exist somewhere in the middle while their collective stubbornness would always refuse to recognise either side, so I merely chuckled not giving either of them my overt support.
We were all three quickly back on our feet, the ruined floor now suspending all further training. Kristian and I looked as if we had been through hell in our ripped outfits stained with blood while the victorious reigning Queen looked like she merely stepped in it momentarily. There wasn’t even a single hair out of place in her expertly coiffed hair.
“Come on, Viking!” Kristian said good-naturedly while slapping my ass, thwarting me towards the shower room with accelerated speeds. “Clean that barbarian body; no need to cause the poor girl to faint with that scent of yours.”
“Asshole,” Was the last thing he heard before my impeccable aim didn’t fail for the nth time that day and the remnants of my sweat-covered shirt landed firmly on his face with a satisfyingly wet thwack. That was far more satisfying entertainment than seeing Kristian being brought to his knees by Pam. The woman in question enjoyed the sight just as much as I did when she laughed with delight at the agitated face that uncovered once the wet fabric fell to the floor again. Pam, however, failed to remember that her maker’s thirst for vengeance was always directed at the co-conspirators first and to the true target last. As I made my quick escape, her face was covered in my delightful scent that was accompanied by shrieks of horror.
I was soon sweating again under both Kristian’s scrutiny and the atmosphere of the steam room we were in. He was yet to extract his revenge on me as he had so easily done with Pam. It was part of the torture; the waiting, the constant glances over the shoulder, and, knowing Kristian, he would stretch it out as long as he could, waiting for that exact moment when you almost offered to take your punishment voluntarily only then to strike mercilessly.
“Why aren’t you and Pam together?” I decided to ask in an effort to divert the heat that had otherwise been firmly placed on me. Relationships between family members were generally not discouraged and Aelia seemed to voice no objections to their casual relations. There were some Sanguines that disapproved of it between a maker and a child, deeming it a practice of the Impurus akin to human incest, but it was not the majority opinion.
“We were lovers before I turned her,” he confessed although it was hardly an admission that needed acknowledging. “I offered her our existence and she agreed instantly though I should have turned her then and there, but I wanted a night with her as a human so we waited. Pam was promising like you in her youth. As soon as Aelia set her eyes on her, I knew that those moments, when she still needed oxygen to sustain her life, would be the only time that she was truly mine. That single night meant more to me than all others I have lived through since.” Kristian ran both of his hands over his damp hair smoothing it down as a few drops of perspiration fell to his towel. In comparison, my body and the towel around my waist were soaked thoroughly.
“She will have to make an alliance through marriage at some point,” Kristian sighed. “I do not wish to stand in her way. She should have everything she deserves. I will never deny her a thing.” He continued to scrutinise my heated body, whether out of mere study or preparations for repairs, I could not say for certain.
“So you let her win,” I stated rather than asked. Pam was impressive in her physical skill, but it was indeed her mental aptitude that had her victorious over her maker. He gave a mere shrug in reply that neither denied nor confirmed my statement.
“You were stronger today,” he said proudly, changing the tone of our conversation. “Though it appears you have been lax in your training.”
“My aim is still good,” I returned with a sly tease that he took on in good humour.
“Indeed,” he informed me with a pat on my shoulder. “It is the fairy blood. I am curious to see what your blood will do for her. I think it is also why you are sweating like a human, or perhaps a fairy is more accurate.”
Kristian was younger than Godric so he had only ever known a time without the Fae just like my maker, but from Pam I had come to understand he had a particular interest in the species. “Aelia says the sharing of the blood is what allows our powers to combine.”
“Sookie has a latent spark. I theorise that your blood will awaken it as Godric’s line is extremely pure,” he continued to speculate as the gears in his mind continuously churned with the possibilities. “The sweating is good. It is cleansing your blood for her, freeing it of any toxins. I can’t wait to observe the results.”
“We are but a mere science project to you,” I laughed while he downed another shot of akvavit. With the sound of satiated thirst he winked in agreement.
“What are your plans?” he asked as the alcohol further loosened the comradery between us. He was a mere two shots away from where it would transform to insults directed in each other’s way in defence of our respective birth nations’ traditional rivalry, although today I was not keeping up with his copious alcohol consumption. “Pam has already laid out the evening’s attire on your bed, I assume.”
I tried to hide the chuckle by swiping my hand across my mouth, but it was poorly contained as we both quietly laughed at the dominatrix who dictated both of our respective wardrobes. “Was she always like that?”
“Worse,” he smirked but before I could imagine how that was possible, I found myself plunged into an ice cold bath with my head firmly pressed under water for what felt like an eternity but probably lasted no more than a minute. Now, I enjoyed a cool down post sauna like any decent Scandinavian, including an assault of birch branches to get the blood flowing again, but there was a mental preparation that came with that. The sheer shock of it to my muscles and mind had me flailing like a child when my sister Isa had enacted the same torture on me by the lake of our summer cabin.
“I see where she gets it from,” I replied when I was finally freed from my hold between sputtering out the remnants of water that had travelled down my windpipe. As I innocently rubbed away at my eyes, a hard smack was directed at my ass while it was doubly impacted with a careful flick of the wrist wielding his towel as a weapon of choice. “Mind your aim.” Was the last I heard before he sped off to undoubtedly hide in Pam’s secure lair.
I grumbled a little, rubbing at the bare expanse of skin that ran red with the assault. “Fucking asshole.”
I arrived just in time to see the sun setting over the horizon. Her lake house was easy to find from the sky after she had shown it to me on a map the night before. She had described it as nothing much but it was quintessentially her, humble and seemingly simple, but beyond the white timber façade, there was assuredly a hidden world that the pretty decorative woodwork tried to distract one with as it nestled contentedly in the surrounding woods. The converted carriage house was reminiscent of the farmhouse of her youth, but, despite its modesty in size, it displayed the grandeur of the former plantation estate to that which it once belonged. In a sense, it acknowledged her financial elevation in life without letting go of her roots.
I set the packages I had brought with me by the front porch before heading over to the water’s edge where Sookie stood with my maker admiring the sun as it set down the sheet of water that glimmered like a mirror in the last moments of light. Their gazes didn’t relent as each had their own homing device to recognise my approach, just as I could recognise the weres and Guards of Anûšiya stationed all around us at a respectable distance.
She looked radiant in a simple white dress while my maker was wearing one of his god-awful hoodies that I suspected he bought just to taunt Pam. I wrapped my arms around her waist pulling her into my body contentedly as I joined them in watching the remnants of the sun.
She didn’t jolt in my grasp but sank into the embrace with ease. We both knew exactly what this was. We had both said it the night before. Whatever it was between us, we had yet to find a term, but we knew for certain one thing.
This was right.
This was real.
This was us.
A/N: I know a lot of you have been impatiently demanding when we get to the first blood exchange already…. soon is all I have to say to that and I hope you enjoyed this anyway. This was the last chapter for this year, it’ll be back with all the others in January while some Christmas stories fill up the space in the meantime so look out for those 😉 .
Many thanks to the wonderful MsBuffy again for her precious beta skills.