“Introduce me to your friend, darling,” Bill said while preening in front of the mirror when he heard the soft thud of female footsteps approach. “We’re going to have ourselves a grand old time.”
“We certainly are,” Aelia spat out.
“Empress,” he whispered, falling down to kneel quickly before her in subservience. “You honour me with your presence.”
“I’m not here by choice,” she growled. “Rise!”
Warily he moved himself up from his knees, “I swear, she never said anything of her lineage, I did not know she was an Aurelie!”
“Save your lies,” Aelia spoke coolly, switching to English. “You knew exactly who she was.”
“Sookie?” Bill spoke in surprise as she stepped into view.
“You have some nerve, Bill Compton!” she hissed. “Now take us to your employer!”
“I don’t know a Hadley,” he repeated through clenched teeth. Demonstratively he shifted against his restraints, hoping to elicit sympathy from Sookie by emphasizing their ‘shared’ Southern lilt, the move only turning her colder against him.
“I do not care what she calls herself now!” Aelia hissed. “Tell the petulant bitch to get here now!”
“I swear,” Bill pleaded. “I don’t know of this woman; I did not know Tulla was one of you!”
Aelia’s brow moved askew towards Sookie, questioning his sincerity, “I know a liar when I see one,” Sookie answered evenly. “Seen minds, seen the lies. You lie well, I’ll give you that. We both know this won’t end well, now you have a choice how badly you want this to go.”
“You’re not the same woman I met in Bon Temps,” he accused. “She would have shown mercy! Cared for my wellbeing in this clear violation of my rights!”
She snorted, “I guess motherhood has made me hard, deal with it. There will be no mercy from me, not after the pain you’ve inflicted on poor Tulla, and even worse, poor Staci. Did you show her mercy? Did you think of her wellbeing for even one moment through your manipulations and schemes?”
His jaw grew tense, frustration legible from every pore of his inflamed skin.
“Go on,” Sookie goaded, hovering close, “Absolve yourself, deny your culpability. I dare you.”
“It wasn’t me!” he cried out in frustration.
“Who was it then?” Aelia hissed, her boring gaze unnerving him even further.
“I don’t know!” he cried out, the women collectively scoffed, “I swear I don’t know! I received orders, that was all! Promises were made to help our cause.”
“Did they?” Sookie posed, her tone suddenly friendly. Reluctantly he shook his head. “The bombings, they were part of the deal, yes?” He nodded, loathing the betrayal he was revealing to whom he considered one of his greatest foes, Aelia, one who never shied away from announcing her despise and disgust of his kind.
“Who told you to go after Tulla?” Sookie asked, her hand suddenly silencing his volunteered answer. “Never mind. That was all you, wasn’t it? Only you would market seduction as leverage, and she’s far too friendly and sympathetic to see the worst in anyone.”
“Yes,” he sighed despondently. “I thought-”
“Make her fall in love with you and she’ll betray the family she was born into?” Aelia uttered, barely containing the laugh that wanted to accompany that preposterous notion. “You’re out of your league, little boy. Who gave you your orders?”
“I told you!” he cried out with frustration. “I don’t know.”
“Don’t know or don’t remember?” Sookie demanded.
“We never met,” he conceded with a minute movement. It had escaped Sookie, but Aelia’s study of the, in her mind, inferior vampire had revealed much in that millisecond. Following where his betraying eyes had briefly travelled, she narrowed in on the laptop. She beckoned Sookie to help her with the unfamiliar technology and when prompted, Bill gave her the necessary password with reluctance and a great threat of violence after which she examined his browser history.
“RGN_5927? This is your contact?” she demanded as soon as Sookie opened up his chat history that was either encrypted or a foreign language. Reluctantly, Bill nodded. “I think we have all we need here,” she informed Sookie while taking possession of the laptop.
Bill’s pained face turned to Sookie, hoping to elicit some sympathy again, he pleaded, “Please tell Tulla I did genuinely care for her. She may have been a pawn at first, but it became so much more. I came to care for her.”
“I’m sure in your twisted little mind you did,” Sookie sighed, “It won’t save you now. Your cause, demanding equal footing to the Sanguine,” she started carefully, aware of Aelia’s presence and stance on the matter. “It isn’t wrong, there is no cause for you to be treated as second class citizens. These actions, however, make me doubt that. You’re going about this the wrong way.”
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable,” he replied.
“Where did you hear that?” she demanded, an angry trigger flushing her entire face.
He merely shrugged with a self-satisfied grin, “John F. Kennedy may have mentioned it once.”
Sookie’s eyes narrowed further, her gaze transplanting to Aelia instead who gave an affirming nod from behind the computer screen, sending a deep chill down Bill’s spine with the ramifications of that silent conversation. “I’d say it was nice knowing you, Bill, but it really wasn’t.”
“Wait!” he cried, the chair groaning with his attempt to defy the restraints. “I’ll tell you! I’ll tell you everything!”
“That’s the thing, isn’t it, Bill?” Sookie smiled sweetly, her warm breath unnerving him greatly with its close vicinity to his face. “You already have; you have nothing left to tell that your computer won’t.”
“I-” he struggled again.
“Now Shahbaz is coming in here, you remember him right?” Bill nodded with an audible gulp. “The last time you two met, I told him to be nice to you for Staci’s sake. Considering how you treated her, I don’t think I’ll ask him again this time.”
“Please?” he pleaded, unnerving Sookie as it appeared he was about to cry from sheer terror.
“Tell you what,” Aelia whispered with an alluring promise as if it were an invitation to her bed. “You tell him about your ‘revolutionary’ friends and maybe, just maybe, we can do something for you. What do you say?”
“YES! YES!” he cried out as if in relief, his head bobbing emphatically.
“Good boy,” she grinned with a pat to his cheek. The door opened to Shahbaz and Oren and with a nod, they removed a weary Bill Compton from the apartment.
They moved quickly into the safety of the car and with screeching tires, it accelerated back into the heavy traffic that was clogging up the ancient arteries of Rome. The two passengers had remained silent since leaving the house, the rush of adrenaline plummeting the farther they travelled. Aelia was the first to break the silence when they were almost at her residence, “The quote, what does it mean to you?”
“It’s in the chat history, isn’t it?” she hazarded to which Aelia nodded in confirmation. “It’s something Gran used to say often to us kids. Bill and his ideals really have nothing to do with this. They used him like they use everything else to make their point. You’re right, it’s personal and it’s directed at me. It has to be Hadley. I’m sorry to have caused you such grief.”
“It’s not all on you,” Aelia smiled sympathetically. “You’re family now, in fact, always were. Anything aimed at you is ours by default. We won’t let you stand on your own.”
“Aelia,” Sookie spoke softly. “Godric suggested we ask you to become Lisbet’s godmother, well, not exactly suggest…”
“I understand,” she smiled. “Choose whomever you like.”
“No, you misunderstand,” Sookie tried to clarify. “I initially balked, as if the choice was taken from us, but now, I’ve come to understand. I want you as Lisbet’s godmother, for what you said just now. If anything were ever to happen to me, I know she’d do well with you.”
She chuckled, “It’s been a very long time since I took a Childe, however they all still behave like it. Don’t worry, I’m going to make sure Lisbet will always have her mother.”
Sookie couldn’t help the tears that had started to form at that promise, barely able to utter, “Thank you.”
“What’s with her?” Pam asked when Sookie rushed past her and into Eric’s arms, losing herself in the unique scent that wafted from Lisbet’s head.
“Hormones,” Aelia informed dryly. “Let her be. How is Tulla?”
Pam shrugged, “About the same, Weepy McWeepyton.”
“And you?” Aelia posed, a picture of perfect innocence were it not for the malevolent glint that hid in her dark eyes. Pam remained purposefully silent in reply, so Aelia spoke for her, “You’ve been avoiding Kristian from the moment you arrived. I’m not blind my dear. The two of you and your commitment issues, either enjoy the casual nature of your relationship or figure it out. You’re helping no one carrying on like two lost souls the way you two do. Now where is that girl, the one who likes computers?”
Pam eyed her warily, the casual tone addressing her relationship to her Maker could almost be mistaken for an approval of such proceedings. “Molly?”
“Yes, that’s the one,” she said. “Now don’t just stand there, get me the girl or find Kristian. Either one.” Her feet tapped impatiently, clearing her throat she tried again, “Now, would be good.” With amusement the ancient vampiress watched the younger one scurry off, shaking her head she said to no one in particular, “Silly children.”
“Are you sure it’s a she?” Molly posed, receiving an affirming nod in reply. “If you say so, however, going by what I know, this ‘person’ doesn’t seem to be female, and he knows his way around a computer.”
“An accomplice,” Godric noted. “Well, it was unlikely she was acting alone. Sookie mentioned she’s not all that capable.”
“I have a location, it’s not likely to be accurate though,” Molly mused, chewing her lips. “Crap!”
“We’ve been spotted,” she groaned, her tongue sticking out slightly while she frowned in deep concentration, the rapid movements of her fingertips straining the keyboard with her preternatural strength as the hardware struggle to keep up. She finally breathed out in relief only moments later, announcing, “I think we’re okay.”
Aelia stared at the screen, wondering what exactly she was supposed to be looking for. “What’s that?”
“Nothing,” Molly shrugged. “Just an ad.” She clicked it away, only for it to appear again, repeating the movement twice, failing to remove it each time. “Hold on,” she said with a sudden concern. “Fuck!”
Angrily Molly batted away at the keyboard that now proved unresponsive while a multitude of browser windows kept opening by themselves and obscuring the monitor. “Unplug the router!” she commanded, only to be stopped by Aelia who cried out, “Wait!”
“I have to advise against this,” Molly interrupted. “They have access to your entire system right now.”
“I don’t care,” Aelia growled while watching the command window pop up, a single rectangle flashing in the blank page while the room fell to silence. The lighting flickered on and off, Shahbaz and a contingency of his guard entered the room, ready and alert, while letters started to form a sentence, ‘You should listen to your tech support.’
“Can I reply?” Aelia demanded, and Molly nodded, offering her the keyboard. The ancient vampiress stared at it curiously. “You just type the letter you want, like a typewriter, it’s easy.” She nodded, carefully taking possession of the unfamiliar object. “Maybe I should type for you,” Molly said in a cautious voice.
“Tell her I want to meet her.” Molly did as asked and the room remained silent while they awaited a reply.
“I’m tired of these games. Tell her so we can come to some understanding.”
‘Who says I’m interested in an understanding?’
“There must be something they want?” Molly shrugged, typing as she went.
‘F2F?’ Molly typed, causing the window to disappear. “What did you do?” Aelia seethed in the sudden darkness. “That abbreviation, what did you type?”
“Face to face?” she wheezed out, struggling under the chokehold, the lights turning on once more. The monitor switched from black to an acid green, and a screechy electronic rendition of a wedding march started playing while a series of numbers started filling the screen.
“Write them down!” Aelia commanded while loosening her hold on the computer expert.
“They’re co-ordinates,” Molly pointed out, regaining some of Aelia’s esteem.
“Look it up!” Aelia continued in command mode. “Preferably on an actual map.”
“No need,” Godric interrupted. “I recognise them.”
“Where else?” he shrugged. “Bon Temps, Louisiana. The Stackhouse Homestead.”
The screen turned black with the command window appearing again. ‘I will tell you when.’
“Tell her I’m on my way.”
“I can’t,” Molly spoke with regret. “I’m locked out.”
‘Bring the golden girl and the child, no one else.’
The computer rebooted itself with a screeching sound, aggravating the sensitive earbuds of the Supernaturals present while their surroundings appeared to set themselves to rights again. “Check the perimeters,” Godric commanded, hurrying out the room himself in search of his own Childe and his family unit, only to collide with a frantic Sookie on his way out.
“Where’s Oren?” she cried out while Eric appeared to be flying at great speeds throughout the house and grounds.
“What happened?” Godric urged, trying to ease her frantic sense of mind.
“The lights,” she sobbed. “Out. Oren. Lisbet,” Sookie breathed out before buckling with the weight of it all. “Aelia, you promised,” she whimpered. “You promised to keep us all safe.”
“Get up,” Aelia spoke sternly at the puddle on the floor that once represented Sookie. “Godric, fetch your Childe.”
“I don’t-” he started to protest.
“Fetch your Childe!”
He nodded, setting off after his trace. Aelia breathed in deeply before her hands started to fill with a bright green electric charge, engulfing her entire body with the bright light till suddenly Oren materialised beside her. “You fool!” she hissed at him. “You do not separate the mother and the child!”
“I apologise.” He fell to his knees with reverence where Sookie desperately grasped for her child, looking her over for any sustained damage. Eric was quick to move in behind her, the frantic set of their eyes unwilling to relent until they knew for certain Lisbet was unharmed. “I was bound to protect the child at all costs, you may need to change her diaper.”
“Where did you go?” Sookie whispered, looking over her daughter and finding her unchanged, yet somehow changed, clothes fitting tighter than before. “She’s older, how?”
“I took her to a safe plane in Faerum,” he shrugged. “It seemed the best place for a short while, she’s only aged a week or two. I do apologise, Princess.”
“Next time,” she whispered with a sigh of relief. “Warn us.”
A/N: I almost cut this chapter off a little sooner just to be cruel but I figured it was exciting enough without a missing baby… anyhow next chapter will be the last and I’ll have it up within a few days hopefully. Thoughts, conspiracies, etc. all welcome *hint, not so subtle hint, hint* who ever could it be… Gran?
Much thanks to msbuffy for her ever diligent work on these chapters!
Happy New Year everybody!
 John F. Kennedy, ‘Remarks on the first anniversary of the Alliance for Progress’, 13 March 1962