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Dead Rising

Chapter Text

Dead Rising

A Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire
True Blood Inspired
Romance
Fan Fiction
By Julane Sutliff

 

Prologue

 

Out Parish Road 34 past Merlotte’s, down Humming Bird Lane and a mile down a pitted gravel driveway, an old farmhouse sat in the nearly full dark of the Autumn evening. The long, twisting gravel drive meandered its way all the way up to the front door of the old place, then split off toward the back of the house. Crickets and frogs in the well-tended yard tried to out sing each other while the house, boards cracking and popping in the rapidly cooling early evening air, sang along with them.


For almost all of its one hundred and fifty plus years the house had been the color of plain white wash, same as all ancient farmhouses. People, a family, had lived in the house nearly every day since it’s construction, until several years back when it sat empty for just about eighteen months. Toward the end of that lonely time, a troop of strangers came along and painted it a soft cheery yellow. The house had no recollection of why it needed to be yellow, but it didn’t mind at all as it liked the change. Afterward, the girl moved back in and everything went back to normal. The house liked that too. For a while then, all seemed like it would be okay, but, for a long time now, the house had needed all the help it could get in the cheer department. Something a bit more substantial than a paint job.

The creatures who lived in the house now, loved it and kept it in good repair. The house was never dirty or unkempt and if fact was always clean and homey. Delicious smells came from the kitchen, seeping into the wood and plaster construction every day. This made the house feel loved and very happy indeed. The house knew how much work it took to not only keep it in good repair, but to make it a home. And wasn’t that the goal of every house? To eventually become a home?

In all of its 150 years the same family had lived in this home. And for certain, a home it had once been, love having been the main building material as was evidenced by all of things that were scattered through the house. Things that were unique to a home made by love. Things like, the hand crocheted doilies on the arms of the chairs made by ‘The Greats’ whose images staunchly watched over the rooms from their antique gilded frames. There was also the door jamb in the kitchen. Generation after generation of children had stood ram rod straight, shoulders pressed tightly to the worn wood to have their height recorded along with the date. In the living room, next to an ancient black rotary phone, was a small book with a red barn and yellow daisies on the cover. It was well used and falling apart. Some of the phone numbers recorded inside were so old they started with letters. The family’s large white Bible sat prominently across from the phone on the coffee. The previous mistress of the house had received both item’s as gifts from her parents on her wedding day. All of the tools for homemaking were in the house, but it was useless. For a long while now the only thing recorded in that Bible were deaths. And, that was the problem. Wasn’t it?


There was the appearance of joy, but things were definitely not joyful. There’d been no marriages, no births, no celebrations recorded in the big Bible on the coffee table for years. There were no new measurements on the door jamb or used birthday candles added to the aging collection in the kitchen drawer. No new phone numbers scribbled down in the old phone book. There’d been no visitors to bring laughter or shared meals. The house had been a happy place once. A home, that had sheltered and nurtured generation after generation since its construction, but no longer.
Presently, the male creature who lived in the house, paced through it anxiously. The creature looked like any human you might come across, the difference being that the creature was naked as the day he was born. That was nothing new though. Every few steps he’d cease pacing and rake a troubled glance through, whatever room he happened to be standing in at the time. At the moment he was in the kitchen.


The creature muttered under his breath, narrowed his stormy eyes, then dragged a shaking hand through his graying strawberry blond hair. The action causing it to stand on end pointing every which way. It made him look ridiculous. The muttering, was his ‘to do’ list. He ran it continuously, if absently, through his conflicted thoughts. For most of the day, he’d been attempting to simultaneously come to terms with the boulder of guilt that had taken up residence in the pit of his stomach, while alternately reveling in the persistent tingle of freedom pushing at him, insisting to be acknowledged.
The house, having long ago become accustomed to the creature’s moods and antics, took no notice of his muttering and in fact, ignored the creature completely, choosing instead, to revel in the cooling process. The creaking and settling of boards, was pure bliss. That worked until the creature returned to the small kitchen table, reading the note he’d left there for her, again. It wasn’t the first or even second time he’d returned to read it. The house would be glad when the creature left soon, as it knew he would as soon as the moon rose.


‘It’s too short and blunt…’ the creature muttered.


The house creaked noncommittally in response, not that the creature was listening. It was still fussing.


There were so many things that needed to be said. Things he wanted to say to her. Things he should talk to her about today. Right now! But it was too late, he was out time. Life had been so unfair and cruel to them, to her. All he’d wanted to do, was make life better for her and he’d failed miserably. Frustration seeped through him and he laid the note pad back down on the table, turning it just so, trying to make the imperfect, perfect somehow.


Silently, he ticked the list in his head again. ‘Note…check’ and again, the wretched guilt presented itself.


He knew that it wasn’t just him. He knew they were both eat up with the damned stuff. It had feasted and gorged its way through their marriage and now, they were both too tired of the constant fighting and subsequent apologizing to care anymore. They were sick of each other. They’d been the best of friends at one time. Trusted each other with their lives and dreams and now, they could barely look at each other without hard feelings and mistrust clouding their vision.


‘I shouldn’t have let it come to this.’ he thought, accusing himself harshly.

He knew he was to blame for a heck of a lot more than he’d been willing to accept lately. Guilt, took another bite out of him. Knowing now, that he was responsible for the canyon of space that resided between them, ripped at his guts. He glared at the note on the table knowing in his soul that it was inadequate and that there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it tonight.

G U I L T chomp


‘When I get back, I will fix this and we’ll be happy again.’ He resolved, the promise echoing doubtfully in his bones.

Reluctantly, he turned away from his inadequacies and went to look out of the double window over the kitchen sink. The original window over then sink had been had been painted shut sometime during the time of second world war. This window was new. It had been installed after the kitchen had been rebuilt due to a fire sometime a while back. I was open and the soft evening breeze fluttered through, ruffling the embroidered white curtains that covered them. Gran had painstakingly embroidered the curtains with little yellow daisies, once up a time. He reached for the curtains to pull them back, sucking in a breath as his nethers brushed against the porcelain sink getting all of his attention momentarily.

The house was amused, but made no mention of it. The creature was having a difficult time of it already. Besides, it was finally fully dark outside and the house was thoroughly enjoying the reprieve from the beating rays of the northern Louisiana sun.


The creature let the curtains go and they fell back into place, thoughts of Adele sticking with him as they did. Daisies always brought thoughts of Adele, Gran to the fore. Daisies had been Adele Stackhouse’s favorite and whenever they happened upon daisies, they were both immediately reminded of her and bought or picked a bunch to lay on the woman’s grave. There were in fact daisies on her grave right now. He’d bought them in hopes of appeasing his wife, knowing that sometime either today or tomorrow she’d visit Gran’s grave and it would sooth her to know that he’d thought of Adele.

Adele had liked him and he had liked her as well, though he hadn’t known her very well. She’d passed long before they’d been married. However, he knew her well enough to know that Gran would be shocked to her core that he was naked as a Jay Bird in her kitchen right now and the thought made him smile.


‘It wouldn’t be long now.’ The creature thought, staring out over the field behind the house. He could feel it.

The full moon crested the horizon and in minutes it hung huge and low in the fall sky. An intense wave adrenaline nearly brought the creature to his knees when the moon’s glorious, orange fullness presented itself. Running his eyes over the house once more he quickly checked the through the mental list one last time.

‘Keys, wallet, sunglasses…check.’ He said out loud.

‘Faster.’ His body pushed at him. And he did hurry, because the wave of adrenaline had turned into a flood that was screaming through his veins.

‘Dirty…clothes…hamper…check.’

Desperate to make sure that things would be easy for her when she returned, he’d almost waited too long. That primal part of him was roaring and insistent. If he’d not prepared earlier in the day, he’d be in real trouble now. He fought his body for control as he made his way to the back door. He tried so hard to wait for her, but she hadn’t come. He could barely hold his focus. He had to go now. Giving up, he made it to the backdoor of the house racing past the inadequate note once more.

Guilt cho…no time…for guilt anymore…he shut it down.

Rushing out the back door he pushed the button on the knob, locking the door as he pulled it closed.His body, howling for relief, struggled to hold on just a few more seconds.

Stepping off of the porch and into the night, his naked behind glowed in the moonlight. Trekking across the lawn he’d taken pride in all of these years he stepped through the tree line that surrounded the property. The creature moved quickly into the dense cover of the woods and cast a furtive glance around to make sure he was alone.

He was. Ready or not, this was it.

The air around him began to shimmer with magic and in the place where he’d been standing, was now a rather handsome…dog. A collie, to be exact. The house, happy for the nervous energy to be gone, was content with the immediate silence, relaxed completely and slept.

Sam Merlotte was finally at peace.

Sam is a lot of things to a lot of people in Bon Temps. He's a husband, a friend, a good guy. He owns the local hot spot for socializing. Merlotte’s Bar. It’s a respectable place, where you can get a cheeseburger and a beer. He’s a great boss and doesn’t put up with rough stuff. Man handling his waitress’ or any of that foolishness in his place will get you bounced out of there quicker than you can blink! He doesn’t like dancing in his place either. If he had wanted dancing in his place, he would have put in a dance floor, but he didn’t. So, there was no dancing in Merlotte’s. Sam’s an upstanding member of his community and he’ll help you out if you’re in a pinch. He’s a good Christian. People like him. Creatures like him. He loves his wife and he’s faithful to her.

For all of that, when he is being completely honest, he'll tell you in no uncertain terms that he is happiest, when he is in the form of this dog streaking through the woods. Now, that he was in his dog form, he could let go of all of the stress and guilt. All the heartache that had been plaguing him…them. They needed this break and whether they wanted it or not they were going to get it.
Unfortunately.

Sam is a Shifter, not a Were. He can Shift into any animal form he wishes, while Were’s are limited to their species. As fate would have it, this was Sam’s ‘Fifth Year’ and the timing for it was unlucky as hell. No matter what was going on in their lives, Sam’s Fifth Year took precedence over all of it. It couldn’t have been worse timing even if it’d been woven into the fabric of the Universe. Every five years beginning on his birthday, no matter what, Sam shifted during the full moon only. Then, on the first full moon in the Fall once he shifted, he was unable shift back for the next three days. It lasted the entire year. Unless the moon was full, he was stuck in his human form. He was sure that this being a Fifth Year had added to the stress in the house. Thankfully, he was finally at the end of the cycle and they’d have the next three days to cool off. When he got back, they could sort this mess out. He’d been consumed with the guilt of leaving her to muddle through this last disappointment alone, as well as the harsh words they’d shared just the day before. He'd been mired in it right up until this moment. 

‘He should have considered his words before he…before…’ And then, all thought fled from Sam’s mind.


Right now, the only thoughts Sam was having were dog thoughts. Dog instincts, rather. Like running and scratching and sniffing and licking. But, best of all, was the freedom of running. On a Fifth-Year Shift he was all dog. He wouldn’t have another human thought until he woke up three days from now. Hopefully, he wouldn’t be too far from home, but he wasn’t even thinking about that now. He simply bolted off into the night and didn’t have any human thoughts at all.

He hadn’t been running for very long when he happened across the first rabbit of the night and before you could slap a tick, they were tearing off over the pine needle covered ground. He chased the rabbit right to its burrow and began barking his head off. He was being very rude and didn’t care a bit. He scratched and dug at the opening in the ground where the rabbit disappeared. He barked doggie taunts at the fluffy, terrified rabbit for the pure joy of it. The rabbit, squeaking in protest, flung dirt at the dog as it burrowed a little deeper into its den. Soon, the dog lost interest in the rabbit and after a few more taunts bounded away. All he really wanted to do was run and the rabbit had ruined the game by hiding.

So, the dog ran.

He ran for what seemed like hours. He’d been chasing raccoons, field mice and a few more rabbits. Chasing endlessly, when suddenly he realized that all of the smells and sounds around him were unfamiliar. He stopped running and curious, stood still listening to all of the new sounds and smelling all of the new smells and there was…water. He smelled water and after that all he wanted was get a drink.

The dog trotted over to a small pond, gave it a short sniff, then eagerly lapped at the clear cool water. It was good, so he settled in for a good long drink. He was so thirsty and happy that he had forgotten to be cautious. He never saw the ‘gator as it rocketed out of the pond and snatched him off the bank.

The ‘gator held him firmly in its powerful jaws and returned to the water in one smooth motion.

Panicked the dog howled and struggled, but couldn’t get free. He growled and threatened the ‘gator who wasn’t listening to him at all and had instead began thrashing and rolling.

Water had filled the dog's nose and mouth and he was in so much pain. He couldn’t breathe.

There was …urgency…terrible pain…darkness…something he couldn’t quite remember…

As he faded away, the surface of the water stilled.

A few moments later the night sounds began again.

Chapter Text

About Two Years Later

 

Ignoring the reflection in the mirror, I berated myself while I stared into the empty bowl of my sink.

‘I’m completely worn out; too damn pale and I look like hell.’ I grumbled this bitterly to the reflection I was ignoring, then thought, ‘You shouldn’t go to work today…’

‘Why?’ the reflection asked.

‘Psh…' I scoffed, 'Okay, this is how we are going to do it?’ I mumbled, stirring the contents of my vanity, then answered ‘Ma’am, today is…would have been…is? Today is your sixth anniversary…happy?’ I grouched.

‘I don’t know,’ My haggard reflection thought, my mouth pulling together in a hard line. 'I’ve never signed any divorce papers, but I also haven’t seen my husband in a few years either so honestly, I don’t know if I am married or not. It may very well not, be my anniversary today.' 

Dear reader,
Let’s just tell the truth here. I am wracked with fatigue and depression and I am pointedly ignoring the reflection in the mirror because of it. I’ve just scraped what used to be thick, lustrous, sun bleached hair back from my face into a lank, dingy ponytail and I am now scavenging my destroyed vanity, for a hair tie while I try to decide just who I am anymore.
Sincerely,
Stick A Fork in Me, I’m Done

Actually, I’m Sookie Stackhouse…Merlotte…Stackhouse. 'Cripes, I really don’t know who I am anymore.'

Here's what you need to know to get caught up. Six years ago, when I’d been more uncertain about my future than ever before, I up and married Sam Merlotte on a whim thinking that I was ‘finally starting my life,’ and that I was ‘gonna be happy.’

'Psh…fairy tales…' (pardon the pun.)

Let me just start by saying, six years, is a long time to be married (not married?) to somebody when you should’ve never married em’ in the first place. Right now, I never know from one day to the next how I’m going to feel about this situation. Some days I’m bitter, some days I accept it. Some days all I do is cry, or sleep.

‘It looks like today; I’m ‘gonna be bitter about it,’ I acknowledged, uncharitably.

A lot of times, my mood is based on the crap I have to hear on a daily basis. I’m a telepath by the way. (That means I can hear your thoughts.) You’d think that would make me some kind of celebrity or something. Well, I’m not. I am a telepath, not a psychic. John Edward and I ain’t exactly buddies and even if we were, I’d be able to tell you if he was a fake, for certain. As for knowing everything someone is thinking, well, people don’t like it when they find out that you know exactly what they are thinking. I was "gifted" with the ability, or as I call it my disability, from birth by a demon friend of the family (yes, you read that right), Mr. Desmond Catalidies. Turns out the reason I’m the recipient of such an extravagant gift, (you really shouldn’t have, Mr. C) is that I am part Fairy. A quarter, to be exact.

I know, I couldn’t believe it either.

I only know of two other telepaths in this world. The first is my second cousin, Hunter who is twelve now and also part fairy. I’ve never told a living soul about him and intend to keep it that way. The other, is Barry ‘Bellboy’ Horowitz. As far as I know, Barry isn’t a fairy. I met Barry by chance while working for the Vampires during the Rhodes summit, but that’s a story for another day.

As a telepath, it’s difficult to be around people all of the time, knowing everything they are thinking. It’s even more shocking to hear someone you’ve known your whole life, have a running dialogue in their head about your boobs and what they’d like to do with them in graphic detail. That's how I got involved with the Supes in the first place. I can’t hear Supernaturals. It was nice at first, being able to be around folks without knowing their every thought. I’m deaf to Vampire minds and I can’t hear Weres or Shifters clearly. They are muffled and I rarely get anything clear from them. It sounds like someone talking through a hand pressed over their mouth.

Don’t ask me how I know what that sounds like...

Over time, being around the Supes, became just as much of a pain in the ass as not. Back before I married Sam, to make a long story short, everyone I knew was pushing me to make decisions about big things going on in my life, right away. No one wanted to give me time to think things through. Since Gran wasn’t around to talk to anymore, I just hadn’t known what to do about a lot of those things.

So, I married Sam Merlotte…'on the rebound'  which, I knew now, not then.

Also, a lot people had been trying to murder me for weeks. So, to be fair I wasn’t really thinking too clearly about anything at all.

Honestly, at the time, I'd just wanted to do one thing that I thought couldn’t be wrong. Of course, that don’t make a bit of sense when I think about it now.

Huffing out an exasperated breath, I yanked open the drawer of the vanity. ‘How hard can it be to find one damn hair tie!’ I complained inwardly.

To tell the truth, I’d always been confused about my feelings for Sam. All the way back to the very first time I met him. Sam was the first person I’d ever met, whose thoughts I couldn’t hear clearly and even when I could make something out of his thoughts, it was never about my boobs or ass. That had been a nice change of pace.

Recently, I’ve chalked all that confusion up to being young and inexperienced about relationships. Especially with Sam.

Since I couldn’t hear his thoughts clearly, that let friendship grow naturally between us. I understand more about it today than I did then, for sure. Don’t get me wrong, Sam and I had big love for each other. It was just a different type for each of us. He’d loved me the way you do when you are ‘in love’ with someone. I’d loved him, the way you love your best friend. It’s still love, but different and Sam could feel it. Ya know? The difference…

Eventually, it caused us big problems. He’d started to become jealous. We fought over inconsequential things. We were directionless and I didn’t understand what was going on, or what was wrong between us and I didn’t have anyone to ask or talk to about it. Then, one morning after the Hep-V war, we were silently getting ready to go to work after a nonsense fight we’d had the night before. I picked up my birth control pills just like I did every morning, then my hand stopped half way to my mouth. I stared at the pills for a second and then tossed them into the trash. Sam had stopped what he’d been doing to watch.

We didn’t talk about that decision ever, but things improved between us. I could tell that he was happy about what I’d done so, I was happy that he was happy.

That one impulsive decision ruined us.

I’d always known that children are very important to Shifters and Weres. Like for everyone really, but for the two natured, it’s doubly so. For Sam, it was more than just Paternal Pride. Children are a sacred duty for the continuation of the Pack. I knew this like I know the sky is blue. If I’d just taken a minute to think things through. If I’d not been heartbroken and miserable when I said yes to marriage. If I’d stopped behaving impulsively and taken control of my life.

'If…'

I know now, that if…, had been a consideration, I would've never married Sam.

The ‘Fairy Procreation Situation,’ such as it was, had been explained to me in detail by the fairy king, who just so happened to be my Great Grandfather, Niall Brigant. As it was explained to me in detail, the Fae were dying away because of infertility problems. I existed because of the measures my grandfather, Fintan Brigant had taken to ensure he produced a child.

So, looking back, I knew. But, in my usual Sookie Stackhouse way, I never considered actual reality.

I’d always thought of myself as human. I’d never really considered or given credence to my ‘faeness’ or that it could be an issue for me. 

‘I'd been a stupid girl.' I chastised, my reflection, still gripping my ponytail, stirring through the vanity with my free hand.

Jason and his first wife Crystal had lost their baby. Fertility being an issue there as well, only this time it was the inbreeding of the Were-panther community that was the source of the problem. Jason was a quarter Fae as well, but he didn’t contain the essential spark that would have given him more than the simple power of attraction, but oh boy could he attract them.
Jason is, was, my brother. He and Michele (his second wife) were married a little longer than Sam and me. Jason had been anxious to marry Michele even though it took a little time for him to get settled into the marriage once he’d done it. Luckily Michele had understood that it would be that way with Jason. She’d stayed patient and in a few years’ time, her patience had paid off. Don’t get me wrong, Jason had been a devoted husband all along, he’d just needed a little practice at getting the responsibility thing perfected.

I hadn’t really liked Crystal much, but Michele was a different story. We’d been true sisters and while she and I were having a girl’s day in Shreveport one afternoon she broke the news to me as gently as she could that they had finally started talking about having a baby. I let her know right then and there that I was over the moon with the prospect of being ‘Aunt Sookie.’ I gushed all over her then cried my eyes out at home. I’m a firm believer that when someone shares happy news with you, you celebrate. Wallow in your own fears and personal disappointments on your own time.

It wasn’t even a month later that both Jason and Michele were dead. They’d been killed in a car accident coming home from the movies in Clarice.

'I don’t wanna think about that right now…'

So, anyway, Sam and I had tried for our own babies. We'd been at it for a while before it dawned on me that there wouldn’t be any babies for us. I’d known it even before Sam talked to me about fertility doctors. I’d gone to the appointments anyway…for Sam, thinking maybe. I went because I didn’t have the courage to tell him that I’d made a mistake. I’d made a choice without thinking it through. I’d based my whole life on the idea of a husband and a family and then I cannon balled into my marriage to Sam, so I just wasn’t ready to face the huge mistake that I’d made yet.

When I did finally muster the courage to tell him that it wasn’t ever going to happen, it was awful.

I wanted children just as much as Sam did, but his insistence on continuing with the fertility treatments hollowed me out. I felt like a failure. I felt like a fraud and when I found the courage to tell him I wouldn’t go back, the way he looked at me, it was like I'd ripped his love for me right out of him. I couldn’t take it, so I gave in and tried one more time. I miscarried at sixteen weeks. We had a vicious fight and Sam disappeared soon after that. It didn’t take long after he’d gone, for me to realize what I’d given up in exchange for a ‘normal’ life. A human life, that was never going to be.

So, that was how it ended between us. We made it through the Fairy war, the Hep-V War, and the Two Natured War, but we didn’t make it through our own war. We’d said the most horrible things to each other on our last day together. When you are hurt-up and in the heat of the moment you tend to make those kinds of mistakes and afterward, you never stop regretting them.

‘Really big, horribly bad mistakes.’ I thought at my reflection, then pulled my eyes away, slamming the bathroom drawer shut going back to searching the surface of the filthy, mangled vanity for a hair tie.

Whatever the truth between Sam and me, friendship at the very least, hadn’t been enough to bring him home after that fight. He didn’t end it proper between us. We didn’t get to apologize to each other. He just walked away from everything...from me. As far as I know, he's probably still out in those woods running around without a care in the world right now.

I finally found a hair tie! Thank goodness! My arm was starting to fall asleep and I needed to get a move on. It was full of tangled hair.

‘Of course.’ I grumbled at the mirror.

Ignoring the hair, I wound the band around my fingers, took a deep breath and finished off the ponytail.

‘I really don’t want to go to work today!’ I said, finally looking at myself in the mirror.

Being a telepath is generally a pain in the ass but the whole town knows that today is our Anniversary and it’s going to make it even harder to cope. I will see the faces of people I have known my whole life and they will be broadcasting their thoughts louder than ever. I’m going to have to work extra hard to keep all of that noise out.

A preview of it was already on loop in my head.
‘Poor Sookie.’
‘It’s so sad.’
‘Lost her brother and her husband in the same year.’
‘No family.’
‘Sam just up and left her in the middle of the night.’

It will be that and more all day.

I sighed, ‘I got this; I can do this!’ I coaxed my reflection.

I grabbed my toothbrush, ran it over my teeth and quickly finished up in the bathroom. I rummaged through the clothes on the bedroom floor for a fairly clean pair of work pants and a Merlotte’s t-shirt. Yes, I may still be a waitress, but I am also the waitress who owns the bar and right now, I only had 20 minutes before the truck was due to pull in. If I was going to get through an entire day of being pitied over Sam’s faithless ass, I was definitely going to need some coffee.

'Yep, definitely bitter today…' I thought.

I sucked in another deep breath, turned off the pity party sound track taking up most of the space in my head, snatched my purse off of the couch and headed toward the back door having forgotten about the mountain of laundry piled high in front of it.

‘Crap!’ I glared at the laundry.

Turning around, my head held high, presumably so that I couldn't see the disgusting disaster that was my house, I strode out of the front door instead, slamming and locking it in hopes I could alleviate some tension.

‘This is going to be the longest day ever…I should stay home…’ I tried to convince myself again.

I ignored the nagging thought, jammed my keys into my car’s ignition, cranked over the engine and took off.

Chapter Text

 

I’d been right. It had been the longest day ever. I was as tired and grouchy as an old bear when I pulled into my driveway at home.

I couldn’t help it.

I’d been thinking about Gosh Damn Andy Bellefluer all the way home. One of these days, I was going to haul off and punch Andy right in his stupid face!

‘Such a jerk!’ I muttered.

I put my car in park and shut it off, only to remember I’d forgotten to stop out at the road and get the mail because I was wishing Andy ill.

'Damnit.'

At least I’d remember to park out in front of the house because of the laundry piled up against the back door.

I huffed out a huge worn out sigh and laid my head against the back of my seat while Gran scolded me from the grave for ‘wishing meanness’ on Andy, as well as being unorganized, and having an unchristian countenance. While Gran ran the litany of my sins through my conscience, I stubbornly repeated for the umpteenth time that ‘I only felt a pinch bad about my swearing and maybe I should hire a maid’ then shrugged it off.

‘I’ll get the damn mail tomorrow.’ I thought rebelliously.

I sure did miss my Gran though. She’d left me this house when she passed, but I don’t know if I will ever feel like I own it. I’ve lived in this house nearly all my life. Its home, but I will probably always think of it as Gran’s house.

‘Wonder who I will leave it to…’ I thought, fleetingly.

I pushed the unwanted thought out of my exhausted head, gathered up my purse and keys and swung my car door open and swung my feet to get out. Pam and Karin stepped into the pool of light being thrown off by the single light bulb on my porch and thoughts about the house ended abruptly, no pushing necessary. I swore under my breath for the third time in as many minutes and Gran began a new diatribe over my language.

‘Damnit! Hush Gran! I’ve been awake for 20 hours! I want to shower and go to bed!’ I thought, then felt immediately contrite. 

Pam is the owner of Fangtasia, the Vampire bar in Shreveport. She’s also the Sheriff for the Vampires of Area Five. That’s also in Shreveport. She and Karin are both the Progeny of Eric Northman. Eric, used to be my Vampire husband. That was before Sam, obviously. Doing my best impersonation of Scarlet O’Hara, I decided that I wasn’t going to think about any of that right now.

‘It was sweet of them to come and see me!’ I cajoled, trying to convince myself that I was happy to have company at 3 o’clock in the morning.

I hadn’t seen Pam, let alone Karin in months. To tell the truth, I hadn’t even known Karin was in town. So, instead of being a sour puss, I plastered a smile on my face, scooped up the rest of my things and got out of the car.

‘Hey, y’all!’ I called sweetly to the Vampire sisters and waved invitingly at them.

Maybe it was too inviting. Pam’s iconic eyebrow lifted and nearly disappeared in her hairline. I noticed her hard-eyed expression and hoped she hadn’t heard me curse their presence.

‘Give me a break, I am dead tired, and I am trying here.’ I grumped silently.

‘Sookie, hello.’ Pam said haltingly, in her Smokey toned, perpetually bored, voice.

Pam was a stunning, classical, beauty. She had an oval face, perfectly pale skin, high sexy cheek bones, full lips and a strong chin. She had blond bombshell hair and startlingly blue eyes. She’d lived her human life in Victorian England and had a tendency toward pastels. Tonight, she was wearing a soft yellow pant suit that made her look as if she’d just come from filming ‘The Stepford Wives.’ Pam, was always impeccably dressed and she was a lady above all else. However, if you were foolish enough to underestimate her due to that ladylike persona, she’d likely hand you your ass. On a silver platter. Pam was vicious when provoked and she’d come out of the Hep-V war as one of the most powerful sheriffs’ in the country. She’d almost smiled at me when she said hello, but something stopped her and  instead she made a slightly uncomfortable gesture to her left and said in a pinched tone, ‘Karin is in town, she wanted to see you. I brought her.’

My own eyebrows drew involuntarily together for a beat as I looked to Karin.

Karin, (the Slaughterer, her real name, my hand to Jesus) was Eric’s first Progeny. I hadn’t even known she’d existed until the day Eric and I were divorced. He’d shown up in the middle of the night after that truly humiliating experience and set Karin to watch over me (long story). Karin, much like Pam, was stunning and blond, but in a wholly different way. Where Pam was statuesque, Karin was perfectly petite, pale, and very Viking. Her hair was a thick ashy white blond, her eyes were icy blue slashes set deep in her perfect face. She had a small adorable nose that would have made her look childish if not for her dramatic cheekbones. While Pam had full beautiful lips, Karin’s could only be described as luscious. Angelina Jolie wished she had Karin’s lips. Karin’s body was small and trim, but she was well muscled and while Pam was vicious, Karin was the thing of nightmares. You never knew when or where she would strike. She was a warrior who didn’t know the meaning of the word quit. One way or the other, if you crossed her, she would deal with you. In my experience, she wasn’t one to act rashly, or wear her thoughts and emotions on her face, which was why I was stunned to see a frown of consternation mare the woman’s truly lovely face.

Karin, for her part, hadn’t known to expect...this...when she’d told Pam she wanted to visit her friend and had nearly gasped when Sookie stepped away from the car moving into the dim light. Shock stampeded through her brain and terrible worry seized her. She was at a loss and her thoughts stuttered and scrambled for a definition of what could have happened to her friend.

She settled on, ‘Sookie looks like a photograph that's faded with time.’

It was the only thing she could think to describe what she was seeing. Heavy dark circles, resided under dull, haunted eyes that Karin had always known to be full of light and life. Hair that was normally a perfectly golden blond from countless hours of sitting in the sun looked dingy and the roots were so dark, it was as if she’d not been outside at all for months. She was, all over gaunt and more grey than pale, but most stunning of all, Sookie was…unwashed. At first, she thought the woman was ill, but Karin would have smelled illness on her instantly. After a second look, it was glaringly obvious to Karin and anyone paying attention that Sookie was drowning in depression.

‘Why had Pam not informed her of this?’ She thought, jerking an accusatory glare at her sister. Then, remembering herself, she quickly pulled her angry eyes away from Pam and forced herself to give Sookie a small tight smile. ‘Hello, Sookie.’ She said, forcing congeniality, which had never been one of her strengths to begin with. She’d truly, tried to sound unaffected by what she saw, but she was angry and the words came out choked.

I stood in the front yard watching the exchange between the two Vampires. The temperature between them had bottomed out suddenly. It took me a moment to deduce what had happened, but I finally understood what the problem was, having remembered that Pam knew it was my Anniversary.

‘I’m fine!’ I blurted, pouring sincerity into the claim. ‘Thank you both, for being concerned for me, but I’m fine. Really. I sure am happy to see you both!’ I exclaimed, changing the subject while I climbed the front stairs to the door and unlocked it. ‘Y’all come on in.’ I invited, tossing the words over my shoulder as I sailed through the door flipping lights on as I moved through the house to the kitchen.
‘Can I get you both some Neu Blood?’ I called, while I moved a few things depositing my purse on the kitchen counter. There was no answer so I turned to look expectantly at my guests who’d just stepped into the kitchen.

The horrified Vampires took in the chaotic scene before them, gazes moving in unison, much like synchronized swimmers. Their expressions mimicked each other as well while they scrutinized each area their eyes landed on. There were dirty dishes, old newspapers, and unopened mail stacked on every surface in the room.

‘What…is that smell?’ Karin thought, and grimaced. 

She answered her own question the next moment, taking in the garbage can under the sink. It was at least two days past overflowing. A cacophony of alarm bells at the state of Sookie’s home told Karin that her friend was, in no way, fully in charge of her faculties. If she were, she wouldn’t be living like a pig. The place was absolutely filthy, she concluded at the end of her perusal. It was disgusting. Landfills were cleaner. She looked at Sookie and knew her friend could see the disbelief written on her face.

Pam could feel the disgust pouring off of Karin over the state of Sookie’s kitchen. Pam herself was truly amazed by the amount of clothing piled in and around the extra-large laundry baskets that were pushed up against the back door. She knew that the laundry was there because the door led to the screen porch where Sookie’s washer and dryer were located. Even so, she couldn’t understand why if Sookie had taken the time to get it that far, that she hadn’t washed it. Pam prided herself on having an extensive wardrobe, but she obviously didn’t have shit on Sookie Stackhouse, based on the enormous pile of clothing.

‘Incredible.’ She marveled, covertly.

‘What?’ I asked, hurriedly moving a stack of newspaper from a chair. Confused, I looked around the room. ‘Oh!’ I blushed a little. ‘Sorry about the mess! I’ve just been busy with other things lately. Not much time for house cleaning this month.’ I explained, stammering an excuse, trying to laugh off the embarrassment. ‘With the bar mostly.’
I’d blurted out the excuse nervously, as if it would explain everything. Any idiot would know just by looking that it’d been more than a month since I’d even done a load of laundry. The last time I’d needed underwear, I’d had to drive to the Super Wal-Mart to buy some. I was such a basket case that day I only bought the underwear and left without buying detergent. That memory had me blushing even hotter. I offered the chair I’d just unloaded to Karin with a gesture and she murmured a thank you.

‘Sure.’ I smiled, then motioned for Pam to take the chair I usually sat in.

‘So…NeuBlood?’ I offered again.

Both Vampires politely declined my offer, shifting their eyes through the kitchen once more. It was a good thing they’d declined. Only after making the offer, I realized that I didn’t have any NeuBlood.

‘Embarrassing!’

I guess, I had to allow that I'd let things ‘pile up’ a bit over the last, six months. I made a mental note to stop by the liquor store and pick some up some NeuBlood tomorrow. If I was going shopping, I might as well get a few other things as well, I thought absently. Suddenly I realized that my guests were watching while I got lost in the grocery list. I pulled myself together and back to my company with a jerk.

‘Well, I am just pleased as punch to see you both.’ I chirped as if I hadn’t just mentally bailed on them. ‘Fake it till you make it Stackhouse.’ I encouraged myself and unloaded the other chair at the paper laden kitchen table for myself, dropping the contents to the floor. The papers slid away, melting into another larger pile already on the floor as I sat down.

‘Pam, how are things at Fangtasia?’ I asked, plopping into the empty chair.

We had a very awkward, very short visit, with the smallest of small talk imaginable. We were very careful to avoid the ‘forbidden subject,’ as always and soon, but not soon enough, Pam declared that it was time for them to leave. The sun was on its way...blessedly. The sisters could have stayed the day in the light tight day space below my guest room extending our visit, but they didn’t ask and I didn’t offer.

‘Please stop by again before Karin leaves town.’ I invited, as we made our way toward the front door.

The sisters assured me they would and we finished our goodbyes. Once in the yard, Karin picked Pam up and launched them skyward. They were out of sight instantly. I closed the door, locked it, then kicked my shoes off. ‘Finally! Ugh! That feels good.’ I groaned and wiggled my toes, while I switched off the porch light then started toward the kitchen to get the lights there. There was a knock at the back door as I switched them off.

‘Bill.’ I groaned inwardly, and thought, ‘Nope…’

I didn’t stop moving, just called out loudly, ‘Not tonight, Bill. I am worn out. Stop by tomorrow.’

I didn’t feel a bit bad about this either…mostly.

I didn’t bother to wash my face or brush my teeth. My clothes hit the floor where I pulled them off and I fell into the bed trying to slow my mind enough so I could fall asleep. I thought of Pam and Karin’s visit and I was surprised to find that I meant it when I’d asked them to stop by again before Karin left town. Which in turn made me remember the grocery. I wrote the list in my head, willing myself to remember what was on it. Eventually, I began to drift away. My last thoughts before sleep overtook me were,

‘Why am I sticking around here and these sheets really need to be washed.’

Chapter Text

 

I yawned and stretched like a cat laying in the sunshine while I coaxed myself awake. Soon it registered that I wasn’t hearing the alarm clock and my eyes flew open.

‘Damnit! Damnit! Damnit!’ I swore loudly and began flinging covers in an attempt to dig myself out of the bed.

The covers were whirling around as if they’d been caught up in tornado. I was really, really late!

I was finally able to reach the phone by the bed without falling out of it and breaking my neck. Grabbing at it, I pushed the speed dial button for the bar and waited.

‘Hello!’ Lafayette drawled sassily into the phone.

‘You’ve reached Merlotte’s! How can I ‘hep ya tadaaay?’

‘Oh, praise Jesus,’ I breathed into the phone.

‘…and pass the ammunition, girl!’ Lafayette boomed into the phone.

‘Lafayette…’ I began, regret ringing in the words.

‘Don’t chu worry NONE home girl! I got CHU! Noooow, y’all juss go on, and do whachuuu need ta doooo, hear?’ he said, singing the words.

‘Thank you, Lafayette.’ I said, gratitude heavy in my voice.

‘Luh you too, guuurl!’ he said, chiming affection back at me and he hung up.

I put the phone back on the handset, and pushed my tangled hair out of my face.

‘I guess I needed that sleep.’ I said to no one, surveying the bedroom floor.

It was carpeted with my dirty laundry.

‘Apparently, I said, frowning at the floor, ‘It’s laundry day.’

I dragged myself out of bed, used the bathroom, pulled my hair into a messy bun, brushed my teeth, used my shirt to pat my mouth and hands dry then gathered the dirty clothes off the floor and dragged them out into the living room where I sorted all of the laundry into mountainous piles. After nearly 30 minutes I was finally able to get a load of underwear started. Once I had the load going, I set to work on the stacks of mail and newspapers that were piled on the coffee table so I would have a place to stack the clean laundry.

I’d been working on the stacks of mail for a while. I reached the bottom of the second stack when I came across the card Tara and JB sent when Jason and Michele passed. It just sort of, ambushed me and I cried hard. Tara was my best friend and it had been a really long time since I’d seen her. It wasn’t like the old days. It was hard to just drop in on her and visit now that she had the new baby. Not to mention that she was always busy with the twin’s activities and their school. The lord knew JB, her husband, was just another kid himself. Tara had all of that the deal with every day as well as ‘Tara’s Togs.’

‘Miss them so much.’ My heart said, relaying that information to my brain.

I ran my sleeve under my nose and laid my head against the back of the couch letting the tears stream down my face unchecked. Through the tears I noticed the ceiling over the fireplace needed washed and there were cobwebs hanging halfway down the mirror. Feeling overwhelmed by it all, I laid down on the couch, curled into a ball, and cried myself to sleep. When I opened my eyes again, the sun was going down. I got up, went to the bathroom and splashed some water on my face to help wake me up. The hand towel in the bathroom was still dirty so I used the hem of my shirt to pat my face dry again. I dragged the dirty towel off the rack and the sheets off of my bed and went to put the underwear I had started earlier into the dryer. I got the sheets started and realized that I had enough laundry soap to do one more load of clothes and, I was completely out of Downy.

‘Crap.’ I bit out.

I put that on the list with the NeuBlood, picked up the empty Downy container and an empty Bounce box and went back inside to put them in the trash. I got halfway to the trash can to see that it, as well as the recycle were overflowing. I tucked the Downy bottle under my arm, grabbed the trash cans and went out the back door. It took forever to sort through the recycle, but it was finally done, along with several stacks of newspapers. I rinsed the cans out with the hose and let them dry while I folded the dryer full of underwear. After that, I went back out to bring the cans back inside. I kicked the back door closed, went to the pantry and discovered that I was out of trash bags. Frustrated I pulled the empty box out of the pantry with a huff and threw it into the bagless can. That was the moment my stomach protested loudly.

‘When was the last time I ate anything?’ I wondered.

I followed through and put away the clean underwear, then shuffled back the kitchen and pulled open the fridge, to discover...not much. I grabbed the last two eggs and half a package of bacon and waddled toward the stove, giving the bacon a sniff.

‘Good enough for tonight.’ I declared, but I made a mental note to go to the store for food. ‘Don’t forget trash bags and…what else? Oh! NeuBlood and…what else?’ I wondered, as I arrived at the stove which was covered by dirty pans.

‘Crap…’ I grumbled.

I sat the food down on the kitchen table, stacked up the pans, and took them to the sink. I washed a pan with the last of the dish soap. I didn’t bother with drying it and went back to the stove. I put the bacon in the pan and got it going, then went to the cabinet to get a plate to put the bacon on. No clean plates. I opened the dishwasher. All dirty. I opened the cabinet under the sink to get dishwasher detergent. It was empty. While I gathered the empty containers to put in the trash, I smelled the bacon.

'Damnit!' It wasn’t good enough.

Having had enough of this evening, I stomped over to the stove, turned it off, and dumped the bacon into the sink and burnt my hand on the side of the pan. Completely defeated, I sat down in the middle of the kitchen floor and exclaimed loudly to the air, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore!’ My voice cracked and I groaned as the accursed tears began again.
‘I am so over this constant struggle to accomplish even the simplest task!’ I yelled this at the ceiling.

When no one answered I laid down in the middle of the floor and simply gave up.

Sometime later I had the sensation that I was floating. ‘What?’ I mumbled, struggling to shift my body and sit up. My eyes fluttered and I tried to focus, but it was dark.

‘Dark…’ I said, through dry lips.

I relaxed when I heard a familiar voice say, ‘Just sleep, Sweetheart.’

I allowed the darkness to claim me again and I slept until morning. When I opened my eyes the next time, I was staring at the red numbers of the alarm clock next to my bed while they came slowly into focus.

‘Is that AM or PM?’ I wondered.

It was dim in my bedroom and I was having a hard time getting my bearings.

‘What day is this?’ I wondered next.

Groaning through my exhaustion, I pushed my body up off of the bed, then heard the birds outside. It was morning. I was able to struggle myself out of the bed finally then shuffle into the bathroom, where I flipped on the light. It was terribly bright and I squinted through the tangled mess of my hair attempting to focus and felt my way to the commode. I did my business and a few moments later, I reached out to grab the hand towel off its hanger to dry my hands. It was clean. Perplexed, I pushed at the hair still hanging in my face and looked at the towel.

Definitely clean.

Finally, able to pry my eyes the rest of the way open, I looked at the bathroom and it too was clean. Bewildered and still clutching the sweet smelling hand towel, I shuffled once again into my now clean bedroom to discover stacks and stacks of finished laundry, sitting on the Hope Chest at the foot of my bed. My sheets, clean, were back on the bed as well. Curious, I shambled into the living room.

Yep, it was clean, and the spotless kitchen smelled like Pine-Sol and…coffee!


‘Now I know, I was out of coffee…’ I said incredulously, to no one. What kind of fairy magic was this?

I walked over to the fridge and pulled the door open. It was full of groceries. Everything you could imagine was in there. Including creamer! There was even sweet tea, in a clean pitcher. Stacked against the pantry door, Glad trash bags, Cascade, Dawn, Downy, Tide, Bounty paper towels, Charmin, and…NeuBlood.

'Floating…I remember floating.'  I thought.

‘God bless Bill Compton.’ I whispered, then I poured myself a truly huge cup of coffee, with a hefty dollop of creamer.

From the fully stocked fridge I pulled out three eggs, scrambled them and made myself some toast while I sipped my coffee. When the toast popped, I slathered it in butter.

'Real butter. Cream and Salt. Butter.' I marveled.

I was famished and stuffed my face full of eggs and toast. I was done in an embarrassing amount of time and while I poured myself another cup of coffee, thought, ‘How did he know to get real butter?’

Savoring that second cup of heaven, while contemplating how a Vampire knew to buy real butter, I felt…a shift. It was slight, but it was a shift.

Sun light poured in to the room and it was a little brighter than it had been yesterday. Impulsively, I reached for the napkin holder that held the notepad I’d been avoiding for the most part of two years. Yeah, I knew what was in there, but I reached for it anyway and flipped it open. Straight to the back of the pad, then safely folded it over. Picking up the pen that always sat with the pad it I wrote,
‘Remember to thank Bill for his kindness.’

I didn’t close the pad and I didn’t put it away, but slid it a safe distance away then got up from the table, put my plate in the sink and turned to leave the kitchen. I stopped abruptly before I could leave the room, then walked the three steps back to the sink, rinsed my dishes and put them into the dishwasher. I got the pan off of the stove, washed, dried, and put it away. I went to take a shower then. When I got in the shower, I discovered the new shampoo and body wash. I had to laugh. This may have been the first truly selfless thing Bill Compton had ever done for me…maybe. While I showered, the odd thoughts I’d been having daily for the last few months returned. Today somehow, they didn’t seem as overwhelming as yesterday or the day before.

‘I could get out of Bon Temps for a while.’ I said out loud, testing the words to see how they tasted. ‘I could get Lafayette to manage the bar. Terry could take care of other things. I could just go…for a while.’ I mused. ‘Travel…’ I said, enunciating the word, while scrubbing at my scalp.

I’ve never really been anywhere. What was really keeping me here? I was tired of this constant responsibility to these old things. These things were once my anchors, but now they were drowning me.

Where would I go? Just…go alone? I let the thoughts dissolve, rinsed and conditioned my hair, then finished up and shut off the water.

Stepping out of the shower wrapping my hair in a clean towel I said, ‘Fanciful ideas…' then thought, 'The truck will be at Merlotte’s soon.'

Chapter Text

Merlotte’s Bar,  Bon Temps

 

‘Hey! How ‘bout that! I’m on time for once!’ I praised myself gratuitously.

I would take the small (or not so small, assisted or unassisted) victories whenever I could get them. I pulled into the front parking lot at the bar as had become my habit and took the space all the way at the end of the lot to leave the other spaces open for customers. Gathering my things from the passenger seat I came in through the front door. The lights were all the way up and the floor was still wet.

Terry Bellefluer had just finished the moping.

Loud music, that was definitely not my taste, but was fun nonetheless, poured out of the kitchen. I could hear Lafayette rapping along to it. He saw me as I approached the pass-through window and stopped what he was doing to turn down the music.

‘Well, lookie here at a hooker here who gots a night’s sleep fo’ once!’ he teased. ‘Damn girl!’ he went on in his own unique sassy banter, ‘Yas lookin a damn sight better than the last time I seen’t yas! Mmmhmmm. Yas better know that’s right.’

Today, Lafayette was wearing a purple sequined tube top. I wished that I had the guts to wear a purple sequined tube top anywhere, let alone work. I smiled my best, 'everything is alright with the world smile,' knowing that Lafayette knew it for the total bullshit that it was and strolled on by fluffing my ponytail at him.

‘Good morning.’ I called, as I strolled.

He sucked his teeth at me, turned on the heal of his sparkly gold high tops and waved me on by with a truly enormous potato masher. ‘Mmmm.’ He replied, skeptically.

‘What the hell do we need a potato masher that damn big for?’ I wondered absently and went on back to the office to start on the paper work. It was my hope to get some of it done while I waited on the truck. I tucked my purse into the big desk drawer that I’d always kept it in. I’d bought lockers years ago after I’d partnered up with Sam, but there were enough employees now that I’d gone back to using the desk drawer, leaving the lockers open for the others.

I sat down and got settled in, pulling the first stack of bills and receipts toward me.

'God Bless Lafayette.' I said, to the stack.

He'd already organized the bills and left sticky notes on them explaining what was what. They were arranged in order of what needed to be taken care of first. It was a blessing. Not only had he done all of the organizing, but he’d written the checks out for the bills. They only needed my signature. It was glaringly apparent to me this morning that everyone I knew had been taking care of me, except me.

'Well, not everyone.' I amended, but Lafayette certainly had.

I let that thought seep in a few more minutes, while I swiveled back and forth in Sam’s chair. I had to face facts. I was a fucking mess.

‘I've been living in a fog since Jason and Michele.’ I admitted, my throat getting tight.

I didn’t want to think about them. I didn’t want to think about the condition of Gran’s house either. I didn’t want to think about anything that connected me to the ocean of pain I called home. If these things were the measuring rod for the ‘state of affairs’ concerning my life, I just…

Harsh thoughts crashed like waves through my mind for several minutes and could feel myself being sucked slowly under. My body got heavy, the room dimmed, and I welcomed the feeling that over the last few years had become my normal when suddenly, I was on my feet.

‘No more Scarlet O’Hara routine!’ I admonished, heaving myself out of the broken-down leather chair, violently shoving it away from me.

I wasn’t sure what my grudge against the chair was, all of a sudden, or where the anger was coming from, but I hated that chair and I wanted it out of building.

Right now.

I stalked over to the file cabinet, reached into the small space between it and the wall and pulled out the ancient folding chair that was tucked in there. Opening it, I sat it front of the desk then stood back to consider it. I nodded my approval after a minute, then resolutely took Sam’s old chair in hand, rolled it out of the office, down the hall and flung the back-door open. I shoved the battered chair out the door and watched in satisfaction as it tried to roll away, but fell over instead. Then, I flipped the chair the bird and slammed the door closed.

‘So there!’ I snapped, as the door slammed.

The noise the door made, something that I normally hated, was really satisfying. I had no idea why I’d just gotten so much joy out of bullying a defenseless office chair, but I felt better.

‘Much…much better…’ I thought, happily as I made my way back to the bills, dusting my hands on my pants.

The day went well. I didn’t fall into the blackness of depression that had plagued me and I got several compliments on my looks.

‘It’s amazing what clean clothes and hair can do for a person.’ I mused.

 

***

Shreveport: Fangtasia

Pam was in the office at Fangtasia sitting in Eric’s old chair. She missed Eric desperately. Whenever the ache of separation became unbearable, she’d come in here and sit quietly in this chair, simply to feel close to him. It was a comfort that she’d let no one in on, because, while she loved Eric, she also loved her job. It wouldn't do, for her to be seen or thought of as weak. Sometimes when the melancholy really had its grip on her, she'd reminisce in the wee hour just before dawn, wishing for things to be the way they used to be. Before Freyda, before the wars, before the damn Authority. It was one thing to wish for happier times, but she wasn’t sure how she’d react if she was ever called upon to give up this position. It was a heady experience to be in control of her own life, after having been subject to someone else’s authority for her entire existence. It was a conundrum that she thought on frequently and she wasn’t sure she’d be able to give it up when, or if Eric ever called to her.
She knew her Maker though. No one was as good at predicting what he'd do as she was, and what she knew at this point, was that they were in a holding pattern. A lot of shit had gone down since his marriage to Oklahoma. Their world was in total chaos. She didn’t know when or how, but she knew the time would come.

So, yes, she missed him, but when you’re immortal, time is just a thing.

It was just a thing unless you also happen to be a Sheriff. Pam had a shit ton of work to do, but instead of doing it, she was listening to Karin plead her case...again. She rolled her eyes and fought for patience. Ever since she and Karin had spent that very uncomfortable visit with Sookie, Karin had been in her ear about the human. Pam loved Sookie just as much as any of them did, which was another thing that she’d never really let anyone in on, but that aside, this conversation was pointless and the two of them kept having it for some unknown reason. This was the third time this week she’d had to endure it. Pam took a minute to remind herself that she loved Karin too, because the atmosphere in the exceedingly small office had grown overly tense in that last several minutes. Being acutely aware of the tension, the pair were working diligently to maintain patient tones with each other, because there'd be nothing left of the tiny office if the careful civility broke down.

‘Pamela…’ Karin said, fighting for calm, ‘Please don’t be so willfully short sighted. The only reason she didn’t choose to be brought over at the time, was she didn’t know then, what she knows now!’ Karin’s voice had peaked and she was nearly yelling by the time she'd finished her statement; despite the precarious the atmosphere.

‘Karin…’ Pam volleyed sarcastically, ‘First, as I have repeatedly stated, it doesn’t matter! Eric has forbidden it and he's your Maker.’ Pam emphasized the word Maker as if Karin were a baby Vampire who didn’t yet understand the significance of the term. Saying that sentence alone, should have ended the conversation and Pam was struggling to understand why it hadn't. ‘Second, you know that any action that even hints of what you are suggesting puts not only him in danger, but her as well. Third, you've never been able to lie. Especially not to him.’ She finished confidently.

Karin threw her hands in the air, huffed out an impatient breath, and opened her mouth to protest.

Pam stopped the outburst before it could get started saying reverently, ‘You know full well that I’d long anticipated Sookie would eventually become our sister. That she'd be family…belong to us.’ She said wistfully. ‘You have to accept and acknowledge, that it’s impossible now. Sookie made her choices, shitty as they were, and now she is living with them.’

‘So is Eric.’ Karin thought bitterly. To make matters worse she could hear regret ring like crystal in Pam’s voice. It set her fangs on end.

Pam’s regret didn’t deter her from the lecture she was determined to deliver to Karin on this subject. ‘Even if Sookie had known what the future held for all of us, I'm convinced she still would've used the Cluviel Dor to save Sam’s life. Further, if we were to go to her right now, in the state of mind she’s in, reminding her of the mistake she made…’ Pam trailed off and sat silently for a second while letting her words sink in, then went on, ‘No, Karin, the situation is much too precarious and she is way too unpredictable. Don’t forget that trouble follows her the way baby geese follow their mother.’ She finished, resolutely then shuffled a stack of bills to indicate that the conversation was over and that she was going back to work.

Karin lost her patience. She’d made a valiant effort to maintain her calm, but she was completely frustrated with the way the conversation was turning. She had to get Pam to agree. There was no way she could leave Louisiana without Sookie Stackhouse. She stood, hands on hips, resolving to fight it out and gritted, ‘You don’t know that, sister. You're only guessing at it!’ Then, she dropped back into her seat, pretending to have remembered that aggression wasn’t going to get her what she wanted.

Traditionally, when Pam and Karin began reminding each other that they were sisters, it was the first clue that things were about to get heated. These females had not been chosen to be Eric Northman’s Progeny because they were docile, wilting flowers. When each felt passionately about a subject, the immediate vicinity automatically became a danger zone.

Karin steadied herself, mindful of Pam’s stillness, visibly adjusted her attitude and tried again. ‘I’m just saying, let’s ask her again. Let her know that we're here for her and that we can be family if she wants it. I'm not suggesting that we bring her over against her will. ‘Or, at least I’m not suggesting that yet.’ She thought covertly. ‘Please, systir.’ Karin asked in her native tongue, emphasizing systir lovingly, hoping to sway Pam with the sentiment. ‘I can’t bear to see her waste away like this. She's dying. Fading away, Pam and she means too much to us to just let it happen.’

‘You think I don’t know that!’ Pam snapped, pressing her lips tightly together to keep from spewing out the lengthy rant that was on the tip of her tongue. She didn’t want to talk about this anymore. It had been several years, but the pain of all of it was still fresh and Karin had hit a nerve when she’d said that Sookie was dying. Of course, she knew the woman was dying! She wasn’t blind. She’d been coping with the situation for years now. After what had felt like an eon of worry, she’d eventually had to adopt the attitude that it wasn’t any of her concern. She’d decided she simply didn’t care about it any longer to keep from throwing caution to the wind, going to Bon Temps, and contract be damned, turning the woman herself! Now, all of this fucking discussion about it was causing the wall she’d built to shield herself from it, to crumble into so much dust! She actually growled a low warning at Karin.

Karin ignored it and gently pressed her sister further saying, ‘If Eric were aware of the situation…’.

Pam exploded up and out of Eric’s chair. ‘Enough, damnit! It’s out of the question!’ she screeched. She looked like a mad woman, ready to go into battle.

‘Whoa! Okay then.’ Karin grimaced, backing off. ‘Mistake…’

Anger made Pam’s voice to shake, ‘You might think you're more experienced in dealing with Eric since you are his first Progeny, but I will tell you now, older doesn’t mean wiser.’ Pam said dangerously, pointing a finger at Karin to drive home her point. She pressed her lips tightly together and withdrew the finger making a fist then dropped it to her side, fighting for control. Regaining it she said, ‘Do you think, for one moment, that our Maker, a 1000-year-old Viking king, would sit docilely in Oklahoma biding his time with a wife that he despises, after he learns that the love of his incredibly long life, has been turned Vampire against his express instructions, by his Progeny?’ Pam scoffed at her own words, incredulous that she’d even had to say them. ‘You know he would not. He would leave Oklahoma’s Court instantly, breaking his oath may I remind you, once again, and it would be war. We would fight valiantly and unable able to protect ourselves from literally everyone, we would all die. Of course, all of this, hinges on whether or not we even get to explain ourselves to him before he murders us both on the spot, saving the Authority the trouble.’ She finished, with conviction.

‘Oh! Stop over reacting…’ Karin hissed at her. ‘Love of his life…Psh.’ Karin scoffed jealously, rolling her eyes, ‘Whatever.’

What Karin knew for sure, was that she was going to get her way. She just needed to convince Pam, that it was her idea.

‘I don’t mean actually tell Eric! Obviously. I just mean that he'd see things differently if he did know. The entire circumstances have changed damnit!’ Karin said, forcefully.

Pam vibrated with thinly veiled fury, ‘You may have spent more years with him before he released you, but that doesn’t mean that you are more experienced in dealing with him.' she snapped condescendingly. 'I have a completely different relationship with him than you have with him. The two of you may have seen many trials together, but you’ve not been with him when we’ve had to deal with the Authority. You’ve never watched while the Authority took something from him and then had to deal with the subsequent fall out. I'm not saying that you have no experience with these things and I’m certainly not saying them to be hurtful. I'm just saying it so you will understand that he’s done what he’s done, for a reason.’ She’d finished with a steadier voice than she’d begun with, then went on gently. ‘I do understand your urgency, but the risk to our existing family is too great.’

Pam was thinking of ‘her Miriam’ now. She knew all too well what it was like to be denied progeny. It hurt like hell. Not to say that Karin and Eric didn’t know this as well, but that wasn’t the point. The point was, that each one of them had experienced that denial and each of them had lived through it. Karin was her older sister and she respected her siblings’ position, but Pam was the Sheriff of Area Five. She had no desire to play that card with Karin, but she would if she had to. Being the sheriff meant she was personally tasked with seeing to it, that Eric’s contract was followed to the letter.

Belatedly, Pam understood that Karin had never been forced to ‘wait’ on Eric. She'd always been able to push him to get what she wanted from him. That, was before.

She needed to find a way to placate Karin enough to slow her roll. She absolutely did not want this situation to devolve into a power struggle between them, but that’s the direction they were headed. Pam wouldn't be pushed. It was her job, not to be pushed. The thought settled on her and flicking a sidelong glance at Karin, she took in her demeanor. Pam considered for just a whisper of a second that it might be she who was simply being stubborn and on a power trip. She quickly brushed that wisp aside though and focused. No, she was certain that down this path lay nothing but ruin.

‘There are too many variables, darling.’ She said,  trying reasoning with Karin again.

Karin gave her nothing in response and her silence began to play havoc with Pam’s nerves. She’d let Karin get the better of her during the argument and Pam, being annoyed, had reached for the jugular and gone too far. She’d unintentionally made light of Karin’s struggles and it was a serious faux pax. Almost unforgivable. Now, she didn't know if Karin was simply mad at her, or plotting. She was going to have to walk it back a few steps.

Grasping for an explanation that would both sooth and resonate with her sister she tried, ‘Freyda would have him hunted down, instead of just letting him go. Her vanity couldn't withstand the jilt.’ She said softly, using her persuading voice, instead of simply apologizing to her. It was a bit too soon for her to admit her wrong doing out loud even though the apology shone from her eyes. Still, she used the softness of her voice to try and warm Karin to her argument. It didn’t work and for long moments there was stony silence between them, and right now, that was for the best.

Karin let the minutes roll by, holding her pose while she waited for just the right moment. When she was ready, she turned her face back to Pam and let her eyes soften to convey ‘her pain’ to her sibling. It was time to use the guilt Pam was feeling over losing her cool a moment ago. Granted, Karin had purposefully pushed Pam into losing her cool so she’d be able to use the gaff against her, but all was fair in love and war. She’d clammed up during Pam’s speech then sulked into her chair, letting blood tears well in her gloriously pale blue eyes. Then, folding her arms tightly over her breasts she stared at the wall. She knew it was shitty to turn Pam’s compassion for her back against her, but she’d left Karin with no choice. Furthermore, maybe Karin wasn’t as unaffected by Pam’s tirade as she thought. Just because she’d never seen the Authority take something from Eric, didn’t mean that she had no experience with Authority at all. Granted, Pam wasn’t privy to all the details, but she knew enough and she had gone to far. Just as Karin had known she would

Pam was an unquestionable hard ass when it came to anyone except her family. Unable to cope with the hurt in Karin’s eyes any longer she said, ‘Let’s just calm things down a little. Think it through rationally and maybe if we work together will come up with something.’ She offered hopefully. She considered confessing that she’d already thought through a million and one scenarios in which they might be able to pull this off. She thought they might get an opportunity during the war, but nothing fool proof presented itself. When the ‘dog’ disappeared, she’d searched once more for a solution to this problem. A solution that wouldn’t get them all killed. She’d come up with diddly and resigned herself to the status quo. Even though she despised it, secretly railed against it, and had several melt downs, she moved on. At least, she’d tried to. Now that she’d raked her sister over the coals, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to let this job do itself. She had to admit that Karin had a valid point. Everything was different.

‘Well, not everything.’ She amended silently.

Obviously, everything on their end was the same for the most part, but on Sookie’s end, all of that was different. As far as Pam could tell, the only thing Sookie had in her life was the bar.

Pam blinked in consternation, ‘That sounds a lot like me.’ She thought.

She spent a second or two on that, then quickly decided the difference was, she had people in her life, or Vampires rather, and she wasn’t pathetic. So, she had that going for her.

‘Also hello, Sheriff!’ She celebrated herself silently.

Karin had shifted slightly in her chair wearing her ‘wounded’ face, while Pam was sure she was doing an ‘exceptional’ job of masking her thoughts and feelings from her. Pam had always prided herself on having a better poker face than Karin, but she wasn’t completely unreadable. Karin knew from the way Pam held her mouth just now that she was feeling superior about something or the other.
While Karin considered Pam’s short comings, she examined her own and admitted to herself that she had a history of being impulsive, rash, and quick to action, same as Eric, although almost no one knew it. Pam was absolutely the opposit. Pam generally made important decisions at a glacial pace. Not that Pam couldn’t be impulsive. Being impulsive was how she’d been made Vampire. Put Pam in a shoe store and she could put on a clinic about impulsive. For all that Pam was or wasn’t impulsive, she was absolutely the better strategist out of the three of them. That was just the facts and Karin had accepted them long before she’d ever made the attempt to come here and manipulate her sister into doing something she didn’t want to do. So, why was she so nervous now that the tide was slowly turning in her favor.

‘You know why.’ she badgered herself.

Karin was a warrior. She could lop your head off of your shoulders before you knew she was even in the room, but she’d had to practice at being a strategist. All she’d done for the last five years was practice, so that when this exact moment came, she wouldn’t blow it. She should be celebrating and congratulating herself. She’d just succeeded in moving Pam an inch. Any fool watching this scene, would know that she was now solidly entrenched in the danger zone. The danger lay in the fact that she’d been able to move Pam an inch based on emotion instead of logic. Pam was resisting Karin based strictly on the emotional aspect of the argument. Something she could do until the sun burned out. No matter how much Pam wanted to say yes, she couldn’t. As far as Pam was concerned, there was only one outcome for a ‘yes vote’ on this venture, total disaster. So, Karin knew that the decision was going to have to be Pam’s and that it would have to be for practical reasons, like winning. Practical reasons like, proving to Karin that she was wrong and forcing the subject to drop once and for all. Pam hadn’t confided to Karin yet that she’d considered ‘all of this’ already, but she might any moment. Which, was why Karin had known if she was to move Pam, she’d have to manipulate her emotions. Which, was 10/10 going to back fire on her at a later date. The entire point of all of this was to bring their family together and it wouldn’t work if she lost Pam because she wasn’t smart enough to use logic, but they were here now, with the emotional in play so she was just going to have to roll with it and hope that it worked.

Pam, pretending to brood so she wouldn’t have to apologize, came to the conclusion that there was only one way to get Karin off of this crazy train that was likely to get them all staked. She knew she could dissuade Karin from this path, with one sentence. So, having already crossed the line once today, she decided to dance all over it. If she was going to hurt her sister to keep her alive, she might as well go for it. She mentally pulled together a proposal. A list of do’s and don’ts pertaining to the subject at hand and a coup deGras that would effectively end this argument once and for all without ever presenting it to Sookie.

Yeah, it was a dirty play, but this was madness.

She flicked a glance at Karin, then said carefully, ‘You’re right that things are different and I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to ask her once more. Just sort of bring it up in conversation, but if she says no, that will be the end of it. Agreed?’ It was as close to an apology as she was willing to give, in order to get the conversation back on track.

A glorious smile split Karin’s perfect face in answer and she thought, ‘Hook.’

Pam ignored the smile and went on, ‘We make our case and we respect her answer. No pleading or cajoling. No pushy sales tactics. Definitely not ‘against her will.’ Pam scowled, distastefully. ‘We bring her over with her permission only, or not at all. It goes without saying that Eric can never know about this until his marriage contract is fulfilled. Right?’ she finished, saying it anyway.

‘Right! Now all we have to do is figure out a way to get her to accept!’ Karin let her excitement roll off of her and through the room.

Pam rolled her eyes feigning exasperation and put her plan into motion, knowing that Karin had never thought further ahead than the next ten minutes in her entire life. She should have done this two days ago. Maybe she could have gotten some work done. ‘Slow down.’ Pam commanded dramatically. ‘Let’s say Sookie does say yes, what then?

‘What do you mean, what then?’ Karin asked innocently, thinking 'Aaaand, ACTION!'

‘Fuck, Karin!’ Pam exploded, really selling it. ‘Have you put one seconds thought into this lunacy at all? Yes! What then?’ She repeated sarcastically. ‘For argument’s sake, let’s say Sookie agrees to this proposal.’ Pam began dismantling this problem, using her explaining voice saying, ‘Which one of us going to turn her?’

Karin, knowing her roll, played along and immediately put on a confused expression.

‘Did you expect it was going to be me?’ Pam pointed at herself. ‘How’s that going to work, Karin? Not only is the blood bond with Eric strong as ever, but I already have Willa in addition to being the Sheriff of Area Five.’ Pam now knew for sure now that Karin had been expecting her to be the one to transition Sookie. Still using the explaining tone, she went on. ‘I don’t have the freedom I would need to raise Sookie as my Progeny. I don’t have the availability I'd need to raise another baby Vampire, let alone the patience to deal with Willa over it. Have you even considered the new license and registration laws? More importantly, we're too damn close to Oklahoma to keep Eric away when he finds out. And trust me, he will find out. There is no way we keep the fact that Sookie Stackhouse has transitioned a secret. She lives next door to Felipe’s Regent, who, Oh yeah, just happens to be the fucking Archivist! What do you suppose I tell Felipe? It isn’t like I can just resign. Further, if I turn her, she automatically becomes Felipe’s subject. I wouldn’t put it past him to drag her off to Las Vegas at the earliest opportunity and as his subject, she'd have to go. You know as well as I do, that she wouldn’t be able to deal with it. She'd be dead over insubordination and disrespect inside a month and that is being generous.’ She scoffed indelicately and pressed her advantage home. ‘If you want her, you are going to have to transition her.’ She sat back in her chair, working hard to keep her expression neutral.

‘There, that ought to end this discussion once and for all.’ She thought, haughtily, smug triumph radiating from her.

So she was playing dirty. She had too and she didn’t feel guilty about it. 'Mostly.'

All of the reason’s she’d given Karin, were good, practical reasons. She knew that forcing Karin take on the task of becoming Sookie’s Maker, was the only way out of this. She knew, because Karin wasn’t ready to be a Maker again. After what she’d been through, she probably never would be.

Karin immersed in her roll, ‘fake frowned’ at her sisters’ words, while the word ‘Line…’ danced through her thoughts with abandon.

Pretending to be seriously considering all that Pam had said, she used every bit of control she had not to smirk at her.

Pam, sat on the other side of the desk and radiated confidence after the ultimatum she'd just delivered.

Karin stood to pace through the office, really getting into the dramatization of honestly considering taking on the roll of Sookie's Maker. It felt as if they’d been in the oppressively tiny space for weeks. Each time she turned back toward Pam she flicked a conflicted glance in her direction. 

‘Pam ain’t a punk.’ She reminded herself.

The excitement of finally being able to ‘work around’ Pam, was heady and she struggled not to radiate too much of it. She’d been singularly focused the last several days and now that they were here, she needed to be careful. She was going to need Pam later on for her plan to succeed, so it was important that the next few minutes play out just right. What good was it if she secured Pam’s help, but lost her sister in the end. She couldn’t reveal the entire plan to her yet, couldn’t reveal all of the reasons why she wanted Sookie yet. Pam definitely wasn’t going to be happy about the way any of it was accomplished when all was revealed, but she'd understand eventually. Being who she was, Pam would be more accepting of the outcome if Karin succeeded by being cleaver, rather than by being devious.

Hope bloomed in Pam’s breast while Karin paced and the seconds ticked by. She was confident they were coming to the end of this debate once and for all. Sookie was safe. Eric was safe. Karin was safe. Willa was safe. She was safe. This was the best that they could hope for at this time. Her family, such as it was, was intact, mostly. She wanted to keep it that way. She knew a lot of others who hadn’t been as lucky as they’d been. Eventually Sookie would leave them through old age and they would deal with it when it came. It was so painful when she thought of it, but she’d accepted it. When you loved someone as much as they loved Sookie, you did your best respect their wishes. In a few moments Pam knew that she was going to have to help Karin accept the reality that Sookie would leave them some day and there wasn’t anything they could do about it.

Karin paced a bit longer trying to give off the air that she wasn’t dying of anticipation, but she was done with that now.

‘Okay. I'll do it.’ she declared abruptly.

Turning to Pam for her reaction,she let the honesty of her thoughts and emotions play across the plains of her face. Karin never would’ve put this plan into motion if she’d not been willing to become Sookie’s Maker. The pair had gotten to know each other rather well during the year Karin had watched over her after Eric’s marriage to Freyda. The job that had begun as body guard duty. She'd simply been tasked to make sure that no one harassed the woman. The two of them had ended up protecting each other and saving each other’s lives several times during the Hep-V war. Sookie was an exceptional human and nearly fearless warrior. She was going to be an amazing Vampire. Karin fully understood why Eric loved her so deeply.

‘What?’ Pam said in a near whisper.

Her heart slammed into the pit of her stomach as if it were a twenty-pound bowling ball. She jerked forward in her chair reflexively and began to babble an incoherent protest, but Karin cut her off.

‘Yes, Pam, I am ready, so let’s move on. I don’t want to talk about the past.’ she insisted.

Pam tried to speak again, but Karin stopped her.

‘Yes, I understand we will have to leave here. All things considered, it’s for the best. Don’t you think? Sookie needs to leave here and see the world, especially after the last six years. I will miss you terribly, but it won’t be forever. Don’t get so caught up in all of the what ifs to remember that when this time is up, we'll all be together. All of us. Think of it.’ She persuaded. ‘Besides, you know that I still prefer to live in the old way and I can protect us living that way.’ She coaxed. ‘If we get caught, we will pay the fine. No big problem.’

Pam bit off her sharp comment over Karin being so blasé about the ‘New Authority’ and paused a moment before replying. Pushing past her annoyance she asked, ‘Have you thought of what you will say to her?’ She was still holding out hope that nothing would come of this. Sookie had to say yes, after all and Pam was certain that she would never agree.

‘Sinker…’  Karin had her. ‘Only a little.’ She admitted, trying not to crow with victory. ‘I thought maybe you could help me with that since you are better with this kind of thing.’ She flattered in attempt to distract her.‘Keep it cool. You're here…finally. Don’t screw it up now.’ She coached, herself.

‘Okay.’ Pam relented. She didn’t want to argue about it anymore. Her nerves were shot with the current state of affairs anyway. With all of the government upheaval and changes in Vampire law in the last six months alone she could plead ignorance if worse came to worse. Besides, she knew what Sookie’s answer would be. She moved on to things that Karin had no patience for, but were critical.

‘Mundane things, like details.’ She mused sourly, then said, ‘We'll need an asset manager for her holdings. Someone she'll be comfortable with. Someone who takes her human feelings into consideration. At least until after she transitions, then adjustments can be made if necessary. Obviously, we have to have answers for these questions and a million others. Usually these are things handled after the fact due to the spontaneity of Making, but for this we will need to have a plan. Otherwise the whole thing will be a disaster.’ She complained.

She shuffled the papers she'd shuffled earlier, frowned at Karin, then they got to work.

Half way through the initial planning, she started to worry because Karin had developed pretty good plan. She was impressed with its diligence.

‘This better not happen. If she says yes, we are all going to die.’ She muttered, stubbornly to herself.

 

Chapter Text

Bon Temps

 

I pulled out of the darkened parking lot at Merlotte’s to head home. It was late. I'd stayed from open to close and I was dead tired, but I felt more like myself than I had in a very long time. It was amazing what a clean house, a night’s sleep, and hot food cooked on your own stove could do for your psyche. Today I’d been able to get through all of the paper work that Lafayette had organized. I’d mailed off the bills, went through the ledgers, and I was surprised by what I found. Things at Merlotte’s had been good the last few months. I knew I had Lafayette to thank for it. I certainly hadn’t been keeping up with things the last several months. I’d decided that Lafayette was getting a hefty bonus in his paycheck this week. I hadn’t been present for the day to day running of things for a long time. I was usually there to sign checks for the truck orders, but I hadn’t done the inventory or called those orders in. Lafayette had done it all.

‘It’s because you don’t have the heart to be there.’ I said out loud.

My voice sounded hollow and it surprised me.

The desire to live this part of my life, was just gone.

There...I admitt it.

Recently I’d looked into the deepest parts of me, even the part that I’d been avoiding, and I knew I’d been waiting for Sam to come back. I’d been waiting all this time and maybe in the last few months I’d finally accepted, that he wasn’t going to come back. My eyes began to fill with tears…again.

So, I guess I wasn’t dealing with it very well.

‘Damnit!’ my voice rang out. It didn’t sound hollow, it was hollow and I felt so alone.

I cast a quick glance at myself in the rear-view. In the dim light of the speedometer, I saw myself sinking into the abyss of sadness that had become my constant companion.

‘Not this again!’ I yelled, pounding the steering wheel after each word. ‘This has to stop! I need to make some f’ing changes! I'm not even thirty-five gosh damn years old yet! I'm in the prime of my life f’ing life and I'm f’ing wasting it!’ I yelled.

I'd become mildly conscious of the increase in my profanity usage over the last several days and opted for PG13 swears in attempt to curb the language. Driving my little car as if I held a grudge against it, I screamed my frustration at the windshield hoping it would take the edge off the anger I was feeling. Cramming on the brakes a split second before yanking the wheel to make the right turn down Humming Bird Lane for home, I continued my rant. ‘People now days live into their Nineties! I have a lot of f’ing life yet to live.

I stopped yelling and my mouth O’d into surprise as my car slid around the corner and fishtailed. ‘Or at least they did if they didn’t kill themselves while driving like an idiot.’ I thought. Sobering instantly, I took my foot off of the gas and the car began to slow.

I don't know why it mattered to me if I lived. No one was going be here with me. There wouldn’t be any children, or grandchildren to rely upon or brighten my days. Who'd take care of me? Would I eventually have to go and live in one of those horrible old folk’s homes where they slowly drugged you to death? Who'd come to my funeral? Who'd carry my coffin? Who'd bury me? No one. There was no one. My fairy blood was going to keep me around for a long time.

'Unless I took myself out by accident.' I conceded.

By the time the end came for me, everyone who ever knew me will have been gone for a least 20 years.

These thoughts fired one right after the other through my tired mind and my car rolled to a stop right in the middle of Humming Bird Road.

I sighed in frustration, because this pep talk had been going so well a few minutes ago.

‘Well that is just fine! I guess I'm just going to have to die alone then.’ I scowled sourly, bringing my fist down on the steering wheel again.

I’d nearly talked myself into living again, when I was cruelly reminded that it didn’t make any difference how many changes or choices I made, I’d already made the wrong choice and I was going to be alone for the rest of my life because of it. There was nothing to make a change for. Nothing to look forward to. No one to share anything with.

‘It’s just me.’ I said candidly to the empty seat next to me, sarcasm and acceptance oozing all over the interior of the car, ‘Alone…forever.’

I’d never relished the idea of growing old and dying to begin with and certainly never imagined that I’d be doing it alone. Well-meaning folks who liked to look on the bright side of things used to say to me, ‘Sook, there’s time, you’ll find someone and you never know, he may already have children.’

I used to be one of those people. You know them, the glass is half full types. I shook my head and laughed.

I’d had all of those thoughts before, about being a step-momma. Whenever I'd let the day dream take flight, I’d get to a certain point then I’d hear Gran in my head saying ‘Tell the truth and shame the devil.’

I heard every gosh damn thought a human being had. 

Like, I’d tried to be a part of Hunter’s life, but his step-momma, even though she liked me well enough, didn’t like the disruption I caused. There was also the fact that Hunter was a teenager now and he didn’t necessarily want to be hanging around with his ‘spinster’ aunt.

Weres were in the same category as Shifters and I’d been that route.

The Fae were gone and even if I’d gotten an invitation to go along with them, I didn’t have any desire to leave this dimension to become a fairy princess. I'd survived the Fae already. I didn't need to try my luck with them again.

Vampire and human marriages still weren’t legal and those relationships tended to last only as long as the physical beauty in most cases.

My thoughts drifted to Bill, but my heart held the door firmly shut. Bill was easy and I wouldn’t be alone but, ‘You know you can’t trust him.’  The reminder came without quarter.

I had valid reasons not to trust Bill. Lately, more and more, he creeped me out. It wasn’t anything he did overtly, it was the fact that Felipe had appointed him Regent and he’d begun to press me. Not full court, but just enough to let me know he still wanted me. I’d known Bill long enough now, that I understood his complexities. He was competitive, ambitious, and sneaky about it. These were things I didn’t know about him in the beginning, but understood now. Just like I understood his way of speaking with two tongues. He'd say one thing, but it meant something else entirely. He’d begun to visit me more often over the last several months and the things he said, often left me wondering what he was getting at.

‘I wonder if this depression has something to do with his increased visits. Like, maybe you think more about him than you realize?’ I thought. After a second I dismissed that thought as crazy talk and continued to compile all of the reasons I'd die alone when I realized it was almost 4AM and I was sitting in the middle of the road in my car idling my tank of gas away.

I snapped out of it and drove the rest of the way home, remembering the mail, I pulled up in front of the box at the end of my driveway. I fished it out then made the way down my long narrow drive, pulling around to park in the back when I reached the house since the laundry was no longer piled up against the back door.

I thought about Bill again as I turned the key, shutting of the engine. I needed to be sure and thank him for what he’d done for me. I'd get around to it tomorrow. Right now, I was looking forward to getting in a scalding hot shower, letting these random thoughts wash down the drain, then getting in another good night of sleep. I tried to pull the keys out of the ignition, but couldn't. I realized I hadn't put the car I park. Shaking my head, I shifted into park, then distractedly gathered the mail off of the passenger seat. I was just ready to get out of the car when Bill appeared out of nowhere and scared the shit out of me.

‘Jesus Christ Shepard of Judea!’ I swore, loudly. ‘What the fuck, Bill!’

All of the brownie points I’d accumulated throughout the day for curbing my language flew right out the open car door. Clasping a hand over my mouth in shock, I quickly asked forgiveness for using the F word and the lord’s name in the same sentence.

Bill’s eyes twinkled merrily at having caused such a reaction and it really annoyed the tar out of me.

‘Bill! Gosh damnit! How many times do I have to tell you not to do that!’ I screeched.

He was smiling crookedly, but sobered quickly at my agitation. ‘I didn’t mean to scare you sweetheart, I just thought I'd manage the door for you. I'm sorry.’ He apologized sweetly.

I took a steadying breath, handed Bill my mail, then dug irritably through my purse to look for my keys, having forgotten they were still in the ignition.

‘I am sorry for shouting at you.’ I mumbled curtly, as I dug.

I eventually remembered that the keys were in the ignition and yanked them out. Turning to look up at Bill and thank him for his kindness my breath caught, preventing me from speaking, while our eyes held each other’s.

‘It looks like he wants to eat me alive.’  I thought and  blinked, making at attempt to reorder my thoughts.

It was obvious to me in this moment, that Bill was hoping for a reconciliation and renewed affections between us, but between the cheating, spying, and betrayal, there was no way I'd ever get back together with him. I just couldn’t trust him, no matter how clean my kitchen was.

Mentally shaking myself, I finally remembered what I wanted to say to him, so, I softened my tone and remembered my manners.

‘Thank you for…thank you for last night, Bill. Thank you for thinking of me. Thank you for caring for me. I want to say how much I appreciate your concern for me. Won’t you please come in so I can write you a check for the groceries and we can visit a few minutes before I have to turn in for the night?’ I finished prettily, making it clear that he'd simply done me a favor.

His eyes shifted ever so slightly, in attempt to hide his...was itdisappointment? ‘I can see that you are awfully tired, Sweetheart. I stopped by this evening to quickly check up and make sure that you're okay. Truly, a check is unnecessary.’ He finished quietly.

Old southern etiquette was deeply ingrained in his manner and psyche. You simply didn’t speak about money in mixed company. I hadn’t thought before I'd spoken, or maybe I had, either way, I'd offended him horribly.

Stiffly, but politely he retreated to the safety of that etiquette and dipping his head, he offered softly, ‘With your permission, I'd like to stop by again later this week. We can visit then?’

‘That would be lovely.’ I answered, trying to smooth over his discomfort.

He reached for my keys, walked me to the door, opened, then held it for me while I went it. He handed me first the keys then the mail and I thanked him. He bent to press a cool kiss to my cheek so I offered it to him, feeling a tad guilty about offending him, then he stepped back, bowed to me slightly, then disappeared into the night. As I watched him blink out of sight, I suddenly felt annoyed over the entire exchanged.

‘Maybe I have antiquated idea’s about accepting ‘charity’ from my neighbors.’ I thought sullenly, at his retreating form.

I shut the back door a little harder than I’d intended to do and went to take my shower. The next day I dropped a check in the mail to him. He wouldn’t cash it, but it sent a clear message to him anyway.

 

***


It’d been several days since Bill had scared the hell out of me in the driveway. He hadn’t come back, which was fine with me. He was probably offended over the check, just like I knew he'd be.

No matter. It was Saturday night and I had the evening off, so, here I was on the couch, an enormous bowl of popcorn in my lap, feet curled under me and covered by my favorite afghan.

My mother had crocheted the afghan as her Senior Home-Economics project in high school.

I sighed contentedly having just gotten settled in, remote in hand, eager to catch up on my DVR’d Lifetime movies. I really needed to get a move on them because, it wouldn’t be long until the Hallmark channel started rolling out the Christmas movies and then I’d be way behind.

‘Better stock up on Kleenex.’ I thought practically.

I shoveled a massive hand full of popcorn in my mouth and I shit you not, someone, probably Bill, knocked on the front door.

‘Crap!’ I mumbled around the mouthful of popcorn.

I had the notion that if I sat really still, he’d think I wasn’t home and go away. Never mind that the TV was blaring the Geico commercial that it would without doubt, blare dozen times over through the course of the evening. Also, every light in the house was on.

He rang the doorbell when he didn’t hear me get up.

Annoyed, I threw back the afghan in resignation, rubbed my butter coated hand down my pajama clad leg and chewed the popcorn furiously to finish it. Standing, I grabbed my Coke off of the coffee table and washed down the popcorn on my way to the front door. This was the first time in a week that I wasn’t thoroughly worn out or dealing with my “dark depression” so I was mighty irritated that leisure time was being interrupted. I turned the TV off as I stomped passed it, then slung the remote back to the couch.

Flipping on the porch light I pulled the door open to find not Bill, but Karin and Pam…again.

Puzzled, I stared at the two of them wondering what the hell they were doing here so soon after their last visit. It hadn’t even been two weeks since they’d been here.

When I felt Gran roll over in her grave, I jerked myself into a greeting. ‘Well…hey you two!’ I said, with a goofy confused grin on my face stepping back to open the door wide. I gestured for the Vampires to come inside. ‘What a nice surprise!’ I lied.

Karin stepped through the door and Pam followed. They flicked quick curious glances around the sparkling clean house.

Pam, already celebrating her victory, smiled knowingly at Karin.

Karin, trying not to shit a brick, worked to convince herself that she would indeed turn Sookie by force if she had to. Uncomfortably, she thought she was going to have to ‘turn that into a mantra’ if the woman said no. The ball was rolling and she wouldn’t stop now. She was running out of time.

Chapter Text

Bon Temps

 

Pam and Karin stared with unabashed astonishment at my living room. Karin, actually leaned past me a bit to peek into the kitchen, then blinked in consternation.

I took note that she'd once again, made me privy to her thoughts through her facial expression. Something that never, ever happened.

'Until recently.' I pointed out to myself.

The pair of them stared in bewildered silence for so long, I started to wonder if they’d come here with an offer to help me clean my house. Then I noticed that they were dressed to the nines and nixed that thought. That was definitely not something I could see either of them offering to do, but from their incredulous reactions I had to wonder.

‘So, what’s the occasion then…’ I asked myself, more than a bit curious.

Taking in Pam’s impeccable outfit, I wished that I’d at least brushed my hair recently and that I didn’t have a hole in my pajama pants.

Breaking the silence, I asked curiously, ‘So, what are y’all up to this evening? Are you staying for a while or are you just passing through?’

When neither of the sisters answered, I offered, ‘I have NeuBlood. I only have ‘O’ though. Would you like some? Do you want to sit in here or in the kitchen?’ I peppered them with the questions in quick succession, then waited for answer. Obviously mesmerized by the changes that had taken place in the house, they still didn’t answer.

I noticed now that Karin was, apprehensive and Pam was fidgety.

‘Hell must have frozen over.’ I mused, comically.

It was either that, or something equally as terrifying, because these women were never apprehensive or fidgety. I had the feeling I was probably going to have a house guest, or be asked for a favor soon.

Suddenly, Karin, having pulled herself together, lit me up with a million-watt smile and said, ‘We'd probably be more comfortable in the living room.’

Pam pleasantly followed that up with ‘NeuBlood would be nice, thank you.’

‘Ooookay,’ I thought, suspiciously. 'Something's definitely up.'  I concluded, turning on my heal for the kitchen.

In attempt to get either of them to start talking, I kept my tone light and called over my shoulder, ‘You aren’t leaving town already are you, Karin?’

Karin shot a confused look at Pam who shrugged ignorance.

‘No.’ Karin stammered, ‘We…only…missed your company…dear Friend.’

I paused, flicking a wary glance toward the living room. ‘Oh yeah, that’s not totally weird or anything.’

I got myself a glass of ice and hurriedly replaced the caps on the NeuBlood I’d just taken out of the microwave and gave them a shake. Assembling the tray in record time I returned to my guests offering the drinks. After serving, I poured the remainder of my ‘gone warm’ Coke over the glass of ice. While the warm soda popped and fizzed, I waited in silence to learn the purpose of this unannounced visit. The Vampires in turn murmured their thanks and sipped from their bottles, ignoring the glasses I’d provided. For a brief distracted moment while my guests sipped at their warm blood, I wished I knew if Heather Locklear had said ‘yes’ to that gorgeous hunk of no name B movie actor and gotten engaged! I sniffed delicately, and let it go deciding that I was happy to see my friends.

And, I was…I realized, even if they were here because something was up.

My thoughts shifted while I waited on them to finish their drinks and somehow, I arrived at the fact that during all of the upheaval of the last several years I’d isolated myself from the people I loved and cared for on purpose.

Admitting a problem is the first step...or so I'd been told.

I sipped at my Coke thinking, ‘It’s safer for everyone.’

I'd began isolating after Jason and Michele. I’d just stopped having conversations. I hadn’t spoken to anyone about Jason or Michele at all since their funeral.

I forced myself to acknowledge that hurtful thought and took another sip of my Coke.

Suddenly I thought, ‘You should tell your friends you’ve missed them. Tell them you wish…’

That's a full stop right there, Sookie. I actually heard the, Screech! in my head.

‘Do not tell them anything of the sort. Pam has already warned you of talking about that.’ I reminded myself.

All of the thoughts I’d been having the last several days were bouncing around my head like sugar crazed Tweens during a sleepover. I hadn’t realized it until just now, but in a departure from my recent behavior I was desperate to talk to someone. I really wanted to tell them, someone, anyone, all of the things I’d been thinking about. I guess, I just wanted to know if I'd gone crazy or not. I looked over at Pam and I opened my mouth to say, ‘I’ve missed you’ or something like that, but the words refused to leave my mouth. Crestfallen, I dropped my head and stared at my lap.

‘Sookie?’ Pam questioned.

I looked up at my friend and an intense roaring began in my ears. My mouth fell open and it felt for a moment like I was going to faint. I was trying so hard, but nothing would come out. The room swirled and goose flesh erupted all over my skin.

Pam's head tilted and her eyes softly questioned. ‘What is it?’

Karin moved across the couch coming closer and placed her hand over mine. I looked down at her cool hand and then at her. Concern creased her features. It had been so long since I'd seen anyone look at me with anything other than contempt or pity, that it took a moment for me to understand what was happening. For two years I'd felt no care, or love, or compassion, let alone a touch. The contact broke the seal over my mouth, but what I’d wanted to say, isn’t what came out.

‘Gran…my Gran is dead.’ I nodded while I said it. My throat constricted and tears welled in my eyes. ‘Jason, my brother, is dead…and my parent’s…’ I trailed off.

Karin squeezed my hand gently and I broke like a wave on the rocks.

‘I've missed you both so much and I love you.’ I choked, then blew out the breath lodged in my chest.

It had been a long time since I’d said the words, ‘I love you’ to anyone and really meant them.

The stupid crying started then and a literal flood of words and emotions came with them. At some point during an epic breakdown I'd stood up and prowled around my living room like a storm, vomiting out every damn thing that I been unable to say to anyone for nearly a decade. I sobbed uncontrollably and when I couldn’t sob anymore, I laughed until I couldn’t breathe, then feeling like I'd suffocate if I didn't, I screamed silently until my body’s memory kicked in and breathed for me. I bounced from rage and despair, to fury and joy in breaths and heartbeats. I told them everything. I tore myself all the way down to a complete mental break in the middle of my living room floor which had effectively answered the ‘crazy' question for me.

It was cleansing as hell fire.

Neither of the Vampires in my living room had expected any of that to happen, but they’d dealt with it the way your best girlfriends do. I'd barely registered their reactions, but they'd held me up, let me know they were ‘with me,' and encouraged me to get it all out.

So, I did.

I told them about a childhood of isolation because of the telepathy. I told them of the tender hope I had when I fell in love for the first time, only to be betrayed. I told them about the shame of not being chosen. The shame of not being able to have a child. The heartbreak of knowing that I'd never have a family. I told them that now when I was alone, in the dark, drowning bitterness, I sometimes wished I had not used the Cluviel Dor to save Sam.

It was my darkest truth. It felt so terrible to say those words out loud that I almost died of shame.

I told them about driving over the bridge where my parents had died and how I’d contemplated driving right off of it into the river as well, because I’d lost everyone I’d ever loved.

‘I am alone in this world, Pam. Absolutely alone and it’s all my fault. I’m gonna die completely alone.’ I croaked, despondently. 

Pam heard the desolation ringing in Sookie’s voice and it was shattering. The woman was exhausted and shaking with the adrenaline release her blood had supplied. Pam knew it was a shitty, but all of that hot, delicious adrenaline, scorching Sookie’s Fae blood made it incredibly hard for her to concentrate. To make matters worse, Sookie had just collapsed on the couch, laying her head back against it, exposing the throbbing vein in her throat. Pam’s mouth had watered and she fought to reign in rogue thoughts about her friends already normally irresistible blood. With her considerable will, Pam forced her thoughts to the reason for the visit and shot a defeated glance at Karin, who also seemed to be struggling with the glorious smell of Sookie. They held eye contact, helping each other to master the vicious urge to drink that insistently pushed and pulled at them. Once they had, they turned their full attention back to their friend.

Sookie had acquired a box of Kleenex while they’d been distracted. She wiped at her face and blew her nose, which was disgusting but necessary. Once she’d gotten herself under control, she looked up at them.

Pam could see the realization of what had just happened register in Sookie’s brain and knew that her friend felt self-conscious and embarrassed.

'It's not any wonder.' Pam thought. Sookie's confessions had shaken them. Her vulnerability had been such, that it had ignited their hunger. Now, both of them remained with her, letting her see that they'd cried blood tears for her...and themselves. She acknowledged.

Astonished by this display of emotion and concern for her, Sookie blushed hotly then offered each of them the box of Kleenex.

Karin took one and dabbed at her eyes and face with the tissue, then taking the box from Sookie she offered it to Pam who deftly took a tissue and cleaned her face as well.

Feeling awkward in the silence, Sookie pushed on with what she’d really wanted to talk about in the first place.

‘What am I supposed to do? I can’t…,’ She ran a haunted hand across the falt plain of her stomach, took a breath, and tried again. ‘I refuse to live this life anymore, Karin.’

Alarm claimed Karin and she jerked a quick worried glance at Pam.

‘Sookie, you will not end your life.’ Pam said, seriously, shifting in her chair. She immediately adopted an unaffected manner, uncomfortable with the outward reaction she'd just had to Sookie's statement. Of course, it was ruined by the blood tears smeared across her cheekbones. This was entirely too much drama for her after being forced to tears only moments earlier. Still, she swallowed hard, smoothed her pale pink skirt rolling her shoulder slightly, and admitted, ‘It would hurt me to lose your friendship. I forbid it.’ She said, with authority.

Stunned, Sookie gaped at Pam incredulously.‘That's such a Pam thing to say.’  she thought.

Out loud she said, ‘I wouldn’t kill myself, Pam! I only fantasized about it that once. Geeze! I just don’t want to live here, in Bon Temps anymore, that’s all. There's nothing here for me anymore. When people look at me, I see the pity in their eyes. I hear their contempt when they see me coming. I hear them blaming me for Gran’s death. I hear them wondering what I did to drive Sam away, all the while pitying me over Jason and my parents. Even when I want to be with people I can’t, because everyone in this town knows me.’ Her voice cracked and tears threatened again. ‘Let’s just call it what it is, okay. I'm trouble. People’s life expectancy drops when they're around me so, I dropped out of my life. I’ve kept people away purposefully. I kept both of you away. I live in terror that Freyda will find a way to hurt you or Karin, or Tara, or Lafayette or even Terry because of me. I already suspect that she had a hand in Jason and Michele’s car accident. I just can’t take these constant reminders of all that I've lost anymore, but I don’t have any options. I don’t want to be here, but I have nowhere else to go. Understand? Tell me what to do!’ I both confided and pleaded.

Pam nodded, acknowledging Sookie’s pain, then looked at her sister. They’d had the same suspicions about Jason and Michele. She knew that it was time to give up this fight with Karin and help her friend. Somehow, they'd work it out…or, die trying. She was still convinced that Sookie wouldn’t accept, but there was a slight chance that she would. Either way the next half hour was going to be interesting. Even if she didn't chose to Transition, maybe she could still go with Karin for a while. 'Might as well get started.' she resolved.

‘Sookie,’ Pam began, ‘We came here tonight because Karin has something, she'd like to talk to you about. I’ve been insisting to her since our last visit with you that you wouldn’t be interested, but after this evening I feel like I may have been wrong.’ She admitted.

I looked curiously at Karin, who was still next to me. She was nearly beaming at Pam with self-satisfaction.

Pam, gave an indelicate snort waving Karin off.

I was a little confused with the by-play, but I guess I was about to learn why Karin was in town. I also guessed we were done talking about my problems. I couldn’t blame them. I’d just dumped a lifetime worth of pain and baggage all over my friends, who’d actually come to see me about something.

‘How embarrassing…’ I berated myself.

Pam caught my expression and said, ‘Sookie, please don’t be embarrassed. I’m glad that we were here and you were able to work through some things. This is what family is about. Besides, the reason we're here is relevant to your question.’ She said, practically. 

I blinked as the word family resonated through me and turned to Karin, ready to listen.

‘Sookie, what if…’ Karin blurted then stopped. She cast a questioning look toward Pam, so I looked at Pam.

Pam, stared back at Karin expressionless.

I looked back at Karin.

Karin looked…frightened.

‘What the hell is all that about?’ I wondered, intensely curious now. 

Karin physically pulled her attention back to me, resolution passing over her face, then she said, ‘What if, you do have options?’

She let the words hang in the air.

I sat patiently and waited for her to explain.

Karin plunged in again, carefully, ‘Sookie, Pam and I, well, we always thought that eventually you'd be a part of our family. In a roundabout way, you are, but we’d always thought it would come to be a more, permanent type of belonging.’

It was Karin’s turn to wait. I pulled my face together in a frown and pondered her meaning. After a moment or two, my brain kicked in.

'Oh!'  I thought, finally taking her meaning.

I straightened and tried to ask her about intentions, but she cut me off.

‘So, in the past, we’d hoped you'd let Eric bring you over. Like I said, we'd expected and truly wanted you to be a member of our family. A real sister to us. Then, it didn’t happen. We understand your present pain, because it is our pain as well. We’ve been going through the same thing you’ve been going through, since the day we learned we lost you. Frankly, we’ve been living in dread of the day you're no longer with us. Recently, we’ve become very afraid that day is much closer than we're prepared for. Pam and I wanted to come here and stay with you after…you know, everything, to help you through these painful times, but we knew you wouldn’t have welcomed it. After this evening we know why.’ She’d said it all in a rush, running the sentences together quickly, afraid that she wouldn't be able to get it all out before Sookie turned her down flat, making it necessary for her to employee a different method. 

I blinked at the beautiful Vampire. She was right. Up until the last few days, I wouldn’t have welcomed any house guests or voluntarily had company. I suppose I had Bill to thank for the change of attitude.

‘Agenda’ My heart whispered. ‘Focus.’ My brain whispered back.

I had to admit this confession from Karin surprised me. The provincial part of my brain couldn’t make sense of how two women who’d both had intimate relationships with their Maker could see me as anything more than a rival for his affection.

‘Maybe because he didn’t turn them for love.’ I considered.

Eric told me once during an argument that he "hadn’t turned me when he wanted to, because he loved me." I’d become furious with him and I’d focused on the idea that, "he'd change me against my will" instead of the fact that "he didn’t do it because he loved me." My friendship with both Pam and Karin had changed over the years the way friendships do, but I’d clearly and obviously misjudged the extent of the affection this family held for me, as evidenced by that fact that I was still human. It had been Karin’s job to impart all of this to me, but I looked to Pam for confirmation.

‘Yes.’ she dipped her chin. ‘In my heart, you're my sister. It…I was…I was very upset at the turn of events.' she admitted. 'I lost both you and Eric at the same time and it took some time to get past it. I'm sorry I wouldn't talk about it that day in the kitchen when you wanted to, but I just…couldn’t.’ she finished stoically.

I’d actually forgotten what it felt like to have someone care about me. Not because I wasn't cared for, but because I'd closed myself off to it. I’d never heard Pam speak so frankly about her feelings ever before.

‘Sister…’ I thought, turning the word over in my head.

Karin took advantage of the opening that Pam had given her saying, ‘Sookie, you've said this evening that you're drowning here in Bon Temps. You’ve shown us how incredibly unhappy you are. You’ve asked for guidance in making a change. You’ve made it clear to us that you don’t want to be alone and your greatest wish is to have a family. Am I Right?’ she asked.

I nodded, agreeing with all she'd said.

‘We're the solution, Sookie. You've always belonged with us, as part of us. When you took your chance at a human life, we respected your decision and even though it was incredibly hard for us, we left you in peace. Now, through no fault of your own, each tie to your human life has faded away. Please, for all of us Sookie, say yes. Transition and be with us. Be our family.’ Karin concluded, and just like that, the hard part was over. She was so anxious she’d actually begun to tap her toe. Forcing herself to ‘quit that shit’ she thought over everything she’d just said, hoping she hadn’t blown it somewhere. It had taken her centuries of planning, countless hours of searching her mind for a way to get all of them to this moment. Everything hung in the answer she waited on now. She gave in to the impulse to clasp her hands together, knowing that it was a tell, but she just couldn’t help it. She looked desperately to Pam, hoping for some support from her. 

Pam did notice Karin's nervousness and smiled encouragement at her. She was impressed with the way she'd presented their offer to Sookie and she wanted Karin to know it. The calming effect the quiet praise had on her sister was immediate. It pissed Pam off when she thought of everything that her sister, Karin the Slaughterer, the scourge of anyone stupid enough to underestimate her, and an honest to goodness ‘warrior woman,’ had been through over the last several hundred years. She’d never seen Karin look as uncertain as she was at this moment. Pam acknowledge now that Karin’s life had been vastly different from her own. Pain, rage, regret, vengeance, retribution, and so much more had kept her from them for a long time and just as she’d put it behind her, Ocella had sold Eric away.

‘It wasn’t fair.’ Pam thought bitterly, pulling herself out of her thoughts to watch Sookie for tell tale signs of an answer.

‘What the hell had just happened?’ I wondered. Struggling to make sense of what Karin had said, I worked through her words again.

‘I think…did Karin just ask me if I wanted to be a Vampire?’ I questioned, silently.

Whatever I’d thought this evenings visit was going to be about, being asked if I wanted to transition into Vampire hadn't been on the list.

‘No…wait, it was more than that…the word Vampire hadn’t been used.’ I pondered the way she'd actually said it.

Suddenly, everything that had happened this evening barreled around in my head. My emotions wrecked havoc on my senses. I considered that it was because I hadn't actually felt anything in such a long time. My heart felt like it was going to pound out of my chest. I could actually hear my blood roaring through the vessels in my ears and it was making it hard to focus. I worked to put things in order so I could latch onto at least one of the things currently making my head swim. Finally, a single word began to resonate…

‘Family…’

Karin hadn't asked me to be a Vampire. She'd asked me to be part of a family.

'Her...family...their…family...his…family.

I wouldn’t be alone anymore.

I'd be a Vampire.

I'd have a family.’

I exhaled, pulled in a slow breath, looked over at Pam and tentatively asked, ‘You?’

She held a hand up and stopped me with a slight shake of her head and pointed to Karin.

I looked at Karin, then before I even knew I was going to do it, I said ‘Yes.’

Pam, quietly freaked the fuck out. She now knew what it felt like when your head actually exploded. No, no...it didn't explode, it was...invaded. It sounded like a radio commercial for Monster Truck Weekend at the fairgrounds.

‘WE ARE ALL GOING TO BE HORRIBLY MURDERED!

SOOKIE IS JUST AS IMPULSIVE AS KARIN!

SHE’S GOING TO BE A NIGHTMARE TO PROTECT!

NO WONDER ERIC LOVES HER!

THEY'RE PERFECTLY MATCHED!

HOLY SHIT!

WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE IN SILVER CHAINS!

FUCK!

GET A GRIP!

OKAY!

THIS ISN’T SO BAD, WE CAN MANAGE THIS!

WE ARE ALL GETTING SOMETHING WE HAVE ALWAYS WANTED!

IT WILL ALL WORK OUT IN THE END!

WE HAVE 200 YEARS, OR MAYBE TWO WEEKS TO FIGURE IT OUT!

IT’S PROBABLY FINE! WE WILL BE FINE…!

I DON’T KNOW HOW I AM GOING TO KEEP FELIPE FROM TAKING HER ONCE HE DISCOVERS SHE IS A VAMPIRE, BUT I WILL CROSS THAT BRIDGE WHEN I COME TO IT!

IT WILL BE FINE!

I WILL JUST KILL FELIPE!

IT’S THE SIMPLEST SOLUTION! IF I’M NOT ALREADY DEAD BECAUSE ERIC KILLED ME, THAT IS!

DID I REALLY JUST THINK THAT KILLING FELIPE, MY KING, WAS GOING TO BE THE SIMPLEST SOLUTION THE PROBLEM OF HIM!?

FUCKING HELL, WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE…

IN SILVER CHAINS…

HORRIBLY…!’

The monster truck rally commercial in her head raged on, as Karin stood up. She'd been explaining what the next few days held in store for Sookie while Pam had been freaking the fuck out. She shook herself and stood as well, certain that her outsides were cool as a cucumber. 

‘See.’ She thought, and picked up her purse. 'Everything, is fine...Maybe I’ll just kill Karin.’ She thought morosely.

She kept her movements deliberate so no one would see her hands tremble. She moved to hug Sookie, and woodenly said, 'Goodbye.'

She had a mountain of issues to deal with at Fangtasia and now this. If they were going to be horribly murdered soon, she needed to get back there and take care of business.

‘I'm pleased that you've said yes.’ She added, thinking it was a lie, but as the words left her mouth, she knew she meant them.

Suddenly, her back bone slipped into place. Sure, it was a giant cluster fuck and they were all going to die, but fuck all that. 'Fuck Ocella, fuck Freyda, and fuck Felipe. Fuck it!' she thought, like the badass she was. None of those assholes had hesitated a single second to ‘fuck this family’ a little fucking back was in order. She was totally going to kill Freyda. Period.

'And fuck it, probably Felipe too.' she said to herself as an afterthought.

Pam prided herself on never doing anything half-assed. If they were going to do this thing, then they were going to do it.

'Let the chips fall...' she decided and felt much more in control of her destiny.

Babbling away at Sookie, Karin, doing her level best to keep her cool, shot several furtive glances at Pam to see how she was doing. Just as she'd predicted, the turmoil thundering through Pam, wasn't evident in any outward manner. You had to know her, to see that she was freaking the fuck out. It had been all Karin could do to keep from rocketing out of the house in jubilation as the word ‘yes’ passed Sookie’s lips, so she hadn't noticed if Pam had any immediate outward reaction to the turn of events. However, she was keenly mindful of Pam’s unease now and she'd be an idiot if she pissed her sister off over something trivial at this point. She'd only planned the first part of this venture, knowing that Pam would insist on planning the second part. If she wanted some input, she needed to keep Pam as calm and pliable as possible.

‘Cleaver.’ She thought, almost grinning. Everything had fallen into place and they were all on the clock now. 'Small moves. Control. Be calm. Poker face.’ Karin coached herself.

Pam walked outside leaving her alone with her future Progeny. ‘We're going to have a lot things to discuss over the next few days. In choosing to become part of this family, there are many things you should know, before we take the final steps in your transition. Pam and I were not given a choice about so many things after we were brought over. Just so you know, we'd never hope to undo what has been done, but we both agree completely, that you'll have all of the information you could ever need or want, before the final ceremony. This way, you can be completely comfortable with your choice. You're going to have second thoughts and that’s okay. I'll be there to help you through them. You can change your mind at any time, but once it’s done, it’s done.’

I was confused, ‘Wait, we're not doing this tonight?’ I asked frustrated.

‘No.’ Karin said shaking her head. Reaching into her jacket pocket, she pulled out a sheaf of papers and handed them to me.

I took them and unfolded them, prepared to read the pages right then. Karin placed a hand on the pages, drawing my attention.

‘We've outlined some of the more important talking points, concerns, and business complications that will no doubt crop up as you begin to process all the ways your life is going to change. I need you to listen to me now. I'm going to ask you to trust me, as your future Maker. Please, don’t tell anyone of your plans to transition. It'll help us avoid certain complications we wouldn’t otherwise have to deal with.’ She explained.

I nodded my agreement. My thoughts were in a whirl. ‘I’m ready to do this tonight!’ I whined to myself.

Karin saw Sookie’s disappointment and explained, ‘Pam has to get back to Shreveport tonight, that’s the only reason we're leaving. Please, take it slow, read through those papers, think things through, try not to become overwhelmed.’ she dictated.

Karin’s positive energy had me feeling like I had someone in my life. Someone that it was okay for me to lean on and she was leaving. I was so needy for company that I squeaked out, ‘Wait…you don’t have to leave. I have the guest space. You're welcome to...Eric…’ I cut myself off, looked at the floor shocked that I'd said his name, then shrugged. 'Please, I can’t be alone right now.’

It was decided that Pam would return to Shreveport and Karin would stay.

Chapter Text

Oklahoma

 

Some days, Eric Northman felt as if his permanent place of residence, was always going to be this ridiculous, honest to Odin ‘throne room’ located in the middle of Bum Fuck, Oklahoma. When he and Pam had arrived in Shreveport, Louisiana in the late 1990’s he’d thought that it was worst place on Earth that he could’ve ever been expected to live.

He'd been wrong.

The ostentatious room, in which he found himself most days, worked overtime to rival the great throne room in the palace at Versailles. The only difference between the rooms you ask…this one was pink. To speak kindly of the room was to say that it was ‘gauche and bourgeois.’ He despised it. It was an affront to his minimalist personality and therefore, represented Freyda perfectly.

Freyda, is the reigning Vampire Queen of Oklahoma and his wife.

At present, he was fulfilling his duties as husband to the letter, by simply sitting in the gaudy room. She was seated to his right and just a little higher than him. This insult, and many others like it, had been engineered as daily reminder that he was no one. An ornament, nothing more. He’d been reduced to the status of one of those little dogs that Hollywood starlets carried around in their purses. This is what his life had become. He was a thousand-year-old Viking, Vampire, ‘consort.’ It was humiliating and if he was keeping it real, deserved.

His duty today, as it was every day, was to keep his wife company, while she heard civil cases.

They’d been married in this room and ever since, his job had been to sit here every day while the ‘Queen’ strangely did the job of an Area Sheriff. It was the same position he’d held in Shreveport before they were married.

Pam, his second Progeny, now held everything he’d once called his own.

Eric had met his wife for the first time, only hours after learning that Ocella, his Maker, had entered into marriage negotiations with her. Ocella had not consulted him about marrying and the contracts had been finalized without his knowledge. It had been a tense meeting, as Eric was already happily married in the ‘Viking way’ to Sookie at the time and he had no expectation or intention of giving her up. In actuality he had the notion of making Sookie his Progeny eventually and anyone could see how a marriage could get in the way of that. His argument, fell on Ocella’s deaf ears, and in the end his Maker and a patient Freyda had gotten their way.

Unfortunately, during the renegotiations after Ocella’s death, Eric had made the mistake of letting his now wife discover that he favored another, a human, over her. Generally speaking, he was never that careless, but in his defense,things were completely out of control at the time. He’d been dealing with his queen Sophie Anne’s death, Felipe and then Victors subsequent take over, the Fae, the damn Cluviel Dor, Sookie’s anger, Pam pushing at him, the death of Ocella and his sibling Alexi, his impending marriage to this Vampire he didn’t want and the cherry on top, whispers of a war. It wasn’t any wonder he’d been careless at the time.

‘My ass had been on fire and there wasn’t a bucket of water to be found.’ He sniffed, at the remembered stress. 

Eric had made some costly mistakes in his first year at this Court as a result of the chaos happening at the time. Then, he’d made adjustments. Now, he played the survival game. Eric, was an expert at the survival game even though he was alone here. He was Ocella’s Progeny after all. It had taken a while for the upheaval in his life to settle down after arriving, but eventually the fog he’d been living in cleared and he caught on, understanding that Ocella had expected him to play the game, he just didn’t know why. He imagined, that Ocella had planned to be here with him and his reasons for pushing this union on him would have been revealed soon after the ceremony. Instead, Ocella was dead and he’d already been here for several years and didn’t know shit. So, every evening he rose, knowing that he’d sit for hours in this room with the expectation that this could be the night he discovered what all of his sacrifice was for, because Eric Northman wasn’t a quitter.

Eric had tried to puzzle Ocella’s reasoning many times, but had always come up empty. Startling as that may be, it was the truth and these were the facts.

His wife, had been human for nineteen years and Vampire for one hundred and fifty (much the same as Pam). That was where the comparison between her and Pam ended. His wife had silvery blond hair, that framed and oval face and hard, hazel brown eyes. She was sharp featured, but stunning. The first impression you had of the Queen of Oklahoma was that she was everything she portrayed herself to be. Sophisticated, smart, shrewd, a good business woman. In public she radiated confidence and power and when he’d finally resigned himself to the idea of marrying her, he thought himself lucky. If he couldn’t have Sookie, then…Freyda (he cringed, even thinking her name) would suit. It took about six minutes after their wedding for him to discover that she was none of these things he'd believed her to be, she was merely a good actress.

‘No…not just a good actress.’ He reminded himself silently. His wife was an outstanding actress.

After seven years, he could speak with uncanny authority on the subject of her abilities. Acting, was the only thing in which she actually excelled.

After their joining ceremony, they’d stepped away from the assemblage for a private word with each other and It was as if someone had flipped a switch inside of her. The Vampire Eric thought he’d married turned into a vapid, preening, petulant child. The behavior had shocked him into anger immediately, but having just spent three years learning how to be more accepting of what women considered serious issues he reconsidered the display and chalked it up to a serious case of wedding nerves. In an attempt to diffuse her agitation, he’d made the mistake of playfully chastising her for the behavior.

This had been the first mistake in his marriage. He’d criticized his Queen, not his wife.

The second mistake he’d made had been much the same as his first. His wife had a tendency to wear the entire contents of her wardrobe in the makeup of one outfit. Having not already learned his lesson about her vanity, he suggested that she take a less over stated approach to her style. For that insult, he’d spent time in silver. His next offense had been punishable by not allowing him to take a call from Pam for nearly a year. His wife was petty, spiteful, and mean spirited even by Vampire terms. His Queen, was a monster and her vanity, a living thing.

So, he’d been in Oklahoma for almost seven years and he’d learned nothing of why Ocella wanted him here, but he'd learned absolutely, not to insult his Queen.

One other thing he’d learned for certain was his wife may be the Queen, but she wasn’t the ruler of Oklahoma. He'd never be able to prove it, but he knew it in his bones. He didn’t know who was, but it for sure wasn’t his wife. It had taken a few months of watching, but he discovered that she was a puppet of sorts. The realization had been a heavy blow to him at the time. He’d fought Ocella hard to stay put in Louisiana. He’d fought so hard that for a time, he thought he might be able to have his way, but after Ocella’s death and the events with the damn Cluviel Dor, the decision had made itself.

A Cluviel Dor is a device made by the Fae to hold a single wish, of sorts. Sookie’s great grandfather Niall had told Eric that Adele had been gifted a Cluviel Dor and upon her death it had passed to Sookie. Eric had hoped that Sookie might use it to free him of the arranged marriage predicament he found himself in, but she hadn’t. She’d used it to save Sam’s life and that had been the end for Sookie and Eric.

After some lengthy contract re-negotiations, Eric had been able to navigate his disappointment enough to secure his families safety (which included Sookie), if not their company. Once that was done, he fulfilled his final obligation to his Maker with the conscious decision to be an attentive husband, by demonstrating his loyalty and embracing his new role as ‘consort.’

As one might expect, it was too late to salvage the situation. The damage had been done and he had fallen into the intolerable role of Trophy Husband instead.

‘If Ocella were alive…I'd kill him.’ He thought viciously.

Life as a loyal subject of Oklahoma wasn’t all bad. Oklahoma hadn’t come out of the Hep-V war completely unscathed, but Eric, as well as his Progeny, had enjoyed the advantages afforded to them by Oklahoma’s privilege during the war. During that time he'd even been occasionally grateful to Ocella for the safety his marriage had provided to them. He missed Pam desperately and worried for her safety constantly during the Hep-V war, but it could have been so much worse. He’d seen her only once since he’d taken his vows. She'd stalked into this very room, dragging Willa with her.

His wife had been unamused.  Pam, hadn’t given two shits. She’d introduced Willa to them, spent the day and left the next evening.

He’d spoken to her on the phone only a handful of times after that and his wife hovered over the conversations like a prison guard. Pam had eventually become disgusted with the situation and did away with any pleasantries when they were able to talk with each other. She just began blurting out information before his wife could take control of the calls. This was how he’d learned of Sookie’s marriage to Sam, for which there’d been consequences for as well.

Eric brought Sookie’s face to focus in his mind now. It was something he still did often, as her loss was an open wound that refused heal. He’d gone nearly mad with worry for her during the Hep-V war and the subsequent human attacks on the Were population. The only solace he had, was knowing he’d left Karin with her. 

It had taken him too long to admit how important Sookie was to him and once he had, it’d been too late.

‘I made stupid mistakes with Sookie. Pam tried to warn me, but I didn’t listen.’ He thought, noting the pattern.

His life in Oklahoma had taken on this mundane routine almost immediately and he had so little to occupy his time that all he did was think. He was rarely ‘in the moment anymore.’ In the beginning his thoughts were about blame, much like tonight. He’d tried to explain his behavior away by blaming it on the stress of everything that had happened. He soon concluded that was all bullshit. Everything that had happened, was his fault.

He'd never talked to Sookie about things or included her in his daily life. He'd felt that as a human, Vampire issues didn’t concern her, even when she was caught up in them. He neglected to consider her lifestyle during his time with her. He’d taken her traditions for granted. He’d ignored the fact the she was a modern woman. In short, he’d behaved like a pompous ass because she was already his and he never considered that he’d have to work to keep her.

No one had ever left him.

He’d simply expected her to do as she was told. He’d expected her to trust him to do the right thing for the both of them, instead of talking to her and including her in every decision-making process. He’d maneuvered her and kept her in the dark and she hadn’t like it one bit.

‘Even if it had been for her own safety.’ He thought stubbornly.

However, he’d come to understand, that if you were in love with a modern woman you had to include them in the discussion. You had to think about things for a few days. It didn’t matter if you usually ended up doing exactly what you’d set out to do in the first place, that wasn't the point. The point, was that you did it together.

‘So, she’s happy. So, she understands you love and value her, idiot.’ He chastised.

And, he was an idiot. He wouldn’t forget this lesson if he were to ever win another woman as singularly unique as Sookie Stackhouse ever again. Even now it was difficult to control the impulse to throw caution to the wind and sneak away to see her.

‘That would be unwise.’ He thought, flicking a glance at his security detail.

His wife had 'gifted' him with his security detail (baby sitters) shortly after her switch had flipped, during their wedding reception. As a result, he’d had only scattered moments of real privacy since.

‘Everything's been taken from me once again. My Progeny, my work, my business, my woman and in return, I’ve been given this cold, ruthless bitch to wife.’ Fury and agitation raced unexpectedly through him before he’d been able to clamp down on the feelings.

His wife jerked her sharp, frigid eyes at him.

‘Shit! God damn blood bond.’ He groaned silently.

He’d let his thoughts run and it was going to cost him. She insisted on keeping the bond between them strong so she knew almost every single thing he felt the moment it happened. She’d felt distaste and anger and knew instinctively that he’d been thinking about ‘home.’

‘Is there something wrong, Husband?’ She inquired crisply.

‘Not at all, my Queen.’ He returned politely, quickly cooling his emotions.

Freyda stared silent daggers, waiting him out while all activity in the massive room stopped.

‘Damnit.’ No way around it, he was busted. ‘It’s only that I am a little…bored, my Queen.’ He answered, grudgingly. ‘We’ve been at this for several hours now.’ He said, and waved his hand at the assemblage. Hoping his tone radiated boredom he flirted with her, ‘I was thinking maybe we could ‘retire’ for a while. Maintaining eye contact he quirked a dashing smile and waited for her to flake out.

‘I'm done for, now. She hates it when I flirt with her.’ He thought, morosely, then just to be obtuse and further confound her, he winked rakishly at her. ‘Show no weakness.’ He coaxed, himself.

He loved a rousing battle of wills and if he was in trouble he might as well get some enjoyment out of it. His wife would rather die than admit it, but she lusted after him like an untouched spinster. As such, her lust for him was his only real weapon and he wielded it and his sex appeal like an expert. If his wife had heart that actually pumped blood, she’d be bright red right now. As it was, she was furious with him and looked like she was going to explode at any moment. You had to know her very well to judge her moods, so when she flicked her hand instead of answering him, dread crawled into the pit of his stomach.

He’d crossed the line...missed something. The room quickly cleared of everyone but her personal assistant, Joslyn.

Eric held his wife’s gaze (show no weakness) a slight smile of challenge curving his lips. He used the blood bond to slide salacious, suggestive thoughts and sensations at her while the Court fled the room. When it was empty of everyone but his wife’s constant shadow Joslyn, he silently asked the question again with the barest lift of his brow. There was no way he was going to back down. She didn’t answer him, just glared a hole through him.

‘Joslyn, my husband, is bored. Plan an ‘entertainment’ for him.’

The command was soft and cold. When it was done, his wife gracefully rose from her throne, cuing Eric to rise as well. He bowed to her deeply. She ignored him and stalked away.

He flicked a quick glance at Joslyn, who held her curtsy. When his wife was no longer in the room, both he and Joslyn, who cast a quick, angry glare at him, rose.

In that moment he knew that whatever happened next, wouldn't be good.

‘She'd put emphasis on the word, entertainment.

'Crap…’ he groaned. ‘Idiot.’

Chapter Text

Oklahoma

 

Eric had been hoping to enjoy the down time he’d wrangled from his wife. Instead, he’d spent it worrying about what fresh hell was going to be visited on him.

He’d taken the opportunity to change clothes and wore a winter white suit with a barely blue shirt and tie.

He looked rather fine indeed. It was one of the only suits he owned that he’d picked out himself.

‘He loved this suit.’ He thought, brushing at it absently.

The entire court had been instructed to attend this gathering so he knew that he was about to be at the very least, publicly humiliated, which was why he had worn the white. The Court would see it as a mark of his innocence and his wife would see his surrender, but then again, she would.

He wouldn’t be showing any weakness or surrender tonight, he resolved and he shifted in his chair to await the Queens pleasure.

As a signal that things were about to get started, Joslyn took her position at the bottom step of the dais and curtsied.

His wife, the Queen, ascended the flight of stairs shortly there after. When she was satisfied with the bowing and scraping she sat down and flicked her hand.

A brilliant flash caught his attention as he took his seat. Oh, hell, she’s put on her wedding rings.’ He groaned, to himself.

When he was seated, the assemblage rose and Joslyn gestured toward the back of the Hall. At once, a very young, very blond, very petite, teenager was ushered into the room.

'She can’t be more than eighteen.' he moaned silently.

The girl was dressed in a pink polyester waitress uniform. It had white piping around the edges and she wore old school white work shoes. Her hair was in a ponytail and had a pink ribbon tied in it. She had enormous blue eyes, that were wide with fear and she was shaking so hard that he was sure pieces of her were going to start falling off. She wasn’t crying yet, but it would only be a matter of time before she started sobbing and begging to go home. 

He should have known that it would be something like this.’ His jaw clenched.

This wasn't just an idle threat. The Magister had done something similar to this with Bill a few years ago, because of Longshadow. However, there was no way his wife was going to allow him to sire Progeny, so it was a bit different. That meant he was probably going to have to kill this girl, all because he'd been half out of his mind with boredom.

He really hoped he didn’t fucking lose it before he was able to extricate himself from this marriage.

In this moment, he wasn’t entirely sure that he hadn’t orchestrated this little diversion on purpose. It had been a difficult few weeks and sometimes the boredom made everything bleed together. 

The last time he had insulted his wife with inattentiveness, she’d had a subject ‘in need of correction’ dressed in a pastel blue Channel suit tied down with silver chains and flogged with a silver coated whip.

It was a very real threat. One that she used frequently.

He had no way of knowing if Pam had ever suffered any retribution, but he did know without a doubt that if he were ever to give his wife real offense, someone he loved would pay the price.

He had to be careful to bend, but not break. To walk the line of who she knew him to be and what she wanted him to be. 

‘My Queen.’ He said seductively, turning to her, ‘You do spoil and indulge me so. This promises to be most entertaining.’ Ownership and pleasure coated his words.

'Show no weakness.’  The mantra repeated on loop.

Pressing his luck, he flirted with her roguishly sending wave after wave of sensual energy towards her. He intended to grudge fuck her until she was a limp, quivering, unsatisfied mess once this little charade was over. He wasn't going to simply let her get away with threatening him. 

'The vapid cow...' he thought, angrily. 

In public, Eric showed his ‘Queen’ deference. He projected himself as the dutiful loving consort, without fail. No one in Oklahoma had ever seen him behave as anything less than devoted, even though his wife was a cold, manipulative, abusive bitch that he hated with a burning passion. Eric had lived nearly half of his life with only Ocella for company. He knew how to survive cruelty and obsession disguised as love. He knew the difference between a slave and a lover. Ocella had eventually set Eric aside, but he’d never released him. He knew what it was to be a possession. He’d been bound to Ocella’s will to the very last and still was. Even though he loved Ocella the way all children love their parent’s, he knew without a doubt that he’d always been a slave in his Makers eyes. He knew that Ocella hadn't held the same affection for him that he'd held for Ocella.

It had taken only those few missteps after arriving in Oklahoma, to understand that he was a slave once again, no matter what he’d been in the recent past. During his life with Ocella, he'd learned when and how to press an advantage. How to gain small slabs of flesh in retribution for ill treatment and over time, Ocella had come to respect Eric's ability to fight for himself and his dignity. It had made a small difference in the way Ocella had interacted with Alexi and Eric had learned from that too. 

He knew Freyda. He knew that she believed that she was getting the best of him with these little scenes. Sometimes she did, but he always made her pay for it one way or the other, just like he'd done with Ocella. He full court pressed the bitch's senses every single day. He manipulated her senses the way teenage boys manipulated teenage girls the world over. He made her want him. Night after night she battled her physical attraction to him while he mocked her for craving him. He forced her to lust after him in his own special way and she hated herself for the way she responded to it.

It was perfect. He'd have his pound of flesh out of her.

'Yes, I will.’  He thought, seething retribution. 

The joy the thought brought him made him feel light and airy and he smiled at her angelically. He was Eric fucking Northman, not some punk ass bitch. He had two hundred years to plan her destruction. He’d been raised on war and she was completely out of her depth. He could play the long game better than anyone alive and she was never going to see it coming. Once he was free of this obligation, it was over. He'd never be a slave again. 

His wife had begun speaking and he dutifully tuned in.

‘Who are you?’ she'd asked the girl standing in front of her.

The tiny, pink clad girl held her purse in front of her like a shield and stammered as she answered the Queen. ‘I’m a waitress.’ She answered.

‘Yes, you are. But I asked who you are, not what you are.’

The words,‘I am a waitress’ battered Eric’s brain. Through the sheer force of his substantial will, he didn’t react to the small terrified voice.

‘I'm sorry…my name is Sylvie.’ she answered, her small voice shaking.

Eric nearly threw up. Barely leased rage warred with his control.

‘Sylvie, is that short for Sylvia?’ The Queen asked, imperiously.

‘Yes.’ Sylvie answered.

‘I am Freyda, Queen of Oklahoma. When you speak to me, you are to address me as Your Majesty. Is that clear?’

Startled by the claim, the girl stared in confusion at ‘Her Majesty,’ then realized that the Vampire was waiting for her to answer.

‘Yes.’ She mumbled, then remembering she mumbled, ‘I mean, yes, Your Majesty.’

‘Very good.’ The Queen mocked her in sing song. ‘Sylvia, do you know why you are here?’

‘No! Your…Majesty.’ the tiny girl burst out, stumbling over the moniker, then began to ask rapid fire questions.

The Queen held her hand up silencing the girl. ‘You do not speak, unless spoken to, Sylvia.’

His wife, gestured at him, her enormous wedding ring glinting on her finger and went on, ‘This is my consort. Do you know what a consort is?’ she asked the girl.

Sylvie didn’t answer the Queen; she was lost in her panicked thoughts. 'This is America!  We don’t have Queens of Oklahoma, in America!’ 

The Vampire standing next to Sylvia grasped her by the arm and shook her. He repeated the Queen's question to her.

Sylvie looked up at, Freyda, ‘I'm sorry, no. I do not know what a consort is...Your Majesty.’ she finished hurriedly.

‘A consort is a sort of ‘husband,’ Sylvia. This, is my...husband.’ She said, gesturing at Eric with the gaudy wedding ring and refusing to look at him. ‘He’s become bored this evening and is in need of...entertainment.’

Eric projected an attitude of relaxed joviality as his wife blathered incessantly on, but he was raging. 

How the fuck, did she know about Sylvie. How the fuck did they find a blond waitress named Sylvie?’  

This entire exercise had been organized to keep him off balance, remind him of his place here, and threaten his family.

The assemblage had snickered while his wife had explained, the word, consort. The more she'd talked the clearer she'd made it that he was her subordinate, not her equal. Nothing more than an ornamental seat warmer. He did his best to look unaffected as the words rained around him. He tried harder not to let any of them land on him.

Show no weakness.’ He chanted, wresting back his control.

‘Oh.’  Sylvie replied, looking embarrassed for him.

'Great, just what he needed. Sympathy from a girl he was about to murder.'  he bristled.

Her reply had brought another round of snickers and muffled laughter from the room and the slight girl began to shift her weight back and forth on her feet. 

‘Almost time now,’ he thought, uncomfortably. He wasn’t completely sure how the rest of this charade was going to play out, he only knew that he had to make his part in it convincing.

He didn’t want his reaction to make an impression on his wife.  He never wanted her to use this as an "entertainment" again. 'No mercy. No weakness. No glamour, he chanted. 

‘Yes, oh.’ The Queen smiled mocking both Eric and Sylvia. ‘I don’t suppose you have any special talents or qualities with which to amuse us?’ She said, with feigned interest.

‘I…I…I’m sorry, I don’t understand.’  Sylvie replied, confused.

‘A talent, Sylvia.’ The Queen snapped at her; the amusement in her tone gone. ‘Do you, play piano? Sing? Dance? Act, maybe? A talent child! Speak up! And Sylvia, I don’t suggest you omit my title again.’

‘No, Your Majesty.’ The girl answered quickly. 

Sylvia reminded herself that she'd taken a few piano lessons when she’d been a small child, but she'd hated it. She'd wanted to be outside playing softball and tag in the sunshine with her friends. She'd loved to play tag. Her mother had relented eventually, after a lot of nagging, and Sylvie had been allowed to join the softball team in her neighborhood then.

'I'd been really good.' she remembered.

‘Well, that is a shame,’ The Queen said, snidely. ‘That is going to bring us to our conclusion much sooner than we expected.’  

She gestured at Eric with her ridiculous wedding ring and he rose from his 'throne' and stalked down the dais toward the girl. The sickening dread of what he was about to do settled into his stomach, but it couldn't be helped. 'This is it. No mercy, no tenderness. It won’t last long anyway.’

The girl tried to bolt, but she was held fast.  

‘Where had they found her?’ he wondered, as he went to her.

His fangs descended while he prowled toward her. She whimpered and wanted to run, but his eyes caught hers and pinned her in place with his will. Wrapping a hand around the base of her neck, he pulled her viciously to him and enfolded her tightly in his arms. He made a production of examining the girl, running his hand through her silky hair and dragging her scent audibly through his nostrils. He sent a wave of blissful satisfaction and desire at his wife, to thank her for this gift when laughter rumbled through the room in appreciation of his inspection. When it got quiet again, he pierced the girls throat and groaned in animated ecstasy when her hot blood hit his tongue.

Sylvie began to struggle in earnest, pushing at him uselessly with the arm that wasn’t clutching her purse. She tried to scream when she realized that she wouldn’t be able to pry herself loose, but no sound escaped her wounded throat. She dropped her purse and began to claw at him in earnest, but he shook her violently and she stilled. He hadn't killed anyone through feeding in a long time. 

‘She is nearly drained already.’ He realized and thought,‘So tiny.’ 

It broke something in him to think he was murdering this girl for no reason. For just a moment he considered leaving her just enough blood to survive. He clamped down on the emotion immediately and rejected the idea. There wouldn’t be a chance for him to speak to her. If she did survive, he couldn’t risk the human authorities getting involved. If the authorities got involved there'd be real retribution. It was her, or someone he loved. 

'It's best to make it quick and clean.’  he resolved, shutting his emotions down tight.

It hadn’t even been a full minute since he's left his throne. When he coldly dropped the tiny body to the gleaming marble, it made an audible smack. He didn’t know how he’d kept himself from flinching at the sound. He was a Vampire, not a heartless monster. He wanted to stand in front of his wife, shove a finger down his throat and vomit the girls blood out of him and all over her.

Instead, he said, ‘My Queen’ as he approached her, ‘I thank you, most sincerely. How thoughtful you are.’ Stopping to bow deeply.

He didn’t wait for her permission to rise. While he climbed the dais stairs, he sent the most scandalous, the most lascivious, sensations at her, then sat down on his own throne.

She watched, nearly incredulous as he sat without her permission.

He licked his lips and promised her with his eyes that he was going to have her howling his name like a bitch in heat before the sun rose today.

Freyda, Queen of Oklahoma, glared at her husband so hard, that if she’d been a Witch instead of a Vampire, ice crystals would have formed on him.

Even when she really wanted to, she just couldn’t find fault with Eric Northman’s court manners.

The way he spoke to her rankled, but it was entirely proper. Therefore, she had no cause to complain about it.

It’s as if I perpetually amuse him.’  She seethed, and squirmed in her seat unable to take her eyes off of his tongue. 'I hate him!'

Shifting on her throne and fidgeting with the new wedding ring she’d purchased recently, her attendants hauled the body of that detestable little wretch out of her hall.

Meanwhile, Eric sat regally on his throne, looking as cool as a cucumber.

No one the wiser that he tortured her endlessly with his outrageous flirting. The effect had on her body, was what she hated the most about him.

Anyone watching them would never suspect that those perfect courtly manners were a simply a guise to mock.

It was infuriating.

She flicked a sidelong glance at him. There he was, looking like he was having the time of his life and it just pissed her off.

‘What was it going to take to bring this damn Viking to heal!’ she wondered.

Her hand’s balled into involuntary fists.

‘He hadn’t gotten a single drop of blood on that damn suit. He looked delicious in that suit! Everything had gone just the way she’d planned for it to, so why was she so angry?’ she whined.

She needed to calm down. She was merely over stimulated by all of the shifting emotions and sensations he kept flinging at her. She huffed out a breath pressed her thighs together and shifted uncomfortably on her throne again.

'Fucking blood bond.' she swore.

 

***

 

 

It had been hours before he’d finally been able to take leave of his wife.

He’d been made to stand attendance, a pace behind her, for most of the evening while they wandered through the assemblage greeting her subjects. It was tedious and he was miserable, so he'd made sure his wife was as uncomfortable as he was. He'd attacked his wife's senses unrelentingly with wave after wave of sensuous thoughts and feelings all evening.  When she couldn’t take it anymore, she took her leave, dragging her along with him. 

He'd nearly howled in victory as she said, 'Come.' expecting him to follow.

So he had.

Then, he’d fucked the cantankerous bitch for hours, never allowing her a release. When he finally felt the dawn coming, he spilled himself on her sheets leaving her in a frustrated heap on the ruined bed. He wasn’t going to have time to shower and rid himself of the accursed bitch’s scent before the day came on, which meant he was going to have to Febreeze the hell out of his bed in the evening, but it gave him satisfaction to know that at least his bed was clean while, hers was not.

He fell, exhausted into his clean bed and lay there with his arms folded behind his head, feeling pleased with his evenings work.

It was only moments before the sun would rise, so he allowed himself to think of her.

Tan skin, golden hair that smelled like sunshine, those breasts.

'Those breasts are everything…' he thought.

Then, he was dead for the day.

Chapter Text

Bon Temps

 

After Pam left, I excused myself for a moment, then found myself standing in front of the bathroom mirror.

‘Good lord, is that really what I look like?’ I thought, tiredly.

I stared at my reflection skeptically, then told it, ‘Well honey, if you're going to do this, you have a lot of work to do beforehand. You can’t go through eternity with those eyebrows.’

I leaned closer, as if the mirror could reveal something I wasn’t already seeing and knew that Karin was right. I had questions and they all lead to second thoughts.

Admittedly, I hadn’t expected them this soon.

Staring harder I waited for the answers to questions I hadn’t asked yet to come and really looked at myself.

'Okay…’ I thought, confronting my nervousness. (I knew in my bones, that I was going through with this no matter how nervous I was.)

‘You’re nervous, even though all of your reasons for not doing this before, no longer exist?’ I asked my reflection.

It nodded.

‘What are you nervous about?’ I asked.

My reflection shrugged.

The first time I met ‘Karin the Slaughterer’ I understood immediately why that was her name. You could see in her eyes and demeanor that Karin was a warrior. 

'Stone cold killer, you mean…’ my reflection thought at me.

I ignored that assessment.

When you saw Pam and Karin side by side, it was easy to mistake them as one in the same because of their perceived similarities. One had a tendency to assume they shared the same interests, or opinions based on their looks and the way they mimicked each other. It was something the pair had worked to perfect and had used to their best advantage many times. It took a while, but after you got to know them it was easy to see the ways they were different.

Karin had spent a year guarding and protecting me after…after Eric. In the beginning, she’d stayed in the woods, but eventually we’d begun to visit with each other. I’d bring her NeuBlood in the evenings or have her sleep in the safe space under my house, if it was going to rain all day. I got to know her a little during that time. Not well, but enough so we'd become familiar with each other ways. She’d never warmed up to Sam, but she and I had been cordial.

When the year was up, she left. It wasn’t long until she was back though.

The Hep-V crisis started and fighting the war, side by side with her when it had inevitably come to Bon Temps, had cemented our respect for one another.

After the war, whenever she was in town, she’d come to see me and that was when we became friendly with each other.

With Pam, it'd been totally different. It took me no time at all to befriend Pam and discover that she was a pastel twin-set wearing, wise cracking, foul mouthed, nightmare from hell, when she's in a good mood and the rest of the time, she was downright scary. The thing about my relationship with Pam was, we’d understood each other straight off. We trusted each other. Pam and I bonded the way sisters do. We protected each other, fought with each other, saved each other’s lives. We shopped together, we got on each other’s nerves, we had each other’s back.

'How could I have forgotten all of this? We were tight. Family tight…even then.’ I reminded myself.

The separation that existed between us recently, was a testament to how messed up everything had gotten.

So, I was nervous for good reasons, because I was about to change my whole life, my existence, but maybe it was kind of silly to be nervous too.

I didn't really know a lot about what any of that meant yet, but I knew two things for sure. I wanted this family and I didn’t want to be a killer.

‘Too late about that last bit...’  My reflection mocked. ‘You know what you mean…’ I countered, testily.

I pulled myself out of my reverie, and heaved a sigh.

(I’d learned that word from my word of the day calendar a few years ago.)

I gave my cheeks a pinch to get a little color going in my face and stared to see if it'd make any difference.

It didn't.

‘A lot of work.’  I sighed, flipping the light off as I left the bathroom. 

Karin was waiting for me in the kitchen. The papers she’d given me earlier were laid out on the table. I made myself a PBJ and warmed another bottle of Neu Blood, handing the bottle to Karin after the ding and shake. I sat down at the table next to her, took a big bite out of my sandwich and mentally got ready to work.

Karin took the barest sip of her NeuBlood, set it down and said, ‘We must talk about Eric now.’

I nearly choked to death on my PBJ.

‘Also,' she plowed on, like she'd just said, sky is blue, grass is green, 'I'll explain to you the reason for all this secrecy. Okay?’

Somehow, I didn’t suffocate and valiantly forced the bite of sandwich down my throat, while I prepared myself for a conversation about Eric.

For a long time, I’d refused to even think about Eric.

'I was thinking about him now though.’ I thought, clearing my throat and rubbing at the hollow in my neck as if it would help.

I’d been really young when I was with Eric and like all young women, I’d had certain romantic notions of what life and relationships were supposed to be. I’d learned a lot since being with Eric. 

'All grown up now…’ I sighed.

Karin watched as every thought Sookie had since she’d said Eric’s name, rapid fired through her brain, then landed in her changing expressions.

'Well, this isn’t good.’ She frowned. Usually Sookie had a decent poker face, but the subject matter had obviously struck a nerve. 'Better to have it out then.’ She decided.

Sookie swallowed hard, then cleared her throat again. Finally, she got a drink of water. When she sat back down at the table, Karin took this as her cue to begin.

Casting a quick glance at the clock on the wall, Karin calculated how much time she'd have before she got started. This was going to be a very long conversation and she didn’t want to have to stop then start again tomorrow evening, so, she organized topics of discussion in order of importance. This way, she could stay focused and make it all the way through what she needed to tell Sookie. Maybe it was unrealistic to think they'd get through everything in one conversation, but she was going to try.

‘As you know, Eric had a few conditions, or wishes written into his renegotiated marriage contract with Freyda after Ocella died. In return for receiving these wishes, he agreed to a 200-year marriage contract instead of the customary 100 years. Do you remember?’ Karin asked.

Karin always said Freyda’s name like a curse, I realized.

‘I do.’ I answered with a nod. ‘How could I forget.’  I thought.

‘These boons, were…

-Permission to give Sam the money to bail you out of jail.

-None of your family or friends come to harm by hand, or decree of any Vampire.

-That you not be badgered, harassed, tasted, made a servant, or killed by any Vampire or decree of any Vampire.

She’d ticked the list off precisely, as the last time Sookie had heard it.

‘What Eric was asserting with these conditions, was that you must not be made Vampire, or blood slave. As Eric is Felipe’s subject, Felipe and any subject of his, or anyone in his employ would be tasked with upholding the stipulations in the contract as it is a legal and binding agreement under Vampire law. Understand?’  Karin asked. While she waited for Sookie’s reply she thought of Jason and wondered not for the first time if his death was a violation of the contract.

I nodded my understanding and my thoughts drifted back to that day. 

Karin went on, ‘Eric, no matter what the circumstances were, still considered you his own at the time of those negotiations, Sookie. Pam and I both believe unequivocally, that if it had been within his power to do so, he would have set Freyda aside and stayed with you.’ She confided.

I sniffed at this. ‘Not ready to believe that yet.’ I resisted stubbornly.

Karin saw Sookie reject that statement and that was okay. Before she was finished this evening, she’d get the chance to make a stronger case for her Maker.

‘It’s been explained to you how Ocella obligated Eric and because of that, we're where we're at now. You must accept now, that Eric couldn’t go against Ocella’s wishes. Going against your Maker’s wishes is serious offense to the Maker. You'll understand more about that later.’ She let that last statement sink in for a moment before she went on.

‘Technically, I'll be going against my Makers wishes when I taste your blood, then kill you, then turn you. As Eric’s Progeny, I am willfully, with full knowledge and purpose disobeying him as he will not have had previous knowledge that your wishes or intentions have changed. Pam and I are not permitted to have contact with Eric, so we're unable to let him know, that circumstances have changed. Be that as it may, he'd still be within his rights as my Maker to kill me on the spot, no matter what your wishes are simply because I'd disobeyed him.’ She said candidly. ‘Further, if it were to become common knowledge that Pam and I had gone against him, it would be an embarrassment to him, undermining any position of authority he may have been able to establish for himself within Oklahoma’s court. Things there are not easy for him.’ She admitted. 

Astounded with the amount of information I’d just received without having to drag it out of anyone, I considered what she'd said, trying to make sense of it. I didn’t even know what to ask her about first. I landed on, ‘Neither one of you are able to contact him?’

‘No.’ Karin answered shortly, going back to what she felt was the main point of her disclosure. ‘Think of how it would appear, in this political climate, if Eric were unable to protect you with his word, from his own Progeny.’

I was out of the loop, politically. Well, I’d never really been in the loop to be honest. Pam, Karin, and I never spoke of politics when we visited. Eric had never been concerned with politics from what I could discern and Bill had always been secretive about his business, even when we were dating. I didn’t know what was going on in my own bar from day to day let alone Vampire politics.

'Still, it can’t be that serious.' I thought, and started to argue the point. ‘But, we can’t know for sure...’

Karin cut me off.

‘It isn’t a chance we can take, Sookie. He's alone in Oklahoma. He's vulnerable. The last thing he needs now is to appear weak to that den of vipers. The last he or anyone knew, you were adamant about never transitioning. It would be a political disaster for him. More importantly, it would be a disaster for you.’ She said pointing at me.

‘What? Why me?’ I squeaked!

I'd distracted myself from the fact that Karin was right, by focusing on the wrong thing.

‘Because of Felipe,’ Karin answered vaguely, feeling only a bit guilty at her omission. 

‘Crap…’  I said. I'd nearly forgotten about Felipe.

‘Yes. Felipe is a concern.’ Karin said. 

There was more Sookie had to fear, but now was not the time to reveal it.

‘Now you know why I don’t want you to tell anyone. It's for all of these reasons and a few more that we're going to keep your transition a secret.’ she added.

Mostly, Karin was trying to keep all of them out of a war. If she were cleaver, she might succeed, but she might also end up dead. She was taking a huge risk with this plan, but she had to in order take to keep all of them from meeting the True Death, in some insane plot to rule the world.

I huffed out a breath and pursed my lips. 'How had I forgotten that life with Vampires was full of this kind of intrigue?'  The question was rhetorical. I knew how I’d forgotten. I’d stopped thinking altogether and turned into a robot, programmed to do one thing. Grieve. ‘Second thoughts anyone? Nope...'  I thought, then answered sarcastically.

‘How are we going to do that?’ I asked, bringing us back to the topic at hand.

Karin said, ‘We'll talk more about that in a few minutes, I promise. If you let me get all of this out, almost all of your questions will be answered by the time I am done. Okay?’ she asked.

I shrugged and nodded.

Karin began again, ‘So, you already know I'd do anything for Eric and Pam. Standing in this very kitchen on one of our worst days, I could practically taste Pam’s disappointment when you brought up the subject of Eric’s intentions for you. I didn’t know you then and honestly, I’d been astonished by Pam’s reaction to the whole thing. You know Pam as well as I do, she hides everything. You don’t see anything she doesn’t want you to see. That was one of the only times in our long existence that I’ve seen her not fully in control of her emotions, until today. Pam is gruff, cynical, and she has many other dour qualities, but she has genuine affection for you. So much so, she fought me tooth and nail on coming to you with this proposal. She couldn’t allow herself to consider the possibility that you might say yes, because she couldn’t face the disappointment again if you said no. So please understand when I say it’s critical that we do this correctly. This entire family’s happiness is riding on your successful, secret transition. Not to put too much pressure on it.’  She finished, grinning at me. 

I’d never heard Karin speak with so much conviction, so, I shut my mouth and turned over what she’d said. 

‘Everyone’s happiness… And Felipe.’  I pondered.

I despised Felipe de Castro. He was always messing in my life. If it were not for Felipe, who knew how things would be right now.

'All of this, is Felipe’s fault!'  I railed. 'He could've easily put an end to that marriage! One of these days, I'm going to kill Felipe. Okay, just stop, you are getting off topic.’ I scolded myself.

Karin waited patiently for me ponder all that she’d said, but suddenly, as if she’d just remember it, she blurted out, ‘…also, Pam knows that eventually Eric will punish us for this. We're talking about Pam after all, and…Eric.’

Karin laughed as if that were the most hilarious thing ever so I laughed nervously as well and asked, ‘Do you really think that it will matter after a few decades?’

Karin sobered instantly, her answer was a pointed glare that screamed, ‘Yes.’

'Well, there's something to think about.' I worried.

‘It’s important that we stick to the plan and that everything goes exactly according to that plan.' she said. 'If anything happens to you because Pam and I screw it up, there will be hell to pay and before the hell is over, we'll wish we were dead.’ Karin imparted cryptically, then sipped her NeuBlood.

Why had I never considered what the particulars of Eric’s marriage contract meant before? It was awkward to hear it now, years removed from the stress of the situation. As Karin recited the list back to me, it was all at once clear to me, that he'd done his best to secure my safety. Why hadn’t it been so obvious to me then? I wondered what would have happened to Sam and I, Jason and Michele, my friends, during the Hep-V war if he hadn’t thought to protect us. I swallowed the lump that was forming in my throat and tried to move away from the painful memories. 

‘I need to say this to you.’ Karin said, setting her bottle down. ‘I’ve told you lot of things tonight. I’ve given you information and instructions. I’ve spoken to you about several different people tonight, but I have not spoken to you about myself.’

I tilted my head at her curiously. ‘What do you mean?’ I asked.

‘I want you to understand a few things. You're important to me. You know it’s true, because you'd be dead otherwise. I wouldn’t have asked you to do this if I didn’t…love…you. You should know, that I'm looking forward to the time when we're as close as two creatures can be. I’m not doing this for Eric or Pam. I am doing it because of our family. Our family unit is much more important than any one person in it, but it isn’t complete without you. Understand? None of us will be happy until we're all working and living together, complete. We’ve been separated for far too long and we’ve suffered because of it. I'm tired of it. Now that Ocella has met the final death, Eric has honored his obligation, and you've agreed to join us, we may be able to have some peace, finally.'

'If we're mindful, careful, and very, very smart.’  She thought to herself. 

Tears were standing in my eyes, but I was smiling. ‘At least they were happy tears, finally.’ I sniffled.

Karin, not understanding frowned at me.

I shrugged, and through my watery smile I said, ‘I am looking forward to that too.’

Karin nodded slowly, waiting to see if I was going to say anything else.

I didn’t.

When she saw that I wasn't going to cry, Karin said, ‘Well, I’ve explained the basics. I’ve made clear my motivation. I promised you information and this was the start of it. I hope that you'll want to continue on. Do you have any questions for me?’

I’d taken exactly one bite out of my PBJ when I'd set it aside and reached for the napkin holder note pad, in order to jot down my questions. I hadn’t written down a single question. I hadn't really expected Karin to be so forthcoming with the information. In my experience, you needed dynamite and a team of horses to get information out of Vampires. As a rule, they never shared important details or talked about their feelings with humans. That had all flown right out the window tonight. All we'd been doing for hours was talking about feelings. I did have a few questions though. It just took me a second to decide which one to ask first. I decided to start with the most obvious one.

‘How are we supposed to keep Eric, Felipe, Freyda, hell, everyone from finding out what we’ve done?’ I asked. 

Karin smiled, ‘Excellent question. I haven’t cohabited or shared blood with Eric in over 300 years. We still have a blood bond, but it is very weak. At most, only very strong emotion, such as meeting the True Death would reach him. For this reason and because Pam is the Sheriff and has Willa, it makes more sense for me to be your Maker. Not that I didn’t want to do it, mind you, but because Eric won’t sense that I have shared Making, is my point. Do you understand?’ she explained.

‘Yes.' I answered quickly and moved on. 'What should I know about being your Progeny? Have you been a Maker before?’ 

‘Eric released me after I'd been with him 283 years so that I could become a Maker. Several decades after that I married.’ Karin answered her matter-of-factly. 

My mouth popped open in an O of surprise. 

‘But…where are your Spouse, and Progeny?’ I demanded, in shock!

‘My wife and son, haven’t been with me for some time now.’ She answered.

I blinked at the news. ‘Oh my God, Karin, I am so sorry! What happened?’ I demanded again.

‘Sookie, I promise I'm going to tell you everything, but I'm asking you for right now, just let that explanation be enough.’  She answered.

Now was not the time to go into why Nuri and Reider weren’t with her.

‘Oh! Of course. I’m so sorry.’ I blushed, looking at my lap, to give us a moment to get past the awkwardness.

Karin dipped her head, ‘It’s okay. Let’s get back to your first question, as parts of it tie in with your second question. Okay?’ She pressed forward. 

‘Sure.’ I accepted and waited for her to explain.

Karin pushed her chair away from the table a little getting more comfortable.

‘Okay,’ she began again, ‘As for what to expect as my Progeny. You should understand, that privately our relationship is going to be vastly different than that of other Makers and Progeny. We're going to accomplish this different relationship, by honoring our first objective of keeping you safe and a secret, until it is time for you not to be.’ She explained, then paused before going on.

‘This was where things were going to get prickly. Eric isn’t in love with Sookie because she’s an idiot.' she reminded herself. 'Stick to the script, don’t show too much of your hand just yet. Be honest, concise, and to the point…you got this.’ She thought, coaching herself, then finished answering the question.

‘You won’t be registering with the New Authority or the Archivist. Obviously.’ Karin explained.

‘Obviously…’ I parroted back like she was crazy. ‘How is that going to work, Karin? If I'm discovered, which let’s just face it, I will be and I'm not registered, wont that be some of the ‘hell to pay’ you mentioned earlier?’ 

Even though the war was more than four years in the past, the New Authority, was still in the process of rebuilding. So was the VLA. The New Authority, much like the ‘old Authority’ was the law, or rather the Congress of the new "Supernatural Nation." The old Authority had governed Vampires only. The New Authority was made up of Vampires, the Two Natured, and humans. It governed all known Supernatural kind. All humans in America who were going to transition, either by choice or attack had to inform the New Authority, apply for a license, and then register with the Archivist. The new Authority had implemented this policy when the government of The United States of America insisted on it, after it became clear that, even though the Sanguinist regime responsible for the Hep-V war had been defeated, there were still Sanguinist sympathizers trying to rebuild their base. The United States surmised, that it would keep people from being turned against their will by the Sanguinists in order to boost their numbers. Becoming a Vampire had become so technical after the war, that now, the only legal way to turn someone whose life was in mortal peril, was if they’d already applied for a license to transition or it had been specifically written into their living will. It was illegal for Were's to turn human's at all. Additionally, the Were's had been forced to use government approved "sanctuaries" during the full moon. It was illegal for Were's to transition anywhere else. As most Shifters weren't predators, so, the laws were a little less restrictive, but their was a Bill before congress at the moment that if signed into law, would make it illegal for Shifters to marry or have children with non-Shifters. Obviously, I thought that was bullshit. According to the news, the ‘registration program’ was fraught with civil rights stumbling blocks, but until everything made it through the courts, it was the law. In order to discourage the law breakers, the punishment for breaking the laws had gone from spending time in silver to the True Death in some states. So, I knew at least that much about politics. 

‘We won't be staying in Louisiana…or America.’  Karin answered softly.

‘What?’ I blurted, immediately freaking out! 'What does she mean by, won't be staying? ' 

'Just…wait a minute. We need to slow things waaay down. What about my bar, my friends, my house?' I asked, frantically.

Karin calmly watched my mini breakdown, not answering me.

‘I know, that I'm being unreasonable, but you don’t have to look so calm while I’m losing my shit.’ I tossed at her.

‘What would you like me to do instead?’ Karin asked. ‘You'll either come to terms with it or you won’t. You’ve already made the decision to make changes with or without us, so what is the problem now?’ she asked reasonably.

‘Well…first of all, it’s one thing to think about leaving my life, another to actually make the decision, and another still to actually do it! Also, we're talking about death, if we're caught.' I coughed out, and began to giggle hysterically. 'I mean, depending on where we're caught!’ I amended, jumbling over the words as I tried to gush them out all at once.

The scope of what I was about to do, settled itself on me all at once. Execution was real concern and it had just smacked me right in the head and stolen all of my good sense. Two hundred years was a long damn time to live away from home with the certainty of True Death if you were caught. I sucked in a deep breath, while I shook my hands out and rolled my neck. No way that would ever happen. 

Woooow! Tonight, was craaaaazy!’ 

One more cleansing breath and I was back, or at least I'd managed to silence the maniacal giggling.

‘Yes. Okay, I do want this.’ I reassured the both of us, taking the bull by the horns. 

Karin lifted a skeptical brow at me in challenge.

‘Whatever...' I cracked at her, 'I’d like to see how well you handled it if someone told you that everything, you’d ever known in your entire life was about to disappear, but don’t worry you’ll see it again in 200 years...maybe...if we aren’t executed for breaking the law.’ I snorted stubbornly, but grinned at her, trying to keep it light.

A shadow passed across Karin’s face and the grin faded.

‘Crap! I keep doing that!’ I chastised myself. I wanted to ask her what I’d done, but the shadow had been fleeting, so, I let it go, getting back to our conversation.

‘How does not registering keep me safe? Wait…’ I waived a confused hand at her, ‘Never mind, I get it. Stupid question.’

I was still rattled, so I shook my hands out, rolling my neck again trying to clear my head. ‘Deep breath, try again.’ I coaxed.

‘Calm down, it’s okay,’ Karin smiled, and explained anyway, ‘It keeps both you and Eric safe and I guarantee you, we won’t be executed for breaking the law. We're the family of Eric Northman, consort of the Queen of Oklahoma. A political disaster maybe, but no execution.' 

'Not exactly a lie, or deception.'  She clarified to herself, 'We're more likely to die fighting our way clear of the New Authority.' 

None of them would sit dociley and wait for execution. The idea was absurd. She ran the list of things she should probably mention during the next part of the discussion, but after the reaction she’d just gotten wasn’t sure it was wise. She should probably mention the part about having to swear fealty to Felipe if they were discovered and that she may not retain her telepathy, in which case several other things didn’t matter. The entire point of the mission was to get this family out from under the Authority, the VLA, the monarchy, and the Karaftu (which no one seemed to believe existed yet).

The Karaftu was definitely, real and the war was coming, it was only a matter of time. The plan was to keep all of them out of it.

She concluded she wouldn’t bring these things up just yet. The war was a critical omission, but it wasn't like she was never going tell Sookie about it. She would, just not right now. Furthermore, when the time came, Sookie would understand why it had to be this way. So would Pam and so would Eric.

Besides, the fairy princess would probably figure it all out on her own anyway. She usually did. She focused and got back to the conversation,

'Now, I want you to hear me out before you ask any more questions. I promise we will get to all of it and I will answer most of them if you just let me talk for the next few minutes. It’s starting to get late. I can last for a while after the sun rises, but it’s difficult.’  Karin said.

‘Okay, but my Adrenalin is kicking and it’s going to give me a headache.’ I confessed, and got up to take some aspirin. 

Karin talked while Sookie shuffled around the kitchen, ‘Okay then. We're leaving the county before you transition, with the intent to live in the old way. It simply means that we're going to disappear into the world and live in the way Vampires were intended to live. Off grid, is the hip new term for it. No more of this ridiculous Mainstreaming.’  She said. 

I nodded, thinking about what ‘off grid’ meant, exactly, and popped the Tylenol in my mouth. I sat down, sipped the water I'd brought with me, and tuned in.

‘Eric, and Pam were forced into Mainstreaming almost 30 years ago, but we all prefer to live in the old way. No matter what you’ve heard them say in support of Mainstreaming in the past, they hate it. From what you might have heard in the news, you may relate this attitude with Sanguinist leanings. Nothing could be further from the truth, but you can’t convince anyone of that when it comes up in conversation. Sanguinist, are religious nut jobs, we're not. All you really need to know right now, is that we prefer to live our lives without affiliation. Legally, that's considered anarchy now. So, you can see why it's important that you don’t discuss your intention to transition with anyone, especially, Bill Compton. He mustn't learn any of this, because he's the Archivist. Furthermore, as Felipe’s regent, he'd be duty bound to report us. Personally, I find the entire Archive thing abhorrent. Also, ever since the Lilith debacle, Bill identifies himself to everyone he meets as a staunch Mainstreamer. Honestly, I have no idea how he came out of all that destruction sitting so pretty.' she disgustedly, forgetting to keep her tone neutral when it came to Bill.    

I'd listened intently while Karin had explained off grid. She'd said most it like she had a bad taste in her mouth. I didn't realize that she disliked Bill so much. I disagreed with her a little about the Archive. I’d used it to save Bill’s life after the Fae war, so it had its benefits. I understood where she was coming from mostly, but it was going to be difficult to leave and not say goodbye to anyone.

Karin noticed my distraction and asked, ‘Ready to move on?’

‘Sorry, yeah, I just got a little caught up in my thoughts.’ I apologized.

She waved it off, 'No need. It's a lot to think about. I want to talk about the foundation of our relationship. I told you at the beginning of this conversation that it will be different…’

‘Vastly, different.’ I interrupted.

‘Yes.' she agreed.

Karin had been serious throughout our discussion so far, but now she looked extra serious. I braced myself for whatever it was she was about to say.

‘For the initial transitional adjustment period into your Vampire life, all aspects of your personal happiness will be decided by you, Sookie. It generally lasts anywhere from 18 to 24 months. You'll decide where we live and for how long. You'll decide our lifestyle, however frugal or lavish, with the exception that we don't Mainstream. You'll decide if you wish to exist only on NeuBlood, hunting human blood, using human donors, bagged blood or all four. Generally speaking, you won’t know what you prefer, until after you transition. The point is, I'll have zero input into your feeding habits, with the exception of teaching you and you'll have zero input into mine. Understood?’ She asked seriously. 

I don’t know what I'd expected this part of the conversation to be about, but I was sure it couldn’t have been this.

Taken completely by surprise, I nodded an enthusiastic ‘Yes!’ I liked the sound of all of that. I liked it a lot. Instantly, I was a hell of a lot calmer.

‘However...’ Karin said.

‘Oh, crap…here it comes.’ I frowned.

‘What?’ she asked. ‘What’s with the frown?’ 

‘Nothing…’ I avoided defensively.  

‘It’s not a big deal, I promise.' she soothed, 'It’s just that for your initial transition period, you know…while you're learning how to be a Vampire, you'll need to be governed by me. Well, guided, is a better word. It's going to take time for you to acclimate yourself to Vampire life. All I ask, is that during this period you adhere to my requests, so you don’t accidentally, you know...get us killed.’ Karin said, stone faced, even though her eyes were twinkling amusement.

I knew she was teasing me, but what she'd said was serious as well. During the course of this conversation, I'd begun to have a better understanding of what the roll of Maker entailed. Karin was literally going to be my parent, because I was going to be her responsibility. Her actions were going to set loose what was essentially the predator inside of me. If what was traditionally true about baby Vampires held true for me as well, I'd be as unruly as a toddler who had been given and entire bottle Coca-Cola.

'She's right.' I thought, in turn acknowledging my responsibility to her, 'If I didn’t behave, I'd probably get us killed. The stakes were high.’ I snorted at the pun, releasing a little tension.  

It was going to be strange to have a ‘parent like’ figure in my life again. I relished the security I already felt, that feeling that you only had when there was family you could turn to.

I drifted dreamily through these thoughts not realizing that Karin had stopped talking and watched intently while I puzzled through these things. ‘Sorry,’ I grinned, giving her my attention.

She quirked a quick smile in return and not missing a beat said, ‘As your maker, I am financially responsible for you until the time of your release. All expenses you incur, will be taken care of by me. I am your Maker. This is my responsibility and isn’t open for debate.’

She said it like a declaration and just as I was a minute ago, I was startled by it, but didn't have time to absorb it because there was more.

‘You'll maintain control of and access to your own accounts, assets, and businesses. You can spend your money at your discretion, but your expenses will be my responsibility. I won't access your accounts, except as power of attorney in cases of emergency, such as you meet the final death. This is one of the major differences I told you about, setting us apart from other Maker/Progeny relationships. Normally, Progeny will combine assets with a Maker as soon as possible. We won't.’ 

I started to ask why, but she waved off the question. I accepted it for what it was and continued listening while she plowed ahead.

‘As your Maker, I won't use my power over you to order you, to control you, or to gain access to your private thoughts. I won't force you or order you to use your telepathy for any reason. However, I reserve the right to suspend this in the context of controlling you for safety reasons, but only for your initial transition period. Do you understand what I mean?  She asked. 

‘Yes.' I answered. 'I am not a slave, only a toddler for a period of not more than two years.’ 

‘Exactly,’ Karin laughed.

Nothing she’d said so far, was giving me cause to rethink my decision. On the contrary, I loved what I was hearing. 

My brain took the opportunity to scream, 'EXECUTION!' at me. 'Shut...up...' I thought, pushing the worry away.

‘This isn't a common thing in Maker/Progeny relationships either.' Karin said, keeping me focused. 'Makers generally use their ability to control their Progeny at their will. Eric hasn't been above issuing orders to control Pam or I at times, but he didn’t make a practice of it.’

I nodded and frowning, remembered that I’d seen Eric command Pam before. It wasn’t pretty. It had pissed me off.

‘As your Maker, I won't expect sex from you.’ She said frankly.

‘Oh!’ My eyes went wide with surprise. That was something I hadn't considered at all. I was glad to hear this, as I was not inclined to the same sex. 

‘If at some point, you wish for this to change, we can discuss it, but I'll never demand it of you.’ She reiterated, then said, by way of explanation, ‘I’m not sexually attracted to you in any case.’ 

‘Not sexually attracted to me? ' My vanity protested, shocked by her rejection. 'Am I gross now or something? It isn’t every day that someone tells me that I am not sexually attractive.’ I thought, sourly.

I rubbed a hand over my face wondering, 'What the hell is wrong with you?'  Honestly, as far I was concerned, not being ‘sexually attractive’ to my future Maker should have been another check in the plus column. It wasn't like I had people beating my door down to hop in the sack with me though, so being told that I wasn't sexually attractive stung a little. I had no idea where any of this was coming from. I decided I was slap happy because it was late and I was tired, so I let it go.

‘As your Maker,' Karin continued, pushing through the absurdity rolling through my head, 'I won't take blood from you after our initial exchanges of forming the blood bond and again when you transition, except in the action of maintaining the blood bond if that is something that you wish. What I mean, is that I'll never order you to share your blood with me, or another, for any reason. We won't feed upon one another.’ 

This, was another thing in the plus column. Apparently, I was delicious. Something of a delicacy with my fairy blood and all. It’s weird, but it’s a fact. I was comforted that Karin had taken the time to talk to me about things that, she knew I’d want to talk about. It told me she’d spent time really thinking this through. It told me she understood my reservations and took my human nature into consideration. I had to admit that she’d put my mind at ease in the last few minutes.

‘Do you have anything that you wish to add to this?' she asked.

‘I, don’t know.’ I answered honestly.

‘Well, okay then. I'll have all of this drawn up into a contract to be signed by the both of us before you transition. You'll have plenty of time to think about anything you might want to add before I do. I suggest you ask any question no matter how personal, or frivolous you think it may be over the next several nights. I won’t complete your transition without clear understanding between us and the contract being signed. It's for our safety. Understood?’

She'd been more than thorough. I’d been given insight and information that I’d never expected. I had a lot to think about, but at least I wasn’t getting cold feet. I was at ease. I was also worn out. It had been an intense, emotionally draining evening. Furthermore, hearing Eric’s name so much after having not allowed myself to even think if for so long had been jarring. Truthfully, he’d been low key present in my daily thoughts, since our visit a few weeks ago.

I had no idea before I spoke that it was going to happen, it just came out…‘Is he happy?’ I blurted softly.

‘No.’ she answered bluntly.

That was the end of the evening. I didn’t know how to respond, so I didn’t.

‘I have clean sheets for the guest space, I'll get them for you.’ I said, getting up.

I began to tremble a little as I went about making Karin comfortable. I wasn’t prepared to deal with the fact that Eric wasn’t happy in his life either.

I’d convinced myself he’d been all ‘gung-ho’ to get married to a queen. Now I find out he’s not happy and stuck there for the next 193 years.

'Geeze!' I complained silently.

Karin followed me into the guest room and opened the closet where the guest space Bill had installed and Eric had renovated was located.

Pulling back the rug she opened the trap door and I handed her the sheets.

‘Do you want me to come down and help you get situated?’ I asked.

She leaned forward and pressed a cool kiss on my forehead. ‘I’ve got it.’ She answered, giving me a squeeze.

I smiled, basking in the affection for a moment, then turned to leave. ‘Good night, Karin.’

‘Good night, daughter.’ She answered.

I paused, startled yet again, and looked back at her. She was already down the ladder, the word daughter echoing through the room.

It had been an interesting night. I was long past tired and I really needed to sleep. I left the guest room knowing that there was going to be a million things to do in a few hours and I had the feeling that sleep would be elusive no matter how tired I was. 

'After everything…'  I silently ranted, 'After all of  it, he couldn’t even find a way to be happy.’

I unconsciously stomped my way up the stairs on the way to my room, 'So, he isn’t happy. Big whoop.’ I muttered uncharitably, banging the door to my bathroom open.

I grabbed my toothbrush, squeezed tooth paste on it, then proceeded to scrub angrily at my teeth. 

‘I don’t need to be losing any sleep over this. I'm not the one who divorced him and went off to marry some...royal slut.’ I thought unfairly.

I finished brushing, rinsed off my tooth brush. Slamming it down on the clean vanity, I rinsed my mouth out next, then grabbed the hand towel of the rod, dragged it across my mouth, dried my hands, then stomped over to then bed, pulling my clothes off as I went. I let them hit the floor, not bothering to aim for the hamper.

I didn’t want this to bother me so much, but it did. So, there it was.

I mean, after everything, it was frustrating that neither of us were at the very least satisfied, if not necessarily happy with the decisions we'd made!

I heaved out a sigh that turned into a hard yawn and my jaw nearly cracked.

Sliding into bed naked, I let myself enjoy the feel of my slick, clean sheets and dragged them to my chin, trying to force myself to relax.

Eventually I did.

With the sun beginning to rise over the field behind my house, thoughts of soft, cool, porcelain skin that smelled like moonlight, and silky blond hair floated me off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Bon Temps

 

Persistent, irritating noise harassed me out of comatose sleep. I burrowed deeper into the covers and groaning pulled my pillow over my head in attempt to drown the horrible noise out. It didn’t work, so pried my eyes open and made an attempt to focus while slapping blindly at the alarm clock. I finally whacked it a good one and got up to stumble to the bathroom. I'd only slept about four hours. 

‘Going to throw that damn thing in the trash.’ I muttered, groggily.

Two hours later, I was full of coffee and breakfast, freshly showered and digging through my purse for my keys as I headed out the door.

I reminded myself to turn the deadbolt since Karin was in the house, then pulled my list of errands from between my lips. The screen door slipped through my fingers and I winced as it slammed closed. 

‘First stop,’ I said to no one, ‘the bank.’

I piled my stuff and myself into the car, fastened my seat belt, cranked the engine over and took off for town. At the end of the driveway I rolled down my window and turned on the radio.

I was in a much better mood today.

I mentally scrolled my list as I made the turn onto PR34. As soon I was done at the bank; I was going to have something done about these eyebrows and my hair.

So far, that was the only thing on the list.

I can count on one hand the times I have ever had my hair cut in a beauty salon. Usually I just had Tara clip the ends to keep them healthy.

I finished up at the bank in no time. This day was working for me altogether as there wasn't a line at the bank. I had to go inside to make a withdrawal and oddly I was the only customer inside. The drive through had two or three cars in each lane. So I was in and out of there in a jiff!

I reached the freeway, turned onto the ramp, turned the radio up, put the peddle to the metal and headed off to Shreveport. It had been a long time since I'd enjoyed anything, let alone music, but one of my favorites was on. I sang along as I drove, minding not to go too much over the speed limit. "They call me the breeze, I keep blowin' down the road." 

I arrived at the salon on time, even though I'd been caught up in some construction traffic. I sat down after signing in, picked up a copy of People Magazine and flipped through it while I waited.

Megan and Harry were going to have a baby.

I didn't have to wait long, thankfully.

A tiny girl, at least a foot shorter than me stepped into the waiting area and said, 'Sookie?'

I looked up from Megan's jubilant photo to take in the sight before me. The girl was so tiny, I thought she was Fae at first. The fact that she had sea foam green hair, glittery eyelashes, and shocking pink lipstick may have done something to add to the notion I thought she was a Disney Princess Fairy.

Then, I remembered that it was almost Halloween and I smiled at the girl. 'I love your costume!' I exclaimed and stood up to go with her.

The tiny girl giggled and I swear, it sounded like tiny little bells, or maybe cartoon bubbles bursting. I was immediately enchanted and a wave of happiness washed over me. I true smile erupted out of me and disappeared just as quickly when the girl said, 'Oh! this isn't my costume. I dress like this every day!'

I was so embarrassed. It was still a few weeks before Halloween. 'I'm so sorry! I just assumed.' I choked out.

The girl's face fell, then she smiled quickly and put me at ease saying,

'Oh, please don't be upset. I'm not offended at all. Usually people look at me like I am some kind of freak. I am just glad that my 'look' for today made you happy.'

She'd literally chirped all of that out like a happy little bird. I felt better because honestly, you just couldn't be sad looking at her and I was relieved that I hadn't offended her. 

She sat me down in a special chair that could accommodate her height, leaned it all the way back and got to work on my eyebrows. I learned in the time that it took to wax my eyebrows that her name was Penelope, she graduated top of her class from beauty school, on her days off she read books to children at the library, and she had a Yorkshire Terrier named Barrons, after a character in a book that I thought I might like to try out. 

When she was done, she handed me a mirror and said, 'So, what do you think?'

I looked a ton better already and told her so.

Something strange happened while I thanked her. I felt lighter and happier in the last fifteen minutes than I had in who knew how long! I started telling Penelope how much I appreciated her and why, then all of a sudden, I was getting ‘the works.’ The women in the salon must not have had much to do that day because they flocked around me. There was a flurry of activity in which I just began to agree with whatever they told me I needed. I walked out of that the salon completely exhausted. Every inch of me had been waxed, plucked, steamed, exfoliated, bleached, and tanned. 

It had been a wonderful day! I looked amazing, I ain’t gonna lie though, that Brazilian wax was a real experience. A Brazilian wax is something that you have to prepare yourself for, or so I’d learned. You don’t just decide to get one. You work your way up to it.  ‘Holy mother!’

I smiled a little remembering the time Pam had tried a spray on tan. It had been a disaster. She'd turned bright orange. It had taken me all night with a salt scrub, lemon juice, and vinegar to fix it. She’d sworn me to secrecy on pain of death if I ever told anyone, so there was no way I was ever going to take a chance with spray tan. I was going to get my tan the old-fashioned way. Since there was no longer the threat of skin cancer, I'd decided to go for it. I was going to be the only Vampire around with a glorious, golden tan and sun streaked hair. 

When I paid the salon bill, I almost cried. I used all the cash I'd pulled out of the bank and then had to pull out my credit card. I could have paid all of my monthly bills with what I had just spent on beauty treatments. Tomorrow, it was the dentist.  I actually did cry a little when I thought about what that bill would be.

Driving back into Bon Temps, I'd impulsively stopped at Tara’s. The fact that it was supper time when I pulled up to her house, had escaped my attention so I was embarrassed and felt foolish when JB answered the door and I saw the family sitting at the dining table. I’d tried to leave, but Tara was having none of it. Then I realized JB’s supper was getting cold while I stood there arguing so I relented and came in, but refused the offer of a plate. I did accept a glass of tea though.

‘Sookie! Oh, my goodness, you look awesome!’  Tara had exclaimed.

She'd been gob smacked to learn that I had gone to some ‘hoity toity’ salon in Shreveport, but she complemented my polished appearance lavishly. JB for once minded his manners and didn’t stare. We settle in around the small dining table and the twins told me about T-Ball and Gymnastics and what they were going to be for Halloween and ask Santa for. I couldn’t help but notice how big they had gotten. I alternately played with and fed the baby while Tara talked about the store, town gossip, and Parent Teacher Association. She also enjoyed getting to eat a hot meal for once. JB had been strangely silent throughout dinner and when everyone was finished eating, he started clearing the dishes from the table which surprised me. Tara shooed the twins upstairs and told them to get started on baths while she wiped the baby’s hands with a wet paper towel. The twins mobbed me for hugs, then charged up the stairs making enough noise for a whole heard of children.

Tara handed the baby back to me and continued to talk while she wiped the tray of the high chair down and in those few seconds I knew why I’d stopped by. Tara’s house was just about as normal as any house could get at supper time. I’d come to remind myself what a home looked like and that my life wasn’t just some self-imposed exile. I didn’t know why it had been so important for me to do it today though. Maybe after the salon, I felt more like myself and had to look normalcy in the face one more time just to make sure that I was making the right decision.

I was. This would never ever be my life. So, I kissed the top of the baby’s head and made my peace with it.

I laughed at Tara for fussing at JB who was getting water all over the floor.

He in turn was frustrated with her, but instead of getting fussy back he flicked water off of the ends of his fingertips at her which had her squealing at him to, “Stop it!’ 

I stood up then, ‘I'm going to have to get going.’ I said, laughing at them.

‘No, stay!’ Tara protested. ‘I haven’t seen you in so long.’ She whined.

‘I can’t. Karin’s at the house and it’s getting late. I should get back before she gets up for the night.’ I explained and apologized all together.  

Tara scowled at the name ‘Karin’ and was about to start in on a 10-minute line of questioning.

I stopped her by saying, ‘It’s just a visit, she’s leaving soon.’

Tara looked at me skeptically, but didn’t say anything else.

‘I’m going to come by the store in a few days. I have a few things that I want to shop for.’ I said, knowing this would appease her. ‘We’ll be able to visit more then.’ I promised.

It did.

‘You should! I have things I’ve been holding back for you.’ She confided.

‘It’s a date.’ I smiled. 

I called goodbye to JB who couldn’t hear me over the garbage disposal, but he understood I was leaving and waved goodbye.

I handed the baby to Tara as we walked toward the front door and hugged them tightly before walking out.

‘I'll see you in a few days, Sweetie.’ I said, stepping off of the porch. I waved again when I got to the curb. My best friend, grasped her baby’s pudgy hand and waved back as JB came around the side of the house dragging the trash cans to the curb. I waved some more as I pulled away from the curb and drove home.

The sun had set by the time I pulled into the driveway at home and I knew Karin would be up. It was nice to know that there was someone inside waiting for me. It felt a lot less lonely, that was for sure. I drove around back so I could come in through the kitchen. Karin was indeed awake and waiting for me. She was sitting at the table, in the dark, wearing a short silk robe, and even though I knew she was in the house, she still managed to scare the crap out of me.

‘Jesus Christ Sheppard of Judea!’ I screeched when I flipped the light on, to see her sitting there. 

I hauled in a shaky breath and giggled.

‘Sorry I am late getting back.’ I said, in a rush. ‘Do you want some of this NeuBlood?’

The Vampire who didn’t need to breathe inhaled audibly, ‘Sookie! You look lovely!’ she exclaimed.

I smiled a genuine Sookie smile. Those had been few and far between the last few years, but it seemed I'd been saving them up for today. 

‘Thank you!’ I beamed at her.

I plopped tiredly down in the chair next to her piling my purse, the carton of NeuBlood I carried, and all of my new products from the salon, on the kitchen table.

I started pulling products out of the bags to tell her all about the astronomical sum of money I had spent on them and the horrors of the Brazilian waxing.

We were laughing her ass off when suddenly Karin went on alert. It startled me and I didn’t move or breathe.

‘It’s Bill.’ She mouthed silently at me.

I quickly glanced over at the door and back to Karin. It was clear to her I was about to panic.

She shook her head me, ‘be cool,’ she mouthed. Then told me to smile and be normal, only she’d said all of it with simple body language instead of words.

Bill knocked on the door.

Nodding to let her know I understood I pulled it together in an instant and stood up calling out, ‘Just a sec.’

Bill, was already opening the back door, 'Sookie, sweetheart. I heard you pull in. Is there anything I can help you with?'

I stood between Bill and the open door and two things happened.

He saw Karin immediately, her being in my kitchen seemed startled him, but covered his reaction by quickly ignoring her and flicking his eyes to me. He actually blinked, then stared in open mouthed approval of my much improved appearance. He looked me over so thoroughly I blushed. I couldn’t help it.

‘That good, huh?’ I laughed, getting past my shyness. It was just Bill.

He quickly closed his mouth, looking a bit self-conscious at having been caught staring, but he smiled his crooked smile to cover it and with his sexy southern drawl said, ‘I should say so!’ 

He reached a hand out to me and I put my hand in his while he twirled me around. Bills reaction was filling my head with sweet memories of when we were an us. I was going to miss Bill a little when it was time to go. Okay, who was I kidding? I was going to miss him a lot. It'd taken a long time after all the shit he’d pulled, but we’d eventually become tentative friends. He still flirted with me shamelessly and it was excellent for my self-esteem, but I stuck to my guns on the subject of Bill Compton. We were never getting back together.

Karin took in the overly sweet scene between Bill and Sookie. He appeared to be focused on Sookie, but she knew he was dying to know why she was here. They’d not seen each other since the collapse of the Old Authority and she was sure that right now, Bill was remembering how some that time had been spent. He was also wondering if Sookie knew the details of what had passed between them. Karen, had just been doing her job. Bill, on the other hand, was directly responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of beings and right now, Karin could see that he had plans of reconciliation with Sookie written all over his face. He wouldn’t be able to do that if Sookie ever discovered what he’d done. Bill wasn’t going to be as easy to manage this time around. She was going to have to convince him that bygones were bygones as far as she was concerned, but nothing could be further from the truth for her.

‘Did he actually just twirl Sookie around?’  

Karin had nearly rolled her eyes, but it was a good thing she hadn’t. Bill’s sharp, curious eyes were practically boring a hole through her as Sookie twirled a second time. He’d already marked the change in not only Sookie’s appearance, but her demeanor as well. He wasn’t ignorant. He knew that more than a clean house and a haircut was responsible for her happy demeanor. He’d be looking for answers as soon as this little display was finished.

Bill flicked his gaze back to Sookie, as she completed her second twirl. ‘Sweetheart, you look positively scrumptious!’ he said, laughing.

Sookie stopped twirling at that and said, ‘Thank you, sir.’ Sketching a silly curtsy.

Bill placed a hand on his chest and lowered his head in a mock bow then said, ‘Well, I'm sorry for stopping by unannounced. I didn’t realize that you had company, but I just wanted to see if you needed anything while I am out this evening. I can see now, that you ladies have everything under control here.’

I gasped, fluttered my eyelashes and said, ‘After everything you did the other night, Sir? I think I can say I'm stocked up for a while. It's so sweet of you to ask though.’ then I swatted at him playfully with an imaginary fan. ‘I do wish you would sit and visit with us a little while before you have to leave and run your errands though?’

‘I wouldn’t want to intrude.’ He replied, sincerely, casting his eyes down to Karin.

‘Karin stayed the day, Bill. We visited a long while last night.’ I explained, dropping the game.

Bill’s eyes narrowed sharply at Karin, but he covered his reaction with a quick smile.

‘Please, sit with us for a while and catch up. Karin won’t mind, will you Karin?’ I insisted.

Karin shook her head and sent Bill the sincerest fake smile she could muster. Then, she answered Sookie by looking directly at Bill and threading her voice with an invitation so seductive that Bill cleared his throat nervously and looked at Sookie to see if she’d noticed. ‘You wouldn't be intruding at all, Bill. It would be my pleasure to visit with you again. Please, stay. How have you been?’

Karin shifted slightly, but purposefully and the silk robe she wore gaped slightly, exposing not only the curve of her breast but her creamy thighs as well. 

I'd obviously noticed Karin’s odd behavior, but ignored it. I had to follow her lead in this moment, so, I pulled a chair out for Bill and asked him to sit. When he didn’t, I looked askance at Karin wondering what that hell was going on. Karin didn’t look away from Bill and he didn’t look away from her. This left me standing in the floor watching the two of them stare each other down like a big goofball third wheel. All at once, Bill, seeming to have remembered that I was in the room turned to me and asked, ‘You’re not too tired?’

I blinked at him and decided to let the weirdness of the last-minute go. ‘Only a little.’ I assured him. 

He grimaced slightly knowing that I'd just watched whatever that was all about and I could see worry flicker behind his eyes.

‘I could stay a little while.’ He relented, then sat down, declining my offer of NeuBlood.

Bill turned back to Karin as if nothing odd had just happened and said cordially, ‘I’m am well, Karin. It seems ages since we’ve seen one another. As I said, I am going to run errands later; would you like to come out with me when I go?’ He offered.

Which I knew, in Vampire speak, translated into, ‘I’m going to find someone to eat then find out why you're here.’

‘Yes. Thank you, Bill. I'd like that.’ Karin smiled at him brilliantly, pulling her robe closed.

It seemed that we were all going to be on our best behavior now. I knew from the way Karin was holding her mouth that she wasn't happy. If we weren’t all on our best behavior, she'd be glaring daggers at me right now. She didn’t like that I’d asked Bill to stay, but…I knew Bill. If we didn’t want him creeping around in our business for the next month, we needed to act like there was nothing going on over here but the weather. He was already suspicious; his eye was twitching like he was sending out messages in Morse code! I was going to have to be a little more cautious about my renewed zest for life. I’d basically been going around in a coma for the last two years. If I didn’t want to be answering uncomfortable questions for the next four weeks, I’d need to be a bit less perky.

Bill, sat across the table from Karin, white hot anger scorching through him. He managed to keep his focus on Sookie, hoping that she'd say something that would clue him in to why Karin had chosen this particular time for a visit. It couldn’t be a mere coincidence that she'd arrived a little more than month before the New Orleans Summit. If she had ulterior motives for her visit, he needed to be quick about discovering what they were. Karin’s presence was going to make interacting with Sookie difficult and he didn’t have time to find ways to work around her. He needed time alone with Sookie, now. Time to win her over. He’d waited long enough. He’d invested, remained patient, repaired the damage that he was responsible for, and this was his opportunity. He was on the cusp of getting exactly what he wanted and he wasn’t going to let anyone get in the way of it. Least of all Karin.

He realized that he wasn’t really paying attention when he felt Karin staring at him.

He tuned in to the conversation and they visited as friends did. They chatted about trivial things like the weather and celebrities for an hour or so.

Karin was relating a story about a play she’d seen in Barcelona before coming to Bon Temps, when Sookie’s eyelids started to droop. When she'd nodded off the second time, she excused herself and making her goodbyes went to lay down. When Sookie made the turn to go up the stairs to her bedroom, he sent Karin an expectant glance. She nodded and said, I have to change. She was back in minutes and they left. They were barely out of the door when he whirled on Karin and demanded to know why she was in Bon Temps.

Karin, had been expecting Bill’s attack and was ready for it when it happened.

‘Jesus, Bill!’ she flinched, dropped fang and stepped back, feigning surprise. Her reaction had been perfect.

Bill, confused, pressed her again. ‘Why are you here, Karin.’ He demanded, only a bit more civil this time.

‘Well, Bill…what does it look like?’ she asked defensively.

He glared at her, not answering.

Karin rolled her eyes, and lifted a hand at the house in a gesture that clearly said ‘all was not well’ then shifted to much less sarcastic form of body language.

She adopted a confiding attitude and said, ‘Are you unaware of the state of mind she’s been in?’

Bill, not having anticipated this answer, relaxed his pose, adopted his own confiding tone and answered, ‘I found her sleeping in the kitchen floor the other night. She was clearly upset. So much so, she was still crying in her sleep. The house, has been in a state such as I have never seen it. When I found her, it was obvious to me that she’d been attempting to do something about it, but had abruptly given up. I took the situation in hand at that point. I cleaned the house and procured the groceries and household items for her through my day man.’ Bill confessed.

‘So, that was how it happened.’ Karin acknowledged.

He nodded at her then waited.

‘I’m here,’ she said, then paused dramatically, ‘Because I was afraid, she'd take her life soon. Pam and I were appalled at the state we’d found her in when we visited several day ago. I was just passing through so I wanted to visit, but when I saw her, I couldn’t leave. Pam and I argued over why she’d not told me how bad things were with her, but she confessed she been very busy and she hadn’t known. She’s been so busy with the upcoming Summit that it has been months since she’s been here.’ Karin explained.

Faux anger creased her brow by the time she’d finished, but seeing that she had a captive audience, she went on.

‘I'm going to stay with her, until I feel like she’s stable or until she throws me out. I’m hoping I can count on you for help and advice. Unfortunately, she still doesn’t want any company, but I think it would be good for her if you would say, stop by every few days to collect me. This way she doesn’t feel like we are watching her every move.’

Karin had laid the ‘caring friend’ routine on thick. She waited to see if he bought it.

Bill thought over everything Karin had said and it was plausible. He couldn’t very well order Karin out of Felipe’s territory for visiting a sick friend. He decided she was probably telling the truth, but he was going to keep a very close eye on the two of them. Danny, his day man, would be earning some overtime from now until Karin left. He was busy with the Summit...and other things, as well and couldn’t stop everything he was doing to keep an eye on Karin. He’d already had plans for Sookie’s care in place, but with Karin here the problem remedied itself.

Nodding acceptance he said, ‘You’ve been a good friend to her. I'm glad you're here. As you may realize with how busy Pam has been, I’ve been fairly swamped myself.’ He admitted, surprising her.

‘You can count on me, Bill. I’m not going to leave her.’ Karin said.

He frowned slightly, but accepted the statement for the friendly concern it was. Even if it was a bit over-zealous. 

Gesturing out towards Humming Bird Road, he said, ‘Shall we?’ Graciously, indicating ladies first.

Karin smiled in thanks and they headed towards town to find what was now, given the time of evening, brunch.

As they went, Bill absently thought about Jessica and what to expect when he got to Dallas.

 

Oklahoma

 

Eric woke before the sun was fully down. He liked it when this happened. It was a few stolen minutes of privacy and he didn’t get that very often throughout the evening. Being as old as he was, he was the only Vampire awake on the estate for at least the next 30 minutes. It was 30 minutes that his wife, wouldn’t be aware of his mood or movements. When he’d first arrived in Oklahoma, he’d snuck in some unmonitored phone calls to Fangtasia and he’d leave Pam messages. However, these secret calls had somehow gotten back to his wife and it all became more trouble than it was worth to deal with, so he’d stopped. 

Today, he was just enjoying the luxury of down time. After the events of last evening he needed it. He puttered around for a few minutes thinking of the girl, but he wouldn’t think on her for long. There wasn’t any point in it. He couldn’t have saved her. She’d been fated to die the moment they’d taken her. He’d known this and had decided that he may as well take advantage of the situation. He wouldn’t waste the girl’s death by making it meaningless, so he’d given them what they’d wanted. A show. One would think by now some of these fools would have come to know him at least a little.

He was beginning to hear the movement of blood donors in the corridors. His bitch wife would be awake soon and he wasn’t nearly done with her after yesterday. He went to shower and afterward whistled happily while getting himself dressed and ready to be in her rooms the moment she woke. He knew how much she hated it when he did this, but she’d bought his undivided attention for the foreseeable future.   

'Vanity.’ My favorite sin, he mused quoting Al Pacino.

Somehow, he was going to make it through these two centuries without physically murdering the bitch in her ridiculous coffin. It was going to be so much more satisfying to murder her the way you do all silly, vain, cruel, piggish women. He was going to murder her self-worth. He had two centuries to work with and he knew that long before he was close to being done with her, she'd walk into the sun to stop the pain. He nearly skipped down the hall on his way to his wife’s rooms as the fantasy of her burning played through his thoughts.

He reached her suite and flung the door open. She’d just climbed out of her coffin. ‘Good evening, my Queen!’ He bellowed obnoxiously.

She screeched and nearly jumped out of her skin, turning quickly away from him.

Inordinately pleased with her reaction, he hustled over to her and kissed her cheek. He knew she’d hate that too.

‘You don’t look as if you rested very well Wife. Here, let me send everyone away so that you can lay down again? I will stay with you and take care of you. Are you ill? Should we send for Dr. Ludwig?’ he asked loudly fake concern lacing his words.

‘No! What are you doing here already?’ She complained. Swatting him away, she pushed past him.

‘I was only anxious to see my wife this evening. Especially, after last night.’ He leered suggestively and wiggled his eyebrows at her.

Eric never used her name. Ever. He rarely addressed her as anything but wife, if he could help it. He never used her title of Majesty, if he could help it either. He used my Queen. It drove her crazy for the same reason it annoyed him when she refused to call him by his name. It was a nasty, petty little game that she’d started and he had won. 

Freyda glowered at her husband and swore inwardly, ‘His goddamn courtly manners and constant flirting.’ 

It was definitely the way he said ‘my Queen.’ That drove her insane. He said it as if he both owned her and was addressing any other Monarch anywhere on Earth ever. She hated it! It struck a nerve in her every time the words left his mouth. She’d begun calling him husband and introducing him as her consort to scrub that detestable little human Sookie, (her name was so stupid!) from his mind and to remind him that he was hers and that he’d insulted her. It never seemed to have any effect on him. One of these days he really was going to have to make amends for embarrassing her by choosing that awful human over her and making her appear to be less than the Queen she is in front of her subjects. 

Making him pay, would probably be easier if she were not so completely enamored of him. It stung that she couldn’t stop feeling that way even after he had spurned her! Now, she never passed up an opportunity to take a swing at him because he was so annoying. Somehow, every time she did, she was the one who ended up looking foolish. She just couldn’t help herself though. He pushed her buttons and she'd take the bait and lash out. Sometimes she went too far and if anyone ever discovered what she'd done in anger, their marriage would end up being the victim of her actions. At least she could comfort herself with the knowledge that no one knew how she felt. Except him of course. She was certain that as far as the Court knew she despised and only tolerated him. Still, they did whisper about the circumstances leading up to their union and she really hated it.

‘One of these days, he would submit to her.’ She vowed.

She stole a glance at him in the mirror. He looked stunning tonight. She secretly loved it when he wore casual clothes. They didn’t have a schedule today, so no duties to perform. He was wearing old comfortable jeans that fit like a glove and a chocolate brown cable knit sweater. The brown sweater made his glisten like gold strands and the blue of his eyes was like the blue of the ocean with the sun shining on it. His hair was loose for once and it lay long and flowing over his impossibly broad shoulders. For some reason, he’d let it grow after arriving here.

'He looks like a Norse God whose gone on vacation.’ She thought, sneaking another peek.

Her damn fangs were threatening to pop out. She wanted to order everyone out of the room right this minute and have him pick up where he had left off last morning, but she didn’t. Instead she turned away from him and quickly tried to think of something else. 'Shit…he was grinning at her…the bastard…fucking blood bond.’ 

She did order everyone out of the room then.

Except for breakfast.

She bustled around looking busy while the room cleared and let sanity gain a foothold. Successfully ignoring her primal urges, she eventually sat down to eat. She still had to talk to him and if she had a full stomach, she could probably get through it without ruining that beautiful sweater, she thought sinking her fangs into a very young Native American, who by the taste of him, was Kickapoo.

Oh! Rare.’ She thought excitedly, biting harder and making a mental note to keep him around a while.

Eric had been having his evil fun way with his wife all morning, but was now a little suspicious of her mood. She was almost civil, even though he’d left her an unsatisfied, quivering mess then barged in on her before she’d been able to set her feet on the floor. He’d doggedly begun throwing sensual energy at her before she barely had the opportunity to open her eyes. He felt certain that he’d nearly driven her to the point of giving in to her lust, when she suddenly sat down and offered him breakfast.

‘Strange.’ He thought.

Despite her civility she’d barely spoken to him at all. So, he’d just sat there reading the paper, enjoying the after effects of silence, that thoroughly annoying her first thing in the evening, had brought to him. It was such a good start to the day. She flitted around the room, brushed her hair, open and closed drawers, went through her closet and tried to ignore him while he aggressively stalked her through the blood bond they shared. Eventually he’d overwhelmed her, and becoming flustered, she sat down and they ate. He’d finished his meal and picked up the paper to wait for her to be done, as was their custom. When she finished, he stood up to leave as was his custom, sent a wave of pure desire at her just to be an asshole and only then turned to leave. 

She stopped him. ‘Husband…’

He smirked at her and lifted his brow in question.

‘Please, sit.’ She invited.

The smirk turned questioning and he sat.

She said nothing, just fidgeted with her ridiculous ring. 

Stalling.’ He grinned, satisfied that he’d ruined this day for her as well.

 ‘There is going to be a Summit next month.’ She said.

‘This is interesting tactic.’ He thought, amused.

His wife never spoke to him about business matters even though it was mandatory he sit with her while she conducted business every day and she never, ever, spoke to him about, kept him informed of, or allowed him to be informed of politics. Politics were a forbidden topic at Oklahoma’s court. Further, if they were going to travel, she never told him until just a few hours before hand. So, it didn’t make sense that she’d be talking to him about a Summit that was a month away, now.

‘This is desperate, even for her.’ He guffawed silently. He mocked the Queen sitting across from him with his silence. He was so stone faced, the fact that she’d even spoken didn’t register in his expression. His clear blue eyes held hers, without so much as a flicker of interest. She’d gotten what she’d wanted from him last night. As far as he was concerned, that was the last show she’d be getting from him for a while. Eric Northman’s patience were infinite. He showed her nothing and waited the bitch out.

Freyda dropped her eyes knowing he wouldn’t ask, so she went on, ‘The new Vampire Amendment is still flawed. The summit is to discuss it, among other things. Certain Kingdoms are having difficulty maintaining control of energy resources and certain technology assets. Other...parties are pushing for privately owned assets to replace them. We're having an especially difficult time in Oklahoma because we are situated in the middle of the so called Bible Belt. Our human adversaries have redoubled their efforts, since those ‘Satanists’ tried to put that statue of Baphomet up on the Statehouse lawn. It’s just ludicrous that we have to…’ 

She caught herself fiddling with her ring while yapping away and abruptly stopped talking. She’d just come dangerously close to complaining to him about Felipe forcing them to go to New Orleans, which she hated. She also realized that she was having a conversation with him about things she’d been expressly forbidden not to discuss with him. Her only excuse was that she was nervous about the political climate of this Summit and needed to talk to someone about it!

Freyda, for her part could have gone along happily ignorant of this massive undertaking Felipe was going to unveil in New Orleans. It was going to throw the Vampire world into a state of chaos, just as everything from the last war had finally settled down. When Felipe de Castro had approached her about teaming up years ago, she’d agreed to his plan for Oklahoma and Louisiana without reservation. He’d wooed her completely with his fool proof plan. Simply put, Felipe had explained to her that he couldn’t take over Louisiana, which was ripe for plucking, so soon after taking over Oklahoma without meeting resistance from the Authority. He then explained that she couldn’t possibly want the responsibility of managing a Kingdom, but the prestige and privilege that being a Queen could afford her might be just the thing she’d been looking for in her life. Felipe presented her with his sparkling plan of all play and no real work, saying that managing Oklahoma would be just like Acting.

‘The roll of a lifetime.’ She remembered him saying, while daydreams of jewels and shopping, played like an old movie in her mind’s eye. All she had to do; was Act like the Queen she already was. And listen to Joslyn of course. If she just did what the assistant told her to do, everything would be fine. Her reward for stepping into the roll? Felipe would govern both kingdoms and cover all of Oklahoma’s expenses. She’d be free to keep or spend the income as she saw fit. The deal had been a dream come true. When she'd been presented her with the prospect of Eric Northman as a husband as well, it sealed the deal for her and she’d agreed wholeheartedly. 

But, just like all things concerning Felipe, once he had you, he had you.

On top of things in Oklahoma not being what she’d been told they would be, her marriage had turned out to be equally as unsatisfying. Freyda had been truly excited and more than ready to jump in and fulfill her roll in what Felipe assured her would be an extremely gratifying future. Nothing had gone the way Felipe said it would go. She’d tried to talk to him about it early on, but he’d told her to be patient. He’d told her that the situation was fluid and she’d needed to learn how to go with the flow. After more time passed and the fun of decorating and shopping had been replaced with sitting in court on civil cases every day month after month, she’d told him that she couldn’t work in this environment. He’d told her that she didn’t have a choice and if she didn’t want to be the subject of an investigation by the Authority, she’d better do what she was told.  

She was caught. Plain and simple.

Then, when they’d arrived in Louisiana, she’d learned that Eric wasn’t inclined to marry her. Favoring his human wife instead, which had stung. The last straw for her had come minutes after their joining ceremony when she’d learned that she wouldn’t be able to offer her new husband a roll in Oklahoma as a wedding gift. Something that she was certain would have smoothed over his dissatisfaction with their marriage. She might have gotten at least a small bit of something from this bargain if Eric had been allowed even a small purpose here. Instead, Felipe had forbidden her to include him in anything. It was a frustrating juggling act for her as Eric had to be visible at all times, but she couldn’t share anything with him. Total madness. There’d been so many things that she wasn’t allowed to include him in or talk to him about she’d eventually just adopted the policy of never talking to him about anything at all. It was easier to keep it all straight that way. She didn’t have a Kingdom, the freedom to really enjoy her station and to add insult to injury, she didn’t even get to have the one thing that would have made it all worth it. Eric.

As one might expect, this caused her volatile temper to boil over on occasion and then they ended up in situations like last night. It just pissed her off when she was as stuck here as he was, but he couldn’t show even the slightest bit of interest in what was going on. She huffed in aggravation, then realizing that she’d been lost in thought, she flicked her eyes back to his. He was just sitting there, staring at her, being annoyingly gorgeous. She let it go and got back on topic.   

‘The point is,’ she continued nonchalantly as if nothing had happened, ‘The Summit is in New Orleans.’

Eric’s stomach lurched as his wife dropped this information like a bomb. He forced an iron band around his emotions, gaining control of himself in a split second. Masking his momentary excitement with a sonic wave of curiosity, he shrugged his head to the side and let that curiosity show on his face and still said nothing.

‘I thought, you might like to make arrangements to see Pamela, while we are in Louisiana.’ She offered.

Freyda watched him carefully as she’d made him the offer to visit his Progeny. She was now slightly irritated that she’d been unable to make him smile. Sagging with defeat and frustrated by his impenetrable silence, she mentally kicked herself, ‘What did you expect after last night? Fool. He’s never going to trust you.’

Freyda knew that she wasn’t an idiot. Felipe hadn’t entrusted her to this position because she was stupid, but Eric, made her feel like a brainless tart. Last night had been a mistake and she knew that she was going to pay for it a long time. Her husband consort, had ways of getting even with her that were pure torture. She pressed her thighs tightly together thinking about those ways.

‘I really do love that sweater.’ She thought, then licked her lips. 'Damn him!'  Knowledge of her discomfort flickered in those deep blue eyes.

She’d nearly growled at him, but focused and said, ‘You understand that it can only be short daily visits, as we will be much too busy for anything extended, but I thought that we shouldn’t let the opportunity to see her go by. If you want, you may make arrangements with her.’ she finished lamely, quickly flicking her eyes away from him. 'Why did you put addendum's onto the offer?' she chastised herself, seeing the fury ignite behind his eyes. She should have just made the offer. It would make a difference in the way they dealt with each other in the next month. Furthermore, away from the prying eyes of the court, they may have been able to repair what was broken. Instead, she did the wrong thing...as usual.

'This bitch…’ Eric sneered inwardly. Just when he thought he was ready to set her coffin on fire, she did something that wasn’t completely heinous. Of course, he wasn’t naive enough to think that there wasn’t an ulterior motive in this somewhere, (see his wife’s photo next to the word “tactic” in the dictionary), but at least he was going to get to see Pam. If he didn’t fuck it up.’ He thought standing.

He sketched a quick semi-formal bow to his wife, denoting his appreciation. ‘My Queen. I thank you. You are most kind to think of it.’ He said. Excusing himself he left the room.

While he walked the length of the hallway, he maintained iron control over his thoughts and forced himself to think about something else other than the phone call he was going to make to Fangtasia in a few moments. When he got back to his suite, he didn’t pick up the phone immediately, instead allowing himself a small shred of excitement.

‘He was going to get to go home, maybe. He was going to get to see Pam and Karin, maybe. He was going to get…news, maybe.’ Having sufficiently reminded himself that nothing was certain, he picked up the phone and called Fangtasia.

He couldn’t believe it when the call went through. Trying not to be anxious for the sound of Pam’s voice while he waited for someone to answer, ‘home, Pam, Karin, her, Willa, home, home,’ swirled through his thoughts.

It was Thalia who’d answered. Pam wasn’t there. He left a message…with difficulty.

Thalia was still impossible.

His disappointment at not having spoken with Pam, was palpable.

Chapter Text

Bon Temps

         

I had on my favorite new bikini. It was red and had little yellow daisies on it. It was adorable and had cost a fortune! I loved it. The sun was right over head and I was parked on my reclining lawn chair in the front yard, completely coated in baby oil, broiling myself to a crisp. I’d set my tanning table up next to me and I was all set to catch some rays. I was going to soak up every last bit of sunshine I could. My radio, a pitcher of tea, my notepad and pen, and the new Laurell K. Hamilton were on the table next to me. I was sipping on an ice-cold glass of sweet tea, chair dancing and singing along with Bob Marley.

 

Sun is shining,

the weather is sweet,

 make you want to move

your dancing feet.

 

These last few days had blazed by in a blur of banks, lawyers, visiting, tanning, and another trip to the salon. I was amazed at everything I’d accomplished and everyone who saw me marveled at the change that had taken hold of me. Despite trying to keep a low profile, I’ve been quite the topic of conversation around Bon Temps over the last four weeks. They can’t decide if I've finally snapped, or if I'm snapping out of it. I set my tea down and scooped up the note pad flipping it open. This note pad, had ironically become my life saver of a sort. I kept everything written down in it right now. There’d just been a lot to remember this week.

I found what I was looking for and made a check next to it. 

A few weeks ago, I’d decided to have those roll down storm shutters installed here at Gran’s house and at Jason’s as well. I’d called Alcide Herveaux to do the job and he'd be out to Jason’s house in the morning and then here the day after. I hadn’t seen Alcide in a very long time. I heard he’d finally gotten married and had two little ones already. It would be interesting to catch up with him. I closed the little pad and dropping it back on the table I went back to my chair dancing and broiling. I was really enjoying the heat on my legs while I sang.

 

When the Morning gathers the Rainbow,

I want you to know I’m a Rainbow too,

So, to the rescue, here I am

want you to know, just if you can,

where I stand,

know, know, know, know…

 

My first trip to the salon had gone so well, that when Karin and I had exchanged blood for the first time later that evening no one really noticed. I’d been higher than a kite for the rest of the night and most of the next day, but I’d made it through okay with no major incidents. The second time had been just two weeks later and I was pretty ‘glowy’ for a few days afterward. Everyone just thought I was still making progress in my recovery.

That’s what folks had started calling it. ‘My recovery.’

We’re going to exchange blood again this evening or maybe tomorrow, depending on what time we’re able to get settled in for the evening. The blood bond would be complete then.

'And thank goodness, because we’re dang close to departure time.’ I noted.

I was going to have to make myself scarce for the next few days, because there wasn’t going to be any doubt that I’d had a truck load of blood recently, even considering how tan I was. I’d already had to avoid Bill a few times. He definitely would have caught on that I’d had Karin's blood. Karin had become the master of occupying Bills time and that had helped keep him out of my hair. Pretty much I’d just been making sure that I was in bed at a decent hour and I didn’t have to see them when they left or came back.

‘Moving on from that subject.’ I thought uncomfortably, ignoring what I knew. The song on the radio changed. I fanned myself.

 

‘Everybody’s hustling just to have a little scene. 

When I say we’ll be cool, I think you know what I mean. 

We stood on the beach at sunset, if you remember when,

l know a beach baby, where baby, it never ends. 

When you’ve made your mind up forever to be mine…’

 

I’d put my conversation with Lafayette off, until it couldn’t wait anymore for obvious reasons. I’d explained to him that I wanted to travel for a few years and then I asked him to run things for me. He’d been skeptical and worried at first, but when I made it clear to him that I was leaving no matter what, he got on board. 

Lafayette being Lafayette said slyly, ‘How much you gon’ pay me?’

I’d laughed and hugged him hard, then we got down to business.

He agreed when I gave him the option to buy into Merlotte’s in two years’ time.

I agreed when he promised to keep Terry Bellefluer on in any capacity necessary to keep him working, as long as Terry’s health allowed it.

So, it was mutual agreement all the way around. Lafayette would manage everything and Terry would do maintenance at the bar, the rentals, here at Gran’s, and Jason’s and  he'd live rent free at Sam’s trailer if he chose to do so in exchange for the upkeep and maintenance there. Then off we went to the banks and lawyers to set it all in motion. While I was there, I realized that this was the reason why I was maintaining control of my assets. It warmed my heart to know that Karin had thought about this.

Terry, being a war veteran, had a hard time dealing with changes, but that had changed a bit after he'd gotten married. He accepted that Lafayette was going to be his new boss easily. He’d also agreed that he and his wife would move into Sam’s trailer, after making sure it wouldn’t be a problem to have his dog there. Terry adored his Catahoula hunting dog, Annie. She was his favorite topic of conversation. Not a day went by that I didn’t hear a story about Annie.

I swore both men to secrecy. They were to say nothing about the changes, or my departure until they both heard from my lawyer. There were a lot of questions out of them then, but I just explained to them that I didn’t want to answer a lot of questions. I was still trying to get back into the swing of my life. I wanted to go and become Sookie again and I didn’t want to answer questions while doing it. Terry was a vet with PTSD and Lafayette was flamboyantly gay. They both accepted this explanation without another word. They knew what it was like to have your every move scrutinized by the whole town. When they agreed, I knew I could trust them.

‘I sure was going to miss em both…’

I’d promised them both that I would coming in early over one of the next few days and spend some time with before I left town and I had. I’d arrived at the bar super early one morning and fixed us a huge breakfast. We sat down to eat, reminisce, and talk about the future. It had been the perfect way to say goodbye.

Since making the decision to become a Vampire, I’d been crazy busy with the incredibly tedious, boring, details of ending my old life and I hadn’t spent much time thinking about how things were going to change. I’d just spent the better part of the last two days getting my head wrapped around just how different things were really going to be. It had taken a shopping trip to New Orleans with Karin to bring it home to me. First of all, we flew and were there in less than an hour. Huge change right there. Next, we were shopping for specific things, this swim suit being one of them. I’d been looking at price tags, trying to make decisions about what I absolutely needed. Like anyone does when they’re shopping. Karin, picked up everything that I touched and gave it to the sales girl. When I saw what she was doing I'd objected, but she insisted. We finally went into a dressing room, then made decisions based on anything and everything but the price tag. 

The bill, had been enormous. 

That’s when I realized that I was rich. Not just, "don’t worry about the electric bill rich."

I was filthy stinking rotten rich.

Like, don’t worry about how much anything costs ever again, rich.

When your family has had a couple of thousand years to amass a tax-free fortune, you really have a fortune.

Ocella had been nearly 2000 years old when he met the final death. All of his holdings had reverted to Eric, who was his only living Progeny. Eric had parceled it all out between Karin and Pam to keep the majority of it out of Oklahoma’s hands. The amount of wealth that Karin had accrued on her own had been staggering as well. When it was combined with what Eric had given her, well, it was a stinking, shocking, overwhelming, lot of money.

As Karin’s progeny, I was told I'd be able to access that money whenever I needed to and I was expected to.

When Karin told me to make a decision about where we'd live, it'd been a lot easier to decide when money was no longer a problem. I’d only needed to decide on a lot of ‘peace and quiet’ or a lot of ‘go and see the world.’ So, I bought a red bikini and then most of a store and made a decision about where to live. It was sort of liberating, but it had also freaked me out for a few days. Karin sent most of what I bought during that trip directly to a place that she kept calling ‘The Boat,’ but I did bring a few things home with me.

Like this bikini.

When Karin told me the ‘family’ had an estate in Belize, I knew it was the perfect place for us to go. It was centrally located, making it close enough to cities and airports for see the world and far enough away from 'population centers' for peace and quiet. Karin was inordinately pleased by my decision and I wondered why she'd been so happy with my choice. When I asked she explained, that I'd pleased her with such a responsible, well thought out choice Belize had been, then she told me how we would be getting to Belize. I’d completely got over the shyness of being rich at the explanation.

We’d be traveling down the coast of Florida and through the Caribbean to Belize by boat. I actually ‘squeeed,’ when she told me. It was going to be a vacation of sorts while we traveled. I’ve never really been anywhere to far outside of Louisiana let alone a vacation. I’d be spending my last days as a human, floating along, sunbathing, shopping, eating all of the foods I loved, and being a tourist. It couldn’t have been more perfect. We had several more days of the boring aspect of my transition, but for the most part, everything was going great, we were on schedule and hadn't encountered any problems yet.

Which, wasn't to say that I didn't have worries. I still had worries. Money could only buy so much happiness. I'd been thinking about what my life would be like once the novelty of having more money than God and eternal life wore off,and as could be expected, I was apprehensive about how I was going to respond to becoming a Vampire, about the physical transitioning and if I could complete the transition at all. Not much worry about that, only a little. Karin's blood was Eric's blood, was Ocella's blood. It was strong. I knew it was strong, but there is always that sliver of fear.

I hadn’t voiced any of these fears to Karin yet. I didn’t want her to think I didn’t have faith in her Making skills.

Most of my worries, were about what kind of Vampire I was going to be. Honestly, the thought of accidentally killing someone because I made a mistake weighed heavy in my worst fears. I feared I would change into someone I didn’t recognize. Another thing I couldn’t wrap my head around, was the idea that once I was a Vampire I would be disgusted by chocolate and country fried steak. I knew it was going to happen, I just couldn’t understand it. I hoped that I was more like Spike from Buffy, when it came to food. Remember that time when Angel somehow became human again, and started eating everything in the refrigerator including a chocolate bar Cordy had left in there. That was comical as anything. I guess you had to see it.

I shifted, undid the string on my to so I wouldn't have tan lines, and pushed my fears away for now.

Out of everything that was going to happen soon, I was the most excited for Disney! I'd wanted to go to Disney my entire life. I’d been online doing research every day since Karin said we could go. I’d joined message boards to learn about everything I’d need to know and shouldn’t miss for a single day trip. I'd almost gone crazy trying to get the whole thing planned, on top of everything else. It was true what they say, you just can’t do all of Disney in one day. Luckily, I didn’t want to do all of Disney this time around. Karin had promised to join me in the evening, so I planned some things that I thought she'd like as well. When I told her it was on my list, she’d laughed like a hyena and said that she ‘simply couldn’t wait to go.’ 

I turned over and adjusted my lawn chair so I could lay on my tummy, unlacing the string at my back and continued thinking about lose ends for a long time.

Making the rounds, visiting, and saying those goodbyes. I’d gone into Tara’s Togs just like I’d promised, with the idea of making a rather large purchase to help out with the cost of new uni’s and cleats. I realized quickly that was a mistake when Tara started grilling me about ‘Why I needed all of these new clothes.’ I’d been able to shrug it off with a few boastful comments about taking care of myself and deserving some new things. Tara had seemed to accept that and when I put back two of my selections, she stopped wondering what was going on with me and rang me up.

We visited for a long time then. We talked about everything. The past, the present, the edited future. We talked until the bell on the door jingled breaking the visiting spell.

I’m not ready to let her go.’ I thought in a panic and grabbed her hugging her tight. She laughed, squeezed me back, then broke our embrace.

Smiling broadly, she walked toward her customer saying she would call me later. As I got in my car and drove away, I hoped that it wasn’t the last time I was ever going to see my friend.

I let that thought slide away and cleared my head completely opting to just sing along with the radio and enjoy the sun.

I must have fallen asleep, I thought scrubbing at my eyes. ‘The sun’s going down.’ I noticed, realizing the chilly air had woken me up. 

I gathered up my tanning equipment. It was time to get a shower, eat some diner, complete a blood bond and get some more sleep. I was due to meet Alcide at Jason’s at 7 AM. 

Chapter Text

Oklahoma

 

It'd taken Eric almost an entire month to get a phone call through to Pam. Every time he’d called, Thalia, Ginger, or Willa had answered the phone to say that Pam was traveling.

Who the hell was running things around there if she was constantly traveling!’ He growled, frustrated.

Thalia insisted that she'd not seen Pam in weeks and that she'd been leaving the messages on her desk.

He couldn't help it, he shook his head at that. 

Ginger got nervous and babbled an excuse every time he’d spoken to her.

Willa was nothing but one-word answers.

'It was ridiculous!’  He'd started to suspect that Pam was purposefully avoiding him. Today he’d resolved to call her through the blood bond if he didn’t reach her by phone. 'Enough, was enough.’  

The phone rang once and was answered abruptly ‘Fangtasia! The bar with a bite.’ Pam snapped.

Putting her hand over the receiver’s mouth piece, she yelled, ‘Ginger! Where the hell is Thalia? She isn’t supposed to be away from this phone!’

‘I don’t know!’ Ginger yelled back.

Eric rolled his eyes, but couldn't help the warmth and smile that broke over him at the sound of her surly voice. 

‘Hello!’ she growled into the phone.

‘Pamela.’ He said, the smile evident in his tone. 

There was nothing but silence on the other end of the line.

Pam silently cussed herself out in four different languages for answering the phone. She actually started to hang up the phone, but she stopped when she heard his voice again.

‘Pam!’ he said with urgency, having felt her intent to hang up on him.

She’d been so shocked to hear his voice at first and now she was terrified to speak because she just knew, that he was going to hear it in her voice. They were T-minus 9 days and counting! She’d successfully avoided him all of this time and now here he was calling at the 'way too close go point.' 

‘Coward.’ She mouthed at herself, then bit the bullet.

‘Eric, is that you?’ she whispered into the phone.

‘Yes.’ He said quietly.

Pam could hear the smile in his voice. It was so good to hear that smile. 'Oh…she needed to sit down.’

‘Pam, you know I won’t have much time. I’ve been given leave to make arrangements to see you at the Summit in New Orleans. I hope you’ve been planning on attending.’

'Holy fucking shit.’ She totally flaked out. She was happy that she’d listened to herself and was sitting, or she definitely would have fainted.

She’d known…known, that something like this would happen! How in the hell were they going to be able to pull this off now? 

Her brain hadn’t stopped screaming since Eric had said the word Summit.

‘Pam!’ he said impatiently.

‘Yes,’ she croaked, ‘I would like to see you very much.’ She lied. It was only a little lie, because she missed him so much.Oh…my God!’ she thought, freaking out again. 

She needed to get off of this phone right fucking now! Karin and Sookie were going to complete their blood bond tonight!

‘Can you get ahold of Karin? Do you know if she is going to be there? I'd like to see her too. I need to see all of you.’ He asked, struggling through the distance.

She stood and began pacing the office.

‘Pamela, are you going to talk to me? What is the matter?’ he prodded.

She stopped in front of the mirror that was hanging in the office. She pointed a threatening finger at herself and mouthed, ‘You get a grip right now!’

‘Nothing is wrong, Eric.’ She said, after a beat. ‘I'm just startled. I’ve needed to see you for a while. Now, I'm going to. There's so much happening. I'm just a little overwhelmed, is all.’ She admitted.

It was the truest thing she’d said so far. She had to stop freaking out. Stop trying to figure out how to get off the phone and just talk to him. Probably, everything was going to be alright.

‘Things are the same around here and I have missed you as well. Karin isn’t here,’ she lied to her Maker again, ‘But it should be easy enough for me to track her down and get her to town.’ She said so tightly, her voice almost shook. Good God, what the hell was she even saying, there was no way Eric could see Karin in only NINE days’ time! 

‘All hell was breaking loose.’ 

She’d been purposefully staying away from both Karin and Sookie in the off chance that they'd all end up at the damn summit. Now, here she was, her worst fears all coming to fruition.

‘Eric is going to kill me…us.’ She worried.

Best case scenario, he finds out and stakes her quickly. Worst case scenario, he finds out and locks her in her coffin covered in silver chains until she goes nuts.

She paced frantically, with the phone pressed to her ear listening to him.

‘I'm hoping to see you before the Ball on Saturday night, around 10 PM. In your suite?’ He suggested.

He could hear her pacing through the phone. Something was wrong. He could feel that she was worried…scared about something.

She was just nodding yes. The phone was pressed tightly to her ear.

‘Pam, I can’t hear your head nod, talk to me.’ He pressed.

‘Yes.That will be perfect.’ Then the love she felt for him took control of her mouth.

‘You have no idea how much I've missed you.’ She said, letting all of the pain of separation and distance show itself in her tone.

‘So, it will be just us, at this visit?’ she asked hopefully.

‘You know better than that.’ He chuckled. ‘But I will see what can be done.’

‘I am anxious to see you, Eric.’ She said truthfully. She had no idea what was going to happen, but she did want to see him.

‘I am anxious to see you as well, Pam. Goodbye for now.’

And then the call was over. She sank down into the chair at her desk. She’d not been ready for the call to be over yet.

Shaking a little, she put the phone in the cradle. She really needed to just sit here a minute, and…

'You don’t HAVE a minute!’ her brain screamed at her.

She jerked into action and snatched the receiver out of the cradle and dialed Karin. There was no answer.

‘Fucking of course!’ her inner turmoil screamed.

She dialed Sookie’s cell with one hand and picked up her cell to dial Karin with her other hand. 

No answer. Fuck! Fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck!

‘Why do people have to have all of these different phones?’ She bitched, while she dialed Sookie’s house phone. No answer.

‘They don’t fucking answer any of them!’ She yelled. 

She was frantic, when Karin finally deigned to answer one of the phones.

At this point, she had no idea which one of the phones it was. It didn’t even matter.

‘Hello!’  Pam was screaming into the phone.  

Karin was a little punch drunk because Sookie, was absolutely delicious. 

‘It’s no wonder Eric’s in love with her.’  The thought sloshed around in her brain while someone yelled at her from very far away. ‘Karin!’ she heard.

‘Hello?’ she said, glancing around, disoriented.

‘For fuck sake, Karin! Answer the damn phone!’ the voice yelled.

Karin looked down at the phone in her hand. ‘When had she answered the phone?’ her brain sloshed again. Lifting the phone to her ear she heard Pam yelling at her.

‘STOP! Do you hear me? For the love of fuck…don’t finish the blood bond! God damnit! Karin? Are you there? Answer me right now!’

‘Pam's freaking the fuck out!’ Karin thought, and giggled.

Suddenly everything came crashing into focus. She was sitting on the bed in the guest room at Sookie’s house. Pam was screaming at her on the other end of the phone. Alarmed she pulled herself together and tried to focus through the haze of Sookie’s fairy blood. It was the third time she’d had it now, but it might as well of been the first. She still wasn’t used to it. Sookie was heady stuff!

‘Pam…?’ she mumbled into the receiver, as she lifted the phone to her ear.

‘It’s about time!’ Pam yelled. 

‘Please…tell me you haven’t finished Sookie’s blood bond yet.’

She didn’t have much hope for it, if Karin’s delirium were any clue. 

Karin looked down at Sookie who'd just released her wrist and fallen back onto the bed. 

‘Just…’ Karin garbled, ‘We just, finished, have just finished…now, finished.’

‘Pull it together big sister, I need to talk to you!’ Pam demanded.

Karin said, her voice a little clearer, ‘Why, what has happened?’ Karin smiled into the phone, asking the question even though she already knew the answer. 

The bed was spinning. I laid there while I remembered that the phones had been ringing. All of them. I’d been trying to pull myself together while Karin talked to whoever it was, their voices were coming from so far away, I felt like I was floating on a marshmallow. I floated for a while and then I could hear Pam screaming on the other end of the phone.

The urgency in Pam's voice had sobered Karin up pretty quick and concern clouded her expression. I’d had enough Vampire blood in my life to know what to expect from it and now I’d had enough of Karin’s blood that I was used to the euphoric feelings that her specific blood brought on. I was able to get myself together fairly quick and sitting up I asked ‘What’s going on?’

Karin held up a finger in the universal signal for ‘wait a second’ and put her cell on speaker.

We could hear Pam pacing around the office at Fangtasia. She yelled everything into the phone.

‘Sookie, Eric! Called me...’ she said, taking a minute, striving for control and failing.

The way she'd said his name made me flinch. She was terrified. I rolled my shoulders, enjoying the calming effect Karin's blood had on me. Also, she was a little amused, which I found strange.

‘He’s going to the Summit in New Orleans. I don’t need to remind you that it’s in NINE days. He wants to see us.’ She yelled into the phone.

Willa came into the office. She could hear Pam yelling, but couldn’t quite make out what the fuss was all about over the loud techno music. ‘Pam?’ she asked tentatively.

Pam whirled on her, ‘Get out!’ she commanded, pointing at the door.

‘Why? What is wrong?’ Willa insisted!

Pam leaned across the desk and screamed at her progeny, ‘Willa, I swear to God!’

Willa, stomped out of the office in a huff, slamming the office door. 

‘This was so weird. Pam never lost her cool like this.’ I thought hazily.

‘We chose the summit weekend for your departure because of the distraction it offered us! Now, here we are! God damnit! It’s a fucking disaster. I told you this would happen, didn’t I? I’M FREAKING THE FUCK OUT!’

I almost laughed at her. I didn’t. I knew if I did, she would be in this bedroom before I could even blink and she’d kick my ass.

It was Karin’s turn to freak out, so she did. ‘Shit!’ Karin swore into the phone. Then waited…hoping.

'Everything's coming together.'  she thought, happily.

The cosmos had finally aligned for her and it was about fucking time.

'Be cool. BE cool. Be Cool.’  She chanted at herself.

It wasn’t time for her deceptions to come to light.

Pam spoke into the silence that Karin had left for her, just as she hoped for.

‘I told him, that you were not here, but that I could probably reach you.’ Her panic peppered the statement.

‘Why the hell did you say that?’ Karin moaned with fake exasperation.

All of this stress was, what did they call it, "harshing my buzz?" I’d been listening to these two freak out over all of this for long enough.

All this foolishness, over the fear of Eric was just...ridiculous. He'd never hurt either of them.

‘Listen,’ I slurred, the command. ‘The both of you just need to calm down right now. I've been thinking about this for a while. Neither of you have spoken to Eric frequently, or even at length since he’s been gone. You certainly haven't spoken to him about me. Right? If he gets all jumpy and pushy and demanding…the way he does, just tell him that I asked you for the blood bond during your year of guard duty, Karin.’

Karin was shaking her head and Pam started to argue.

‘For safety purposes! We were at war!’ I insisted. ‘Just tell him it was my choice. If he understands that it was my choice, he won’t be able to say anything about it.’

I was exasperated by Eric’s stubbornness and his Progeny’s fear of him. I hadn’t seen him in almost seven years and he was on my last damn nerve. It was so annoying. This was Eric for fuck sake, not Satan. Karin hadn’t stopped shaking her head at me. ‘Okay...fine.' I grabbed my hair and started twisting it into a bun. I was really hot, all of a sudden. 'So, listen, tell him this. Tell him that I wanted it, because I realized how important it was after I’d had ours broken. He'll understand that and accept it.’ I said, confidently, sticking a pencil through my twisted hair to hold it in place.

Karin stopped shaking her head. 

‘Eh?’ I lifted an eyebrow at her and fanned myself. 

‘Damn,’ Karin thought,‘That’s pretty good.’  She was proud of Sookie for coming up with that solution all on her own. They weren’t going to need it, but it was an impressive argument.

Pam stopped pacing at Fangtasia. She hated this entire thing and they were all going to die, but Sookie was pretty damn smart…for a human.

There was no way around any of this. She was going to have to go. She wanted to go. There was no way she was taking Willa with her to New Orleans though. The little twit would totally blow it for them. One day, Willa would make a good Vampire. Right now, she was a snooty pain in Pam’s ass. Eric would just have to live with the disappointment of not seeing her.

‘What was Sookie saying?’ she thought absently. 

‘…besides you know that you both want to see him and there is no way that you can skip out on it. All of this fussing around is pointless. You don’t know when the opportunity to see him will present itself again. Right? The only real problem we have here, is that this damn Summit is screwing up our exit time. We have this thing planned out to the second. We had to take the damn tide into consideration.  I don’t think that my nerves can handle a delay at this point. The ball is rolling and I am ready to go. I'm afraid if we stop now because of this, it will throw everything off. I'm pushing through my fear of the unknown on a daily basis here. So, I say we keep going as scheduled. We're going to have to shift some things around, but I'm not about to reschedule departure time.’ I declared.

I was standing in the middle of the floor, hands on my hips, to indicate that I was serious. I was starting to freak out a little bit myself, obviously, if I was giving Pam orders.

‘That’s easier said than done, Sookie. It’s going to take make major adjustments, to maintain your departure time. On top of that, I have eight days to arrange lodging, transportation, and clothing for a meeting with my Maker, whom I’ve not seen in years. Also, let’s not forget, his bitch wife, that I want to stake. Another also, is now that I intend on going to the damn summit, I have to make myself available to Felipe. So, excuse me, for not being considerate of your departure time. Don’t fuck with me Sookie. I’m not in the mood.’ She finished flippantly.

Karin, covered her mouth to stifle a giggle.

She was really wasted, I noticed.

Pam was so comically agitated, that Karin was actually squeezing her mouth shut to keep from laughing.

On the other hand, I was starting to feel guilty. I opened my mouth to tell Pam that we could reschedule in light of her work load, but Karin looked a warning at me and shook her head mouthing the word no. I wanted to argue, but Karin held a finger up, indicating that I should wait.  Over the speaker on the phone heard Pam start pacing again.

‘Karin, just plan on staying with me in New Orleans.’ Pam commanded.

Karin’s eyes gleamed with mischief and she nodded as Pam talked.

‘Freyda has probably had people watching me since before she told Eric to make arrangements to see us. If you stay with me in New Orleans, it will be just like a normal visit. Oh, and I decided that I’m not bringing Willa. I don’t need the added distraction.’ She finished.

Pam had settled her General’s hat firmly into place. That was what Karin had wanted me to see.

I’d just learned an important lesson about Pam. You just had to wait her out.

I gave Karin a knowing smile and mouthed, ‘Thank you.’ At her.

‘Sookie!’ Pam barked.

I jerked my attention  back to the phone, 'Yeah?'  

‘I want you to call that witch friend of yours, who lives in New Orleans with that guy who’s a cat. You were planning to visit them on your way out of town, so, make plans to stay with them.’ She ordered.

‘Okay,’ I laughed rolling my eyes. ‘Pam, you know Bob isn’t a cat anymore and he and Amelia are married.’

‘Whatever,’ she barked at me again. ‘Just do it. It'll be safer and less suspicious for you to get in the car and drive to New Orleans during the Summit if you stay with friends, rather than at a hotel.’

I nodded because she was right.

‘I really have to go now.’ She said and hung up without saying goodbye.

Karin touched the screen of her phone ending the call on our end and we laughed our asses off. Pam was literally on eleven. She had reason to be, but it was still hilarious.

A bit concerning to see…hear, her that way, but hilarious all the same. I did feel a little bit bad, but not enough to call her back and tell her that we’d wait another week.

Our laughter subsided, and Karin said, ‘I didn’t realize you were so afraid.’

Bringing up my departure rant.

‘Well…I am.’  I admitted defensively.

Reaching to take my hand, Karin pulled me to her and had me sit next to her, and said ‘This, is when you take all of that wonderful ability that is unique to you, that ability to come out on top of every situation and remember that you are a warrior.’

‘I am not sure I want to be a warrior…Mother.’ I tested the word for the first time.

It felt strange coming out of my mouth, but I think I liked the way it sounded.

Surprise lit Karin's face and pleasure that brightened her eyes followed it. She got a little...okay, more than a little, emotional. This was the first time Sookie had used an endearment with her and it had been Mother. Karin, warmed to her core and enjoyed the moment as long as she could. Then she did what all mothers did.  ‘Nonsense!’ she scoffed at her future Progeny. ‘You’ve been telling me for more than a month now that you want this life. That you're ready for these changes. Did you think that someone was going to just hand you a perfect little life and you'd slide into it with no difficulty? That’s foolish, love.’ she reached out to stroke Sookie's hair. She’d been harsh, but she’d had to be. 

Frustrated tears pricked the corners of my eyes. ‘Damnit…’

Karin softened when she saw them.

Sookie was a grown woman, but in so many ways what she'd been through had made her vulnerable and childlike. And besides all of that, no one really outgrows needing their mother.

‘This is your choice, Sookie.’ Karin reminded me. ‘This day, right now, is where you make your choice. Whether you want to be a Vampire or not, you have to fight, for what you want. You have to go out there and take it, because no one is going to give it to you, my darling. I will help you. I will fight beside you. I will protect and care for you, but I can’t grasp a life and hold onto it for you.’ She said sincerely and stroked my check, dashing away the tear that fell.

I buried my face in her shoulder and hugged her tight. I had felt so good to have someone reassure me about what I was capable of. Not only that, but for the offer of support in my decisions as well. It felt like family and I liked it a lot.

‘Well, let’s get started then.’ I laughed.

I untangled myself from her and went to get my phone so I could call Amelia. I stopped in the doorway. ‘Um…Mother…’ I said trying to word again.  ‘Am I…glowing?’ I laughed.

She really looked me over for the first time since the blood exchange was complete.

‘Yep.’ She answered, with a laugh. 'Too much blood for sure. We’re going to have to hide you the next day or so.'

I grimaced at the prospect.

Fifteen minutes later, plans to stay with Amelia and Bob before leaving to go on my ‘singles cruise’ to the Bahamas, were firmly in place.

 

***

 

It’d been several days since completing the blood bond and as of noontime today, I’d finally stopped glowing. So, here we were on a crisp Thursday evening, one day before our departure with nothing to do but wait. I stumbled out to the swing on my front porch with my favorite afghan and tucked my feet up under me. I had intentions of packing but the glass of wine I’d had for dinner turned in a second bottle and this was the last glass from it. I assume that this glass was a delicious as the first glass I’d had or I wouldn’t be drinking it, but I was drunk now, so I guess it didn’t matter much. All I really know, is that I needed to relax. So, instead of packing, I was sitting out here burning a picture of my front yard into my memory. Karin had disappeared earlier in the evening and wasn’t back yet, so I was on my own.    

The events of the last month had caused a traffic jam of sorts in my head, what with all of the adjustments, rearranging, and changes that had been made. It all made for a serious case of nerves and I was having trouble keeping all of these things straight. I carried the notepad with me everywhere I went now. I was pretty sure, no, I was certain, that I’d relied too much on Karin’s blood to keep me going and I over did it the last few days, especially. If I didn’t keep these notes, I wouldn’t know shit from shinola right now. It started when I couldn’t remember a conversation I’d had with Bill. It took me until this morning to remember that he had asked me about the storm shutters. I’d lied, telling him that they made me feel safer. With Jason’s place sitting empty, I didn’t want to worry about it all the time. He’d accepted that easily enough at the time, then Karin showed up and they’d taken off for the evening. After that, I started writing everything down. 

I’d successfully managed to avoid Bill for the most part while I’d been glowing. Having too much blood in a short period time will make you look like you’ve been lit up from the inside. Anyway, Karin kept him busy most nights so I didn’t have to worry about him often, but apparently my luck with that had just run out. He was standing on my porch.

‘Good evening, Sweetheart.’ Bill purred.

I jumped and wine splashed out of my glass onto my pajama pants.

‘Hey, Bill.’ I slurred a little. 

'How much of this wine had I drunk again?’ I thought sloppily. 

‘Wanna come and sit with me?’ I asked. 

I skooched over and patted the open space next to me.

‘I regret that I cannot.’ He said wistfully.

‘Okay.’ I said, taking a gulp of the wine.

‘I just wanted to let you know that I am leaving town for the weekend. Danny Prudeaux will be keeping an eye on things around the house for me while I am gone. In case you wondered who was prowling around the grounds over there.’ He said smiling. ‘I would appreciate it though, if you would keep an eye on Danny.’ He added. ‘Don’t be shy to ask him for help if you need something, as well.’ Bill added.

I felt bad that I was going to lie to Bill. He was the liar, not me, but I agreed that I would keep an eye out for him while he was gone. ‘Sure thing. Where you headed, if you don’t mind my asking?’ I slurred.

‘A lot of wine is mighty fine.’ My thoughts sang while I waited for an answer.

‘There is an emergency summit in New Orleans, this weekend.’ He said.

‘A summit? Oh…’ I stood up and wobbled as I walked towards him.

The wine sloshing around in my glass.

‘Yes.’ He frowned, stepping toward me. ‘You’ve been drinking a lot.’ He said, obviously.

‘Yep.’ I replied. 

I leaned in to brush a kiss across his mouth. 

‘Goodbye, Bill.’ I said, fuzzily. Then, I turned away from him and walked into the house.

Puzzled, Bill stared after her. 

The door shut. 

He started toward it, but the porch light winked out. 

Bemused by the entire exchange, he turned and left town. 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

***

 

Bill, had been unable to banish Sookie from his thoughts since the moment her wine warmed lips had brushed delicately across his less than two hours ago. 

'Where too, Sir?' the driver asked.

He dictated an address to the driver and went right back to his thoughts.

Obviously, Sookie had been inebriated, but even so, the kiss wasn’t something she would have done normally, no matter how drunk she was.

‘Not with him, at any rate.’ He assured himself again.

Stunned into near paralysis by her gesture, he’d been too late to respond with anything but silent astonishment. He hadn't said a word to her, just watched while she drunkenly fluttered back into the house. Since then the moment the door to her home had closed and all during his flight, hope would bloom in his chest, then wither under his scrutiny only to bloom again moments later. The exercise was torture to his peace of mind, but he was genuinely hopeful of her returned affection for him for the first time in years. It would make what was to come, so much easier.

Bill loved Sookie as much as he was capable of loving a human woman. Admittedly, it wasn’t with the same reckless abandon of their previous relationship, but he still wanted her with an intensity that was impressive after so many years. Even so, a lot had transpired between them since the beginning and things for Bill personally, were much different than during their formative time together. Yes, he wanted her, but there were things he was involved with, that he wanted more. Or, to be fair, with at least the same intensity. So, he'd finally made peace with both his ambitious Vampire nature and what he truly wanted from Sookie.

He’d been unable to discover what, if anything was going on between Sookie and Karin. He was inclined to believe Karin's explanation of simple concern, but he still had suspicions. He'd have more time to devote to finding out if she was telling the truth after the Summit. He couldn’t fathom that the two of them were carrying on with each other since he took up much of Karin’s time in the evenings, but he did suspect that Karin had given Sookie her blood last week. They’d taken obvious pains to hide it from him, though he couldn’t fathom why. He’d always been curious if there'd been blood between them and if so, for what reason. It wasn’t as if Sookie was alone. He was always just across the cemetery. Yes, he’d considered that Karin was giving Sookie the blood to strengthen her and to help overcome her struggles. If that were the case, it was dangerous and he’d put a stop to when he got back. He couldn’t have her strung out on Vampire blood even though he could see that Sookie was much better than she'd been in the few weeks previous.

He had other things he had to focus on just now and couldn't afford to be distracted with his concerns about Sookie, so, he let them go for now.

Considering that Bill had been responsible for the demise of the Old Authority and much of what had occurred during the Hep-V war he considered himself lucky to be alive. He'd gotten smart, laid low, accepted his punishment and when the the time came, he did what he was told. In public, he'd made his ardent support of Mainstreaming known as well as his loyalty to the New Authority, he spoke lovingly of his roll of Maker and then maker-in-Law (which hadn’t lasted long) Jessica and Hoyt had ‘joined’ and ‘separated’ inside of a year, and he maintained the spotless image of a rehabilitated and reformed Vampire. He hadn't been given a choice about becoming Regent in Louisiana. In the beginning he would have preferred not to take on the responsibility, but after some time, found that he enjoyed the privilege it afforded him. He'd worked hard and his reputation was such now, that no one questioned his character.

To keep Jessica from spinning out of control after her Divorce from Hoyt, he’d insisted she get on with her schooling. Jessica, having been home schooled by her human parents, knew how to make the most of her study time and graduated from Vanderbilt with a PhD in Biology in five years’ time. She was brilliant and she was going to make the two of them wealthy, powerful and famous beyond their imagining. When he’d been forced by the New Authority to Make Jessica as punishment for his role in the deaths of thousands of Vampires and human’s, it hadn’t set well with him. Now, he considered Jessica to be one of the best things to happen in his long life. He’d have to make another Progeny in four more years and so on, in keeping with his sentence, but at least next time he’d get to choose

In the last year, Bill had taken all that he’d learned from his Maker, his Queen, his King, his own experiences, and had in a manner of sorts, taken up the quest of his former Queen, Sophie-Anne. If Sophie Anne would have had her way about things, Sookie would've been imprisoned and forced to produce a child for Sophie-Anne’s personal consumption year after year.

'It was funny how things worked out.'  Bill smirked and thought, 'She would've been sorely disappointed in that endeavor.'

Sophie-Anne may have been a brilliant queen, but she’d never been very intelligent and Bill knew that fact had led to her ultimate demise. 

It had been his main motivation in insisting that Jessica educate herself to her full potential.

As a human female, Sophie-Anne had been uneducated in anything that one would find useful outside of a ladies drawing room. As a Vampire she’d received a minimal amount of traditional education in order to remain competitive in business, however, as a female born in a different era, she was flighty and unstudious. She paid no attention whatever to anything she found droll or without entertainment. Where Sophie-Anne had truly excelled was politics. She’d been brilliant at navigating the world of Vampire and Human politics. She could convince anyone to do anything and had been an unmatched negotiator when necessity required a compromise. She'd been the most powerful, most sought after Vampire in the United States despite the absence of a real education, until Hurricane Katrina.

Sophie-Anne’s lack of formal education, combined with the injuries she’d sustained during the explosion at Rhodes and then the disastrous fall out from Hurricane Katrina, were her ultimate downfall. Like many old Vampires she’d never trusted or had a head for modern technology. Because of this, she’d been unable to embrace new concepts in business, finance, and real-estate, so, she lost deals to other territories. When the money began to dry up, she taxed her Sheriff’s heavily to replenish her coffers. She’d been easy pickings for the ultra-wealthy Vampire Felipe de Castro, who based in Las Vegas, was now the King of Nevada, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

Now, Bill suspected that before long, Felipe would attempt to move on Texas. If he did and won, it would make him the most powerful Vampire in the United States. Bill had resolved that he’d be ready for it when it happened. He wasn’t going to be at the mercy of the Monarchy, the Authority, the Karaftu, the United States Government or anyone for much longer, including the United States Military.

He had a plan and wasn’t going to be deterred from it.

Bill had learned a great deal about Vampire politics during his homicidal reign of destruction at the Authority and the unfortunate Hep-V war that followed. The most shocking, had been the fact that The United States Military hadn’t given the Vampire Monarchy a choice about Mainstreaming and that they’d developed weapons and tactics to balance the power. As a natural consequence to the US Military mandate of Mainstreaming, a new regime was birthed in the Vampire Authority. The choices offered to Vampire kind by this Authority were to Mainstream or be eradicated, (which as could be expected, didn’t sit well with the Vampire Goddess, Lilith). The public face of the Authority, in turn, became the PR machine The Vampire League of America. The VLA sold the idea of Mainstreaming to the American public through the miracle of Tru Blood and Vampires made themselves known to humans through the Great Reveal.

Bill, unlike most of the Vampire population of the United States was a vocal advocate for the concept of Mainstreaming. Bill, espoused to the depths of his long since departed soul, that Mainstreaming was the future and not just for Vampires, but the entire world. Bills conviction for Vampire’s taking their place in society through Mainstreaming was so strong, that he’d taken it upon himself to keep the idea alive (Even after that little incident with the Authority and an incurable disease. Religion really was the Devil).

The most important thing he’d learned during the last fifteen years was the importance of evolution, progress, and the ability to embrace both. With this knowledge and Jessica’s help, he was going to change the current reality and then the future. If Sophie-Anne had recovered and maintained her Kingdom he may have eventually been able to bring her to these conclusions, but it was unlikely. The recent past had been like a perfect storm to bring about the exciting new developments he’d worked so hard on. At times, he couldn’t help but consider the past and know that he was truly carrying out the destiny that Lilith had set forth for him. His rational brain knew now that religion was subterfuge and that Lilith wasn’t real, but the way in which the Universe continued to order itself for him, made him wonder what was.

Frequently, he had to remind himself to stick to facts, or he’d lose himself in the daydream of becoming a God, once again. Right now, the facts were, that Hep V had ensured there was always going to be a need for NeuBlood, especially now that it carried the antibodies for managing the Hep-V virus. Bill knew that Hep-V could be eradicated, but he also knew that there wasn’t a profit in curing disease and Yokonomo now had the means to force every Vampire in the world to their product…because of him. He was going to take that power back from Yokonomo and turn it into an untouchable kingdom for Jessica, himself, and any of his subsequent Progeny, but they wouldn't be forced on him by the Authority.

The constant issue the Authority dealt with, was Vampires being Vampires. They continued to spread the Hep-V virus, because the old argument still held true. Sure, NeuBlood, much like its predecessor Tru Blood would keep you alive, but it could never fully take the place of fresh blood taken from the vein of a warm body. So, there were occasional outbreaks of Hep-V positive, rogue Vampires, rampaging through small towns. One day soon, he'd unveil his solution for this problem and his subsequent absolution would follow. There'd be freedom and his power would be such that he’d be unstoppable. Vampires and humans alike would demand what he could give them and he would give it to them. When it was time, he'd take what he wanted and no one would be able to deny him. Not the Military, the New Authority, the Karaftu, or even Sookie herself.

He’d pulled the small glass vial he’d being fingering all during the cab ride from his suit pocket and pondered his next steps. He glanced down at the small object in his hand. The sun gold stands of blond hair inside, glinted in the light from the streetlamps as the cab passed through the streets of downtown Dallas. Hidden in among the shadows of sky scrapers in the sprawling city, some of the largest corporate medical labs in the world conducted business. Including the Yokonomo Corporation itself. Bill had kidnapped the scientist who’d developed Tru Blood for Yokonomo several years ago and had force glamored the science from him. When Jess graduated, Bill set up a dummy corporation, bought her a lab and a staff, and put her to work. It was small and invisible, just ten others, but productive. It hadn’t been hard to entice the staff. They were all brilliant, more curious than cautious, and any misgivings they’d had, either he or Jess glamored away. Everyone lived and worked in the building. There’d been a great deal of success in the last eight weeks and now it was time to see if the science would hold. It was an exciting if nerve wracking time for both he and Jessica. They’d been through hell and now maybe they’d be able to clean up some of the mess he’d made and put the nightmare of Hep-V, as well as a few other things, behind them.

The cab stopped at a low, nondescript office building on the city’s west side, pulling Bill’s gaze from the vial clutched in his hand. Resolved in his decision, he paid the driver half the fee and told him to wait. If all went well, he could do what he came to Dallas to do and be out again before anyone was the wiser. He'd fly into New Orleans soon after and no one would suspect that he hadn’t driven from Bon Temps, just the way he made it appear.

The elevator dinged and the silver door of the putrid smelling compartment slid open. Bill stepped into the dimly lit, dingy hallway and made his silent way to the end stopping before a plain wooden door. It had nothing written on it to announce what might be on the other side. He turned the grimy brass knob and stepped into a rather pleasant reception area. It was clean, well lit, and smelled like lavender. A sleepy, if well-dressed receptionist looked up at him as he entered. She smiled in greeting. He nodded at her, saying nothing, but continuing on to the door to the left of her desk. Bill opened it, went down a clean white hallway to be confronted with another door. This one, steel with a key pad attached to the metal plate surrounding the door. He punched a 26-digit code into the pad and the door clicked open. He stepped in, closed the door and punched a different 26-digit code into the door directly behind the one he’d just come through. It buzzed and popped open. Heavy Metal music thundered out of the open sliver of door. Bill pulled the door open to reveal a brightly lit, stark white lab. As he walked into the room, he mused that the extra sound proofing had proved itself. He hadn’t heard even the creak of a floor board, let alone the cacophony of noise being made by the so called “music.”

He moved deeper into the room to find with surprise that everyone was working even though the music was astonishingly loud and NeuBlood bottles we scattered over every surface that wasn’t a designated work space. He approached a long table, at least 12 feet, that held a bank of monitors, a microscope. The barest hint of bright red hair was visible over one enormous screen. The tall, curvaceous, red head sensed his presence and glanced up. A smile split her incredibly lovely face.

Jessica's skin was a creamy pale that somehow reflected her hair giving it a slight peachy hue. She had a smattering of light freckles across the bridge of her nose and large liquid blue pools for eyes. Dramatic brows, worthy of an old time movie starlet arched over them, serving to make her face even more striking. She had strong, but softly rounded cheek bones and lush naturally pink lips. She’d been a beautiful teenager. Now, she was a Vampire and his only Progeny. 

‘Bill!’ Jessica beamed at him, darting around to him.

Bill smiled at her broadly and opened his arms to her just in time as she hurtled herself against him.

Jessica, had been quite the handful as a baby Vampire. She’d been nearly uncontrollable. He’d even left her with Eric and Pam for a time as he’d had no idea what to do with her. They’d had many struggles in their short time together, but he’d eventually come to the realization that he loved the girl.

She was his.

After he’d accepted her and she’d accepted his short comings they’d made amends and had been quite happy to be together, even though he’d released the girl. He squeezed his daughter, which was how he thought of her now, to his chest, and she laid her forehead against his. They stood this way for a time as it was their way to say ‘I love you’ then, Bill lifted his head and pressed a soft chaste kiss to the spot. When he was done, Jessica took a step back and smiled up at him.

Bill immediately held out his hand to her, and said, 'I’ve brought you something.’ 

Jessica looked down, frowned, then realized what it was. Her mouth popped open and she jerked her incredulous gaze back to her Maker.

‘Does she know?’ She asked, pointedly.

‘No.’ Bill answered, shaking his head.

Jessica, pressed her lips into a thin disapproving line, delivering the the silent censure, he’d known would come. 

She held his eyes with hers, then nodded once, accepting that it was, what it was.

Bill smiled stiffly and stroked a finger down her silken cheek, knowing he was about to make her unhappy again.

‘I can’t stay. I have a cab waiting.’ He said, explaining.

The thin-lipped grimace became grimmer with the addition of slightly narrowed eyes.

‘I promise, as soon as I can, I will come for a few days. I am on my way to New Orleans for the Summit.’

Realization dawned and Jess let go of the grimace.

‘I’m sorry. I forgot.’ She apologized.

She’d been so focused lately that time and details just slipped away from her. In the last week she’d had the bleeds three times.

‘It’s okay. I understand. I'm anxious to get back here to see what you will have to show me.’ Bill replied.

Jessica nodded, wishing that he’d said he was anxious to spend time with her instead.

‘We're ready. I know it’s going to work. When it does, we're going to need the bigger labs and more people. I have my eye on a few already.’ She said, her eyes glittered confidently.

‘I look forward to a full report.’ He smiled and pulled her to him. ‘I do have to go though.’ He said, and he pulled away. 

Jessica huffed an exasperated sigh and glanced down at the glass tube in her hand, ‘Bye.’ She murmured, distractedly.

Turning the vial in her hands she considered what she was about to do. Sookie’s hair lay in the accusing vile. She knew how Sookie felt about having her blood synthesized from even before the Hep-V war and that was just a little blood. She was going to fucking freak the fuck out over this. Jess heard the door click closed and turned her attention to it.

Bill was gone.

‘Shit!’ she swore in annoyance.

Sucking it up, she resignedly turned on her heel and stalked away from the door.

‘Well, let go make some Sookie clones.’ She resolved, with a heavy sigh.

As Bills car took him out of Dallas back toward the airport, his thoughts were drawn back to the kiss Sookie had said goodbye to him with.

He spent the next several minutes thinking about how their lives would soon change for the better and he vowed to reconcile with her once and for all when he got home next week.

But instead of the longed-for reconciliation, he never saw her again.

 

Chapter Text

Bon Temps

 

All of Karin’s precisely laid plans had finally taken root, bloomed, and this evening after what seemed like eon’s, all of her hard work had come to fruition. It had taken her a very long time and a shipping container of money, but she’d finally done it. This train had finally left the station and was underway. All she had to do now, was pull the lever and switch the track. A hundred other figures of speech ran through her thoughts while she finished up.

She was excited, nervous, and happy!

‘Hundreds of years and failed attempts, but tonight was the night.’ Joy settled over her with this thought.

Karin the Slaughterer was going to free her family from the constant slavery it had lived under because of Appius Livius Ocella and it wasn’t going to take another 200 years either.

Before the weekend was over, they’d be free of everyone. She was giddy and her happiness continuously rolled through her.

It was a great night!

Her future Progeny had awoken a little before dawn so they could talk before Karin went to ground. While they’d talked, Karin noticed that Sookie appeared to be a little hung over. She’d had to remind Sookie that she’d been at Jason’s house packing it when she’d asked where Karin had been all night. Karin had become used to reminding Sookie of certain details over the last few weeks and it was probably a good thing Sookie had gotten drunk while she’d been at Jason’s, packing up. The woman had been soldiering on through her stress and fear for weeks and it had finally started to take a toll on her. She knew Sookie trusted her, that trust wasn’t the issue. It wasn’t the plan, or transitioning, or saying goodbye to everyone she knew, or even leaving home. It was the things they couldn’t control that were getting to her. Karin knew this, because it was the same thing that was getting to her.

Sookie was at Amelia’s now. She’d texted while Karin slept to say she’d arrived safely. Karin now sent a strong wave of positive energy out towards Sookie knowing that it would help her through the next few hours, until she could sleep.

‘Almost over now…just hang on.’ She thought to her, through their blood bond.

Karin picked up the notes Sookie had left for her and ran through them. They were simple things, but Karin had a long night ahead of her, so she got busy. She walked over and opened the front door. The porch was piled high with the packing materials they’d ordered on line. After deciding it would be too conspicuous, as well as too emotional to pack the house in advance, they’d agreed Karin would use her ‘super speed’ and do it after Sookie left for Amelia’s.   

Sookie however, packed her personal things and had them ready to go when the shipping company showed up just around mid-morning. It amounted to only a few boxes. Pictures, a quilt, clothing, that kind of thing. Karin had already received confirmation that her things were on The Boat that was already sitting Le Petite Pass waiting for their arrival.  When Sookie left the house later on in the day, all she carried with her was a duffel bag.

‘Perfect for a weekend away with friends.’ Karin mused.

When they’d been plotting on a way to cover up all the activity around the house, Sookie had smartly filched a few yard signs for Alcide’s construction company out of the back of his truck. They were using them to falsely advertise that Alcide was remodeling on the premises. They’d stuck them in the yard and out by the road a few days ago to throw off anyone who got to curious. Regardless of their subterfuge she knew someone was always watching them now. It wasn’t Bill’s day man Danny, who was at this moment parked in the cemetery with a pair of binoculars. It might be Freyda’s spy and if that were the case they knew by now that Sookie wasn’t home. It just didn’t make didn’t make sense that someone else would be watching the house though. If it was someone working for Freyda, they would have glamored Danny for information at first dark and left already. So, it had to be someone else that was watching them and while that did make her a bit nervous, she just didn’t care, because it would all be irrelevant shortly.

She worked as fast as her Vampire speed would allow, first vacuum packing, then boxing everything in the house that could be packed in this way. She emptied all of the food from the cabinets and refrigerator, then unplugged it. She moved everything except the furniture, which she’d covered with sheets, into the attic.

Sookie had actually done most of the work herself. She’d cleaned the house, called to make arrangements for the Utilities to be disconnected, as well as filled out change of address forms, cancelled the newspaper, made extra keys, paid bills, and prepared mail for Karin to send off to Beth Osiecki, Sookie’s lawyer.  She hadn’t left much for Karin to do except the physical boxing and she was done now. One of the last things she did, was pull the notes out of the pad Sookie had begun carrying around to keep her facts and dates straight. She put the now nearly empty pad back in the napkin holder on the table where it usually sat. Strangely, they were the only two items in the house not packed away in the attic. 

‘It was almost funny how that had worked out.’ She noted. 

Karin gathered up the rest of the trash, then settled the wad of notes just so inside the top of the bag and loosely tied the bag shut. She set the trash on the back porch and took one more look around the once vibrant, now ghostly looking house. When she was satisfied with what she saw, she picked up the mail and keys from the counter, flipped the light off, and as she walked out of the door pushed the button on the door knob. She also slid the key into the lock and ran the dead bolt home. Lastly, she pulled the shutter over the back door and locked it as well.

The house was relieved to find itself empty. It was either feast or famine. The constant day and night activity it had endured lately was more than it’d to deal with from day to night in nearly 30 years. In the beginning, it hadn’t been so sure about the shutters, but eventually decided that they did help with sleeping. Which was what it was going to do right now.

‘Ahhhh, blissful silence.’ The house creaked and sighed with pleasure.

Karin stepped off of the back porch, her senses tuning into her surroundings. She couldn’t be sure, but she thought she’d just heard the house sigh. Dismissing that as fanciful, she noticed that it was totally silent in the yard and that could only mean one thing. She was definitely being watched. So, she did the only thing she could. She made a show of dropping the trash into the cans out by the shed, then ran the mail down to the box at the end of the driveway. She smiled slyly as she closed the lid, and once she was in the yard again, she made a show of checking things over.

Then it was done. Finally. ‘Let’s do this thing.’ She thought, joy spreading through her.

She stepped through the tree line behind the house and sped away. Seconds later she knew that she wasn’t just being watched, she was being followed. She thought of confronting and killing the Vampire that was following her, but she was anxious to get to New Orleans, as it was still early and that might cause her complications, she didn’t have time for. Besides, it wouldn’t matter soon anyway she reminded herself. With that, she stopped caring, took to the air, thinking it must be a fairly young Vampire, then resolutely dismissed the issue.

They were waiting for her.

She wouldn’t know that it had been a mistake for several days yet.

 

***

 

Danny Prudeaux as instructed, watched Sookie’s house from the cemetery all day. When Karin left a few minutes ago, she’d just blinked out. He’d never seen anything like that before even though he’d heard that the really old Vamps could blink out like that he’d never believed it. He certainly hadn’t realized that Karin was that old.

Earlier in the day he’d watched Sookie put a duffel bag in her car and leave and she hadn’t returned. There was a Herveaux and Son sign in the yard, indicating that she’d hired Alcide to do some remodeling. A shipping company had showed up after she’d left and dropped off a load of boxes on the porch and they’d picked some up as well. After dark Karin, dragged the boxes into the house. Then it was nothing but a flurry of activity that he could see through the windows. It looked to him as if she’d packed the entire house. She’d even dragged the washer and dryer into the house off of the porch. He didn’t know what to make of it.

‘It felt wrong.’ He worried.

He was supposed to let Bill know right away if anything out of the ordinary happened. This was out of the ordinary. Maybe. The problem was, Danny liked Sookie. It hadn’t set well with him that he was being told to nose around in her business. However, he liked his job too. If he didn’t tell Bill about this the least of what could happen would be getting fired. He took his phone out to call Bill, but he stopped himself before dialing. 

'What was he supposed to say?’ He pondered.

He didn’t have any answers to questions that were sure to come. He needed to be able to tell Bill something more than, Sookie left with a duffel bag, and Karin locked the house up. It looks like they’ve left town. 

‘He needed information.’ He reasoned.

He’d start with the obvious things. The mail box and the trash. He started with the trash. It didn’t take him long to find something. There were hand written notes in the trash and even though he knew that it was a crime, he took the mail from Sookie’s box and brought it all back to his small office at Bill’s house. The notes from the trash were confusing. There wasn’t any rhyme or reason to them. They were to do lists. As far as he could tell they were notes about what Sookie had said to people during conversations.

‘It’s strange that she would be keeping notes like this.’ He thought.

Furthermore, it was obvious that she had looked through them a lot. 

‘They’re ragged.’ He observed.

He set the scraps of paper aside, flipping through the mail. There was a change of address form in the stack.

‘The hell…’ he thought. ‘Was she moving away?  No, the new address was for here in Bon Temps, in town.’

He flipped through the rest.

At the bottom was a padded envelope. It was addressed to that woman lawyer in town.

The address, was the same as the one on the change of address form.

‘What the hell.’ He mumbled, out loud this time.

He really knew he shouldn’t, but he did anyway and ripped the envelope open.

After I figure out what’s going on, I will fix it, and put it all back.’ He promised himself.

He dumped the contents of the envelope onto his desk.

Several sets of keys and a piece of paper fell out. Ignoring the keys, he snatched up the paper. It was a letter.

 

Miss Osiecki,

 

Enclosed please find the master keys to Merlotte’s,

the King Fisher Rentals, Jason’s house, my house,

and the keys for the roll down shutter for both properties. 

You should expect to begin receiving my mail as soon as

Monday or Tuesday this coming week. I will be out of contact

for several months, and will get in touch with you when I get settled.

I trust you in all things, and I thank you again for all of your help.

 

Sincerely,

Sookie Stackhouse-Merlotte.

 

‘Sookie left town? Is leaving town?’ He was so confused.

It sounded like she was leaving the state actually.

‘She, hasn’t said anything about this to anyone.’ He thought, puzzling through it.

‘Where is she now,’ he questioned himself. ‘Should I…use her keys?’ he wondered.

He decided that he wouldn’t use the keys, that was just taking things too far. He knew without going inside, that Karin had packed the whole place up. The mail confirmed that Sookie wasn’t coming back to the house any time soon. He picked up the scraps of paper and read through them again. He’d been reading for a few minutes, when everything jelled.

‘Oh my God!’ he yelled inwardly when understanding took hold. THIS was out of the ordinary!

He frantically pulled his phone out and looked at the time. Two hours until the sun came up. Bill couldn’t get back here in that amount of time.

He made his mind up quickly. ‘I have to go to New Orleans.’  

Then, out of nowhere a stunning Vampire was standing in front of him. He jumped about a mile and swore when she'd virtually materialized out of thin air.

‘Son of a bitch! Who the hell are you lady and what are you doing here?’ he’d demanded.

She didn’t answer.

Danny woke up several hours later, in his recliner at home, to the ambient noise of his wife, Terri Norris (now Prudeaux) making breakfast.

The kids were climbing on him as he came to and confused, he thought, ‘I’m not supposed to be at home, I’m supposed to be at Bill’s.’

The baby was gnawing on his finger and the two older kids were already arguing about who was going to get to look at it first.

He dragged a tired hand over his face, hoisted the ripe baby over the arm of the chair, kissing her on the cheek, and focused.

Terri’s other two kids loudly wrestled over an envelope. To get them to stop he said, ‘Here, give me that.’ And took the envelope.

Standing up, he ruffled the oldest boy’s hair and went to the kitchen.

‘Morning.’ He said, kissing Terri.

She was putting more bacon in the pan.

‘Be right back, I have to change the baby.’ He said.

‘Already?’ Terri laughed. ‘I thought you were working all weekend. It’s dangerous for you to be out here on the full moon. I don’t like it.’ She called after him as he went down the hall.

Danny didn’t answer her. She was right, it was dangerous for him to be in Hot Shot right now. So, what was he doing here? He laid the baby and the envelope down on the changing table her while he got her cleaned up. She flailed around while he was doing up the snaps on her sleeper and caught the envelope in her hand and waived it around. When he was done with all of the god-awful snaps, he took the envelop, kissed the baby again and went back to the kitchen. The boys were already sitting at the table inhaling pancakes and bacon. He should have known they were eating because it was quiet. He put the baby in her high chair and she immediately began to protest. Danny set the envelop on his plate in order to struggle his daughter safely into the chair. It was exhausting. Who knew one tiny baby could be such a work out?

Terri came to the table carrying a pan, ‘What’s this?’ she asked, brandishing the envelop.

Setting it aside, she flipped a pancake out onto Danny’s plate,slid the bacon closer to his seat and went back to the stove to make some more pancakes.

Danny sat down, picked the envelope up and everything that had happened the night before crashed over him.

He bolted out of his chair in a panic knocking it over.

‘What time is it?’ he demanded!

He'd startled the baby.

The infant screwed her face up and there was a momentary pause before she began to cry.

The boys, just as startled, had stopped eating and watched him wide eyed and wary.

Terri dropped her spatula at the crash of the chair.  She bent over to pick it up and exclaimed, ‘Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Danny! What the hell?’

Danny was no longer in the kitchen when she stood up. He'd run from the table to their bedroom before she could even finish the swear.

The baby set in to earnest crying at her mothers tone and Danny could hear Terri comforting her. He felt bad for making his baby girl cry, but damnit, he was probably going to lose his job.

He grabbed a backpack and stuffed the hand written notes into it, then started throwing staples into the pack.

A change of clothes, water, a few granola bars stashed away to keep the boys out of them.

He jerked his wallet out and yes, the business credit card was in it. He grabbed his phone charger, stuffing it into the pack.

Just then Terri came into the room.

He grabbed her by the arms and kissed her hard, ‘I’m sorry! I gotta go to New Orleans. I have to be there when Bill wakes up tonight. It’s an emergency.’

He let go of her and brushed past her. Terri followed him down the hallway.

‘Danny, what is going on?’ She demanded!

‘It’s Sookie. Have you seen my phone?’ He asked, distractedly while scouring the area around the recliner.

‘No.’ she answered. ‘What about Sookie?’ she asked ominously.

‘She’s in danger.’ He answered. ‘Look, I can’t find my phone. I will call you when I can.’

With that, he slammed out the front door, leaving his entire family, except for the baby, stunned speechless.

‘Sookie’s in danger. What else is new.’ Terri cast at the door, then asked. ‘Who wants another pancake?’

Before he got on the freeway, Danny realized that he was exhausted.

He’d been on lookout duty forever.

He was going to have to get an energy drink when he stopped for gas. It was already mid-morning when he finally turned south on I-49 to New Orleans. It was going to take about five hours to get there if the traffic was good. That left him enough time to get a room, get some sleep, some food, and a phone before all hell broke loose. At some point, he remembered that he hadn’t put Sookie’s mail, back in the box.

‘Damn.’ He’d get Terri to do it when he got to a phone.

 

New Orleans: Marigny

 

Amelia, Bob and I were chatting away as the couple’s son, Felix played with Matchbox cars in the kitchen floor making enough noise for three children. The noise had been a joy to my ears 30 minutes ago, but had started to grate on my nerves in the past five minutes. 

Even though the atmosphere in the kitchen was chipper, there was some underlying tension in the room. It was coming from Bob, not Amelia, surprisingly. Felix must have been picking up on it as well because the more agitated Bob became, the more animated Felix became. It was as if they were feeding off of each other. I knew I shouldn’t, but I tuned into Bob for a second. He was really annoyed with Amelia over money.

‘Of all things!’ I thought, nonplussed by the idea. I quickly backed out of Bob’s head. I didn’t need to know anything else. It was none of my business. To keep Bob out of my head I focused on Felix. Which was how I found out that Felix was nervous about dinner. 

‘Weird.’ I thought.

I asked Felix about his cars, but before he could answer me, Amelia asked me what we should do about dinner. Bob excused himself. Felix stopped playing instantly and cast a glance at me.

‘Now it made sense.’

‘Go out, or stay in.’ she asked.

I could tell that Amelia really didn’t want to stay home and cook. She wanted to go out to a fancy expensive dinner to relax and visit with me. I also knew that since Bob was stressed about money, he wasn’t going to want to go out. It was a conundrum, but I had an idea. Felix, after his initial reaction, had taken it in his head to ignore the fact that his mother had asked me about dinner and was telling me about his favorite blue and orange race car, to keep the peace. 

‘Wow!’  I exclaimed, ‘That is so cool! I love those red stripes on your blue car!’

His little face lit up in and adorable smile, ‘Wait till I show you this one.’

He turned to retrieve a different car, but I stopped him.

‘Felix,’ I said, stopping him, ‘Wait just a second. Come here.’ I waved to him. 

He came back to me and I pulled him up into my lap. 

‘Let me ask you a question.’ I said.

Felix was all ears, at my request. He even stopped wiggling and said ‘Okay.’

‘I need help with something.’ I said conspiratorially.

His eyes rounded and he nodded that he would help.

The boy was just happy to be included in a discussion about something.

‘Do you think, all of us should get gussied up in our best clothes and go to a real fancy restaurant where we would have to use our very best manners, sit really still, stay quiet and eat lots of vegetables…’

Felix was staring at me horrified.

‘…or, should we stay here and order pizza with extra cheese and drink way too much soda? I really am having the hardest time trying to decide.’ I complained.

Amelia cupped her hand over her mouth so he wouldn’t see her smile. 

That would have ruined the fun.

Felix, had decided that I was a crazy person. He leaned very close to me, using the conspiratorial voice I’d just used and said, ‘I think we better stay here and eat pizza. Don’t you?’

He was also thinking, ‘Otherwise my dad is going to have a fit.’ As he gave his honest opinion about what to do for dinner.

I wasn’t done playing this game yet, so I said, ‘I don’t know.’ and shrugged. ‘I’ve been having a super strong craving for Asparagus and Brussel sprouts.’ I explained, using a confiding tone.

A scandalized Felix cried, ‘Ew! Aunt Sookie, that is so gross!’

The game was over.

Amelia and I both started laughing and I said, ‘Pizza it is then!’ 

Felix slid off my lap into the kitchen floor and began playing again. He was happy and much quieter than he had been before. He ran his cars over my sneakers and kept up with the engine noises, but he was much more relaxed with the question of dinner finally answered. ‘Hey, Aunt Sookie, watch this. My car is going to jump the river.’ He flew the little car from my right shoe to my left shoe.

‘That was awesome, Felix!’ I exclaimed and prompted him to, ‘Do it again.'

Amelia rolled her eyes at me. ‘When you get tired of that, shoo him to me.’  She said, gesturing at her son.

Bob popped his head around the door frame and said hopefully, ‘Did I hear someone say pizza?’

‘Sure did.’ I laughed, ‘Better yet, I am buying.’

‘Hey, alright! Thanks Sook.’ Bob said, and disappeared just as quickly as he had appeared.

Amelia frowned at me. I gave her my Super Sookie Smile and said ‘I am really happy to be here and that I get to see y’all. It’s been way too long since we’ve spent any time together.’

Amelia knew this to be code for, ‘let’s not fuss over dinner.’

So, we didn’t and went back to catching up.

Chapter Text

Lake Borgne: Le Petit Pass

 

At 590 feet, Sunniva was more of a ship, than a yacht. Of all of the things Karin had received from Ocella’s estate, this by far made her the happiest. She’d formally changed The Boat’s name from Eliana, to Sunniva, but for all intents and purposes, her name was still Child of the Sun. It just happened to be spoken in Norse now, instead of Italian. Karin simply called her The Boat, because making snobby rich people cringe when she called the massive ship ‘a boat,’ pleased her.

Sunniva had been built over four years, by the world’s best ship makers. She was designed in such a way that she had nearly total, freedom of movement. Her best feature wasn’t her opulent interior, or her light tight state rooms. It was her ability to maneuver in shallow water with little danger of becoming trapped during a low tide, as well as her ability to safely navigate deep water. Karin had no qualms about crossing oceans with her. There wasn’t a place that they’d taken her, that she’d been unable to navigate. She just sailed right on through as if she owned the water itself. Sunniva didn’t actually sail, she had engines. This was why Karin insistently called her The Boat. She truly loved this boat. It would make Ocella insane with rage to know that she now owned it, which was probably why it made her so happy. 

She hadn’t been aboard her in the last several years, but The Boat was her true home. She was elated to be back on her now. Her feet no more than touched down on the large H in the center of the Helipad when she was immediately mobbed by a very tall, very pale, willow thin Vampire who hugged her fiercely. When he was satisfied, he passed Karin off to a tiny Vampire with skin the color of cinnamon. Karin slid her arms around the Vampire and kissed her thoroughly, digging her hands into a head of incredible hair so black and perfect that it shimmered blue when light shone on it. Eventually, Karin set her down and they laughed, for the pure joy of being together.

‘I hope you are both well.’ She said, emotion causing her voice to shake. ‘I’ve missed you terribly and Facetime is a sorry substitute for your presence.’ They looped their arms together and moved as one into the interior of The Boat while the pair answered her questions of greeting. They emerged into a grand living area that was simple when compared to the rest of the boat because it received the most traffic. It was done in durable but elegant fabrics in earth tones. Lots of wood, glass, and brass, it was terribly simple for Sunniva, but was somehow still extravagant in design. 

A crewman arrived with warmed NeuBlood and served it.

‘Thank you, Brian. That will be all.’ The tiny woman said, dismissing him.

The three of them piled onto a nearby sofa and cuddled each other as was their custom. Karin had been separated from them for so long, that she couldn’t force herself to stop touching them even if she’d wanted to. There was a touch, a kiss, a hug, another kiss. They’d been without the comfort of each other’s touch for too damn long. She wanted to skip immediately to the pleasure portion of this evening, but there was still a little work to do.

Just a few more hours and they wouldn’t have to be apart ever again. She couldn’t believe that it was almost over…finally.’ She reminded herself. She sighed, letting the magic bubble of reconnecting burst after several minutes. 

‘We can still trust this crew?’ she asked, quietly.

‘Yes, most of the crew you chose are still with us. The rest were handpicked by Reider.’ Nuri said.

She pronounced it Ray-der, in her thick Romany accent.

Karin looked at Reider expectantly for his answer.

‘All is well.’ He assured her warmly, stroking a hand down her hair. 

Reider had a very light Scandinavian accent.

‘The newest member of this crew, has been with us for two years already. We stuck to the protocol. They have no family, no ties, no one who could be used against them as leverage. However, they’ve become a family to each other. They are close knit and that could pose a potential problem. There are only a few shipboard romances. They are very well paid and well fed. They’ve received many perks, such as health benefits, which is very important to humans now days. Nothing will buy loyalty and trust quite like benefits of full medical with dental, vision, and all expenses paid luxury vacations.’ He chuckled. ‘We take exceptional care of them and in return, we receive absolute loyalty.’ He said.

‘So, there is no one, that you are leery of?’ she asked.

‘No, Mother.’ He answered faithfully. 

‘We do not feed from them, as agreed upon. They’ve been thoroughly screened and vetted. We’ve been careful to make them feel safe. They handle any disputes they may have among themselves and are unfailingly courteous with one another. They live together as a family in a floating palace. No one wants to mess this up for themselves, or someone else. All is well. We have come too far, to fail now because of personnel issues.’ He said softly.

‘Willa and Ginger are already here?’ she asked. 

He nodded then laid his hand over the intertwined hands of his Mother and Nuri. A long lock of his pale blond hair fell over his shoulder and its length hid his face from her.  It was so pale it was almost white. People seeing him for the first time were mesmerized by his ethereal beauty. More often than not they couldn’t help but compare him to Legolas. Karin reached to tuck the lock of hair behind his ear so she could see his beautiful face.

‘Yes. I picked them up as soon as Pam left. Now, be at ease, I was diligent.’ He reassured her.

‘I’ve missed this Childe for so long.’ She thought, regret squeezing her heart.

Karin imagined that it was difficult for anyone to be separated from loved ones, but for Vampires it was doubly so. Being that Vampires lived such separate lives, they only had each other. A Vampires family was the only thing that was truly theirs. There was no way to fill the void of family absence. She ran her fingers through Reider’s hair again. It was soft and cool to the touch. He leaned in close and they quietly soaked in the pleasure of being together once more. After a while, he disentangled himself from them and stood.

‘Go and be with Nuri now.’ He said to Karin. ‘She’s been anticipating your reunion.’

He bent and pressed a quick kiss to his mother’s mouth and left the room before she could utter a protest.

Karin nudged Nuri with her elbow, ‘So, you were anticipating me?’ she flirted.

Nuri laughed. ‘Reider is still a romantic. He’s been getting me through the days of waiting by reading me poetry and distracting me by playing board games. He loves the Jenga. It will be good for him to have new distractions. I think he’s already taken a liking to Willa, but time will tell.’ She laughed again.

Smiling seductively, Karin stood, tugging her wife to her feet. She pulled Nuri’s slight body into a tight embrace and lowered her nose into her incredible hair. She inhaled and time stood still while she soaked in Nuri’s essence. Eventually, she leaned in gripped Nuri’s chin and kissed her so completely it felt like worship. She lost herself in the sensations of perfect unity and all she’d done was kiss her. When she broke the kiss, Nuri grasped her hand and led her to their rooms. Karin made love to her wife until the sun came up and just before dying for the day, she assured her that she was going to make love to her first thing in the evening as well. 

Laughing for joy, Nuri curled herself around Karin and they slept. ‘Finally.’ she sighed.

Karin had been true to her word and Nuri woke to a shuddering orgasm. Soon after, she had another. When they finally emerged from their room, it was to find Reider on the main deck reading about the Vampire Summit in the Times-Picayune. Willa was sitting opposite him, sulking and Ginger was so frightened that she looked like she was going to resort to screaming any moment. Standing, Reider put the tablet down and greeted his Mother.  

‘Good evening, Mother.’ He said embracing Karin.

‘Good evening, Nuri.’ He said, kissing his other mother’s cheek.

After the greeting, Karin turned to Ginger and said, ‘Ginger, please calm down. I promise you that nothing horrible is about to happen to you. You’re here for your safety. While no one would actually admit it to your face, I assure you that you are important to this family, so please relax.’

‘Well, if you say so.’ Ginger answered, looking doubtful, but she did sit back in her chair and quit fidgeting.

Ginger, was Fangtasia’s…well, everything. Ginger was the stitch that held the fabric of Fangtasia together, which was why she was here. The woman wouldn’t have been safe if Karin had left her in Shreveport and Ginger deserved better than to be left to Felipe’s mercy. Over the years, Ginger had gone above and beyond the call of duty to make sure that all went according to plan at the bar while Eric and Pam had tended to the business of being prominent Vampires. She’d been the one to stay on top of the trends and fads that kept Fangbangers interested and coming back year after year. During that time, Gingers ‘look’ had evolved right along with the ever-changing fads. Work life had carried over to her home life back in the day and she’d kept a safe room for Eric and Pam at her house, which had ended up looking just like the bar.

That had all changed when Eric left for Oklahoma.

After he’d gone, Ginger’s heart just wasn’t in Fangtasia anymore. She still went every day, because it was all she knew, but she didn’t give all of herself to it anymore. She’d stopped bleaching her hair out to platinum blond years ago and now it was a more natural dark strawberry blond. She wore it in the long beachy waves that were popular now. The darker color made her vivid blue green eyes pop under her sun-bleached brows. Once you got down to the marrow of Ginger, you could see how lovely she was. She had high dramatic cheekbones and a well form nose that wasn’t too big or too small. Her top lip was a perfect W and the lower was full and lush. When she smiled, which wasn’t often, she looked like a cheerleader.

‘SO…are you going to tell us what is going on?’ Willa barked.

Willa Burrell had been the human daughter of the Governor of Louisiana, Truman Burrell. Pam, in a fit of rage over Vampire discrimination had stolen the girl and turned her into a Vampire. Karin knew that Pam had regretted that rash decision every day since, as Willa was a serious pain in the ass. She would of course make a good Vampire someday, but for the time being she was a mouthy little snot who needed to be put in her place frequently. Willa looked like a life-sized porcelain doll. Her skin even before becoming a Vampire had been perfectly pale and smooth with a light sprinkling of pale brown freckles.  Her eyes were deep warm pools of brown with delicately arched brows over them. Her mouth, was a sweetly shaped, pink pucker that was accentuated by gently rounded cheek bones. Her hair was a glossy medium brown that fell in soft waves around her shoulders. All of this loveliness was ruined every time she opened her mouth and her atrocious attitude toward simply everything spewed out. 

‘No.’ Karin answered the irritating baby Vamp. ‘You need to understand that you don’t get to know everything when you want to know it, in order to be helpful. You’re going to learn to do what you are told to do, when you’re told to do it, without question, so you don’t get yourself or your Maker staked in the next several hours.’ Karin dictated, menace lacing the command.

Willa humphed displaying her displeasure and squawked, ‘Fine!’

Ginger shot Willa a disparaging glare and hissed, ‘Hush! That is Karin the Slaughterer!’ at her.

Karin smiled at Ginger’s use of her true name, then, she thought it would be satisfying to pull Willa’s head off and dump her overboard, but she was family, so she nixed the urge. Willa would get used to the changes and fall in line soon enough. Eric wouldn’t be putting up with any of Willa’s shit for sure. It would be a hard lesson for her when it came, but at least there would be some peace afterward.

‘Let’s review this quickly’ Reider said. ‘We’re going to have to leave soon.’

‘Everything has fallen into place nicely.’ Karin began. ‘We were at full go when I got here yesterday. No one, with the exception of Bill’s day man, is aware that things are not exactly what they appear to be, not even Pam.’ She said proudly. ‘I’ve been fortunate that Pam has spent the last weeks being distracted with avoiding Eric’s phone calls and fielding every manner of request from Felipe. She isn’t in a very charitable mood. I guarantee she is going to shit a brick when this all accelerates. Just a warning, she will probably try to kill me the first chance she gets.’ Karin laughed while she said it, but it wasn’t a joke.

Nuri and Reider looked alarmed.

‘It’s going to be fine.’ She reassured them.

‘I wouldn’t be so sure of that.’ Ginger said, shocking herself at having spoken out loud.

Everyone turned to look at Ginger.

‘Just…what’s going on?’ Ginger asked worriedly.

Everyone ignored Ginger.

‘Why don’t the two of you go find something to entertain yourselves until we get back. We’ll explain everything then. Suffice it to say right now, that you are safe if you follow directions. Willa, I know that I don’t need to explain to you again that we don’t feed on the crew. I appreciate your courtesy in remembering that this is my house.’ Nuri said, gracefully.

Willa shot Nuri a withering glare and left.

Ginger stood slowly and pushed her chair in. ‘Thank you, for whatever it is that you are doing.’ She cheeped.

Ginger’s hips switched back and forth as her small hurried steps carried her away. As she went, she could feel herself relax. The last twenty-four hours had played hell with her nerves, but she knew things were going to be okay now. She had no idea what was going on or how she knew, but Karin was here and no one had tried to eat her. She still didn’t like that Nuri one little bit, but she wasn’t in any danger from her. Everything would reveal itself in time. She just had to be patient.

Karin knew that Willa was in her room as she’d just slammed her door and she’d waited until Ginger was out of earshot to continue. ‘Sookie actually alleviated a lot of my problems when she asked me to stay at the house with her. She’s been full of questions, as you can imagine and I’ve given her the answers I promised, with the rest to come this evening. To be honest, I’ve not talked this much in decades. I’m exhausted!’ Karin confided.

Praising Sookie she said, ‘She is going to be a valuable addition to the family. Eric told me once, that she had the right temperament to be a Vampire. He said, “She’s ruthless when it comes to those she loves.” We just have to convince her to love us. It’s promising that she is like each of us in some way. Her greatest wish is to have a family. I am anxious for you to meet her. We won’t regret her the way Ocella regretted Alexi.’ She promised.

Karin nervously reached out to hold Nuri’s hand just to have the contact, then remembered something funny.

‘Oh! I almost forgot. She has a fetish about tan skin. For the last month she’s been going to tanning beds and laying in the sun. She keeps insisting that she won’t spend an eternity as a pasty, pale Vampire. All of her work has paid off. She is a perfect shade of golden brown. It is nearly as perfect as your skin tone Nuri. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it wouldn’t matter!’

All three of them laughed their asses off over the silly notion she’d be able to retain the tan.

When they regaining themselves Reider said, ‘Tell us about Bill.’ 

‘Well,’ she said, and squeezed Nuri’s hand softly, ‘Bill was always going to be a problem. We knew that from the start. He’s been easily distracted by me, but he is overly attached to Sookie, which is a good thing considering that we are banking on him. As far as I can tell, Sookie hasn’t encouraged Bill in any way, but he is possessive of her nonetheless. It will be a snap to maneuver him when the time comes. He left town Thursday evening and stopped by to see Sookie before he left.’

‘He is checked into the hotel.’  Reider confirmed.

‘Good. Thank you. It isn’t likely that he will present a problem to us beforehand. I waited as long as I could to leave and I left everything where the day man, Danny, would be sure to find it. He would have to be a moron not too as he watched me for the better part of two days. There was someone else watching as well. A Vampire, I’m sure. Probably one of Freyda’s. That is why it took me so long to get here. I let whoever it was follow just long enough and then I took to the air.’

‘Do you think whoever it was will be a problem?’  Reider asked.

‘I don’t know, but I doubt it. I can’t imagine who it could be other than a spy sent by Freyda. If that is the case, she knows everything and we will go to plan B. One way or the other, we will end this thing tonight. If all goes according to plan, Bill should barge in on our visit right about the time Sookie arrives at the airport. It’s is the small one up by the lake, right?’ she asked for confirmation.

‘Yes.’ Reider nodded.

‘Was the other thing very hard to accomplish?’ Karin asked.

‘No. Our little spy came through in a big way. The boxes were delivered an hour ago.’ She disclosed. 

It’s all good news.’ She thought and took a rare breath and breathed relief then turned to Reider, ‘Now, tell me, is there someone for you?’

Nuri grinned, ‘She loved this game.’

‘Only you…’ he confessed to Karin playfully. ‘Actually, I am dying to meet, Aunt Pam.’

Karin laughed until blood tears nearly ran down her face.

‘Aunt Pam!  She couldn’t wait!’

Nuri picked up the phone and called the bridge. After speaking to the Captain, they walked out onto the deck and the trio launched themselves into the air.

Chapter Text

New Orleans: Hotel Monteleone

 

Karin looked incredible, depending on who you asked. The dress she was wearing was gaudy as hell. Even so, it had been a long time since she’d had occasion to get this dressed up. Pam had eventually been able to secure this suite of rooms for them, but it hadn’t been easy. Karin was probably going to hear about it for the next 50 years. For now, though, she stood in front of a giant full-length mirror, in her part of the suite, checking over her appearance.

She’d curled her hair and piled some of the ringlets on the crown of her head. She had wanted warrior braids but there hadn’t been time for that, so she was stuck with the curls.  It was decidedly Greek, but she guessed she didn’t mind too much. The ringlets were being held in place by diamond hair pins that had been a gift from Nuri and a set of ivory combs that Eric had given to her one year for Christmas, so it was half up and half down. Eric had always liked it when she wore her hair this way. The twisting mass concealed most of her back, that had been left bare by the pale, icy blue ball gown she was wearing. The filmy material was shot through with silvery thread and encrusted with sparkling crystals. 

She looked great in it, but ‘There is a lot happening with this dress.’ She thought, amused.

Karin would have never chosen a dress like this. It was busy to say the least. She was never one for much make up either. She didn’t need it. She wore some tonight though. Just a little mascara, to set off her pale blue eyes and some blush.

‘That’ll do.’  She said to her reflection.

She might be a little nervous at not having been in a real fight for quite a few years. The last time Karin had been moved to involve herself in battle, Bill Compton had been responsible for it, same as this time. All of this was his doing. He was personally responsible for the Hep-V war, but apparently hadn’t learned his lesson.

Nuri had been the one to discover some months ago that he was inserting himself into the ‘blood production’ field once more. As a result, it would only be a matter of time before their family was in serious danger again because of Bill fucking Compton’s perniciousness. She wasn’t going to let it go this time. She should’ve killed him when Nora died, but she hadn’t wanted to deprive Eric of the pleasure. Either way, Bill Compton was going to get what was coming to him tonight.   

She picked up her phone and dialed Sookie who answered on the third ring. 

‘It’s Karin, how are you?’

‘Well…I am doing good.’ Sookie replied. 

‘How, ‘bout you? Second thoughts yet?’ She laughed nervously at her joke. 

‘Ha! Not at all!’ Karin was heartily amused at the idea of second thoughts at this late stage. She was so excited and nervous that she was trembling. She’d already attempted to calm herself several times, but when she continued to struggle, she decided that a little excitement was expected, so she gave in to it. 

‘Are you packed, and ready to go?’ Karin asked?

‘Yes.’ Sookie answered quickly.

‘Good. Now remember to leave your keys with your car. Someone is picking it up in the morning. Did you remember to tell Amelia that you were having work done on it?’ She questioned.

‘Yep.’  Sookie said, reassuring her.

 Sookie could hear the restlessness in Karin’s voice. She was talking very fast and didn’t want to distract her so she just listened closely and kept her answers quick and to the point.

‘I have someone coming to pick you up at 10:15. That’s not long from now.  Just walk out of the house and get into the car. The password for the car is Reider.  If the driver doesn’t give you the password, get back in the house and call me. You have the silver nitrate so make sure it is in your hand before you go outside.’ Karin instructed.

‘I’ll remember.’ she promised.

‘Excellent.’ Karin said, rushing herself now.

‘The driver will be taking you to the small airport out by the lake. Once you are there you will board a helicopter. The password at the airport is Nuri. If they don’t give you the password, DO NOT get on the helicopter. Do whatever you have to do to get away and I will find you. You shouldn’t be in the air for more than 15 minutes. If you are, text me. Questions?’ Karin asked?

‘It’s a good thing I am not afraid of flying.’ She answered shakily.

Karin paused a beat and said, ‘Are your nervous?’

‘Only a little, what with the passwords and all, I will feel better when we are on the boat and underway. Ugh, where is the boat?’ she asked.

‘It’s best if you don’t know. If you don’t know, you can’t tell anyone.’ Karin said frankly.

‘Well, that’s true.’  She answered. ‘I will be really glad when this part is over. Do you really think that Felipe or Freyda will try to grab me, or kill me before we can get out of here?’ She asked.

‘Yes.’ Karin said bluntly. ‘Felipe especially, wouldn’t be able to resist the temptation to scoop you up if the circumstances were good. I gotta go. It won’t be long now. See you soon.’ Karin said, and hung up.

Pam was in the bedroom on the opposite side of the suite from Karin, standing in front of a truly huge mirror, encased in an ornate gilded frame. The word extravagant could be used to describe it perfectly. She looked herself over meticulously, since she wasn’t wearing the dress she’d bought for this occasion. She’d had a hell of a time completing all of the arrangements in order to even make this meeting happen and dress shopping for it had been especially difficult. It had taken time that she didn’t have to find exactly the right dress, but she’d done it. It was deep purple velvet and regal. She’d bought gorgeous gold jewelry to wear with it and perfect pumps! The ensemble was stunning. So, she’d been especially annoyed when the dress box from Eric had arrived today. She’d gasped at the gorgeous blue color of the dress when she’d opened the box, but her pleasure turned to disappointment when she took it out of the box. The color was glorious, but she wouldn’t have combined those crystals with the cut of the dress and the silvery thread shot through the fabric was just too much. All the extra ruined what otherwise was a great dress.

She’d almost decided not to wear it, but he obviously wanted to see her in it. With difficulty, she set aside the sumptuous purple velvet and pulled on the blue ‘Barbie’ gown. It fit like a glove and was truly the most beautiful blue, which was its only saving grace. If he wanted Barbie, she’d give him Barbie. So, she wore her blond bombshell hair straight. It hung loose down her back covering what the dress had left bare. Ivory combs held her hair away from her face. She loved the combs. They’d been a gift from Eric and she only wore them on special occasions. 

Pam had never been one who needed make up, but she liked to wear it. She made her deep royal blue eyes even more dramatic with Smokey lavender eye shadow, a perfect liquid line, and thick black mascara. When she’d finished, she stood back from the mirror, took it all in and declared, ‘I look fucking fabulous.’ She said, turning away from the mirror.

She was anxious to see Eric. She wanted to spend as much time with him as she could, but knew that Freyda (she rolled her eyes) would be a pain in the ass the whole time, probably talking more than Eric did. She hadn’t seen him since breaking with protocol and showing up to Oklahoma’s court without an invitation or even calling ahead so he could meet Willa. His eyes had sparkled with mirth when she’d introduced Willa to her Grandsire and explained to him who she was.

“That’s my girl.” He’d praised, her.

There’d been hell to pay for showing up unannounced with the human Governor of Louisiana Truman Burrell’s newly transitioned daughter in tow, but it had been worth it just to see the approval and pride in his face.  

She checked her lipstick once more, then picked up her phone to look at the time.

She decided to call Sookie since she had a few minutes to kill.

‘Hey Pam, what’s up?’ Sookie asked, her tone curious.

‘How are you?’ Pam asked.

‘I’m good. I just talked to Karin. She needed to run everything down to me again. I think she is really nervous that Felipe will try to snatch me.’ Sookie answered.

‘I will kill Felipe if he even thinks about touching you.’ Pam countered, assuring her.

Sookie couldn’t help it, she giggled at Pam’s fierceness. Must have been a nervous gesture.

 ‘Are you having second thoughts?’ Pam said.

Sookie laughed, ‘I’m gonna miss you, Pam. No, no second thoughts.’ Affection rang in the answer.

‘Same here.’ Pam said truthfully.

‘There is always Facetime.’ Sookie added, trying to be congenial.

‘Sookie, I am…happy. I know I haven’t told you, but I am. Happy, that is.’ Her voice caught. ‘Listen to Karin, be safe, follow your instincts about people and Vampires. I love you. Until we see each other again, Goodbye.’ She finished affectionately, surprising herself.

‘I love you too, Pam.’ Sookie said, fondly. ‘Goodbye, for now.’

Pam hung up, swallowed the lump in her throat, and walked back to the mirror.

‘You pull it together.’ She pointed at herself.

She quickly tucked her phone into her clutch and opened the doors to the common area. Halfway through the heavily carved double doors she saw Karin. Fury enveloped Pam and she pressed her mouth into an angry slash. There smirking back at her was Karin, her sister, wearing the exact same blue dress, mirth glittering in her eyes.

‘Well that’s just perfect. It wasn’t enough for him to dress us up as Barbie’s, but now I have to be Skipper!’

Karin’s mouth twitched, with amusement.

She thought they looked like grown up of versions of those perfect little horrors in The Shining.

'REDRUM!’ She’d almost said it out loud. Then she thought, ‘We should keep these dresses for Halloween.’

‘Are you laughing at me right now?’ Pam growled.

Karin smiled wider, barely able to contain her laughter, but wisely kept her mouth shut.

‘Fuck you.’ Pam grouched at her, then simply walked out of the suite.

 

***

 

Marigny

 

Bob, had compromised and on Friday night we’d gone out for pizza, instead of ordering it in. It was still my treat. Dinner had gone well, but I could hear Amelia and Bob quietly fussing at each other after everyone had gone to bed. Amelia hadn’t been able to let ‘not getting her way,’ go and even though they were trying very hard to keep it down, I could still hear them so I knew that Felix could too. It had been a nice visit, but I was glad to be leaving. It was as if somehow, they’d forgotten that I knew everything they thought about. 

Amelia had compromised with Bob by moving to Marigny, but now Bob was trying to force her to live only on the money that the two of them made, instead of dipping into the inheritance that she had gotten from her father. Bob’s point was Amelia’s father had been an awful person and they couldn’t be sure of how he had made the money to begin with. He felt strongly that she shouldn’t want to use any of it and that they should give it away.

‘At least that was what he said.’ I knew better.

I knew the truth was, that the money made Amelia independent and she didn’t need to rely on him. Amelia knew this to be the truth behind his reasoning as well. The marriage was doomed if they couldn’t work the situation out. Amelia loved Bob, but she’d never had to scrimp and save to have her nails done at what she considered a subpar salon. This kind of thing was important to Amelia. As far as she was concerned, Bob needed to get over his issues with what she considered her money.

Neither of them had stopped being frustrated with each other over this money long enough to notice the effect that it was having on Felix. I sure hoped they figured it out soon, because I knew it wouldn’t be long before it started causing him problems at school. He’d already figured out that if he acted out everyone focused on him.

I looked at the phone. It was almost 10:15. I gathered my purse and duffle quietly as I could and left the guest room. I’d thanked Amelia for hosting me before we’d gone to bed. She knew that I was leaving very early in the morning to catch my flight.  I’d lied and told her that I would be in touch after I got back from my cruise and we would do lunch or go shopping. At exactly 10:15, I walked out the back door, pushed the button on the knob to lock the door and walked out to the street. I put my car keys under the mat on the driver’s side of my car and closed the door as my ride showed up. A very large man stepped out of the limousine, took a single step towards me and said, ‘Reider.’ I nodded yes, at him, he took my bag and I followed him back to the car. He opened the door for me and I got settled while he put my duffle in the trunk. The window separating the front of the car from the back rolled down as we pulled away from Amelia and Bob’s home.

‘Ma’am, I have instructions to take you to the helipad at Lakefront Airport, is this correct? He asked.

‘Yes.’ I replied.

‘Do you need to make any stops Ma’am.’

‘No.’ I answered.

‘Very good then.’ He said. The glass went back up.

 

***

 

Hotel Monteleone

 

Pam and Karin arrived at the Royal Suite of Oklahoma, precisely at the scheduled time. They were ushered unceremoniously into the common area of the vast suite and there waiting for them, were Eric and Freyda.

‘He looks incredible.’ Karin thought, drinking in the sight of him and thought... ‘Almost Seven years.’

Eric was wearing an ultra-formal shiny black silk Tux, that was tailored to perfection. It fit him like a second skin. He wore his hair loose and it he’d grown it long since she’d seen him last. Karin smiled at the hair. He hadn’t grown it for vanity or because he was too lazy to cut it. He’d grown it because he was in warrior mode. She immediately felt better about the prospects of pulling this thing off.

Pam wanted to drink in the sight of Eric because she'd missed him so completely, but she couldn’t. Standing next to him in a towering blue rage, was Freyda, who inexplicably wore the same icy blue dress that she and Karin did. 

Eric, unable to overcome the hilarity of it, threw his head back and for the first time in nearly seven years roared laughter until his insides hurt. Freyda however, was unamused. In fact, she was so pissed off; she didn’t say anything. She simply whirled indignantly on her very expensive heal, perfectly coiffed ash blond hair flaring out behind her, and stomped out of the room. She’d taken two long strides and then the screaming started. The Queen of Oklahoma hurled vicious insults at her scurrying attendants demanding that they ‘get out of the fucking way’ as she stomped out of the room.

Eric and Karin were bent double weeping all over each other, while chaos reigned in the back room of the suite. Every time there was another crash, it brought on fresh gales from them. It'd taken a moment for Pam to catch on to what had happened, then she began to laugh as well. It really was cleverly done. Brilliant really. How else was Eric going to get Freyda out of the room so they could talk?

‘That was really smart, Eric.’ Pam praised, him with a chuckle. 

Which made the pair laugh even harder.

‘It wasn’t me.’ He guffawed, slapping his knee.

‘What?’ Pam asked, confusion marring her perfect face.

Eric pointed at Karin. ‘This was all her.’ He said, wiping at his eyes.

Pam propped her hands on her hips and turned incredulous eyes on her sister which brought fresh gales of laughter from her Maker. She found she couldn’t be angry over the prank. Eric’s laughter was balm to the pain of their long separation. Fuck the dress, this shit was funny.

‘Listen, don’t be mad Pam, we only have so much time before she comes back.’ Karin cajoled. 

‘I’m not.’ She said, and meant it. ‘It was a good plan. Why didn’t you let me in on it?’ Pam asked.

‘And ruin my fun?’ Karin laughed.

Now Pam was slightly annoyed! It’d taken five days to find the purple dress. ‘Bitch!’ she grouched.

Eric walked to Pam and hugged her tight. ‘It’s so good to touch her.’ He thought.

Eric had been living without affection or personal contact for the last six years. He’d nearly forgotten what it felt like to be close to someone. He crushed her to him tighter, then reached out a hand to pull Karin into the embrace as well.

These were his women…’ Odin how he’d missed them.’ He thought.

He let go and stepped away after a time just to look at them. They’d managed to turn the horrid dresses into something lovely while Freyda had looked like an over iced cake. The screaming in the back room had lessened to yelling, so he’d better get on to discovering why Karin had wanted Freyda out of the room. In order to do that, he was going to have to start with Pam. Pam was direct and to the point with him usually and Karin was the chatty one when they were alone.

‘Pam.’ He said pointing at the chairs behind her, gesturing that they should sit down. ‘Tell me, how is Willa? I'm sorry not to see her here, although four blue dresses may have, ‘jumped the shark’ so to speak. Tell me about her and how it is going in Area Five.’ He asked, conversationally.

Pam had expected this and she quickly gave Eric her thoroughly rehearsed run down of all things Area Five and Fangtasia.

Eric listened attentively, but he’d couldn't help glancing at Karin who was fidgeting. ‘It, sounds like you have everything well in hand. I'm very impressed with Willa’s progress. I'm also happy that you’ve managed an ally in, Thalia.’ He added pointedly bringing up her avoidance of his phone calls. 

Pam demurely looked at her lap to show her contrition. 

Satisfied with that, he turned his attention to Karin.

‘So, hellion,’ he teased, ‘Where have you been and what have you been up to?’

Pam actually stiffened in her chair, when he’d asked the question.

Eric didn't look at Pam, he'd simply felt her reaction to the question, 'Hmmmm.’ He thought, 'So, they're keeping secrets.'

‘Idiot!’ Pam chastised herself, ‘Calm down!’

Karin told Eric all about what she had been up to lately. She’d rehearsed the speech a dozen times. She’d even memorized just the right amount of inflection, sincerity, or conviction to use. She’d been perfect with her delivery. She’d remembered to fidget and avoid eye contact. She’d even tugged at her ear which was her biggest tell of all. If he didn’t know she was lying her face off, then he hadn’t been paying attention.

When Karin finished, Pam, who’d been watching Karin all but melt down, then fall in the floor at Eric’s feet to grovel for forgiveness, began to talk in hopes of distracting him from her sisters hopelessness, but he lifted his hand to stop her.

His entire demeanor changed from pleasant to predatory in an instant. ‘Shit.’ Pam groaned.

‘I can smell her all over you, Karin…tell me.’ He demanded sharply without raising his voice.

Karin flicked a worried glance to Pam, who was glaring back at her unsympathetically and shrugged. ‘I told you this was going to happen.’ Pam said.

‘It’s time.’ Karin told herself and squared her shoulders to prepare for the next several minutes. ‘I’ve been staying with her, because I miss her. We grew close during the time I guarded her and occasionally, sometimes frequently, I go and visit her. I’ve been staying with her for a few months now. That is why Pam was avoiding your phone calls.’ She said, in a confiding tone.

‘What about the Dog?’ he asked coldly, knowing that Sam hated Karin and vice versa.

‘The Dog left her.’ Karin answered, just as coldly.

Startled by that news, he silently contemplated it for a moment. ‘When?’ he demanded.

‘More than a year ago.’ She answered. ‘More like two years, now.’ She answered truthfully.

‘This is why you are staying with her?’ he snapped.

‘Yes.’ Karin answered quickly, knowing they were running out of time.

‘What else.’ He demanded.

Pam was shaking her head no. 

‘Be quiet, Pam!’ He barked, pointing a finger at her.

‘About fifteen months ago, her brother and sister-in-law were killed in a "car accident." She made quotes in the air as she said car accident.

‘It was a hit and run. They never found the other driver, or vehicle.’

Eric stood intending to pace, knowing already what his wife had done fifteen months ago, without having to be told.

Pam, who was seriously pissed off, glared a vicious hole through Karin, who was looking entirely too calm for the current situation. Eric's heart felt like a stone in the pit of his stomach. He took in Pam’s murderous expression and demeanor and in a rush of understanding, panicked. 

He turned back to Karin, ‘Is…will she recover?’ He nearly shouted.

‘I don’t know.’ Karin said. ‘It’s just a little white lie.’ she told herself, when the guilt for causing him worry poked at her.

‘Eric…’ Pam tried to interject again, but she didn’t get the chance.

Freyda came stomping back into the room. She was wearing a blinding red gown that made her look like she was running in the Miss Oklahoma pageant.

'That looks...terrible on her.’ Pam observed, distaste written all over her.

‘I'm sorry, but Eric and I have to go now.’ Freyda said nastily while gesturing toward to door. Her immense wedding ring flashed with the movement and she didn't bother looking at her guests.

‘That gaudy ass ring is flashing like a drunken sorority girl’s boobs during spring break. Why does everything have to be so conspicuous and overdone with her?’ Karin wondered.

No one moved toward the door except Freyda, who stopped abruptly when the violent pounding upon it began.

'Right on time.’ Karin smiled and excitement took control of her. She stood up, turned Eric to face her, then whispered, ‘I'm so happy to see you. I love you so much. Never forget that.’ She said and hugged him tightly.  

Eric looked at her quizzically, wondering what the hell that was all about. Karin was grinning at him from ear to ear, the points of her fangs just beginning to peek out. Her eyes glittered a brilliant blue and excitement rolled off of her in waves. To make it all even stranger, she stepped purposefully behind him as if to shield herself from the room. He jerked his attention back to the door when he heard someone insisting to be let in, but glanced back over his shoulder at Karin when he realized who it was. His Progeny was still grinning maniacally and he now recognized the glint of battle lust in her eyes. He shot his eyes to Pam, who'd moved well beyond furious. She glared murder at her sister and Eric caught on that he was now caught up in some kind of intrigue.

His wife shouted, ‘Let him in!’ then mumbled, ‘For god sake.’

Eric having caught up quickly, focused on the door and Bill Compton instantly appeared in the drawing room. Bill, had seemingly forgotten all about his manners and southern charm like he usually did whenever he was very angry.

Bill scanned the room, and sighted on Karin who peered out from behind Eric. Ignoring protocol and everyone else in the room he loudly demanded of Karin, ‘WHERE is she!’

Everyone turned to look at Karin for her reaction to his demand.

‘Where is who, Bill?’ Karin said calmly, feigning ignorance, but staying well behind her maker.

Everyone turned to look back at Bill for his reaction to her answer.

'Excuse...me!' Freyda began, indignantly.

Bill ignored the Queen of Oklahoma. ‘Where is Sookie, Karin!’ he yelled at her, barely in control of himself.

Everyone but Eric and Freyda turned to look at Karin.

Eric, kept his eyes on Bill.

Freyda, nearly wrenched her head off of her shoulders, looking for Eric’s reaction to Sookie’s name.

‘Bill…’ Karin began the lie serenely, ‘I assume Sookie is at home in Bon Temps.’

Eric, ever cool, said ‘Bill, maybe you want to be a little less dramatic and explain why you are here, interrupting my first family gathering in more than four years.’ 

Enraged, Bill gritted out, ‘Sookie is missing.’ He had yet to look away from Karin.

‘And why should we be the ones to know where she is?’ Eric asked, as if Bill were and imbecile.

‘Because, Bill snarled at him, ‘Karin has been staying with Sookie for nearly two months now. Last night Sookie got in her car and never came back!’ Bill revealed to the room.

Freyda, bristling at Eric’s side, was already spitting mad over the dresses. Sookie, having become the center of attention in the Queen of Oklahoma’s drawing room, was a catastrophe. This situation was at Defcon Two. So, he did what he always did in situations like this. He lifted a brow at Bill and waited while he considered the amount of damage control that this was going need.  

Bill bit.

‘Karin…’ Bill said significantly, ‘Spent all of Friday evening packing Sookie’s house, throwing away her food and covering the furniture after Sookie left. She also mailed a change of address card and the keys for everything Sookie owns to a lawyer. The change of address is the same as the lawyers.’ He finished smugly.

Pam groaned. Eric flinched. Freyda, tried to talk, but Karin cut her off.

‘Why are you here talking about this now, Bill.’ Karin interjected before anyone could say anything else in order to keep the discussion on topic. ‘I was just doing Sookie a favor.’ She shrugged as if it was no big deal and held no more significance than swatting a fly. ‘She’s going to travel for a while. No big deal.’ She finished nonchalantly.

Bill dug into his pants pocket and pulled out the small ragged stack of notes that Danny had collected from the trash and waved them at Karin, who almost crowed with joy to see them.

‘How about this…’ he said, and flung the scraps of paper at Karin. 

The scraps fluttered every which way. Eric grabbed a few out of the air and began to read them.

Pam, having been on the clock since before Bill had taken up pounding on the door to the suite, shifted into position on Freyda who had begun to snap her fingers and point at the scraps of paper fluttering to the floor. Joslyn snatched at them and handed them to her.

Pam just knew that, ‘Shit was fixin to hit the fan in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…’

Terror gripped Eric and whirled on Karin, ‘No!’ he yelled at her. ‘Where is she, Karin!’ He roared in panic.

Freyda’s eyes went wide as she read. She shoved the paper scraps back at Joslyn and reached for Eric. He brushed her away from him and she began working herself into a full-on bitch fit. Absolutely everyone ignored her, even Joslyn, who having quickly read the scraps as well, turned her focus on Eric. Which in turn, fully shifted Pam’s attention on Joslyn.

Karin, hadn’t taken her eyes off of Bill and she was ignoring Eric’s demand for answers.

‘I don’t see how this is any of your business, Bill. This is between Sookie and me. You’re intruding here.’ She gestured at the room, then went on, ‘The woman is none of your concern. She’s been nothing to you for a very long time and you’ve been even less to her for longer.’ She pushed at him nastily, her pale blue eyes glittered with anticipation and challenge.

Just as she'd planned, just as she’d known it would, those words were Bill’s tipping point. While they settled into his ears, she sealed his fate. Pulling Eric to look at her, love and pain shinning in her eyes, she told him that Bill had given the order to burn the TruBlood factories. ‘Nora is dead because of him, Eric.’ She confessed to her Maker.

Eric turned back to Bill to confront him over Karin's accusation, just as Bills fangs descended and he launched himself at Karin. ‘Tell me where she is you bitch!’ he screamed.

Eric, cold fury ripping through his body, deftly stepped to shield Karin and without a thought for the consequences, neatly tore Bill’s head off of his shoulders. The bloody stringy remains hung in the air for a beat and then fell to the floor in a gush. Freyda, having just demanded to know ‘Who the hell Nora was,’ watched in horror as what was left of Bill oozed over the floor, then began shrieking her head off.

Joslyn looked on in horror. Eric had just killed Felipe’s regent.

Eric, in a fury of blood lust turned to stand over Karin. He wasn’t waiting another second for an answer. ‘You will tell me where she is.’  His quiet command ordered menacingly.

‘No.’ Karin said, taking a step back, but she continued quickly ‘I will take you to her.’ And she smiled up at him beatifically.

Freyda screamed out wildly, ‘Eric isn’t going anywhere!’ at Karin.

Pam, still on the clock, even though she was a bit freaked out over Eric pulling Bill’s head off just now, realized that Freyda was going to have half the hotel in here with all the screaming she’d been doing. She stepped in front of her Makers wife and towering over the shrew, put a finger in her face and told her to, ‘shut the fuck up’ in a tone that let everyone in the room know she was serious.

Joslyn, not fully understanding the situation, stupidly grabbed Pam by the wrist.

Pam, smiled gleefully at Joslyn, then buried her other hand in the Vampires chest. She pulled Joslyn’s heart out and had just enough time to show it to her, then toss it to the floor before Joslyn became a mound of guts alongside Bill.

On the other side of the room, Eric reached out to caress Karin’s shining face.

‘Tell me you didn’t turn her.’ He said the words slowly like a prayer.

‘I haven’t.’ she answered honestly.

The tension drained out of him, ‘That’s a relief. I really didn’t want to kill you.’ He admitted.

An already distraught Freyda, completely lost her shit over Joslyn. Not thinking clearly at all, the Disney Princess in her took over and she drew back her hand to slap Pam in the face. A split-second later, Freyda joined Joslyn and Bill on the floor, in what was now a heap of bloody ligaments and guts. In the next moment, the room erupted into whirlwind of fangs and body parts. It was life or death in the small space and as could be expected, the oldest Vampires were the only beings living in the end. The suite looked like a slaughter house and it had only taken a few seconds.

After Pam had dealt with Freyda, she’d taken up a post at the door of the suite. During the melee, it had been her job to bat the attempted escapees, back into play, while Eric and Karin did the majority of the wet work. Eric, now surveyed the mountain of gore in the eerie stillness of the room, while Karin rooted around in the oozing pile of what had once been Bill. She pulled Bills wallet and phone out of the scattered guts and dropped them into the sink on the wet bar. She came to Eric, and reaching in his pockets took his wallet. She absently searched for his phone and belatedly realized that he didn’t have one. It seriously pissed her off. She removed his wedding ring angrily then shoved Eric’s personal items into the bloody heap that was Bill.

Eric nodded proudly. ‘How he loved these women.’

Karin rinsed Bills wallet and phone, then handing them off to Eric and began washing herself up. An uncharacteristically silent Pam, joined her. The ball was just beginning downstairs. There was a little time to stage the room. Quickly, they swept through the suite and the women eliminated any traces of themselves they could find. Miraculously they were not drenched in blood of their enemies and were able to finish up quickly.

As one, they moved to the door.

‘You take him and go.’ Pam said.

‘No.’ Karin said smiling at her. ‘You are coming with us.’

‘How…’ Pam said, gesturing at the room in annoyance. ‘I’m the Sheriff.’

‘Will you trust me for once! Just come with us, or you will ruin it all.’

‘Why is she still smiling at me? Doesn’t the little freak know that we are all probably going to die shortly.’

Pam smirked at her sister. ‘Fine.’

Eric had no idea what the plan was, but he wasn’t worried.

Mostly.

Karin just told Pam to trust her which could only mean that Pam hadn’t had any hand in the planning of this.

‘That explains why Pam is so pissed off.’ He realized.  

Pam having decided not to argue pulled the door open. They walked into the hallway as if they owned it and went straight to the stairwell. As a rule, Vampire hotels didn’t keep cameras in the interior hallways, but they did keep them in the stairwells.

‘The security camera’s?’ Eric asked quietly, as they approached the door.

‘Taken care of.’ Karin replied.

Pam opened that door as well and they started down. All of the security cameras had been ripped from the walls. They reached the bottom and stepped into the ally. Eric lifted Pam into his arms and then all three of them rose into the air. Karin led the way, as they headed south-east away from the city.  The whole time they flew Pam muttered murder threats under her breath. He had no idea what it was all about, but it wouldn’t be long before he found out. He could see Ocella’s yacht, or ‘Karin’s yacht, rather’ sitting in the mouth of Lake Borgne and Chandler Sound. All of her lights were blazing and she was a beacon, on the blue water.

No sooner had their feet touch the deck then Pam confronted Karin.

‘What the fuck was that, Karin?’ She exploded!

‘Pam, please calm down. It’s Karin. She will explain everything.’ Eric said, quietly. ‘Won’t you.’ He followed up pointedly.

‘Yes, I promise.’ She answered, putting her hands up in a be patient gesture. 

‘So, listen, Sookie isn’t here yet. She's coming on the helicopter and is in the air right now. She doesn’t have any idea that you…’ She stumbled over the explanation as Nuri, Reider, Willa and Ginger stepped onto the helipad.

‘That…ugh, that any of you…are going to be here.’ She finished, shakily.

‘Any of us?’ Eric and Pam asked, turning simultaneously.

Eric was hit in the chest by Ginger, who flung her arms around him and screamed, ‘Oh my God!’

‘Hello, Ginger.’ Eric said, nonplussed giving her a slight squeeze.

‘I didn’t think I was ever going to see you again!’ she wailed.

‘Well, I’m here and now you have.’ He said, uncomfortably as the slight woman rubbed herself against him.

‘Cool it, Ginger.’ Pam barked. She was sincerely angry now that she could see that Nuri and Reider were there.

Ginger, reluctantly pulled herself away from him, wiping at her eyes.

Pam had been surprised to see Willa and Ginger, but she’d had the shock of her life when Reider and Nuri had walked on to the helipad. Recognition left her in open mouthed shock. Pam had never met either of them, but she knew on sight, who they were. She'd enough surprises for one night and was feeling completely betrayed by her sister at this point. ‘What the shit, Karin!’ she demanded.

Every nerve in Eric’s body was responding to the fact that his entire family was standing in front of him. He actually shook a little. ‘What the hell had just happened?’

 It was too much, too fast and it was making him anxious. He ran it down in order to steady himself. ‘His wife was dead, that was the first thing. Both of my Progeny and Willa are in front me. Reider and Nuri who I thought were dead, or at the very least lost to us, are here as well. My ex-wife will be here soon and Ginger is here. Though I can’t fathom why Ginger is here...okay, maybe I can. Pam is furiously screaming at Karin and I’m going to have to deal with that soon. As of yet neither of us have said hello to Reider or Nuri. In a few hours we’re going to be wanted for murder. This is a lot of Vampires to protect from the Authority. Maybe they’d be happy with just me. Everything is…soon…everything is chaos...not used to it being so loud…Pam and Karin are still arguing…’ he struggled as the cacophony rolled through his head.

‘PAM!’ he commanded, gaining control of the immediate situation.

Pam stopped screaming instantly and glared at him. She was hella annoyed, but silent.

‘Say hello.’ He instructed, calmly, gesturing to Nuri and Reider. He forced himself to focus, gave Pam a minute to pull it together, and walked to Reider and embraced him.

‘Fancy seeing you here.’ He smiled.

Reider beamed at his Grandsire, 'It's good to see you again.' he offered.

Eric turned to Nuri and kissed her cheek. ‘I'm happy to see you again.’ He said to her. ‘This quite the surprise.’

'I'm pleased to see you again as well.' Nuri, murmured.

An abashed Pam said, ‘I'm sorry for my rudeness. Hello, I am happy to meet you, I’m Pam Ravenscroft.’ She scowled her introduction at them at them banking her rage momentarily.

Reider and Nuri echoed her greeting cautiously as they'd been warned about this Vampire.

‘Nuri, how is it that we've never met.’ Pam asked, casting an accusing glare at Karin.

‘Yeah, who are these guys?’ Willa asked, rudely interrupting.

Karin ignored Willa and attempted to lay a hand on Pam’s shoulder.

Pam sidled out of reach, unwilling to be soothed. She wanted answers. ‘We’re all in deep shit and it’s your fault, so, Explain!’ She hurled at her sister.

‘There isn’t time for an explanation right now.’ Karin answered her, begging for understanding and patience. ‘Sookie is going to be here any minute. Can’t you hear it? Please go inside.’ She said to Eric. ‘Nuri, take them downstairs…please.’ She instructed, a little panicked when no one moved. She hadn’t spent much time figuring out how to help this part of the mission move along smoothly. She’d counted on high emotions, but nothing like this.

‘Please…’ She pleaded with Eric. ‘I know that it is going to be hard for you, but she isn’t expecting 'all of us' and she isn’t prepared to see you at all.' She pointed at him. 'I have to finish telling her everything, then you can see her. I'm asking you to please trust me.’

‘Oh sure…she wants us to trust her now.’ Pam wise cracked.

Chaos still reigned supreme in Eric’s thoughts. His stared at Karin hard while he sorted through what she wanted, all the while he could hear the helicopter getting closer. He finally allowed that what Karin was asking them to do was the right thing. Karin had to deal with Sookie and he needed to deal with everything else. He absolutely wasn’t ready to see Sookie right now either. He needed a few minutes to accept all that it was happening. Sure, he’d been sitting in a chair daydreaming about this moment for the last six or seven years, but dreaming and doing were two totally different things. It was time to pull his head out of his ass and work this situation. He couldn’t do that with and angry Sookie in the mix. They all just needed some time, but apparently, they were going to get it. He knew they weren’t on Sunniva for the sun.

While he thought, he couldn’t help but notice that Karin had been physically unable to stop smiling during the entire scenario. Even when Pamela had been screaming at her with gusto, Karin screamed back with a huge smile plastered on her face. He’d thought she was simply baiting her sister, but no. Karin was radiantly happy and didn’t seem to be worried about anything except Sookie’s reaction to all of them being there. Making up his mind, he smiled at Karin and nodded in agreement. Then, succumbing to joy seeing his family, he grabbed Pam and hugged the stuffing out of her. When he was satisfied that she’d been sufficiently hugged, he pulled away and gave her a big wet smacking kiss on the mouth.

Pam cringed away, resisting his lips sourly. 

‘Come on, you mean ass bitch. Let’s go find out what the hell is going on, while Karin deals with Sookie. Lead on Nuri.’ He boomed affectionately, pulling Pam after him. Pam smiled then because she couldn’t help herself.

‘Thank you.’ Karin mouthed at him, grinning away.

When he got to Willa he stopped and wrapped her up in his embrace startling her. He laid an exuberant kiss on her cheek then set her down. ‘Welcome to the family! Stop being a brat.’ He gave her the eyebrow that said, I mean business, but patted her on the head, ruining the seriousness of it. ‘Ginger…It’s good to see you! I like your hair this way.’ He said, swatting her on the ass. 

Both Ginger and Willa stared after him bemused.

He didn’t really care about anything right now except how happy he felt to be with them. Pulling Pam along again, he left all of them in his wake to stare after him while he hustled after Nuri. ‘Let’s go children!’ he called out.

Shortly, they came to a set of stairs, Reider gestured for Nuri to go down before him. Eric did the same with Willa, Ginger, and then Pam. Pam was halfway down the stairs when she stopped and turned back to him blocking his way down. Sunniva dipped slightly as the helicopter sat down on the pad, the roar of the whirling blades reaching them.

Tilting her worried face up to his Pam asked in her usual blasé tone, ‘Did you have to pull Bill’s head off?’ 

‘Yes. I deeply regret the last time I didn’t kill someone Karin wanted me to kill. Bill needed killing, if for nothing else but Nora.’ He answered bluntly, then bent over to kiss her on the nose to soften the hardness in his voice.

Making her mind up regarding his answer, she nodded once then continued on down the stairs. They emptied into a family room or sorts. It was an incredible, visually stunning family room, but a family room none the less. The sofa that Reider and Nuri were sitting on had easily cost fifteen thousand dollars and there were five of them in the room. A gigantic television dominated an entire wall of the room and several mahogany tables, polished to gleaming perfection, were scattered throughout. The tables had any manner of board game you could hope to play set up on them.

Eric and Pam had obviously been on board Sunniva previously and were used to its opulence. One only had to see Sunniva to understand why Ocella had been so completely taken with Freyda.

Ginger, however thought the décor at Olive Garden was fancy, and as it was the first time she’d been in this room, stood open mouthed and as speechless as Willa at the enormous television on the wall. It was easily eight feet long. They immediately began arguing over who was going to get to hold the clicker.  Willa won when she brandished her fangs at Ginger.

Eric and Pam sat down and with Nuri and Reider, who’d already settled in, leaving Ginger and Willa to the television. Just as Nuri began to explain the porter came in and asked if anyone ‘wanted refreshment.’ Drinks were ordered then consumed and having tired of the bickering already, Nuri dismissed Willa and Ginger to their rooms.

Reveling in the silence Eric listened half-heartedly while Nuri and Reider took turns explaining their rolls in the evenings adventure. Which answered questions about the security cameras, three identical dresses, how Ginger’s absence would be explained, and finally how not only were Eric and Freyda dead but so were Karin, Pam, and Willa.

‘The plot thickens.’ Pam mused, not liking any of it. She especially didn’t like being dead. She liked her job. She liked her independence. She liked her girlfriend. Eric was laughing at something Reider had said. Reaching out to her, he pulled her across the sofa and cuddled her up next to him. She stopped brooding then and snuggled, because she liked this too. She would have to be content to let things be, for a little longer.  

Eric squeezed Pam to him again and she wiggled a bit tighter into the crook of his arm.

‘UmmMmmuum! he sighed.  

He'd missed her. It was good to be home. Pam was his favorite, but that was a secret. It had ripped part of his being away when he’d had to leave her. He knew that it had scarred her as well, but she seems to have been thriving at being in control of her life. He hoped that she would get past her anger at Karin soon, because Eric knew, even if she didn’t, that part of her life was over.

Pam had just asked a very pertinent question, but he was only half tuned in to the answer. He could hear Karin up the stairs giving Sookie the long version of the family’s history. She’d started all the way back with Marcus. Each time he heard Sookie’s voice he wanted to fly up the stairs. He obviously had questions he should be asking Nuri, but at the moment he was too distracted by the tremor in Sookie’s voice. He was confused about why Karin would be giving Sookie the complete and unabridged family history and curious about why Karin had kept Nuri and Reider a secret from them all of this time. He could probably guess at it, but he wanted to hear her explanation. And then, just as if Karin knew what he needed, she told Sookie the story of Reider. The four of them grew silent and listened while Karin told Sookie every sordid detail. She’d been talking for quite a while and Eric having been lost in his own thoughts after learning that Karin and Nuri had murdered Marcus, watched as Nuri and Reider suddenly got up to go and meet Sookie.  

When they’d gone, he turned to Pam and asked, ‘So, where are we going?’

‘Belize.’ She replied.

‘Thank fuck.’ He said, and pulled her even closer.

 

Chapter Text

Sunniva: Forty-Five Minutes ago

 

My hair whipped around my head like it was caught up in the tornado. I wish I’d thought to put it in a ponytail. Karin held the door of the helicopter open so I could get out. As soon as we were safely away the helicopter lifted from the deck of the enormous ship it had just dropped me on and flew away. We watched it go and when I felt like I could talk without having to yell at her I said,

‘Karin, it isn’t a boat! It’s a ship!’ I said, yelling anyway, flinging my arm wide to indicate the entire ship. 

‘I know! Isn’t she amazing! Welcome aboard. Her name is Sunniva. It means Child of the Sun.’

I blinked at her stunned, ‘It couldn’t be more perfect.’ I thought, then squealed, ‘Just look at it!’

‘This is going to be my home.’ I thought happily.

Karin took my hand, ‘Come on, let’s go inside. You hungry?’ She asked, pulling me after her.

‘I could eat.’ I said, ‘You have PBJ?’

‘Let’s go find out.’ Karin grimaced. She hoped there wasn’t. The stuff smelled foul.

I was just getting my hair under control and out of my eyes as Karin slid open the door and brought me inside. I went bug-eyed. Honestly, I couldn’t say if I’d ever seen anything so fancy in my life. Not even when Amelia talked me into going to the Parade of Homes in New Orleans. I tried, but I couldn’t look at everything all at once while Karin pulled me through the ship’s interior.

Traditionally Vampires are not so touchy. It always surprised me when Karin touched me familiarly. When I’d asked her about it, she’d told me they were only that way with anyone who wasn’t family. I’d liked that answer.   

We arrived in a room that was bigger than the entire bottom floor of my house and it was on a boat. I thought the other rooms were fancy. The only word for the room was opulent. I’d learned from my word of the day calendar that opulent, meant ultra-fancy. The ceiling in this room captured all of my attention immediately. It looked like a honeycomb.

‘It’s real gold leaf in those combs.’ I thought, stunned, unable to pull my eyes away from it.

A crewman came in and had a short conversation with Karin.

She took my purse and duffle explaining that Brian, was going to take them to my rooms. 

I collapsed into a chair, nodding at her not taking my eyes away from the ceiling. 

‘There is more to the room.’ She teased. ‘Just so you know.’  

I finally dragged my eyes away from the ceiling and glanced around the rest of the room and sure enough, there was more to it. A small buffet of fruit and small finger type food with a pitcher of sweet tea, was assembled along the back of a group of furniture that made up one three other conversation area’s like it. I made a plate of a few strawberries and cheese sandwiches, poured myself a glass of the tea and went back to my chair taking a healthy gulp of the tea. 

‘Oh my God.’ I breathed, flicking an unbelieving glance at the glass.

I don’t know if people know this or not, but making sweet iced tea is an art form. You don’t just go off all haphazardly dumping tea and sugar in a pitcher of water and hope for the best. There’s a process and strict ratio guidelines. This…was perfect tea. I’d never had tea this perfect. Not even Gran made tea this perfect.  

‘Sorry, Gran.’ I apologized silently.

While I gloried in a glass of tea, Brian reappeared carrying a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Confused, I pointed at the buffet.

‘Thank you, but there was plenty here. I made due.’ I said, politely and blushed. 

He smiled sweetly at me and said, ‘Miss wished for a PBJ.’ He explained setting it down in front of me.

‘Can I bring you anything else?’ he asked, formally.   

‘So, this was how it was going to be.’ I realized.

‘No, thank you.’ I said, taking a bite as not to be rude.

It was delicious. Amazing actually. It wasn’t Skippy and Smucker’s that was for damn sure. The simple, but delicious food, was doing wonders for my anxiety. Even if it was a gourmet PB&J. Getting here had been nerve racking. Seeing this ship sitting in the water and then inside of it was overwhelming. PBJ and Sweet tea, was normal and just what I needed, especially now.

The Boat began moving and my insides did a flip. This was it, the true first step.

Karin, sitting amicably beside me, let me adjust without trying to talk me through it.

I liked this about her.

The way she gave me time to puzzle through my emotions, but was right there if I needed her.

‘That’s the way all good moms are.’ I quoted, remembering something Tara had said.

The lights of New Orleans in the distance began to slip quickly away. Everything I knew went with them.

I went to the window taking my tea to watch and Karin came to stand with me. 

‘We’ll be back someday.’ She said.

‘I know.’  I replied, wiping the tear that slid down my cheek away. We didn’t talk, just watched until the boat turned south and the lights disappeared from view. ‘So, how did it go this evening? Was it a good visit?’ I asked, taking a shaky breath and sitting when I was ready.

‘Well, everything went just the way I planned for it to go. Not a single hitch, problem, or hick-up.’

Karin was extra happy and she smiled like she had a secret.   

‘Okay…that answer isn’t chock full of a million other questions at all.’ I chuckled, cautiously.

I should’ve known that something else would be going on. We’re dealing with Vampires here. Nothing is ever just what it appears to be. I pursed my lips and gave Karin the skeptical, might as well spit-it-out, side-eye.

Karin stammered, ‘I…ugh…Well, the next phase of your life is underway. So, I decided that since we were going to do this, that I’d also use the opportunity to close the book on a chain of events that were set into motion a very long time ago.’ She little white lied her ass off.

'What the hell…?’ I sighed. ‘Tell me.’ I commanded, preparing myself for the bad news.

 ‘There’s no reason to be upset. Everything is fine, better than fine.’ She promised.

‘I trust Karin.’ I reminded myself but asked anyway, ‘Nothing awful is about to happen?’

‘Not at all.’ Karin promised again. ‘I just have some things that I need to tell you. You remember that I promised you that I’d tell you everything and I have except for this last part, but I swear it’s not bad. You may think you have been used in some way when I’m done explaining, but only in so much as, you were able to get exactly what you wanted tonight.’

‘Mmmm,’ I grimaced, skeptically, ‘Okay. I’m listening, but I hope it doesn’t take too long. I’m worn out and over anxious as it is. I was looking forward to decompressing after getting here tonight as you know. It’s been stressful as hell and I am topped up to the brim on anxiety.’ I complained.

‘Well, it’s a long story…’ Karin began.

‘Of course, it is.’ I complained uncharitably, over her.

‘…but I’ll try to tell it as fast as I can.’ Karin shrugged, ‘Okay?’

‘Can’t we do it tomorrow?’ I asked.

‘No.’ she said.

‘Fine.’ I sighed. ‘Let’s get on with it.’

‘We’ll do it just like the other night. I’ll tell it; you wait till the end to ask questions. Okay?’ she asked.

‘Alright then.’ I agreed, and got up to move to the sofa.

Karin followed me, settling herself on the sofa as well. 

‘Ready?’ she asked.

I nodded wiggling my butt into the cushions. ‘This is a really nice sofa.’ I informed her as if she didn’t know.

Karin wasn’t sure, but she thought Sookie was purposefully trying to annoy her. She wondered what the possibility of being able to push this conversation and subsequent revelation that the ‘Northman family’ was on board until tomorrow, was. ‘Unlikely.’ She accepted.

‘Karin?’ Sookie prompted.

Karin lost in her thoughts started, ‘Sorry. Alright, as you know Appius-Livius Ocella was already 1000 years old before he ever became Eric’s maker. What you don’t know is that Ocella spent nearly that entire 1000 years in servitude to his Maker, Marcus. Ocella had no relationship with his Maker. Not the way Pam and I have with Eric. Ocella was a slave and he lived solely to do Marcus’ bidding.’ 

Karin shifted in her chair and let that bit of information set in.

Sookie’s mouth pulled into an involuntary moue of distaste.

‘Marcus had been to war with Alexander the Great in Persia.’ Karin said, launching into her story again.

Sookie’s mouth lost the moue and her eyes went as round as saucers. 

‘It isn’t as impressive as it sounds.’ Karin explained. ‘Alexanders army was vast. Anyone who could afford the price of an officer’s commission was given one. Marcus was no Officer. He was one of the poorest soldiers, so he was relegated to the fringes of the encampment. One night, as he slept, his small camp was raided. When he woke three days later, all of his comrades were dead and he was a Vampire. He spent the next 300 years in servitude to a Vampire known as King Selim who ruled over scores of Vampires in a cave system in what is now northern Iran. It was a Vampire community of sorts, that survived by raiding trading parties in the desert along the Silk Road. They’d slaughter nearly everyone, turn the strongest men and bring the youngest humans back for food. Of course, the best of everything including the loot which entailed everything from Gold and Fabric to Women and Children, was for King Selim. 

The conditions Marcus lived in were putrid. Everything was treated as currency. Marcus and others like him, even though they were Vampires, were considered no better than cattle. They were expected to perform whatever duty was required of them instantly.’   

‘Ew, gross.’ I wrinkled my nose.

Karin nodded in solidarity.

‘Marcus, never knew who his Maker was and he never met King Selim. He worked and lived at the will of overseers. Early one evening before the sun was fully down, he woke to total chaos in the caves. The entire system was completely engulfed in flames and an army of humans slaughtered any Vampire that moved. Marcus had always been careful about where he slept, as this nightmare was something he’d always feared. He went back to his sleeping space and hid himself as deep in its recess as he could and waited for the night to come on. When it did, he made for the exit, taking nothing with him. Even so, he narrowly escaped the army that waited outside to finish the job. He ran as far as he could then took to the sky. This ability was the only thing that saved him as the Soldiers gave chase. When he felt the sun coming, he went to ground and so it went until he was out of the desert. Later, Marcus happened upon Ocella and three days later, Ocella was a Vampire slave. This was the only life Marcus knew and if King Selim was dead, that meant Marcus could become the new King. Are you beginning to see how this is going to play out?’ she asked.

I nodded, understanding that a lot of this story was going to be horrible. I was so tired I was nearly slap happy and didn’t know why I had to hear it tonight, but I could tell that Karin needed to tell me for some reason. I wanted to know what that reason was, so I was just going to have to be patient.

‘Ocella spent nearly 1000 years, doing what Marcus had been doing for only a little over 300 years. As you would expect, it twisted him.’ Karin said, picking up the thread of the story again. ‘In the beginning, they lived like animals in the dirt, because as I said, that was what Marcus knew. They were brutal, flagrant, and without direction. They lived like those people who win the lottery. Indulging themselves in everything, only to find themselves penniless and addicted to drugs and gambling years later. Marcus made so many Vampires that it wasn’t long before the mobs were after them. So, they migrated throughout Eastern Europe, living all through Turkey, Romania, Poland, and Russia. They’d be hunted down and slaughtered periodically when there were too many of them to hide effectively, but eventually, they began to evolve. They learned how to live, manipulate, and move through the world around them without destroying it. They began taking secluded residences, living in small numbers and in only certain regions for extended periods of time. Decades past and they began to follow politics, then business. They learned about investing, the shipping trade, and so on.’ She explained.

‘Go on.’ I said, curious now.

Marcus developed his own cave system of sorts, only it was a bit more civilized. Not by much, though.’

‘How do you mean?’ I asked.

‘Well, for starters, everyone and everything was still something with which to barter, but this cave system took the form of hundreds of villages along the borders of Poland, Germany, and what’s now the Czech Republic. It was called Bohemia then. They were spread out, but still concentrated in the region.’ She answered.

‘Ah, I see.’ I said, understanding. 

‘Marcus, was the oldest, and they all descended from him so he was the King. He had scores of Progeny once again and rewarded the most loyal of those Progeny by setting them up as Regent, village by village. Then, like any savvy monarch, he pitted them against each other in order to keep them loyal to him. You’ve read about this kind of thing through history before. Because he was their Maker, he was the most powerful. They couldn’t attack him individually and they didn’t trust each other enough to attack him by banding together.’

I yawned and nodded my understanding, struggling to stay focused.

‘One of the first and most controversial laws Marcus decreed, was that the Vampires could no longer sire Progeny at will. As you can imagine, it didn’t go over well and there was a revolt against him. Many Vampires died, or simply ran away, only to be hunted down later. If you think about it, in a weird murderous way Marcus was one of the first environmentalist or conservationist, if you will.  He’d learned with time and experience the impact that hordes of Vampires had on their environment. A lot of the villages that were under his control were lost to him during the uprising, but he quickly learned that, he could ‘buy’ cooperation from those same villages by providing them with excellent living conditions. He provided things like protection, industry, food, medicine, and shelter. These things were serious bargaining chips for people who were cold, hungry, sick, and who’d been ravaged by war when invaders had learned that Vampires were no longer a threat in the region. He made alliances, blood pacts if you will, with the villages. Vampires would only take what blood they needed to survive from willing donors without killing them. The donors would receive payment in the form of fabulous living conditions. So, life went on in orderly slavery for villagers and Vampires alike for hundreds of years. Any questions?’ she asked.

I blinked. I’d been so wrapped up in the telling that it startled me when she asked if I had questions.

‘Surprisingly, no.’ I answered. ‘I understand completely where all of this is going, I think…’

‘Good, because it is going to get a little more difficult for me to tell shortly.’

‘Oh…Okay,’ I said, drawing my shoulders together warily.

‘Marcus stopped the raiding parties altogether. He stayed near his home and sent the new ‘tax collectors’ out instead. Every few years or so the small groups who nested together would return from their villages and pay their tithe. Sometimes everyone made it back to pay the tithe, sometimes not everyone did. It was Ocella’s job to find out why a nest hadn’t paid its tithe. After a while Ocella had taken on so much territory, that he couldn’t keep up with it all. Villages had turned into towns. Towns had turned into cities. Time had left such a huge gap that citizens didn’t remember what it was like to live without the benefits that Marcus provided. They only knew that they were losing people occasionally and if they had their own guard, they wouldn’t need to deal with Marcus. Certain larger fiefdoms began building a city guard and refused to pay their tithe altogether, killing the nest that governed them. This resulted in skirmishes between humans and Vampires and you don’t need to be told the outcome of that. Ocella was in crisis mode and needed help. So, he petitioned Marcus for permission to sire Progeny. Marcus said no of course, but Ocella pestered him and Marcus finally relented telling Ocella that he could sire one Progeny and it better be a good one.  Ocella took this to heart as he’d seen many foolishly made Vampires.’

I scoffed skeptically. Karin knew exactly what I was thinking.

‘You’re right.’ She laughed. ‘It does make one wonder what he’d been thinking when he sired Alexi. I always chalked it up to him not being able to resist the boy’s royal lineage.’

‘Duh!’ I nearly yelled, laughing with her. We shared a communal moment in our intense dislike of Ocella, then Karin got back to my history lesson.  

‘Ocella tried many times to make a Childe and was unsuccessful until he happened upon and made Eric. I’m not sure if you knew that or not.’ She added.

‘I didn’t.’ I said. ‘I do know that sometimes the transition is unsuccessful, but I feel like it has a lot to do with the will to live.’

‘I agree.’ she said, surprised by Sookie’s intuitiveness. 

Karin took a minute to weight her next words, then said, ‘Eric’s Making is not my story to tell, Sookie. I will only say that Ocella’s way with Eric, was mostly the same as Marcus’ had been with him. Ocella had affection for Eric and cared for him as one would with any property, but Eric was a slave, duty bound to perform whatever tasks Ocella deemed appropriate for any situation. That’s all I’m going to say about that. I’m sure that some may disagree with that, but in my experience, I stand by my words. I’m sure that Eric has shared some things with you, but I’m positive that he hasn’t shared with you how he became my Maker. I’m going to tell you about that now, because it is relevant.’ She said.

I’d not imagined that I would be getting all of this information this evening. Worn out as I was, I wasn’t going to stop Karin now. It’d be rude as she was just about to share her story. Stifling my yawn, I said ‘Please…I’d love to hear it.’ Managing not to sound impatient for my bed.    

‘Eric was the most beautiful creature I’d ever seen. Of course, I was only 18 and had never been out of my village, but still.’ She shrugged, smiling. ‘I was engaged to be married though and at eighteen I was considered practically ancient. Most girls my age had been married for two or three, sometimes even four years and had houses full of children. My father had kept me with him, because my mother was dead and I was a good cook. Also, he hadn’t gotten a decent enough offer for me yet. As you can see, I was quite a looker.’

She’d confided the last bit about her to me proudly. I was stunned to the marrow of my bones over the first bit, but she went right on talking like it was no big deal that 14-year-olds had been married off and forced to have babies. I felt like a bad person in the next second when I realized I hadn’t spared a thought for her dead mother.

‘Since my mother was dead, my father spent a few evenings a week out of the house, if you catch my meaning. It was one of the nights he’d gone to the tavern that Eric saw me. He glamored me instantly and we were in the hay loft when my father came home early and discovered us. He immediately demanded payment from Eric, as I was engaged to the blacksmith and now all of that was ruined…’

‘Good!’ I grouched, interrupting her, narrowing my eyes at her jealously. She showed no sign at all that she was concerned in the least bit. I wondered where that wave of jealousy had come from. ‘Sorry.’ I mumbled and her, confused.

She hadn’t even stopped talking.

 ‘…because after all I am very beautiful and my intended was going to pay a rather large amount of money to marry me.’ She said, laughing and baiting me over my jealousy.

I rolled my eyes. ‘I take it back.’ I teased.

‘Sookie…focus, this is all ancient history.’ She commanded, playfully.

Pretending to be duly chastised I shut it and paid attention.  

‘Eric told my father that he’d only pay if he could keep me. I didn’t have any say of course, but I had no objection. The idea of staying with Eric instead of the old fat black smith pleased me more than anything. Eric was a very good lover and as I said, incredibly beautiful. The added bonus of getting to travel out of the village was the real temptation to me along with never growing old.’ Karin said.

I yawned, deciding that I didn’t care if I was being rude.

‘With Eric refusing to pay and my father not keen on letting Eric keep me, he went to Ocella to plead his case. Ocella obviously told Eric that he couldn’t keep me, because Marcus would never allow it. He was to pay my father immediately.

‘Uh Oh.’ I said.

‘Exactly.’ Karin replied.

‘Ocella had learned over time to pick his battles with Eric when he was being stubborn about something.

It kept the peace between them.

That’s why he didn’t beat Eric to a pulp when he insisted, they take the matter to Marcus. Ocella knew what the answer would be. So, assuming it’d be the quickest, most peaceful solution, that wouldn’t have them at each other throats for months, he agreed and they flew me and my father off to meet with Marcus.

Eric spoke with great respect when he presented his case to our Grandsire. I’ve never heard him speak in such a way since. He explained that ‘if it please Marcus’ he’d pay my father triple to keep me. He’d pay both Marcus and Ocella the same if he could gain his release and go his own way with me.

That last bit about release took Ocella by surprise, as you can imagine. Marcus declined Eric’s initial offer because Ocella objected to Eric’s release. After much haggling, an extremely pissed off Ocella agreed to allow Eric and I to travel separately from him. He punished Eric for his public embarrassment of asking for release, by not releasing him. I don’t think he ever forgave Eric for it. In the end, Eric paid my father the triple. He had to pay a dispensation to turn me and buy a charter to travel separate from Ocella without release. That just meant we had to pay a portion of Ocella’s tithe as well as our own. It beggared us for nearly two tithing cycles, but Eric had the scant freedom he’d been craving.

I yawned hugely. ‘I’m sorry, how much longer?’ I asked, managing to look contrite.

‘Not long.’ she assured me and went on.

‘We left as soon as the paperwork was finished and he got me as far away as possible, as fast as possible. I think Eric was afraid that Ocella would kill me. Three days after we found a place to stop, I was a Vampire. We lived in the dirt briefly, but it didn’t take long at all for things to improve. We traveled the world, we lived well, we paid our tithe when the time came. The only problems we had were Marcus and Ocella. Essentially, we were slaves that were free to roam, as long as we did what we were ordered to. It was reprehensible to me, because I am a female. I’m not going to get into that right now, just suffice it to say that they were slave mongers, and Eric and I were their slaves. Ocella was insufferable and jealous of me. I despised him my entire existence.’

There was raw hatred in Karin's voice. I was glad that she didn’t want to ‘get into that’ right now. I didn’t think I could handle that. I could hear the hurt behind the hatred in her and all I wanted to do was ease it for her. She’d powered through that part of the telling but I could hear the tremor in her voice and knew that we weren’t done.

Steadying herself, Karin started again, ‘So, we had a bit of freedom, but it always came with a price. Eric and I lived this way for a long time and then I saw Reider my son. I promised I would tell you about him and Nuri.’ She said.

The passwords.’ I realized.

‘I wanted Reider the moment I saw him and he wanted me as well. You can imagine the problem that this caused. Eric argued against it solely because of the law, not because he didn’t want me to have him, you understand. I persisted and he gave in. He reasoned that we’d gained such freedom of movement, that no one would be the wiser.  So, Eric said yes and I became a Maker with the stipulation that we stayed together because we had too. It took some adjustment but we worked through it. Some years after that we crossed paths with another group of Vampires and I met Nuri, my wife. She lived in a completely different way than anything we’d ever seen before and they were unrelated to us, which was a novelty in itself. They were gypsies, but don’t call them that. Everyone lived together and shared what they had. No slavery, no subordinates. Soon we made the decision to abandon our old lifestyle all together and we adopted Nuri’s way. We left off of collecting the tithe and, didn’t make it at all, thinking that after all of the time that had passed, we could just walk away. Disappear.’

‘Oh no…’ I moaned.

‘Yes, it was very naive.’ She confessed. ‘When we didn’t make the tithe, Ocella was ordered to summon Eric. Ocella was furious when we arrived, seeing that we’d broken the law. Because Ocella was going to be fined and punished himself, he beat Eric so badly, I thought he’d kill him. To make matters worse, Reider was not a warrior. We were all dragged before Marcus in silver to be judged. As punishment Marcus decreed that Reider would stay to serve him and Eric and I were order to return to Ocella, as we couldn’t be trusted. I protested and begged Marcus to take payment instead of Reider, but he refused. Whenever you want to make a point, you hurt them in their heart.  Never forget that, Sookie. It’s important. Most Vampires think this way.’  

I had no idea how to respond to that.

‘As you can imagine, I reacted badly when they dragged Reider from the room. I verbally threatened and attempted to physically attack Marcus. Eric held me tight and prevented me from reaching him, but Marcus had already had quiet enough of my insolence. He ordered Ocella to slice off Eric’s head if I didn’t control myself immediately. I came to heal instantly and hit my knees. For my outburst, I was kept in silver for a month, then banished from Marcus’ court. It meant I wouldn’t see Reider at all, since he was to serve Marcus personally.’

Karin was shaking. I got up to get her a napkin from the buffet when the blood tears coursed down her cheeks.

‘Karin, you don’t have to tell me anymore.’ I said handing her the napkin.

‘It’s best if I go on.’ She said cleaning her face.

‘Okay.’ I sat down next to her. Shaking my head, I took her hand in mine.

She pulled herself together and said, ‘I’ve never told this story to anyone. I’m sorry for upsetting you.’

‘I’m so sorry this happened to you.’ I said gently ‘You can wait to finish.’ I prompted.

‘No. I need to do this now.’ She said emphatically. 

I put my hand on hers giving it a squeeze and nodded.

She began again. ‘Ocella decided that Eric had been too lenient with me and after I was released from silver. He sent Nuri away, reasoning that she wasn’t family and all of this was her fault. She stayed in the village near Reider so he wouldn’t be alone. Eventually she had to pledge fealty to Marcus and he put her to work, which if you knew her, it was like caging a tiger or an elephant. It was the worst kind cruelty. Ocella couldn’t deal with me after he sent Nuri away and Eric couldn’t control my behavior without ordering me. I was irrational, impulsive, and dangerous. Ocella began to beat Eric for my behavior, but I couldn’t be consoled or controlled.  Eventually Eric released me and I slipped away when the opportunity arose. I didn’t see either of them again for almost ninety years.

‘That is an incredible story, Karin. I can’t believe after all of that you’d ever consider being a Maker again.’

‘Listen to me.’ She said seriously ‘I needed you to hear all of that because it is only the first part of my deception. Remember I told you, that I hadn’t been entirely honest and that I used you? Listen with an open heart please, because this is the rest. I’m binding you to secrecy. No one knows what I’m about to tell you next. It took a long time, but Nuri and I saved Reider. We attacked and killed Marcus. My wife and son are not dead.’

My mouth popped open like a hungry baby bird. ‘What?’ I exclaimed, and a confused smile split my face. 

‘I know you thought they were dead and I let you think that. I’m sorry. Everyone always assumed that Reider died the night Marcus died. I hid them away and we’ve been relatively safe until Bill Compton’s fucking Archive.’

‘I’m going to have a brother again?’ I asked excitedly, ignoring everything else that she’d just said.

‘Yes.’ She laughed, ‘They’re here now and ready to meet you. Now you know why you needed the history lesson. Just a minute, they’re on their way up.’ She said, laughing when I jumped up from the sofa to look for them.

Every part of me was vibrating with expectation. Reider and Nuri materialized into the room out of the thin air. You never really get used to that happening. They were polar opposites and probably the most beautiful creatures I’d ever seen and that was saying something coming from a family of Fae. Reider looked like an icy fairy king anyway. He was slim and willowy. Everything about him was cool and wintery. He had very pale skin, even for a Vampire. It had the lightest dusting of nearly invisible freckles that made him look boyish. He had silvery blond hair that was almost white and his eyes were the startling blue-green of an iceberg. He allowed me to take him in before speaking as he was doing the same with me. My gaze shifted to Nuri, who was so beautiful she looked like Mother Earth had birthed her personally. She was tiny, but rounded in all of the right places which made her look womanly instead of childish. Her skin was honestly the color of cinnamon. She had huge dark eyes that for a Vampire were gentle and kind. All of her beauty expanded when you noticed her hair. It was the hair you would attribute to a goddess. A mass of dark brown, perfect in its shine, texture, and it fell in glorious waves well past her behind. I felt like the rudest person on earth just staring at them like this, but who could help it. I struggled to find my voice and looked back at Reider, who hit me with a dazzling smile. The pair of them were so lovely, it was almost overwhelming. Vampires traditionally didn’t shake hands, so I was amazed to see Reider’s outstretched palm. Mutely, I stuck my hand out to shake and smiled at him. He ignored my hand and grasped both of my shoulders then kissed each of my cheeks.

‘Sister, I am so happy you are here. I’m Reider.’ He said with a bubbly gush of affection that made me blush.

‘Hello, I’m Sookie Stackhouse. I’m so pleased to meet you.’ I said dumb struck.

‘Gran would have SO been proud.’

‘Sister…’ The word echoed and Jason’s handsome face came to focus. It hurt a little. No, it hurt a lot to think of him. I sent Jason gently away, even though tears pricked the corners of my eyes. I still had to greet Nuri who was now standing in front of me.

‘Hello, Sookie.’ She smiled, and dipped her head to me.

‘I’m delighted you are finally here. I’m Karin’s wife, Nuri. You may call me Nuri.’ She smiled graciously.

Nuri hadn’t touched me. It occurred to me that she’d known I was struggling and needed a minute. She’d also known that I’d be confused about how to address her and had taken the guess work out of it. I understood all at once that Nuri was very perceptive. I wonder how perceptive she was. Was she psychic, I wondered? I hoped not, because I embarrassed myself properly by cheerily saying, ‘Well…I have to say that I am just pleased as punch to meet y’all as well. I’m just a little startled is all, because…well, I thought y’all were dead.’ I’d finished the statement by awkwardly clasping my hands together and nervously rocking back on my heals. As if that weren’t enough, I squeaked, ‘Also, I am obviously very tired and have lost to ability to conduct proper small talk.’

Everyone chuckled politely to work through the awkwardness that I’d just created. Nuri stepped genially into that awkwardness and said, ‘Karin still has a little bit to tell you. I know that you’ve been sitting here a long while and that you’re very tired, but it won’t be much longer.’ She promised and gestured toward the couch.

‘Karin, I just want to say how relieved and happy I am that Reider and Nuri are with us. I was shocked for sure, but I’m just…so happy. It’s just…wonderful.’ I babble in a gush.

‘I’m happy you feel this way. It was a big gamble, but we couldn’t chance letting anyone know they were alive until now. Now, for part two of my deception.  Everything I’ve done, all the way back to since the night you met me, is to free this family from the yolk of Ocella’s slavery once and for all.’ She said forcefully.

Well that was a mouthful. I was dead tired and still getting a shaky handle on everything that had just happened, but I was all ears and a hundred percent here. I nodded at her once, letting her know I was with her.

‘Part two of deception…check…okay then, what’s next.’ I surprised myself by taking it in stride.

‘I could go into a big long drawn out tail how we were able to accomplish everything tonight, but I’m not going to. I’m simply going to say that Ocella helped by getting himself killed in your back yard. It freed us up to do what needed to be done. It might get confusing, so if you have questions as we go forward, stop me and ask if you don’t understand something. Okay?’

‘Yep.’ I nodded.

‘Reider discovered that Freyda, is the Progeny of Victor and Victor and Felipe are the Progeny of Marcus so we are all cousins. It was Victor and Ocella that set Eric’s marriage to Freyda in motion. So far, this is the only thing that damn Archive has been good for.’ She scoffed.

Well that explained a lot! Pam and I had killed Victor in Vampire’s Kiss. Victor had forbidden Pam to turn Miriam. What was it with these jerks and their rules about Progeny! What a bunch of assholes! I am so glad Ocella is dead! And that asshole Marcus too!’ I swore vehemently, caught up in my thoughts. The room swam a little.

‘Ocella negotiated a large settlement and many favors and agreements for the arrangement between Freyda and Eric, including that Eric be made Regent of Louisiana at the end of his marriage. Sookie, I know that he told you over and over, but Eric had no choice in the matter of his marriage. I hope you understand now, that Eric was never released. Ocella ordered him to do it.’ She said, her voice hard and angry.

I was half listening and half thinking back to the decision I’d made with the Cluviel Dor. Every time I thought about it lately, it made my stomach churn. Just now, I felt my shoulders get tight and the room got blurry. ‘If I’d known then, how all of this would turn out…’ I thought absently, pondering what the outcome might have been when Karin stunned all of those thoughts completely out of me.

‘This evening, Pam killed Freyda. Well, we all killed her actually. It was a group effort, so to speak. The point is, we’re truly free.’ She stumbled through the explanation, then started to laugh jubilantly.

I rolled my shoulder and rearranged what she’d just said a few times trying to decide if I’d heard her right. ‘What the fuck did you just say to me?’ I choked. 

She laughed at me. Truly laughed. Belly laughed.

There was a high-pitched hum in my ears and it was annoying as hell. I was trying to think. I stared at her in consternation, then stood up. All I could hear was the hum and Karin’s laughter. Was that supposed to be some kind of joke? I turned blindly away and stumbled over an ottoman having no idea where I was going. The room spun and I followed its trajectory turning back to her on weaving feet, ‘Did you just tell me that Freyda is dead?’ I whispered.

She held my watery frown and nodded; pure joy shone from every part of her.

Then, like something out of a movie, Eric and Pam walked into the room.

I watched incredulously as Pam stomped directly to her sister and grated out, ‘We are going to have this shit out right now. Why didn’t you tell me about any of this? Why didn’t you trust me?’ She demanded, letting her hurt ring through loud and clear. I was wondering the same thing through the hazy fog of confusion.

‘What’s Pam doing here?’ I thought. I felt light headed and couldn’t hear Pam anymore. I could see Karin’s mouth move, but all I could hear was the persistent hum in my ears. I turned away from them and there was Eric. ‘Psh…that’s not Eric.’ I frowned, feeling sick.

Karin, sighed, ‘This has nothing to do with whether or not I trusted you, Pam.’  Karin suddenly distracted by a low moan coming from Sookie, pulled her attention away from Pam. Sookie had just gone sheet white at seeing Eric. 

‘Don’t be angry about this.’ Karin whispered to Pam, distractedly. She grabbed her sister by the shoulders and twisted her around to face the room. ‘Look! My plan, is the reason that this entire family is on this boat and no one knows we are alive. Let that soothe your hurt.’ She whispered fervently into Pam’s ear while pointing at Eric and Sookie.’

‘Your ability to tell lies had improved exponentially.’ Pam said, uncharitably.

Pam was certain that somewhere along the way she was going to have to do some damage control, even though she grudgingly admitted, that she had to respect Karin’s wishes about Reider and Nuri. ‘It had been smart to keep them a secret.’ She thought. Later of course she’d have to wring the rest of the story out of them. Just now, it looked like some epic drama was eminent. Eric and Sookie were caught in the tractor beam of each other’s presence and from the reactions she was seeing…it wasn’t all rainbow’s and puppies.

Eric couldn’t understand what he was seeing. If this was Sookie vastly improved, he shuddered to think what she’d been like two months ago. There wasn’t even a flicker of the light that defined her in her eyes. She looked…vacant. Like she’d been hollowed out. ‘Why is she looking at me like she is trying to remember who I am.’

‘Eric.’ my brain repeated trying to convince me that he was over there.

‘Why is it suddenly so loud in here?’ I wondered, rubbing at my ears.

I couldn’t help but notice, he looked, wounded somehow. Not like himself at all.  

‘This can’t be him.’

I shook my head and trying to reason it out for myself.

‘It looks like him.’

‘Why is he wearing a tuxedo?’

‘His hair is really long.’

‘I Feel dizzy.’

‘Did I faint or something?’ 

‘I must have finally fallen asleep.’

‘Why is it so loud in here?’

‘Can everyone just be quiet!’ I yelled.

‘Did I just yell?’

‘What’s happened to you?’ The thing that wasn’t Eric…or was it Eric, asked. The sound of the voice coming from him cracked like a lightning bolt in the room. I flinched at it and just like that, I knew he was real and the floor fell away under me. 

Eric and Karin moved at the same time. Eric reached her first. 

Sookie felt cool fingers wrap around her arm and then she was being scooped up into a solid embrace. She had a close-up view into crystalline blue eyes and noticing the crease of a frown, dazedly thought, ‘Hmmm, For some reason, he’s already angry with me.’ His face zoomed to a pinpoint focus and in the next second disintegrated. She understood then, that she hadn’t fallen asleep and that this was real.

The last seven years caught up with me in that instant. All of the grief and loss. Every fear, every moment of uncertainty, every goodbye, my guilt. All I could thing to say was, ‘I’m sorry!’ I choked out the apology, then went completely to pieces. 

Nuri nodded to Pam, smiling at her. It was like she was saying, ‘There is the pay off, be happy.’

Pam didn’t know why Nuri should be so overjoyed about Sookie fainting and having another nervous breakdown. She looked back at Karin who was also smiling at them. Pam smirked at both of them in irritation. Nuri ignored her rudeness and took Karin’s arm. The pair left the room to the sounds of Sookie’s wailing. Pam watched them go, mildly amused at Nuri’s unaffected response to her rudeness. ‘Morning.’ She waved them off sarcastically, then turned away from all the drama to leave the room herself, using the same stairs she’d used to enter this room earlier. Sookie’s sobbing was so loud that the crew had clustered around the bottom of the stairs looking worried.

‘She’s fine. She didn’t think she was ever going to see him again. OoOoh drama.’ She tossed at them, wiggling her fingers and rolling her eyes. The crew scrambled out of Pam’s way, blinking at her callousness. ‘Better get used it.’ She warned them.

Reider caught up to her. She stopped, raised brow and looked askance at him. He just grinned at her like a big dumb puppy. ‘Oh, goody, an admirer.’ She mocked, sarcasm oozing from every syllable. Sookie’s wailing, louder than ever, pierced her eardrums and she winced. Pam tried to wait the pup out, but finally gave up, groaning in exasperation. She was so done with this night. ‘Walk me to my room.’ She invited. 

Reider grinned and offered her his elbow.

Back upstairs, Eric still had Sookie cradled protectively in his arms settle onto one of the sofas. She’d wrapped her arms around his neck and broke against him. Somehow, he was able to gather the pieces of her that broke off by holding her. He was scared to death and had no idea what he was doing, but he stroked her hair, kissed her cheeks and wiped away her tears with cool gentle fingers. He discovered pretty quickly that he shouldn’t talk when he’d hushed her and said ‘Don’t cry, everything will be okay.’ The sob that bubbled out of her sounded as if she’d broken completely in half, so he shut up altogether and prayed that he was doing this right. Just when he thought she’d cried herself out, a fresh wave of sobbing began and the soothing process started all over again. When she did eventually cry herself out, she fell into exhausted sleep, still curled into him. Her ragged breath continued to hitch, though she was deeply asleep.

He felt like someone had pulled his heart out of his chest and stomped on it.

‘What has happened to you?’ Eric asked her sleeping form hoping the answer would simply manifest itself.

She trembled as she slept. He wasn’t okay.

Watching her come apart this way had shaken him, made him feel helpless.

He was Eric Northman. He could handle a lot of things, but not this. Not her like this…especially today.

He hadn’t even had the opportunity to deal with his own emotions today. He was dealing with a lot of shit here and tomorrow evening a lot of Vampires were going to be looking to him for guidance. He didn’t even know what the fuck was going on yet. He clinched his jaw tightly and as if she could sense his anxiety, she shifted deeper into him taking pulling her arm from around his neck, then wrapping it tightly around his body. He forced himself to relax and she stilled. He sat a while longer, thinking about everything that had happened, and what was to come. When he felt the sun coming, he stood, careful not to wake her. Pausing a moment to assure that she was soundly asleep, he adjusted her weight in the cradle of his arms and went down the stairs. 

A crewman was waiting for him. The name tag he wore read, ‘Brian.’ 

‘Nearest light tight bedroom.’ Eric quietly demanded.

‘Your room is just down this way, Sir.’ Brian said, taking care to speak softly.

Brian pulled back the blackout curtains that covered the entryway to Eric’s room and flipped on the lights.

‘Is there anything I can do for you or the lady?’ Brian asked.

‘Leave.’ Eric answered.

‘Yes, Sir.’ Brian replied and backed out of the room.

Eric laid Sookie in the bed massive bed that surprisingly didn’t dominate the room. He remembered some of the other rooms had been designed for a more rambunctious life style. He realized that this was something that Nuri would have changed. Sunniva was no longer the very Roman ‘Eliana.’ She’d undergone a pleasing transformation from an overstated opulence that Freyda would have swooned over, to a homey, comfortable opulence befitting a ship of this size at least in this and the other rooms he’d seen.

He stood over her watching her sleep, until she rolled to her side and reached out, looking for him. Without washing the blood tears from his face, he laid down next to her cradling her warm body next to his. She instinctively wound herself around him again. While he lay there, all the questions stampeded through him. When he had answers to them, heads would roll.

Chapter Text

Sunniva

 

‘Okay. I’m awake.’ I said, trying to convince myself that I actually was.

I stretched and blinked my eyes, trying to focus. Well, I tried to blink my eyes but they wouldn’t open. I reached to rub them and discovered they were crusted shut.

‘What in the world…’ I complained. It felt like there was sand in my eyelashes. 

‘How…’ and then, I remembered. ‘Oh…Well, that isn’t embarrassing or anything.’ I muttered.

I scrubbed at my eyes to clean the gunk out of them and was finally able to open them.

It didn’t make much difference though; the room I was in was an abyss of darkness. I strained to see, but couldn’t make out a damn thing.

Rolling toward what I assumed would be the edge of the bed, I struggled into a sitting position. I was disoriented and had no idea where the edge was so I opted to crawl. I cast my hands out before me to feel my way across the luxuriously soft bed and came into contact with a body. I abruptly stopped, jerking my hands back toward my body. I let my rear wall to my upturned feet and the action pulled my torso into an upright position causing my knees and shins to sink deeply into the mattress. I held my breath and waited to see what would happen. When nothing did, I reached again and tentatively laid a hand on the body. It was cool, so Vampire. As I felt my way up, I came to the broad expanse of a chest and knew then that it was Eric.

I turned away to feel my way back across the bed, then suddenly remembered that my phone was in my back pocket.

I stopped pulled it out, hit the ‘home’ button, and dim light filled the area around me. 

Yep, it was definitely Eric. I took in the planes of his beautiful face and watched him sleep. After a minute or so, I'd remembered everything from the night before. 

I sighed heavily and just, pushed all of that away for the time being. I knew there were probably going to major consequences, but right now, all I wanted to do was look at him.

Eventually, I mustered the courage to touch him and ran my fingers through his hair.

His eyes opened, flicked to mine and his hand shot out simultaneously grabbing my wrist.

The light on my phone blinked off just before he recognized that it was me and there was a slight squeeze.

‘I have to pee, Eric.’ I announced. 

He let go of my wrist.

Not all Vampires could wake while they were dead for the day, but Eric was very old and could do things that a lot of other Vampires could not.

I slid off of the bed and walked slowly in the direction I thought the bathroom might be. I had no idea where lamps, or a light switch might be. I just did my best, going slow and feeling my way. I came to what I knew instinctively was an opening and inched forward until I felt the wall. The wall turned into draperies. They were heavy and I knew they were there to cover the entrance to the room. I fought my way through the drapes, turned the knob on the door and pulled it open.

Instantly, I was blinded by mid-day sunlight. It glinted sharply off of every surface imaginable while I made my way blindly down the wide corridor to look for a bathroom. Slowly, my eyes adjusted to the glare and by the time I came to the end of the mile-long passage I was met by the same guy who’d brought me the PBJ last night.

I pushed my hair back out of my face and realized I must look a mess. Especially since his expression matched his thoughts in judgement of my appearance.

‘Yep.’ I was a mess alright, I agreed silently. 

He was thinking that I looked like I’d been mauled.

I backed out of his head and said, ‘I have to pee.’

‘Of course, Miss. Please follow me.’ He turned and led the way.

A few minutes later I walked out of the bathroom to find him waiting for me a discreet distance away.

‘Thank you,’ I said to him. ‘Do you happen to know what time it is?’

He was tall, tawny haired, fair skin that was a bit ruddy, and good looking. He reminded me slightly of Prince Harry.

I grew self-conscious when I realized that I had not even looked in the mirror while I was in the bathroom.

He was wondering why I hadn’t washed the mascara off of my face.

I wiped at my face, pushed at my hair again and smoothed out my blouse as well. 

‘Damn, I bet I do look like I have gone 3 rounds with a wet cat.’ Echoing his thoughts.

‘You’re welcome, Miss. The time is 4:30 PM local time, which is Eastern Standard, Miss. If you will come with me, I will show you to your rooms.’ He said, after a beat and began walking.

I followed him silently, contemplating what that "Miss" thing was all about.

‘Would Miss like me to order her some food?’ he asked.

I stopped walking. ‘Miss,’ I said groggily, ‘Would like you to call her Sookie,’ I imparted.

‘Yes, of course, Miss.’ The crewman, crew guy…the guy, said.

‘What is your name?’ I asked him.

‘My name is Brian, Miss.’ He answered.

‘Okay, Brian.’ I said, pointing a finger at him and squinting through the sunlight, ‘If you call me Miss again, we are going to have a serious problem. Understand? So, Stop it!' I dictated the command with all the authority my bedraggled appearance could garner. ‘Besides, I'm a Ma’am, not a miss.’ I corrected.

‘I'm sorry, Ma’am…I mean, Sookie.’ He tested haltingly.

‘Great. It’s no problem. Let’s go.’ I said swinging my arm to indicate that he should get a move on. 

I couldn’t believe how tired I was and I was starving.

‘I want a scalding hot shower and food. I also want a multi-vitamin and some Tylenol.’ I announced to him as we came to a set of double doors, then I asked, 'How can I get those things?' 

Brian pushed them open for me and stepped away so I could enter the room first, then followed in behind me.

'I'm here to facilitate that for you.' he answered.

Naively, I thought nothing more could shock me this weekend, but I was wrong.

This room, was...ridiculous. 'How am I supposed to even use this room?' I said, in wonder.  

I was terrified I was going to mess up the carpet just standing on it. The entire room was white and gold, but somehow it wasn’t tacky.

It was...elegant. It was literally a room, fit for a princess.

'Which, mean it's for you.Technically, you are a fairy princess.’ I reminded myself, and closed my mouth, which had been hanging open.

‘All of your things have been unpacked Mi…ugh…Sookie.’ Brian said, awkwardly, ignoring my reaction the best he could. 

Regaining his momentum after his near slip, he continued to acquaint me with my rooms. ‘

Your bathroom is right through here and this is your closet.’ He said, gesturing as he walked me through the suite of rooms. ‘All of the toiletries you normally use are already here. If you need anything at all, please pick up this phone, he said pointing at the end table next to the bed. Dial 0 and ask for me. I'm here to look after you personally and will see to all of your needs no matter how great or small.’ He finished perfunctorily.

‘Brian, all I want right now, is a shower and some food and the tablets I asked you for.’ I said.

‘Certainly, what may I bring you?’ he asked.

‘Surprise me with breakfast.’ I replied.

‘Yes…Sookie.’ He said, with difficulty. 

‘When you get out of the shower, just call and I'll inform cook. Do you wish to eat here, the dining room, or the deck perhaps? He inquired.

‘The deck of course, silly.’ And I swatted him.

Startled by my familiarity, he said, ‘Very good, Sookie.’ And turned to leave quickly.

‘Brian.’ I called after him.

He stiffened and turned to look back at me, ‘Thank you.’ I said.

‘You’re welcome.’ He said, surprised.

Forty-five minutes later I was wearing the daisy bikini and had inhaled a giant breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and pancakes. Even after all of that I filched a blueberry muffin off of the buffet and brought it with me to this incredibly comfortable chase lounge. I was thinking I ought to get up and explore this floating palace to keep my mind off of the fact that I’d already slept in the same bed with Eric, but I just couldn’t pry myself away from the view out there.

It was glassy blue green gulf water as far as the eye could see and warm breeze danced across my skin.

The combination of the soft breeze, gorgeous water and a full stomach worked as a soothing balm on my nervous system and I felt myself relax.

Brian appeared to deposit a bread plate and a glass of mineral water on the table next to me, then retreated to stand at attention a few yards away.

‘Thank you, Brian.’

‘You’re welcome, Sookie.’

I don’t know how long I sat there ignoring everything but the mesmerizing blue, because I fell asleep.

Chapter Text

New Orleans

 

Danny Prudeaux had watched, while all hell break loose from the safety of the parking garage across the street from the Hotel Monteleone.

He’d been waiting here for Bill to return all night long.

Bill had been furious with him for not contacting him sooner, as he knew he would be.

Now, Danny was sure that he'd be fired over this, but in his defense, he was sure now that he’d been glamored and truth told, he hadn’t been comfortable with spying on Sookie.

It was two in the morning when the first Authority cars arrived at the Hotel Monteleone. The VLA news van’s and the police followed soon after. When the police arrived, he’d tried Bills cell over and over again but he wasn’t answering. The sun had risen in the last few minutes and he knew that it was pointless to continue to contact Bill now, but he didn’t know what else to do so he watched.

All of a sudden, a police officer began to approach him. ‘Hey Buddy.’ He called to Danny. ‘What are you doing up here?’ he asked.

‘Just watching.’ He said, pointing at the scene on the street. ‘I’ve been waiting for my boss, but it is daylight now and I won’t hear from him until this evening. I was going to leave, but I got distracted by all of the excitement. Can you believe all of that? What’s going on over there?’ he asked, curiosity getting the better of him.

‘Yeah. Crazy huh?’ the cop answered. ‘Who’s your boss?’

‘Bill Compton.’ Danny supplied.

The officer stiffened at Bills name and shifted his weight.

‘I am going to have to ask you to come to the station with me. I know the detectives are going to want you to answer a few questions. Would you be willing to do that?’ he asked.

‘I don’t understand. Why?’ Danny asked.

‘Looks like your boss is wanted for murder.’ The cop answered.

‘What!’ Danny exclaimed, then asked hesitantly, ‘I’m not under arrest, am I?’

‘No. Not at this time.’ the officer assured him. ‘We just like to question people at the station, where we can get things down on the record.’

‘Okay.’ Danny nodded innocently and followed the officer out of the parking garage. ‘It isn’t going to take long is it? I’ve been up for two days and I am worn out.’ He asked.

‘It shouldn’t.’ The officer said evasively.

Thirty minutes later Danny was sitting in a small room with a two-way mirror, thinking he’d made a huge mistake.

Two detectives had just entered the room.

One of them was carrying a Styrofoam cup of coffee that he set down in front of Danny. Next, he dropped a little jumbled pile of cream, sugar, and a stir stick next to the cup.

‘Thank you, Danny.’ Murmured, gratefully.

The detective nodded, ‘You’re welcome.’ then pulled out a chair and sat down to begin sifting through a folder he’d carried in with him, while Danny doctored the coffee.

The other detective leaned against the wall and waited.

Danny sipped his coffee and winced.

It was terrible.

He sat the cup down on the scarred table and pushed it away from him.

‘Mr. Prudeaux,’ the sitting detective said, ‘I am Detective Dallier. This is my partner, Detective Reynoir.’ He said, pointing at the man leaning against the wall. ‘We need to let you know that your boss, is wanted by the New Vampire Authority and the New Orleans Police Department for murder. If you have any information pertaining to his whereabouts, we need you to impart that to us at this time.’ He said in a clipped manner.

Danny’s mouth dropped open and he blurted out, ‘Oh my God. He really killed her?’ he exclaimed.

The detectives flicked a glance at each other.

‘Who, did he kill, Mr. Prudeaux?’ Det. Dallier asked quickly.

‘Karin.’ Danny said a little confused. ‘Obviously.’

‘Karin who?’ The detective persisted.

‘I…don’t know her last name.’ Danny said, looking back and forth between the two detectives. ‘Shouldn’t they have that information on one of those papers?’ He thought.

‘Mr. Prudeaux, Det. Reynoir said, in his bored, tired, ready to go home, cop voice, ‘We have an entire suite of dead Vampires and humans there. Not only that,there are two more dead Vamp’s in a separate room in that hotel. Maybe you better start telling us what you about your boss killing folks before you find yourself in a whole peck of trouble, boy.’

‘I…I don’t know what is going on, honest.’ Danny insisted.

‘How about this.’ Det. Reynoir said flipping back a few pages in the folder. ‘What do you know about the Vampire, Pamela Ravenscroft?’ Raynoir asked.

It was official. Danny was afraid. Pam was the Sheriff. It was one thing to be a day man for Bill Compton. It was quite another to be suspected of being complicit in a Vampire murder. Especially a Vampire Sheriff. ‘Pam is the Sheriff of Area Five.’ He shrugged. He supposed he could have told them that she owned Fangtasia as well, but he just said the first thing that came to mind.

‘Where or what is "Area Five."’ Det. Dallier asked.

‘All I know for sure, is that it covers Shreveport. Anywhere else is your guess.’ He answered.

‘Do you know who Eric Northman is?’ The detective asked.

‘Eric Northman is dead?’ Danny exploded! ‘Oh my God, Bill killed Eric Northman. This is serious shit, real trouble. I have to get out of here.’  Sweat broke out on Danny’s upper lip and he stood up. ‘Look, I have to go. I’m not under arrest and I am tired. I have been up all night. I don’t know anything and I don’t have any answers for you.’ He stepped away from the table and started for the door.

Det. Dallier stood as well and stepped in front of the door as Danny attempted to leave the stuffy room. 

‘Sure, Buddy.’ Dallier said, soothingly. ‘But, you know, the way my partner and I are beginning to see it, you were in the parking garage waiting for your boss to help him get away. As a matter of fact, we are pretty sure that’s it exactly.’

‘That is not true.’ Danny insisted.

‘Well,’ Det. Dallier said, stepping closer to Danny, ‘We think it is. If that isn’t the way it is, maybe you want to sit down and convince us otherwise.’ He pressured.

Danny knew then the only was he was getting out of this room, was to spill his guts. He could do that with information, or literally.

He chose information.

Sitting back down he resolved himself to the task at hand. 

‘Eric Northman used to be the Sheriff of Area Five. He also used to own Fangtasia the Vampire bar in Shreveport. I honestly don’t know what Area Five encompasses. Only that Pam took over here in Louisiana, when Eric married the Queen of Oklahoma.’ He provided.

Dallier looked at Reynoir puzzled. 

‘Freyda.’ Reynoir said. ‘The other body next to Northman’s.’

Panic took hold of him.‘The Queen is dead too! Bill killed everyone. This is a disaster! I am so out of here.’  his fear shouted at him while his heart tried to beat out of his chest.

The Authority would be looking to question him next. They’d go to his house and find Terri there alone with the kids. The fact that the rest of Hot Shot would be there was a small comfort, but this was the New Authority! No one was safe from them.

‘What else can you tell us, Mr. Prudeaux?’ Reynoir asked.

An hour later Danny was saying, ‘But you need to understand Detectives, we were...well...I was, only concerned for Sookie’s welfare. Karin is one scary Vamp and Bill didn’t trust her. The way he explained it to me, I was just making sure that Karin didn’t take advantage of Sookie.’ He said, trying to be convincing. ‘Can I go now?’ he asked hopefully.

Reynoir nodded, ‘Don’t leave the state without letting someone know where you are going Mr. Prudeaux.’ he said. ‘Right now, you are a Person of Interest in this investigation and I know we're going to want to talk to you again.’

‘Damnit…’ Danny swore inwardly.

‘Stop with the secretary and leave your contact information with her.’ Dallier said. ‘You might want to think about getting a lawyer. In our experience, any time the Vamps are involved it's best to have someone looking out for your interests.’ He offered, holding the door open.

Danny walked out the door and down the narrow hall and straight past the Secretary. There was no way in hell he was putting his family in any more danger. He took a cab back to his car in the parking garage and in no time at all he was headed out of New Orleans trying to forget about everything that had just happened, but every time he tried to focus on something else his brain screamed, 'HOLY SHIT! Bill killed everybody! HOLY SHIT!’ It was going to make for a long drive back to Hot Shot.

‘Damn!’ He swore, thinking of home and grabbed his burner phone.

‘Hello.’ Terri answered.

‘Babe, I don’t have time to explain. Get that envelope and get it back to Sookie’s mail box. While you’re there, go over to Bills and see if you can find my phone. Then, go to the bank and get as much money as you can. When you get home, pack. We have to leave town. We’re in danger. Me, you, the kids, all of Hot Shot!’ He said, frantically.

‘Danny, what the hell is going on? The news is saying Bill is wanted for murder! I ain’t going over there!’ Terri screeched. 

‘Babe, you have to get that envelope out of our house. Having it, is a felony.’ he explained.

‘Danny! I swear, if you don’t tell…’

It went on that way between them for fifteen minutes until Terri finally relented and agreed to go.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Bon Temps

 

Judith Vardemon, had been in love with William Compton since their Maker, Lorena had brought her home to him.

Based on the fact that Judith closely resembled Bill’s human wife Caroline, Lorena, never one for thinking things through, thought Judith would please Bill.

Nothing could have been further from the truth.

Bill had dearly loved Caroline and Judith was a bitter reminder of the life he’d lost when Lorena had stolen him away from her and his children, Thomas and Sarah. Because of that, he could barely stand to look at his Vampire sibling for decades and he’d adamantly refused to live with her gaining his freedom, if not necessarily his release. After a time, Bill having regained a portion of his humanity came to understand the depth of Judith’s feelings for him. However, in much the same way Ashley Wilkes had done with Scarlet O’Hara, he didn’t thoroughly rebuff her advances when he should have.

He dallied with her occasionally, as males are wont to do, but let her know after each encounter that a relationship between them was impossible.

As a result, Judith would stay away from William until she couldn’t stand the separation any longer, then she would return to visit.

For Judith, this arrangement, had to be enough because she simply couldn’t live without him.

William hadn’t been home when Judith arrived in Bon Temps for one of these visits, so she’d waited in the cemetery for him to return.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t alone when he arrived back at his home and her jealousy, had nearly driven her to leave, but her curiosity about the female wrapped around him had gotten the better of her. She stayed to witness the union between William and his companion as they hadn’t made it into the house and instead chose to rut all over the front porch like a couple of dogs.

All of that grunting and filthy talk had disgusted her in the beginning, but somewhere in the midst of their carnal abandon she’d become fascinated.

'Is this really what he prefers?’ she wondered to herself, her head tipped to the side unable to stop watching.

She’d decided almost to leave, but she’d know herself to be a fool if she did and resolved to stay and watch the interplay between them.

'She could learn to behave this way,’ she thought objectively, as a thunderbolt of understanding hit her.

All she needed to do was learn what William preferred about this female in comparison to her and she could win him. So, she stayed and watched, absently pondering the notion that she could learn to do this. She nearly changed her mind about leaving town again when her  William had flipped the female over onto her stomach and plowed into her from behind as if her were a demon.

He’d stunned her to her core in that moment and she’d had to stop watching then, but she hadn’t left town. 'I can do this.’ She’d resolved.

Her spying went on over the next several days and she began watching Sookie as well.

Karin, the Vampire that William was fucking, was staying with Sookie.

It made Judith uneasy to even think the word fucking, but she’d been pushing herself to not only think the word, but actually say it out loud.

‘Fuck me, William. Please.’ She stammered, for the practice. 

Judith groaned, ‘Not like that!’ she chastised herself. She'd been at it all day and she'd said the phrase much better not ten minutes ago. 

She stopped pacing, closed her eyes, and for the millionth time replayed the scene on the front steps of Williams home for inspiration, so to speak.

When she thought she had it, she opened her eyes and focused.

Her voice came out in a demanding, throaty, trill, emphasizing the word, ‘Fuck me harder, William!’ 

Judith smiled to herself, 'That was much better!'  she praised.

Judith had begun to wonder if Sookie knew what William was doing. After all, the last time she’d been here, William had said unforgivable things about Judith to this human he claimed to be in love with. She’d been humiliated to her core and that time, she’d left immediately, but now he was having se…fucking…Sookie’s house guest on his front porch and they were obviously hiding the fact from her. She'd considered dropping in on Sookie this evening and telling her everything that she'd seen, but Sookie hadn't been home and Karin had stayed behind instead of, she now knew, going on to New Orleans.

‘Something very strange is going on.’ She'd puzzled as she watched in the house from a distance.

Karin had packed Sookie’s entire house that evening, then locked it up tight as a drum. When she was finished, she left town.

Judith had followed Karin for a while to see if she could discover what was actually going on, but Judith couldn’t fly and that was the end of that.

On the way back to Bon Temps, she ran into Bubba and that was when she'd discovered that William, had left town as well, having gone to the New Orleans Summit and wouldn’t be home for a few days.

After catching up with Bubba, she’d learned that Sookie was having some work done on her home and had gone on vacation, all of which meant she'd have William to herself when he returned.

She let herself into his home, not needing to use the hidden key, because the silly day man was there all in a tizzy over something or the other racing around like a chicken with its head cut off.

She’d glamored him and sent him straight home, then settled in while she waited for Bill to come home. Only, he never did.

She woke Sunday to sounds of someone in the house. Drawers were being rummaged through, then slammed shut. Cabinets were opened and closed. Up and down the stairs the intruder went.

Whoever it was, was definitely a female. There was a distinct irritation to the muttering and rummaging.

It wasn’t quite dark yet, but it was close enough.

Judith made her way into Bills office to find a messy, unkempt woman, laying on the floor of the office. Her arm was thrust under the short sofa on the wall and she was fishing her hand back and forth under it. Her greasy brown hair was piled into a tangled mess on top of her head and the sweatshirt she wore smelled of sweat and baby puke. She wasn’t ugly, just disgustingly…Were, Judith realized.

Judith crossed her arms over her breasts and waited for the Were to notice her. She didn’t have to wait long.

Terri Prudeaux had a hell of a time trying to get someone to watch her three kids in the middle of dinner to come all the way in to Bon Temps. It would've been much easier to wait until the kids were in bed for the night, but Danny had cryptically insisted that she "do it now" and he’d explain later. She’d seen the news from New Orleans already and didn’t want to be anywhere near Bill Compton when The Law showed up. She'd insisted that her husband explain now, or she wasn’t doing shit for him. It seemed a little ridiculous that Danny could end up in jail over some mail, but who was she to argue with the law. All she knew, was she was glad that Danny wasn't going to be mixed up with the Vamps anymore.

‘Damnit!’ Terri swore, yanking her arm out from under the couch.

She stood up and pushed the loose sweaty greasy wisps of hair out of her eyes, having resolved to simply buy Danny another phone. She didn’t have time for this and she'd wanted to be out of here already. There was no telling what could go on in the next few minutes. Terri turned back to Bill’s desk to pick up Sookie’s mail and jolted, letting out an ear-piercing screech.

She forgot all about Sookie’s mail, Danny’s phone, or anything else and began to shift.

‘Stop.’ Judith commanded.

Terri wanted to protest, but it was too late, the Vampire had caught her eyes and she was held fast by glamour.

‘Who are you?’ Judith asked calmly.

Terri pressed her lips tightly together.

Judith knew it'd be quicker if she didn’t use force. She didn't like to use force, but no one ever cooperated. Still, she always gave the questionee the opportunity to simply cooperate.

‘I'm going to let you go. Let’s you and I speak with each other civilly, shall we?’ Judith offered.

A shadow passed through Terri’s eyes and she nodded, but had already made up her mind to be uncooperative.

Judith, having not been born yesterday, tisked at Terri, ‘Fine, have it your way.’ She said, not removing the glamour. Judith waited a beat and Terri changed her mind.

Judith had known she would. The woman had children she needed to be getting back to. She set Terri free from the glamour then.

‘Now, who are you?’ Judith asked again.

Terri didn’t answer immediately.

‘Don’t lie to me.’ Judith said, stiffly. ‘Who are you?’

‘My…I’m, Terri.’ She answered in an unaffected huff.

‘That’s your name, Dear. Who are you?’ Judith persisted.

‘I’m…Danny’s wife.’ Terri said, not knowing how to answer the question, which obviously said something about her. Why didn’t she say that she was a Were panther or anything else? Who is she, shouldn’t be such a difficult question to answer! She supposed she said that she was Danny’s wife because she was here at Bill’s, but the question had thrown her.

Yes, who was she exactly?’  She pondered.

Judith watched as the simple question of who this Were was completely baffled her. The woman literally had no answer for her. It was a sad and disgusting thing for Judith to witness. This woman probably had oceans of potential, but here she stood, a simple mess of a Were who didn’t even know how to answer the simple question of who she was. In Judith’s time a female knew exactly who she was and would have never left the house in such a state of unkemptness.

‘Don’t tax yourself, Dear.’ Judith replied.

‘What?’ Terri responded, turning her attention back to the Vampire.

‘Just, explain why you are here.’ Judith coaxed.

‘I’m, ugh, I’m looking for Danny’s phone.’ Terri explained.

‘Did you call it?’ Judith asked.

Terri blinked at Judith. She shook her head and then went to the phone on Bills desk. She took a moment to try and remember Danny’s phone number. She blushed, flicking a glance at Judith, put Bills desk phone back in the cradle and pulled her cell out of her back pocket. Judith disappeared then reappeared instantly, carrying Danny’s phone. Surprisingly it wasn’t dead.

‘Why did your husband send you instead of coming himself?’ Judith asked.

Terri frowned at the Vampire. ‘I’m, sorry, but who are you?’ she asked.

Judith blinked at having been questioned, but it appeared as if she was going to have a conversation with this Were whether she wanted to or not, especially since Judith had been the one to suggest it.

Fine.’ She thought. ‘I am sorry, forgive my rudeness. My name is Judith Vardemon. I'm William’s sister.’ Judith answered.

‘That’s how you answer a question.’ She thought smugly, at the Were.

Terri frowned at Judith and didn’t say anything in answer.

Judith simply waited. Nothing. Having tired of the game, Judith said, ‘Please answer me.’

‘Danny went to New Orleans this morning.’ Terri said, her voice shaking.

Judith frowned at Terri. ‘I distinctly remember sending him home. Why, did he go to New Orleans?’

Terri swallowed hard, ‘Because of Sookie.’ She answered, vaguely, thinking there was no way she was telling this Vampire anything else.

‘What about Sookie?’ Judith asked.

Terri shook her head. ‘Look, you should just turn on the news. I need to go.’ She said, moving past Judith.

‘Please, don’t make me force you to tell me. Let’s be pleasant with each other.’ Judith offered.

‘Okay, listen, all I know is that Sookie is in some kind of trouble. Danny didn’t find out until it was too late to call Bill so he went to New Orleans to help in what way he could. While he was there, Bill apparently killed Freyda of Oklahoma, Eric Northman, the Sheriff Pam and her sister Karin, who’d been staying with Sookie, and a bunch of other people. Now, Bill is on the run. Danny has been questioned by the police, but he hasn’t seen Bill since he told Danny to go to the car and wait for him. Any minute this place could be overrun by police and the VLA. I need to do what Danny asked me to do and get out of here!’ Terri finished.

Just then, head lights flashed across the front of the house.

The Sheriff of Bon Temps, Andy Bellefluer got out of his cruiser and stomped up to the front door of the house. Pounding on the door he yelled, ‘Vampire Bill! It’s Sheriff Andy. I'm gonna have to ask you to come down to the station and answer some questions. I don’t want to have to get a warrant so come on now and open up. We can do this like folks.’ He finished.

Clutching Danny’s phone in her hand, Terri made her way out the back door of Bill’s home.

Judith followed her.

When they made it out the back of the field Terri picked up a ruck sack, she’d left out there, pulled her clothes off and stuffed them in the sack along with Danny’s phone.

She hung the string of the sack around her neck, shifted and was gone in seconds.

Judith watched the Were panther too stunned by the horrific news she’d delivered to stop her or even ask questions.

This towns sheriff was still pounding on William’s front door demanding to be let in and the sound was agitating her overwrought nerves and she could barely think straight.

She had no answers to the questions pinging rapidly through her thoughts.

'How could she help, William?'

'Where would he go?'

'How was Sookie involved in this?'

'She was the most vexing creature.' Judith thought in agitation. If there was trouble, she was involved somehow.

'Where was Jessica?’ she worried.

William kept a safe house that he’d inherited it from Lorena's estate in New Orleans. She'd start there, but first things first.

She went around to the front of the house and glamored the sheriff. ‘William isn’t here, leave and go home.’ She’d instructed.

He did.

Judith went back into the house and began her search by calling William's phone. There was no answer.

She left a message, showered, packed, and was gone to New Orleans before the moon crested the sky.

She worried as she traveled of course. She didn’t know how they were going to get Bill out of this mess.

'This is all Sookie’s fault.’ She knew it bitterly and wondered where the woman was.

Chapter Text

The Gulf of Mexico

 

Eric woke before the sun was fully down as was his habit. He hadn’t expected to find Sookie in the bed with him and he didn’t.

He got out of the bed and took the time to clean up before going to find her. When he did, she was sound asleep in a chaise one the main deck. 

She was wearing a very tiny bikini that had daisies on it. He knew that she’d thought of Adele when she saw the daisy’s which is probably what prompted her to buy it.

'Sleep is good.’ He thought protectively.

The Steward, Brian was just returning as Eric arrived. He carried a cashmere blanket with him.

Eric collected the throw from him and used it to cover Sookie, shooting Brian a look that could peel paint.

Brian wisely disappeared instead of waiting to see the job finished and Sookie snuggled the cloth, pulling it more firmly around her as she slept.

'That was also good.’ He thought possessively, watching Brian go.

He’d covered her as carefully as he could, as not to wake her and now sat with her holding her small hand in his while she slept.

He’d watched her sleep many times before, even when she hadn’t known he’d been there, always having been so deeply enamored of the (now missing) light inside of her.

His thoughts were solidly on the only thing they could be on right now.

He was free and he was with her.

Obviously, he didn’t know what that meant exactly, for now.

Karin had said, Sookie wasn’t expecting him, or any of the others to be here when she arrived and her reaction to seeing him had been unsettling, to say the least.

He’d been sure that he’d never see her again the day he left Shreveport, so maybe he could understand it, but it was still unsettling.

It had been just short of impossible for him to remain down stairs while Karin had talked with her last night as long as he had, even with Pam being there.

How he’d missed Pam over the last years. She’d been his partner; his anchor, and he’d been adrift without her.

Furthermore, it was hard to believe that Karin had orchestrated this entire thing, without Pam’s help, which was troubling now that he'd gotten a few minutes to consider the significance of that aspect alone. It wasn’t a secret to any of them, that Pam was better at this kind of thing.

He was going to have to have a very long talk with both them, knowing instinctively that more was happening than Nuri and Reider explained last evening.

He’d been informed by Nuri, once they'd settled into the game room, that this whole undertaking had come about because his ex-wife had changed her mind and wanted to transition.

Discovering the why, of this, would be his first task this evening…when she woke up, that was.

He had to allow that maybe there wasn't an easier way of getting Sookie to him for transitioning, than killing a sitting Monarch. He couldn't fathom that logic, but at this time he didn’t know the whole story. The most puzzling aspect though, was if Sookie wasn’t expecting him to be here now, who did she think would be transitioning her? Maybe she was expecting him to transition her, at a later date. It was all speculation for him right now and he'd just have to wait for answers, but this, was one of those things he was anxious to ask Karin about.

Based on all that had happened in the last twenty-four hours and Pam's subsequent reaction to it, he realized that she probably only knew about half of what was actually happening. So, he was uncertain how to respond and that made him uncomfortable. His days over the better part of the last decade hadn't exactly been filled with this much excitement or drama to say the least. It was disconcerting for him to have been pulled from his mundane existence and shoved within a matter of minutes into a bloody scene worthy of any Halloween horror flick. He'd held his own. His stagnated lifestyle had dulled his reflexes, but it was his mental state, that had taken the brunt of this...what was this situation? A coup? A rescue? Vengeance? He just didn't know. He was beyond happy to be here with everyone, of course. He just didn’t know what to expect in the next few hours, or what any of this meant for the future. Even after trying to puzzle it out while he lay there in the dark holding his…holding her, he just didn’t know what was going on. 

'Our entire family is here and free though.’ He smiled for joy at the impossibility of that, and let the rest of it go for now.

For the first time in his life, human or Vampire, he didn’t owe fealty to anyone. None of them did. They were not under a contract, they weren’t beholding to anyone, they didn’t even owe anyone money. ‘Free.’ It boggled his mind. There would without doubt be some kind of consequence for the death of a Queen and a Regent if they were caught and the odds were, eventually they would be, but he knew with absolute certainty that his wife had violated their marriage contract. It wouldn’t be easy to prove, but he’d spent a bit time thinking it over last night and he knew, that Joslyn had been ordered by his wife to kill Jason. That, was breach of contract and he was well within his rights to exact equal payment. He remembered the way Joslyn had watched him when she’d returned after being gone for several days during the time he'd been told Jason died. It made him wonder if his wife had Sam killed too. Sure, there wasn’t any evidence to say Sam was dead, but he didn’t figure Sam for abandonment! He didn’t like the Shifter at all, but that was only because Sam loved Sookie as much as Eric did and he'd gotten to be with her, while Eric hadn't. It didn’t make sense that Sam would leave her, he had to be dead.

'You left her.’ He conscience nagged at him. ‘That was different.’ He argued. ‘According to who?’ his conscience persisted.

He ignored the inner dialogue and let himself be distracted by the rise and fall of her incredible cleavage.

'So lovely.’ He murmured, with a sigh.

Sookie's eyes fluttered open her to find him with her, watching her sleep. She realized her hand was in his and pulled away from him, reflexively closing her eyes.

‘Don’t…’ I said, dully. ‘Don’t look at me like that, please.’

I knew I was being a coward, but I wasn't emotionally ready for any of this. All I wanted to do was crawl into the comfort of his lap and stay there, but if I did that, I was going to have to talk about things that I didn't want to talk about at all. I thought I was going to have time to...I didn't know what...I felt myself begin to get upset again.

‘I’m…sorry?’ He said, confusion pulling his face into a frown.

‘How the hell am I supposed to look at her? I haven’t seen her in seven years.’ He thought, already angry with her.

‘I just...I don’t want to cry today, Eric.’ I said, frustration ringing in my voice.

‘Two seconds and I’m already angry. Christ, I must love her.’ He growled.

He was unaware that he was glaring, but he managed to speak softly. ‘Please, tell me why you want to do this now. You made it clear that you never wanted to be Vampire.’

I hauled in a breath and groaned. Obviously, it didn't matter what I did or didn't want.

‘Everything is...different now, Eric.’ I said, almost whining.

My throat tightened at his expression and my resolve not to cry wavered. Then I stupidly thought about the damn Cluviel Dor. I wished not for the first time, that it had never come to me.

‘Are you sick?’ he demanded gently, fear in his voice.

I shook my head in answer, hanging on to my emotions by a thread.

‘What, is different about now, Sookie?’

I didn’t answer, just pressed my lips together. ‘I don’t want to talk about the fucking Cluviel Dor!’ I screamed internally.

‘Please speak. I'm drowning here.' he said, turning his palms up in urgent supplication. 'What's happened to you?’ he pressed her.

I sighed and swallowed hard, pushing back the stupid tears, then bolstered my courage and got a little angry to help myself along. I wasn’t getting out of this conversation with him right now and I supposed it was better to get it over with. I sat up, swinging my legs over the edge of the chaise and wrapped...‘where did this blanket come from’ I wondered, getting distracted. 'No matter, I decided and wrapped it around my torso gripping it closed in front. I pushed my hair out of my face, looked him in the eye and said, ‘Eric, I…I am going to tell you why, but after that, I don’t want to talk about it anymore, okay?'

I stared him down and waited for an answer from him.

Once he realized I wasn’t going to say another word until he agreed, he nodded at me once, his jaw clenched in frustration.

'Welcome to my world, Buddy.' I thought. Also, I knew better than to accept that as his promise and waited.

‘Fine.’ He relented after an eternity. ‘I understand.’

‘Okay.’ I said, knowing that was good a promise as I was going to get.

Taking a second to think about what I wanted to say, I stared at his feet and prepared myself for an argument I didn't want to have. While I sat there, I decided that I didn't have to argue if I didn't want to and launched into a preamble. ‘So, I’ve been preparing myself to board this Boat and leave my life behind for weeks now. I’ve been living in a state of anticipation, anxiety, and excitement ever since Karin made me an offer I could no longer refuse. I decided that my future is a blank slate and I am a piece of chalk. Now, here I am, on my highly anticipated adventure. So far, all that’s happened is the history lesson from hell, a lot more family than I’d anticipated and a surprise appearance by my ex-husband. Which, I'm not saying is a bad thing, because it isn't at all, but it's definitely not something I was prepared for at this time. It was a shock to see you, Okay? My life, has been in total upheaval, Eric. I was expecting peace and privacy for a while so that I could sort it out, but here I am and everything is still stressful. So, I'm going to tell you and then I really don’t EVER want to talk about it again, Okay?’ I huffed out an angry breath and pushed nervously at my hair.

‘I agree.’ He gritted, ‘Just…tell me, for fuck sake please. I'm dying here, Sookie.’

‘Huh, look at that.’ I marveled. It had been hard for Eric to agree to my demands, but he had and it surprised me. Normally, before, he'd stomp across the room to stand over me menacingly until I gave in and did what he wanted. This stillness in him though, even though I could plainly see he was pissed sort of threw me for a loop. Not to say that Eric was ever terribly expressive, but this was a new level of stillness. All I could think to do to put us on familiar ground. So, I stomped my foot on the deck and gritted out in a sassy challenge, ‘Don’t you swear at me, Eric Northman. I will walk out of here right this second. Don’t you think I won’t!’

‘I'm...sorry.’ He said, then even though he wasn't standing, literally retreated a step.

My mouth popped open to argue with the expected demand that I start "talking right now," so, I was caught off guard by his submissive words and body language.

‘Fine.’ I stammered suspiciously. I pursed my lips in contemplation, trying to decide if I were still being placated. When I decided that he was serious, I took a deep breath, then explained what was different about, "now." 'Well, my brother and sister-in-law are dead. I'm positive that your wife had something to do with it, even though I don’t have any proof. My husband, has run off because I can’t have children. I'll never have a family, human or otherwise. First of all because of the telepathy, as you know, and second because of the damn fairy DNA. Great Grandfather Niall mentioned fairy reproductive issues to me at some point, but you know me, I dismissed it as irrelevant. Obviously, because I’m a 'human' not Fae. And, you know how Weres and Shifters are. It's all about the pack.’ I said bitterly.

Eric winced at that and nodded, he understood what it had cost her to say that out loud.

I ignored his pity and soldiered on. ‘Anyone I ever called my family is dead. I’m totally alone in this world. I don’t want to leave this dimension and live in Fairy. Not that I could, with the door being sealed, or that I received an invitation to do so. None of that matters anyway, because it isn’t something that I am interested in. I don’t really like fairies and they don't like me. Karin and Pam offered me a family and I accepted it. I want a family. End of story.’ I said, defensively.

She left all of that information just hanging in the air between them and he could see that was all the explanation she was going to offer. He searched himself for a response to any of it.

When I saw that he wasn't going to say anything, I stood up to leave. I needed to put some clothes on.

‘Sam left you?’ he said, his voice was so hard it could crush diamonds.

‘I said I didn’t want to talk about it, Eric!’ I snapped, jerking back to him.

The vehemence in her voice took him aback. It wasn’t easy for him to let it go, but he didn’t say anything more about it. Instead he said, ‘So you know, Freyda is dead.’

‘Good! I know.’ I said, a bit more vehement and nasty than I'd intended. I needed to get my emotions in check. I wasn't to only one here who'd been through a difficult time. Most of this mess was my fault, not his. I shouldn't be taking it out on him. He wasn't blameless, but still... I softened my voice and followed up with, ‘How?’

‘Pam.’ He said, with a chuckle. ‘I saw her rip her throat out. I didn't see the killing blow, though. We'll have to ask her.’

‘Perfect.’ I said, and meant it.

Eric sobered, and consternation marred the rare smile.

‘Now what.’ I thought.

‘I don’t wish to upset you, but we are discussing things that we don’t want to talk about ever again.’ He said.

‘What is it.’ I asked ominously.

‘Bill has met the final death.’ He said gently.

A lightning bolt of shock ripped through me. I pulled my lips together in a grim line and my heart constricted. I'd known that I wouldn’t likely see Bill again when I’d said goodbye to him in Bon Temps, but I never thought it would be because of the final death. I sank back down to the chaise and processed what it was I was feeling. Over the last several years I’d gotten so numb to this kind of news that it barely registered most of the time, but this was Bill. I loved Bill...at one time...in my life and if I was going to be honest, I still did. Even if it was only a little. I knew I wasn’t going to like the answer, but I was going to ask the question anyway. ‘Poor Bubba was going to take this hard.’ I thought.

‘How?’ I asked.

‘He was attacking Karin, trying to kill her actually. It very quick and he never even knew it happened.’

'Oh...' I said, and nodded. 'That, sort of changed things a little.' I wiped at the tears standing in my eyes. 'So much for not crying today.’ I thought.

‘Is there anything else?’ I asked bravely, still not sure I really wanted to hear the answer to anything else.

‘The Authority believes that Bills body is mine and that Bill killed Freyda, her staff, Pam, Karin, and Willa.

‘Why…would the Authority think that Bills body is yours?’ I asked, and tense accusation hung the air.

Eric lifted a hesitant brow, looked at me significantly, and challenged me to work it out for myself. I understood, then.

‘This is what Karin meant about feeling used.’ I nodded, still not sure how I felt. ‘Is that all?’ I asked, pointedly, ready to have all of it now.

‘As far as I know, yes’ he replied.

‘Okay…’ I said, letting my thoughts drift. 

Honestly, I really just wanted to forget about all of it. I was supposed to be moving on with my life today and everything was still a cluster fuck, ‘scuse my language. Hadn’t the whole point of getting on this Boat been about moving away from this kind of pain and grief? I didn’t want to have a discussion about the Cluviel Dor. I didn’t want to have to decide how to feel about Bill’s death or to deliver an opinion about it about right now. I was sad, I'd miss him, end of story. Not everything was mine to deal with or have an opinion about just because I knew about it.

So, I just, let it go.

Eric watched intently while Sookie took in everything he’d just told her, allowing it settle into her thoughts. He’d watched this process many times before and was surprised by what he was seeing. In the past, she would’ve needed time to deal with the emotional fall out of something as significant to her as Bill’s death, but she wasn't falling apart. She, accepted the reality that Bill was gone and looked to be moving on from it as if it meant nothing to her at all.

'What sort of hell had she been through?’ He thought, yearning to understand her state of mind. Yeah, sure, she’d told him the circumstances of the recent past, but nothing of the details. Not for the first time, he looked for the light that used to be so strong inside her and it wasn't there. It was just...gone. He was fucking furious about it. He wanted to know who’d stolen it. He wanted to find it and put it back. Suddenly, pain so intense it felt as if he’d walked into the sun settled over him. He already knew who the guilty party was. It was him. He’d done this to her. He was a fault, so, he was going to have to fix it somehow.  

They sat with each other in painful silence. There was nothing to do or see or even hear except the low, far away hum of Sunniva’s engines. He grieved while he watched her and she let him.

Earlier in the day, I’d attempted to deal with my feelings, but I'd gotten lost in the gentle sway of the Gulf and the incredible color of the water. I’d been mad that Karin had kept me out of the loop, and deliberately deceived me about certain things, but then I realized that I was being stupid. Knowing wouldn't have changed anything for me, but it would have made things for Karin that much more difficult. I wanted a family and now I had one. A big one. The circumstances of how I got it didn't matter and even if it did, what's done was done. I couldn't change a thing. Karin didn't tell me about Eric, because it would have been a whole big thing. I’d turned over every single emotional, uncharitable, stubborn, accusatory, willful, thought I could come up with to be pissed off that he was here, but when I’d stripped all of that away layer by layer I’d known from the moment the word ‘yes’ passed my lips a month ago, that I’d already forgiven him and wanted him back. I didn’t care how. So, I couldn't really be pissed that he was here sooner than I'd like.

I turned to him abruptly, wanting to smooth things out and he actually jumped, like I'd startled him. I’d been so caught up in myself I hadn’t really given much thought to why Eric looked like he had PTSD. It was unlike him to be so guarded with me or his family. No, that wasn't the right word. He was always guarded, but this was different, he was....shuttered. It was like he was there, but hiding. He'd never been an open book, but I was probably going to have to get a can opener out to get him to relax a little. Karin had told me that he was unhappy and that he’d been there alone, without friends or allies. I hadn't understood what that meant until now.

‘It’s a good thing Freyda’s dead, cause I wanna kill her.’ I seethed in silence. 'No matter, he's home now. I thought.

Family would cure the wariness behind his eyes. He and I just needed some peace. Which, reminded me, ‘So…guess where we are going!’ I said, with manufactured brightness in attempt to lighten the mood.

He cocked his brow and waited for her answer.

‘Disney World!’ I exclaimed.

‘Oh, goody...’ Pam said walking onto the deck. She didn't mean it at all.

Chapter Text

Bon Temps: Beth Osiecki Attorney at Law

 

‘Damn that girl!’ Beth swore inwardly. ‘She knows I am trying to go to lunch.’ 

Beth Osiecki was stuck on the phone with her mama. Two suits, had just walked in the front door of her office and Cindy Sue, ever helpful said, ‘Sure, she can see you.’

Cindy Sue had drawn the 'sure’ out like some kind of a crazed cheerleader.   

I am going to fire her ass one of these days.’ Beth thought, uncharitably.

She cursed the softness in her that had persuaded her to hire a twit like Cindy Sue Throckmorton on a daily basis.

Beth was starving and had been trying to get off of the phone with her mama for five minutes now.

She didn’t dare hang up though.

She had to let her Mama finish telling her about the dress Millie Thompson wore to the church fundraiser for the disadvantaged youth in Guatemala. If she didn’t let mama get it all out now, Beth would have to sit through the entire story again this afternoon. So, she suffered through it all the way to the end this time, being careful to interject the requisite, she did nots, and bless her hearts, at the appropriate moments. 

Millie and Mama had been bitter enemies since High School, when Millie had beat her Mama out for Homecoming Queen. Mama said, the only reason she’d won, was because Millie was a slut who’d put out for the whole football team, but she only said that in private. Beth was twelve when she'd overheard Mama tell her Bridge ladies that Millie had set her cap for Beth’s Daddy, but Mama had been able to reel Daddy in and wring a proposal out of him at the Valentines dance Senior year. Beth’s Daddy had been the Captain of the basketball team and he and Mama had gotten married one week after Graduation.

Which, just as Mama knew it would, ruined Millie’s big fancy Graduation party that had been scheduled for the same day.

Finally, just when she thought she was going to have to cut mama short, she said, ‘Oh! I'm sorry! I have to go honey; the Jehovah’s Witnesses are here.’

She hung up before Beth could even say goodbye.

Mama had been trying to convert those Jehovah’s Witness ladies into God-fearing Baptists for years now. 

‘Maybe today would be the day.’ Beth mused, hanging up the phone.

Beth watched The Suits; through the opening of her office door the entire time mama had been talking. She already had a feeling she knew what this was going to be about. 

Sookie Stackhouse, 'ugh Merlotte,'  seemed like a nice gal, but she was always in the middle of one sort of scrape or another.

Beth had seen the news from New Orleans.

Sookie had been one of Beth’s first clients when she'd hung out her shingle here in Bon Temps several years ago. She’d heard all about Sookie around town, obviously. Everyone knew who the woman was inclined to gossip about her. Beth had thought seriously about declining her services to the woman when she'd come in to hire her because of the gossip. Besides, Beth wasn't a criminal lawyer. She didn't have the foggiest clue how to defend someone accused of murder! She did though and she'd been glad of it later when it was proved that Sookie was innocent. Furthermore, after that peck of trouble, Sookie managed to keep her nose clean and there hadn't been anymore incidents like that. That had been more than seven years ago already. 

So, Beth had been surprised to see Sookie come in to the office a few months ago with some pretty specific questions and requests. She knew from the types of questions being asked that Sookie was looking to make some drastic changes in her lifestyle. Possibly, even transitioning into a Vampire. Beth knew that, because Sookie had been pretty vague when Beth had asked her how long she ‘intended to travel.’ When Beth pushed her for details, Sookie put an envelope of money on her desk. When Beth began to explain that she didn’t work that way, the Vampire Karin dropped her fangs and waited. Beth kept her mouth shut and didn’t ask anything more about time or locations. She just made the arrangements Sookie had asked her for.

Beth picked up the phone and pushed the intercom feature on her phone.

‘Cindy Sue, call over to Merlotte’s and order me a grilled chicken sandwich with everything, fried pickles, and a diet coke. Order yourself something as well. Pay for it out of petty cash and you can use my car to go and pick it up. You can send those gentlemen in as well.’ she finished, and stood up going to the door to greet the Suits.

‘Gentlemen,’ she said, swinging the door wide and extended her hand to shake with them. ‘I am Beth Osiecki.’

She pronounced it Oh-seek-ee.

‘Please,’ she gestured, ‘Y’all come in and have a seat. Can we offer you some coffee or water?  Perhaps some tea?’ She asked politely.

‘No thank you, Miss…?’

‘Oh-seek-ee.’  She provided for him again.

‘Thank ya, Miss Osiecki. Nothin for me.’ Said the man in the tie. There was a slight Cajun twang to his voice. The man without the tie gestured and shook his head, ‘No, thank you.’

Beth smiled and took her place behind her desk. 

The men took their seats.

‘Well, what can I do for you fellas today?’ she asked, lightly.

‘Nothing going on in Bon Temps but the weather.’ She mused, dreadfully.

‘Miss Osiecki,’ the suit with the tie said, ‘My name is Detective Reynoir, this is my partner, Detective Dallier.’ He said, gesturing to the Suit without the tie.

‘We're up from New Orleans today on a murder and missing persons case. We have executed a warrant on the home of Bill Compton and are looking to get a warrant to search the home of a Mrs. Sookie Merlotte, hopefully later today. Or is it Stackhouse? There seems to be some confusion over that.’ Reynoir fished.

‘It’s Merlotte.’ Beth answered.

‘Mmm.’ Reynoir grunted, and made a note of it, then went on talking conversationally.

‘Based on some things we found at the Compton site, we resolved to come over here and see if you could help us out this afternoon. We sure would appreciate it.’ He said, hopefully.

‘Well…Gentlemen, I'll be happy to help you insomuch as the law will allow me to do so.’ Beth said agreeably, and settled back in her chair to wait. ‘Let the games begin.’ She thought.

‘Ah, thank you now,’ Dallier bristled,catching her meaning. ‘That will be…mighty helpful of you, Miss Osiecki.’ He condescended. 

‘Ahhhh, the old bait and switch.’ Beth smiled, rocking in her chair.

They’d let her think she would be dealing with Reynoir, while Dallier sat back and sized her up. That was alright, she hoped he’d gotten a good look. They’d underestimated her already because she was young and a small-town lawyer. ‘Big mistake…huge.’ She thought, quoting Julia Roberts.

Detective Dallier, having already warmed to his subject, began to make his case. ‘Okay, now then’ he said shifting in his chair, his southern drawl hit all of the vowels as he began his manipulation of Beth. ‘Let me tell you what-in-all we have here. No doubt you have seen the news? He interjected, the fingers of his palm splayed open. Detective Dallier used his hands to help him make his points.

Beth rocked slowly and nodded solemnly that she had.

‘Well, that’s good then. See, the Vampires went had one of their big meetins, you know,’ He said using his explaining tone. ‘As for usual, when a group of these Vampers get together a bunch of ‘em always end up dead, or "really dead," as they call it. Then, it generally falls to us to sort the mess out.’ He said gesturing back and forth from himself to Reynoir. Not missing a beat, he went on. ‘Now, you can imagine how difficult that's been, on account of because of how secretive these Vampers are.’ He said, speaking with the authority of someone who knows

It’d taken Beth a solid minute to put it together, but she finally had.

Detective Dallier was a dead ringer for Bill Cox! The man who’d given Karl the job at his small engine repair shop, in that movie Sling Blade!

‘It was uncanny!’ Beth thought, trying not to giggle.

Beth was a movie buff. She could quote some of her favorites verbatim.

Dallier was definitely a Bill Cox.

She’d gotten side tracked by the trivial thought for a second, and now had to pull herself back into the conversation.

Dallier liked the sound of his own voice so she’d not missed much.

‘So, now then, here’s what in all I got.’ He said, rearing back in his chair, to stretch his muscles.

Dallier gripped the arm of his chair so hard, that the wood creaked and complained loudly, while he moved his considerable weight from one ass cheek to the other.

Beth almost did laugh then because she couldn’t disassociate him from the movie at all now.

She pressed her lips tightly together so she wouldn’t impulsively blurt out,‘I like them French fried pataters, Mmmm Hmmmm.’

She had to focus, Dallier was explaining.

‘See, we understand that you're associated with the Merlotte woman, I mentioned. We know because we found some mail that she’d addressed to you at the Compton house. This mail, was a change of address form from the post office with your address here, listed as her new address. There was also a padded envelope containing several sets of keys and a letter explaining what the keys were for and that she'd "be in touch."

Beth shifted in her chair leaning forward. She reached out and said, ‘Where are these items now? May I see them? How did they come to be in Bill Compton’s house?’ she fired off all of these questions at once in rapid succession.

Dallier pulled the items, now in a plastic evidence bag out of his jacket pocket handing them to Beth. Detective. Reynoir took over then.

Reynoir was a Good Ole Boy if there ever was one. He was American by birth but Southern by the grace of God. She wasn’t sure if she liked him or not.

She didn’t usually set out to judge a person, but there was just something about Reynoir that rubbed her wrong.

‘Miss Osiecki, we got us a boy by the name of Danny Prudeaux, says he is Compton’s day man. Do you know what that is?’ he asked her.

‘I am familiar with the term.’ She acknowledged, without rolling her eyes.

‘Well, this boy, he swears he watched your client, Mrs. Merlotte leave her home in the afternoon, with nothing but a purse. Later on, he says, after the sun went down, a Vampire woman by the name of Karin, came around. She threw away all of the food in the house, covered the furniture, packed the household items away, and mailed those two items there.’ He gestured toward the evidence bag.

Beth said nothing. Karin’s name made her worry a bit, but Sookie hadn't seemed to be afraid of the female and she hadn’t signaled to Beth that she was in danger when they’d come to settle Sookie’s affairs.

Reynoir, sounding worried, continued on when he saw that Beth wasn’t going to respond to the information, and said, ‘Prudeaux told us he became concerned about the Merlotte woman and snooped around her house and garbage looking for clues as to figure out what was going on. See?’ he asked, as if he'd said something significant other than the fact that the day man had confessed to mail fraud.

Dallier interjected, ‘He couldn’t see much though, because she has those roll down shutters. That’s why he looked through the trash, remember?’ He said, leading his partner, who nodded a quick and jerky affirmation. ‘What he found there makes him think that Mrs. Merlotte has been lured away from her home to be kidnapped by Vampers and maybe even turned into a Vamper herself.’ Dallier finished, raining information all over her office.

‘Did these two really think that she was an idiot?’ she wondered.

‘What did he find in the trash, that led him to think this?’ she asked, pushing for more information.

‘Well,’ Dallier said, ‘There were all sorts of notes, and check lists. She also wrote down the details of some recent conversations. There were phone numbers and the like.  We haven't recovered the notes at this time. We assume that Compton has them.  Prudeaux told us he'd gone straight to his boss with them.’ He supplied, then added ‘Prudeaux said when he gave Compton the papers and told him about the other things he'd found, Compton "flew into a rage" and disappeared into the Hotel. The day man says he hasn’t seen Compton since and now, we got us five dead Vampers in a hotel. One of them is a Queen, another is this Karin who closed up the Merlotte woman’s house and for the life of us, we can’t find Mrs. Merlotte anywhere.’

Beth did a good job of keeping her face a mask of neutrality at the next bit of information Dallier imparted. He flipped through his notebook and said, ‘Also, dead are Pamela Ravenscroft, who is the Sheriff of Area Five, whatever that means. She also owns that Vampire bar in Shreveport, called Fangtasia.’ He mocked the name as he said it.

By the time he was done reading from the pad, Beth knew way more about Vampires than she’d ever wanted to.

‘I'm still at a loss as to who Compton is to the Merlotte woman, other than she's his neighbor.’ Detective Dallier said frustrated. ‘Now, I know, that this is a fantastical story and we have been talking for a long time, but I am genuinely worried for the Merlotte woman’s safety. All we wanna know, is if you have information that Mrs. Merlotte is indeed going to be going through the transition into Vampire. You could really help us out here. She's nowhere to be found and neither is Compton.’ He finished, and waited expectantly.

‘Well, gentleman,’ Beth began, ‘That is quite a story. Unfortunately, I can’t help you with Bill Compton at all. I don’t know him. I’ve never met him and I couldn’t tell you where he is.’ She said truthfully. ‘I couldn’t say where Mrs. Merlotte is either. ‘However, I can tell you this. Mrs. Merlotte is intending to travel extensively over the next two years and I am sorry, but that is all I am at liberty to tell you concerning her whereabouts or intentions. I can only tell you that much, because it's common knowledge. She said with finality. ‘But, because I like you both so much, I'll give you some background as to why Mrs. Merlotte has decided to travel for so long, as it also is common knowledge. Town gossip, if you will. This should eliminate a lot of footwork for you boys today.’ She said slyly.

After a very informative hour the detectives thanked Beth and she promised to let Sookie know that they were looking for her, if she made contact.

The Detectives promised Beth they'd get the keys and change of address dealt with, as soon as possible.

Which, had been Beth's goal in being so forthcoming with them.

Chapter Text

Disney World

 

It’s pretty much common knowledge that when a family takes their first real vacation together, almost always it’s to Disney World. Mostly because you're seduced into believing that it’s the Magic Kingdom, the place where dreams come true. People who are in love with Disney will say, “You just don’t understand about Disney, until you go.” I am happy to tell you, that all of this is true!

It was almost closing time at the Happiest Place on Earth. We were with hundreds of other families crowded around Cinderella’s Castle, while the nightly fireworks display exploded overhead. Balloons and mouse ears occupied each hand or head as far as you could see and every kid had present had one of those flashing light stick thingies. We were assembled en mas around the castle and watched the sky in eager anticipation for the next explosion, the fireworks keeping pace with the ever-changing colors that washed over the surface of the castle, constantly changing it's appearance.

Everyone that is, except for us. 

We, couldn’t take our eyes off of Pam. Her enraptured face was tilted skyward, while the fireworks glittering in the sky over Orlando, reflected a myriad of colors that danced across her pale skin. She was clutching a truly gigantic Winnie the Pooh ‘stuffy’ that she’d won hours ago. Refusing to relinquish it, she’d dragged it proudly through the park the entire night. Her ‘mouse ears’ were slightly twisted and sat askew atop the golden hair, she’d twisted into a bun after getting soaked on the log ride, hours earlier. True, unadulterated pleasure shone in her eyes. There was a smudge of NeuBlood Popsicle on her chin and she couldn’t have cared in the least.

I couldn’t help but laugh at that a little. 

I’d been looking forward to this trip to the most magical of places, since making the arrangements. I didn’t know if everyone else was excited as I was, but if they weren’t, they’d kept it to themselves and done a hell of a job faking it.

Everyone that is, except Pam.

Pam had to be forced to leave the boat. She'd come along, but had to be figuratively dragged, kicking and screaming through the parking lot. She complained the entire helicopter ride about the breathers, the screaming kids, the lines, and how expensive everything is. ‘Oh yes, I’ve heard all about this place. If there is a hell, this place is it.’ She informed us.

I ignored all of her fussing and set about trying to convince her, that she was in for the time of her life. ‘Trust me Pam, you are going to love it! I promised.

My pony tail swished back and forth as I practically ran toward the gate, dragging her with me. (For all I knew, she could be right, but I was too excited to worry about it and we'd find out soon enough.)

Pam wouldn’t be appeased by any argument I presented. She complained bitterly all the way through the turnstiles and up the hill until we approached the archway at Main Street USA, when the complaining abruptly ceased. ‘What is that wonderful smell.’ She blurted; bliss etched on her perfect face.

Amazed at the comment, we turned to her and were immediately stunned, by the reaction she was having to her first glimpse of Disney World. 

All at once, for us, Pam became the main attraction. She'd become enchanted with everything she saw. Nonplussed we followed after her while she floated in and out of stores. She touched everything. Looked at everything. Smelled everything Marveled at everything.

‘It’s so clean.’ She’d remarked at least a hundred times. 'I can't even smell the bathrooms.' she'd confessed in awe.

Out of nowhere, my hand to Jesus, she began to sway to the music that was being pipped through the entire market!

Pam Ravenscroft, bad ass Vampire, had just completely sold out and embraced Disney. I was something to behold.

We followed after her, delighting in her every new experience she had. When the Characters began to appear, she became so excited, we could barely keep up with her. She had her picture taken with Micky, Goofy, Donald, and all of the Disney Princesses she could find. We were caught up in the tractor beam that was Pam. We moved when she moved. We ooohed and aaaahed over everything she touched and ooohed and aaaahed over. After a while, we realized, that she was following a small family, who had twin girls that were about five years old. Everything the girls did, Pam did as well. The girls picked out t-shirts and their parents had them customized. When the t-shirts were finished, they had the girl’s names and the date followed by ‘first trip to Disney’ printed on them. Pam stepped forward, ditching the line and deposited eight t-shirts on the counter and soon we were all sporting ‘first trip to Disney’ shirts. 

‘No one protested.’

Just before we were about to leave Main Street USA, I got into the spirit of paying homage to the Consumer God’s and bought us Micky Mouse ears. It prompted the others to shop as well. Willa bought everyone watches, and Ginger bought everyone key chains. We looked like those crazy people on The Price Is Right, but it was so much fun!

Reider, ever practical had picked up a map of the park and while we put our ears and watches on, we clustered around the map, discussing what to do first.

Space Mountain or Pirates of the Caribbean? Was the question.

It was a tie.

Karin took matters into her own hands, flipped a coin and Reider caught it in midair and ran away declaring ‘Pirates it is!’

‘How appropriate.’ I smiled.

Willa yelled after him that he’d cheated and to come back, but he ignored her. Nuri looped her arm around Karin’s waist and followed Pam who’d already started walking. Ginger shrugged at Willa and followed Pam, dragging Willa along with her. Eric and I brought up the rear.

Pirates had been an amazing experience and while we exited the ride, we were still raucously singing, ‘Yo-ho-Yo-ho, a pirate’s life for meeeeee!

Now, here we were at the end of the night, huddled together still watching our Pam, who’d been enraptured by her trip to Disney and as the Grand Finale began, we turned in unison to enjoy the last of the fireworks. 

Eric stood behind me and his arms were laced around my body. He swayed back and forth with the music watching the sky. I was blissfully content and realized that for the first time since I don’t know when, that I was happy. After today, I never wanted to be anywhere these Vampires were not. In just a few days’ time, I was going to transition and become a permanent member of this family. It felt really good when I thought about it.

Eric squeezed me a little, then shifted my body and leaned around me. I looked back just in time to see him lick his thumb and rub at the smudge of Popsicle on Pam’s chin.

It warmed me to my core.

Moments later, the last boom echoed in the sky overhead and then it was silent for a beat, before the cacophony of hundreds of cheering families filled the air.

The cheering faded after several minutes and then all at once, the mass of humanity pivoted and began to make its way south toward the gates.

Everyone but us. We stayed, staring at the sky while people pushed past us on their way to the parking lot. The castle went dark and the spell was broken. We grudgingly accepted that there wouldn’t be any more magic in the sky and reluctantly turned away from the castle to start our own arduous trek back to the rental van. We didn’t talk as we walked, simply smiled and held hands and basked in the happy glow that emanated from each of us, as we trudged tiredly out of the park.

Just before exiting the front gate, I stopped at the photo services booth and had them print all of our photos from the day. I couldn’t believe how many there were. By the time we made it back to the van, the day had caught up with me and I'd all but dragged myself over the last few yards of asphalt. We carried arm loads of purchases and were barely able to squeeze ourselves into the van with all of them including the giant Winnie, but there was no way Pam was going to leave it.

Eric started the van once we were all settled then headed for the airport. 

I was asleep against Karin's should instantly. 

I woke as Eric settled me into the helicopter and I smiled up at him saying, ‘Thank you.’ He ran a finger down my cheek and I could see that he wanted to say something, but he didn’t. Instead, he brushed my hair away from my eyes and settled a headset over my ears. I shook my head no, that I didn't want them and he kept them for himself, climbing in next to me. I snuggled into his side and fell asleep to the rhythmic sound of the helicopter blades as we lifted off. Thirty minutes later we landed on Sunniva’s deck. I woke up groggily as the helicopter powered down and tried to help Eric unbuckle me, but gave up and let him finish. He successfully freed me from the device, then lifted and carried me inside while I protested saying, ‘I can walk.’ He ignored me. Karin, gathered my things and followed. He set me down once we were inside. I was fully awake then. We were in the room just off of the helipad that I thought of as the foyer and we were loathe to burst the magic bubble still and stayed quiet while we divested ourselves of shoes, bags, jackets, stuffed animals, and purses. After we’d unburdened ourselves, we flopped down into chairs and sofas and the crew showed up with drinks and finger sandwiches for Ginger and I, God bless them. 

We sat there, exhausted and grinning, in our t-shirts and mouse ears quietly enjoying our drinks. All of our ‘loot’ was piled high on the table in front of us. There was so much stuff it created a brightly colored mountain in the center. I let my eyes roam over the pile, then leaned forward, setting my tea aside and pulled the bag of photos out from under a stuffed ‘Grumpy’ doll from Snow White and the Seven Dwarf's. Reaching into the bag I pulled out the first photo. It was of the eight of us on Splash Mountain. Hands in the air, t-shirts, mouse ears, Winnie the Pooh, heads thrown back either laughing or screaming, as a huge plume of water thoroughly soaked all of us.

'What an incredible photo.’ I grinned, down at it.

I passed it to Eric and he chuckled at it.

Happiness washed over me and I was full to bursting with joy and warmth, things that I thought I’d lost forever.

Eric looked at the next picture I handed him and warm laughter bubbled unconsciously out of him. The sound of it made me tingle. I pulled the next photo out of the bag. It was Pam and Willa with Princess Aurora who was perturbed she was being forced to make duck lips and have her picture taken with a Vampire’s. I wasn't crazy about this one. Eric however, thought it was hilarious. I looked at again, Willa was covertly giving the haughty princess the bird. Suddenly I loved it.

The next picture out of the bag was of Eric and I on the Tea Cup ride. I was squished all the way up against Eric’s body, hanging on for dear life. My foot was in the air while I tried valiantly to pull myself upright. He held me around the waist while my hair, partially his face. He was laughing and the laughter had reached his eyes. I looked at this picture for a very long time before I passed it to Eric, who was in turn passing them on to Karin and that was how they made the rounds. By the time the bag was almost empty we were fully worn out from laughing. There was one picture left in the bag. The eight of us were beaming at the camera, our arms wrapped around each other’s waists, Cinderella’s Castle awash in purple twinkling lights behind us. There was the ‘smudge’ on Pam’s chin, I noted. I resolved to have it enlarged and framed along with the Splash Mountain photo as these were my favorites.

‘This is my family.’ I smiled, at the photo. It was such a good feeling to have these people in my life once more. I stood up, tucking the photo of Eric and I on the Tea Cups, along with the other two into my purse, and announced that I was bushed and going to bed.

‘Thank you, Karin.’ I said, going to her and kissing her cheek. She was snuggled like a puppy into a pile of happy Reider and Nuri, which I’d noticed seemed to be their way of sharing affection with each other. Someday, maybe I'd be snuggled in there with them. I sent a wave of pure joy at her. She grinned at me brilliantly having received it and nodded.

This, was one of the best days of my life.' I confessed and turned to leave. As I was going I slid my hand up Eric’s arm. I had just enough time to get a shower, dry my hair, and put on some pajamas when he knocked at the door.

‘Come in.’ I called, propping the photo of us, up against the lamp on my bedside table.

He opened the door, ‘Hey.’ He said, softly.

‘Hey.’ I smiled and started brushing my hair.

‘I am worn out, happy and wide awake after my shower.’ I laughed.

He didn’t say anything. He didn’t sit. He just stood there.

I shifted my weight to my other hip and shrugged ‘What?’

He stepped to me and said awkwardly, ‘I…well, I had fun today.’

I laughed brightly, ‘I did too!’

‘Sookie, I want to thank you, for taking us to Disney World.’

He said it reverently, like I had taken them to Frid-gardr, or something.  

‘This family has never occupied a room together, all at once, until a few days ago. Today we healed many wounds caused by that. Disney World is truly a magical place. I don’t know how to express my thanks to you. This is the best thing I’ve ever been given. Thank you again.’ He gushed.

Caught completely off guard by this I didn’t know what to say. I thought maybe he should be saying these things to Karin. Maybe he already had, I didn’t know, but Eric had only ever been so forthcoming with me a handful of times. Normally, he’d never have thought to say ‘thank you’ for something like a day at an amusement park. It wasn’t for a debt paid or a favor I'd done for him. I was sort of blown away by it. I noticed Eric’s face was a little paler than usual. He looked, like he was going to be sick, if that were even possible.

‘Honestly,’ he said, and his voice trembled. ‘I think I might be in shock. It’s been a very surreal, two days.’

I stepped forward and saw…fear, of all things, etched on his face.

‘I…I don’t know what…’ He broke off helplessly. 

I hurried the last few steps to him and wrapped my arms around his waist, laying my head on his broad chest. Maybe he was having a hard time dealing with the fact that we'd committed several murders and gone on vacation the next day. I mean, I doubted it, but whatever the problem was, he wasn't dealing with it very well. He was shaking, hard. Sliding my hands over the taut muscles off his back I pulled him closer, trying to warm him with my body. I'd read somewhere, that was what you were supposed to do for people who were in shock. Since I’d never seen him like this before, I thought I might be in shock right along with him. He settled his arms around me, burying his face in my hair and groaned. We stood this way for a long time, saying nothing, while I tried to calm him with my touch. He held onto me for a long time, it was as if his life depended on it. Then, he pulled away, putting just enough space between us to dig a hand into my hair, tug at it to tip my face to his, then he kissed me like he was dying. When he pulled his mouth away from mine the anguish in his eyes was heart breaking.

He held me there, immobile, and said, ‘They keep trying to take everything from me. Each time I make a home for myself, some fucking Authority bastard comes along and burns it down. Time and time again it’s happened. I’m positive I wouldn’t have lasted 200 years in Oklahoma without you and I am positive that I will meet the final death before I allow anyone to separate us again.’ His voice cracked at the end and it was so wounded.

‘It’s going to be okay now, Eric.’ I said, then winced, realizing that when he’d said this to me, I’d screamed at him.

He'd been so strong and I'd been so self-centered. I hugged him to me fiercely to make up for it, and rummaged the contents of my head for words to soothe him. I wasn’t even sure what was truly wrong with him. We’d had a wonderful night and we'd been all smiles since returning home. Then as if someone had whispered the answer in my ear, I knew what was wrong. He’d already told me, almost the moment he’d come into the room.

He was happy and it terrified him.

His words to me just moments ago came back in a gush, ‘They keep trying to take everything.’ He was afraid he'd lose us again. ‘It’s like he has PTSD.’ I was so unused to Eric sharing his feelings with me, that I needed a minute to catch up to him. I pulled back so I could see his face. He shuddered, shaking like a leaf in a storm as I broke the contact between us. I hadn’t seen him this vulnerable since the Witches took his memories.

‘No…that’s wrong, you’ve never seen him like this.’ I said, contradicting myself. I had to help him, so I forced him to look at me. ‘Eric, listen to me. It’s over now. We're here. I'm here and no one is going anywhere.’ I said softly, kissing him for reassurance.

He shook his head at me while he talked, ‘I knew I was never going to see you again and you’ve been everything to me.’ He confessed, hands still holding the nape of my hair. ‘You were with me every single day that we’ve been apart. I know that I'm an ass and that all of this is my fault, but I swear, I tried to protect you. I did what I could, because I love you. Please, just…I love you, Sookie.’

It was an emphatic declaration and I knew only one way to respond. Before he could say anything else, I pushed up on my toes, wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him lightly on the mouth, stopping his confession. He needed my honestly. I owed him honesty. ‘I am so sorry, Eric. You don’t know how sorry I am. I'm to blame...’ I said, and now my voice cracked.

‘Do. Not. Cry.’ He ordered and he leaned down to kiss me.

It was soft, sweet, and completely opposite of his tone. When he broke the kiss, he tried to move away, but it was my turn to hold him in place. I dug my hands into the hair at the nape of his neck, holding him there. ‘I love this hair.’ I thought, pushing up on my toes just a bit higher and then I kissed him like I meant what I said. He wrapped his arms around me and gathered me up into his arms, my feet dangling. The kiss took on a life of its own then and it lasted forever. All I was wearing was shorty pajamas and I was firmly pressed against every square inch of him. He was solid all over and I hadn’t been kissed, or pressed up against anyone, let alone Eric, in a long damn time. My body responded to him fiercely. The ‘yes’ that came growling up out of me from low in my throat was the only encouragement he needed. He completely overwhelmed me with his mouth and all I could do was hang on. 

Eric’s body was screaming at him to DO something and he wanted to, but he couldn’t stop kissing her. He kissed her like this was going to be the last time he'd ever kiss her again. He kissed her the way he wished he had on ‘that’ day. The fear of losing her again settled into his heart out of habit and he raged at it while he possessed her with his mouth. Fear and retribution stampeded through his thoughts while he kissed her, ‘should have killed Ocella, killed Felipe, killed Freyda, should have ran, should have done it then, killed anyone who dared to take her from…’ He got lost momentarily in all the rage, hate and pain and he didn't want any of that. He wanted her. He concentrated on the feel of her skin under his fingertips. It was like rose petals. He concentrated on her lush mouth and he kissed her the way he had in his happy dreams, in his fantasies, in the way he'd wished he could have every single day since the day she had walked out of his office after their Parting Ceremony. He kissed her like he hadn’t seen her in seven years and then he kissed her like he was home and thought, finally.

I wrenched my mouth from his gasping to breathe and started yanking desperately at his belt trying to tear it off of him. He forced my mouth back to his and my hands went back to exploring his body and his hands were…

‘Oh!’ I breathed, pulling my mouth from his again. 'They're everywhere…'I groaned, happily.

I laid my hands on his chest to steady myself, while I sank into sensation. He was kissing my neck and collar bone and earlobes. ‘Oh, my, God.’ I breathed into his ear, and dug my hands into his hair again, pulling at him and forcing his mouth back to mine. I moaned loudly when he pushed his tongue into my mouth, mimicking what his his fingers were doing inside of my pajama bottoms. The things he was doing to me had my senses screaming at me to DO something. So, I did! I pulled at his clothes in earnest and was finally able to get his Micky Mouse t-shirt up to his shoulders. I kissed and licked at his hard chest and felt my pajama bottoms hit the floor while I was still tearing at the God damn belt that wasn’t budging. I dropped to my knees in front of him so I could see what the problems was and the growl that came out of him was electric and primal all at the same time. He wrenched away from me this time and while I yanked my sleep tank over my head, he shoved his pants, belt and all, past his waist and down his legs until they pooled around his feet on the floor. He pulled me off of the floor, gripping me under my arms and I launched myself up at him wrapping my legs around his waist and my arms around his neck. He was pressed tight right up against me and it was so good. My mouth found his again and that kiss was so hot I wouldn't be surprised if it scorched the sheets. He'd pivoted toward the bed and inched forward the best he could hindered by his pants and then lowered me into the softness of the bed, sliding me up just far enough for him to position himself comfortably against me. He paused for one beat, then two, and then he was inside me and there was nothing but pure sensation and a white hot explosion behind my eyelids. All the romance novels claim that something like this is possible. I’m here to tell you that it is. I said, explosion and I mean, explosion. Hello! It’s been forever and almost never again with this one in particular! I was ready for it!

I was so ready, that Eric had to stop. He didn’t move a muscle because if he did, if he even flinched, this was going to be over and we'd only just started. After what seemed like an eternity, while I lay there in the hazy moments after, he pushed into me again. I didn’t know anything after that as another release ripped through me. He couldn't hold still after that second release and he didn't try to. I heard everything he said while he moved inside of me. He told me what it felt like to be with me again and what I did to his control and that he loved me. I climaxed several more times while he moved inside my body as well as my mind and I vaguely remember him yelling my name a few times, but I can tell you for sure, he never stopped moving. He didn’t stop for a very long time.

Chapter Text

Bon Temps: Bill Compton’s House

 

The detectives, Reynoir and Dallier returned to Compton’s house as the rest of the unit was packing up. They’d spent some time asking around town about the Merlotte woman and had gotten a few more details from a large, extra chatty woman by the name of Maxine Fortenberry. When they asked around about Compton as well, they were surprised to find that he was well liked in the community. However, no one liked the Vampire Karin much. It was after dark now and they were going to have to find a hotel and wait for the warrant on the Merlotte residence. They called Jimmy Johns to order dinner and it arrived at Compton’s place before they did. Now, they were sitting in a small family cemetery after dark eating sub sandwiches.

There had to be something wrong about that. Reynoir thought.

Dallier had just taken a bite from his sub, when Kevin Pryor of the Bon Temps Police Department walked up and handed him the warrant for the Merlotte house. This was good. They could get finished up and head back to New Orleans tonight and sleep in their own beds...maybe. They could also be here for the next 12 hours depending. Either way, they were still on clock. Dallier quickly looked over the warrant, making sure all was in order. He'd learned his lesson about that his first year as detective. Never just assume someone knows how to do their job. It had taken two more years to bust that drug dealer after that snaffu.

Reynoir finished up his sub, then they went across the cemetery to the dark farm house. As protocol dictated, Kevin Pryor knocked on the roll down shutter and announced Bon Temps Police Department. Then Dallier used the keys from the evidence envelope to open the roll down shutter and the front door of the house. He drew his weapon and reached around for the light switch before going in.

No lights...shit. he complained.

They moved into the house on a count of three and quickly cleared it. It didn’t take long as the place was obviously empty. It was clean and everything was in an orderly state of suspension. Once they'd been through the entire house, Reynoir went back up the stairs and Dallier went to the kitchen. The house was full of furniture and beds, but there were no linens, save for what covered the furniture. There was nothing to indicate that anyone was living there, no pictures, doilies, dishes, carpets, clothing, nothing. Curiously though, in the middle of the kitchen table was a napkin holder and a note pad. The cover had puppies on it. Dallier picked it up and flipped it open to the first page.

Sookie,

If I could, I would stay, but I can’t.

I wish things were different,

But they’re not, I have to go.

Please take care of yourself.

Sam

‘Cold.’ Dallier thought to himself.

Kevin and Kenya stared at each other perplexed over the state in which they found the Stackhouse Place. Then walked back outside to talk privately. Everyone in town knew that Sookie was traveling. She'd told everyone she was going. Kevin and Kenya hadn't understood what all the fuss over getting into Sookie's house was about, until now. It looked like she didn't have any intention of coming back. In the state of mind she'd been in and with Bill being accused of murder and disappearing the same she did...that was a good reason to get into her house, they agreed.

A Bon Temps squad car pulled into Sookie’s driveway. Kenya went over to see what was new.

Back inside, Reynoir called to Dallier from the top of the stairs. Dallier took the note pad with him when he went to see what his partner needed. Reynoir was standing in the doorway to the attic. On their first pass through the house, it had been like any normal attic, full of boxes. On closer inspection, they could see that they'd been vacuum sealed. Dallier handed the note pad to Reynoir and walked through the attic, inspecting the boxes.

‘Cold.’ Reynoir said.

‘Yep.’ Dallier replied. ‘Well,’ the large man sighed, tugging at his waist band, ‘We can get someone up here to open all these boxes and make sure she isn’t in one of them, or we can decide that this is consistent with what we have been told, and pack it in.’

‘We could get a dog, maybe? That'd be cheaper and less trouble. It was probably a pretty penny to have all of this done.’ Reynoir offered, giving his sweaty head a swipe with the hankie he'd pulled from his blazer.

The tall skinny guy from the Bon Temps department who had been out there with them all day, his name plate said Pryor, offered nasally from the bottom of the stairs, ‘We could get Terry Bellefluer out here with his dog, Annie. She's the best tracking dog in these parts.’ 

Reynoir moved to stare down the stairwell and noted to himself that Pryor had probably been beat up a lot in high school, based on his look and demeanor. A fact that had more than likely weighed heavily on his decision to become a cop. Reynoir was about to tell the twerp to call the guy with the dog, when then the female officer who was his partner stepped into the space at the bottom of the stairs. Her name was Kenya Jones and she was built like Venus Williams, big boned and heavily muscled. She carried a piece of paper and handed it to the twerp. Reynoir sniffed at the air distastefully when she looked up at him and turned away from the pair to let Dallier deal with her. His partner was better at dealing with intolerable situations like this.

‘We could,’ he heard her say as he stepped away, ‘But we probably don’t need to, Kevin.'

Kenya watched the sweaty detective with the crew cut, turn away from the top of the stairs, 'It’s up to you detectives though.’ She said as an afterthought, taking the paper back from Kevin. ‘We got a hit on Sookie’s credit card 10 minutes ago. She’s at Disney World.’

Reynoir, changing his mind at the new information, came back and went down the stairs. He held his hand out, expecting her to hand him the paper and he scowled at Kenya, nastily intending for his manner to back her up a few paces.

Kenya ignored the Detective. She knew who Reynoir was. She’d been dealing with his type her whole life. She stood her ground, looking the man right in the eye and forced him to take the paper from her hand.

Reynoir snatched the paper from her, shined his flash light on it and looked it over. When he was done, he handed it to Dallier, then attempted to elbow past Kenya. She stood fast and he bounced off of her heavily muscled body, stumbling.

Kevin being Kevin said, ‘Goodness, Detective, be careful! You don’t want a turned ankle. That wouldn’t be good at all.’

Reynoir was just about to make a big issue out of nothing, when Dallier flicked the paper in his hand at him. 'He didn't understand why Reynoir had to be that way. It was just foolish.' He thought, in annoyance.

The noise the paper made caught everyone's attention and glancing at all three of them he said, 'This is good enough for me. Let's go home.’ He waited for his partner to acknowledge that decision, then went into the kitchen to put the notepad back in the napkin holder.

‘Strange about this.’ He thought, sliding it into place.

Dallier heard the Bon Temps officers tromp out the front door. Reynoir waited for him in the dinning room and then they went out the front door to pack it in as well.

‘Thank y’all for all your help, officers.’ Dallier said, handing the keys to Reynoir, letting his Partner lock up the house and storm shutters, while he restored a more civilized working atmosphere between them. ‘Give us a call if y’all can help us with anything or if Compton returns. Y'all know the drill. It's been pleasant working with such good folks as yourselves.’ he offered congenially.

‘Will do.’ Pryor and Jones said in unison.

'Reynoir finished locking up and handed the keys back to his Partner, smirking at him and then they went to their car, piled in, and drove off down the twisting driveway.

Kenya and Kevin stayed to watch until the lights on the Detectives car were out of sight. When they were sure they'd turned on to Hummingbird Road, Kenya and Kevin got in their own vehicle and went to Merlotte’s for dinner.

Before leaving town, the Detectives dropped the evidence bag with the envelope containing Mrs. Merlotte's keys and papers through the mail slot at the offices of Beth Osiecki Attorney at Law. As far as they were concerned this business about the Merlotte woman being on vacation held water. They didn’t believe she had any knowledge of where Bill Compton was, or that she'd played any part in a murder. She'd been through hell the last ten years according what they'd been told throughout the day. Dallier didn’t get this fascination with the Vampers. He was glad that the Merlotte woman had learned her lesson about them and wasn’t mixed up with this. He was also glad to know that she hadn't come to harm either. Best for them to just leave her to her travels and focus on finding Compton.

‘That Vamper sounded like a real nut case, no matter what these folks thought.’He concluded.

I sounded to him like the Merlotte woman had more than likely planned to leave town to get away from him and he lost it, when he found out she'd gone. Dallier hoped she was having a great time at Disney World. They reached the I-20 turn off and headed south. It was going to take most of the evening, but they would be home in their own beds before too long and thank God for it.

By the time Dallier made it to his bed, he'd been awake for over twenty-four hours. 'I'm getting too old for this shit.' He thought, rolling his naked body into the bed and wrapping an arm around his wife's comfortable girth.

Chapter Text

Shreveport: Fangtasia

 

 

‘How hard is it to find one tiny waitress?’ Felipe de Castro, roared at the three useless Vampires standing in front of him. He adjusted the cuff of his shiny silver-grey suit in attempt to distract himself from his anger. Pulling in a rare breath, he fiddled with the huge diamond cuff-links that held the sleeves of the ridiculously expensive Brioni shirt closed, then reached for calm while he waited until he could speak and behave in a manner, he was more accustomed to.

Felipe, is the Vampire King of Nevada, Louisiana, Arkansas, and now (officially) Oklahoma.

Once upon a time, his life had been saved by the waitress he was searching for. The human woman smelled like ambrosia and she hadn’t been far from his thoughts since the day he’d met her. He’d wanted her immediately when he'd met her, but she’d belonged to Eric Northman at the time and no one had to quote Vampire law to him. Any human that belonged to another Vampire was strictly off limits. Especially if someone was watching. And someone was. Lots of someone's apparently.

It was a torment to him, that in the seven years after he'd had a hand in separating them from each other for the sheer purpose of having her himself, he was still unable to acquire her.

Felipe, as Eric’s king, had advocated for and been present at the Parting Ceremony between his Sheriff and the waitress. It had been all Felipe could do to keep himself from going to her immediately after the ceremony was finished. Unfortunately, Northman had out maneuvered him. Not only was Felipe duty bound to offer her protection after she’d saved his life, he was further hindered by the impediment of Northman’s marriage contract keeping him from acting on the impulse. He probably could've gotten around all of that, but with the Authority and the Magister nosing around him all the time, he'd decided against it. Of course, he’d quietly looked into stealing Sookie away after some time had passed that year, but Northman had set that Berserker he called daughter, to guard the woman. He’d been unsuccessful in that attempt and several subsequent attempts that followed. It irked him, but eventually he was forced abandoned the quest due to the outbreak of the Hep-V war, as well as any other manner of world ending circumstance over the next several years, not mentioned in Northman’s legal protection measure regarding the woman.

In recent years, The New Authority watched him incessantly. They continuously looked for any excuse they could find to investigate him and it was a constant hindrance to the pace in which he could conduct business. Anytime he made big deals too quickly or too close together, he could expect the Authority to send someone out to have a nose around through his business. He longed for the old days when Vampires minded their own fucking business and humans were too stupid to understand what he was doing at all. In the years since the Hep-V war, the New Authority had run mad with power and he couldn’t risk an investigation of any kind, so, that had hindered his ability to acquire the woman as well. However, now that Northman and his entire family were dead and the New Authority were distracted with the chaos and upheaval it was bringing, he intended to have her.

'If you can find her.'  he thought, irritation burning through him.

He’d received the news that Queen Freyda (in actuality his secret seat warmer in Oklahoma) and Northman (her consort), had been assassinated just before the sun rose, on Sunday morning as the Summit Gayla had been winding down. Later that evening, he learned that his Sheriff in Area Five, Pam Ravenscroft and Northman’s Berserker daughter Karin, were dead as well. As far as he could tell, the objective had been to take out the entire family. The whole thing had reeked of the Karaftu which was why he’d been surprised to learn later, that the New Authorities main suspect for the murders was his Regent, Bill Compton.

It was a ridiculous notion.

He was certain that his regent in Louisiana was being set up…'unless, he wasn’t. He thought, absently.

First of all, Bill had gone to Oklahoma’s suite alone according to his staff. Eye-witnesses corroborated that his staff were all at the Gala at the time of the murders and New Orleans PD questioned his Day Man thoroughly. So far, Felipe had been unable to gain access to that information or even find the day man in order to question him. The entire affair was suspect. To Felipe’s mind, it looked more like a dispute between his Regent and his Sheriff that had become completely out of control.

Felipe wasn't fool. He didn’t trust anyone, including Bill Compton. It just didn’t make sense that Compton would attempt a coup, while on his own, or at this time, but he had to allow that Compton had done crazier things in the past. Felipe wasn’t convinced in the way that the New Authority seemed to be, that it was a coup attempt. To Felipe it looked very much like a way for the VLA to spin the entire thing on the cable news.

After the Hep-V war, Felipe had been approached by what remained of the Authority and it was suggested to him, that he offer Compton the roll of Regent in Louisiana. He'd told the Council in no uncertain terms that they were all "fucking crazy," if they thought he'd employ the Vampire that had nearly destroyed the entire world in any capacity. The Council had taken the time to explain to him that Compton had been under the influence of the Blood of Lilith and couldn’t be held responsible for what she'd done through his Vessel. Then, he wasn't given a choice in the matter. He could employ Compton as Regent, or the Authority would confiscate Louisiana from him and they'd install Compton as it's King.

Compton had stepped into the role of Louisiana’s Regent as if he’d been born to it.

In the last seven years, Felipe had no complaints and had been more than pleased with Compton's service to his Crown and the efficient manner in which he conducted himself as Regent.

Bill Compton had made some serious gaffs in the past and had been given a second chance by literally everyone in Vampire politics. In order to keep the Vampire sated, compliant, and Felipe free from Authority interference, he'd been generous with Compton, allowing him carte blanche in matters pertaining to Louisiana. Felipe didn’t need the income generated by the Kingdom so much as he needed the territory securely held. So, he’d left the money to Bill, taking only a token tithe.

This left Felipe open to pursue his more pressing endeavors. Also, from what intel he’d received over the last few years, Compton had put the money to good use. He wasn’t the kind of Vampire to waste mountains of money on debauchery. Bill Compton had ambition and was actively pursuing certain endeavors of his own that, when the time came, Felipe would be happy to divest him of. 

So, anyone with half a brain could see that it simply didn't make sense that Compton would draw this kind of attention to himself. Felipe would be anxious to learn what the Vampire's motivation was, if he was indeed responsible for the murders. It had better be a good reason too, because this situation was more than just an inconvenience to Felipe. He’d had to publicly take control in Oklahoma, which was something that he wasn’t ready to do yet, at all. Loosing Freyda wasn’t going to be good for business and replacing her would be difficult. Finding a Regent that wouldn’t meddle with his agenda in Oklahoma the way Victor had as Regent before Bill in Louisiana, was going to be an issue.

Freyda had been content to do as she was told and play the Queen in Oklahoma. She’d wanted all the status and none of the responsibility, which had made for a perfect situation. He was certain that he wouldn’t be as fortunate with her replacement and that just pissed him off. He was going to have to do some serious personnel shuffling in order to keep Joe Velazquez, the King of Texas, in line and out of his business in Oklahoma.

Felipe was determined not to let this situation become a complete loss to him though. He was going to reap the benefit of these deaths, make adjustments and move forward. Sure, it might seem odd to the casual observer that he was focused on Sookie now, but she was the key to everything. Furthermore, Felipe knew how to manage a crisis. Especially if he had enough help. He really didn't want to have to bring in more people and risk the New Authorities notice, which was why he was in Shreveport instead of Bon Temps.

With all of the irons Felipe had in the fire, he’d been seriously put out upon reaching the waitress’ home to find it shuttered and her vanished into thin air. He didn’t have the luxury of time right now. Languishing in Louisiana while business was happening elsewhere was a serious problem for him and was likely the reason for his extra short fuse. Felipe de Castro, never lost his cool in front of anyone, especially his employee's, but this situation with Sookie was intolerable. After nearly a decade, it shouldn't be this difficult to collect a tiny, bordering on minuscule human.

At present, Sookie’s disappearance was a mystery, but he had to allow that he wouldn’t be surprised if when they found her, she was with Compton. He’d marked the way Compton coveted her on several occasions. He knew they'd been intimate in the past and that they maintained a friendly relationship with each other. Also, he wouldn't have put it past Compton to enlist the woman's help as she always seemed to be involved in some sort of intrigue or the other. It was a vexing puzzle. Either way, it wouldn’t be long before his personal security force or the Magister found them and then they'd have their answers.

Truthfully, he didn’t want to kill Compton. He needed him, but if his Regent was guilty of the crime, he wasn’t going to be given a choice. Furthermore, if Compton had involved Sookie in this unnecessarily and he lost her once again because of it, he'd make sure that the Vampire died slow, with pain. He'd put him in chains and starve him for decades before leaving him to the sunrise on the Summer Solstice. 

As it was right now, since Sunday evening, the New Authority had been a nightly exercise of his patience over this entire debacle, explaining that since this was a Louisiana problem, Louisiana would lead the investigation. Since he didn't have time for any of this bullshit, he'd argued that it was a New Authority matter since it wasn't clear at this time who the culprit was. It was decided that both parties would investigate and true to form, the New Authority weren’t sharing any of the information they’d already gathered, so his people had to start at square one. The human Authorities, weren’t under any obligation to share anything they discovered what so ever, based on their investigation being focused solely on whether any humans were involved in the crime.  

It was all a ploy to keep him busy while the New Authority worked at discovering if he was involved in any way. They wouldn’t find anything.

Since he’d been unable to collect Sookie and head back to Las Vegas before the Magister caught up with him, he was now stuck in Louisiana and obliged to deal with the open Sheriff’s position here in Shreveport. Something that he could have done over the phone from Las Vegas, or left his day man Eduardo here to do for him. Instead the New Council wanted him to hold interviews for the position and run it by them. They argued that since Louisiana was politically unstable at the time it required his personal attention. He'd already decided to put Maxwell Lee into the position and the fucking New Authority would just have to deal with it.

Maxwell Lee had been working for Pam since she'd taken over as Sheriff in the capacity of her PR person, since Pam had the personality of a wet cat. Felipe was certain that he could do the job frontwards and backwards and had Eduardo inform him that the job was his. His first task as the new Sheriff, was to track down the Sookie, Compton, and the Day Man, then report anything he found directly to Eduardo and no one else.

Felipe had learned less than an hour ago, that Max had also been assisting Bill, in certain aspects of Regency and that he knew the Day Man personally. He’d also learned that the Day Man, Danny Prudeaux was married to a Were Panther and they lived in that shit hole back water, Hot Shot. According to the pack leader Calvin Norris, the entire family had disappeared in the middle of the Full Moon Cycle and no one had seen them in days. That had been a disappointment, but with that bit of investigating complete Max could look for Bill and Sookie full time.

When Felipe had arrived to find Fangtasia closed it had been Maxwell Lee who'd tracked down what remained of the staff and got the bar opened. Max had also informed Eduardo when he’d been told to get Felipe’s driver the address of the house in the gated community where Pam had lived with Northman, that she no longer resided there and he didn’t know where she lived.

This, was a no-no and Ravenscroft knew it. Felipe needed to know where he could find his Sheriff, twenty-four hours a day, every day. Because of this lack of information, not only was Felipe unable to obtain the documents he needed for deed transfers, he’d been reduced to sleeping in a travel coffin in Fangtasia’s disgustingly filthy basement. He was shorted staffed, had a housing problem and the only clothes he had with him were for formal parties.

So, here he was, wearing a 23-thousand-dollar suit in this ungodly tiny, dingy office, actually having to berate his staff himself instead of letting Eduardo do it. He was absolutely being tested to the limits of his patience, which had to be why he was behaving so uncharacteristically.

‘I don’t understand why you are finding these few tasks so difficult.’ He complained, to the three dip shits. ‘These are not impossible things I am asking for. Someone in this building has answers and knows where the items I need are being stored. Find out who that is. Now!’ He’d only barely remained calm by the time he’d finished speaking.

The three unlucky Vampires quickly crowded out of the door.

‘How hard can it be to find the world’s largest personal yacht?’ He mumbled nonplussed, following the humbled Vampires out of the cramped office.

Fangtasia was full to bursting. Everyone wanted to come and be a part of the drama. They wanted to gossip with each other about the time that Eric had spoken to them or Pam had punched them in the face. The music was deafening, the alcohol flowed non-stop, and money was falling out of the cash register onto the floor.

‘I suppose I will have to be the one to take care of that.’ He thought, disgustedly.

Dustin was the only bartender he had right now. Thalia was working the door and Sarah and Indira were waiting tables. He didn’t see Ginger, but knew she had to be around here somewhere. He snapped his fingers gaining all of the attention of all of the Vampires in the room. He pointed at both waitress’ and Sarah and Indira were at his side instantly. Dustin needs help behind the bar. These people can get off their asses and get their drinks there. Sarah, do a money drop first.

They complied immediately.

Felipe looked toward the front of the bar again. Thalia watched him as if he bored the shit out of her. She was a giant pain in the ass and he couldn’t stand the Vampire, but knew he wouldn’t have any problems out of her for the next few hours. Satisfied, he went back into the office and closed the door.

Regaining the decrepit chair behind the utilitarian desk he realized that he was probably going to have to do all of this himself. He was the King. He shouldn’t even have to ask for these things to be done, they should just be happening automatically. The staff with him has been privy to every single request for years. Why had no one anticipated his needs. All should have been in readiness before he’d ever arrived in Shreveport, but instead he’d arrived to total chaos and sleeping in a travel coffin. He shouldn’t need to tell the staff to do every little thing. A money drop was just fucking automatic.

'What the fuck was going on?’ he raged!

As for the rest, he wasn’t asking for the world. Just three items.

‘A woman, a yacht, and an address. Easy…’

He pulled out his phone to check his messages. Nothing from Vegas, Rita, or Oklahoma.

‘Good.’ He said. ‘At least someone is working!’

He pulled up his contacts list and called Eduardo, who’d gone in search of Mustapha Kahn, Pam’s Day Man, and Heidi. Pam and Heidi had been in a relationship for at least the last three months, he knew for certain and maybe off and on for as long as a year. One of them was going to be able to tell him where Pam’s residence was.

There was no answer. There’d better be a damn good reason Eduardo wasn’t answering his phone.

Felipe wanted the yacht he’d heard about, almost as much as he wanted Sookie. In the end, Sookie was going to be worth ten yachts, but it didn’t matter. He’d wanted the yacht ever since Victor had described it to him after meeting with Ocella to negotiate Northman’s marriage to Freyda. He was sure that Eduardo would be successful and the papers he needed would turn up today or tomorrow, as well as Sookie and his yacht. Then, he’d get back to Vegas and the real work would begin.

Time was money and money was power. He couldn’t be gone indefinitely. The New Authority and the fucking Karaftu were always watching. Always preparing to take what was his, the moment an opening presented itself. What a cluster fuck. Everyone was going around like the war was over and the Karaftu didn’t exist. Another war was brewing and he had to be ready when it kicked off, which was why it was so God damn frustrating to be sitting in Louisiana moldering. He didn’t want to do it, but if he was here any longer, he’d have to pull Jonathan off the job he was on and make him temporary regent here in Louisiana.

‘That couldn't be allowed. Rasul would be in touch before the night was over.’ he thought, taking solace in that single thing.

‘Sire.’ Eduardo said, from the doorway.

Pulled from his thoughts, Felipe waved him in ‘Come. Why aren’t you answering your phone.’

‘I apologize, Sire. I was already on a call. We have a hit on Ms. Stackhouse’s credit card, Sire. She used it at Disney World, in Florida.’

‘Excellent!’ he boomed, then frowned distastefully as that information settled.

‘If she’s with Bill, what the hell are they doing at Disney World.’ He thought, utter perplexed.

Eduardo hadn’t said anything else while he thought that over.

‘And…’ Felipe prompted, irritated that he had to ask.

Eduardo looking confused stammered, ‘I’m sorry, Sire. I don’t have anything else for you just now.’

Felipe’s patience completely snapped. He just couldn’t take it anymore. He’d held onto his temper, his patience, his sanity, as long as he could and he was just utterly done. Didn’t anyone understand what was at stake here? He knew it wasn’t possible, but could swear he felt his blood was boiling.

He shot out of the chair, slammed his fist into the desk top putting a hole straight through middle of it.

He thundered, ‘WHERE IS SHE STAYING? DID SHE DRIVE? DID SHE EAT IN A RESTAURANT? WHAT DID SHE BUY? WHERE DID SHE GO FROM THERE?’

He was leaned completely over the desk top by the time he’d finished and he’d screamed each question into Eduardo’s terrified face.

‘It was two purchases, Sire. They weren’t itemized.’ Eduardo squeaked.

‘THEN SEND SOMEONE TO FUCKING FIND OUT WHAT THEY WERE!’ Felipe screamed, flipping the desk over.

Eduardo stood frozen in place by shock and terror. He barely managed a ‘Yes, Sire.’

‘Eduardo, if you do not get out of my sight this instant, I’m going to rip your throat out.’ Felipe vibrated with deadly quiet.

Eduardo bowed and ran from the room.

Felipe ran a hand through his hair smoothing it. He adjusted the big pinky ring he wore and it flashed gaudily in the light from the overhead fluorescent.

‘Why is it so difficult to get people to do their jobs?’ he muttered. ‘Just three things.’

‘GINGER!’ he yelled.

He needed a drink.

Ginger, to Felipe’s further irritation, never arrived.

 

 

Chapter Text

***

 

 

Ginger, was on a massive yacht in the Caribbean going stir crazy and about to expire from boredom. She was used to being busy and having too many things to do in one day, then falling into bed exhausted at night. So, being cooped up with nothing to do during the day but sit on her ass, was giving her cabin fever. If she were going to be totally honest, the first few days of being dragged around all over the Gulf of Mexico and South Florida on a gigantic yacht with nothing to do but lay in the sun and have hot, handsome men wait on her hand and foot had been like a dream.

But, you can only drink so much tequila before the dream turns into something out of Groundhog Day.

She actually dreaded getting out of the bed this morning and pulled the covers over her head refusing to face the day. When she finally mustered the courage, she dragged herself out of bed and picked up the phone to order the same breakfast she’d eaten the day before, and the day before that as well. She stopped in the middle of pushing the number for the kitchen and decided enough was enough. She simply couldn’t face another day of ordering fruit and coffee from the kitchen, putting on her bikini, and sitting on the deck staring out at water so perfectly blue you couldn’t tell where it ended and the sky began while she ate.

She was bored. She needed more action in her life. She felt like she’d been packed off (kidnapped) to the retirement yacht!

She hung the phone up, pulled on some shorts and a tank top, then went in search of the kitchen so she could make her own damn breakfast.

She finally found it by following the raucous laughter and chatter pouring out of the room and down the corridor. She pushed through the double doors of the industrial kitchen and stepped inside to find a startled silent staff, seated around a large banquet, eating their own breakfast. It had been laid out family style and looked inviting.

Ginger shrunk back a few self-conscience steps because everyone was staring at her.

When no one said anything, she straightened and not being one to shy away from meeting new people she smiled broadly and put her best besandaled foot forward.

When it was apparent that their guest wasn’t lost, Mia, the tiny cute brunette girl who usually took care of Ginger’s room and laundry, struggled out of the banquet to meet Ginger half way.

Ginger had protested of course that she should stay put, but Mia, feeling worried, came anyway. 

It had amused Ginger in the beginning that the staff not only wore uniforms, but name tags as well. It seemed silly to her that Nuri thought no one would be able to remember the staff’s names. Sure, it was a big boat, but it wasn’t a cruise ship. Ginger had memorized everyone’s name by the second day. Name tags were so cold and informal when a simple introduction would have been so much better.

‘Good morning, Ginger.’ Mia said.

Ginger had insisted on being called by her name, not Ma’am. ‘As if!’

‘Morning!’ Ginger replied, her smile bright. She gave a little wave at the table to include the others as well.

‘Can I help you with something?’ Mia asked.

‘Well, I was hoping, if y’all don’t mind, that I could sit with y’all and have breakfast.’ She said, a tad shyly.

No one answered her just looked awkwardly at each other as if they didn’t know what to do.

Ginger blushed hotly and began to back away from the table again, babbling as she went.

‘I…I’m sorry. I…didn’t realize that I would be…imposing.’ She stammered.

Suddenly, the man that Ginger knew to be the Captain stood and said, ‘Please, don’t go.’

Ginger stopped moving. She was mesmerized by this hunk every time she saw him.

‘You are more than welcome to stay and have breakfast with us. You simply surprised us with your request. It isn’t unheard of, but it isn’t often that Sunniva’s guests wish to dine with her crew.’ He said, locking her in place with his eyes and incredible smile.

Ginger felt like she was caught in a tractor beam and felt the full weight of his gaze go straight to her woman parts. He wasn’t just looking at her, she felt him perusing her with his eyes even though his eyes never strayed from hers. She knew he had to be about the same age as she was, because he had tiny crow’s feet at the corners of his eyes. Of course, that could just be from the sun, but she doubted it. He was every bit of six and a half feet tall and he was lithe like a swimmer but toned and bulky in all the right places. His shoulders and chest were so broad and she couldn’t help but wonder what it would feel like to be pressed to him. His hair was a sun bleached blond, that was cut in the style that any man who really knew himself wore. It set off his square jaw, making the most of his strong cheekbones and wide set eyes that were the most startling pale green. As if owning the fact that he was the Captain, he’d grown a beard, but it was close cropped, little more than a five o’clock shadow really. It was only a shade darker than the hair on his head and the close crop let her see the dimples in his chin and cheeks. She hadn’t answered him while she took him in and his grin widened. The grin made her stomach flip flop and she had to press her knees together.

When she still didn’t answer, Captain Anthony Midenton, (Captain Tony to the crew, in private only) gestured for Ginger to sit down at the table across from him.

She felt the reel on the tractor beam draw her across the floor.

Mia arrived at her side with a plate and silverware and Ginger was finally able to pull her eyes away from his when she asked, ‘What can I get you to drink?’ and placed the table service at the seat the Captain had indicated.

‘Ugh…’ Ginger stammered, pulling her thoughts together, ‘Um, coffee please, vanilla creamer.’

Ginger took her seat in the silence and once settled she said, ‘Please, go back to your discussion. I am just…SO bored. Bored to death! I really just want to be and need to be distracted by other humans for a while.’

Mia reappeared with Ginger’s coffee and took the seat next to her. Captain Tony sat down and Mia said, ‘What I REALLY want to know more than anything, is if Jamie ever tells Cersei it was Olena!’

The table erupted into chatter and a bowl of fruit was passed to Ginger. She spooned some onto her plate and passed the bowl back, trading it for a nearly empty bowl of scrambled eggs. Mia grabbed some tongs while she talked animatedly and placed a biscuit on Gingers plate, then moved the jam closer to her. Ginger smiled her thanks and scraped the last bit of eggs onto her plate, while picking up the thread of the conversation.

She LOVED Game of Thrones!

When breakfast was over, Ginger stood with the others having thoroughly enjoyed herself and began to help clear away the dishes.

She put the lids on the corresponding jams, picked up the fruit and egg bowl, her own plate and turned to the sink.

Mia appeared next to her and reached for the stack of dishes, ‘Here, I can take that.’ She offered.

‘I’d really like to help.’ Ginger countered.

Mia balked and looked to her Chief Steward, Melody for direction. Melody looked to Captain Tony who considered what it was Ginger was asking for.

He nodded quickly and Ginger smiled a thank you at him and went back to helping.

The chef, got started on lunch and directed Ginger when she needed direction.

When she’d done everything, she could do to help in the kitchen for the time being, she went in search of Mia and helped the girl do her work as well. When Mia was done, they went and found Melody who just shook her head and told them to go down to the pantry and help Jared with inventory. Ginger and Mia talked all through the day and became familiar with each other. Ginger talked with several other members of the staff throughout the day as well. She couldn’t have been happier at the end of the day when they’d invited her to come and watch TV with them. She accepted the invitation hoping to see the Captain, but was disappointed when she realized that he was on night shift, because that was when the Vampires were awake. She’d still had a good time though and slept like the dead after going to her room.

When she got up the next morning, she took a little more time with her appearance, then skipped off to the kitchen where she was greeted with smiles and her spot at the table.

Chapter Text

Key West

 

Just as the sun had been about to come up in morning Eric picked me up and at the completely naked speed of light brought me from my room to his, depositing me into his bed.

It made me laugh.

As the sun rose, I curled myself around him and we both died for the day.

When I woke up, I knew two things. I didn’t have clothes in this room and we were in Key West. 

I knew because we were stopped.

Ugh…I knew three things.

It was still daytime because Eric wasn't awake.

I fumbled around on the night stand and found the lamp. I needed to pee so I used the bathroom and then rummaged around in Eric’s closet for a shirt. I thought about getting back into bed, but I was hungry enough to eat a horse. So, I flipped the light off and headed to my room to shower and eat. In no time at all, I was dressed in a white eyelet sun dress and I’d braided my hair. The ends were draped over my shoulders. It had gotten really long during the blood bond process with Karin. I needed to cut some of it off.

It was hotter than hell today, even though the sun was almost down.

I had a Chicken Caesar Salad for breakfast/dinner and was finishing it up when a text came in on my new phone.

My old phone had vanished and had been replaced this marvel of modern technology that was nearly too confusing to operate.

The text was from Karin, she wanted to see me.‘When you are done eating, could you please come to my room.’

I wiped my mouth, called Brian to tell him I was done and poured more mineral water into my glass. 

Mineral water was quickly becoming my thing

I texted Karin and told her I was on my way and knocked on her door a few minutes later.

Nuri pulled the door open instantly causing me to jump nearly out of my skin. 

‘I’m sorry, Sookie.’ She smiled. ‘You look lovely tonight. Won’t you please come in.’

‘Thank you, Nuri.’ I said happy for the compliment. ‘I love what you're wearing too.’ And I did! 

Nuri had on white linen slacks and a baby blue, cropped peasant top that rested off of her shoulders. Her hair was loose and she was barefoot. The light colors she was wearing set her skin and hair off perfectly. It was daunting how beautiful the Vampire was. She looked completely at home in her surroundings as she walked me though a large sitting area.

The suite was not entirely a surprise to me.

The furnishings were as opulent as the rest of the Boat, but they were eclectic as well. It was a feminine Boho Hodge podge of bright colors, intricate patterns, and fabrics. There were interesting small Knick knacks and doo dads scattered throughout the space. Books were piled on every surface and there was some kind of wonderful incense burning, but I couldn’t name it. You’d think it would be strange to have all of those loose objects laying around on a boat, but Sunniva was so large you couldn’t feel the waves she made. She road them like she was Cadillac on asphalt.  

‘Karin asked me to bring you here.’ Nuri said, and she opened a set of double doors. I found myself walking into their bedroom. ‘I'll leave you both to talk.’ She said, leaving us alone. 

It occurred to me that Nuri never said any more, or any less, than what was absolutely necessary. She was never, ‘vary’ or ‘really’ or ‘totally’ about anything she said. She had impeccable manners, was unfailingly sweet natured and I’d noticed that not much got done around here without her say do. She was definitely in charge of the day to day here on the Boat. I didn’t know if it would be the same when we left the Boat or not, but this was her domain for sure. I could’ve done way worse in the step mom department. I was glad I hadn’t. So far, I liked her and was looking forward to getting to know her much better. Karin was sitting on the edge of her bed and patted the spot next to her indicating that I should join her. 

‘I have something that I want to talk to you about.’ She said.

‘What’s up.’ I asked.

I just wanted to talk to you a little before we got out for the night. We haven’t had time to talk much since our first night on board. I guess, I’m just wondering how you are doing.’ She asked.

 ‘I’ll admit that I was a little freaked out over the four extra Vampires on the boat, obviously, but I seem to have gotten past it.’ I laughed nervously, remembering the embarrassing melt down. 

‘I realize that. I thought it would be best to do it like a band-aid and just rip it off and get it over with. There was no way that I was going to be able to keep them away from you until the next day. Especially Eric. I practically had to beat them to get them off of the helipad while you were in the air on the way here.’ She chuckled

‘It was a lot to take when Eric walked into the room. I’d just gotten a lot of information and I was thinking about some pretty big mistakes that I’d made. They were damn big mistakes. After refusing to think about him or even say him name for so long, and after an emotionally charged day, then all of the information you dropped… Okay, it was a shock and it was hard, but I am happy that he’s here.’ I assured her.

‘Especially after last night.’ I thought. And it was more for what he’d said to me than the…other.

‘Are you upset with me for keeping these secrets from you in the beginning?’ Karin asked nervously. 

‘No.’ I answered quickly. I was never upset with you. I mean it. No. I trust you more than just about anyone. I understand why you did it. You told me why you did it. That omission, more than anything you’ve done has bought my trust. You demonstrated to me that you would do anything it took to keep your family safe.’ I answered her.

‘So, you understand me perfectly, then.’ She said, smiling.

‘I…have something, he’s been through a lot. Did he talk to you after Disney?’ I asked her.

‘He doesn’t really talk.’ Karin answered. ‘He has only to look at me, if he wants me to know something. I know that he's happy, but I know that something is bothering him as well. There's no need for me to ask him about it. He will come to us and let us know when or if he wants to say anything.’ She explained.

I frowned, bothered by this, because he had a lot to say to me. ‘Well, that is a little different than what I got from him, just so you know. You’re right, something is bothering him and I’m a little worried. I know that no amount of asking him about it will get answers out of him, but I don’t think it would hurt to remind him that you are here for him if he wants to talk to you about anything.’ I added.

She nodded her agreement, then changed the subject. ‘So, I had something specific that I wanted to talk to you about concerning this evening.’ She said lightly.

‘Alrighty, what’s up?’ I asked, letting it go and mimicking her tone.

‘We're going into Key West tonight as you've requested. We're all anxious to get off of this boat as we’ve been either on the boat, or in places where we must be on our best behavior. We're looking forward to getting out there and letting our hair down a little, if you know what I mean. So, I wanted to talk to you about that.’ She said.

I frowned, ‘Why? What…explain.’ I said, not knowing what questions to ask first.

‘A little dancing, a little drinking, a little dinner.’ She said pointedly.

‘Oh!’ Understanding dawned. You want to talk to me about feeding.’

‘Yes.’ She answered. ‘We're in serious need of a break from NeuBlood and bagged blood. As you know, we don’t feed from Sunniva’s staff and Ginger is all but tapped out. Because of this we're all restless. It’s been several day’s on supplement’s and we need to hunt.’ She said practically.

‘Hunt?’ I asked, instantly worried.

‘We’re not savages Sookie, but we are Vampires. We’re not going to kill anyone, but we’re hungry and we need some variety. You’re going to see us feed a lot this evening. I just wanted to give you a heads up. Okay?’ she asked.

I nodded in answer then said ‘Sort of.’ As an afterthought.  

‘Well, you need to see your family doing something that every family does together. They eat.’ She shrugged.

I was perplexed by the notion that Karin felt I needed to witness my family at dinner. 'I’ve seen Vampire’s feed before.’  I thought, bewildered.

I’d always understood that it was a necessity for survival. In the beginning, I’d thought it was a little gross. Even now, it was a little gross, but I was still a human. It made me feel uncomfortable to watch Bill or Eric feed back then, because it was always so personal. 

‘Karin, I’ve seen Eric feed. He’s fed on me. Granted, it was mostly during sex and sometimes an emergency, but still. The only real problems I have with Vampires feeding is when it’s from Fang Bangers. Fang Bangers have no respect for themselves, or anyone else.’ I explained.

Karin listened intently, so I went on. 

‘I never want to feed from a Fang Banger. My greatest fear about transitioning is that I won’t always feel this way. I'm afraid that the change will be too much for my mind and I'll become unrecognizable to myself.’ I said.

Karin was smiling and nodding to me that she understood what I was saying.

I stopped talking and thought about what it was she was trying to prepare me for. What she was really saying to me about feeding. She’d said they were hungry, they needed some variety, and they wanted to hunt. ‘You want me to understand that dinner is one thing, debauchery is another and not relevant to this evening.’ I said.

‘Exactly!’ she exclaimed! 

‘Okay.’ I said, not having picked up on what this conversation was really about, because I was still hung up by my fears and thoughts of Fang Bangers.

She wanted me to know that Eric feeding was simply feeding. She didn’t want any drama over it. I usually wasn’t so slow to pick up on things like this because I could hear a person’s thoughts and intentions. I’d always been able to hear what the human being fed on was thinking. I was learning now that just because the human was thinking something, didn’t mean the Vampire feeding from them was thinking the same thing.

‘What’s wrong?’ Karin questioned, after watching me puzzle through that thought.

‘Are you very different from who you were before Eric turned you?’

She thought a little, and shifted toward me. ‘Not really.’ She answered. ‘We don’t change who we are at our core. We just, have a tendency to cut through the bullshit that humans use to disguise their real feelings. We become a more pronounced version of ourselves. So, no, I'm not very different from who I’ve always been at my core. Of course, I’ve lived a very long time and the world is different now, so I’ve changed in that way. My life as a female is different. It’s based on my abilities than my gender, more than ever before in my existence. Also, I don’t talk as much as I did when I was human. I mean, about feelings and things like that. I do that with you, well, we all do that with you, because you're human and you can’t read our minds. We'll do this as long as it takes for you to know us well enough that you just know certain things without having to ask or talk about them. Understand?’ she asked.

‘Yes.’ I get it. ‘Humans get to know each other this way, but it usually takes years of talking. I wonder if we were just quiet and focused on each other’s actions, if we’d learn about each other quicker.'

Karin looked supremely pleased and kissed me on the forehead. I had no idea what to make of that, but the gesture gave me the warm fuzzies and I leaned into it. I’d not realized before how apprehensive I’d been over the subject of feeding, but I was feeling better about it and was already dealing with my transitioning fears a little better.

‘Karin was going to be an awesome Mom.’

‘I need to finish getting ready.’ Karin said, pulling away from me.

‘I will see myself out then.’ I was smiling as I left.

Chapter Text

***

 

Key West was the most laid back, out of control place I’d ever been. I thought New Orleans had been the place for carefree revelry.

Well, okay maybe it was, but Key West was the place loose morals went when they needed a vacation.

It was festive, spontaneous, and inclusive.

The atmosphere, was in a word, languorous. Nothing urgent was happening in Key West. There wasn’t a need to hurry anywhere.

The bar would be there. Your job…it would be there. The beach would be there.

You didn’t need to go to a party when you could stand right where you were and make one.

If you wanted to dance, you simply began dancing. No need to find a club.

Key West, was pure freedom and the bars didn’t close until 4 AM.

I was on my third margarita and the music was good. I’d never been much of a drinker, so I was having a fabulous time.

It hadn't taken long for our group to begin to attract attention. So many beautiful people together were bound to create a stir.

Ginger hadn’t wanted to come this evening but we’d talked her into it and she’d finally loosened up and now were having a great time together.

I’d never known she could be this much fun.

She always seemed to be stressed out whenever I saw her. We were standing in line at the bar to get another and signing along with the piano player, when I noticed Pam drift away with a very tan man-boy, who couldn’t have been much more than twenty-three. He grinned at her wolfishly and gyrated drunkenly to the music while he followed her through a side door. Karin, Reider, and Nuri turned with the rest of the boy-man’s group and followed them out of the door. Eric wasn’t with them. I looked for him and found him watching me. I smiled and jerked my head at the door, indicating that he should go with them.

He shook his head and mouthed ‘No.’ at me.

I scowled at him and mouthed back ‘Go!’

He was annoyed, but turned and followed them.

I put our drinks on my tab not entirely comfortable with using Karin’s money for absolutely everything yet and quickly went for the door. Ginger was being chatted up by a hot hunk of man meat, so I left her to it and stepped out the emergency door that let out into a sort of ally way to find my entire family feeding on humans. I swayed drunkenly, sipped on my margarita, and watched intently looking for whatever it was that I was supposed to be learning. I was seeing something that I’d seen many times before, but I opened myself up to it and stopped thinking about my feelings. I’d always tried to understand that when a Vampire took blood, they were simply eating. Any time the idea that it wasn’t like that, had been brought up, I’d challenged it.

'So, what were my issues, other than Fang Bangers and the gross factor?’ I wondered.

These humans were enjoying being fed on because of the chemical release they were getting.

I’d plucked it right out of their brains. Same for every one of them.

I took my eyes away from Eric and watched Karin, then Reider and suddenly I got it.

It can be about food, it can be about pain, it can be about sex. It could be about anything the Vampire wanted it to be about.

It was the intention in which you fed that determined how the human would respond.

It was simply easier to attract a human with sex, than with anything else. That was just science, but when science wasn't an option, money worked just as well.

For the Vampire, it was also about what the Vampire needed in his or her diet, so to speak. 

As a human, if you’d been eating Jasmine rice and butter all week, you’d be ready for steak and ice cream by the time you got it.

This is what Karin meant by hunting and I should’ve understood it a long time ago based on the reaction I always get from Vampires over my fairy blood.

I’d never had the opportunity to stand back and objectively watch my friends eat dinner. There’d always been a crisis, or some Fang Banger, or sex getting in the way.

‘It’s not disgusting.’ I resolved once and for all.

Then, I realized that NeuBlood only had FOUR different flavors. Suddenly, the Vampire Universe opened up to me. 'Wow...' that, has to suck so bad! No wonder Karin keeps talking to me about it.'  

They ‘finished up’ and just as if they were at a restaurant, Karin paid the bill.

The group of humans accepted the money they’d just earned, whooped excitedly, then headed off to the next bar to spend their earnings.

With my family’s nutritional needs seen to for the time being, we went back into the bar and danced and danced.

I was worn out, and thoroughly inebriated well before the 4 AM closing time.

We left the last bar and I looked like and over cooked noodle trying to make my way down the street on unsteady legs.

I’d refused to let Eric carry me and I was singing my lungs out. I can’t sing at all and I was a sloppy mess but it didn’t matter, I was having fun!

I flung my head back and belted out, I took off for a weekend last month, Just to try and recall the whole year, All of the faces and all of the places, Wonderin where they all disappeared,I didn’t ponder the question too long, I was hungry and went out for a bite, Ran into a chum with a bottle of Rum. And we wound up drinking all night!

I grabbed a light pole as I sang, swung around it at the end of the verse and announced ‘I want food!’

I smacked right into Eric’s chest and would have landed smack on my ass right in the middle of the street if he didn’t have such amazing reflexes.

He caught me up and said, ‘We’ll see you on The Boat.’ Then, I was in the air.

Seconds after that I was in Sunniva’s galley

Eric sat me on a stool, got me a glass of water and handing me some aspirin said gently, ‘Here, take these.’

I shook my head obstinately.

‘You will thank me this evening.’ He coaxed.

I thought on it a second, then took the tablets and swallowed them, agreeably.

Then possibly the weirdest thing ever in my life happened. Eric, scrambled me an egg and made me a piece of toast.

'Eric Northman knew how to cook!’  My soggy brain exclaimed.

I ate my food while he washed the pan he’d dirtied.

Another shock! Eric never cleaned anything up. 

When he was done loading my dishes into the dishwasher, he picked me up and took me to bed. 

Once in his room, he gently pulled all of my clothes off and tucked us in.

I wrapped myself around him slurred, ‘Where did you learn how to cook.’

Before he could answer, I passed out.

 

***

 

 

Ginger had bailed on the Key West party after the third bar and taken a cab back to Sunniva claiming to be too drunk to continue. Truth was she’d stopped drinking after the first bar and was stone sober. She just hadn’t wanted to miss breakfast, so she came back, took a power nap and made it to the kitchen before anyone else. She’d set the table by the time the chef rolled in.

They said good morning to each other and the phone rang.

‘I’ll get it.’ Ginger said.

‘No. I'll get it.’ He argued, and answered. ‘Yes, Sir. Coming up.’

Ginger sat on a stool and quietly watched as the chef made up a small tray for tea. It was a small pot of hot water, loose leaf tea scooped into a tiny silver ball that had a latch on it, two short bread cookies and a small spoon of lemon curd. When he was done, he said, ‘I’ll be right back.’

‘Can I start anything for you?’ Ginger offered.

‘No.’ he answered, ‘It’s special breakfast for Melody’s birthday today.’

‘Oh. Well, can I take that for you so you can get started?’ Ginger offered.

The chef, his name she learned just the other day was Enzo, stopped and considered that then nodded, ‘Okay.’

Ginger slid off the stool and took the tray, ‘Where’s it going?’ She blinked.

Enzo had just assumed she’d known, ‘It’s the Captains morning tea.’ He explained, in a confused tone.

Ginger shifted the tray and hoisted it to get a better grip on it, ‘The Captain drinks tea?’ she asked.

Enzo reached for the tray, but Ginger pulled away from him and waited.

Enzo frowned at her. ‘Captain drinks weak tea in the morning instead of coffee so he can sleep.’ He answered.

Ginger nodded smirking at him. ‘See, that wasn’t so hard.’ She teased.

Enzo held the door to the crew stairs open for her. ‘Bridge is all the way at the top.’ He said, and shooed her.

When she reached the top of the stairs Ginger turned around and pushed the door to the Bridge open with her rear end.

Instead of asking for permission to come in, like she’d seen on TV, she simply announced, ‘Tea.’ And turned forward once she’d come through the door.

Captain Midenton jerked in surprise and came to take the tray from Ginger.

He set the tray down and looked down the stairs to see if anyone had seen her come up to the Bridge. He didn’t see anyone at all, but having Ginger on the Bridge was not in compliance with Safety Protocol. It was still an hour before sunup and this could go very wrong. He kept the door open and moved Ginger to stand with him in front of it.

Ginger, having watched this odd display realized she made a mistake by not knocking so she stepped across the threshold onto the landing. Tony smiled at her then and she felt better about being here.

‘So, I brought your tea.’ She said lamely, because she was happy to see him and wanted a few minutes alone with him.

‘Thank you.’ He answered, looking past her again.

Ginger clasped her hands nervously in front of her and said, ‘Well, I will see you at breakfast. Bye.’

She grinned at him shyly and started to turn back down the stairs but Tony reached for her, dragging her back to him and swooped down to kiss her.

It was a swift purposeful kiss.

‘Thank you.’ He said again, when he pulled away.

Ginger’s eyes fluttered open and she said, ‘You’re welcome.’ Then she floated down the stairs to the kitchen.

Chapter Text

New Orleans

 

Judith took her phone off of the charger and checked it.

Nothing.

She’d been in New Orleans and at the safe house since leaving Bon Temps and there was still no sign of William. She knew that he hadn’t gone back to Bon Temps. She’d learned through facebook that the New Orleans police had gotten a warrant and been all over William’s home, as well as Sookie’s. Maybe the Authorities thought she was with him. She’d also learned that Felipe de Castro had gone to William’s house as well, which meant that not only were the human police and the New Authority looking for him, but the King himself.

‘All the news is very bad…’ she worried.

Judith had been through every nook and cranny of the city searching for some hint of William and there was simply nothing. Even Jessica had disappeared. Judith had thought to call to the pair of them through the blood, but it was no use. The bond between them was virtually non-existent. A blood bond had to be maintained not just with blood, but with sharing, contact and at the very least curiosity.

Judith had never even met Jessica and only knew of her because of the Archive. William certainly hadn’t felt the need to contact her and tell her of an addition to the family. Judith thought of William frequently, but it was obvious to her now that he didn’t think of her at all. He should’ve at least been able to sense her nearness in Bon Temps, but much to her chagrin, he hadn’t.

No matter, that will all change when we are reunited…if we are reunited.’ She thought, correcting herself.

Judith set her nervous thoughts aside and turned on the television. She wanted to check and see if there was anything new. There was nothing new. Same tired footage as yesterday. Silent video of the Chief of Police played while the Anchor woman delivered the news that there weren’t any new developments in the case. Judith picked up the remote and pointed it at the television to turn it off.

‘Oh!’ Judith exclaimed, having an epiphany.

She chugged the last of her NeuBlood, jumped in the shower, dressed, and left the safe house. It took five minutes for her to get to the Eighth District Station House which was conveniently located one block away from the Hotel Monteleone and directly across the street from the Supreme Court of Louisiana. Both buildings were beautiful and the Station House was the epitome of the Old South. It was the color of a ripe melon with a wrought iron fence and soaring white pillars that surrounded the entire building. Police cruisers and motorcycles lined the street in front of the grand old building that was almost certainly built by some French Aristocrat when the entire area was nothing but huge southern oaks dripping in Spanish moss. Now, the area was so densely populated that parking was a huge issue and many police cars were simply parked on the sidewalk.

Judith slowed and in one graceful jump landed on the roof of Latrobe’s to scout out her plan of action. Making up her mind, she went around the block and stepped into the garden that bordered the south west side of the Supreme Court building to wait for the Detective she’d been seeing on the television every day to come out of the building. She was lucky that it was fall and dark fell long before shift change.

She didn’t have to wait long.

The detective was a large man. He was carrying his suit jacket, (a cheap polyester blend), his briefcase, a backpack of sorts and a Thermos. The man’s hands were full. She watched as he walked to his car. She’d gotten lucky again as it was right outside the gate surrounding the garden. The Detective piled his belongings on the roof of his car, then fished around in his trouser pocket for his keys. Just as he’d finished putting the last item in his car, Judith appeared beside him. The Detective jumped and gave a little ‘eeeep’ of protest but quieted immediately. Judith had him with her glamour.

‘You’re happy to see me.’ She coaxed.

‘I am?’ he asked, puzzled.

‘Smile.’ She instructed.

He did.

‘Kiss my cheeks in greeting.’ She commanded with a smile of her own.

He did.

‘Unlock the passenger door. I’m going with you.’ She said.

Detective Dallier nodded his agreement, pointed the fob at the car and unlocked it.

Judith went to her side of the car and opened the door. ‘Get in.’ she said, softly.

Dallier did as he was told and got into the unmarked car.

‘Drive somewhere we won’t be disturbed.’ Judith said.

Dallier began to shake.

‘I’m not going to hurt you. I just want to talk to you.’ Judith explained.

Dallier looked at her steadily, nodded once, then started the car, put it in gear and drove down Decatur St. away from the safety of the Station. He turned right on Esplanade then left on Peters until he came to an abandoned lot. He parallel parked on the railroad track side of the street and turned the car off. He kept both hands on the steering wheel and looked at Judith. She was in a hurry, so she dispensed with the pleasantries and got down to the business at hand.

‘I understand you’re working the human side of the Hotel Monteleone case.’ She stated as fact.

‘Yes.’ Dallier answered.

‘I’d like you to tell me what you know and I’d like to see your files.’ Judith requested.

Dallier frowned at the Vampire and began to shake his head.

‘Sir.’ Judith began, ‘Do you have any doubt that I can force you to tell me what I want know?’

Dallier’s frown deepened and he remained silent.

‘I would rather not resort to brute force and threats, but I will. I can force you to take me to your home, invite me in, and introduce me to your family. I’m sure that it would be a lovely visit that I’d enjoy immensely, but I’m pressed for time. Please, let’s just do this the easy way. Share your information with me and let me look through your files.’ Judith coaxed sweetly.

The Detective took a moment to think. Judith allowed it.

When he was ready, he said, ‘I could lose my job. I have a son at Tulane and a daughter with diabetes. I can’t afford to lose my job or my pension. I need your word that you won’t tell anyone I shared information with you.’ He requested.

‘My intention isn’t to cause you harm, Detective. I’ll tell no one.’ Judith promised.

‘One more thing…’ Dallier began, ‘Why do you want…’

Judith cut him off, ‘I will not answer that question. Now…if you please.’ Judith gestured for him to begin.

Dallier pressed his lips into a hard, tight frown again.

He didn’t like any of this one bit, but he didn’t have any other option than to agree.

When he’d finished all she’d said was, ‘May I use your computer?’

Her polite manner baffled him and he thought, ‘As if I had a choice.’

He pulled his personal computer out of his back pack, fired it up while explaining that she needed to use it instead of the car’s computer as everything searched by it was tracked.

‘Thank you.’ She said.

Judith didn’t know what to think yet about what she’d just learned.

The police were obviously still looking for William and from what she’d just learned he appeared to be very guilty. Her stomach gave an involuntary lurch. The damn day man had neglected to mention that he’d been interviewed so thoroughly by the police. Based on the information Danny gave them, William became their number one suspect and they had believed in the beginning that Sookie was with him or had helped him. There’d also been some question of whether or not she’d been planning to transition. After having gone to Bon Temps however, they’d dismissed the idea that Sookie was with William based on a conversation they’d had with Sookie’s lawyer and a few credit-card charges. The lawyer had told the Detective that Sookie was simply going on vacation while her house was being remodeled and they’d taken all that at face value.

All of these thoughts raced through Judith’s mind while she typed her request into the Google search engine and clicked on the link she wanted. All of this was speculation, but she knew how to get the answers she’d been searching for right now.

According to her credit-card, Sookie was in Key West. She’d used the card just last night at Sloppy Joe’s Bar. Judith knew that Sloppy Joe’s had live feed cams and that they archived the footage for 24 hours. It took her no time at all to roll the archived feed back to the time of purchase.

There was Sookie, at the end of the bar, holding her credit-card. Judith watched intently while the camera made a full circuit of the room. She didn’t see William, but what she did see shocked her to her core. Eric Northman was sliding out of the emergency exit at the far end of the bar.

‘Nothing makes sense at all!’ Judith screamed silently.

She pulled out her phone, rewound the archived feed and took a picture of Eric and Sookie, then sent the pictures to William. She texted, ‘Call me!’ At least she knew what she was doing now. She was going to Key West and she had to hurry. She cleared the search history on the Detectives computer and shut it down, then returned it to him.

‘Look at me Detective.’ Judith ordered.

Detective Dallier complied and Judith held him with her glamour while she spoke.

‘You never saw me. You never helped me. You’re going to go straight to Popeye’s and get a bucket of extra spicy chicken, red beans and rice, Coleslaw and fried pies. You’re going to take all of this home to share with your family and you’re never going to remember me or mention this.’ Judith said, and got out of the car.

Detective Dallier did as he was bid and his wife was sorely put out as she’d spent the entire day making a boil.

He never remembered Judith.

Chapter Text

The Caribbean

 

Ginger had helped Mia most of the day, then had gone to shower and clean up in hopes that she’d be in position by the time Captain Tony went up to the Bridge. He’d walked her to her door after breakfast and had pressed another kiss to her lips before saying goodnight. It had been everything Ginger could do not to throw herself on the man and drag him into her room. She was hoping that she’d get another kiss before he started his shift, but as luck would have it, Nuri had spotted her going through the crew corridor and had stopped her before she could reach the entrance to the stairs. Tony, hadn’t been expecting her so he’d gone straight to the Bridge.

Just as Ginger was about to go up the stairs Nuri said, ‘Ginger?’

Ginger turned to her and smiling said, ‘Hello, Nuri.’ And went back to making her way to the Bridge.

‘Ginger, stop.’ Nuri commanded. ‘Where are you going?’

‘Oh, I just wanted to talk to Tony for a minute.’ Ginger answered casually.

‘For what purpose?’ Nuri inquired, curious as to why this guest thought she could speak with the Captain.

‘Well, we’re having pizza tonight while we watch TV. I was going to ask what he wanted on his.’ She said.

Ginger, feeling as if she’d answered the question sufficiently and being anxious to see Tony turned to go.

‘STOP!’ Nuri commanded again, only this time stronger.

Ginger turned back to the Vampire wondering what her problem was and glared questioningly at her.

‘Ginger, you’re a guest here. I don’t want you interfering or being social with the staff.’ She explained.

Ginger, planted her hands on her hips, nonplussed.

‘Come.’ Nuri gestured for Ginger to come away with her assuming that was the end of the conversation.

‘Ugh…No.’ Ginger countered, ‘I won’t come, like some dog.’

‘Excuse me?’ Nuri intoned.

‘I said…NO.’ Ginger enunciated, loudly.

Annoyed and showing it Nuri said, ‘Ginger, this is my home, you’re a guest here…’

Ginger cut her off. ‘Yeah? Well…I didn’t ask to be a guest here. Did I?’ Ginger snapped raising her voice even louder.

Tony, hearing the disruption on the stairs appeared at the top of the stairwell.

Mia, having heard the same appeared below.

Captain Midenton stepped in then and said, ‘Ma’am, this misunderstanding is my fault. Ginger was frustrated by her lack of purpose and companionship. I only meant to help in allowing her to interact with the crew. It won’t happen again.’ He finished.

Nuri nodded at him, accepting his explanation. ‘See that it doesn’t.’ She gestured at Ginger to go, again.

Ginger, threw her hands into the air in frustration and yelled ‘UGH!’ then stomped away.

‘Ginger, I can find something else…’ Nuri began, but it was too late, she was already gone.

Ginger slammed through the door connecting the corridor and the passageway and marched straight to Pam’s room and banged on the door.

‘Pam!’ she bellowed.

There was no answer. She banged again.

‘PAM!’ she bellowed louder this time.

Still no answer.

Spinning on the jeweled heel of her strappy sandal, she stomped back down the corridor all the way to the family level entertainment room. Pam and Karin were there huddled over a chess board. Nuri flowed into the room just as Ginger reached Pam’s side. She shot a hot glare at the Vampire and swiveled angrily to stand over Pam.

‘I WANT TO GO HOME!’ she announced, voice hot with anger.

‘No.’ Pam answered, drolly without looking up from the chess board.

Ginger was well beyond pissed and she reached down and flipped the chess board over.

Karin and Pam flicked glances at each other, sat back and gave Ginger their full attention.

Ginger swallowed hard, realizing she may have gone to far, but she womaned up anyway and said, ‘Pam, either send me home or…I will jump over board and swim to shore!’ She threatened, and her face turned bright red.

Pam sighed at the theatrics and said, ‘You’re not safe in Shreveport, Ginger.’

‘I DON’T CARE!’ she shouted, tears welling in her eyes. ‘Anything is better than sitting around here on my butt every day with nothing to do and putting up with her!’ Ginger was shouting every word by the time she stomped her foot and jabbed an accusatory finger at Nuri.

All three turned to look at Nuri who lifted her hands in a shrug, appearing to be bored with the entire scene.

Pam and Karin turned back to each other, then looked back at Ginger.

‘Ginger, what’s wrong?’ Pam asked.

‘SHE, is what’s wrong! She’s basically kidnapped me against my will. Dropped me on this boat with barely any of my things and expects me to just sit around here all day doing nothing while the pressure on my ass spreads it further and further every day. Next week it will be three feet wide!’ she shrieked.

All three Vampires winced while the shriek reverberated off the walls.

Pam looked at Karin again.

Karin looked at Nuri. ‘What’s she talking about?’ Karin asked.

‘She’s interfering with the staff. She’s a guest. I asked her not too.’ Nuri explained.

Karin looked at Pam, who was looking at Ginger. Karin looked at Ginger.

The woman’s face had gone purple with rage.

‘She keeps saying I’m a guest. YOU DON’T KIDNAP GUESTS, LADY!’ Ginger shot at Nuri.

‘Ginger, calm down.’ Pam said.

Ginger didn’t calm down. ‘And I wasn’t INTERFERING with the staff! I was helping! I’ve made some friends, helped out a few times and OH! God forbid if I have someone to sit down to a meal with! I’m NOT a Vampire! I’m a human! I need food, company, and an occupation!’ Ginger insisted, hauling in a deep trembling breath.

‘Shit…she’s going to cry.’ Pam moaned, silently.

She shot the ‘Please’ look at Karin.

Karin looked at Nuri and asked, ‘Is Ginger causing problems with the staff?’

‘No, but that’s not the point.’ Nuri answered, sharply.

‘Well, what is the point?’ Willa asked.

Ginger jerked at the sound of Willa’s voice. She hadn’t even seen her sitting on the sofa reading.

Nuri’s mouth pressed into a hard, thin line. She didn’t like being questioned about how she ran her home.

‘There is a rigorous vetting process that I use for hiring staff.’ Nuri answered.

‘Well, since Ginger wants to work, why not just hire her?’ Willa pressed.

Nuri actually snorted and gestured up and down at Ginger as if to say, ‘Just look at her.’

Willa did and could see Nuri’s point, but that didn’t mean she could call Ginger out like that.

Ginger, completely offended even though she was dressed like a teenage streetwalker, snorted back and rolled her eyes dramatically. She put her weight on the spike of her high heel and pointed a finger at Nuri…again, and hauled in a furious breath ready to blast her, but she never got the chance.

Karin stood and went to Ginger, ‘She didn’t mean it.’ Karin soothed.

Turning to Nuri, Karin said, ‘Ginger can help.’ She held Nuri’s gaze to let her know she understood and that they’d talk about it later. Karin knew that she was meddling in Nuri’s domain, but in a few days it wouldn’t even matter. They’d be getting off of Sunniva and dismissing the crew from Belize.

Nuri wasn’t happy, but she didn’t protest in front of the others.

Ginger turned her incredulous expression to Karin and said, ‘Thank you!’ then sailed back down the stairs.

Nuri left as well knowing where Ginger was headed. The woman was half way up the stairs to the Bridge when Nuri reached her. ‘You are never permitted on the Bridge.’ Nuri said, menacingly and dropped fang on her.

Ginger sucked in a startled breath and flinched away from Nuri. She nodded and backed down the stairs while Nuri advanced on her. She kept backing up all the way through the door into the kitchen and was standing next to the big marble work station before Nuri stopped advancing on her.

Enzo and Melody were both in the kitchen and became uneasy at seeing Nuri in such a state.

Nuri, switched gears instantly upon seeing them and going to Melody she said pleasantly, ‘I understand that Ginger is curious about Sunniva and wished to learn all about the running and upkeep of a ship this size. I’m allowing her to train with you all, but mind that she is a guest on Sunniva, not an employee. I expect Safety Protocol to be maintained at all times.’

‘Yes, Ma’am.’ Melody answered.

Nuri gave a single nod and left the kitchen.

Ginger sank to the stool she frequented and succumbed to nervous tears.

Melody came directly to her and wrapped her in a hug.

‘What on Earth?’ she exclaimed!

Nuri, in a white-hot fury was on the way to her suite to calm down before she had it out with Karin, heard Brian say from the opposite corridor, ‘…but I’m not supposed to. I told you, I’m only for Sookie.’ Nuri was already livid and Willa had challenged her authority once before on this subject, not to mention she’d just interfered in a discussion between her and her wife. She’d had all she was going to put up with out of the brat.

She rounded the corner and buried her hand in Willa’s deep brown hair, hauling her off of Brian a breath before she sank her fangs into him. She wrapped Willa’s hair around her fist and holding her at arm’s length shoved the young Vampire back through the corridor and into the family room before Willa could speak a word of protest.

Pam and Karin had just righted the chess board and begun the game again, so, for spite, Nuri flung Willa at Pam and she stumbled into her Maker sending the chess board flying once more. Both Pam and Karin shot to their feet to protest, but taking in Nuri’s expression, held their tongues.

Nuri took a moment to compose herself so she wouldn’t scream when so opened her mouth. When she had herself under control, she said to Pam, ‘This is the second time I’ve caught Willa trying to eat Brian. Get what is yours under control.’ Next she flicked a furious but controlled glance at Karin, and said pointedly ‘This is our home, get control of it.’

Then, Nuri blinked out of the room leaving the three of them to stare at the empty space she’d occupied.

Pam finally shot an angry glance at Willa, ‘Go to your room and stay there.’

Willa opened her mouth to argue instead of doing what she was told.

‘As your Maker, I order you to go to your room and stay there.’ Pam repeated, her voice hard.

‘Thank you.’ Karin said as Willa left the room against her will, complaining loudly.

‘Shut. Up!’ Pam commanded Willa, and there was silence. ‘You’re welcome.’ She said to Karin.

‘It’s an adjustment and she’s the lady of the Boat.’ Karin explained, meaning Nuri.

Pam just nodded and gestured at the chess board, ‘Try again?’

Karin shook her head, ‘Damage control.’ She said.

‘Good luck.’ Pam answered.

In her room, Willa threw a silent temper tantrum. She’d thought about trashing the room, but Pam would just make her clean it, so she sat there silently thinking of all the ways she would tell Pam to go fuck herself instead.

In the staff TV room, Ginger sat with her new friends, eating pizza and watching Fright Night.

Chapter Text

***

 

Sookie slept all day until the sun went down and well past that. 

Eric stayed with her and let her sleep until he had to actually wake her so she could eat. He did it very gently. 

‘No…’ I whined, ‘Leave me alone.’

‘Water.’ He whispered to me. ‘You need some water.’

‘Just want to sleep.’ I whined again.

‘Here, open your mouth.’ He instructed.

He nicked his finger with a fang and put a few drops of blood on my tongue. It didn’t even take a minute and the worst of the epic hangover had dissipated and I felt like I could sit up. I thanked him, but I was nervous about the blood he’d given me, even though it was only a few drops. The water glass appeared in my hand again.

‘Drink.’ He instructed.

I gulped a mouth full of water.

‘I need to use the bathroom.’ I whispered.

He picked me up and carried me into the bathroom and started to leave.

‘Light.’ I requested.

‘Are you sure?’ he questioned.

I nodded and groaned when light came on. After I peed, I washed my hands and noticed that all of my things had been moved from my bathroom into this bathroom. ‘Typical.’ I thought, not really focusing on it right then. It’s a safe bet all of my other things had been moved into this suite as well. I was still too hungover to be annoyed by it just yet though. I brushed my teeth and washed my face so I was feeling almost normal when I started out of the bathroom.  

The miracle of Vampire Blood.’ I mused.

Even though I was happy to have most of the hangover gone, I was conflicted about having taken even a few drops of blood from Eric. I didn’t know how Karin would feel about it. I thought I understood the rules, but I needed to ask her. Until I knew for certain, it was probably best to stick with the policy I’d adopted of, no blood between Eric and I.

'Why didn’t I ask her about this last night?’ I wondered.

I popped my head around the corner having changed my mind said, ‘I think I’m just going to go ahead and take a shower since it looks like you’ve had all of my belongings moved into your rooms.’ I shot a playful smirk at him.

Eric stood and the evil glint in his eyes told me exactly what he thought of the idea. 

I laughed at him and gingerly skipped off to the shower with him in hot pursuit.

Moments later I was luxuriating in a shower that had personalized jets, personalized water temperature, and every other kind of personal water setting you could imagine. None of which were as perfect as Eric’s long, strong, fingers. He made short work of washing my hair and the rest of my hangover away.

‘That feels so good.’ I said leaning back against him. ‘Don’t ever stop. I could stay just like this for eternity while you did nothing but wash my hair.’ I groaned with pleasure.

He didn’t say anything, he just continued massaging my scalp.

'This, is definitely what I’ve been missing. Personal, intimate things like this.’ Eric contemplated.

Life in Oklahoma had been too much like life with Ocella. Cold, indifferent, dangerous, and boring. He’d despised it. His thoughts drifted about while he played at her neck muscles and he considered her use of the word eternity. They’d not talked about her desire to be made Vampire, since that first discussion.

‘What you mean, is you haven’t talked to her about your feelings concerning her choices.’ He confronted himself.

‘Yes, that is exactly what I mean.’ He replied to himself silently.  

He was a jumble of nerves about almost everything since the Summit, but most especially the subject of transition. He was certain he could transition her, but there was always the chance that maybe, she wouldn’t come through it. Being as happy as he was that they were all together he was hesitant to bring up anything that would disrupt the harmony of their home, so he’d been tiptoeing around these subjects and others while ignoring the fact that he had only minimal details concerning recent events.

It’d been a few, well, several days of feeling this way now and he was unsettled by it. Any peace he’d been able muster daily was marred each time he picked up a newspaper, turned on the television or got on-line. Granted, he’d needed a few days to get acclimated and feel comfortable in his own skin again, something that he hadn’t really mastered yet because he felt like he was still, out of the loop. He knew if he felt this way, then Pam must be going bat shit. There were lots of unanswered questions and things to talk about, but the only thing that was on their agenda each day, was to entertain Sookie.

He didn’t have a problem with that. In fact, he wanted to entertain his wife right now by having incredible, slippery sex with her.

However, he could feel in his gut that it was only a matter of time, before some fresh hell intruded on the peace and disrupted this reality. He really didn’t want to deal with that kind of stress, due to the way he was currently dealing with things in general.

Basically, he wasn’t dealing with anything the way Eric Northman would. He’d not realized what a dark place he’d truly been in until the evening they’d returned from Disney and he was certain that he wasn’t past it by a long shot.

He rinsed the shampoo from his wife’s hair and dropped his troubled thoughts for a minute focusing on the task and contemplating the fact that he’s just thought of Sookie as his wife and not his ex-wife, twice.

I was getting the full pamper from Eric.

After he’d rinsed the shampoo from my hair, he’d conditioned it. Just now he squeezed body wash into his hands making a thick lather with it. It smelled like peaches. He pulled me flush against his chest and began washing my front.

All of my front.

He stroked my body, washing it thoroughly, and I was super happy I’d decided to take this shower after all.

Soon, we were moving together, trying to find purchase on every single surface in the shower. I finally got a hand hold the soap dish and held on for dear life until I was right there with him and he was right with me when his fangs popped out.

‘Don’t bite me.’ I panted, pushing him deeper inside me.

'What?’ Eric thought desperately. ‘Why?' He wanted to bite her. Was ready to bite her, but she'd said "No." ‘Fine…’ he relented, but it irritated him and was harder than hell to hold back from.

He increased his rhythm moving past the irritation and seconds later pushed home. Sookie convulsed around him and he came along with her. He held her to him tightly while she caught her breath.

'What exactly is going on here? Why doesn’t she want me to bite her?’ He thought, confused.

He’d bitten her 100’s of times before. It was always consensual between them. He didn’t understand what the problem was now.

If she wanted to transition, he was going to have to bite her at some point.

He leaned forward to kiss her, shoving his confusion away and they finished their shower.

While they toweled off, Sookie said, ‘Thank you for being so sweet with me today. My head was killing me and I feel so much better now.’

She handed him her hairbrush, pulled her robe closed, went to sit on the floor in front of a chair, and waited for him.

'She wants me to brush her hair, but not bite her?’  he fumed.

This was something intimate they’d always done together. They brushed each other’s hair and talked about their day.

In attempt to make the changes he knew he needed to make, he settled into the chair behind her and began to gently work the tangles out of her thick sun blond hair.

Resolving not to argue, he said softly, ‘I want to ask you something.’

‘Okay.’ I said closing my eyes with pleasure, leaning with the brushing motion.

‘Why, don’t you want me to bite you.’ He asked and stopped brushing while he waited for an answer.

‘Because I’m blood bonded to Karin.’ I explained. ‘Obviously.’

‘Why, would it matter, that you are blood bonded to Karin.’ He asked, he irritation with the subject came stomping out into the light on the word, 'matter.'

I flinched and pulled away from him, not understanding why he was so agitated. 

Turning to look at him and answered, ‘Because, she’s going to turn me and the blood bond makes the transition easier, you know this, Eric.’

‘She is not.’ He coughed out, incredulously shooting to his feet. 

I blinked up at him in astonishment, ‘What did you say to me?’ I’d tilted my head all the way back so I could see him.

Eric ignored the warning in my tone and bent his face to within inches of mine.

‘Karin, is not, going to transition you.’ He said succinctly.

Righteous authority oozed out of him. It ignited a rebellion in my chest so intense, I had to force myself to sit there in the floor, very still, with my wet hair dripping on the carpet and wait for a semblance of self-control to return. I felt like if I opened my mouth, jets of flame would shoot out and engulf my ex-husband making this entire conversation unnecessary. Being a little older and having a bit more relationship experience was going to be helpful with this discussion. ‘Right?’ I prayed silently.

When I felt like I could speak calmly, I got to my feet, fisted my hands on my hips so he would know I meant business and said, ‘First of all, Sweetie, yes, she is. Second, it’s not your decision. It’s not up to you to say what I do, when I do it, or who I do it with. Third, we’re divorced and even if we weren’t divorced you should have learned by now that you, especially, get a lot further with me, by asking!’ I challenged. 

'Oh!  So now she was going to bring up the divorce.’ His raged sputtered silently, hackles fully up.

‘She is not!’ he countered stubbornly, still leaning over her small frame.

It was all he could think to say to her that wasn't truly heinous. He was so seriously pissed off at her for bringing up a divorce that she could’ve prevented and using it against him.

She could say whatever she wanted, but this wasn’t going to go down the way she dictated.

Backing up his own decree, stated unreasonably, ‘I forbid it.’

He said it with finality, indicating it was the end of the discussion.

Except it wasn’t.

‘And that, right there…’ I stuck my finger in his face while I glared up at him, ‘Is still a problem! You aren’t going to go around here issuing orders at me, Eric Northman! You’re not Ocella and you can’t order Karin not to turn me! It’s my decision, not yours! If I want to be a Vampire and Karin wants to turn me, what is your problem with it?  Several years ago, may I remind you, you would’ve turned me regardless of what I wanted. So, what is your problem with it now?’ I tossed at him.

Crossing my arms over my breast, I claimed victory with my posture.

‘Several years ago, it would’ve been me doing the turning!’ He countered, mocking her angry tone.

I lost some of my ire and frowned at him slightly, a bit confused. He didn’t catch the shift in my posture.

‘WE CAN BOTH SEE THAT I DID NOT!’ His voice was thunder and ice blue flames burned in his eyes.

‘Oh…’ I flinched, and the frown deepened.

‘Am I confused about this entire thing?’ I wondered, taking a second to rehash conversations. ‘No, it’s not me. He’s the confused one.’ I confirmed with my recollection.

‘So, it’s not that you don’t want me to transition, it’s that you don’t want Karin to be the one to do it?’ I asked.

‘Isn’t that what I’ve been saying to you? Quite forcefully, I might add.’ He quipped, his voice back to conversation level.

‘How did he get this confused…’ I thought, pulling my robe tighter to me.

He huffed a frustrated sigh and pulled the towel from around his waist and ran it through his wet hair.

‘…and that is cheating during a fight!’ I ground my teeth and made a point of ignoring his body.

‘Did you think this entire time that we wanted you to do it?’ I asked.

‘Yes!’ He barked, throwing his hands in the air. ‘The not talking about shit, ends today!’ he raged silently. 

I sat down on the edge of the bed and tried to think of the best way to say what I wanted to say while he paced, nude, in front of me.

It was distracting as hell and he had to know it.

There’s no easy way for me to say it.’ I moaned inwardly, but strengthened my resolve and spit it out. ‘Eric, I don’t want be your Progeny.’

…and then, he just wasn’t there anymore.

‘Damnit!’ I stomped my foot and flopped back onto the bed.

I cussed a blue streak at the ceiling, then as quickly as I could, I dried my hair and dressed, then stepped out into the corridor to find Eric.

Huddled at the end of the corridor were some of the crew. Brian reached for me and said, ‘Don’t go out there.’

Then, I heard it. Ignoring their pleas for me to stay, I went to the end of the corridor and opened the door.

My entire family was squared off in the middle of the floor. Fangs out, screaming at each other.

Eric, was still ass out naked.

‘What the hell?’ I thought, dumbfounded by the chaos in front of me.

‘Eric, please!’ Karin was pleading with him to listen to her. ‘I’ve not even had an opportunity to talk to her about it yet. I would’ve told her that she has a choice. Sookie is free to make any decision she wants to, about this.’

‘No, she’s not!’ he roared through his fangs.

‘He is completely out of control.’ I realized, not liking it at all.

‘Sookie, is mine.’ He stated with finality, pointing a finger in Karin’s face.

‘And that was just about enough of that.’ I decided.

I stepped completely into the room taking in my visibly shaken family who all looked a bit taken aback now that I was in the room.

I know that all families have fights, but this one was a bunch of Vampires and it was a humdinger.

I might as well weigh in and get things set straight from the beginning.

For some reason, I chose to talk in the third person to make my point. 

‘Sookie, doesn’t belong to anyone, Eric.’ I said very quietly.

‘Stay out of this, it has nothing to do with you.’ He bellowed unreasonably.

Everyone turned their attention back to him and looked at him as if he’d lost his mind.

I waited for him to get a grip while he paced a small circle.

He didn’t.

He turned to me and accused, ‘When, are you going to choose me?’

I frowned at him and thought curiously, ‘What’s he talking about?’

‘Will you ever choose me?’ he asked, not waiting for an answer.

Everything about his body language felt like an ultimatum. I asked carefully, ‘What do you mean?’ I knew exactly what he meant; I just REALLY didn’t want to talk about it when he was like this.

He laughed sarcastically and I stiffened when he said, ‘I should’ve known, it would be this.’

‘Eric…’ I began.

‘I mean, that I’ve made every effort to show you what you mean to me. I kept you safe. I took care of you insomuch as you’d allow it. I healed your body. I married you so you’d have my protection. I would’ve moved the Universe with you to in order to stay with you. Instead of helping me do that, you chose Sam. Now, here we are again and you still don’t choose me. That is what I mean, Sookie.’ He finished.

The words had fallen hard and bitter, while he explained and he seemed wrung out when he was finished.

‘He’s so angry. He’s a lot of other things as well, but right now, he’s really angry.’ I acknowledged.

I didn’t want to talk about the God damned Cluviel Dor ever, but it I was going to have to.

‘Eric, choosing to save Sam’s life wasn’t an act of not choosing you. It was his life.’ I tried to explain.

‘Sookie, what you still don’t seem to understand, is that in that choice it was my life as well.’ His voice shook as it implored me to understand.

My family waited with baited breath to hear my answer.

For the first time, I took the emotion out of it and looked at the situation for what it was. Using the Cluviel Dor to literally move the Universe and save Sam had not really been a rejection of Eric, I was sure of that. Even with all of my misgivings about it. Granted, things were totally fucked at the time, but it wasn’t an either-or thing for me. 

Sam, my best friend, was bleeding to death. 

It was about friendship and loyalty. Sam had been my friend long before Eric had shown up in my life. Sam had my back without question and, okay, if I was going to be honest, I wasn’t sure of Eric at the time. Sam, had been a stranger to me and had accepted me, after a lifetime of never having acceptance.

He’d accepted who I was without judgement.

Not even Tara was completely comfortable with me.

Sam and I had been equals on the friendship field and because of that, I’d loved him. I may have been young and confused about it most of the time, but Sam had been an essential part of my life. I’d actually thought about this a few times over the last two years and had a pretty good idea about…it.

Before Sam, I’d been in two serious relationships. Both were with Vampires. Bill and Eric had been polar opposites. I was clueless about how to be in a relationship in the first place. All of the dating advice I had ever gotten, was from the God damn Cosmopolitan magazine!

Everyone was waiting for me to say something and now I felt irritated instead of sympathetic.

Crap.’ I sure hoped what was about to come out of my mouth, was what I wanted to say.

‘Eric, please try to understand, there was a lot going on at the time. It was an emotionally charged situation.  I was really young and had unrealistic romantic notions about how I felt things should be between us. I was angry with you. I felt helpless to control anything happening with us. I didn’t feel like you’d tried hard enough to stay with me. You know all of this already. I know that it was immature. I also know that I was mistaken. I didn’t know then what I know now. So, I was naïve, but I wasn’t so naïve, that I was going to be pushed into making a decision about my entire life, while Sam’s life blood was pouring out on the ground. Please, understand?’ I finished emphatically, willing him to see it.

He just stared at me blankly.

‘Eric, come on! The entire Universe was pushing me. Sam was dying right in front of me! At the time, it was easy for me to decide to save Sam, because I knew I didn’t want him to die. If I am going to be totally honest, I know for certain that at the time…No, never mind that. The truth is, I didn’t know what you were doing. We were so angry at each other! You are bossy, high handed, you make decisions concerning my life without asking me, you married me without asking me, hell you just moved all of my things into your room without asking me! In these moments with you it is always all or nothing. I never get a minute to think. It isn’t that I don’t choose you Eric, it’s that you haven’t allowed me to choose you.’ I accused.

He didn’t say a word, just walked out of the room…again.

‘Well, that’s just perfect.’ Pam snapped, and stalked out as well.

Karin collapsed onto the sofa, resting her head in her hands.

‘I don’t know what to do.’ I thought dazedly.

Leaving the room as well, I went out to the deck and stared into the blackness surrounding us.

Reider followed Pam, catching up to her just before she reached her rooms. ‘Are you okay?’ he asked.

‘Yeah, I am just peachy.’ Sarcasm dripped off of the answer.

‘I was hoping that we’d get a minute to talk.’ He said hopefully.

‘Reider, I know that you don’t know me and that you are just trying to, but seriously, now is not the time.’  

‘He should know this just by looking at me.’ She thought, having almost been nasty with him.

‘I think now is the perfect time. How else am I ever to be introduced to the real Pam?’ he countered.

‘Fine, come in.’ She said, disagreeably. With a flourish of her arm she opened the door to her rooms, stomped inside, and began to pace immediately. She was pissed off and couldn’t relax no matter what method she attempted.

Reider, having never been inside her rooms was completely overwhelmed by what greeted him as he stepped inside. It looked, as if there’d been a tornado at shabby chic convention. There were clothes everywhere and he considered that it was truly unnerving how much lace a person could use to decorate one room and the effect still be considered flattering.

‘By some…’ he corrected himself, and didn’t snort.  

She was happy to be here with her family, right?’ Pam thought skeptically, as she cranked through the sizable, but ever-growing list of things that were bothering her about their current circumstances.

 For centuries, they’d been unable to be together, but now they were. Sookie was here and everything was supposed to be as sweet as kittens and puppies on Easter Sunday, but it wasn’t and there were all of these unknown factors hanging over ominously over them. To make a good thing worse, they couldn’t stop vacationing and then fighting long enough to talk through anything, so they avoided talking altogether. They played board games when they weren’t sightseeing and as if all of that weren’t enough the atmosphere was strangely, secretive. Yes, secretive was the word.

Then, a thought came to her, Nuri cultivated the atmosphere on Sunniva. ‘Hmmm.’    

‘You are just out of sorts and don’t know what to do about it.’ She chided for being suspicious of Nuri.

Lots of other things worried her as well, not just the atmosphere on Sunniva.

She’d been dealing with several troubling issues in her capacity as Sheriff before she had been pulled into this drama and God, only knew what was happening at Fangtasia.

She knew that by now Felipe had be there, meddling and getting everything wrong.

Ginger was the only person who really knew how to run the place and she was here.

She didn’t know why she kept worrying these things. They were never going to be part of her life again.

'Because...we murdered a Queen and went on vacation.’  She accused and rolled her eyes so hard she nearly passed out.

It was a needless waste of time worrying over Fangtasia, but she obviously wasn’t ready to let that part of her life go and didn’t really understand why she was so upset over it.

She hoped that Mustapha and Heidi had left town, just like they’d discussed if anything every happened.

Reider intruded on her thoughts.

She’d forgotten he was there.

‘My mother told me that you were the Sheriff of Area Five. That’s impressive, did you enjoy the work?’

‘He interrupted my pacing to conversationally inquire about work?’ she grumped at no one.

She sighed dramatically, stopped pacing and glared at the dolt while she decided if she was going to answer him or not. Making her decision, she flung herself into a Queen Anne chair, upholstered with a Jacquard of bright pink roses on a black background. She leaned forward to rest her elbows on her knees and steepled her hands. She was wearing tan, light weight wool slacks and a baby blue cashmere twin set with, a double strand of pearls.

In the Caribbean.

There was no easy way around it, her outfit clashed horribly with the chair and the atmosphere all together. 

Reider was slightly amused at the picture she made, but he feared death so he didn’t mention it. 

She surprised him when she actually started talking.

‘Okay, you wanna get to know me? Fine. I have a lot to say and I haven’t had anyone to say it to. Up until a few days ago I was the Sheriff of Area Five. Now, I’m nobody.’ She complained and couldn’t keep the hurt, disappointed smirk off of her face as she said it.

‘I wouldn’t say that.’ He said, attempting to sooth her ache.

‘Shut-up…’ she snapped at him rudely.

He almost smiled at her. It would’ve been a mistake.

‘I was the Sheriff. I had a bar. I had a girlfriend. I had a life. I had a wardrobe that took me over a decade to assemble. These things may not seem like much to you, but they’re things I built with Eric and my own two hands.  They’re mine. I’m proud of my accomplishment. I carved out a life that I provided for myself. Now it is gone. Thanks to your mother, who didn’t even have the courtesy to warn me ahead of time. So, yeah…I’m pissed off about the whole thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to be in the bosom of my family Reider, but I've had my life snatched away from me. It was a small life, but it was mine. It made me feel like I had a purpose in the world. I felt like more than just a female. So, I need a little fucking time to adjust. How am I supposed to do that while being stuck on this God damn boat?’ she growled.

The thought that Karin and Eric had likely gone through the same thing, crept sneakily in, but she shoved it away and realized that she’d just verbalized why she wasn’t ready to let go of Shreveport. It felt damn good, so she went on.

Furthermore, I can’t relax because I don’t know what is happening back there. We’re relying on the God damned news, of all things, to tell us if we are safe or not. That’s insane! Karin is just okay at details and planning.

I’m better.

Since I wasn’t consulted, I am freaking the fuck out! Okay?’

Having said all she wanted to say, she got to her feet, took two steps and started venting again.

‘I mean, we’re three, maybe four days from putting Sookie in the ground where she’ll be completely vulnerable and I have no idea if I’ll be able to protect her or not. You keeping up, or do I need to be more specific? She was so agitated, she began repeating her previous rant. I don’t know who is looking for us, how close they are, no way to find out and to top it off, I don’t have a life, girlfriend, or an occupation, Reider. It’s making me nuts.’ She barked. Running a hand through her hair, she threw herself into the chair once more to sulk and fidget.

‘Well, why didn’t you just ask someone?’ he said innocently.

‘Oh, fuck you!’ She spat.

‘Just ask me what you want to know, Aunt Pam. I did most of the planning with Karin. Nuri helped, but it was mostly Mother and I.’ he lied. ‘It was a good plan even though it wasn’t complex. We were never seen. It went like the breeze. Bills feelings for Sookie meant he was easily led. The bodies left in your rooms were drainers that we turned and kept in silver until we could use them for this. It was a good plan.’ He defended.

‘Reider, I’ve already worked that much out and if you ever call me Aunt Pam again, I will stake you.’

Reider looked stricken.

‘Don’t act like an asshole to Reider because you’re stressed.’ She scolded herself. ‘Sorry…’ she mumbled.

‘Accepted.’ He said, taking it in stride. ‘Would you like to play Jenga?’ he asked hopefully.

‘Are you trying to get me to kill you?’ she grouched.

He grinned mischievously, ‘I can go and get it. It won’t take a minute.’ He offered.

‘Fine…’ she answered, agreeing because she felt guilty for being so rude to the boy.

They spent the next two hours playing Jenga and Pam actually relaxed for a minute.

Chapter Text

***

 

Sookie stood on the deck after the scene with Eric for a long time. The smell of salt water and the breeze soothed her and helped put things in perspective.

Karin came to her some time later carrying some papers. ‘How are you?’ she asked, concern heavily laced the question.

‘I'm okay. Maybe a little raw. I thought I was leaving the past behind, but it’s been pounding the hell out of the present every chance it gets.’ I answered honestly.

‘You know, the past always has to be resolved before you can leave it there.’ Karin answered. ‘It is best to have it all out and be done with it before you transition.’ She said, waving the papers at me.

‘What is that?’ I asked.

‘It’s your contract. I thought it might be good for you to see it now. Everything we agreed to is in it.’ she answered. 

‘Oh, okay.’ I nodded, reaching for the papers.

‘I need to say this to you,’ Karin said as she handed them over, ‘I'll transition you, if that is what you want, but if you want Eric to do it, then I want that too. What I want the most, is for you to be a happy member of this family. However, I'd appreciate it, if you could tell me, why you don’t want to be Eric’s Progeny. You do understand that he is the head of this family, right?’ she prodded.

I nodded that I understood.

‘So why?’ she pushed.

I’d been standing out here staring into the black having that exact conversation with myself, so I’d be able to answer that question the next time I was asked.

I squared my shoulders and said staunchly, ‘Karin, if I’m ever going to have a lasting relationship with Eric, we have to be on equal footing. Head of household or not. In a nutshell, that’s it. He doesn’t see me as an equal. I’m just his woman.' I said, letting my irritation at him make itself heard, and then my wary concern. 'Pam told me once that Progeny don’t stay in physical relationships with their Makers for very long. I’m not willing to let that happen between us.' 

Karin pursed her lips and nodded.

'I wanted a family, not just a Maker. I’m willing to let you make me a member of this family because you wanted me as family. My knee jerk reaction to that offer was an emphatic, Yes! Remember?’

Karin smiled and said, ‘Of course.’

‘After we talked about this again later, I wasn’t willing to let you make me a Vampire just so I could have a family. I was happy to let you make me a Vampire because I was going to get to be a part of you  and it’s all because of what’s in that document that convinced me that you care about what I really want.’ I said pointing at the papers. ‘You promised me information and personal freedom and you’ve given me both in barrel fulls! You promised that you wouldn’t treat me like a slave or property and so far, you haven’t. You’ve made me feel valuable and wanted, without making me feel like a possession. You’ve made me an equal.’ I admitted to her honestly.

Karin reached out to lay a hand along my cheek. 'I'm sorry for everything that's happened to you. I...' She almost blew smoke up Sookie's ass then thought better of it. 'just want you to be happy.' 

‘I’m in love with Eric, just the same as I’ve always been.' I confided resolutely.

'There is such tenderness and love in him, but none of that matters if he doesn’t include me in his life. You heard him, “This has nothing to do with you!” I said, using mock bossy Eric voice.

A ghost of a smile passed through Karin's eyes.  

'Do you see? Even now after everything, he doesn’t know what I need from him.' I complained, trying not to smile at her, because I could do 'bossy Eric' pretty damn good.

'He was just...he doesn't understand about all of it yet.' Karin defended.

Her defense brought me right back to my argument, 'Yeah...I know, but that's not the point.' I argued. 'Did you know that I found out about you, the night I met you. Also, he married me without even asking me, or attempting to explain why it was necessary before hand. Just handed me a knife, then told me we were married. No kiss, no ring, no dress. It made me feel like a detail, not a wife and he’s never understood why. I’m not some starry-eyed little girl in love anymore, Karin. I know what I want my life to be and if he wants to be in it with me, he has to accept certain things about me. When he does that, then I'll accept him, but I'm never going to consent to be his Progeny. Right now, as far as I’m concerned, I’m your daughter and I’d like permission to marry Eric the moment he presents himself to be a suitable husband. He’ll have to ask me though. The way all women want to be asked.’ I finished, forcefully. Everything in my manner clearly said that what it was non-negotiable.

I was getting emotional again and I was too worn out with my feelings at this point.

I rolled my neck to release some of the tension and Karin tugged at me to gather me up for a hug. ‘Of course, you can marry him, you silly woman! You don’t need my permission.’ She laughed.

She set me away from her and waved the sheaf of papers at me. ‘Do you want to look over this now?’

‘I think I want to order some food and watch some TV for a while. If it’s okay, can I look at them later.’

‘Sure.’ She said, and handed them to me.

I hugged her again, 'Thank you for listening.' I said, and went inside.  

Karin stayed on the deck and watched Sookie go. When she disappeared, she looked up into the black of the night sky.

Eric was there, hovering. He’d heard the entire exchange between them, just the way she’d intended him to.

She didn’t say anything to him, she just wanted him to know that she knew he was there.

She went back inside to see if she could finish smoothing things over with Nuri. The first attempt had been unsuccessful. She'd decided to let her wife cool off before trying again. She’d taken Sookie’s contract out of her desk and brandished it at her. A reminder to her wife, that this venture had been her idea completely and that she'd been told that she would have to "step out of her comfort zone," long enough to accomplish it. 

She'd gone in search of Sookie then, hoping to get at least one thing accomplished today. 'Once we're off of Sunniva, things will settle down.' she'd soothed herself. 

Eric had just had the wind taken out of his sails, literally. He drifted down to the surface of the deck and thought, ‘What the hell is the matter with me?’

More than once while he’d been up there, the Viking warrior in him had resolved to swoop down to where she stood on the deck and 'carry his woman away.'

She was his after all and he'd do as he damn well pleased with her.

'Isn't that what got you into this situation to begin with. Not following your instincts when you should have?' he argued with himself.

If he carried her away to some remote mountain or island or Hong Kong none of this would be an issue.

In the end, he was SO glad he hadn’t, because he was a fucking idiot. Especially where she was concerned. Most especially after hearing her thoughts about being his woman

Eric despised not being in control of his life. How could he not see that his family despised it as well. There was damage control and amends to make.

It was obviously one thing to sit on a ridiculous throne in Oklahoma and make promises about the way he'd do things if he ever got a second chance and another thing entirely to back that shit up.

He was honest enough with himself that he knew he didn’t want Sookie because she was some simpering Miss. He wanted her because she was fierce, smart and, she always infuriatingly did the right thing, even when he didn’t want her too. She’d been right to save Sam, no matter what the fall out had been. He knew now, that not saving him, would have changed her. It was an impossible situation for all of them and he was going to have to Vampire up and stop being a baby about it. She was right when she said he hadn’t tried hard enough to stay with her. She was right to demand that he see her for who she was and not who he wanted her to be in the moment.

‘I was so angry with her.’ He thought, attempting to either confront or defend himself, he didn't know which. ‘Jackass.’ He muttered.

He needed to talk to Pam. She was his touchstone when his thoughts were running him around in circles.

He arrived at her door before he knew he’d made up his mind to go and see her. Knocked, waited a beat and opened the door.

He blinked at the scene in front of him.

He’d been ready to unload all of his emotional frustration and worry on Pam, but…she had company. It gave him pause. She was, playing a game, that wasn’t chess. So weird. 

‘I need to talk to Pam…alone.’ He said, snapping at Reider.

Reider stood immediately, not out of fear, but respect and thanked Pam.

‘I enjoyed our time together. I hope we can play again soon.’

Pam smiled tightly at him and nodded. ‘Yeah, me too.’ She managed in a clip.

Reider left, closing the door after him. 

Eric didn’t bother to sit or say hello, he just barked out, ‘What the hell is wrong with me?’

‘You are soaking wet and naked?’ she answered mockingly.

He pursed his lips and glared at her honesty, offering nothing in return.

‘Fine!’ she barked back at him.

‘What’s wrong with you, is what’s wrong with me. We’ve been living, bound to one thing or another our whole existence and now that we are completely free of it, we are uncertain of everything.

Strangely, it makes us feel disconnected, powerless, afraid, and weak. We hate that.’ She finished flatly.

‘As usual,’ Eric mumbled, deflated, ‘You’ve put a very fine point on it, Pamela.’

‘Oh goody…praise.’ She articulated with disgust and slouched into her chair.

The sarcasm burned  was so hot it Eric’s ears.

‘Don’t call me Pamela.’ She followed up, grouchily. 

Then they both glared at each other and sulked while not talking.

They'd been desperate for this conversation and both of them were beginning to feel more like themselves the longer they glared at each other.

Pam continued to lament the loss of her wardrobe, knowing it was something that was going to take her a shit ton of time to get over.

Eric was thinking he didn’t really want to rule over Sookie, he just didn’t know how to convey to her, that he didn't like the way he felt when he thought about losing her ever again.

He needed to see that so called contract.

The both of them were thinking that things on Sunniva weren't, 'okay.'

There was the foreboding feeling that it was only a matter of time before chaos reigned in the middle of this tense, happy, secretive, cozy, floating, stifling, nest.

‘Pam, do you have the feeling that we are in serious trouble somehow?’ he asked.

‘Yes!' She snapped, 'And I hate that too!' she confess irritable. 'I have no idea what the fuck is going on. I’d like to chance a call to the bar, but I know Felipe is there by now. I think, but I’m not sure, I can trust Thalia. She hate’s Felipe for sure, but you never know with her. This whole thing is making me paranoid as fuck!’ she grated at him.

Crumbling under the stress, she did something she NEVER did in front of anyone.

She fidgeted with her hair, pulling it into a quick, untidy bun at the nape of her neck and shoved a pencil in it to hold it in place.

He blinked at her in surprise, then nodded, falling silent again and thinking for another minute or two.

‘We still have Bill’s phone. Karin washed the blood off of it, so it’s possible that it’s fried, but I think we need to turn it on. What do you think? Is it worth the risk?’ he asked.

‘Yes!’ said exclaimed, but what she really meant was 'DUH! Go and get it now!' 

Eric got up to leave…

‘Don’t turn it on, just bring it to me.’ She instructed.

He left the room. 

She yelled after him, ‘PUT SOME CLOTHES ON!’

 

***

 

 

I’d had some food and was watching Pretty Woman for what was probably the hundredth time in my life, on the enormous television in Eric’s room. I’d gone to my room, but when I got there, I realized that it wasn’t my room anymore. All of my stuff had been moved and that pissed me off all over again. I was feeling better though now that I’d had some food, some time, and a conversation with Karin. In a few minutes, I was going to look through my contract and get some sleep.

'I’ll be much better tomorrow evening.' I thought, convincingly.

Right now though, I needed to pee and brush my teeth, so when I fell asleep watching the TV, it wouldn’t be with dirty teeth.

Eric had come in while I was in the bathroom. I blew out a belabored sigh and I noticed he had my contract in his hands while waiting for me.

‘Can we talk?’ he asked.

I nodded and turned the TV off.

‘I’m…sorry.’ He said contritely. ‘I behaved foolishly.’

Bewildered by the sudden apology, I put away my frustration and nodded forgiveness at him. His apology had been sincere and...rare.

‘I didn’t…well…’ he stumbled around the words and paused.

I waited for him to talk; I wasn’t gonna make this easy for him.

‘I overheard you on the deck, with Karin, when she gave you this.’ He confessed and jiggled the papers.

I frowned at him.

‘We’re in the middle of the ocean, Sookie. Where was I going to go? The point is, I heard what you said.’ He said, in a clip.

I nodded and waited. He was going to have to be the one to talk this time and he was going to have to give me something.

 ‘All I want, is to never be separated from you again.’ He said plainly. 'Fear of that, makes me behave irrationally. I promise you right now, I'll work to change that.'

There was fear in his voice. He wasn’t trying to mask it or turn it into something else. He just let me see it.

‘I understand that.’ I said knowing that this was the moment between us. The moment where the rest of my existence, was going to be made.

I was going to say my piece and he'd come to terms with it, or he wouldn’t. In the next few minutes I'd gain or lose a family and a life.

‘You’re going have to understand a few things then. I respect that you're the Head of the Household. What that means to me, is that you have the final word on things that effect the household. You're not the final word concerning me. I will have the final say about all things concerning me. Period. You need to read those papers, so that you will understand the dynamics of my role in this family and what my life, as promised to me, will be like as a member of it.’ I said pointing at the contract he held.

‘Okay.’ Was all he said. Then he unfolded my contract, and began to read.

 

 

Contract of Consensual Making

 

 

The purpose of this instrument is to:

  1. State the full mutual consent of the undersigned in regards to Making.
  2. Explain the responsibilities of both Maker and Progeny.
  3. Define particulars of process of Making.
  4. Explain in detail the agreed upon relationship of Maker and Progeny.

This contract is legally binding, as to Vampire law and as such is a true document insomuch as the law is interpreted.

I Sookie Stackhouse-Merlotte, hereinafter referred to as Progeny, do of my own free will, being of sound mind and body, do hereby offer myself in consensual Making to Karin Slaughter, hereinafter referred to as Maker, for the period beginning at dusk on________________ and to last forever more.

This agreement is permanent. It may not be terminated at any time after the above-named date by either party. Only the final death will release the parties from the bond of blood.

At 12:00 AM Central Standard Time, on the above-named date, this agreement will be binding, once signed by all parties.

Provisions of Instrument

  1. The Maker, accepts all financial responsibility of the Progeny.
  2. The Progeny shall retain absolute control over all property, accounts, assets, businesses, money, in her possession before the time of her Making.
  3. The Maker may not access accounts mentioned in provision two (2), except in the emergency situation that the Progeny meets with the final death. The Maker, it is agreed, retains Power of Attorney for this provision.
  4. The Progeny agrees to a Transitional Adjustment Period not to exceed two years, in which she adheres to the Makers, tutelage, and commands concerning behavior and safety. Two-year transition period to begin on ________ and ending on ____________.
  5. The Maker will not use her power as Maker to issue orders to the Progeny after the two-year Transitional Adjustment period, with the intention of -
  • Gaining access to her private thoughts
  • Using her ability as a telepath for personal gain.
  • To maintain control of her movements or actions.
  • To take blood from her i.e. feed upon
  1. The Maker will not demand sex from, make sexual advances toward, sell, barter sex for goods or services, the Progeny. See section 5.c.
  2. The Maker will not take blood from Progeny, except for the purpose of creating the blood bond, maintaining said blood bond by the request of the Progeny only, or for the act of Making. The Maker will not feed upon the Progeny without consent. The Progeny will not feed upon the Maker without consent. See section 5.d.
  3. The Maker and Progeny agree that they will determine for themselves how they are to feed with no input from either party concerning the others habits.
  4. The Maker and Progeny have agreed that the Progeny will determine where, when, and for how long they are to reside in a home, so long as it is safe and doesn’t cause undue stress, for the two-year Transitional Adjustment Period.
  5. After a period of 25 years the Progeny is free to come and go as she chooses, with the stipulation that she return at least once per year to visit her Maker.
  6. After a period of 150 years the Maker will offer release from the Maker/Progeny bond to the Progeny. No limitations or restrictions will be put on said release.
  7. The Progeny vows not to attempt Making herself until such time that she has obtained release from her Maker.
  8. The Maker vows not to abandon, imprison, or neglect the Progeny.

Detailed description of Making

The Maker will take the human, Sookie Stackhouse Merlotte’s blood into her body until the human is nearly dead. The Maker will then return the blood to the human from the Makers own vein. The human will then for all intents and purposes die. The Maker and the human will sleep in the ground for a period of three days, until the transition is complete and the human has been made Vampire, emerging from the ground as the Makers Progeny.

The following is a description of the relationship between Maker, and Progeny.

As it appears in the contract, the above parties or Maker and Progeny vow, that this is the extent of the traditional Maker/Progeny relationship concerning both parties. Each party is fully aware of the non-traditional nature of this contract, and have confirmed by signing below, this is the way it is to be written.

 

Signed, this_______________day of______________, 20____

___________________________________________

Maker, Karin Slaughter

 ______________________________________

Progeny, Sookie Stackhouse-Merlotte

____________________________________________

Witness, Eric Northman

____________________________________________

Witness, Pamela Ravenscroft

____________________________________________

Executed by

 

Eric sat on the edge of their bed completely speechless. 'Sookie was going to have freedom.’

He tried to get his head around it. She’d be able to live as she pleased. She wouldn’t have to be at Karin’s beck and call. She wouldn’t belong to Karin.

Well, she’d belong to her in the traditional sense, but other than that…she could be with him if she wanted to be.

He couldn’t think of a thing to say. The past week had been total chaos. Just a while ago, he’d had to restrain himself from killing Karin because of this damned woman he was obsessed with.

‘I have no idea what to make of this, Sookie.’ He said, dazedly. 

Handing the contract back to her, he stood up and left their room in search of Karin, leaving Sookie to stare after him.

When Eric found Karin, she was with Reider in the family room.

‘Is that really how it is going to work between the two of you?’ he asked, having to push the words past his lips, still not ready to believe it.

‘Yes.’ She answered, instinctively knowing what he was talking about and trying her level best not to laugh.

‘How will that ever work, Karin?’ he asked, disbelieving the concept now that he was asking her about it.

Reider laughed, but quickly covered it saying, ‘It works just fine for me.’

‘What?’ Eric, cocked his head asking, as if he hadn’t heard him correctly.

Reider started to answer him, but Eric raised a finger forestalling him. ‘Explain.’ He directed at Karin.

‘Eric, I’ve worked tirelessly since Reider was taken from us to gain your complete freedom. Do you think, after all of this time, after all that’s happened, after all that you know, I'd hold you hostage by keeping this woman that you practically worship for myself?’ she laughed while she said it, but love for him shone from her eyes.

‘Explain, about Reider.’ He said slowly, keep the impatience out of his tone only with great effort.

‘It doesn’t matter about Reider!' she laughed, and blood tears began to pool in her eyes. 'You’re such a fool sometimes.' she chastised him.

Ginger walked into the room and a hand went to her mouth to cover the gasp that flew out of it. 

They ignored her.

'This isn’t about Reider, or Sookie. This is about you.’ She breathed, her voice shaking. ‘Listen to me now. It means what it says. I'll turn her if she wants me to, but I won’t keep her. It would be cruel and we’ve had quiet enough of that. I told you. Remember? In New Orleans, just before everything… No matter what, I love you.’ She shrugged at him and thought, ‘Amends.’  then said, 'I'm sorry.'

And just like that, Eric’s world changed. He went to Karin, pulled her to him, then he simply let everything wash through him. Just before he let her go, he squeezed her and whispered ‘I love you too.’

For Vampires, we’ve been very touchy, feely, gushy lately.’ She thought, giggling. Thinking back over the last few weeks, she decided that it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

‘What the hell happened to you?’ Pam barked as she stalked into the room.

Eric laughed. He couldn’t help it; he threw his head back and laughed like a lunatic. ‘Everything!’ be boomed at her.

‘Well…aren’t you just the lucky one.’ She grumped, crossing her arms across her breasts cocking her hip to the side, ‘Where is it?’

Eric went to Pam, caught her up in a giant hug and spun her around. ‘Smile, you mean ass bitch!’ He laughed and smacked a big kiss on her cheek when he set her down. 

‘I’ll be back.’ He said, and disappeared down the corridor.

‘PUT SOME CLOTHES ON!’ They yelled at him.

Chapter Text

Key West

 

When Judith finally arrived in Key West, luck, of which she’d had none of until a few hours ago, had shone down on her and she had two hours before the bars closed. The first order of business she’d needed to take care of was a room, because there was no way she was sleeping in the sand today. It had taken more time than she had anticipated to get one and only had an hour left before closing time. She’d quickly checked through all of the bars down on Duval St. anyway, but she hadn’t caught sight of Sookie, Bill or Eric. Frustrated, she’d had to go back to her room to wait out the day. 

After putting out the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door, she went into the bathroom and began tucking towels around the cracks in the door. When she was done, she climbed into the bath tub and pulled the curtain closed. Tomorrow she’d be able to search in earnest. She left another message on Bill’s phone once she’d gotten herself situated, letting him know she’d arrived and hoped he would finally call her.

In the evening, she quickly used the time between sun down and full dark to get ready for the evening. 

Because it was the end of the year, full dark came almost as soon after the sun went down.

She was on Duval St. now, anxiously watching and waiting. She' chosen at a table at Sloppy Joe’s, instead of taking a seat at the bar.

She’d be able to watch the room this way and wouldn’t have to deal with as many unwanted advances from the patrons.

Sure, it was a little conspicuous, but she didn’t care. If she was at a table it meant she was waiting for someone. If she was at the bar, it meant she was alone.

She only had to wait a little while.

The group of raucous young people she’d seen from the live cam archive to crowded into the bar. The apparent leader broke off from the group calling out ‘someone to get me a beer.’   

He went straight into the bathroom. 

Judith slid off of her chair and moments later she had his full attention.

‘Have you seen this woman?’ she asked him. ‘Think.’ She commanded, pushing at him with her glamour. 

She showed him a screen shot of Sookie.

‘Yeah, I seen her.’ He slurred. He was already intoxicated.

‘How about this Vampire?’ she asked. ‘Have you seen him?’ She showed him the picture of Eric.

‘Yeah.’ He said, nodding dumbly. ‘They were here.’

‘Are they still here? Have you seen them tonight?’ she asked.

‘Nah, they took off already.’ He shrugged at her.

‘How do you know? Did you see them leave? Do you know where they were staying?’ she pressed.

‘Everyone seen ‘em leave, Honey!’ he slurred. ‘We ain’t never seen a yacht that big! Big as a cargo freighter!’

‘Yacht?’ she exclaimed, surprised. ‘What Marina did they leave from?’ she demanded.

‘The were parked just outside the Bight.’ He replied. 'Too big for the marina.'

Judith turned to leave.

‘Hey! Wait…’ he called after her.

Judith looked back at him.

‘Don’t you wanna bite me?’ He asked.

‘Do you want me to bite you?’ she countered.

‘Well, the other Vamps paid to bite us.’ He explained, weaving.

‘Exactly how many Vampires were there?’ she questioned.

‘There was like, seven or eight of ‘em, I think. Maybe six chicks and a couple dudes, but the one dude might as well been a chick, if you get my meanin.’ He nodded to her knowingly.

‘And, this human was with them?’ she asked showing him the picture again.

‘Yeah, she was a real weirdo. She just stood back and watched everything like…some kind of foyer, or something.’ He said stupidly and belched.

‘Do you mean a voyeur?’ She corrected.

‘What’s-at?’ he mumbled at her.

‘Never mind. No, I don’t wish to bite you.’ She said.

Judith disappeared into the night life of Key West. 

It took her less than a minute to find the Key West Bight Marina.

'When she found Bill, he better be alive.’ She worried.

Walking toward the office she could see a man behind the desk. She was unimpressed with him. He looked like he had been smoking marijuana all day and he reeked of perspiration. She was appalled at how slovenly and unprofessional his appearance was. She knew right away he was going to be a problem. Having reached the counter, laid her phone down and looked at him. 

‘Jeff,’ was deciding how much of a pain in the ass he was going to be. She could tell by the expression he wore and she didn’t have time for his shit. She reached across the counter, dragging him halfway across by his ear.  She pulled him within inches of her face, letting her fangs drop. He had an excellent view of them.

‘I am only going to ask you this once.’ She said, without preamble. ‘If you don’t answer me immediately, I am going to twist your ear off. Then, I am going to look in your computer for the answer myself. Do you understand what I am saying to you?’ she said quietly.

Jeff’s eyes went round as saucers and he couldn’t nod his acquiescence quickly enough. 

She pulled a little harder, just to make her point.

‘Yes! Yes, okay!’ he squealed.

‘Good…’ she said letting go of him. 

He immediately put his hand to his ear and looked like he was going to begin complaining. Judith moved menacingly toward him. Terrified, he jumped back several feet, holding his free hand up in surrender. 

‘Okay!’ he said, seriously.

‘The extremely large yacht that was just here…what is its next destination?’ She asked.

The smelly, filthy, man turned toward his computer and reached for the keyboard, trying to pull his thoughts together. Judith helped him. She slammed her fist down on the counter causing her phone, the keyboard, the bell, and a stack of papers to jump two inches off of the filthy surface. Papers slid off the counter and fluttered to the floor making a mess. The counter top cracked and she glared at him.

‘Havana, then Cozumel.’ He croaked.

Judith picked up her phone and left. 

Three minutes later she was back in her room making arrangements to fly into Cozumel. She’d meet them there. She’d had enough of this chasing around all over God’s green and verdant earth. She was going to get to the bottom of this. If that wasn’t Northman’s body whose was it?  She’d been working on the theory that William had helped extricate Northman from his marriage. She suspected now, that Eric had left William holding the bloody bag. 

She kept shoving down the thought she that it was something much more worrisome.

Chapter Text

The Caribbean

 

Pam was impatient to get started and perturbed by the delay, but at least Eric was back and wearing clothes.

He had Sookie in tow and he’d remembered to bring the phone with him.

'They could get down to business now.’  She grumped

Sookie sat down on the sofa next to Reider. He leaned at her in a hello gesture.  

‘Karin, could you please call Nuri in here?’ Eric requested, then added ‘Get Willa in here too. This concerns all of us.’

Karin nodded, and picked up her phone to text Nuri.

Eric told a visibly agitated Pam to go and sit down.

'Why do I have to sit? ' she complained silently. 'I thought we were going to do something useful. Now it looks like we are just going to have another touchy-feely session. One more of those and I’m liable to puke.'

A still visibly angry Nuri appeared before Pam could even get seated. She adjusted her outward demeanor when she saw everyone assembled. And didn't sit down next to Karin. Everyone noticed.

‘Okay.’ Eric said, smiling.

'He looks like a goober when he smiles like that.’ Pam thought meanly.

Eric looked right at her and smiled broader.

Stupid blood bond.’ She rolled her eyes at him and gave it up.

‘There's a lot to talk about and everyone is probably going to have something to say, especially Pam. We've been on this Boat for…how long have we been on this boat?' he asked, having lost track of the days. 'Never mind, I doesn't matter. What matters is we haven’t really re-entered the world since leaving New Orleans. We haven't interacted with anyone, so we don’t know what the fall out has been since we’ve been gone. It’s been a nice vacation, we’ve worked through some shit, but as of right now, everyone is on the clock.’ 

‘Got it?’ he asked.

No one answered.

‘Good.’ He said, ignoring confused stares from everyone but Pam.

‘First.’ He said. ‘This is Bill’s phone.’ he said, pulling it out of his pocket, to show everyone.

'Excuse me, Eric.' Nuri said. 'I don't mean to be contrary, but the idea was not to interact with anyone, because we're dead. Dead keeps us safe.' She interjected.

'We're only safe, if everyone knows the details. We don't know shit.' Pam, sniffed.

'I understand that you feel left out of...' Nuri began.

'Nuri, you don't know shit about how I feel about anything. Now be quiet, Eric is talking.' Pam said, rudely.

Nuri's peak, was evident once more. 

'Pam...' Karin chastised.

Pam shot a withering glare at her sister, then turned her attention back to Eric.

'Okay...' he thought, 'Maybe we haven't worked everything out.'

He began again, holding the plastic bag up for everyone to see. 'This is Bill's phone. It was covered in Bill’s blood and Karin rinsed it off with water. I’ve not attempted to turn it on. We’re here to decide if we’re going to turn it on or take it apart.’ He said, and tucked the phone away again.

‘Take it apart.’ Pam said.

‘Turn it on.’ Reider said.

They’d spoken at the same time, then shot each other a glance.

‘Second’ Eric said ignoring them, ‘Karin, we are going to need in depth details about this rescue mission. Pam is losing it and not to be an asshole, I'm concerned as well. We need answers. Like, how did you go about concealing this floating monstrosity from its paper trail. Have you just been using glamour, or hacking or both? Are we just winging it? Do we have a plan? Where are we going after? These are important details that we need to know for out peace of mind.’

Karin, looking a little taken aback said, ‘I, didn’t know…I needed to conceal the Boat. No one knows about Sunniva. We’ve kept her a secret purposefully.’ She answered. 

Pam threw her hands in the air and was off the sofa in a shot, ‘What do you mean, you didn’t know!’

‘Pam, calm down.’ Eric admonished her. ‘We'll deal with it.’

‘Really?’ she snapped at him. 

‘It’s not a worry.’ Reider offered in answer. ‘I’ve been covering our movements through hacking. Karin wouldn’t know the answer to that question, because it isn’t her job.’

Pam wondered why it wasn’t Karin’s job. When you murder a Queen and a Regent, then frame the dead Regent for the murders and disappear, everyone needed to know the entire job.

‘However,’ he said, going on and shrinking away from the accusatory looks he was getting, ‘Anyone looking for Sunniva, would only have to ask about her. She's memorable, obviously, but who would even know to ask about her.’ He said, making his case.

They thought that through for a minute and accepted it for what it was...for the time being.

‘Third.’ Eric said, ‘There is the problem of our death and all of our stuff. Have we just lost everything to gain our freedom?’ he questioned.

Reider spoke up again. ‘No.’ I put everything in Sookie’s name. Karin had her sign it with some other papers. Later on, we'll create a Trust. There wasn't anything I could really do about your things in Oklahoma, Eric. I'm sorry.'

‘What?’ Sookie breathed, in disbelief over what Reider had just said. (About the Trust, not Eric's belongings.) 

‘That was smart.’ Pam shrugged, in acknowledgement.

‘Yeah.’ Reider said, nodding. ‘It was. Sookie has us by the short and curlies.’ 

‘I do not!’ Sookie denied, in shock.

‘No worries, Sis.’ Just a bit of teasing.’ He said, playfully. ‘Oh! Also, I wanted it to be a surprise, which is why I haven’t told you until now, but you were so upset about it, I decided I better say something. Aunt Pam, I had your wardrobe collected, when "Sookie" sent the movers to pack your house after your "death." It’s all in storage right now, but "Sookie" is having it "liquidated," (moved to Belize), after we get settled. I also, had Thalia gather the more sensitive papers from Fangtasia and your safe house on Friday after you left. Those are in a separate 'disaster proof' storage unit in Baton Rouge.’He glanced over his shoulder at Willa and Ginger who’d come in while he was talking and said, ‘Sookie also had Willa and Ginger’s things collected as well. Ginger’s entire house is in storage along with yours, Aunt Pam.'

Ginger's was truly happy for the first time in days. She’d despaired over her collection of Vampire horror movies, so it was a relief to know they weren’t lost to her. 'Thank you.' she said, awed by the thoughtfulness. Often she felt that no one cared if she was happy or not and this just proved that her dedication to her job wasn't for nothing.

Reider winked at Ginger and she blushed a little, 'Your welcome.' he said. 'Gingers disappearance might be cause for some inquiry, but based on her long association with Eric and Aunt Pam, it will be assumed, then confirmed in an e-mail that she's going to write to the staff, that it was time for a change when her house was sold by Pam's beneficiary and was then gifted the money from the sale.'  He explained happily. 

Sookie, had just begun to recover from the news that she was the Beneficiary of untold millions of dollars, when she nearly choked to death when Reider had called Pam, "Aunt Pam." 

Pam nearly wept tears of joy for her recovered wardrobe, ‘Thank you, but don’t call me Aunt Pam again. I mean it.’

‘Yes, that was a good deed, Reider. I admit I wouldn’t have thought of it.’ Eric admitted, looking at Pam like she was mental. 'You say that you enlisted Thalia's help?'

'Yes.' Karin answered. 'I approached her before Pam even knew I was in Bon Temps. None of this would have worked without her help. She is allied with us, in that she's making stacks of money to help us get everyone out of the country and cover our tracks. She wants to leave the country herself, but is cash poor because of IRS trouble. This is a mutually beneficial arrangement. She'll be leaving Bon Temps soon.'

Pam was annoyed buy this, but she was impressed as well. It's something she would have done. ‘How much money did you give Thaila to buy her loyalty?’ She asked.

‘It was a lot.’ Reider laughed. ‘She is formidable.’

‘To say the least.’ Willa added, rolling her eyes. She hated Thaila.

‘Okay, so, fourth item on the list, where does everyone in Bon Temps, think you are, Sookie?’ Eric asked, regaining control of the discussion.

‘As you know, they...think I am on vacation.’ Sookie answered, then shrugged, ‘And, I am.’ 

‘Did you register with the Authority?’ he asked.

‘Nope. Karin said, "We’re going to live in the old way and registering would be buying trouble."

Pam addressed Eric, adding, ‘It might cause a few problems here and there, because there are so many of us, but it’s for the best. Besides, we hate Mainstreaming.’ She shrugged, casually.

‘Okay...’ Eric said, thoughtfully, then added, ‘Oh, Reider, how did Sookie have everyone’s things collected?’ he asked.

‘I had her use several different packing/moving companies, through her lawyer.’ He said nonchalantly.

Pam and Eric were both starting to relax. They were impressed.

There were still a few things to get to, Bills phone for one, but it looked like things might be alright after all.

‘Fifth and final thing.’ Eric said. ‘Sookie wants Karin to be her Maker. I don’t like it because I…because I don’t, but I understand it’s her choice. So, I’m not going to be a problem about it, even though I’m still working to accept it fully. I need to apologize to all of you. I behaved badly. I’m sorry. Nuri, I can see that you are upset and I am sorry for it. I hope you can forgive me.’

Nuri inclined her head graciously to Eric and said, ‘I accept your apology.’ She flicked a glance at Karin too.

Sookie smiled at Eric brilliantly. ‘Thank you.’ she mouthed at him.

'Thank God.’ Pam thought to herself. The touchy-feely portion of this drama was indeed at an end.

‘Alright. Now that all of that is out of the way. Turn it on or take it apart?’ Eric asked, changing the subject.

‘Aunt…I mean, Pam...' Reider corrected himself, 'Just...hear me out. Let’s just try to turn it on first. It’s the easiest thing to do. If it doesn’t turn on, it isn’t a problem. I'll be able to get what we need to know out of it no matter what. Presumably the location services have never been activated, because we’re Vampires and we’re notoriously secretive about our movements. Even with Bill as the poster boy for Mainstreaming, I can’t see him using the location feature at all. If it’s on, it won’t take a tick to turn it off.’ Reider insisted.

Everyone agreed.

Lucky for us, it turned out that Bills phone was waterproof. 

And...every single one of us had forgotten about Judith Vardemon.

It was a disaster.

Chapter Text

Shreveport: Fangtasia

 

Felipe let his inner monologue talk him back from the murderous rage that seemed too close to the surface of his control every single moment of the day since finding Sookie’s home shuttered and her disappeared. He’d been in Shreveport more than a week, most of it stuck at Fangtasia. Maxwell Lee kept an office away from the bar, that he shared with Mustapha Khan. Felipe had moved his base of operations into Max’s office, once he’d successfully cowed the staff at Fangtasia into proper employees.

Admittedly, he’d had to flake out several times a day to get shit done in the beginning, but after he had Max put Thalia in silver for several days and he’d personally questioned her rigorously, there hadn’t been anymore problems with the bar staff.  Felipe had essentially had all the disrespect he was going to put up with out of the staff in general when he’d asked Thalia the first time, if she knew where to find Mustapha, and she’d answered him with a disdainful, ‘How the fuck should I know…Sire.’ And rolled her eyes at him.

So, in retrospect, the Silvering hadn’t been completely devoid of results. He’d had to accept that Thalia had no knowledge of the whereabouts of Mustapha, Heidi, Willa, or Ginger for that matter. No Vampire could have stayed in that much silver for that amount of time and stayed silent.

If he’d known that was all it would take, he’d have done it immediately upon his arrival.

And Fangtasia was taking care of itself nicely, since as further punishment, he’d put Thalia in charge of it.

She despised having to be there, but she’d agreed to it when Eric had made it a condition of her residing in his area. Felipe could only assume that she’d felt since Northman was dead, she no longer had to honor that agreement. He’d had to disabuse her of that notion entirely. Since she’d given him the vehicle for it, he’d exercised some of his aggression and put her in her place. If she didn’t want to be educated on her duties again, she’d better keep Fangtasia running smoothly and its employees in line. He checked into the bar once a day, just to remind her that he was still here. She was simply amiable every time he’d seen her since letting her out of the basement.

All of that aside, what was pissing him off as he went through Fangtasia’s receipts for the week, something that Eduardo and not he should’ve been doing, was that he needed to be on a plane to Las Vegas right now. Never, in his long existence, had he ever been in a situation as fucked up as this one.

‘How do civilized Vampires even live like this?’ he thought, then wondered, ‘Will this smell ever leave my nose?’

At that, he decided that he was done here. He needed another shower and change of clothes.

From now on, they’d just have to bring him what he needed at Max’s office or at his residence.

After day’s of trying to find accommodation, Eduardo had simply offered the new owners of Northman’s former Residence an enormous amount of cash to simply pack and be gone in a days’ time. It had been worth every penny. Once he was in cleaner, more secure lodging, he’d considered having Sandy courier an alternate wardrobe out to him, but he’d seen reason and listened to Eduardo. Sandy was extremely busy on that other project and it seemed a foolish waste of her time to have her deal with his clothing issues.

As such, he was wearing sneakers, for the first time in his life and he couldn’t believe how comfortable they were. He was also wearing jeans and a button-down shirt in a lumberjack pattern. He’d felt ridiculous at first, but had to accept that he did seem to blend in better. Not that blending was a concern mind you. It was more a matter that this entire Area was filthy. No matter what he did, he managed to get smudged or creased. Felipe had always felt that his appearance let others know who he was, what to expect, and how one should interact with him. As it would turn out, he was just as formidable in peasant clothing. ‘Who knew…’ he mused. Still, even peasant clothing couldn’t deter Fangtasia.

He slid the papers together, tucking them into a file folder and pushed them away. He dusted his hands and gave them a look, then his nails. He was desperate for a manicure as well. He slid off his bar stool at the end of the bar and snapped his fingers. Rodney, who stood as his buffer, keeping the inebriated patrons away, stepped aside to allow Dustin through.

‘Take this to Thalia.’ He ordered, not looking at the bar tender, but at Thalia, who was at the door.

Thalia, hearing he name swung her eyes to his. Felipe had learned that she looked at everyone this way, not just him. It seemed that it was her manner in all things. Maybe, putting her in silver had been a bit excessive, now that he knew this was simply who she was, but he'd enjoyed it so much he didn’t regret it. Furthermore, it had yielded excellent results.

Dustin handed her the file and she nodded at him, but didn’t say ‘thank you.’

Felipe picked up his ‘sports blazer’ and pulled it on over his cotton button up.

He was just about to leave when he felt his phone vibrate.

‘Rodney, tell Chucky to bring the car around.’ Felipe said, pulling his phone out.

Rodney pressed his ear piece and relayed the order while his King answered his phone.

Felipe swiped his thumb over the screen and it opened. It was text was from Rasul.

      Rasul

Sire, I received your text.

I have no information for you

at this time. I am working on

your request and will get with you immediately

upon results. Things in New Orleans

are not as bad as you feared.

I should be able to have most

squared away before the end of the

week.

Faithfully,

Rasul

 

Felipe’s jaw clinched at the news. There was never any news and he never knew where anyone was.

Rasul had arrived from Michigan in a whirlwind of activity. He’d been questioning Thalia and Eduardo was on the phone with the Magister who’d been making a nuisance of herself all night. It had been the single most stressful night he’d spent in Shreveport at the time. He’d been obliged to stop what he was doing, have the Magister fuck off, and in ten minutes he’d sworn in Rasul, promising to do something more formal at a later date, then gone back to questioning Thalia. An hour later Eduardo had dealt with Rasul, who'd left straight away to New Orleans to meet with Compton’s former staff.

Felipe shot off a quick acknowledgement that he’d received the text, tucked his phone away and attempted to leave once more.

Eduardo chose that moment to hustle through the back door. His body language screamed, on approach

‘He’d better have something to tell me.’  Felipe thought impatiently.

‘Sire.’ Eduardo stopped in front of him and bowed slightly. ‘We have news of the waitress.’ He announced.

Felipe sat back down then leaned expectantly forward on his bar stool and waited.

‘It seems Sire, that she purchased eight pairs of Micky Mouse ears with the credit card, while she was at the Disney amusement park. They are sort of a hat, Sire…’ Eduardo began to explain.

‘I know…what Micky Mouse ears are.’ Felipe interrupted him and shook his head nonplussed. 

‘He was just going to stake himself.’ He moaned, tried for patience, and said ‘Continue…’

‘She used the card again at a bar in Key West called, Sloppy Joe’s. We don’t know what she ordered or purchased there, Sire. There is also no evidence of her having a hotel room there.’ Eduardo offered helpfully.

‘Or bang my head on the bar, until I am dead.’  Felipe thought.

Normally Eduardo wasn’t this ridiculous. Felipe would’ve never been able to hold three and now four kingdoms together without his help. So, what the fuck was going on that his right hand didn’t have his shit together running this fucking show. The man had never let him down before. This was a stupid fucking situation to be in and he couldn’t understand why it hadn’t resolved itself yet.

Eduardo began his yammering again and Felipe listened, expecting to be disappointed further.

‘However, Sire, the bar has live-feed web cameras. This means that the camera’s broadcast directly to the Internet, Sire. The feed is archived, but it’s for only 24 hours. We did look through the video thoroughly, but never saw the waitress. We did see someone else though, Sire.’ Eduardo said.

‘Was it, Compton?’ Felipe asked, becoming slightly more interested.

‘No…Sire.’ Eduardo hesitated at being interrupted, then while reordering his thoughts, babbled, ‘It’s so strange, I met the Vampire some years ago…’

‘JUST TELL ME WHO IT IS!’ Felipe erupted.

Everything happening in Fangtasia except the atrocious music stopped and gave its attention to the outburst.

Eduardo flinched then croaked, ‘It was Judith Vardemon, Sire.’

‘Who. The. Fuck. Is. Judith. Vardemon.’ Felipe gritted out, remembering to think soothing thoughts.

Eduardo winced and got nervous. ‘She’s Bill Compton’s sibling, Sire.’

Felipe was so frustrated, he almost said thank you. ‘I don’t suppose you happened to do anything useful, such as discover this Judith’s whereabouts at this time.’ Felipe questioned.

The DJ changed the song to an obvious favorite and everyone turned their attention to the dance floor once again.

‘Yes, Sire.’ Eduardo answered.

Felipe again waited for Eduardo to speak. If he believed in God, he would get down on his knees right now and pray for strength.

‘In actuality, all of Key West is covered in live feed cameras. We were able to track her movements all through the area. Directly after she left the bar, she went to a marina, then her hotel and then to the airport.’ Eduardo offered, rushing through the list.

Felipe bolted off of his stool at the word, marina.

‘Where did she go?’ Felipe asked excitedly.

‘Cozumel, Sire.’  Eduardo answered.

‘Next time, start with Cozumel, Eduardo.’ Felipe growled at him, then immediately began giving orders. 

Felipe looked like he was conducting a symphony.

Thalia had been sitting in her place at the door, pointedly ignoring everything she’d just heard. She’d despised Felipe, even before he’d put her in silver chains. However, she hated Mainstreaming even more than him. She’d considered killing Felipe, but she didn’t need the trouble that murdering a king would bring her. Just look at what was happening with Pam! Thalia needed money to get herself out of the country and out from under the New Authority. If she could get that money by helping Pam and fucking over Felipe, so much the better for her. It hadn’t been easy keeping her mouth shut under all of that silver, but she’d done it for the freedom it was going to buy her. She’d already received half the money and she'd get the other half later. Once she was out of the Good Ole’ US of A, she was never coming back.

‘This place is fucking ridiculous.’ She grunted.

Felipe had noticed Thalia pointedly ignoring the chaos.

‘Thalia.’ Felipe called out to her, suspicious of her lack of curiosity.  

Her only reply was to glance up and raise an eyebrow at him.

Felipe waited…

‘Sire.’ She said drolly, not quite mocking him, but not bothering to get out of her chair either.

‘You’re still in charge here.’ He waved lazily at the bar. ‘I will expect an accounting.’

He didn’t wait for an answer, just turned away and bellow for Eduardo.

Thalia gloated as she watched the puffed-up Baboon go.

She didn’t care if Felipe de Castro was the King of the whole fucking continent.

‘He’s a rube.’ She declared, silently and spit on the floor.

An hour later, Thalia declared last call. She sent everyone home without doing any cleaning then emptied the secret safe stashed under the washing machine in the basement used to wash the bar towels, set the alarm and left. Tomorrow night, she’d be out of the country.

She only had one more thing to do. Once she was in the security of her own home, she made a phone call.

Chapter Text

The Caribbean

 

In all, there were forty different text messages on Bill’s phone. 

They’d lost count of the voice mail messages from Danny Prudeaux, Judith, the Police Department and the Hotel Monteleone. They all said basically the same thing. Please call, I'm looking for you, where are you, what's going on, and unfortunately, is "Sookie with you?" The most disturbing messages were that the police had been all over Bill’s house, even though that was to be expected, but they’d been all over Sookie’s as well. Also, Judith was coming to Florida to look for Bill. We didn’t freak out until we got to the last few messages from Judith.

         Judith

Bill, where are you! 

I just saw Eric Northman

alive! Sookie is with him.

They are in Key West

Are you with them?

I am going there now.

Call me damnit!

 

And then there was…

 

        Judith

I found them. They are

On a yacht. I am going to

Need your help. They’re

going to Havana and then

Cozumel. Meet me in

Cozumel. CALL ME!

 

Hot fury nestled into Pam's stomach.

As we were reading the messages, Karin’s phone rang. ‘What news?’ she said and she left the room.  

‘It never fails. We are about to get arrested for murder.’ I complained.

‘We’re not getting arrested for murder.’ Eric and Pam said in unison.

I looked to Nuri for support, but she just shook her head in agreement.

‘We should text her and tell her that Bill is on his way.’ Reider said.

Why…would we do that?’ I said exasperated.

‘Because it would keep her in Mexico.’ He answered calmly.

Karin came back into the room and interrupting them announced, ‘It’s worse than we thought.’ She settled into a fighting crouch as she spoke, ‘That was Thalia, Felipe just left Shreveport, to get on a plane for Cozumel.’

Pam, screaming, launched herself at Karin, hands like claws extended before her.

Eric, having taken notice of Karin’s body language when she came back in the room, was ready for it When Pam went for her.

He caught Pam around the waist, mid-launch and held her back, keeping her from tearing into Karin.

‘Pam!’ He said, struggling to hold tight and stay calm himself. ‘I order you to stop.’ He grunted, but there wasn’t any conviction any it.

He hadn’t released Pam the way he had Karin and it wouldn’t be fair to order Pam to stop leaving her helpless if Karin decided to answer her attack. So, he held on with a good deal of difficulty, because she was flailing around like a bird caught in a net. Her fists wind milled frantically and her hair looked like it was caught up in a hurricane.

‘You can’t order me to do shit, because you know I am right!’ she screamed, clawing at him. ‘Admit it!’

‘We don’t have time for this, Pam.’ He tried again.

 Pam slammed her head back, full force, landing solidly on Eric’s nose. The crunch was audible.

‘Ow!’ he yelled, but he didn’t let go even though he was pissed.

Blood flowed freely from her Makers nose. 'She's definitely broken it.'  Karin thought, wincing. 

Ginger started screeching at the first sign of blood and looked for a place to hide.

‘Put me down, damnit! I'm gonna kill her!’ Pam screamed. Her hair was stuck in her Perfectly Pink lipstick.

Karin stood ready to defend herself, just in case Pam got loose. Her fangs were out and she hissed at her sibling, while she rocked back and forth on her feet, ready for action. She balled her hands into fists and narrowed her eyes and was just about to tell Pam to ‘Bring it on…’ when Eric yelled at her.

‘Karin! Stop egging her on!’ he squawked. His bloody broken nose made his voice sound hilarious.

Willa moved behind Eric and swatted at him, her tiny fists at him, barely touching him. ‘Stop it, Eric!’ she yelled. ‘I mean it!’ she kicked her Grandsire in the back of his leg, and his knee buckled. 

Going down on his knee, he took Pam with him, refusing to let go of her. ‘You’re not going to kill her!’ he yelled at Pam, ‘We’re going to need her!’ He grunted. 

Willa delivered him another wicked kick in the other shin with the heel of her Louboutin’s. 'Get off of her!' she shrieked.

‘Willa, if you touch me again, I will spank you.’ He threatened.

Willa’s eyes widened with terror and she ran away.

Pam threw an elbow catching him in his bloody nose. ‘Don’t you touch her!’ she snarled.

‘If you don’t quit, I really am going to order you!’ he threatened.  

She stopped fighting him then but not because he threatened to order her. He’d appealed to her practical side when he’d said they’d need Karin and he was right.

We are going to need the bitch.’  She thought, glaring reprisal at her sister, but stayed still. 'This isn't over.' She promised.

Eric took his arms from around her waist, but kept ahold of one wrist, like she was a toddler.

‘You're so dead!’ She hissed at Karin pulling her hair out of her lipstick, giving it a toss. She settled down completely then. She knew how to wait.

Eric let go of her finally.

Karin put her fangs away, but she kept a wary eye on her sister. 

‘Karin, how does Felipe know about Cozumel?’ Eric asked, while probing his broken nose to see if it needed straightening.

Pam came to him, moving his hands away to inspect it. ‘It’s crooked.’ She announced, then grabbed his nose and twisted, breaking it again.

‘Ow! GOD DAMNIT!’ He swore loudly.

The sound was so satisfying. Pam’s mouth curled in a slow rebellious smile, and she smirked, ‘So, thereOrder that.’ She thought, her eyebrow practically touching the ceiling.

Karin allowed Eric to run down an entire litany of curse words in several different languages and waited for him to finish before she began explaining to him how Felipe could know about them, according to what Thalia had told her, and he knew a lot. He knew about Sookie, the cops, the credit card, the web cams (something she hadn’t known about), and God Damn Judith Vardemon.   

‘So, he knows for certain we are on Sunniva?’ Reider asked.

Karin nodded seriously, ‘He’s been looking for her. According to Thalia he wants her. He wants Sookie too.’

Eric didn’t say any of the things he was thinking. Something he was doing a lot of.

It was a bad sign, Pam noted. Any minute now he'd probably kill the both of them. It wasn't fair.

'Maybe if I'm quick, I can beat him to Karin.' She thought angrily. She knew it was morbid, but she was pissed. All of this could have been avoided if her sister had trusted her.

Eric stared long and hard at Karin letting resentful eyes do the talking for him. Judith Vardemon and Danny Prudeaux were what was considered plot holes. Live streaming Web Cams are plot holes and something that they should've known about. These types of things, were the reason Pam should've been involved from the beginning. In a perfect world, everyone would've played their part and they wouldn’t have issues like this. Pam was furious with her sister, because she wouldn’t have forgotten about Judith Vardemon or Danny Prudeaux or been oblivious to cameras, yes. But more so, she was hurt, that she hadn't been trusted. He pressed his lips into a thin line and stared harder.

'You should have trusted her.' he fumed. 'If anything happens to Sookie...' he thought, staring into his Progeny's guilty face.

Eric was unreasonably angry over the situation and everyone in the room knew it. 

'So much for the peace.’ I thought, frightened by what I saw in Eric's face.    

Karin, sufficiently admonished, looked away from her Maker knowing she’d failed and they were in serious danger.

‘Why can’t he just leave me alone.’ I complained to the room during the tense moment. When no one responded, I mumbled,  ‘Oh, never mind...’

I was being dumb, but in my defense, I was a little shaken by Eric and Pam’s reactions just now. When the action had started I’d climbed into the farthest corner of the sofa and curled into a ball, holding a pillow, of all things, in front of me for protection. Ginger had climbed onto the couch with me. She was clinging onto my arm like a spider monkey. Our eyes were owlishly large while we took great steadying breaths to try and calm down. Only moments ago, I'd thought for sure that Pam was going to kill Karin and then seconds ago Eric literally scared the shit out of everyone by not saying a damn thing to Karin, who now looked as if she were responsible for the world ending.

One thing is for certain, I mused, ‘It’s not going to be a boring eternity.’

‘Okay...’ Eric said calmly. He'd apparently accepted Karin’s silence as proof that she’d claimed the blame for our present circumstance. ‘Show of hands.’ 

Everyone but me raised their hand.

‘That settles it. Vacation’s over.’ He said, running a distracted hand through his hair and turned to leave.

I waited to see if we were going to argue about it further. We didn’t.

‘That’s it! I’m killing Felipe! I’m sick and tired of his shit! I mean it!’ I burst out, flinging the pillow away from me in a snit. It flew across the room and hit Eric's retreating form.

I'm not sure if I did it on purpose or not.

Ginger screeched in surprise at my outburst and crawled to the other end of the couch terrified when Eric was suddenly there, sending her into hysterics.

‘There's my woman…’ he praised me softly, taking in my emotional state. ‘Don’t worry, we won’t be taking any shit from Felipe.’ He reassured me.

When Ginger realized he wasn’t going to eat me she stopped screaming.

‘I…you scared me.’ I admitted. ‘Also, I don’t want you to be angry with her. She did the best she could.’ I defended.

Eric didn’t say anything to acknowledge that he’d heard me. He leaned in and kissed me. He was trying to change the subject.

When I didn’t respond he tickled me. I couldn’t hold back from tickling, my frown dissolved into a giggle and I wiggled to get away from him. I settled on kissing him back to distract him.

I knew of a sudden that Karin was leaving the room so I pulled away from the kiss and said, ‘Karin, please wait.’

I shifted past Eric and, dug my way out of the couch so I could go to her.

‘It’s going to be okay.’ I said, moving in to hug her.

She shook her head and stepped back. Pain and fear flashed behind her eyes.

I was shocked that she hadn’t allowed me to touch her. ‘Mother…’ I said, and reached for her.

She visibly flinched and said, ‘I'm so sorry.’

I shook my head and compassion softened my face. ‘It’s going to be okay. We’ll figure all of this out.’ I said again, then to keep her with me I asked, ‘How could Felipe even know about Sunniva to want her?’ I asked, hoping that she’d come back to me, talk to me. I nervously pulled at my clothes straightening them and brushed at my hair with the palm of my hand while waiting for her to see me there in front of her.

‘I have no idea.’ She answered, woodenly.

‘Victor told him obviously.’ Eric’s voice whipped in answer for her. ‘Ocella would've used Sunniva to entice Victor during the marriage negotiations.’

Karin nodded in agreement at the assessment and she began to leave again.

I reached out taking her hand to stop her. ‘So, what are we going to do?’ I asked patiently, then I added ‘My nerves can’t take putting off my transition.’ I’d said it in hopes that she would understand that I still trusted her. She focused on me then and I could see that what I’d said was bringing her back to me, so I went on. ‘I can’t put it off, Mother. We have to do this soon. Tell me what we’re going to do.’

She nodded at me then and she was fully back. She squeezed my hand and said, ‘Let me think on it a bit.’    

‘We should go to Bon Temps.’ Reider interjected.

‘What? I don’t want to go home!’ I screeched, worthy of Ginger. ‘I can’t go home!’

Karin gently squeezed the hand I was holding and Eric put his hand on my shoulder, ‘We know. We need to talk about our options.’ He said, sliding his hand down my arm, taking my hand from Karin's.

I’d been learning the rhythm of my new family and even though I’d been making progress, I still struggled with the way they all knew what the other was thinking while I did not. Karin had assured me that I’d “get there eventually” and remembering that conversation, I calmed down. I had to learn to trust the process and eventually a solution would present itself. Until then, I had to be observant and take cues.

‘I’m sorry, Reider.’ I said abashed, taking my hand out of Eric’s and putting my arm around Karin. I leaned into her while I said it, lending her some of my strength. She was beating herself up fiercely and for some reason Eric was letting her. It annoyed me. He watched this interaction between Karin and I carefully and finally understood that I was still in and it was still her.

‘No worries, Sis.’ Reider said for the second time today, and grinned broadly. I realized that he was pleased that I’d taken the time to soothe Karin. ‘I’ve got a plan. Anyone want to hear it? He asked.

‘I can’t wait.’ Pam said, not willing to be forgiving yet.            

Reider ignored the remark and launched in, ‘Well, as I said before, we should text Judith, from Bills phone. Tell her to stay put in Cozumel, that Bill is on his way. She doesn’t know that Bill is dead, she only knows that Eric isn’t. Now…just hang in here with me. Felipe is going to run into Judith in Cozumel at some point. It’s probable that either one of them, or both of them will tell the other what they know. It will probably be Judith spilling her guts, but either way, Felipe is going to find out about us. There’s no way of knowing for sure, but that isn’t the point. The point is, that we are buying ourselves the time  we need, because it’s going to take several days for all of this to fall into place. Understand?’

He didn’t wait to find out if we did, he just kept talking.

‘Felipe isn’t going to tell the Magister anything, because he’s trying to kidnap a human. He wants to keep all of his movements as quiet as possible. By now, he knows that Sookie has arranged to be gone for a very long time. That makes it very easy for him to take her without anyone, the Magister, becoming the wiser. Judith won’t contact the Magister to protect Bill. She’ll keep quiet to keep him safe.'

He had our attention now. Even Pam’s.

‘Meanwhile, we park Sunniva in the gulf for a few days, to buy our time. Then, we take Sookie home and get her transitioned. While all this is going on in Bon Temps, we have the crew empty Sunniva sending everything to storage, then sail her into Cozumel in the middle of the day, off load, and disappear. Sunniva’s physical presence should keep everyone busy looking for us down there, while Karin and Sookie are in the ground in Louisiana. In the mean time we work on what to do next. Everything about this situation is so fluid, we can only plan a few days at a time anyway.'

'This is true.' Eric agreed

'Once she’s transitioned, we’re going to need to disappear entirely, something we’d planned to do anyway. Felipe can’t stay away from Vegas...indefinitely.' he stumbled, having almost said too much.

Pam noticed and frowned wondering about it but paid attention to the rest of what Reider was saying.

'At some point, we’ll probably have to deal with Felipe, but it doesn’t have to be right now.' he said, practically.

He spoke directly to Karin next. 'Mother, you’re going to want to call Thalia back. Tell her not to leave Bon Temps yet, we’re going to need her. It’s going to cost us another briefcase full of money, but she’s motivated and on our side.' 

He turned to Nuri next. 'We should take the helicopter back to Key West tonight and charter a flight out of there. It’d be too much of a hassle to fly out of Havana. The US has just started allowing travel to and from there and I understand customs is a nightmare. Anyway…that's my plan...tentatively. Does anyone have anything to add? Pam?’ he said, taking note that Pam watched him intently. ‘I mean, if this is all okay with you.’ He said directly. 

Pam flicked a glance at Eric.

‘It’s a good plan, so far, Reider.’ Eric praised him, nodding. He realized that Reider would've had to become very skilled in logistics while living on Sunniva to have puzzled all of this out, in the short amount of time it had taken him to put a plan together so soon after reading the text messages. ‘Talk to me about the crew.’ Eric said.

‘It’s simple really. Something we do frequently so, the crew are used to it. We send them on an all-inclusive vacation, with the stipulation that they have to stay together and follow Safety Protocol.’ Reider answered.  

‘Safety Protocol?’ Eric asked. 

‘Yeah.’ Reider said. ‘I'll explain the details to you later, if you like.’

Eric nodded. ‘Yes, that would be good.’ He answered.

‘Sure.’ Reider answered. ‘Right now, if we’re in agreement, time is a serious concern. We need to get moving. I'd also like to say that Karin wasn’t the only one who planned this mission. Nuri and I helped. If there is blame to place, it needs to be placed on all of us, not just my mother.’ He said, staunchly.

‘Reider…’ Karin said, sharply reaching for him.

'He has some back bone...' Eric considered, without reacting. 'This is good.'

‘I’m…I’m not going.’ Ginger announced loudly, startling everyone and derailing what was sure to be another argument.

Pam planted her hands on her hips, ‘I thought you said you wanted to go home.’

‘Send me with the crew.’ Ginger suggested, gulping a lungful of nervous air.

‘No.’ Nuri said, objecting immediately.

‘Yes…’ a chorus of voices echoed back.

Seeing that everyone except her was in favor, Nuri relented without an argument, but she didn’t like it at all.

‘I’ll make the arrangements.’ She said, stiffly. 

Chapter Text

Louisiana

 

We were on the ground in Shreveport, with just enough time to get to Bon Temps before the sun came up.  Thanks to Reider, there was a car waiting for us and we were on I20 before you could say Jack Robinson. There’d been a flurry of activity once “The Plan,” had solidified. I just ran around doing what I was told and tried to keep up. I’d been worried about beating the sun, but it was winter and I was thankful that we had the extra hours. It had helped that Reider was able to charter a plane that was waiting for us the moment we stepped off the helicopter. It was a big plane too not one of those little jet’s that wealthy business flew around it.

‘All of this wealth certainly is convenient when you’re running for your lives.’ I thought.  

The closer we got to home, the more real it became to me that Bill wasn’t going to be next door anymore. I wouldn’t say I was overcome with sadness; he had been trying to kill Karin, but there was a small bit of melancholy lingering in my chest. My brain pushed my heart out of the way to explain that, ‘It was his own fault he was dead. If he’d minded his own damn business, he’d be alive right now’…maybe.

We pulled into the driveway and I was surprised to see that I had lights. Beth Osiecki, bless her, had moved heaven and earth and the house was open as well. I’d insisted on a quick run through the Piggly Wiggly, so we had NeuBlood a few groceries and toilet paper.

While we were in the car the tense atmosphere that had resided between Eric and Pam’s side, continued with Karin, Nuri, and Reider’s side with me in the middle. While I thought about how happy I was going to be to go to sleep for three days while this entire drama worked itself out, I realized there was no way everyone was going to fit into my guest space. So, Karin had resolved to check out Bill’s place and see what the situation was there. We dropped her at Bill’s and drove through the cemetery over to my house, parked the car fully behind the house so it couldn’t be seen and piled out. Eric and Reider got the doors open and we crowded into my living room.

I was stunned at the starkness of my home. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  

Nothing.’ I thought.

There was nothing but covered furniture visible in the house. Karin had packed away every single object.

Speaking of Karin, she came through the back door, just as I completed a full circle and announced it was all clear at Bill’s. She saw my expression and said, ‘I know, it freaked me out too.’ That seemed to snap me out of it.

‘We haven’t even been gone long enough for it to get musty.’ I said.

The house, if it could have gotten itself fully awake, would have disagreed with this assessment entirely. Unfortunately it was the middle of the night and it couldn't be bothered to point out several issues. House, was just glad someone was here. It was incredibly lonely lately. It creaked, in a happy sleepy way and went back to snoozing. 

Something passed over Karin’s face and I realized I’d put my foot in it again. Something that I couldn’t see to stop doing. ‘Sorry.’ I mumbled.

‘Think nothing of it.’ Karin said, waving my guilty apology away. ‘You’ve said nothing wrong.’

I nodded accepting what she said hoping to let it drop quickly and it did. A few minutes later it was decided that Eric and I would stay at my house for my final night as a human and everyone else would stay at Bill’s. He had enough light tight space as Regent to accommodate everyone.

‘Former Regent.’ I reminded myself.

It would be smarter and safer if we could just do this thing tonight and get it over with, but I had to be human when I met with Beth Osiecki to finish all the paper work that needed to get done. So, we split up and got comfortable. Eric and I piled up on the couch and everyone else went on to Bill’s. I wrapped my arms around him and snuggled in, laying my head on his shoulder.

He was quiet, almost brooding. This had been his mood ever since we turned on Bill’s cell, but it was a little bit different tonight. I understood instinctively what was going on with him because even though I was in a hurry, I was anxious as well. I decided to let him be until he was ready to talk or move past it. I never knew which to expect lately. I snuggled him closer and waited him out. I can’t read Vampire minds, but occasionally in the past when he’d been especially agitated, or even if he was just thinking hard, I’d pick up quick flashes from his mind. I’d been able to do that will Bill as well, but I never told anyone about it. Back then, it would have been the quickest way I knew, to get myself killed. Ever since Havana though, I’d give anything to know what he was thinking. A quiet Eric was a dangerous Eric and he’d been silent as the grave.

‘Can I talk to you about something?’ he asked cautiously, pulling me from my thoughts. 

I nodded and knew what was coming, even without being able to read his mind.

He was agonizing over bringing it up since we were alone, but he had too. He couldn’t help himself.

‘Is there anything I can do, to get you to change your mind?’ he asked.

I shook my head, No. Compassion for him flooded through me.

‘Do you even know why I am asking?’ he huffed out, tight and short.

I nodded.

‘You do?’ He asked, not really believing me.

‘Yes.’ I said. ‘Your blood is older.’ I said softly.

He shifted in my arms so he could get a better look at me in order to argue his point, but I kept talking.

‘You’re afraid I won’t complete the change, but I will. I have a blood bond and it is strong. I have a reason to wake up. I have an entire family and you waiting for me. I’m going to transition in my own home. It’ll work, Eric. Don’t worry so much.’ I said gently and titled my face up to kiss him.

He moved his head away before I could put my lips to his.  

‘What do you mean, you are going to transition in your own home.’ He asked.   

‘Well, there aren’t any rules that say I have to sleep in the dirt, is there?’ I countered.

He thought about it and shook his head no. 

‘Even with Vampires convention is just expected.’ I thought, amused.

‘Technically, the guest space is in the ground.’ I said. 

He leaned forward and my arms uncurled themselves from him as he pushed himself up from the couch. He couldn’t sit still when he was this agitated, so, he began to pace through my stark living room, wrestling with his fears. I wished he could be calm about it. If he were it would help me with my own fears. I was sure I wouldn’t have a problem with transition. My fear was based on who I was going to be afterward. 

‘Maybe that’s a little of his fear as well.’ I pondered.   

Suddenly, he stalked back to the couch, hoisted me off of it and kissed me hard. 

 'So, this was how he was going to deal with it.’ I sighed. ‘Okay then.’

I wrapped my legs around his waist and then everything stopped. 

He pulled his lips from mine, ‘Sookie…’ he said, there was warning in his voice.

He set me down, stepped in front of me, and there was a knock at the front door.

We both stiffened. 

‘Who is it?’ I called, heavy on the who part.

‘Thalia.’ The voice outside answered. 

I looked up at my sweetie skeptically.

‘I called to Pam.’ He mouthed at and nodded at me to answer the door.

I went to the door and pulled it open.

It was Thalia and she had an utterly terrified Beth Osiecki with her. 

Pam and Willa came through the back door.

I reached out and pulled Beth gently across the thresh hold, as not to spook Thalia, while I said hello.

‘Beth, I’m so glad to see you. I hope you’re well.’ I inquired pointedly.

‘I’m quite well, though I am a bit nervous, I’ve never been dragged out of my house by a Vampire before.’ She stuttered nervously.

Karin, Reider, and Nuri flowed through the back door. 

Beth nearly fainted. ‘There are so many here.’ She remarked, and started to shake.

I smiled at her and did the best I could to put her at ease, handing her over to Eric. Moving slowly as not to frighten her, he gestured that she should take a seat on the couch. Turning back to Thalia, now that the others were in the house, I said, ‘Oh! My goodness, Thalia, where are my manners? Please come in.’  I invited just as warmly as I’d spoken to Beth.

‘Thanks.’ Thalia said bluntly and strode across the threshold.

I ignored her obvious snit. ‘Can I offer anyone Neu Blood?’ I asked graciously.

Everyone declined.

‘I only have Coke or tap water, Beth. I’m sorry, but I would be happy to get you either.’ I said. 

‘Nothing for me, thank you Sookie.’ She answered.

‘Will everyone please sit?’ I offered. ‘Beth it’s so nice to see you. I want to thank you for getting the lights taken care of for me today. We’d be in real fix out here without them, but what brings you by?’ I asked curiously, as if it were four in the afternoon and not four in the morning. 

Thalia actually answered for Beth. 

‘I was asked to bring her tomorrow evening, but I’m not going back into town. I’ve already vacated. I brought her out tonight for that reason.’ Thalia explained.

‘Oh.’ I said confused, thinking ‘That changes our schedule a bit then, doesn’t it?’

‘Well Beth, you don’t know how much I appreciate you coming then.’ I said genially.

‘You’re welcome, Sookie. I don’t normally do this kind of thing before the crack of dawn, but your friend Thalia here wouldn’t take no for an answer. Once we were on our way, I came to understand the urgency you are facing, so maybe we should get started.’ Beth said formally.

‘Okay, then.’ I smiled. ‘The first thing I need to do, is introduce you to everyone.’

I made the round of introductions, quickly.

‘So,’ I said, ‘This is what I need you to do. Everything depends on it.’ I said, gravely.

I explained the situation and what we wanted her to do fully. I told her absolutely everything. She scribbled notes furiously. The longer we talked the paler she became. We were asking her to cross the line, after all. She wanted to argue, but when Karin put a brick of money on the table, she closed her mouth. She’d tried to argue that she wasn’t this kind of a lawyer, but I told her I had faith in her abilities and if it made her feel more comfortable, I’d find someone else to handle my affairs…after.

Beth, saw the handwriting on the wall so to speak. She was in a house full of Vampires that were supposed to be dead. She knew she wasn’t leaving here until she agreed to what she was being asked to do. There was no safe way to extricate herself from the situation except to do the work and take the money.

‘It won’t be hard to backdate some documents. ‘Right?’ She bullied herself, unconvincingly.

Her conscious went to war with her physical well-being for all of a minute and then common sense took hold of her and she simply agreed. Swallowing the hard lump of fear logged in her throat, she stayed calm and eyed the brick of money on the coffee table. It would pay her school loans off completely.

When Sookie finished explaining everything, Beth said, ‘I should be able to have all of this ready for you in two or three days. You’ll have come by the office and sign everything pertaining to the trust. You’ll also need to sign a release for your other firm as well, but they’ll get with you about that.’

‘The releases have already been taken care of. You should get it via Fed-Ex in a few hours and I am sorry, but we can’t come into town, Beth. I’m going to need you to come out here to us. Just one more thing and we can get you home. I am going to need you to notarize this contract now.’ I said pulling the papers from my purse.

‘Are you okay here, Sookie?’ Beth asked bravely, wondering if she should have said ‘we’ instead of ‘you.’

‘Never better.’ I smiled. ‘I know what I’m doing Beth and I know you’re worried for me right now. That makes you a good Christian and I’m happy to know you because of it, but I’m happy with these decisions. Please reassure me now, that you’ll uphold our attorney/client privilege.’ I said pointedly.

Shocked, Beth screwed up her face and said, ‘Of course! I’d never talk about your business with anyone!’ she exclaimed, thoroughly offended. Then, she felt the shadow of guilt cross her face as she remembered the gossip she’d passed to the detectives. Too late to do anything about it, she remembered that Sookie was able to pluck everything she’d been thinking right out of her head as if it were an apple on a tree.

‘Thank you, Beth. That’s a comfort to me.’ I said, ignoring her embarrassment. ‘Now let’s do this.’

I stood and we moved into the kitchen where we could spread out a bit. I took the pen from spiral wire of the notepad, tucked inside the napkin holder on the table. Next, I unfolder the papers and smoothed them out while Beth assembled her notary stamp. I could feel Eric’s nervous energy behind me. He ran a hand over his face and took several halting steps toward me trying to decide what he wanted to say. I could feel his panic and he was trying to deal with it, but the struggle was real.

‘Wait…’ he said, the absolute weight of the moment crushing him. ‘Too fast.’ The turmoil inside him raged.

‘Baby…’ I said, turning to him, ‘We’re out of time.’

He didn’t say anything more and Pam moved to stand with him, resting her hand on his shoulder for support. I tried to reassure him with a smile, but he wasn’t having any of it, so, I signed, then Karin, then Pam. After a long moment Eric finally walked forward and signed his name. Beth affixed the seal and it was done.

Eric stalked from the room.

Beth, visibly confused by everything she’d just witnessed refolded the papers and tucked them away in her briefcase along with her seal. I’d get them back with the rest of the paperwork later once they were finalized and copies were made. As I walked with her to the front door, I reassured her that I knew that her oath was solid and I trusted her completely, saying ‘I needed you to reaffirm your oath out loud for the benefit of the Vampires. I’m sorry I offended you. You’re a good woman, Beth. Also, I don’t want you to worry about the Detectives. You did what you could to cover me and I appreciate it. Thank you.’ Once she was gone, I returned to the kitchen.

‘Karin, I know that we were planning on doing this tomorrow because of the paperwork, but as it is now, we don’t have to wait. I’d just as soon do this tonight if it’s okay with you?’ I said, surprising everyone.

Karin nodded, but turned a worried expression in the direction Eric had gone.

He was back in a blink and looked stricken.

‘Everyone, I need some time with Eric. It’s a while yet before sunrise. I’ll call you when I’m ready, okay?’

And Poof!  My kitchen was empty.

I went to him quickly. I only had a few hours left as a human and he was as tight as a spring. I wrapped my arms around his neck and my legs tightly around his waist and we resumed right where we’d left off. I kissed him like maybe there’d be no tomorrow.

Just before dawn, we gathered in my kitchen again. Almost everything of importance that had ever happened to me, happened in this kitchen. Thalia was still with us. It was very quiet and we seemed to be waiting for something.

When I realized it was me, I laughed a little. I felt silly. We’d planned every part of this down to the minute, down to the very last detail for the last two and half months, but we never talked about how this moment should, you know, proceed. 

It was a testament to our family that they were patiently waiting on me to tell them what I wanted in my last few minutes as a human, so I asked them what they thought would be best. It was a quick and quiet discussion. We all agreed that there indeed wasn’t any law or requirement that said I had to go into the dirt. Yes, technically the guest space was in the ground and with that decision made, it was time.

We also agreed, with finality, that it would be Karin.

‘Okay then,’ I said, nervously. ‘I think it’s best if it is just Karin and me. Also, I think it should just be Karin and me when I wake up.’ I expected Eric to disagree on this point, but he surprised me and didn’t. ‘I have no idea what to expect, other than I’ll be Karin’s progeny. I’m afraid if I see, anyone else, it might…confuse me.’ I explained tentatively. Everyone agreed to this and Eric promised he’d only come to check on us while we slept and to bring Karin blood. Otherwise, he’d stay away until Karin said it was okay. 

With these few things settled Nuri came and hugged me, ‘See you soon. Good luck.’

Reider waved and said, ‘See you soon, Sis.’

Willa smiled tentatively at me, gave me a small wave and left with Reider.

‘Maybe I’ll see you someday.’ Thalia said gruffly, which surprised me, and she walked out the back door.

Then it was just Pam, Eric, Karin, and I in my dimly lit kitchen. 

Pam stepped to me and took me by shoulders, turning me just so, to face her. When she spoke, her voice was soft and quiet, but tight and brimming with emotion. Her chin trembled a bit when she spoke, ‘It’s like being very tired. Seriously, don’t fight it. Don’t panic, if you can help it, but don’t surrender to it either. Remember to hang on and don’t follow the feeling all the way to the end.’ She held my eyes with her own, willing me to hear her and remember. ‘It won’t hurt when Karin bites you. She’ll send you signals when she gives you her blood so, remember to look for them. Focus on the light you will taste in it, not the dark. After she stops giving you her blood, you’ll hurt for a while. This is the transition. Just remember, even though it hurts, you’re okay. You’ll sleep for three days after the pain stops, to heal. Don’t forget to wake up. Okay? I'm waiting for you out here.’

Her voice was softer than I had ever heard it and it had cracked when she came to the end. She hugged me to her tightly and the next second she was gone. I turned to Eric to tell him not to worry, that I was coming back. Before I could say anything at all, he wrapped his big body around mine crushing me. He kissed me thoroughly and it left me breathless. I pulled away, dug my hands into his hair and kissed him back. When it ended, there was stark terror in his eyes.

‘Come back to me, Sookie.’ He said it like a prayer.

‘I promise.’ I said, emphatically.   

Unshed tears stood in my eyes and I leaned my head against his broad chest and let him hold me a while longer. I squeezed him tight once more then stepped out of his arms. He took a step back, closed his eyes, then pivoted and walked leadenly out of the back door, closing and locking it as he left. I heard him pull the shutter and lock it as well. The outer screen door slammed last and he was gone. I was shaking hard when I turned to Karin. I felt like a little terrified bunny. She didn’t move, just held her hand out to me and waited for me to decide. When I took the first step toward her, I shuddered and the tears that I had been holding coursed silently down my cheeks, as I took her hand. 

She squeezed gently and we walked evenly to the guest room, while I focused on breathing.

‘I’m scared and happy all at the same time.’ I giggled through the tears.

I was lightheaded and unsteady, bordering on hysteria, but I put one foot in front of the other and made my way down the hall. Karin didn’t talk, she just let the moment come into being, and opened the closet door that hid the Vampire guest space under my house, then descended the ladder.

I thought about the circumstances of the guest space to try and steady myself. Eric had done a major renovation to the space that Bill had originally constructed after Eric had bought my house. A circumstance of my having disappeared into ‘Fairy’ for an entire year and half of Earth time. Color me surprised on arriving home after having spent only about fifteen minutes in the Fairy realm, to find that Jason had sold my house after having given up hope of ever finding me alive. It’s well known that time passes differently on Earth than it does in Fairy.

‘Well, at least it’s well known now.’ I giggled.

Jason had tried to get Eric to sell the house back, but the lout had refused. Eventually, he’d just signed the house over to me. I hadn’t used the space for much but storage in the ensuing years, as both Bill and Eric had been absent from my life, but the bed was thankfully still in it. The lights came on automatically when we got to the bottom of the ladder. I fought back the wave of nostalgia from the time Eric had lost his memory and focused.

‘Is Pam, right?’ I asked. ‘Will it hurt for a while?’

‘I think,’ Karin began, ‘That the pain comes more from fear. I know that you’re afraid. I can tell you not to be, but ultimately this experience will be decided by your ability to master the fear.’ She explained soothingly.

We sat down on the bed and she turned toward me.

‘I’m not going to hurt you. My blood is old and strong. You will wake up in three days’ time and then you will be reunited with your family. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Look at me, Sookie.’ Karin coaxed.

I couldn’t be glamored and Karin knew this. I realized that she wasn’t trying to glamor me.

I didn’t understand what she was doing, but I listened to her and I was calm.

‘Do not be afraid of me. If you see me now, you know, there is nothing about this that is unknown to you. Look in my eyes, can you come closer to me?’ she asked.

‘Yes.’ I said calmly, moving closer to her. 

Then, I felt her down the blood line. She was sending me comfort and love. I’d been so afraid of the unknown and suddenly I knew that everything was going to be okay. I knew I was safe and that I trusted her. I leaned toward her and she gently pushed the thick mass of my hair back over my shoulder, not making any sudden movements or speaking above a murmur. I still shivered, but it was only a little.

‘Look at me.’ Karin coxed softly, responding to the shiver.   

I did, then completely relaxed and nodded to my Maker.

Karin put her hand on the nape of my neck and I laid my head to the side offering my neck to her. She knew then, that I was ready and it was okay to start. I felt the slight burning sensation that reminded me of a needle. I’d felt it many times before and knowing that I was safe, sank into the happy, floating feeling, that followed behind it. I had no notion of my bearings. I didn’t know if we were sitting or standing or laying down.

This was definitely a different sensation. My head was sort of, swimming and I felt drunk.

There was a tickle in my stomach then and I was falling like when you’re driving really fast and you go over a hill. The sensation made me laugh and I swayed, enjoying the way it made me feel.

This wasn’t a feeding sensation at all.

After what felt like an eternity of pleasure, I felt an Intention resonated inside of me and the falling sensation was stronger. Suddenly I remembered what Pam had said, ‘Don’t follow it to the end.’ 

With difficulty I mentally slowed down the falling sensation, then I felt what could only be described as nudges. It was like I was being poked and pulled at in my center. I swayed my body urging it to follow them and they let me know how fast or slow or which direction to go. I was just getting the hang of it when I became very tired.

I was fighting at the pulling sensation of wanting to take a nap, when something cool and delicious coated my tongue. I lapped at it slowly at first, but then began to draw in greedy mouthfuls as quickly as I could. All I could think about, was that I wanted more. A wonderful euphoria took over and the sensations that came with this feeling were much stronger than the ones before.

Suddenly, I was feeling so many things at once, that I couldn’t control or latch onto any one sensation. I was spinning and spinning faster still and it was gloriously out of control. It felt like that time Tara and I had sucked the gas out of a whipped cream can during a sleep over. Just as I was about to float away on a cloud of whipped cream, I had the first cramp. I tried to ignore it and hang on to the spinning, floaty, whipped cream, fun, but another cramp came shocking me with its intensity and I fell hard. All at once, there was nothing but pain and it lasted for an eternity too.

Then…there was nothing.

Chapter Text

Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport

 

Nuri informed Sunniva’s Captain, Anthony Midenton, that they were leaving and gave him instructions based on Safety Protocol. He was to wait in the Gulf for three days, then either anchor or dock, which ever was more timely, in Cozumel no earlier than 9 AM local time on the fourth day.

There were several other instructions he’d agreed to immediately. 'It was his job.'  he told himself.

Most importantly, he’d been instructed to off load the entire crew and board a flight out of the western hemisphere before the sun went down the same day. He was pleased to discover that Ginger would be traveling with them. He’d been caught off guard at being captivated by the woman, but it appeared he wasn’t going to be able to help himself. She was so much more than what she appeared to be and he was really enjoying her company.

He didn’t know how long he’d get to keep her with him, but for now he focused on the time they had.

He was curious, of course, about the urgency and secrecy of this offload as it was a bit different than the other times, they’d done this. Since taking the rest of Nuri’s family on board, the atmosphere was tense, loud, and everyone was a bit more nervous. Ginger didn’t seem to be mixed up in whatever it was that was going on and that had been a relief to him. She hadn’t told him the particulars and he hadn’t asked. They’d left it to the Vampires to sort out and went on about their own business.

It had been explained to him when he took this job that It could be the best job of his entire life, or his worst nightmare. Depending on how well he could follow instructions. His job was to drive the boat, maintain Safety Protocol, and do what Nuri told him to do. So far, by remembering those three things, this had been the best job of his life.

He’d been with Sunniva and this crew for almost a decade and he’d never had a problem.

The crew had become his family. As a group, they spent almost all of their waking time together on this floating palace. It was a life of plenty and extravagance. They were all lucky and they knew it. This wasn’t the first time a rapid departure had been called for. He wasn’t worried. He didn’t ask questions. Just did as he was told to do. Each time he’d followed her instructions to the letter, everything went well and they were always called back a few weeks later.

Much the same as the other times, he’d been handed a brick of cash and a credit card.

Nuri told him to schedule an all-inclusive vacation for himself, the entire crew, and Ginger.

Over the years, he’d learned through trial and error that it was best if he simply decided where they were going, instead of asking for suggestions. He’d suspected that this emergency offload could come at any time after seeing the news out of New Orleans.

He’d kept it from his crew, but there was a boat full of Vampires on it that were supposed to be dead on board.

So, he’d been thinking about where to go, almost from the first. He remembered a conversation they’d had at breakfast one morning, not more than a week past. Ginger had mentioned that she’d always wanted to see the Great Barrier Reef. The decision about where to go, made itself.

So, this morning, after stripping Sunniva of all of their identifying items and parking her at the ship dock in Cozumel, they boarded American Airlines flight 2227 to Sidney, Australia by way of Dallas-Ft Worth. It wasn’t until they switched planes in Dallas-Ft.Worth that he realized Brian wasn’t with them. He stood next to the bathrooms waiting on everyone to regroup while he left Nuri a voice mail and a text message to tell her that Brian had disappeared.

He saw Ginger exit the lady’s room. She looked for him immediately and when she saw him her face broke into a smile so genuine it made him smile back. She started toward him, but he held up a finger to stall her. She stopped and nodded at him, her smile still in place. That’s what he liked about her so much. She was…amiable. There was no irritation, or suspicion at being asked to wait. She didn’t look at the phone in his hand and scowl at it. She simply accepted that he needed a minute.

It was, in a word, refreshing.

It told him that she was a woman who knew her worth and she didn’t depend on his attention to be validated. He smiled back at her and hoped that she could see just how much he liked her, then got back to the task at hand.

Brian. He was worried, but maintained the crisp professionalism that Nuri expected from him. The voice mail he left was informative and quick.

He knew he wouldn't hear back from her until she was certain that there wasn't any danger.

The Safety Protocols were strict and there for everyone’s protection. He hoped Brian wouldn’t pay for disregarding them with his life.

He was finished with the phone and everyone was waiting on him.

He waved the group to him.

‘Change of plans. Safety Protocol is breached. Brian isn’t with us. We will have to charter.’ He explained.

Chapter Text

Cozumel

 

Felipe had been out of his comfort zone for so long, he was actually starting to get wrinkles from all of the frowning he’d been doing. They’d been in Cozumel for three nights now and had so far accomplished nothing. There was no Yacht and no Judith Vardemon.

It was almost as if they’d never left Louisiana.

He had people scouring the city and had even employed a private investigator in Cancun. On top of this frustration, he’d been dealing with the magisters repeated phone calls. The vapid woman was driving him mad with her daily calls droning on and on. He’d attempted to explain to the silly bitch on more than one occasion that it was her job, not his, to find Bill Compton. 

'He paid his Authority taxes after all.’ He grunted, disdainfully

Felipe wasn’t going to waist his resources to do the Authority’s job for them.

Which, was what she wanted. More of his manpower distracted.

He told her during one conversation that he had important Matters of State to deal with, now that he had acquired Oklahoma. This meant he needed his people working for him. The annoying bitch had asked him what he was doing in the Caribbean if he was so busy.

That, was not a good thing for her to be asking as he’d already been away from Las Vegas far too long. If she knew what his movements were, things were getting serious.  

After that call, he began playing a game with the Magister. She generally called three times a day now. He understood now that he was being tracked and there wasn’t anything to talk about. The day after she’d shown him her cards, he found an excuse to put her on hold and kept her there until she hung up while he continued on with his day. The staff he had with him began taking wagers on how long it would take for the line to disconnect.

The last call she’d waited 8 minutes, 36 seconds before disconnecting.

Chucky, the chauffeur had won that round.

Eduardo came in now carrying his phone. It was a text message from the Magister.

'Big surprise.’ Christ, did the woman never stop? ‘How did she get Eduardo’s number?’

He’d only just finished his rising donor and barely had time to dress. He ignored the phone Eduardo had left with him while he finished dressing, sprayed on some cologne, and combed his hair. Once he was satisfied with his appearance, he swiped a finger across the phone opening it.

There was an attachment.

He opened it, expecting to see a photo of a very perturbed Magister.

Instead, it was a high-resolution photograph of a set of cuff links with the initials EWC engraved on them. 

The text read…

 

    Magister

Why would Eric

Northman, be wearing

cuff links that have

Bill Compton’s initials

on them? Call me. 

 

‘That...is a very interesting question indeed.’ Felipe mused, NOT calling the Magister. In fact, he dismissed the text entirely as another text came in.

It was from the detective he’d hired. The man was to alert Felipe when he found Judith.

According to this text he had.  

She was registered under a false name in the only Vampire hotel in the region.

She’d just left the hotel and gone to the marina! across the street.   

‘Holy shit!’ he bellowed. ‘Eduardo!’ he bellowed again.

Not waiting for the man to reappear, he yelled down the hall, ‘Get Chucky in the car immediately!’

Excitement caused his voice to squeak and if he could have, he would have blushed over it.

He could barely contain his excitement. ‘FINALLY!’  he thundered to himself.

He heard Eduardo coming to collect him and tamped down his emotions with an iron will.

Chapter Text

***

 

Judith had been in Cozumel long enough to have gotten into a routine of sorts. It consisted of having a donor twice an evening, then alternately reading gossip magazines and romance novels while staring out of the huge window in her room that looked out on the marina. She waited as patiently as she could for a huge yacht to show up, but she’d been here for several days now. She finally resigned herself to the idea that she was just going to have to sit here and wait. She’d stopped texting and calling Bills phone as it was obvious that he wasn’t going to text her again, but she still checked her messages just to make sure.

The maid hit the button for the day shutters on the window and her ‘rising donor’ left.

Judith walked to the window and looked out.

‘Oh, my goodness! There it is!’ she exclaimed excitedly.

‘It really is big.’ She murmured, distractedly.

She was a little dazed and dazzled, taking in the sheer size of it. It was fully half the length of the cruise ship sitting on the opposite dock. She turned to go to the yacht immediately, but shook herself and opened her phone instead. If anyone was watching her, she needed to be careful. It was unlikely, but precautions were sensible.

She was unsurprised to see there was no message.

She texted Bill. ‘I see it! Are you here?’ and hit send. She waited. Nothing happened.

She waited five more minutes and distracted herself by thinking about fucking.

Still nothing.

She sighed in frustration and sat down.

As soon as her rear hit the chair, she bounced back up again. She was done waiting, damnit! If someone was watching, she’d kill them. She checked herself in the mirror and flew out the door. It took her less than a minute to arrive on the dock. There wasn’t a gang plank or anything attached to the dock, so, she simply leapt onto the yacht, solving the problem and searched it entirely, finding no one. Not even the crew.  

‘What the hell is going on!’ Judith demanded of the silence. 

She whirled on her heel to leave and ran smack into Felipe de Castro’s broad chest.

‘Judith Vardemon, I presume?’ he stated it as fact.

Judith, was quite put off her center, her mouth hanging open in surprise.

Her king was standing in front of her, on an enormous yacht that she had just broken into.

‘Oh God.’ She panicked, she hoped it wasn’t his.

She stood there gaping and cocked her head to the side and blinked in order to buy herself some time.

‘He’s still looking for Bill.’ She realized.

Felipe watched as the confusion spread across her lovely, if rather plain face.

He didn’t speak again, he simply waited for Judith to pull it together.

‘Goodness!’ she exclaimed finally, after a pause that had gone well past rudeness. ‘Please, forgive my rudeness, Your Majesty! Obviously, your presence here has startled me. I can’t imagine what you are doing here!’ she stammered and bobbed the slightest curtsey.

‘Can’t you?’ he asked lazily.

‘No.’ she said innocently and looked around the room. His entire staff is with him, she realized. ‘Crap.’

‘Bring her.’ Felipe commanded.

Pivoting, he returned to the sitting room at the end of the hall.

Judith was forced to follow.

His Majesty gestured to the chair she stopped next to, indicating that she should sit down. Felipe, oddly, but politely, remained standing as Judith nervously took the seat, then primly folded her hands into her lap and crossed her ankles.

‘Thank you, Your Majesty.’ She said, softly.

‘Ms. Vardemon, I am looking for Sookie Stackhouse.’ Felipe stated.

‘Why does he think that I care a thing about him looking Sookie? she wondered, trying not to panic.

‘I believe that Sookie, is traveling with Bill Compton. I think you believe that as well.’ Felipe imparted.

‘Well, that answered that.’ She realized, stupidly. She was caught and the situation was serious.

Felipe finally sat down and waited for Judith to order her thoughts. ‘Questioning was easier this way.’

Judith did her best to keep her face impassive as her worries ran riot through her head.

Bill had killed the Sheriff of Area Five and that was definitely Felipe’s domain, which explained why he was looking for Bill. So, obviously, he must think Bill was with her now, she reasoned. But, ‘How does Felipe de Castro even know me?’ she wondered. What was he doing here and why was he asking her about Sookie Stackhouse, of all people? He didn’t ask her about Bill, Pam or Eric, he’d asked her specifically about Sookie. It was odd.

Judith had not had contact from Bill since arriving. No returned calls, or text messages. In fact, the only message she’d received so far, was the one she’d gotten telling her to meet him here. No greeting, no details, no extra information at all. Her confused brain was working furiously to sort out what she should do. She glanced over at the King.

He wasn’t looking at her or watching her at all. He was scrolling through his phone, of all things.

She almost rolled her eyes.

After another beat, she decided she was going to have to roll the dice. She didn’t know if it would work out not but if it did, she might be able to put Felipe completely off of Bill’s scent and buy him even more time.

‘Your Majesty,’ Judith said, all confused innocence. ‘Sookie is traveling with Eric Northman, on this yacht.’

Felipe sighed; nothing was ever easy.‘Eric Northman,’ he intoned with raking boredom, ‘Was killed, standing next to his wife, The Queen of Oklahoma, while visiting his Progeny, both of whom are also dead by Bill Compton’s hand. 

‘That is very interesting, your Majesty, since Eric was in Key West a few days ago with Sookie.’

Judith dropped the information like a bomb.

‘Do you know the punishment for lying to your king?’ Felipe asked, continuing to scroll.

‘I saw them.’ Judith countered, finally gaining The King’s attention.

‘You actually saw, Eric Northman?’ Felipe asked.

He’d gone completely still, as something pricked at his thoughts.

‘Yes, your Majesty.’ She answered.

‘You saw Sookie with him as well?’ he demanded.

‘Yes, your Majesty,’ she answered again, trying not to let her annoyance with her sovereign show. 

What the hell was his deal with Sookie?’ she thought. ‘They were in Key West, just a few nights ago.’

‘When did this yacht arrive here?’ He interrupted her.

‘Just today, your Majesty.’

Felipe flicked a hand at Eduardo, who disappeared. He just remembered what been pecking at his memory.

‘Mouse Ears!’

‘Ms. Vardemon, I checked the Archive. I’m aware that you and Bill are family, but not nest mates. Why?’ he asked in a complete invasion of her privacy.

‘Sire…’ she stuttered shyly, dropping her gaze to her lap.

That was all that Felipe needed. It was everything he could do to remain calm and seated.

‘You love him.’ It was a statement, not a question.

‘Yes.’ She confirmed softly.

‘Ms. Vardemon, do you recognize these?’ he asked

Judith stared at the picture on her Kings phone.

Felipe knew immediately that she did.

‘Why is the King showing me a picture of the cuff links I gave Bill as a birthday gift?’ she pondered.

‘I can see that you do.’ Felipe said dispassionately.

The game was up. Felipe had everything he wanted now. Judith would confirm his suspicions shortly.  

‘Judith, can you think of any reason at all, why Eric Northman would be wearing these cuff links? Does Bill gamble? Would Bill have sold them? Would he have lent them to Northman? Any reason at all?’ Felipe asked.

Judith couldn’t take her eyes away from the photo, confused by King Felipe’s question.

‘Why Eric would, wait…what? Where did you get those?’ She asked in numb confusion.

‘I don’t have them. This is a picture the Magister sent me today. The Magister has them. They were found in the remains that were next to the remains of Freyda, The Queen of Oklahoma, which presumably was Eric Northman.’

‘Those…those are Bill’s! I gave those to him!’ Judith shouted at her sovereign.

She was shaking like a leaf.

She’d just shouted at and was now glaring at King Felipe who only nodded at her, confirming what she knew. The fullness of it rushed through her and the grief-stricken moan that began deep inside of her bloomed, as complete understanding took hold. The moan tore from her mouth and turned into a shriek as her diaphragm emptied. She stood up, balled her hand into fists and drew in a huge lungful of air to replace it and screamed all of her rage right at Felipe’s until there was nothing left in her.

Felipe never looked up from his phone as he texted Eduardo. It was best just to let what was going to happen, happen. The sooner an emotional reaction to something was allowed to come to fruition and pass, the sooner he could get on with business.

It was his best tool and he had learned it from his human Mother. Patience.

However, because he’d been ignoring Judith’s outburst, he had not seen her pull the phone from her pocket.

He didn’t know anything was happening until she began to scream into it.

‘Northman! I will kill you for this!’ she screamed into the voicemail. ‘That bitch Sookie is dead as well! When I find you, I am going to stake you and then drink her dry.’ She cried hysterically into the phone.

Felipe leapt from his chair and slapped Judith in the face. She fell to the floor dropping the phone.

His guards rushed into the room at the commotion. 

Felipe pointed at her phone. ‘I want to know where that went immediately.’ He commanded.

Judith, yanked herself off of the floor in a fury. Completely lost in her grief she leapt at and attacked Felipe.

She never the opportunity to touch him.

Felipe had all of the information, he needed from her and wasn’t going to put up with that screeching. He plunged his hand into her chest and ripped her heart out. Judith’s remains hit the floor with a wet, disconcerting, plop that caused Rodney to wince and jerk away from the splatter as he retrieved her phone in the nick of time.  

‘Clean that up!’ Felipe ordered, tossing Judith’s heart into the bloody pile of her guts.

He pulled a silk handkerchief from his pocket and began cleaning Judith’s blood from his hands.

‘Eduardo, find the Captain of this ship!’ He bellowed, following it up with, ‘And have that PI find Northman! They can’t have gone far. I want to know where they are before the sun comes up today. If I don’t, I am going to be very unhappy.’ He commanded, stalking away. ‘Where is my Master Suite?’ he bellowed again, to no one in particular as he wandered away.

Nick and Rodney went to get started on the phone and delegate the 'cleaning' to someone else.

Felipe was a very, very, happy Vampire! This ship was magnificent! It was even to big to be considered a yacht. It was a proper ship.

‘Good God.’ He said, coming to a halt. He was already in the lowest level of the ship, having been intensely curious about the engines.

‘Is that a submarine?’ he exclaimed!

It was.

'Unbelievable!' he shouted, joyously.

After several extremely trying days, everything had finally come together.

He was standing on his ship and he had the means with which to extricate Sookie from Northman who, it turns out wasn’t dead after all.

He had everything he wanted, and a mother fucking submarine!

This, was a very good evening!  

‘I may have Northman staked.’ He thought, happily.  

Maybe, and he was just spit balling here, he'd put him in silver instead and keep him in it until he needed him.

‘Wouldn’t that be fun!’ he mussed, getting into the spirit of it.

He wouldn’t stake him, obviously, but it was enjoyable to fantasize about it. Northman was too valuable to waste that way. He'd put him in silver though.

The thought of it nearly made him hard.

After all he’d been through the last several weeks because of all of this bullshit! ‘Oh yeah! Someone was definitely getting the silver.’

He was back in the main levels again and tossed open the doors to a truly…indescribable, stateroom.

Someone had simply covered it in lace and pink roses, adorned every bit of fabric in the room.

He stared at it in horror, shook his head, and pulled the doors closed, thinking ‘What in the hell…’  

He’d just turned away to continue looking for the master, thinking ‘I hope they all aren’t like this one!’ when Eduardo stopped him.

‘Sire, two humans have boarded. Nick and Rodney have them.’

Felipe was anxious to keep exploring and was annoyed by the interruption, ‘Bring them!’ He barked.

Eduardo hauled in a fortifying breath and shuffled away. He was exhausted. Literally running on fumes.

Sometimes he didn’t know if Felipe ever knew what was going on around him.

He’d personally fed his King twice this week, averaged four and a half hours of sleep each day since leaving Las Vegas, and had been living on fast food.

After all of that, Felipe had the audacity to mention that he’d tasted greasy.

Eduardo needed his assistant here, but Felipe had insisted that she stay in Las Vegas to perform her duties there. 

He needed decent food and rest soon, or he was going to collapse.

Chapter Text

Bon Temps

 

I was awake and I could hear everything. I could hear the cars on the Interstate and insects crawling. I could hear the breeze outside and footsteps. I heard a voice and panting and…heartbeats.

I sat up taking note that I was obviously in a bed and even though it was dark in the room, I could see everything just as if the lights were on.

I looked down at the bed and even though I wasn’t disoriented, I wasn’t fully with it either…

'That’s Karin. She’s my Maker. She’s sleeping.’  I said, talking myself through the fog.

My thoughts were stilted so I took a minute to sit there and remember what was going on. What had happened and who I was. It didn’t take long to piece it all together.

It was funny to me, that I knew who Karin was right away, but I had to think about who I was.

I moved the sheets back to get out of the bed. As the cover wafted the air, I could smell…Eric. And…Bill. And…Pam? Then, the whole house came rushing at me and I swiped at my nose. Even though it had been many years, I could smell my Gran and Jason. I could smell Sam and something else that was much stronger and much more interesting.

I slid out of the bed, went to the ladder, and climbed up out of the cozy space. Funny that I knew it was the guest space. No, I knew it was my guest space.

‘I know everything.’ I thought, as I climbed.

The interesting smell got stronger as I reached the landing. It smelled really good and I wanted it.

Suddenly, I was standing outside.

The sun had just dropped into the horizon in the field to the south. The pink and purple of dusk hanging in the sky was nearly blinding me, but I could see. My other senses were being bombarded as well. The light was brilliant, the smells heady, and the noise of the outdoors a cacophony in my ears. It was overwhelming and confusing, but above all of that one thing stood out. I could smell what I instinctively knew was blood and it was close. I spun several times to look for it, but couldn’t find it.

I roamed through the yard and the cemetery. Then, on my way back through my yard, there it was.

Coming out of the tree line behind the house was Terry Bellefluer and his dog, Annie. Terry was obviously baffled when he saw me standing in the yard. I was glowing in the fading light and he was trying to make sense of what he was seeing.

‘Sookie?’ he called. ‘You okay? What’s happened to you?’

The moment I saw Terry, all I could think of was his blood. I wanted it and the need for it was worse than anything I’d ever experienced before.

I heard the timber of his gruff voice and I knew he was someone I that I loved and depended on, but even though I knew I loved him, my reaction was immediate.

I closed the distance between us in a blink. I was so hungry and he smelled delicious. I felt a smile curl my lips and fangs dropped from the roof of my mouth.

‘Sookie, what the hell!’ Terry exclaimed, and jumped.

He was terrified and I could smell the fear seeping from his pores. It ignited a ragging need in me. I leaned forward to smell him and my eyes fluttered closed with pleasure.

Annie growled at me and Terry took another step back.

‘Sookie, it’s me Terry, your friend. Don’t you remember me?’ he asked.

I heard the words he was saying, but only barely. The sound of Terry’s blood pulsing in his veins was roaring in my ears and it was so good.

Like falling asleep listening to a thunder storm, or babies laughing, or really good music.

‘Sookie!’ Terry tried again. This time he yelled, loud and forceful in his panic, because I was hissing at him.

‘Are you in there, gal? It’s me, Terry Bellefluer!’ He yelled again.

I blinked, hearing his voice and it registered through the symphony of other noises in my conscience.

I pulled my longing gaze from the pulse in his neck and his face came into focus. Not only could I smell his fear, but now I could see it written all over his face.

‘His fear is like whipped cream on pie.’ I thought, strangely.

I was working very hard not to grab at him and savor this moment, but it was so hard not to. I was so hungry.

I don’t think I’d ever felt this hungry before, but something was keeping me from pouncing on him.

‘I really want to bite him.’  I thought forcefully, but I was mentally shaken into an acute focus. 

All at once, I knew that Karin was awake and she was talking to me and calming me once again through our blood bond.

I knew now this was the reason I hadn’t simply attacked Terry and drained him right there in the yard.

Karin was using all of her mental strength to hold me back. In a small way I was glad of it.

In a more selfish way, I just wanted the blood.

‘Terry,’ I said softly, as my brain engaged, taking control, ‘Whatever you do, don’t run.’ I begged him.

‘I don’t know what’s happened to you Sookie, but you are really scaring me. I wanna run!’ He moaned.

I bent my knees at his words and the dogs growling became louder.

‘I know Terry, but please don’t.’ I choked out, struggling for control. ‘It’s everything I can do right now to just hold on. Listen to me, don’t turn around and don’t run, please! Just take very slow steps backwards until you reach your truck, but whatever you do, don’t turn your back on me.’ I begged again.

Terry’s heart was about to beat out of his chest and his heated blood smelled like dinner and  dessert.

I yelled for my Maker, ‘Karin! Oh my God, Karin! Help!’

Terry took slow steps back. Annie growled ferociously and he had to drag her with him.

‘Someone will come soon, Terry. It’s almost dark, just keep going slow.’ I promised and agonized all at the same time.

Trying to take my mind off of his blood, I said conversationally, ‘Tell me what has been going on at Merlotte’s since I’ve been gone.’

It was a mistake. I’d confused him with the question. Terry was wondering why I wanted to chat with him while I was stalking him across the yard.

In his confusion, he turned to look over his shoulder to judge the distance to his truck. The moment he turned his head, I lost my grip on the control I’d been clinging to and I lunged at him.

Annie leaped between us to protect him. I grabbed the beloved dog out of the air, yanked her head back and sank my fangs into the screeching animal, instead of Terry.

Terry, frozen in horror at the scene before him, took a breath, then began screaming at me to stop. Sobbing, he fell to his knees while I drained his poor dog.

He cursed at me, begging me to stop over and over again, instead of taking the opportunity to run unwilling to believe that I'd really kill him or his Annie.

I’d played with Annie when she’d been just a tiny pup, brought her treats and toys. I’d even looked after her occasionally when Terry had to be out of town for a few days.

Poor Terry, with PTSD from the war was traumatized by what he’d seen me do and curled himself into a wailing ball of misery on my gravel driveway. 

Finished with the dog, I carelessly dropped her lifeless body to the ground and stalked toward Terry.

When I reached him, I pulled him roughly off on the ground by his hair, then shoving his head to one side, I exposed his sunburned neck.

He babbled at me continuously ‘Why’d you do it, Sookie?’

I ignored the babbling, pulled the sweat soaked collar of his shirt away and began to make my strike when I was unceremoniously tackled from behind and went tumbling ass over tea kettle through the yard. Furious at being deprived of Terry's blood, I was on my feet in an instant, but Karin maintained a death grip on me. Murderous rage erupted in my veins and I began to fight her like a crazed monster.

I managed to twist away from her in seconds and was free.

Growling a warning at her, I rushed at her trying to get at Terry. She blocked me easily and what I thought had been real fury suddenly turned into a maddening incoherent red haze.

‘Get Terry out of here!’ Karin blared.

I twisted to see who she was talking to, it was Pam. 

‘Get out of my way!’ I screamed and attempted to launch myself at Karin.

Eric, thinking that we were under attack, streaked past Pam into the yard and skittered to a halt attempting to make sense of the chaos happening all around him.

I could see him through the red haze of the hunt. He was mad as hell and ready to go to war and he stalked angrily across the yard past Karin.

I tried to speed past him, but he deftly grabbed me up and vaulted into the air with me. He had my arms pinned so I couldn’t swing at him.

I satisfied myself by drumming my bare toes against his shins, but it didn’t last long. It hurt.

The higher he flew the calmer I became. I couldn’t smell the blood anymore, so my head cleared quickly.

He stopped climbing when I relaxed against him.

We looked down at the scene from very high in the air.

Reider, had picked up Annie and had already begun to dig a hole to bury her in. Karin was in the process of glamouring Terry, which was good.

He had terrible PTSD and I’d just put him through hell.

‘I'm so hungry.’ I said, embarrassed. ‘What did I do?’ 

‘I’m aware that you're hungry. You ate Terry’s dog. He loves that dog you know. You  love that dog.’ He scolded me. 

‘So Hungry though.’ I repeated, almost in a whisper.

‘I am going to get you dinner, but you have to promise to be a good girl. Promise?’ Eric smiled wickedly, piquing my curiosity.

‘Yes, I promise.’ I agreed, quickly.

‘You have to do exactly as I say, or I'll take you away, so you have to really promise.’ He threatened.

‘I did promise.’ I whined, angry.

‘Tsk, tsk, Sookie. Behave.’ He chastised.

I pouted. He kissed the lip I’d thrust out and I was immediately distracted from food.

Lust flamed inside me. I purred at him and ran my tongue up the vein in his neck.

Blue flames erupted behind his eyes. ‘Later, hellion.’ He whispered, in my ear, stroking my cheek with his lips as he pulled away.

Eric swallowed hard and began to move toward the campers he’d scouted the evening before.

They were about a mile away.

He’d saved them for Sookie this evening and would've told Karin about them, but…

'What the hell happened, exactly?’  he wondered as he descended into the tiny two-person camp and glamored both of the humans without a problem.

‘Come here.’ He beckoned her with a crooked a finger. She came and eagerly shifted back and forth on her feet, anxious for the blood she knew she was about to get. ‘Now, drink. Slowly.  No gulping and do not kill either of them. Only drink until you feel the flow of the blood slow.’ He explained; his voice was very soft.

So, I drank, trying not to gobble.

‘Yes, that is very good.’ He praised. ‘Now stop.’

I had tuned into the sound of Eric’s voice and found it easy to follow his commands, strangely.

‘Now again.’ He said, bringing me to the woman. ‘Slowly.’

I drank and drank until finally, I felt like I could let go.

‘Excellent.’ He smiled.

I felt much more in control of myself now. All of my senses were still kicking and somehow, I instinctively knew that I was still on my property.

Eric healed the puncture wounds I’d made, glamored the couple and sent them to bed early.

They wouldn’t remember a thing about this in the morning. They were thinking that they wouldn’t even fool around tonight, just…go to sleep.

While I was watching Eric, I could swear I heard him muttering to himself.

'…love you so much…fucking…scare me to death…'

But his mouth wasn’t moving. 

I knew I’d heard him, but he hadn’t spoken. I was sure of it…maybe. ‘No, I am sure of it.’  I thought, confidently. 

He stepped to me while I was trying to decide if I had gone crazy as said, ‘Ready?’

He didn’t wait for me to answer, just lifted me into the air. 

Moments later he sat me down in the yard. 

The mess of the blood was cleaned up, but I could still smell it. It was distracting. Only for a second though, because they were waiting for us. 

My family.’ I thought, happily.

‘What the hell happened?’ Eric demanded of Karin.

‘There goes the happy.’ I frowned.

Stepping past him, Karin walked directly to me, ‘Sookie, are you okay?’

‘Yes. Eric got me something to eat. I'm much better now.’ I answered, robotically. 

‘What were you doing out here?’ she questioned. 

‘I don’t know.’ I shrugged, absently.

‘You ate a dog…gross.’  Pam grimaced.

Everyone ignored her.

‘I woke up. The next thing I knew I was in the air with Eric. I thought it was supposed to just be me and you.’ I said, looking at everything, everywhere, except for Karin. 

‘Do you remember coming outside?’ Karin asked.

‘I remember, I was hungry. I remember that…it was daylight. Hey, wait, didn’t it work? I’m confused.’

Everyone in my family stared at me in silent awe.

Growing bored, with the silence, I went to explore the yard.

For the next half hour, the conversation swirled around me while I looked at everything two or three times, listened to everything, smelled everything, and thought about everything…except the conversation that was happening because it was boring as hell. I’d been a Vampire for half an hour and from what I could tell, everything was the same. Well, except for the extreme blood lust and out of control senses, still the same. 

‘Blood...I’m hungry.’ I thought. 

‘Sookie, are you listening to me?’ Karin pestered.

‘What?’ I said, blankly.

I’d been watching a toad and I had no idea what she’d asked me.

‘What did you mean it was still daylight outside?’ Karin asked.

‘Huh?’ I asked, turning my attention back to the frog.

‘You said it was still daylight when you came outside. What do you mean by that?’ she asked.

Oh my God, they were still talking about this?

‘Just that! The sun, it was on! Understand?’ I shouted.

My eyes went wide and my mouth dropped open. If I could have, I would have blushed.

Where is all of that aggression coming from?’ I wondered, totally embarrassed. ‘Ugh, Wow! I'm so sorry.’ I said.

Maybe everything wasn’t ‘still the same.’ I stared hard at Karin and realized that I could hear almost everything that she was thinking. Well, it was more like what she feeling and thinking. I focused and realized it was much more than just feeling her through the blood blond. It was all amplified and bleeding together so I did sort of know what she was thinking. I focused a bit harder. She was full of curiosity and wanted to ask me a million more questions.

I'd heard her think, 'Day walker...'

Suddenly, I heard Eric as well. He was full of anger and fear, but there was love there as well.

Honestly, I just didn’t understand what was going on with him. He was like a relentless wave pounding against me, and it was making me cranky.

‘He’s wound so tight he’s going to unravel.’ I remarked to myself.  

‘Please explain.’ Karin asked, interrupting my thoughts.

It was annoying. I was busy with trying to figure stuff out for myself and I didn’t want to try to answer questions that I didn’t have answers for!

‘Well,’ I said flipping my hair, ‘I was asleep you see and then, I wasn’t. Then, all I could think about was blood. You were asleep, but I could hear food in the yard, so…I came upstairs went outside and there was Terry…’

‘And it was still light outside?’ Karin interrupted.

‘Yes!’ I hissed exasperated. 

I could feel Eric’s agitation and then he thought,‘Fuck!’

I moved away from him, to stand next to Pam.

‘Why did you go outside then?’ Karin questioned.

‘Because I was hungry! Aren’t you listening?’ I huffed.

‘Sookie,’ she said patiently, ‘Weren’t you afraid of the light?’

‘No.’ I shrugged and shook my head.

‘Did you burn at all?’ she persisted.

‘No!’ Karin, pay attention!

I said all of this while being distracted by the toad that was jumping away after having just eaten a cricket.

Its tongue had flown right out of its mouth like it was slow motion or something and made a whipppssssh, sound. 

I didn’t want the toad to leave and was getting ready to grab it, when it registered to me what all of the conversation over daylight was about.

I’d been outside in the daylight and it hadn’t really registered until right now. ‘Holy shit!’ 

Then I noticed Eric’s brain was completely silent. I stopped thinking about daylight and stared at him hard. 

He looked at me perplexed as I studied him for clues as to what had just happened. I looked at Karin. I couldn’t hear her either.

My eyes widened. I’d just put my mental shield up, without effort, without even knowing that I’d done it.

‘I’m doing this with multiple brains!’ I marveled.

To test the theory that I was actually doing this I dropped the shield and listened. 

‘Only Karin and Eric…huh. Strange.’ I thought.

 My next thoughts went quick as lightning from one subject to the next.

I could hear Vampires and I could hold my shield with the same amount of effort it took to hold back a curtain in order to look out of the window.

I’d almost eaten Terry, but hadn’t. So, I had some control, but not a lot. Poor Annie.

I circled back to the fact that I’d been outside long before full dark and hadn’t suffered any ill effects from the sun at all.

I tried to slow things down to puzzle out how these things were possible, but Eric answered my questions for me.   

‘It’s your fairy blood.’ He blurted.

I grimaced at him, knowing that it was true and my shield dropped.

‘You can’t let anyone know about this ever.’ He commanded.

Well, at least now I knew what was going on with Eric. He was nauseous with fear, as he spoke and he could obviously only mean the day walking.

My Viking, who generally speaking wasn’t afraid of anything, had been in the middle of a full emotional collapse since the Summit. God only knew what he’d gone through over the last seven years to make him such an emotional basket case about all of this.

I wish he’d get a grip.’  I complained, silently.

His drama was bothersome and let’s face it, it was truly disconcerting to see him this way.

Every single thought I’d just had, made me feel like an asshole! It wasn’t like I could stop thinking it though. I had no patience for his worries.

Right now, I felt like I could conquer the world. It was heady. His impatient father routine was pissing me off.

‘Why can’t he be more like Karin?’ I pondered; she’s looking at me with so much wonder that I can practically read the word possibilities in her eyes.

‘Eric can see it as well. He just isn’t at all happy about it.’ I lectured myself, thinking a little humility might be in order.

‘Sookie,’ Pam said, gaining my attention. ‘Have you seen yourself yet?

‘No.’ I admitted, welcoming the change of subject.

‘You're going to be very pleased.’ She smiled, knowingly. ‘You’re simply stunning.’

We looked at each other, then instantaneously we were standing in front of the vanity in my bathroom. 

‘Oh my God.’ I blurted in wonder. ‘You’re right!’ 

It was like…I’d had an entire body lift and spent a month at Club Med. It was more than that even, I was alive again and so much more. There was light in my eyes, but there was more than just light, they glittered with awareness. I couldn’t see a single pore in my skin. It was like, new born baby skin. Soft, like pure silk or feathers!  But it was my hair that was truly incredible. It had always been really great hair, thick and perfect really. Now, it was shining like new money and it had grown another four inches to hang just above my tail bone. Without warning, I stripped all of my clothes off and gasped at what I saw in the mirror. I hadn't looked this good naked, since I was 21 years old.

Pam blinked at me.

I’d shocked her by pulling all of my clothes off, but when I smiled at her in the mirror and put my hand in the air for a high-five she laughed and smacked my hand.

‘Impressive!’ she nodded, taking me in again.

‘Damn skippy!’ I said tartly and pulled my clothes back on.

‘I’m hungry.’ I said, pulling my t-shirt over my head and settling it around my waist.

‘Shocking.’ Pam laughed. ‘Let’s get you a NeuBlood.’ She said and we went to the kitchen.

‘And then,’ I said, ‘let’s go do something fun!'  I twirled in a circle as we walked.

‘Probably not a good idea.’ Literally everyone said as we entered the kitchen.

‘Why!’ I fussed and took the lids off of a carton of NeuBlood, then popped them in the microwave.

It looked like I was still going to be the hostess with the mostest even if I was a Vampire now.

The microwave warmed the blood as everyone explained how dangerous it was for all of us if we were seen.

‘We could go to Monroe.’ I suggested smartly.

The microwave dinged to let me know it was finished.

‘What do you want to do in Monroe?’ Eric asked.

‘I don’t know.’ I said, putting the lids back on the bottles of blood and then shaking them.

I handed the first one to Eric out of habit and the next one to Karin.

‘Maybe go to the movies?’ I suggested innocently, not really knowing what Vampires did for fun.

I handed the rest of the warm blood to my family and picked up my bottle.

Just as Pam was saying, ‘It will be too late by the time we get there to go to the movies.’ I took a big swallow of my first NeuBlood.

The warm liquid hit my tongue and choking I spit it right back out of my mouth and into the middle of the kitchen floor.

‘Ugh!’ I screeched. ‘That is awful! How can you drink that?’ I squawked loudly.

Every single member of my family, was laughing their asses off as I continued to spit, into the floor and swipe at my tongue.

I had the vague notion that they'd been discussing this moment for days and possible wagers were made!

‘Blood is supposed the be thick, with the heavy taste of warm metal and life and light.’ I lessoned, the elderly.

Pam was laughing so hard, that blood tears pooled in the corners her eyes and she clung to Eric as if she’d fall to the floor if she didn’t.

Glaring daggers at her I yelled ‘This…tastes like…water…with…aluminum foil in it!’ and gagged.

‘That is an accurate description if there ever was one.’ Reider howled.

My indignation was a living thing. I didn't find it funny at all.

‘There is no way I am eating that.' I said, dumping the contents of the bottle into the sink. 'I can’t! And I am starving!’ I complained bitterly and bent wash the foul taste of Neu Blood out of my mouth.

When I was satisfied that I'd gotten most of the taste out of my mouth I begged my Maker prettily, ‘Let’s go to Monroe, please.’

‘I guess we're going to Monroe.’ Karin said.

Eric began protesting immediately, but Karin forestalled him, ‘It’s in her contract, Eric. I can’t force her to eat in a way she doesn’t want too.’ She explained.

I smiled at Eric as if to say ‘Ha!’ and sang, ‘I am going to go and change.’

I twirled away from him and skipped down the hall to my suitcases.

As I twirled and skipped, I heard a frustrated Eric ask, ‘So we’re not even going to discuss the fact that she can walk in the light?’

‘Not tonight.’ Karin said. ‘I … we  need to think on it. I agree, it’s imperative that we keep it a secret. I know all of this has been hard on you, but you need to try to relax. We’ve bought a few days to get our bearings. There’s a lot of decisions to be made and questions to be answered. We’ll get there. She just needs a little time to adjust. You’re so wrapped up in your own feelings right now that you can’t see her. Honestly, that isn’t you at all.’ She said perplexed. ‘Just, try to be calm and really look at her.’ Karin finished gently. ‘I need to go and change.’ She finished, giving his hand a squeeze, then turned to go.

Before she could, there was a hesitant knock at the front door. She stopped and listened, berating herself for being distracted long enough to miss the sound of someone approaching the house.

I appeared in the living room in the time it took to blink and went to the door. I was wearing jeans and a bra.

‘Stop!’ Both Karin and Eric commanded.

‘What?’ I asked, obliviously.

‘We don’t know who it is.’ Karin explained.

‘It’s Beth Osiecki.’ Beth said, from the other side of the door.

I nodded, shrugged at the door and said, ‘Beth.’ Then pulled it open.

Karin reached me just in time. Beth’s smell wafted over me my fangs popped out. ‘Hungry.’ I groaned.

‘Oh yeah, this is a great idea.’ Eric complained.

I actually heard his eyes roll.

‘One moment Beth,’ Karin said, closing the door.

She turned me to face her and then she said, ‘Sookie, as your Maker, I command you, not to bite or frighten Beth.’ I actually whined and my fangs put themselves away.

With that action a semblance of reason returned and I calmed down. Which also clued me in that I’d probably scared Beth witless and right after that. Also, I knew that I didn’t even care.

Everything came and went so fast that I sagged in Karin's grip.

‘Go and put a shirt on.’ she said, handing me over to Eric, who I'd just realized was standing behind me. 

I had a shirt on and was back in the living room before Karin could even get Beth in the door. Eric was behind me again, his hands on my shoulders.

I knew from his touch and his brain that it wasn’t to keep me in place. Karin’s command was forcing my good behavior. Holding me was to put Beth at ease. 

Karin opened the door then said, ‘Beth, it’s okay, please come in.’

As soon as Beth was inside, I apologized, ‘Beth, I'm so sorry. I hope I didn’t frighten you. I haven’t gotten a handle on my fangs yet, but I promise, you're in no danger.’ I lied my face off.

I didn’t mean a word of it. If Karin hadn’t commanded me not to, I'd be drinking Beth right now. I’d only said those things to make Karin happy and get the papers I knew Beth was there to deliver.   

The pretty apology hadn’t been a surprise to Eric, although he was impressed with the way I had handled the faux pas.

He was also thinking that he wished he could sink himself into me right now and that it didn’t seem possible that a Vampire could be more beautiful than Nuri, but here I was. He also wanted to kiss and lick every inch of me instead of go to Odin be damned, Monroe. He was also thinking that he was hungry and would go to Monroe without any more complaining because it would make me happy. He needed to work harder to move past his fears. Then he thought that I had a very nice ass and if I brushed against him again, he'd haul me out of here and wouldn’t bring me back until morning

‘Whoever said men don’t think?’ I wiggled against him just to see if he'd do what he wanted. 

His entire body groaned with want and he thought ‘Saucy little wench.’

Wench? Really? Wench? '

I felt Eric grow and stiffen.

I will show you wench.’ I thought, and moved my nice ass away.

He grunted his disappointment.

I smiled self-satisfied and slammed my mental shield into place.

Karin flicked a glance at us and rolled her eyes. I grimaced at her, remembering that she knows my moods and feelings now. I tried to decide how I felt about that. Which was maybe something I should have put a little thought into before now. We were signing papers then. It didn’t take long to conclude all of that business, so we soon said our goodbye’s and that was that.

‘Trust established.’  I said, to myself a few times, thinking about, then getting caught up on the play of words and how they meant a few different things to us.

‘I'm happy that’s done. Sookie, can we still trust her now that she knows you're turned?’ Karin asked.

‘I don’t know.’ I said honestly. ‘I can’t hear humans anymore.’ I lied. ‘Or, at least, I couldn’t hear Beth.’

Neither Karin or Eric knew what to say to me.

‘Hey, I'm pretty fucking happy about that.’ I announced, surprised at having used the f'bomb so freely.

I decided not to offer up any more information about myself until I had a better understand of everything that was going on with me. ‘So, let’s go already! I’m starving!’ I pushed.

We decided we would fly to Monroe. It was an hour away by car. We could be there in 10 minutes if we flew. Also, it was just safer for us to fly.

We decided that we'd hit the dance clubs, although they'd have to be human clubs. Also, It was week night which meant we'd have to go to the campus of The University of Louisiana Monroe.

So, we resigned ourselves to an inebriated dinner and bad music.

Anything was better than NeuBlood.’ I thought selfishly as we gathered on the front lawn.

Everyone with the exception of Pam and I could fly. She and I both stepped toward Karin at the same time. 

‘I'll go with Karin.’ I said, looking at Pam curiously.

This annoyed Eric of course and I wickedly thought, this could be a fun game, then I thought better of it. Eric didn’t have a handle on his emotions and it made him dangerous.

However, I was not his responsibility. With Pam automatically assuming that Eric would take me, it looked like everyone was going to need to be reminded of this. This wasn’t some kind of co-parenting situation. I stepped into Karin’s embrace and we took to the air. 

 

Chapter Text

Monroe

 

 

We’d been in the noisiest, busiest, “club” we could find in Monroe for twenty minutes.

Calling it a club was being generous. It was actually, just a sports bar with a dance floor.

‘Whatever…’ it was big and it was packed for a weeknight, mostly students getting dinner.

When we landed in Monroe, Karin turned me to face her and said, ‘Sookie, as you Maker, I am telling you not to bite anyone until I say you may bite.’

I’d been tempted to have an attitude with her about it, but I decided that maybe she was right.

I felt fairly well in control of myself since I’d already had two humans tonight…’and a dog.’ I reminded myself, feeling some kind of way about it that I didn’t really understand yet.

Be that as it may, I was new and I was gung-ho, but I wasn’t an actual child, so I reminded myself, ‘No temper tantrums' then agreeably said, ‘Okay.’ And we went inside.

When I’d finally been allowed to lure the ‘bar back’ that I’d settled on, he was coming out of a storage room at the end of a long hallway that was split in two. On the far end were the restrooms and closer to the bar were the office, a storage room, and the walk-in cooler. Logan, his name tag read, had just finished breaking down some boxes and was going to take them to the dumpster out back, I assumed, as he was carrying them with him.

He stopped short when he saw me watching him and blocking his path. He knew that I was a Vampire. It wasn’t like I’d been hiding it, or any of us really.

I could see that he was nervous. He swallowed hard and kept a wary eye on me.

This wasn’t going how I wanted it to go already.

I sighed, and to put him at ease said, ‘Hi.’ Then stepped to the side, leaving the hallway clear so he wouldn’t feel trapped or threatened.

His posture eased when he realized that I wasn’t going to attack him.

‘Hi.’ He offered back.

I’d been thinking about how I wanted to do this…to approach him. Finally, I decided that I’d gotten this far in life just by being Sookie Stackhouse. I mean, I obviously have only been a Vampire for a few hours, but I don’t feel like a totally different person and hadn’t Karin explained that we don’t change we just become more direct.

‘If that’s so, how is it that we’re more direct with everything except food?’ I wondered, reasonably.

I must have made Logan nervous again, because he tried to shuffle past me.

‘Um…hey.’ I said, stiffly.

‘Yeah?’ he replied.

‘So, here’s the deal.' I said, having made up my mind. 'I just woke up tonight. I’m brand new. My Maker, you saw her in the other room, is letting me talk to you by myself so I can learn how to feed. I’m just wondering, if you’d consider letting me feed from you. If it makes any difference, I can pay you.’ I said, laying it all out to him.

Logan shifted his body back toward me and leaned the broken-down boxes against the wall.

‘You just transitioned?’ he whispered, excitedly.

Logan was actually perusing me when I answered, ‘Um…yeah.’

He tucked his hands in his jeans pockets and adopted a more conversational posture. ‘Did it hurt?’ he asked.

I smiled, ‘I’m not gonna lie to you. It hurt like the Devil, but it didn’t last very long.’

‘What made you decided to do it?’ he nosed.

‘I…ugh, a lot of reasons, I really don’t want to talk about it, if you don’t mind?’ I said, and my voice was strained.

‘OH! Sorry, my bad. I guess that is kind personal.’ Logan offered.

Karin’s blond head peeked around the corner at me, her blond brows drawn together in consternation.

‘What?’ I shrugged at her.

Then I heard her think, ‘It’s food. Is she going to start a friendship at every meal?’

I hadn’t considered that before. I mean, it would be weird if you sat down to a plate of spaghetti and asked it if it was okay if you ate it.

This wasn’t really the same though. This was a person. A person who had rights and feelings.

I couldn’t just…sink my fangs into his neck! It'd be rude. ‘Wouldn’t it?’ I questioned myself.

‘So, would it hurt for you to feed on me?’ Logan asked.

The question drew me back from my thoughts.

‘Well, whenever I was fed on before transitioning, it was always like, getting a shot. Just a small pinch and then it was always pleasant. I mean, I always had Vampires who cared if they hurt me or not. So, I mean, I can make it pleasant, I supposed. I can also make it so you don’t even know it’s happening.’ I offered with a slight shrug.

Logan nodded while he thought about what I said, then asked, ‘Would you, want to have sex with me while you did it?’

‘Well, not that you’re not handsome or anything and I did pick you because you smell like you showered just before you got here, and you’re the only person in this bar not completely inebriated, but I have a boyfriend. He, wouldn’t like it if I did something like that at all.’ I explained quickly.

‘I see.’ Logan replied.

I could see that he was disappointed. Karin came into the hallway then.

‘She can make you remember that you had sex with her, but really didn’t.’ she offered.

She had Logan’s attention. Mine too. ‘How the hell does that work?’ I speculated.

‘We can offer you cash as well.’ Karin added, bringing up money again.

‘Okay.’ Logan agreed immediately, but then added curiously, ‘How much cash?’

‘Three hundred?’ Karin offered.

‘Mmm, my rent is four hundred and I want to…’ he began.

‘Four hundred it is then.’ Karin interrupted.

As soon as Logan looked at Karin, she caught him with her glamour and held him. I was surprised at how quick this was moving along now.

Logan was truly within her control.

He hadn’t actually agreed, but I’m pretty sure he was going to. I’d feel better about it, if he would’ve said yes.

Well, he did say okay when money was mentioned, so that was a yes, but because he didn’t agree to the price…

‘Oh! I don’t know…’ I fussed at myself. I needed to pay attention.

When Karin saw me check in finally, she said, ‘Okay, when you find your mark, you do just as you did here, this was very good Sookie.’ She praised, then went on to explain, saying ‘When you use your glamour, it is critical that you maintain eye contact. Your intention is to gain control of his will. You do that, by focusing your will. Your will, should be the desire to subdue him. The easiest way to subdue a human, is to seduce them, but conversation works just as well. What you need to remember now, is that no matter who it is, if you don’t glamour the human or if you haven’t built trust with the human, they will begin to panic just as you are ready to bite. You can’t allow this to happen as a baby Vamp. Your predatory nature, will see it as a challenge, and you could inadvertently hurt the human. Something that you told me unequivocally that you didn’t want to ever do. So, your eyes are going to need to tell him, don’t struggle, you want this. Okay, so, start to focus your will.’ She explained quietly. 

I understood now, why Vampires made everything so sexy to humans. It was simply the easiest way.

I pulled my focus, but said ‘Okay, don’t let go of him until I say, because I need a minute.’

Then I did just as Karin explained. I focused on his profile while Karin held him with her eyes. I put heat and need into my intention.

When I added the promise, I said ‘okay, give him to me.’

Karin began to loosen her hold on him and I whispered to him ‘Logan, look at me, look into my eyes.’

It worked; Logan turned to me slowly as Karin let him go.

‘That’s right, look into my eyes.’ I coaxed softly.

He half smiled at me and I caught him. He was fully in my control. I couldn’t believe how easy it had been. I smiled back at him seductively and let that sensation ooze into my words.

‘I'm going to kiss your neck, Logan. Then, I’m going to bite you. You want me to do that, don’t you?’ I asked, trailing a finger over the pulse in his neck. He hesitated and I thought I was going to lose him, but I quickly said, ‘It’s okay. You’ll like it and It won’t hurt a bit. Especially the way I do it.’ I whispered, not knowing what the hell I was doing at all, just sort of rolling with it.

Logan nodded and leaned in closer and the stubble from his beard scraped across my jaw line.

‘Turn your head to me now, it going to be sexy, and fun. I’m going to kiss you right here.’ I said, touching him on the warm pulse point again.

He leaned all the way down and I kissed his neck right where I said I would.

I could feel the thrum of his blood pulsing, hot against my lips. I groaned and licked the spot.

‘Go slowly, Sookie.’ Karin coached.

I’d forgotten she was there and ignored her, licking him again, then pulled his soft flesh into my mouth, sucking on his neck.

He grabbed my hips and pulled me firmly against him.

I hesitated then not sure that I was comfortable with him touching me.

‘Easy.’ Karin said, and he relaxed his grip.

‘Bite him now, Sookie.’ Karin said.

My fangs descended and very slowly I sank them into Logan’s vein. Warm, heavy, wonderful blood splashed onto my tongue and I groaned in pure ecstasy. I latched on to him a bit down harder.

He stiffened against me and it was my turn to be reminded, ‘Easy.’ Karin, said stroking Logan’s hair and shoulders, helping him to relax. ‘Drink slowly, Sookie. You don’t want him to panic. You want to savor the blood. It is precious. You don’t want to make a mess and waste it.’

I grudgingly eased the pull of my mouth on the puncture realizing the Karin had the slightest bit of control over my actions. It was the tone she used. Just like a mother would with her child. It was almost as if I couldn’t help but obey her instructions simply based on the tone of voice she used.

‘Now send the sensation of security and safety.’ Karin instructed, and stopped touching him.

I slid my hands into his hair the way she’d done and ran my hands over his broad shoulders and chest, soothing him, making him feel secure and found that it was easy. I’d received this sensation from both Eric and Bill and somehow instinctively knew what to do. When I did, Logan wrapped his arms around me, running his hands down my body to my rear and ground himself against me.

Maybe I’d sent a little too much sensation. I pressed myself against him, enjoying his warmth.

‘It’s okay.’ Karin soothed. ‘I’m right here. It’s time to stop now.’ She said.

I immediately protested and gripped his neck not wanting to let go.

‘Don’t make me order you, Sookie. You can do it.’ She encouraged me.

I grudgingly stopped pulling at the puncture altogether and Logan sagged against me.

‘Prick your finger with your fang and heal the wound.’ Karin instructed.

I did it just the way I’d seen Eric do it time and time again.

‘Now it is time to implant the memory. You can make it as detailed as you want. When you are done, tell him thank you and send him a picture of pure white light, then say good-bye.’ Karin said, then tucked the wad of bills into his jeans.

‘Okay.’ I said, and did as Karin had instructed. I finished by saying, ‘You can go back to work now.’

Logan turned away from me and floated dreamily out of the darkened hallway.

Standing at the end of the hall, was Eric. Jealousy was eating him alive.

‘Crap…’ I complained silently.

Karin ignored Eric completely and said airily, ‘That was perfect. You’re a natural. We’ll try a different method next time. I noticed that you weren’t very comfortable with some of the nuances of this style of hunting.’

I was distracted and not really hearing her, because I was holding Eric’s gaze and refusing to back down.

‘You’re getting a taste of your own medicine.’ I thought, self-righteously.   

How many times had I had to watch him feed from someone else?

He broke first and walked away. His struggle was real, but he’d have to get past it.

As for me, I’d just answered at least two of my questions.

I didn’t like this kind of hunting at all, it was duplicitous.

Also, I couldn’t read minds anymore, unless I had the person’s blood.

‘Maybe this is good, maybe this is bad. I don’t know.’ I contemplated. 

I did know that I was enjoying the silence and that I was happy with the ease of maintaining the mental block on my mind. I had a feeling that Eric was going to put that ease to the test in the coming days though. 

Karin and I exited the hallway after I straightened my clothes and checked my mouth in one of the beer mirrors lining the hall. Pam, Nuri, and Reider were on the dance floor and had fed as well. We joined them. Eric however, was leaning against the bar, trying to brood. He’d caught the attention of three very drunk girls. I ignored him and proceeded to have a good time. When I flicked a glance back at the bar, Eric and the girls were gone. I frowned at the empty space, but kept right on dancing while geese and ganders meandered noisily around my head.

Hours later, we’d managed to turn a rather lack luster week night at a college bar into a wild party.  I was stuffed full of warm, delicious blood and fortunately, just as things were about to get well and truly out of hand, the bar tender called last call. We grouped together and flowed out of the bar into the ally.

This time, I wisely moved toward Eric, who scooped me up and we were soon in the living room at home. While we flew, I kissed Eric’s neck, played with his hair, and snuggled tightly to him, pressing as much of myself against him as I could in an effort to dissipate some of the tension between us. He wouldn’t relent and finally, I cheated, taking a peek inside his head.

It was odd, all he was thinking about was the house. There was just, a picture of it, in his thoughts.

We arrived home and everyone said goodbye. It was as if they understood what was about to happen.

Eric opened the door and I went inside.

While he locked everything up again, I rinsed my mouth out in the kitchen sink. When I was done, I turned to him to say that I was going to bed, but instead I was pushed up against the wall in the living room and Eric kissed the life out of me. He lifted me and held me against the wall with his body and then, I wasn’t wearing my pants. He stuffed his hand into the front of my panties and worked at my resolve to simply go to bed.  Obviously, I’d been caught unawares and I was off balance by the urgency and determination in his bid to keep me from calling it a night. I knew without having to be told what had gotten to him and to be honest, I’d been patient with it long enough. I was exhausted from dealing with his inability to master and decrease the incredible amount of nervous energy he poured into the atmosphere around us daily.

He’d never been this way before, so what was different now. 

I struggled against him and made him put me down. Then I pushed him up against the wall, climbed up his legs and rested my knees on his hip bones holding myself there and kissed the life out of him. I dropped to me feet when I was done and pulled his belt off, holding him to the wall with my other hand.

‘Stay there.’ I commanded and forced his jeans down to his ankles, then took him into my hand and worked on his resolve for a while. I dug my hand in the hair at his nape, pulling his mouth to mine, forcing him to come to me and then I really let him have it.

When he groaned, I dropped to my knees and demanded, ‘Come to me.’ Sliding him into my mouth.

This was different for us to say the least.  

‘Sookie!’ he choked out, when I took him deep.

I moved on him determined to take control of this situation and held his hips still as he tried to move with the rhythm I had created. He dug his hands into my hair wrapped the length of it around his fist and he tried to take the control back, but I was insistent and moments later he spilled himself into my mouth.

‘Woman!’ he yelled, while his body bucked.

I continued to make the small circles I’d been making all the way at his base with my tongue.

‘Not needing to breathe had its advantages.’  I giggled to myself.

He did haul me off of him then. The long mass of my hair was still wrapped around his fist.

I flicked my lust filled eyes at him and I licked my lips and smiled, challenging him to do better.

At once I found myself flat on my back and though he was half erect buried inside of me.

He pulled the hair still wrapped around his fist, using it to exposed my throat to him and my body bowed into an arch. His height was an advantage in this position and held me vulnerable and wide open to him while he slowly moved in me. I’d tried to stay out of his head, but I couldn’t hold my shield in place. The sensations he was building in me making it too difficult.  I was as deep inside of his thoughts as he was in me and he held me there immobile, slowly filling me with his body over and over again while he thought, ‘mine.’

‘Show her she is mine, prove she is mine, take what is mine, she is mine…please…please…be mine.’

Each time he thought mine, he would stroke stronger, faster, deeper, then the thought became a ragged whisper breathed into my ear, ‘Mine.’ Louder and stronger with each thrust, ‘mine, mine!’

I was caught in his rhythm, chanting the word with him.

 His free hand lifted my hips to reposition me and any part of me that wasn’t completely open to him, was now. It was so good and I so was ready.

‘Just a few more…’ I thought, and felt myself go.

I tightened around him, my body jerked and arched even higher. He sank his fangs into my neck and I came so hard, my bones vibrated. He pulled away to look at me and commanded, ‘Look at me.’

I complied and when his gaze held mine, he breathed, ‘Mine!’

‘You’re fucking well right.’ I agreed, and floated away for a moment.

When I came back, it was to realize that he was still moving inside me.

I pushed with my feet and flipped him over seating myself on top of him. Rolling my hips, I gave him as good as I’d just got. He filled his hands with my breasts and ran his thumbs over my nipples, squeezing them. I could feel him swell inside me and when he arched his back and his toes curled, I stared straight into him, ‘Mine!’ I echoed him and sank my fangs into his neck. He groaned and pulled me flat to his chest driving fully into me and I heard him think. ‘Home.’

Afterward we were nothing but a puddle of sensation on the living room floor. I was sprawled on top of him, as he’d wrapped his arms tightly around my torso. We lay there together and attempted to collect ourselves.

Something…had happened between us. Not just sex. It was more than the normal something.

I’d felt something lock and hold tight when I heard the word ‘home’ reverberate through him.

It was bonding that was so primal and basic, that there was a truth to it. I knew that we weren’t two anymore, but one. There was no longer a separation between us. We’d claimed each other. We’d agreed to it. We’d wanted it.

It woke something in us and I couldn’t wait for him to do it to me again.

I never wanted anyone but him to touch me ever again. I’d never understood what that had meant, until now.   

He sat up, lifting me with him and carried me into the guest room and down into our bedroom. He laid me in our bed and I wrapped myself around him. He clicked the light off next to the bed and kissed the top of my head.  Neither of us had spoken after, afraid if we did, a spell would be broken. We just lay together, completely connected and as he drifted to sleep, he thought, ‘Murder anyone who ever touches her again.’

It was the sweetest thing I’d ever heard.

I snuggled into him tighter and drifted to sleep myself.

Being a part of someone, was a heady sensation.

Chapter Text

Cozumel: Sunniva

 

‘Oh, my goodness!’  Raphael exclaimed loudly. 

He stared in wonder at the yacht, or was it a ship? Whatever it didn’t matter, it was gigantic and beautiful. Raphie, had been apprehensive about meeting Brian in person. Then, when Brian said that he had a surprise for them, he got nervous. All of that had melted away when he’d seen him in person. Brian had kind eyes and an open soul and his vibe was comfortable. Raphie just knew that this time together, was going to be significant. It had been like being struck by lightning. He was glad that he had set his apprehension aside and taken a chance. Raphie turned to Brian who was nervous and rushing through his words.

‘I can’t wait to show you the inside, you are just going to die! It’s the world’s largest personal yacht. Everyone is gone, so we won’t be able to take it out, of course, but we will have full access to it. It’s so much more private than staying in the hotel.' Brian said, excitement was bubbling out of him.

The excitement was beginning to overtake Raphie as well.

Brian took Raphie’s other suit case from his hand and told him where to step to board Sunniva.

Brian followed him and as they reached the top of the stairs to the main deck, two very large men stepped forward to meet them.

Only they weren't men, they were Vampire’s.

Brian dropped the suitcases and stepped directly in front of Raphie.

‘Raphael…run!’ he said urgently.

Raphie, hadn’t done as he’d been told, he just stood behind Brian, stupidly trying to understand what was happening just now. Whatever it was, it appeared that Brian was 'handling the situation.'

Only...he wasn't. Those men were huge and Brian had told him to run.

Raphie's, common sense was beginning to make a slow return. 

He began to back down the stairs as he heard Brian say, ‘You are trespassing, this is a private vessel.’ And then, he added, ‘What are you doing here?’

The men were not speaking, at all and it was very unsettling.

Raphie turned and began to run down the stairs when one of the men stepped past Brian and grabbed him. He only made it half way down the stairs before he’d been unceremoniously hauled off of his feet. Now, he was being dragged back up the stairs by his upper arm. His ass was bouncing on the steps as they went. He lost his shoe in the process and his terrified brain screamed to him that this was nothing like being Cinderella.

He was still being dragged even after reaching the main deck. The other man was pulling Brian along as well. They were taking them inside and Raphie began to panic.

He started screaming and fighting then, ‘Stop it!  I was invited here!’ he screamed, indignantly.

The man stopped and yanked him to his feet, only to slap him so hard that he actually saw stars. He was so stunned that he actually took a swing at the man who caught his wrist and squeezed it. It wasn’t hard enough to break it, but Raphie got the point instantly and stopped yelling. The man then continued to drag him inside by his captured wrist.  ‘

This is what you get for taking a chance!’ he railed at himself.

They’d finally come to a stop and Raphie ran a hand through his hair and straightened his clothes. For a blink he forgot to be terrified because he couldn’t believe how beautiful the room, he was standing in was. It only lasted for a moment though because he was being shoved forward to stand next to Brian.

‘I’m so sorry!’ Brian said, willing Raphie to except his apology. 

‘Do you even work on this ship?’ Raphie hissed at him, not masking his feelings at all.

They were in a foreign country. He’d heard the horror stories about what happened to American’s who break the law in other countries. He was seriously pissed off right now. 

‘Quiet.’ Ordered the huge man that had dragged Raphie up the stairs.

He stopped talking and started shaking.

Raphie's imagination was running wild with everything that could happen to them.

He didn’t even understand yet that the 'men' were Vampires. The one who’d hauled Brian inside left, but the other one stayed.

‘I do.’  Brian answered him. 'Work here...' Ignoring the Vampire who had told them to be quiet. ‘I just didn’t realize that we’d off loaded Sunniva because there were going to be other guests. I just thought…well, I don’t know what I thought…maybe I thought that she was just due for maintenance, or to be deep cleaned. You know, like steam the carpets.’ He tried to explain.

‘Quiet!’ The Vampire said, more forcefully this time.

‘It’s an honest mistake.’ Brian shrugged and said to the Vampire that had shushed him. ‘If you let us, we could just go. No harm no foul, just an honest mistake.’ He tried desperately to explain. ‘Come on man, I just picked Raphie up from the airport.’ He tried cajoling, good naturedly instead.

‘See.’ He pointed to Raphael who was nodding in agreement. ‘I can show you my ticket, we’re on vacation.’ He said, trying to help.

The Vampire, having had enough of being ignored slapped Raphie in the face again. Raphie actually hit the floor this time.

The man lifted him to his feet again, then pointed his finger in Raphie’s face, ‘Quiet…’ he said, in a serious tone.

The other one came back in the room and stood on the other side of Brian.

Raphie was holding his hand over the place on his face where the man had hit him. His wide terrified eyes holding Brian’s, who stared back at him miserably.

What the hell was going on here?’ he thought, while they both stood together in silent quaking with fear.

Brian reached out to take Raphie’s hand. Moments later another man entered the room and quirked a finger at them in a 'come with me' gesture.

The men pushed them forward and they moved through a corridor that let out into an even more beautiful room, than the one they had been standing in before. 

Brian was still holding his hand, thank goodness, otherwise he would have fainted.

There was a disgusting bloody mess in the floor, that looked like a pile of ligaments and innards. He was sure he was going to vomit, because his stomach had been sick with fear before they had even entered this room. Brian was gripping his hand tightly and for the first time it registered to him that Brian was just as terrified as he was. Raphie tore his eyes away from the mess in the floor, as someone had just come in with heavy duty garbage bags. He knew that they were going to start digging into the mess to get rid of it. He focused instead on the man who was standing in front of them now. In a jolt, he knew that they were never going to be allowed to leave. This man, wasn’t a man, he was a Vampire. 

Brian, was at a loss. The Vampire in front of him looked like someone had dragged him kicking and screaming out of a Las Vegas by his ridiculous tie. Although, it wasn’t what he was wearing, (a very expensive summer suit), it was his general appearance. His manner, his accessories, and such. He looked like a modern-day gangster. Brian had spent the last two years living with Vampires and he had never once feared for his life, or had been uncomfortable in any way. He was now and he didn’t know what to do, so he just started talking.

‘Sir,’ he began, ‘I am sorry. I had no idea anyone was going to be boarding the ship today. You have my sincerest apology. I work here, you see and I only wanted to show my friend the ship, before we checked into our hotel.’ He lied. ‘If you will just let us go, you will never see us again.’

Felipe flicked a glance at Rodney. 

Rodney had been the one to drag Raphie back up the stairs and slap him around. At Felipe’s glance, Rodney punched Raphie in the stomach. Raphie hit the floor again and it was a miracle that he didn’t lose the contents of his stomach. He couldn’t breathe which was probably why. He was trying desperately to get air. Finally, he pulled in a great lungful, which he immediately choked on.

‘What the hell!’ Brian yelled, at Felipe.

Felipe gestured at Rodney and he kicked Raphie in the face, breaking his nose.

Raphie, fell over and curled himself into a ball shielding his face with his arms. He'd begun crying. Tears were streaming down his face and mixing with the blood pouring from his nose.

Brian understood then. He shut his mouth and stood at attention, his head bowed in respect and contrition.

‘Very good.’ Felipe nodded, eyeing him. ‘We're making progress.’

Felipe, didn’t say anything more to the boy. He just let him stand there and think while he listened to the other one’s sobbing, which of course was Felipe's way.

It was just so much easier. For sure quicker.

He was impatient to explore his new possession and didn’t want to spend any more time on this than was necessary.

Human’s always wasted so much time processing their thoughts. Silence, was the supreme negotiator.

Felipe saw that the boy had come to the end of his pondering. ‘Where is the Captain and Crew for this ship?’ Felipe asked.

Brian didn’t answer. He didn’t know what to do.

The Vampire holding Raphie kicked him. He was still in a ball on the floor.

He grunted and then began coughing up the blood that was running through his sinuses.

Brian winced, ‘They’ve been dismissed.’ He answered truthfully.

‘How can I find them?’ Felipe questioned, conversationally.

‘I...don’t know where they are, but I can call them for you.’ He offered.

‘How many Vampires were on this ship?’ Felipe asked.

Brian his voice shaking said, ‘You don’t understand, they will kill me.’

‘Do you think I won’t?’ Felipe mocked.

Rodney reached down and broke Raphie’s finger.

Raphie screamed horribly and didn’t stop. It was unnerving.

Brian closed his eyes as if that would drown out the awful sound. ‘Six.’ He answered.

Felipe was surprised, that they had all six actually been on the ship and then not surprised at all.

‘Name them.’ He said, wanting the last bit of confirmation. ‘Do not make me ask you twice. If you do, the next thing Rodney will break, is your friends arm, then his leg, then his neck. Understand me?’ he threatened.

Brian had a choice to make. He had no idea what was going on and this Vampire was terrifyingly cold and indifferent. He wasn’t like Reider or Nuri. He didn’t want Raphie murdered, but he’d spent the last two years working for the Vampires and the people he was being asked to betray. He’d been trained to never break from the Safety Protocol, for this very reason. This was the reason they were never allowed guests, never went to port alone, the reason none of them could have families. It was so loved ones couldn’t be used against them. Brian knew he was dead one way or the other, but he had to try to save Raphie, who was innocent in all of this, whatever all of this was.

‘I don’t know their last names,’ he grudgingly forced out, ‘Reider, is the Vampire who hired me. There is a female called Nuri, as well. They were here for a long time just the two of them. Then Karin, Eric, and Pam arrived.’

‘Was there a woman traveling with them?’ Felipe demanded.

Brian squeezed his eyes shut tighter and then nodded, ‘Yes, Sookie.’ Brian felt like a traitor.

He’d been hired specifically to serve Sookie and she’d been nothing but wonderful to him.

‘Where are the Vampire’s now?’ Felipe questioned imperiously.

Brian could tell that this wasn’t an ordinary run of the mill Vampire. He was used to getting what he wanted immediately. He was trying to decided what it was that he was going to tell him, when the Vampire said, ‘Everything, you are going to want to tell me everything.’ Brian nodded in surrender. ‘The woman… Sookie,’ he amended, ‘has been on vacation. We’ve stopped several places on the way here. Three days ago, her and all of the others packed and went back to Key West.’ He said, telling only half of the story.

‘And where were they going?’ Felipe was annoyed that he’d had to ask this question.

He flicked a significant glance at Rodney.

‘No!’ Brian yelled, ‘Please!  No. I’m sorry.’

Felipe held a hand to forestall Rodney. Thank God, he stopped. Raphie was screaming at Rodney’s touch. 

‘They are going to a place called Bon Temps.’ Brian said quickly.

Felipe smiled brilliantly He felt like he could burst a joyous seem. Shit was heating up in Vegas and he was out of time. He needed to put an end to this goose chase and get back to work.

‘Is that all?’ he asked the boy happily.

‘Yes.’ Brian nodded, defeated.

‘We aren’t allowed to have phones.’ Brian explained.

‘Tell me how to reach the Captain of this ship.’ Felipe instructed.

‘Down in the business office. Maybe there is a way to contact him there?’ Brian answered.

Brian knew there wasn’t going to be anything there, but he also knew not to say so. They’d off loaded anything personal or identifying and sent it to storage two days ago. The longer he could string this along, the more chances there would be to get them out of it. He’d fucked up. Now Raphie was in danger, the crew was in danger, and he was likely going to die. It had been such an innocent thing. All he’d wanted was some time, to hook up with a beautiful man. To feel connected and happy for a few days and now it was a mess. He’d selfishly abandoned the Safety Protocol and endangered the only family he had. He had to make this right somehow. If he was very lucky, he might be able to fix it.  

‘Separate and secure them.’ Felipe said gesturing at the humans.

Brian was pulled away from Raphie who was hauled to his feet and away. Brian didn’t see him again after that. Nick took Brian with him. As Nick led him away, he heard the Vampire who questioned him say, ‘Eduardo, get us a plane, charter one, buy one, do whatever you have to do, but I want to be on the ground in Shreveport by 3 AM.  Also, I’ve changed my mind, keep the boy without any answers, get rid of the other one.’ 

‘Sire,’ Eduardo said, protesting, ‘Be practical that is only six hours from now.’

‘Yes,’ Felipe answered unreasonably, ‘So you better hurry the fuck up.’

Brian’s stomach fell at all that he’d just heard. They were going to kill Raphie and had he heard that nerdy Vamp call him Sire? Brian really was in deep shit, here.

How am I going to save Raphie?’ he worried, as he was locked into the empty pantry. Moments later he heard Raphie screaming. He couldn’t help himself, he pounded on the door, begging them to leave him alone. He started to cry when he couldn’t hear Raphie any longer, then didn’t think about anything else for a long time.     

An exhausted Eduardo had actually ended up commandeering an Anubis Air flight, throwing a truck load of money at Anubis and threatening the airline with his considerable weight as The Hand of Felipe de Castro, King of Nevada, Arkansas, Louisiana and now Oklahoma, accomplishing his goal in record time. They were in the air in an astonishing 90 minutes. There was still no word on Sunniva’s Captain, so on top of commandeering a flight, he was also on the hunt for a Ship Captain, with no luck so far. There was also the matter of a massive storm in the Gulf of Mexico that they were going to have to fly around. There was no way they were going to get an unscheduled flight, to land in Shreveport by 3 AM. Even if they didn’t have to fly around a massive storm. It was going to be closer to 6:30 AM and that meant that they were going to lose the day. He decided he’d wait until the last minute to tell His Majesty, opting to fall into a chair and get in a quick nap, before he had to organize transportation for them once they were on the ground. If they were lucky, he thought morbidly, they’d crash into the Gulf and he’d finally get some peace this week.

 

 

***

 

Bon Temps

 

Eric and I had actually fallen asleep in the still of the night just before the coming sun turns the morning sky that glorious purple, when even the animals and birds are still asleep. I knew that I’d slept sever hours, but was awake now and I had no idea what time it was. Oddly, my first thought as my eyes opened was, ‘I must have to pee.’ Then I laughed at myself, realizing that I didn’t have to pee ever again. I was just, awake. I got out of our bed and went to brush my teeth and take a shower instead. The water felt amazing so, I stood in it until it ran cold. I noticed that I wasn’t uncomfortable in the cold water, I just enjoyed the hot water more. I was starting to understand that anything and everything that could be attached to your senses was basically put into overdrive and that was what being a Vampire was really all about. It was so much more than being human.

I finished my make up and hair and dressed, then went to pick up our clothes out of the living room floor. When that was done, I checked my phone. According to the phone, it was 1:13pm. ‘Wow!’ I exclaimed. Not even Eric could wake this early in the day! My curiosity was peaked at the idea that I was awake hours before he would be and went to the back door to see what kind of day it was. I opened the back door, and unlocked the shutter. Slowly I pushed it open just enough for the sunlight to pour in through the crack.   

Instinctively, I flinched away from it, but quickly noted that ‘It’s not hurting me or my eyes.’

I quickly ran my hand out of the slight opening and pulled it back in. ‘Nothing…’

I stuck my hand out again and waited longer. ‘Still nothing…’

Confident that I would be fine, I rolled the shutter all the way up and stepped outside propping the screen door open, just in case I needed to get back inside in a hurry.

When that was done, I bolstered my courage and stepped out into the yard.

‘So far, so good…’ I thought, stepping out farther.

It was so good to be in the sunshine that I turned my face toward the sun and let its glorious heat beat down on my face. It had only been two days, but wow I had missed the feel of it on my skin.

It made me think of the time Eric had drank an entire pure blood Fairy. He’d been able to walk in the sun for several hours that day.

I stood out in the yard for a long time luxuriating in the warmth and waiting to see how long, if at all, it would take for me to become uncomfortable. Eventually I did, but not unbearably so. I’d been outside for twenty minutes in direct overhead sunlight before it began to feel like I might be getting a bit of a sunburn, so I stepped back onto the cover of the screen porch. I peeked inside at my phone on its charger to mark the time, then waited until my skin no longer felt prickly and went back outside. This time I discovered that I could stand in indirect sunlight indefinitely.

It was about 2 PM when I felt confident enough to leave the house. I grabbed my purse and locked up.

I didn’t have a car, since Eric had returned the rental, so, I ran and WOWZER! It was exactly what I needed.

The running was like a balm on my over worked senses. I ran for ten minutes before I decided that I was starving. I stopped at a convenience store to practice my eating and glamouring.

The whole stop had taken less than five minutes and I was surprised when I realized that blood hadn’t been the first thing I’d thought of when I woke up.

‘Huh…’ I puzzled. Something else for me to figure out, I guess.

I went to Monroe instead of Shreveport, because I’m new, not stupid.

Shortly thereafter I went shopping. I gave Karin’s credit card a serious work out. I bought clothes of course.

We didn’t really have any with us that were suited to northern Louisiana. We’d intended to be in Belize and none of those clothes were going to help us blend in here for a few more days, so I shopped for everyone, focusing on jeans and t-shirts for the most part, but couldn’t resist a few special things along with trinkets and little gifts. I bought board games and some of those adult coloring books.

I shopped the entire afternoon. When I was done, I had so much stuff I couldn’t carry it all. This was a problem that I didn’t have a solution for, but the answer came all of a sudden.

‘Uber!’ I'd nearly shouted it out loud.

The Uber driver agreed to drive me to Bon Temps after I negotiated a generous fee and promised a big tip as well. Money was amazing when you knew how to wield it. I’d been listening to and watching my family do it for several days and it looked like I was going to be a natural. We pulled into my driveway just before full dark. The nerdy young guy, obviously a college student, helped me unload the bags from the trunk of his car and we set them on the back porch. As I paid him, I practiced my glamouring and eating again. As he pulled away from the house, the back door, flew open.

Eric stood in the open doorway, with the bleeds. He grabbed me and physically hauled me into the house, dragging me into his arms and crushing me to him.

‘Where…the fuck…have you been?’ he seethed at me dangerously while simultaneously breathing his obvious relief into my hair. ‘I woke up, and you were gone.’

Not this again! I’d had a really good day and I didn’t want to fight. I didn’t want the drama! I had presents!

‘Only one way to deal with this.’ I resolved, refusing to become exasperated with him.

I was in a great mood and I intended to stay in a great mood.

‘I'm sorry, Baby.’ I popped up on my toes and pecked him a kiss. ‘I didn’t think. I was just out shopping and learning.’ I said truthfully. ‘How long have you been awake?’ I asked.

‘Hours and hours.’ He complained, less tense, but still sulking. ‘I sensed you were gone and it...worried me.’

‘Well, I’m back now. Do you want to go and lay down, or do you want me to make you a NeuBlood? I don’t want you to get sick.’ I said, hands on hips staring up at him.

‘You could’ve shared the driver.’ He complained.

‘Oh poo!’ I walked to the microwave, pulled a NeuBlood out of the carton beside it, twisted the top off, popped it in, pushed the baked potato option and start.

While it heated, I rummaged through the mountain of bags he was dutifully pulling in from the porch.

I found what I was looking for as he brought in the last of the bags and said, ‘I bought you something.’

He closed the door and looked at me expectantly.

I pulled a silky pink, way too tiny nighty, out of a pink and black striped bag and held it against my body for him to admire.

He smiled at me wickedly and his fangs popped out, promising seduction, but the back door flew open, the microwave dinged, and Eric put his fangs away instead.

I shoved the nightie behind my back in attempt to hide it and Pam and Karin flew through the door simultaneously.

‘Well, it’s about damn time you got back. I thought he was actually going to die of worry.’ Pam scolded me.

‘Where on earth have you been, Sookie! We were worried sick about you!’ Karin rebuked, taking her turn.

She sounded just like every other mom who’d ever lived

‘Monroe.’ I explained, casually. ‘I…went shopping.’ I added with a shrug.

Eric, was thinking that there was really nothing wrong with what I’d done, since he was no longer petrified.  He knew (now) where I’d been and what I had been doing and would have probably done the same thing if he were in my position. On the other hand, I was also a baby Vampire, out alone and in the middle of the day no less. In his experience baby Vampires had to be supervised at all times and should never be allowed to roam the countryside alone.

I almost rolled my eyes.

Karin was thinking almost the exact same thing, when suddenly both hers and Eric’s thoughts became muddled. I listened harder and deeper down the blood bond, under their thoughts.

It was Pam. She was laughing at them. Hard. She was amused as hell over their obvious worry.

I caught Pam’s eyes with mine. Though we never spoke, she could tell by the glitter in my eyes that I knew what she was thinking.

She didn’t know that I was reading her thoughts. She simply assumed we were on the same wavelength.

Pam, was in love with mischief. She quirked a quick smile at me and it was all I could do not to laugh.

Well…this is new…’ I thought, managing not to join her in smug amusement. 'How can I hear Pam?' I wondered. I was probably going to have to ask.

I hadn’t been paying attention to Karin and Eric at all, but suddenly Eric motioned to Pam and they stepped out onto the back porch.

Then, Karin said, ‘Sookie, as your Maker, I command you, you are not to leave the property area that consists of the yard around your house, the cemetery, or Bills house, without a member of your family.’ She finished.

‘What! Why?’ I exploded.

The look she leveled at me told me that I already knew that answer to that question and that I should let it go.

‘But I was careful!’ I whined, ignoring the suggestion to let it go.

‘You brought an Uber home!’ Eric yelled through the back door.

I heard his muffled voice say to Pam, ‘She didn’t even share him, when she ate him.’

‘Selfish.’ Pam said imperiously.

‘So!’ I yelled back at the door.

‘So! We are trying to keep a low profile while we are here.’  His muffled voice came through the door again.

I opened my mouth to protest, but the front door opened. Reider and Nuri flowed through it. ‘He’s right.’ Reider agreed, while Nuri stood behind him nodding.

Nuri not talking anymore was really annoying me.  

‘Fine.’ I pouted, then plastered a bright smile on my face and said, ‘So, what are we going to do tonight?’

‘We’re staying in.’  Everyone said in unison.

‘But…’ I began to protest.

‘You ate the Uber driver.’ Eric scolded again.

‘And didn’t share him.’ Pam tisked at me.

Which, effectively silenced any other protest I might have had. 'So much for solidarity, Pam.' I frowned, thinking at her.

Determined not to let the night go to waste, I cheerfully said, ‘Well…I shopped till I nearly dropped and was having a great time doing it so, I bought something for everyone and Reider, I bought Catan!’

Reider brightened, excitedly, ‘You did!’

I nodded smiling. Everyone else groaned while Reider said, ‘Thank you!’ giving his fist an excited pump.

I waited to see if a night playing Catan would get us out of the house of not. No bites yet.

I also bought Scrabble, Life, Cards Against Humanity expansion pack and Jenga, of course.

There was more groaning.

I didn’t think it was possible for Reider to be any more pleased.

I thought for sure we'd be leaving as soon as gave everyone their presents. I passed out the bags and we had an impromptu Christmas/Birthday kind of deal going on.

After we had sorted through everything, I turned on the radio that was mounted under the cabinets and the discussion of what to play first began.

Eric’s NeuBlood had grown cold in the microwave so, I put some in for everyone and restarted it.

It looked like we were really staying it. 'Crap...' Also, It looked like it was going to be Jenga. ‘Of course.’

‘What is it with you all and this game?’ Willa laughed as she came through the back door.

Reider shrugged while he stacked the blocks and everyone took a chair.  

I doled out the NeuBlood, handed Willa a bag, that had a stack of Romance Novels in it and we settled in for a night at home.

'Thanks, Sookie!' Willa smiled, pulling out the new Molly Harper.

Chapter Text

Shreveport

 

Felipe needed to be in Vegas and he was in fucking Louisiana, again.

He couldn’t even go straight home when he was done here, he had to stop in Oklahoma for his formal coronation as the new King.

They hadn’t landed in Shreveport until 6:45 AM and he’d had to spend the entire day, in a suffocatingly small Anubis travel coffin. He’d been able to shower and change at his newly acquired residence in Shreveport, only to arrive at Fangtasia to once again, find the place locked up. He wasn’t going to just put Thalia in silver, he was going to flay her skin off with a silver tipped whip for weeks. He’d had all of the disobedience he was going to put up with out of the likes of her. He would've called Max for the spare keys, but Max wasn't even in Louisiana, he was in Arkansas looking for Mustapha, and Heidi. Which meant, he wouldn't have access to Max's office either.

So fucking Fangtasia is was.

Only, it wasn't.

He’d ordered Nick and Rodney to tear the door off of its hinges in a frustrated rage, but he should’ve known better.

It wouldn’t budge.

He was now, sitting in the car waiting for a lock smith to arrive. Just let someone do, or say something stupid. At this point, he was salivating at the thought of killing someone. This trip, had been a sore trial to him. He’d never been this out of control of either his emotions, actions, surroundings, or circumstances in his life. He’d not achieved all that he had, by being a hot head. Felipe was known for his patience, if nothing else. The only possible excuse for it, must be his stress over The Karaftu.

'It won’t be much longer.’  He consoled himself.

His phone rang. It was the fucking Magister. He almost threw the phone out the window, but needed it in case the lock smith called.

‘Yes, Felicia!’ he answered, false joviality rang through the greeting. ‘How are things with you this evening?’ He settled in to listen to a brain numbing story of new leads and how things would be going a lot quicker if he could provide her with somewhat or the other. He couldn’t abide her at all and pushing the mute pad on his phone, didn’t listen to a word she said. 

‘Her days were numbered and the New Authority’s as well.’  He thought absently.

Mainstreaming had been a good idea in theory only. Vampires had been living under the antiquated Feudal system since time immemorial. Or, at least it had been that way until the Authority and the Vampire League of America had come along and suggested a more modern and bureaucratic way of life. Which, to be truthful, had been tolerable and necessary, until some fool decided it would be best to integrate fully with the human world.

Now they had to deal with the United States Government and the IRS. Life had been an unmitigated shit show ever since. 

After ‘The Great Reveal,’ the Authority created the VLA and turned it into a full-time public relations machine. While the Authority went back to dealing with Vampire law, the VLA dealt with human law and the complexities of helping Vampires understand identification, naturalization, and the concept of ‘back taxes.’

While the existing power structure was distracted by its Mainstreaming agenda and the Hep-V war, The Karaftu had silently slipped in like the Boogie Man and managed a hostile takeover in several major US cities being managed by Vampires. They didn’t worry about displacing Kings with secretive well-planned coups. The Hep-V virus managed that quite nicely. They simply created an army, occupied the cities, and disrupted the power structure while allowing the Government to do the rest. It was a CIA wet dream. The Karaftu won control of New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, and Chicago, this way. The Karaftu’s main objective now, was to gain control over what was left of the existing Authority infrastructure and then regress it all the way back to the Iranian cave system it’d been named for. One King, one state, feudal, and tithing. Felipe, as he’d thought many times, didn’t have a problem with that philosophy, he just wouldn’t be subject to it.

It’d been total Anarchy during the Hep-V war and Felipe managed to hold on to Vegas by the skin of his fangs, because he’d been prepared for it. A lot of Vampires had died that night. However, Felipe hadn’t lost anyone, because he wasn’t a hot head and patience was the greatest weapon at his disposal. He’d been fighting for several years not to be swallowed up by either the New Authority or the Karaftu even though he was associated with and followed the laws set forth by the New Authority. He also paid lip service to the usefulness of VLA. What Felipe coveted above all things, was freedom from them both. He’d come to the conclusion that if he were ever going to have any peace, he was going to have to take them both out. Then, he would be Emperor, ruling all of Vampire kind from Las Vegas, which he considered the greatest city in America. It was a worthy goal.

Las Vegas had made Felipe filthy, Midas, rich. The Reveal and the Mainstreaming agenda of the Authority had fucked all of that up and had put a serious crunch on his power base. When he won this war, and he would, they’d go back to living in the way Vampires were intended to live. In the shadows, doing as they damn well pleased. This business of dealing with humans as if they were something other than food, would end as well. He’d worked tirelessly the last several years to bring smaller states together under the concept that ‘one branch alone will break, but if you join them into a bundle, blah blah blah. He couldn’t get anyone to trust him because of the God Damned Karaftu, so he’d resigned himself to working in secret and taking control through the Monarchy power structure.

Which was why he didn’t like to kill rival Vampires. Especially likable, influential, smart Vampires like Northman and Compton. He generally chose to 'lesson' the rebellion out of them, then bring them around to his way of thinking. This was something that Victor had never understood, more’s the pity. It appeared Thalia would be a hard case as well. It was a shame really, because the humans loved her. He had to admire Compton’s force of will and ingenuity. Unfortunately, Compton thought Felipe was an idiot. Another lesson that Felipe had learned early on as a Vampire was never spend your own resources or do the work that someone else is doing when you can simply steal it from them later.

Another reason he was perturbed by current events. The New Orleans Summit was going to be the perfect opportunity for him to learn how far Compton had gotten with his secret project.

Every damn time Felipe felt like it was time to move his agenda forward, something happened to set it back ten years.

Like at Rhodes.

He’d almost had it all at Rhodes, but it had gone to shit thanks to the Authority and their agent provocateurs, The Fellowship of the Sun.

He’d been working with Isaiah, the King of Kentucky at the time. Isaiah had somehow gotten an introduction to a Britlinger (notoriously fierce fighters from another dimension). It was expensive as hell to hire them and it wasn’t easy to get them to cross into this dimension. All Isaiah wanted in the world was an alliance through marriage to Sophie-Anne LeClerc, who’d been the Queen of Louisiana before him. Sophie-Anne had money problems, as she’d been dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It seemed like a done deal if they could convince her. Felipe would give Isaiah the money he needed in exchange for an introduction to the Britlingers and Isaiah in turn would give the money to Sophie-Anne to buy a marriage alliance.

All of Felipe’s problems would have been solved with that one deal.

He’d be sitting pretty as the Emperor of the Vampires and there wouldn’t be any more of the silly shit they were dealing with now.

In the aftermath of Rhodes, Sophie-Anne had been gravely injured. Felipe had been obliged to kill her in order to keep Texas from moving on New Orleans. New Orleans was too strategic a location and much too valuable a city, even with its money problems, to let fall to the King of Texas, Stan Davis. He’d had no choice, but to kill Sophie-Anne and take over Louisiana for himself. One of the Britlingers had nearly been killed in the bombing at Rhodes and Felipe’s introduction had evaporated like a puff of smoke. Isaiah hadn’t left Kentucky in all of the years since and recently the stubborn Vampire had been able to just keep his head above water in the Karaftu’s tidal wave takeover. They were almost ready to move on him again though. Felipe had warned Isaiah that Detroit had finally taken notice of the money, he’d been stealing from their pill mills and heroin business. They were coming for him soon. Felipe hoped he’d taken heed of his warning.

Whenever Felipe thought about the busted opportunity with the Britlingers it vexed him. The Britlingers would have been an important tool for him, as well as Sookie and Barry Bellboy.

If only I’d known about Sookie and Barry sooner. If only the Fellowship hadn’t blown the Rhodes summit sky high. If only there’d been more time.’  He thought, wistfully.

He’d learned of Sookie and Barry to late during that horrible day to do any good. Since then, he’d spent the ensuing years looking for other people with special talents and had managed to get a few on the payroll. It’d been productive in some ways, but for any of it to really have an impact, he was going to need the telepaths. As it turned out Barry Bellboy, was even harder to get his hands on than Sookie. He’d been holding Barry’s grandfather hoping to flush him out, but no dice yet.

Felipe pressed the pad of the mute symbol on his phone smiled smugly as he heard the Magisters droning voice on the other end of the phone.

Chucky was probably going to win this time as well.’ He chuckled.

The subject of winning made him think about Victor, Freyda, and that idiot Appius-Livius Ocella. He’d never understand how that old Soldier, had been able to amass the fortune he had. ‘It had to have been through sheer audacity.’ He chuckled. Appius-Livius annoyed Felipe to no end, but he had to admit the old bastard was entertaining and quite resourceful. For Appius-Livius to have lived, in the time that he did as a commoner, and still have the balls to save and transition the Russian Prince, then KEEP the boy for himself! ‘Giant clanging brass balls!’ he chuckled.  

Felipe would’ve regretted killing Appius-Livius (but not that unstable Progeny of his), if they hadn’t managed to accommodate Felipe by getting themselves killed on their own. Felipe had made short work of the scheme the cocky bastard had cooked up with Victor and since that lesson had been delivered, Felipe didn’t have problems with Vampires trying to infiltrate and overthrow him anymore. He’d proved that it was foolish for anyone to underestimate him and betray his good will, not just Victor. Felipe made it clear that he never fully trusted anyone.

‘That’s why I am alive and Victor isn’t.’

No one, gives up a throne (pseudo or not) to their Progeny, because they believe in the cause.

The story went like this.

Oklahoma was a fairly wealthy kingdom due to fossil fuels and biotech, but had a weakening King. Frequent sever weather disasters, the green energy movement, and a few unfortunate final deaths had weakened the state, much the same as Louisiana. Victor had come to Felipe with a plan and they ended up taking what amounted to 20 shipping containers of money, favors, goods, services and a promise of the exclusive use of one of the Fairway Villa’s at the casino to Oklahoma’s old king and bought the kingdom from him. Once it was done, they sat Freyda, who’d been his spy and a familiar, likable face to the Vampires in Oklahoma on the throne as Oklahoma’s pseudo Queen (not Regent). Felipe began moving money immediately away from the antiquated fossil fuel industry and pumped it into the bio-tech arena instead. It proved to be incredibly lucrative.

Proceed from the purchase of Oklahoma, to eight years later and Appius-Livius wants a Queen and a Kingdom for that blood crazed nightmare of a Progeny, Prince Alexi. Felipe was sure that Appius-Livius had seen the handwriting on the wall with the Old Authority even then and was in the process of securing a place for himself and his family. Appius-Livius was a soldier after all and could smell war in the air. Victor, had read the political atmosphere as well and had decided he wanted Las Vegas for himself. He only needed enough money, to buy the backing he would need to take it.

Appius-Livius had money, Victor had a Queen and the deal was struck.

There’d been no way Felipe would allow any of it. He objected to Alexi on principle and refused to discuss it. Alexi was uncontrollable. However, Felipe would consider Eric. He liked the Vampire. He was strong, smart, and knew how to be an asset. Appius-Livius agreed but Eric himself and Victor didn’t. That was when he knew for certain that his Regent in Louisiana was scheming. As usual Felipe’s greatest tool was patience. It didn’t matter what the situation or circumstances for anything were, chances were if you waited patiently, often times things took care of themselves. Meaning, Felipe had forced Northman’s hand and in doing so had taken care of two problems at once.

After Victor was dead, Felipe made it clear to Freyda that further disobedience from her wouldn’t be tolerated. He blackmailed Eric, for Victors death, explaining that Northman could marry Freyda, or he could die by the Magisters silver stake for his murder. Northman, eventually agreed just as Felipe knew he would. After the contracts were signed, Eric would be gone and Sookie, would need Felipe’s protection.

It was perfect.

Except it wasn’t.

 Somehow, Northman was able to use his incredible leverage as a mere Sheriff to craft several interesting and iron clad addendum's to his marriage contract that the former Magister had inexplicably agreed to. As Northman’s King, Felipe had to honor the renegotiated contract, since he couldn’t find a reason not to. Sookie slipped through his fingers and after all of his careful plotting, he was once again left with nothing. It had been maddening. Now, things were beginning to turn his way once again. Sookie was a tool that he desperately needed and he was going to have her one way or another. 

Rodney was on his way to the car. The fucking door was finally open.

Felipe lifted the phone to his mouth. ‘Thank you for the call, Felicia.’ He said, cutting the Magister off in the middle of her sentence. He had no idea what she’d been yammering on about. ‘I’m sorry, I must go. Important matters to attend…’ and he ended the call before finishing what he had been saying.

 

 

***

 

Somewhere in America

 

‘Did you get it?’ Felicia barked into her phone. She was moving and talking as quickly as she could. She had a live spot in 30 seconds. ‘You better have. I kept him on the phone forever. I don’t have any idea what I was even saying to him by the end of the call and I have other things that I am dealing with other than this little de Castro drama.’

Felicia listened while she walked.

‘So, he is back in Shreveport?

Good.

No.

Just sit tight and wait it out.

We’re only getting involved if we have to. So far everything has gone our way.

As soon as he gets back to Vegas, I am going to drop in on him.’ She said, and waved the make-up woman away.

‘Yes, Northman is vexing to our current plans, but only if he is pushed. I know that he will be a valuable resource to us at a later date. I just need to find an opportunity to talk to him. It suits our agenda and hurts us in no way to leave him and his little tribe to their own ventures, for now.’ She checked her appearance in the brightly lit mirror, just off camera.

‘Yes, I am sure that the remains were Compton’s. Yes…it is unfortunate. Look, I can’t stall any longer. I’ll call later.’

She ended the call and handed the phone to whoever was standing next to her, took her seat and plastered a huge toothy smile on her flawless face. She looked directly into the camera in front of her while she adjusted her ear piece. ‘Yes, Anderson, I can hear you! I’m very well, thank you.’ She smiled, answering in her assertive public speaking voice.

‘Magister, we here at CNN want to ask, what new measures the VLA is taking to beef up security at Vampire events in light of the recent terrorist attack in New Orleans, that killed so many Vampires.’ asked Anderson.

‘That is an excellent question, Anderson. Thank you for asking it. Might I just add, that I appreciate you taking the time to come in the evening, to do this Interview. We here at the VLA are taking this new threat very seriously…’

 

Chapter Text

Bon Temps

 

The kitchen sounded like a sports bar, on College Football Playoff night.

Reider, was standing over Pam’s shoulder, steadily howling in her ear, while she concentrated with her whole body. She carefully removed the Jenga piece from the bottom of the stack and gently set it atop the tower. It wavered slightly, stalled, then crumbled to the table. We erupted once again and Nuri and Reider high-fived each other.

It’d been an epic game of Jenga, but in the end, it had come down to just Reider and Pam.

Pam was not happy about losing to Reider again, although she couldn’t help but laugh at him strutting around the room, for a victory lap. We’d been playing games for hours.

Willa had nearly spanked Reider twice in one serious game of Monopoly, but Reider had finally won that as well. Reider was no slouch when it came to the game of Monopoly, but I had to say that I was super impressed with Willa’s business acumen!

At least in regards to Monopoly. Willa was definitely in the right family based on her competitive drive to win.

We’d all congratulated her on a well-played game and she seemed to bloom under the praise.

I was happy, but I was restless.

I got up from the table and went outside to stretch my legs.

Standing in the yard, I stared up  at the waning moon that hung low, in the still early evening of the late fall sky.

I’d been restless most of the evening and I couldn't really say why. I wanted to say that it was irritation over this whole Felipe thing and in a lot of ways if was, but it was more than that. 

I felt...uneasy.

Maybe, is was an overabundance of baby Vampire energy. Maybe it was the time of year that it was. Maybe I was just looking for excuses to complain, because I was supposed to be in Belize. 

I decided that I’d try to dissipate some of the pent-up energy anyway and did a few laps around the pre-approved areas of movement.

I rolled my eyes in irritation, but I understood the necessity.

I didn’t have to like it though.

I looked like a humming bird buzzing around one of the feeders in my yard as I sped through the cemetery next door. I did a few cart wheels and back hand spring, just because I could. I tried to see how high I could jump.

It was pretty dang high.

I tried to see if I could jump high enough to make it over the yard boundaries.

I couldn’t.

‘Psh…’ I said, rebelliously and landed on the roof of the house.

I just landed up there like it was nothing, then walked up to the peak of the roof and looked out over the field, enjoying the night air on my skin.

Being able to do physical things like jump on the roof, was something that I was really enjoying about being a Vampire.

It was one of the things I attributed to marking me as someone different when I considered who I was now.

I kept waiting for that moment when I thought I would feel  like I was different. Like I was someone else, but I just didn’t.

It was almost exactly the way Karin said it would be.

I had enhanced abilities and looks, but I could stay in the sun. I couldn’t hear people, unless I bit them. For the most part I was the same old me, only better.

Well, I mean I was hungry all of the time and I’d killed Terry’s dog, but other than that, I was pretty much me.

‘Better the dog than Terry.’ I suggested.

Even though I’d seen her do it, Karin made sure to tell me she’d glamored him and taken the memory from him. She also said that she had taken a little extra time with him because of the PTSD and that he’d be better now. No more sleepless nights because of dreams about the war. She’d also told him that Annie had taken out after a rabbit and hadn’t come back, but that she was happy in the woods. I would’ve loved Karin for this kindness alone, if for nothing else.

‘I’m going to buy Terry a new dog.’ I decided.

I’d been trying to convince myself that I didn’t feel that guilty. I think, I just wanted to do the right thing. Terry had been my friend for a very long time. He’d been good to me when I was human and I’d traumatized him, even though I’d tried so very hard not to. So, I did feel guilty about it and there was no sense in me trying to convince myself now that I was a big bad Vampire that didn’t care about that kind of thing, because I SO did!

Out of my periphery, I saw a flicker and flash in the field. Something was moving fast out there. I zeroed in on it, but I couldn’t make it out.

Suddenly, as if I had no control over my body at all, I crouched low and dropping my fangs, launched myself off of the roof.

'Well, okay, this was a little different.' I thought, flying through the air.

I landed with the tips of my toes pressed against the inside of the tree line surrounding the yard and thought, ‘Boy, that ‘command’ stuff really works to the letter.’

Before I’d been able to finish the thought, the house emptied into the yard.

Karin, having felt me go on alert, took up the position next to me.

‘Everyone, relax.’ Eric said calmly, ‘It’s only Bubba.’

Everyone but me relaxed.

‘Sookie, stand down.’ Karin commanded.

I bristled audibly, but put my fangs away. ‘See, not very different from human Sookie at all.’  I mused silently.

Bubba came to a full stop just outside the yard.  Something he’d never done before and now he watched me warily.

‘What the hell is the matter with you, it’s just Bubba.’  I chastised myself.

‘Miss Sookie…’ Bubba said in wonder, ‘Is that you?’

‘Yes, Bubba.’ I gritted, struggling to keep my tone easy and channel Sookie Stackhouse instead of Sookie Nor…ugh, Slaughterer.

It was always best to keep all my answers short and sweet when talking to Bubba. He hadn’t come out of the Memphis morgue altogether right when he transitioned.

Everyone always speculated that it was due to the massive amount of drugs he’d had in his system when he passed.

Truth was, he should’ve never been brought over to begin with, but the Vampire working that night was such a huge fan, he hadn’t been able to resist the temptation of at least trying.

What he got, was Bubba and a serious censure from what was then, the Vampire Council.

‘Miss Sookie,’ there was accusation in his voice, ‘Now, I thought you said, you didn’t want to be like us.’

Bubba glared angrily at everyone, assuming that I’d been turned against my will.

‘I changed my mind, Bubba.’ I explained.

‘But why?’ he asked, running a hand through his coal black hair trying to suss it out.

‘It’s a long story, Bubba. Just, know that I’m happy, not like last time you saw me. Don’t I look happy?’

‘Well, okay then. If you're happy, then I am too, because you sure weren’t for a long time there, Miss Sookie.' he drawled, in the most famous accent in the world.

‘Thank you, Bubba.’ I said, kindly and I was pleased that I hadn’t needed to go searching for kindness. 

‘So…what are you doing in these parts?’ I asked him.

‘Well, you see Miss Sookie, that’s just it. I’m all confused, now.’ He began scratching at the thick mutton chops along his jaw line. ‘I come up here looking for Mr. Bill, because everyone says, he's gone and done murdered Mr. Eric. I knew that just couldn’t be true, but for sure, the news says that Mr. Eric met the final death at that big fancy hotel in New Orleans. Except, he’s not dead. Mr. Eric, is right there.’ He said, pointing.

Well shit. Things had just, gone and done got complicated.

I sighed and said as gently as I could, ‘Bubba, I don’t know how to tell you this, but Bill’s met the final death.

Bubba reared back from me; shock written all over his face. ‘The hell you say!’ he exclaimed incredulously, then immediately slapped a hand over his mouth, shamed faced that he had sworn in front of ladies. ‘I’m sorry, Miss Sookie, ‘bout that bad language. It’s no excuse, but I was shocked though.’ He bowed his head a little at me.

‘Don’t you worry about that any, Bubba.’ I said. ‘I'm sure it was a shock.’

He asked, ‘What happened to him, Miss Sookie?’ And then Bubba realized that he hadn't asked me, ‘Oh my goodness, are you ok?’

Bubba was shifting through his emotions faster than a 13-year-old girl at a School dance.

‘I’m fine, Bubba. Thank you for asking. It was a shock to me of course, but it was even more of a shock to find out why Bill met the final death!’ I said, in order to begin salvaging this situation. ‘You see, Bubba, he was trying to kill Karin! Eric tried his best to stop him, but he just wouldn’t stop. Eric accidentally killed him.’ I explained

Bubba’s eyes went wide as Texas and it wouldn’t have been possible for him to be more animated.

‘Oh! My goodness!’ he exclaimed. ‘Mr. Bill liked Miss Karin an awfully lot from what I have seen! Why in the name of Christmas would he be trying to kill her?’ He threw his hands in the air, utterly baffled. ‘I just don’t know what to think about all this! Mr. Bill was a very good friend to me and I’m going to miss him, but he had no right to try and hurt Miss Karin!’

Poor Bubba. I’d known he’d take it like this, but I needed to diffuse the situation as best as I could. We couldn’t have an agitated Bubba roaming the countryside.

‘Bubba, I want you to try very hard to understand what I'm going to tell you. Okay?' I said.

Bubba simply listened.

'I want to be like Karin and you. And, well…Bill, he didn’t want me too. He thought if he killed Karin, I wouldn’t want to be like her or you anymore. Understand?’ I asked.

‘Oh!’ Bubba blustered, ‘Well…that, just ain’t right of him, Miss Sookie!’

‘I agree with you, Bubba.’ I said, manipulatively letting him know that I was taking his side in the matter.

Then, just like that, the subject was closed.

Almost.

‘Bubba, do you think you could keep it a secret for me that we're all here and that Eric killed Bill? We haven’t been able to get the proof to make the Magister to understand yet and until we do, Eric is in a lot of trouble.’ I explained.

‘Well, of course, Miss Sookie. You’re my very good friend. I’d do anything for you.’ He vowed.

That was our Bubba, completely loyal. ‘Thank you, Bubba. You’re my very good friend too.’

That made Bubba’s mouth split into that wide grin, that crooked up just a little on one side and was famous the world over. It was enough to make your heart go pitter patter and your panties to fall off.

‘Well thank you, Miss Sookie. Thank you very much. I think I'm going to head back yonder. I saw a cat on the way here. It was a big one too. Goodbye everyone.’ He said, and waved as he left.

He looked ridiculous out there in the field in that white sequined jump suit, but if you put him on a stage in it and he began to sing, well wouldn’t that be your luckiest day ever.

Jumpsuit or not, he was still one of the handsomest, sexiest men in the world. 

Believe it or not, I was still antsy as I watched Bubba make his way across the field. It was really annoying and I was in serious need of distraction.

I sighed heavily and walked back into the house, thinking I’d see if I could corner Eric and work on a distraction. Everyone followed us back into the house and that idea went out the window.

Back in the kitchen I cocked my head and listened hard. I’d heard muffled voices and the sound of an engine turning over. I waited to see if I could hear more but there was so much noise between me and the voices I could hear anything but the car drive away. I reluctantly put it out of my mind and the nagging feeling returned.

‘So, what is our next step?’ I asked, since I was curious and looking for a distraction. 

‘Well, tomorrow evening we are going to Belize.’ Reider announced.

'Thank God!' I breathed.

It was interesting to me the way Reider unconsciously stepped into Eric’s shoes, presumably out of habit. It was obvious he didn’t mean any disrespect; he was simply used to being the answer man for Karin and Nuri. He was used to being the strategist and having a voice. It was his thing, so to speak. I wondered how Eric felt about Reider stepping into the role of leader, continually.

‘Let’s just face facts, at this point, Eric seems like he’s just along for the ride.’

I realized that was a pretty harsh assessment and dialed it back a bit. It wasn’t Eric’s fault that he wasn’t up to speed with the reality they all currently resided in.

'This was just the way things are right now.' I chastised, myself. ‘It won’t be this way forever.’

In truth, we hadn’t been able to stop moving long enough to acclimate anything.

 ‘I’m hungry.’ I complained, letting my stomach change the subject in my head.

Eric got up and put some NeuBlood in the microwave.

I began protesting the moment he’d taken it out of the carton. When the appliance dinged the ready signal, he set the hated drink in front of me. I wrinkled my nose at the smell and pretended to gag, childishly.

‘You are going to have to learn to acquire a taste for it.’ Karin snickered in mild amusement over my disdain. ‘Someday you’ll be somewhere and it’ll be imperative that you be able to drink it, without spitting it into the floor.’

‘Start slowly, taking the barest of sips.’ Nuri said, her quiet voice was encouraging. ‘That’s how I did it.’ She offered.

Everyone nodded in agreement and began talking about how they’d overcome their aversion to the taste. It reminded me of a group of women sharing their labor and delivery stories.

Suddenly, I was thinking of Jason and Michele. It was a good memory of us sitting here at this table with Sam, early in our marriages. We all had a rare Saturday off and instead of going out, we decided to stay around the house, grill and play cards. I made steak fajita’s and Jason brought a bottle of Tequila. While I was making Margarita’s, Jason, thinking I’d never seen it done before, taught me how to do shots.

I let him.

‘You just have to do it all at once.’ Jason coached. ‘Lick, slam, suck.’ Like this, he demonstrated and I copied.

Smiling at such a good memory I backed out of it slowly, then picked up the bottle of NeuBlood and downed it in three swallows. I slammed the bottle down on the table, then wiped the back of my hand across my mouth. I couldn’t stop the grimace of disgust, or the full body convulsion that enveloped me, but when it finally did stop, I croaked, ‘Gross.’

Much the same way I’d done the first time I had shots of Tequila with my brother.

‘Or you could do it that way.’ Nuri said with an affable shrug.

Laughter erupted from everyone and it ended up being a perfect evening.

We played Monopoly. Again. Pam won this time, to Reider’s chagrin.

I drank another NeuBlood and eventually Eric said, ‘Time for bed. Everyone out.’

The evening was everything I’d wanted for my life. I had no idea why I had been so on edge earlier in the evening, but I was happy that it had passed. Karin hugged me goodnight and turned to go.

She was almost out the door when I said, wistfully, ‘I’ll be happy when we are all under one roof again.’ Everyone stopped to stare at me. ‘What?’ I shrugged, self-consciously.

They just smiled at me then left.

‘Weirdos.’ I giggled.

Eric rolled the shutter down and locked it. He was smiling happily as he walked back to me.

‘What?’ I asked again.

‘You just made us happy, that’s all.’ He shrugged, taking my hand, pulling me along with him.

‘Oh…’ then I smiled too.

Chapter Text

***

 

 

Shreveport

 

In Shreveport, Felipe hadn’t bothered to have Eduardo track down the staff and open the bar. The electricity wasn’t even on and the place was a wreck. He was focused on other things at the moment and didn’t have the time or inclination to worry about it.

Max was still out searching for Mustapha and Heidi. Eduardo was the only one here with him and he didn’t have his assistant, so there wasn’t anyone to do side work. Maybe he was going soft, but he depended heavily on Eduardo. It’d be difficult to replace Eduardo if he accidentally killed him in a fit of frustration because he had been unreasonable in his requests. Eventually he’d have Max hire a new manager, give the place a spruce and reopen as newly remodeled and under new management.

Instead of dealing with the aggravation of it, he’d gone back to the house to work and had Eduardo send Nick and Rodney to Bon Temps. He needed to know if they were at Sookie’s house or somewhere else. He just needed a bit of down time to deal with his increasingly deteriorating mood. He’d been on cloud nine after finding the yacht, only to arrive to this bullshit again. If they weren’t in Bon Temps, he was definitely going to tear that Stewards head off and drink him.

He had to be in Las Vegas before the end of the week, no exceptions. There were some very interesting developments regarding items recovered from Compton’s personal computer. Things that couldn’t be discussed over the phone or e-mail and certainly not texting.

He was out of time.

Either he got Sookie in the next 24-hours, or he was going to have to leave without her and that wasn’t an option that he was open to.

He’d been working for several hours when Eduardo came to him. ‘Nic and Rodney are back.’ He announced.

Felipe lifted his brow in expectation.

‘They’ve just pulled in, Sire. I wanted to let you know right away. What instructions?’ He inquired.

‘Bring them now.’ Felipe answered.

Eduardo bowed slightly and left. Felipe quickly checked his appearance, then sat back down. Moments later he was back with the pair in tow.

Felipe said ‘Talk to me.’

‘She’s there. They’re all there. We didn’t see Thalia, but some kind of impersonator was there.’ Nick said.

‘That’s not an impersonator, that’s the real deal.’ Felipe answered, knowing instinctively they meant Bubba

‘No shit!’ Rodney exclaimed, forgetting himself.

Felipe simply stared at him.

‘I’m sorry, Sire!’ he blurted, not understanding what had come over him.

Felipe let it go and paced. ‘Leave me alone, I have to think.’ He commanded, waving them off. ‘Threats, compassion, occasional murder.’ Felipe coached his frayed nerves.

‘Eduardo, tell everyone to be ready to go the moment we reach full dark tomorrow. Call Oklahoma, let them know we will be there early evening. I don’t have time for anything elaborate, but let’s not slight them either. Bear minimum extravagance without being rude. Let Vegas know we will be home early Friday.’ He dictated.

In this moment, Felipe felt both more at ease and a bundle of nerves than he had since before the Summit.

‘Bring me someone.’ He added. ‘I’m parched.’

‘Absolutely, Sire.’ Eduardo answered wearily.

Chapter Text

Bon Temps

 

I was sitting in the kitchen when Eric rose for the night.

It was all I could do to keep a straight face when he came to kiss me good evening. I smooched my sweetie and handed him the NeuBlood I’d warmed for him.

I almost snorted when he smiled and thanked me. I could barely look at him.

I’d been awake since early afternoon and It had taken me all of 45 minutes to become mind-numbingly bored. I’d cleaned what I could, ran all over the cemetery, weeded the flower beds around the house, showered, dressed, and painted my nails. After an hour of daytime TV over at Bills, I’d finally remembered the coloring books I’d bought. I gathered the books and all of the markers I'd bought, and sat down to the kitchen table to occupy myself.

Thirty minutes later, I'd finished the entire book. ‘Damn Vampire speed.’

I’d been twirling the red Sharpie between my fingers and contemplating what to do next when the mischief  happened.

I grabbed some of the markers and set off to entertain myself. When I was done, I sat back and admired the red, black, and silver harlequin mask I’d drawn over Eric’s gorgeous face.

It really looked amazing, honestly. I was so impressed with my work I pulled out my phone and took a picture of it. As a matter of fact, I was so impressed with myself that I hadn’t stopped with Eric.

I’d done everyone’s. It hadn’t really occurred to me until I was done that maybe it hadn’t been such a good idea after all.

Now, here I was, casually drinking the disgusting NeuBlood acting as if nothing at all were wrong while I waited for the consequences.

It wouldn’t be long. I could feel that Karin was awake now too.

The back door banged open, only it wasn’t Karin, it was Pam. She came striding into the kitchen in a towering fury.

Her 'mask,' was a beautiful pink and aqua blue, with silver edging like Eric’s.

I lost the battle to remain stone faced and snorted clapping my hand over my mouth, when Eric laughed heartily and said, ‘I’m not sure this look is going to work for you, Pam.’

‘Fuck you, Eric. You should be one to talk.’ She bit out, then turned her ferocious glare on me.

I gulped. Then, as if on cue, Karin, Willa, Nuri, and Raider filed in the door behind Pam to make their displeasure known.

They each wore a beautiful Sharpie harlequin mask and they were each super pissed. Understanding dawned and Eric disappeared from the room instantly.

No more than a second later he yelled, ‘Odin be damned, woman! What the hell is this?’

I began to laugh uncontrollably; I couldn’t help it. Eric’s manly timber had turned into a screech by the time he got to this.

‘What! Don’t be mad…I was so bored!’ I implored as Eric, came back to the kitchen to stand over me.

‘Look! I colored the whole damn book!’ I said, as I picked it up and waved it at him, defending myself.

Pam picked up one of the markers off of the table and brandished it at me. With a very serious, very frightening growl she said, ‘Get her!’

At once the kitchen exploded into action.

I screamed my head off and bolted.

They chased me relentlessly. We covered every square inch of the property that I couldn’t leave because of Karin’s command and after a while they wore me down.

Karin and Willa were holding me down in the front yard as Pam advanced on me.

I screamed 'Let me GO!' while I laughed mockingly at them. Then I screamed some more when they didn't.

I wiggled, kicked, so Pam couldn't use the marker on me and was finally able to break away, starting the chase all over again.

Finally, Eric had me and I was well and truly caught. I begged, I apologized, I laughed and mocked some more, I even threatened to do it again if he didn’t let me go.

Reider, like any good brother began trying to convince Pam to let me go. ‘It was only a joke.’ He argued.

Pam ignored all of the plea's for mercy and advanced on me purposefully with the maker once more.

Suddenly, I was free.

Eric immediately dragged me off the ground and tried to shove me behind him, but I was unaware that there was a problem and jerked away from him, in anticipation for more playing.

I mirrored Karin's crouching posture and yelled ‘Ha!’ to start the chase again.

I only knew something was wrong, when I’d finally been able to flip my hair out of my face to see that my entire family crouched in battle formation, fangs out, and ready to fight to the death.

I reacted in a blink as I felt the air stir behind me. Someone had just tried to grab me!

I stood behind Karin and took in all of the people standing in my front yard.

I saw him then. Felipe de Castro was looking right at me and he wasn’t happy.

Which was fine with me, because I wasn’t very happy to see him either.

For a moment nothing happened while we locked eyes with one another and then the laughter started.

It pulled his attention away from me. I watched him as he realized what the laughter was about and he began to laugh as well.

‘Crap…this is humiliating in the extreme.’ I thought scowling at him.

He was laughing so hard, that if he’d been human, he would have been crying. I was so sick of Felipe’s shit.

I had a second to think, ‘I’d like to slap that stupid laughter right out of your mouth.’ Then, I launched myself at him.

The laughing stopped immediately and in that instant the fighting started.

Before I could even reach Felipe, Eric enveloped my small body with his huge one and held me. Every thought he’d had since Felipe appeared was murderous. So, I wasn’t sure why he was holding me back.    

‘STOP!’ Felipe roared.

Everything stopped except my struggling and repeated demands that Eric ‘Turn me lose!’

‘I'm not here to fight.’ Felipe announced casually.

It was a little to late for that. Reider and Nuri had already reduced two of Felipe’s Vampires to goo.

‘I don’t want bloodshed.’ He went on as if the oozing piles weren’t littering my yard.

I was still struggling to get free, intent on killing Felipe, (or at least giving him a piece of my mind), when Eric uncomfortably tightened his hold on me.

‘Stop.’ He warned. The tone of his voice got my attention and I stilled, but didn’t relax against him. ‘Thank you.’ He said. I listened to my Vikings head, while Felipe talked. 

‘I'm simply here to collect Sookie and leave tonight.’ He said reasonably. ‘I’m not happy to see that she’s been made Vampire, however. I'll assume that you didn’t procure a license to do this, since Bill would’ve had to sign off on it.’ He said to Eric, who didn’t answer. ‘No matter.’ Felipe waved his hand. He peered at me around Eric and said, ‘If you have things that you want to take with you, you need to go and pack them now.’

Eric held me fast. I could hear his thoughts. He’d rip Felipe’s throat out right now if he weren’t so terrified to let go of me. If I hadn't charged Felipe he'd be dead right now, but so would I. There was a sniper in my woods, since Karin and Pam stood between Felipe, Eric and I, they'd likely be dead too. Eric was thinking he’d take me and run instead, but Felipe had too many people with him. He couldn’t leave our family so outnumbered. Even though I heard him think it, I felt his body tense slightly as if he’d made the decision to run anyway.

‘I think you should eat shit and get off my property.’ I yelled, hoping Eric wouldn’t run.

I was ready to fight. If he knew there was a sniper, Pam and Karin had to know it by now.

Felipe bristled, but pointedly ignored me, looking past me to Eric.

‘Oh, bullshit!’ I was ready to go, if this was how it was going to be. I goaded Felipe belligerently, ‘Hey, asshole, I’m talking to you. Just what is it you think I can do for you?’  

Felipe glared retribution at me, but instead of talking to me, he said to Eric directly, ‘You’re going to want to tell her to come along. You know what’s at stake here. You’re a smart Vampire, Eric. I don’t have to explain to you how this is going to go down if you don’t cooperate.’

‘I can’t tell her anything.’ Eric answered. ‘And she isn’t going anywhere.’

This took Felipe by surprise. ‘Who turned her then?’ He asked and ignored the rest.

‘That is none of your business, ASSHOLE!’ I shouted, popping my neck to let him know I was serious.

Felipe finally looked back at me, then said, ‘Speak again and you will regret it.’

I opened my mouth to tell Felipe that he could ‘FUCK COMPLETELY OFF.’ but Karin said, ‘Quiet.’

My mouth closed all by itself. I couldn’t open it no matter how hard I tried. I couldn’t even mumble. I couldn’t make any sound at all.

‘Damnit!’  I was furious at this.

She’d promised me that she wouldn’t order me to do things. I had it in writing! Threats and insults rampaged through my head. I was spoiling for a fight and wanted one badly!

Even so, now that I couldn’t talk, I could see that we’d surprised Felipe who flicked a startled glance at Karin. He recovered that surprise quickly then stepped around her toward Eric and me. Not too close though as he was slightly afraid of Eric. And with good reason. I felt Eric’s body tense again and I knew that if Felipe tried to touch me, Eric would tear his throat out because I’d just heard him think it. I assumed Felipe could see it in Eric’s face as well, because he didn’t move to touch or take me.

Felipe leaned in menacingly and said, ‘You’re going to do exactly what I tell you to do, as I'm your King. If you don't or if you press me, Eduardo over there is going to call the Magister.’ He looked straight at Eric then and went on. ‘Then, he will explain to her that I’ve discovered that it was Eric Northman, who murdered Queen Freyda, as well as Bill Compton, my Regent, and five other Vampires.’ Warming to his audience now that he was sure he had the upper hand, he turned to Karin and said, ‘He will tell her that this was accomplished with the help of his Progeny and two supposedly long dead Vampires, who are in this country illegally.’ Which brought Karin up short but she didn’t take her eyes off of him. Felipe, turned to Pam then and said, ‘He will further tell her that the Sheriff, who has abandoned her post, has taken up with and sheltered these criminals from the justice they so richly deserve. Which, to be quite honest, I have a half a mind to kill you for. Your absence has been a serious pain in my ass. By the way, Maxwell Lee has your job.'

Pam glared daggers at her King, refusing to feel the prickle of agitation that statement caused her.

Felipe circled back to me, ‘Then, you will still come with me and everyone you love will be put in silver or executed for treason.’ He said it very quietly with a cruel knowing smile. ‘Do I make myself perfectly clear?’

I mimicked Pam and glared a hole through him as my answer since I was unable to speak.

He didn’t seem effected by my hatred of him at all. He merely turned away from us and as he walked, he called over his shoulder, ‘You have five minutes to pack and say goodbye. If you don’t want to pack, we can leave right now. Whatever you decide to do, Miss Stackhouse don’t test me.’ He said menacingly.

I knew then, that we’d lost. I heard Eric before I felt him move. I immediately twisted in his arms and quickly wrapped myself around him. I was holding on for dear life, refusing to be put down. I believed Felipe would do what he said he'd do. 

‘We lost the advantage, Baby. Please don’t.’ I begged him with my silent body.

Karin and Pam stepped in closer and Karin said, ‘She’ll be ready to go in five minutes. There won’t be any resistance or problems from us if you let us help her pack. You have my word.’

‘Ms. The Slaughterer,’ Felipe mocked, then retorted, ‘You’re in no position to deny me anything.’

‘No.’ Eric bit out, his voice was as hard as granite and his fangs were still fully extended.

‘Oh, sure! He’s ready to fight to the death, now.’  I complained, uncharitably.  

‘I can get to Eduardo. She’s not going.’ He gritted at Karin.

‘It’s not your call.’ She gritted back. ‘We’ll be out here in five minutes.’ Karin said to Felipe.

‘Are you going to put her down or carry her?’ Karin asked him.

When he didn’t answer, she ordered, ‘In the house, Sookie.’

Against my will, I began to untangle myself from Eric. When he refused to let go, pain ripped through me. I couldn’t speak, but my entire body convulsed in pain. He let go of me immediately and I sagged to the ground. I didn’t even get any time to recover from the pain, I stood mechanically then marched toward the house. I was spitting mad that Karin was forcing me leave Eric in the yard, but I went because I couldn’t stop myself. I’d just learned firsthand, even though I’d witnessed it before, that it hurt a lot to defy a direct command from your maker.

Once we were inside, Karin forced me to look at her, then hissed at me in the barest whisper, ‘I know you are angry with me, but I need you to listen to me. I will get you back. I can’t do that if we are dead or running from the Magister, do you hear me? I swear to you, I will get you back, now go and pack.’ She shoved me away from her as Eric flew through the back door.

My feet did exactly as they were told to do. I was so angry that Karin wasn’t letting me talk. I had a plan!

I could hear Felipe outside giving orders for the car to be brought up to the yard as I marched down the hall and I could hear Eric in the kitchen.

I’d actually seen him slam Karin against the wall by her throat and could hear him grating out his fury at her.

‘Tell her stop, or I swear, Karin…’ he said, threatening my Maker. 

For the first time, I understood in fullness, what Eric had gone through. My Maker had ordered me to pack and go with Felipe. I couldn’t stop what I was doing. If I did, I’d become ill and begin to vomit blood. I could possibly die because of this. Jessica had gone through it once before and I’d watched it happen to her. Eric couldn’t force me to stop for this reason. Killing Karin wouldn’t stop it either. Although, even though I couldn’t believe that Karin had done this to me, I’d like to think that Eric wouldn’t kill her over it.

Karin was choking words out at him. ‘I got Reider back, didn’t I?’

Reider stood to the side, having taken hold of Nuri to stop her interference. ‘He’ll not hurt her.’ he said.

‘How many years did that take?’ Eric ground out at Karin.

‘And whose fault was that?’ she choked back at him.

‘No…no don’t do this!  Don’t fight with each other.’  I yelled down the blood bond, sending the plea in a wave of emotion.

Eric let go of Karin, when he felt Sookie’s anxiety wash over him.

Karin had hurt him to his core just now and he raged with it. Leaving her, he stalked into the bedroom where Sookie was packing her clothes and watched helplessly as she robotically moved from the closet to the open suitcase on the bed.

I felt him coming and went to the dresser, taking out the velvet box I’d stowed there after my Monroe shopping trip and handed it to him when he walked into the room. I gestured at my mouth in frustration, rolled my eyes and pointed at the box, motioning that he should open it.

From the kitchen I heard Karin say, ‘You can speak.’ And, just like that, I could.

‘Eric,’ I whispered urgently, wary of the possibility that Felipe may be able to hear me even though he was outside. ‘Please, don’t fight with Karin. I love her and this isn’t her fault. I don’t know how we are going to get out of this yet, but we are. She promised me she would get me back and I believe her.’ I coaxed him into acceptance.

He wasn’t listening, he was screaming inside. There weren’t any words at all, it was just screaming, red rage. He wasn’t in control at all and he prowled the small bedroom like a caged lion.

I was genuinely afraid of what he might do in the next minute, because he was so unreasonable. I started to panic. ‘Listen to me.’ I said, scrambling for a way to set him at ease, all the while moving back and forth from the closet to my suitcase. ‘I’ve had it with Felipe de Castro’s shit. I’m going to kill him. Then we will be done with him and all of the rest of this shit. He is so dead!’ I spit out.

‘You’re not leaving with him…’ He gritted. 

I got scared for us then and started to cry. I choked out, ‘I need you…I need you to be smart. I need you to be my Viking. I need you to think and help me because that asshole is done for.’ I stopped packing long enough to kiss him hard. My insides started to twist, but I went right back to packing.

‘Open that box.’ I commanded, pointing at his hand.

He didn’t open the box. He was ready for war right now. He turned and growled at the door. ‘Karin, make her stop.’ He insisted.

I didn’t stop.

‘Stop packing right now, Sookie.’ He said, trying to command  me.

He was thinking that we’d go back out into the yard and we'd take our chances. Sniper or no.

I still didn’t stop. I just keep right on packing. I shot him a glance, that let him know it was useless.

‘No one, is taking you from me.’ He growled, furiously.

My Viking was serious. He wasn’t backing down and it was scaring the shit out of me. 

‘You’re damn skippy. I am going to kill him, Eric’ I promised. ‘Now open that box! We're almost out of time.’

He finally opened the box. 

‘Karin, Please! I'm packing everything I own!’ I yelled to the kitchen.

Nothing happened, I just kept packing. ‘God damnit.’

Eric stared at the open box and then at me. Inside it was a titanium ring. I was engraved down the center with Celtic scroll work. On either side of the band were three black diamonds each. One for each person carrying his blood. On the inside of the band I’d had it engraved with one word, ‘Mine.’

Since I was done packing, I'd regained a slight amount of control over my body.

I went to him, took the ring from the box and put it on his finger. Laying myself against his chest, I brought the ring to my lips and kissed it. He held me tightly to him.

‘I won’t be gone a week. I promise. I'm coming back to you as soon as I can.’ 

Karin’s command had me trying to pull away from him. Apparently now that I was done, I had to go to her.

He didn’t let go.

A fierce cramp took me and gagged.

He let go then.

I kissed him quickly, then stepped away reaching for the suitcase, but Eric picked it up, then grabbed my hand.

I squeezed his reassuringly.

Once we were in the kitchen I fussed at Karin. ‘Take this thing off of me Karin. I’m going to go and he's going to let me. I need to be able to say goodbye though.’

Karin considered what I’d said, then simply said, ‘Stop.’

That was all she had to say for the compulsion to move to stop and my own will took over. I was stunned to find how angry I was with her once my own will returned, or maybe it was the situation, I didn’t know. I was just happy to have control over my body back, even if it was just an illusion. I knew if I did anything that looked like running, she’d slap it right back on. I knew, because I was getting it from her brain. I’d let my mental shield down. It had been a huge mistake. I put it back up immediately and looked at Pam. She was grim faced and stoic. We locked eyes and understood each other at once. I was going to kill Felipe to death. She was going to make sure that Eric didn’t kill…anyone, but mostly Karin. I could tell that she was angry with Karin as well, but I knew that I could count on her to keep Eric from doing anything really stupid.

She nodded at me once in solidarity.

I felt a tiny bit better.

‘One week.’ I told them, pulling my eyes from hers. ‘Be ready.’

I hugged my family and walked out into the yard. Eric followed with my suitcase.

Someone took the suitcase from him and put it into the trunk of a long black limousine, that was parked in the yard, instead of on the driveway.

‘Rude much.’  I complained.

The driver held the door open for me and I looked back at my family once more before getting in the car. Reider stepped beside Pam and was saying something to her as we pulled away.

I couldn’t hear what he’d said, but she nodded to him and turned away from the departing limo. Nuri, followed he. Eric and Karin stayed and watched. Reider stayed with them.

The big black limo U-turned in my yard and I was ready to throw down. As we turned out of my driveway, I shifted toward Felipe and said snidely, ‘So, you never answered my question.’

And Felipe, that fucker, punched me in the face.

‘Ow! You dick!’ I yelled and grabbed my nose.

He punched me again.

‘So that’s how it going to be.’  I thought. ‘Fine…I can play this game.’

His days were numbered. He didn’t know shit about shit. He thought he held all the cards. He thought he had the upper hand.

‘Ha!’  I sat there with blood pouring out of my nose and got mentally ready to hand Felipe his ass.

‘I'm sorry, Sire.’ I said, humbly, wiping at my nose.

Oh yeah. I can play the game. I was taught by the best.’

Felipe ignored me. Eduardo however handed me a box of Kleenex.

Then I heard Eric screaming.

Felipe actually threw back his head laughed.

‘So dead…’ I promised.

Eduardo, watched me silently and sized me up. The shadow that passed behind his eyes let me know that he understood me.

He might understand me, but he didn’t know me. These assholes were in for a big surprise.

I smirked at Eduardo and looked out my window.

The neon light at Merlotte’s shined bright in my periphery as we sped past and I had time to think, ‘Does this driver even know where he’s going?’ before I felt Karin’s fear.

I knew with certainty that all hell had just broken loose back at my house.

Chapter Text

***

 

Eric watched the car turn out of the driveway with his woman. ‘Hadn’t he just vowed to murder anyone…’

He stared at the empty driveway and screamed out his frustration. He screamed his guts out.

‘You!’ he gritted and whirled on Karin.

He pointed, then roared at her viciously.

‘This, is on you! Get the fuck out of my sight before I kill you!’ He raked a hand through his hair and tried to think while his body quaked in fury.

He was being unreasonable, but he didn’t care. He could taste his rage. Everything he’d been through since their Parting Ceremony had been done specifically to keep Sookie out of Felipe’s hands. Now, Karin’s meddling, had yielded the very result he’d suffered seven years of marriage to avoid. The thought of Felipe touching her, or tasting her, made him nauseous and homicidal. The rage doubled down and he screamed at the night again. It wasn’t nearly enough of a release to dispel his panic.

He turned and stalked toward the house. He knew what he needed to do and if he had to kill Karin, so be it.

‘Pam!’ he growled, not seeing her, just expecting her to be there. ‘Find Thalia, we're going to need her.’

He felt like he was having a nervous breakdown. These last years had played merry hell with his peace of mind, concerning these women.

He was done with it. He didn’t give a fuck about what was supposedly going to happen, he was getting her back right fucking now.

‘Why did you even let her get in the car?’ He raged at himself. 'Who the are you even? Oh yeah…I forgot. We're a “democracy” now. Fuck all that shit! As of right now, that shit was over!  I'm going to bathe in the blood of the next person who…’  His plan was forming through the red haze of murderous rage.

He noticed that Pam wasn't do anything, she was standing in the yard watching him. ‘What the hell is she thinking? Can’t she tell just by looking at me that there's no more democracy?’ 

Before he could yell at her, she came to him. She looked...pained. He didn’t have time to care. Reider was behind him babbling some nonsense that he was ignoring, but it was distracting.

He enunciated forcefully at a motionless Pam. ‘I told you to fucking find Thalia and get ready to leave.’ He said, as she came to a stop in front of him.

Pam wasn't moving. She held her eyes with his. 

‘Have her meet us at Fangtasia. Move, now!’ he exploded, losing patience with her inexplicable stillness.

Suddenly, Reider yelled at him, ‘Eric, stop!’ 

He did stop.

‘Had the boy just commanded him?’ he thought, incredulously and his fangs popped out.

The boy needed a lesson and he was going to get one. 

Everything happened at once.

Pam grabbed Eric around the neck and Karin stepped in front of Reider.

‘Eric, please.’ Pam begged; her mouth pressed to his ear. ‘Stop!’ 

Karin stood directly in front of Reider, eyes down cast, terrified, and quaking with fear, but she didn’t move away from him. She was protecting him from her Maker with her own body.

Pam struggled to maintain her grip on Eric. He’d almost reached Karin and she was losing the battle to hang on as he shoved at her.

Reider, having realized he was about to meet the true death, fell to his knees and exposed his neck. He held out his arms in supplication and shouted, ‘Please forgive me, Grandfather.’

Eric reached Karin and Pam screamed into his ear trying to penetrate the madness that gripped him, ‘Master, please!’ She was truly terrified she was going to have to fight him for real if he didn’t stop and if that happened, it would be the end of all of them. He looked like the Hulk, sans the green, standing over Karin, all veins and rage. Wisely, Karin had gone perfectly still. She hadn’t knelt the way Reider had, but she was submitting to him nonetheless.

Eric seethed menacingly at the three of them.

Nuri was watching from the porch. Willa was standing behind her, shock and horror written on her face.

‘If he takes one more step, I am going to stake him.’  Nuri vowed, in silence. Things were much too volatile.

She left the porch and came to stand with Karin. Willa followed her at a distance.

‘I know that you are angry. Please, let Reider tell you what he knows.’ Nuri said calmly.

Eric, for his part, was in the process of telling Nuri to fuck off when he suddenly became aware of Pam hanging off of his back. He shrugged her off and saw her face realizing that she was terrified.

The red haze cleared a bit and he actually saw Karin then. She was blocking his path, her eyes downcast, shaking like a leaf. Reider was behind her, submitting to him.

The scene enraged him further, but awareness washed uncertainly over him. He was gripped with an indomitable fury, but at least he knew it now.

All he could do, was lean forward and scream his hate for the situation into Karin's face.

Karin flinched at the vehemence behind it.

Eric stalked away from them, then stopped and came back. His lips were pressed together in a thin line and he wanted to tell her everything thing he was thinking and feeling, but he knew if he opened his mouth again, it would just be screaming. He wrenched away again. He looked like a wild man pacing in a small frenzied circle in front of them.

They were by no means safe, Karin knew.

Eric, was trying like hell to expel the compulsion to kill his offspring because he knew she  wouldn’t like it. She...was the only thing keeping him from it.

He screamed his fear into the night sky several more times while he attempted to gather his control again.

No one moved, no one said anything, they just waited.

Finally, he couldn’t take the sight of his family, cowering in fear any longer. Besides, he argued with his impulses, hadn't he just stopped Pam from killing Karin because they were going to need her.

Having decided not to kill them either, he stomped back around to hulk over them. Trembling, he did something that he rarely had to do. He hauled in several lungfuls of air.

He needed it. He'd only had NeuBlood since Monroe and this anger he was feeling was burning through that. If he wanted to have a family before sunrise, he needed to find a way to cool it.

‘Stand up!’ he yelled at Reider, flinging his arm at him in the universal gesture for, rise.

Turning another anxious circle, he breathed hard again, ‘I am fucking pissed off, Karin! This isn’t over, between us.’

He leaned intimidatingly into her personal space, to punctuate his seriousness while Reider got to his feet.

Karin kept her eyes downcast and nodded that she understood.

Eric, not satisfied with her submission yet, circled again, then stopped in front of her, telling her with his body language he was waiting for her to say the words, not just nod at him.   

‘Yes, Master.’ Karin submitted, fully.

Satisfied, Eric snapped at Reider, with only a bit less force, ‘Talk boy!’

Reider, had yet to take his eyes off of the ground, but said in a strong steady voice, ‘Grandfather, with respect, I’ve been anticipating this problem and have a contingency in place.’

Pam, taking notice of Nuri’s agitation and moving to stand closer to her, winced at Reider’s choice of words.

‘Maybe you need to start talking about your so called “anticipations” before we reach crisis mode next time, so you can avoid getting yourself killed!’ Eric clipped at him impatiently.

Reider nodded, ‘Yes, Grandfather.’

‘Enough with the Grandfather, shit! Talk!’

Willa, having obviously taken leave of her senses, tossed at Eric, ‘Don’t you threaten him that way!’

Pam, whipped around, grabbed Willa by the shoulder and shoved her to her knees. ‘Shut up. Stay.’ She commanded. Having been dragged into this drama by her sister and now thrust into her Makers notice by her errant Progeny, Pam was forced to submit to Eric as well, or suffer his wrath. ‘She doesn’t understand, Master.’ She explained

Eric stood over Willa’s kneeling frame and enunciated each word he spoke.

‘You will fucking well keep your mouth shut unless you are asked to speak.’ He instructed. ‘Understand?’

‘Speak.’ Pam ordered.

‘Fine!’ Willa screamed at Eric.

Pam, slapped her in the mouth to save her life. ‘Stupid, girl.’ Pam spit at her.

Blood tears welled in Willa’s eyes, then coursed down her cheeks.

Pam sighed; the high drama had nearly been settled until Willa had kicked it up again.

To take the heat off of his cousin, Reider said, ‘Please, don’t be angry with my mother.’

Eric turned sharp eyes back to Reider and menacingly said, ‘Your mother is my Progeny. Mine. What goes on between her and I, is no business of yours. Understand? I am the head of this family. Presumably, I was “rescued” to take my place as such. However, since then, everyone in this family thinks they have a say. Think’s that this is a Democracy. Thinks they know what’s best. Thinks that it was fucking okay to go against my express fucking wishes without consulting me at all. So, from now on, you don’t even flinch without my permission. Do. You. Understand. Me?’ he breathed in deeply, towering over Reider.

Reider nodded, ‘Yes, Mast…’ he began.

Nuri interrupted, ‘NO! Stop, Reider.' She commanded him. 'You’re not his Master, Eric. You’re not mine either. We’re with Karin.’

Eric turned toward Nuri. She wasn’t staring at the ground or submitting to him.

‘Fine.’ He said, turning to gesture at Karin. ‘Karin, has submitted to me. She's submitting to me right now. You’re here because of her so, follow my law, or she will suffer for it.’ He threatened, ripping a page from Ocella’s book. ‘Do you understand, Nuri? Karin? Reider? Pam? Willa?’ he asked in rapid succession. When no one answered he went on. ‘Know this now, I'm the head of this family. End of discussion. Stay or go. It doesn’t make any difference to me anymore.’

Pam sucked in a shocked breath at the ultimatum, but when he turned to go, she didn’t follow.

‘We need to go to Monroe. Our plane is there. It’s been on standby since we arrived.’ Reider called after him.

‘We don’t need a plane to go to Fangtasia, Reider.’ Eric said annoyed, while he stalked away.

‘We can’t go to Fangtasia.’ Pam called after him.

‘Not helping, Pam.’ He said, ignoring her.

‘Master…’ Karin said, tentatively.

He turned back at her and pointed, ‘No, Karin. I don’t want to see your face, what makes you think I want to hear your voice.’ His voice in turn, was chillingly cold.

He could see that he sliced at Karin. He'd sliced at him as well, but he’d meant it. Or, at least he thought he did.

‘Eric,’ Reider tried again, ‘If we're ever going to get free of this for good, we have to know what we are up against. Yes, Felipe already told us that the Magister doesn’t know about us. We don’t know who else might, or what if any provisions Felipe made concerning us if something…were to happen to him. I'm working on it. I have people working on it, but we need time.’ Reider coaxed. 

Eric stopped walking, but didn’t turn to look at them. He was so fucking pissed off. He didn’t want to hear anything but grab your weapons and kill something.

Reider was right, he admitted grudgingly.

He was going to have to gain some control and perspective at some point, but right now he was still angry. No, check that. He was almighty furious.

He spun back to look at his family, not ready to let it go. Even now, after a truly freighting display of his temper, they were trying to control him. He’d had enough of it to last him a life time.

He stomped back to Karin, unleashed his anger and took aim, ‘This entire debacle, is why you should have let Pam in on your top-secret plans. So, she could help you, Karin. This shit is a fucking disaster. He has her and it’s your fault. If he touches her, I will…’

Karin flinched like she'd been punched at the words he’d just spoken.

Surprised by the hurt he saw in her eyes, he stopped short before he could say something truly unforgivable. The flinch took some of the wind out of his sails.

The self-serving tirade hadn’t made him feel any better, especially now that regret stirred in his chest.

Honestly, it was just as much his fault as hers that Sookie was gone. He’d done nothing to stop it. He’d done nothing in the previous days to take his place as the head of household. If he had, he wouldn’t be demanding that his family hand over the position. If he had, he’d have anticipated this scenario the same as Raider, this may have never happened. Instead, he’d been content with the notion that they were free and clear and everything would be fine. If he hadn’t been acting like a stupid ass, they wouldn’t be here now.

He’d been too damn busy worrying about things that he couldn’t control, instead of things he could and now she was gone.  

‘Once again, I’ve been foolish.’ He chastised himself, hauling in a cooling breath and sighing it back out.

He’d been content to let Karin or Reider handle things while he’d been getting his bearings.

From what?’ He wondered. ‘Being overwrought?’

‘What the fuck is the matter with me?’ He swore, under his breath. He’d endured much worse circumstances over an entire millennium with Ocella. 

‘But, there hadn’t Sookie then.’  He argued with himself.

All of these women were his and they depended on him, but it was only her that made him unreasonable. Her that kept him tied in knots. Her that he was so terribly in love with.

He was getting agitated again. Maybe now would be a good time to start working on that perspective and control, even.

‘So, we have a plane?’ he demanded, but his tone was obviously softer.

He needed his families help to get her back. He’d settle all of this later. Make no mistake, he would.

Karin looked at him, her eyes rimmed red on the verge of tears. Reider moved to stand beside her.

‘Yes, Master.’ Reider answered, flicking a guilty glance at Nuri, making his choice clear to her.

Eric didn’t pay any attention to Reider. He maintained eye contact with Karin and did his best not to react to the blood tears in her eyes. He didn’t give her any quarter or comfort, because he couldn’t forgive her yet even though he knew the blame lay with him. He absently toyed with the ring Sookie had given him and swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat. ‘Mine.’ He said, thinking of the inscription, inside the ring. He wasn’t alone anymore. It wasn’t just him and Pam. That’s what Sookie had been telling him with this gift.

‘I just need time.’ He said softly.

Karin, startled by his manner, frowned at him. He’d puzzled her with his sudden change in tone. They didn’t have time to hash is out now so, he simply gestured for Karin to go on into the house.

She went and Reider followed.

Nuri trailed after them. She looked a warning at him dead in the eye, but said nothing as she passed him.

If the situation weren’t so dire, he might have been amused by it. Instead it made him feel…ashamed.

He continued to twist the ring while he watched them walk away from him. Then, like an avalanche, the thought of Karin being alone for as long as she’d been, overtook him. She’d been without her child and her wife, for more time than he could even comprehend and it had been because of him. She’d had the grace to forgive him a long time ago and she’d rescued him from his own stupidity.

Yes, everything had happened because of his arrogance and stupidity.

Now, after all of that, he couldn’t find it in himself to forgive her? He’d learned nothing at all while he’d been alone these seven years. Fear was his Master and Sookie had only been gone for 10 minutes.

‘I am such an incredible asshole.’ He chastised himself.

‘Karin,’ he called, running to catch her. ‘I…don’t need any more time. I’m sorry.’ He said, crushing her to him and poured regret into the apology.

She threw her arms around him, ‘I swear to you, I will get her back.’ she promised.

‘It’s okay my love. We aren’t going to get her back. She's going to free herself and all of us. Watch and see. Thank you, my Hellion.’ He promised and soothed simultaneously.

After a few moments, he unwrapped Karin from his body and they went into the house. As they went, he knew that he was all done feeling helpless and an apology didn't make him weak.

There was an easier way to gain his families trust and respect than threatening them with retribution otherwise.

He accepted the present reality for what it was and reassured himself that he was indeed Eric fucking Northman. It was high time he reminded his enemies of that.

When they all stood in the stark kitchen, he asked for the second time, ‘So, we have a plane?’

Reider nodded, ‘In Monroe.’ He affirmed.

‘Fine. We're leaving here in five minutes to get on it. Reider, you need to talk fast. Pam, I still need you to find Thalia. Tell her to meet us in Monroe.’  He instructed, then looked expectantly at Reider. 

‘Oh! Um, we’re going to Boulder City, Nevada.’ Reider began. ‘I’ve already got a place for us there…just in case…something like this happened. I knew that we'd need it.’ He explained, tentatively, remembering Eric’s growled command that he be more forth coming with information like this.

Nuri had come to stand with Reider while he talked to Eric. He knew she didn’t trust him anymore,‘If she ever had.’  he thought. She was the picture of ease, but he knew she was protecting Reider. Eric had his suspicions about her, too. He’d better not find out that his suspicions were right. Everyone was busy getting ready to leave while Eric listened intently to everything Reider had to say. Nuri never took her eyes off of him. He could hear Pam on the phone in the other room. She got Thalia on the second try. 

‘It’s Pam, wanna help us kill Felipe?’ she asked without preamble.

There was a pause.

‘He took Sookie.’ She said. There was another pause. ‘Good, meet us at the airport in Monroe. We should be there in 20 minutes.’

Reider finished up and Eric thanked him.

As he went to pack, Eric turned his gaze on Nuri and lifted a brow at her.

She opened her mouth to say something to him and he knew by the look in her eyes that she was going to attempt to put him in his place by asserting her authority over Reider and Karin.

He cut her off, not allowing her to speak at all. ‘Save your threats for someone they may have an effect on, Nuri. You may think that Karin, as Sookie’s Maker, gives you the upper hand in this,scenario. I assure you, it does not. If Karin is comfortable with you making decisions for her and Reider, I'm fine with that so long as it doesn’t interfere with our larger unit. I explained the situation to you outside. If you can live inside this structure, you’re welcome to stay, but mark my words, you counsel Karin on taking Sookie and just the four of you leaving, you’ll regret it.’ He walked away, leaving Karin’s wife to stare after him.

After that, they didn’t waste any time leaving. Every second they stayed in Bon Temps, they were in danger of the Magister swooping down on them and hauling them off to jail, though it was unlikely.

After they arrived at the Monroe airport, Pam buckled herself into her seat and tried to relax. Her thoughts were all over the place, but seeing Thalia take the seat next to Nuri helped quiet some of the tension in her mind. She nodded thanks at her and noticed that Reider was still talking quietly with the pilot, from the co-pilots chair of the jet. He’d been in there since they’d arrived. She flicked a quick glance at Eric. She’d heard the exchange between him and Nuri before they’d left Bon Temps. She worried it over some more now, because when he was this angry, he was unpredictable.

'He's too quiet.' She noticed, with a sinking feeling.

Usually when he was raging around like a bull you knew what to expect. This quiet that had over taken him since they’d left Bon Temps was unnerving.

It meant that he was going to do something. She had no idea what, exactly…just, something.

Eric knew that he was projecting a quiet calm while he stared out the window of a plane that hadn’t left the hanger yet. He knew that everyone but Pam, was convinced that he’d gotten ahold of himself and that he was fine. He also knew that it was worrying her. Pam knew him inside and out. Sure, she knew that when he was mad and blustering around, everything was fine.

To be clear, earlier tonight was not blustering around and nothing about it had been fine.

Pam had seen him that way before. It had only been once, but she'd known they'd all within a heartbeat of dying. It was why she’d slapped the hell out Willa.

Pam knew that when he got quietly reflective, much like he was now, that you should fear him the most.

Eric surreptitiously watched while Reider settled himself into the empty seat next to Pam, directly across from him, then buckled himself in. When he was securely fastened, Reider checked several screens on the tablet he carried. Eric pretended to stare blankly out of the window, taking no notice of Reider whatsoever. However, he’d felt Nuri’s irritated energy from the row behind him, when Reider had ignored to seat on the opposite side of her. He had to admit that he'd been surprised to find that our plane, wasn’t the Lear Jet he’d expected. The short haul, Embraer 170 had been very unexpected. Further, he was certain he’d find out for sure later, what he already felt he knew now. Reider could actually fly the jet himself. That was a problem. Well, not the fact that Reider could fly the jet, it was the secrecy that was the problem. It had been the willingness of every one to ignore, keep secret, not talk about...anything

Eric knew, obviously, that it was because Reider and Nuri were used to living in secrecy. He also knew it was because Nuri didn’t trust any of them, (him) yet and had cautioned Reider about sharing too much about their lives. He knew Nuri was overly cautious because she was a gypsy, but he also knew that Sookie was at the mercy of Felipe because of her unwillingness to let anyone in on her secret. He didn’t think she was truly a seer, she was more of a psychic. In his experience a psychic was a card reader, palm reader, crystal ball gazer, while a seer could glimpse the future. He wasn’t certain which, if any ability Nuri held, but if she was a Seer that could see the future and didn’t warn them that Felipe would take Sookie, he’d kill her. If she was using cards and guess work to influence the decisions they made and this hocus pocus led to Felipe taking Sookie and she came to any harm at all, he’d kill her.

He decided to put the theory to the test and pulled his carefully distracted gaze from the window.

‘Reider, you need to explain to me about these feelings you get when you do something, just in case.’ 

He didn’t expect the truth. It was just a fishing expedition, but like he knew would, it caught Reider off guard and quick as a flash he flicked a nervous glance at Nuri.

Eric smiled, letting him know he’d seen it. ‘Well, now, isn’t that interesting?’ Eric said.

‘What the hell did I just miss?’  Pam wondered. Fuck her nerves were fried.

 

Chapter Text

Oklahoma

 

To my surprise, we didn’t go straight to Las Vegas from Shreveport. To my further surprise Brian was hauled onto the plane and unceremoniously plunked down in the seat next to me. This cleared up the issue of how Felipe knew where to find me. Brian was so terrified to see me, that he trembled like a leaf.

He needs to be terrified.’  I thought. I was not happy with him at all.

‘So…’ I gritted at him through my descended fangs, ‘I guess we need to talk.’ I heard Brian swallow. ‘Later.’ I said through a tight scowl.

We’d landed at a private air strip somewhere in Oklahoma and took a short ride to what was supposed to be a residence, but was an honest to goodness castle instead. I know, that a castle is technically a residence, but this place was huge, stone, intimidating and in Oklahoma, of all places. It was so weird to see a giant, stone castle sitting back inside of a cliff face. Castles are just not something that we tend to see on a daily basis in America!

The already imposing stone structure was bordered by a small, but rapidly flowing river to the front and a forest at its back. We crossed a fairytale-esque stone bridge in order to get across the river and as we approached the castle, I could see a high stone wall that went on for a what had to be a mile. I knew it had to be an enclosed garden if the trees were any indicator of what was behind it. We came to a stop in front of the imposing structure and the entire entourage got out of their respective vehicle, then bustled into the house not even bothering to appreciate the incredible grandeur in front of them. I managed to keep my mouth closed while I gawked and followed along behind the others. Brian, didn’t manage as well as I had and I reached to tuck his chin up, pushing his lips into a closed position. Startled, he blinked owlishly at me, then turned his attention forward and hustled to the door where we stood, waiting to be let in.

After waiting outside for several minutes, we let ourselves in.

Stepping through the massive stone arch that covered a heavy timber and iron banded front door, we entered into an equally massive foyer that was laid with a glistening white marble floor. Once inside, we were simply overcome by gold leaf and an explosion of color. Overcome, was the only word you could use to describe the entryway. The foyer, was a serious departure from the splendor that was the outside of the building. The transition was confusing to the senses to say the least. There was just, so much of everything, that it reminded me of the lobby of a Cracker Barrel.

Truly gaudy and overcrowded.

Giant sized, ornate, gold trimmed vases, with huge flower arrangements in them actually covered entire corners of an epically large portrait that soared nearly to the ceiling. The portrait was of Freyda (seated on a throne) with Eric standing behind her. They were dressed formally. Freyda wore a royal blue gown and a tiara. Eric was in all black. In the portrait, Freyda’s left hand draped over the arm of her throne and the wedding ring that she wore was easily the size of a quail’s egg. The way she’d positioned her hand, somehow caused the ring to dominate the subject matter.

It made me want to gag.

The carved chairs were painted with gold leaf and upholstered in animal fur. As if that weren’t enough, a crystal chandelier so large it nearly covered the entire expanse of ceiling above lit the area with blinding intensity. The ceiling molding was naturally gold leafed and the ceiling itself was Frescoed in a mural of blue sky and sunshine. The wood paneling that covered the lower portion of the walls had been gold leafed along the rail portion and the lower had been painted white. The plaster wall above it, was sort of a lavender and pink color. It was hard to decide which shade was more prominent. Either way, it didn’t help the riot of color bursting through the room.  

We’d been standing in the foyer long enough now for me to have taken it in fully and my attention was pulled away from the decor.

From the sound of it, they hadn't been expecting us. We could hear humans and Vampires alike scrambling around attempting to accommodate The King.

When we’d had to let ourselves in, Eduardo had immediately disappeared in search of someone to welcome us. He’d been gone about three minutes when Felipe decided that he’d waited long enough to be accommodated, then bellowed a complaint and disappeared down the hallway to the right of the foyer, into the interior of the palace, leaving the rest of us to wait for Eduardo or follow.

I stayed put, which meant Brian stayed put. When Eduardo reappeared, he pointed at us, then give instructions to the maid he had in tow.

I hope he didn’t think that I was going to work as a maid here. They could call the Magister right now and put me in silver or whatever, but there was no way I was going to be a maid for Felipe.

The maid eyed me steadily, then waved another maid to her and they came to where Brian and I were waiting.

The first maid said, ‘Follow me.’ While the other turned away and gestured for Brian to go along with her.

‘Ugh, no.’ I said, plainly. ‘He's with me.’

‘But…’ she protested.

‘He's with me. Period.’ I took Brian’s wrist in my hand and waited.

She shrugged, gave in and we headed out of the foyer and down the hallway on the right as well.

The deeper we walked into the castle, the more absurd it became. Granted, it’s a castle, but there is just no accounting for taste.

We arrived at the end of the extra wide hallway that you could’ve driven a car through, turned left and stepped into an honest to goodness throne room.

I’d thought the foyer was a tacky mess. 'Psh...' I said. This room was immense.

The ceiling was vaulted and held up by carved white marble pillars. Each one was different. Some looked like grape vines, others were carved in hundreds of flowers, and still others were carved to make Vampires look like cherubic angels. The floor was the same white marble as in the foyer. Of course, the room was as covered in gold leaf as you’d expect. The walls in this room were lined with portraits of only Freyda, no Eric. The walls were a shocking hot pink. None of the wishy-washy color indecision that was on display in the foyer and down the hallway for this room. Several massive crystal chandeliers hung from the center of the dome’s that held the ceiling up.

My mouth hung open in disbelief as I trailed after the maid.   

On the far side of the room, was a dais. Oddly, it was covered in white carpet and was so high, there was actually a flight of stairs to get to the top. Two chairs that were obviously thrones sat toward the center. The larger throne sat alone in the exact center of the dais, covered in purple velvet, and brace yourself for the shock, gold leaf. Several feet to the left of the ornately carved purple monstrosity, was little more than a basic chair. It was covered in the same fabric but was nothing more than a parlor chair. I found myself drifting toward the dais. A savage need to smash Freyda’s stupid throne into kindling rampaged over me when I saw the smaller chair. I was dragged away from the impulse by the maid’s voice.

‘This way.’ She instructed.

We were marched unceremoniously past the dais, to a large hallway located directly behind it and I noticed that stairs came up the back side of the dais as well. Pouring out of the extra wide hallway was a parade of staff, carrying arm load after arm load of beaded gowns, shoes, jewelry, portraits, furnishings and all other manner of accouterment imaginable.

I could hear Felipe yelling demands and instructions down at the far end of the hallway.  

‘Get all of this other shit out of here too. Get some real furniture in here. Why isn’t this done?’ He bellowed.

When the hallway emptied of scurrying staff for a beat, the maid escorting us brought us to the first set of double doors at the opening of the hallway and pushed them open. As soon as she did, Eric’s scent assailed me. His essence was all over the room and it worked as a balm on my senses. That was good news for Brian because I calmed instantly. A middle aged, but handsome man that I hadn’t noticed before entered with us, carrying my suitcase.

‘Don’t you have a suitcase?’ I asked Brian. 

He shook his head no and looked like he was going to puke. I didn’t do anything to put him at ease. 

The maid who’d brought us to Eric’s room was a human and she refused to make eye contact with me while she quickly explained where everything was and that the evening donors would be around shortly. She also indicated that someone would be around to collect Eric’s things as soon as they were able to finish serving His Majesty.

‘No. Leave them.’ I countered, waving her off.

She looked a puzzled glance at me, but nodded and left.

I walked to Eric’s closet as the maid left, pulling the doors to his rooms closed behind her, and I went inside. It was stunningly large for a closet and was filled to near bursting with clothing, jewelry, and shoes. I went straight to the nearest rack of hanging suits and pushed my face into the clothing, letting his scent envelop me. I stayed there for an eternity and soaked him in, thinking about what he would do in this situation. I considered my options, even though I didn’t have any idea about what was happening yet, and I thought about Brian.

What am I going to do about Brian?’  

I guess I would figure these things out as I came to them.

Interesting things were happening. Not only with Felipe, but Vampire society in general. Things I didn’t know anything about. I’d heard snippets while we were in the air. Nothing about what I’d heard had been discussed while we were on Sunniva. At least, it hadn’t been discussed when I’d been present. Everything I’d heard so far, was worrisome. Politics and war.

‘Stuff that I can’t do a damn thing about right now.’ I chided.

I put it all out of my mind for now and went to talk to Brian. If I was going to kill Felipe in the next week, I needed information. Brian, was standing in exactly the same spot he’d been in, when I’d gone into the closet. I let him stay there a bit longer and went to sit down.

Taking a few seconds to decide how I wanted to start I landed on,

‘You’ve been with Felipe for what…a few days now?’ I asked.

‘Yes.’ He answered, his voice small and shaking.

I stared at him hard then frowned. I sniffed the air and realized that awful smell I’d been subjected to for the last several hours was him.

Crap.’ I groaned silently, making a decision.

‘Go find something to wear in Eric’s closet and take a shower. His clothes are going to be big on you, but they’ll be clean.’ I instructed.   

He was taken aback by my instructions and fear pushed at him to protest, but he wisely decided against it and skirted by me and on into the closet. While he was in the shower, I killed time by unpacking my suitcase, putting my things in the drawers and closet right next to Eric’s.

I’d been so overcome by Eric’s scent when I’d come into his room, I hadn’t paid much attention to the furnishings. Now I was sitting at his desk while I waited for Brian and couldn’t help but notice that the room was incredibly empty. In fact, other than his clothes, there was nothing personal or identifying to mark the room as his. Not even books. It pissed me off all over again, but I didn’t have time to let a good rant settle on my lips because Brian was finished.  

I pushed thoughts of Eric away for the time being.

Brian’s clean tawny hair shone a bit darker in the dim light because it was still wet. The clothes he’d dressed himself in were almost comically large, but he’d made them work for him by rolling the pants into cuffs and rolling the sleeves as well. I sighed taking him in. I’d realized while he was in the shower that I needed to get answers from him quickly, but I was also going to need his help later. I was unsure in what capacity I’d be able use him, or how much I was going to tell him about me or our situation just yet, but I knew one thing for sure, I’d be getting his blood immediately. It would help in the information slash decision-making process and I need to utilize the tools I had. I’d concluded I wouldn’t be able do that if Brian was terrified of me. However, it was a catch 22 situation. He needed to understand the way things were going to be for him right up front. It was me and not Felipe he needed to be worried about at this point. I didn’t have time to convince him of that and I didn’t have time for him to make decisions at his leisure. The situation was urgent and I had to get my point across in a hurry.

I grimaced at him, determination to succeed evident in my posture. I waved a quivering Brian over and gestured for him to take the chair opposite the desk. He sat down and stared at the floor in supplication. I sighed out of habit and taking a page out of Karin’s book, ripped the proverbial band-aid off.

‘So…you fucked up.’ I said, frankly. Thinking it was the perfect mix of accusation and understanding. And, I shit you not, the guy burst into tears. I sighed again and rolled my eyes.

‘Crap…’ I muttered. So much for time constraints.

Brian cried like his heart was breaking and then he began to babble about someone named Randy.

That he was sorry and selfish. He deserved to die. Tell the Captain, that he was sorry, and that it was all a huge mistake.

I let him sob it out. Which, from what I’d observed on the short flight, a page straight out of Felipe’s book. I had no idea, as a new Vampire, how to handle this situation. I figured that echoing Vampire behavior around me was my best bet, so, monkey see monkey do. At least until I knew more about who I was now. When he finally quieted down, I got up and went to Eric’s dresser. I pulled a silk pocket square from a drawer that was bursting with them and handed it to Brian, since there was no need for a box of Kleenex in this room.

‘Clean your face up.’ I instructed and wondered at this very human thing I had just done. Maybe I should quit worrying about how Vampire me is supposed to behave and just act according to my impulses. Brian looked at the scrap of silk, bemused and used it to dry his face, then he wiped his nose with it.

'Or maybe not…’ I thought, a bit frustrated.

He looked around then for a place to put it, then settled for shoving it into the baggy slacks he was wearing. Now that he was calm, it was time to move things along.

I asked, ‘Okay Brian, first things first. I am going to bite you. It won’t hurt. Has anyone fed off of you recently?’

‘No.’ he answered, wide eyed.

‘Good, come here, I am starving.’

Brian walked leadenly around the desk bringing his chair with him, then sat. I took his wrist in my hand and bit him. He flinched a little, but sat there easily and didn’t make a fuss or shy away. That was good. There was the complication of me being new and I didn’t want to use glamour on him. If he resisted, things could get iffy between us and no one wanted that.

‘Brian’s surprisingly tasty.’ I mused. 

When I was done, I picked up the phone and ordered some juice to be brought to him.

The gestured surprised him. 

‘I’m a Vampire, Brian. Not a monster.’ I said, in a snit.

He blinked at me, not speaking then stared at the floor.

‘Whatever…’ I said. ‘So.’ I started again, ‘You fucked up, Brian.’

His eyes darted back to mine and he opened his mouth to begin babbling again. I held my hand up and gave him a warning look. He closed his mouth.

‘I don’t want to hear it.’ I warned quietly. ‘This is what I want to know. Did you tell Felipe where the crew is?’ I asked softly.

I held my finger to my lips as I asked to indicate he should answer quietly.

In answer he shook his head no.

Smiling, I nodded, letting him know that was a good thing.

I was happy that he’d told me the truth. ‘Is there anyone still on Sunniva?’ I asked.

‘Yes.’ He nodded and mouthed silently.

‘What are Felipe’s plans for you?’ I asked.

‘I don’t know.’ He whispered frantically, leaning toward Sookie, his voice barely audible. ‘He, only kept me for information. He was hurting…I mean, I tried not to tell him about, see…’ his voice got louder as he tried to explain and he urgently gestured and babbled.

‘Stop. Take a breath and just talk.’ I said, calmly.

He closed his eyes, sat back in his chair squaring his shoulders, took a deep breath and tried again. ‘I told him that I’d been trained for you specifically, but that I didn’t know much. I was just meant to be for you…for…your, personal use.’ He stammered, and blushed. ‘I’m not sure what he wants.’ He finished self-consciously.

‘So, you're...supposed to be my personal donor?’ I asked, dipping my head at him in question.

‘Yes, I thought…you knew that.’ He blushed, self-consciously.

‘Who hired you?’ I asked, ignoring his question.

‘Well, Reider hired me, but…it’s Nuri who runs everything.’ Brian answered, candidly.

‘I’d picked up on that.’ I said absently rubbing the bridge of my nose.

Nuri always stood in the back observing everything. It had seemed strange and her silent observations had annoyed me towards the end of our time on Sunniva.

‘What are we doing in Oklahoma?’ I asked.

Brian looked at me quizzically and didn’t answer.

‘Don’t make me have to ask you questions twice, Brian.’ I warned.

‘Sorry.’ He said, quickly, ‘I, just…thought you knew. Felipe is going to have a formal coronation and appoint a regent. That’s why it was so weird that they were not ready for us when we got here.’ 

‘That is strange.’ I thought, considering this news, then said, ‘Just assume I know nothing, Understand?’

‘Okay.’ He nodded.

‘Does anyone traveling with us know who I am, or why Felipe want’s me?’

‘No one except Eduardo, really knows what is going on, or who is who. I am sure that Felipe doesn’t even know what day it is until Eduardo tells him, but right now, even Eduardo is over worked and struggling to stay on top of everything. Felipe is super distracted, can’t be bothered to do even the slightest thing for himself and is always on the phone. Truthfully, I’ve not heard any discussion about you, at all, other than they were looking for you.’ He said.

‘Okay, you don’t tell anyone who I am. You talk to no one about the others, because your life depends on it. We have work to do and I can’t do it if I have to worry about what you are going to do or say every minute. As a matter of fact, you don’t talk at all. You don’t leave this room unless I say, or Eduardo comes looking for you.’ I said.

He swallowed hard, considering. He was a loud broadcaster and that was good. I trusted him, mostly. He was extremely observant, but flakey. I didn’t trust that he truly knew himself. He assumed right now that he’d do whatever I told him to do to save his skin and that was the problem. He didn’t realize that he’d save himself first in any situation. He felt bad about…what’s his name, but hadn’t put himself on the line to save him. He was dealing with a heavy load of regret over it now, so the experience might change him in the long run. She’d have to wait and see. For now, she’d have to do her best at forcing his loyalty.

‘What else can you tell me?’ I asked.

‘Well…’ he paused for a bit thinking about what he wanted to say. ‘Something is driving Felipe. It isn’t anything that’s happening here and now. He’s been agitated by delays. Someone called the Magister has been calling relentlessly. Every time he gets off of the phone with her, he is…well, he’s agitated. That is the word to describe him. Agitated. Mostly, it’s because he’s been away from Las Vegas, from what I can tell. Also, they all talk, as if no one is listening to them. Most of the talk, has been about something called The Karaftu and what he is going to do about them. They wonder mostly that since the VLA is working against The Karaftu, why he isn’t working with the VLA instead of resisting them as well. I have no idea what any of it means.’ He finished. 

Once Brian got going, he could really talk and right now he was winded. Thankfully he’d been honest with me. I had no idea what anything he’d just told me meant either, but I was going to find out and,

‘What the hell was The Craftu?’ I wondered.

There was a knock on the door, I flicked a finger indicating he should answer it. It was his juice.

He accepted it and thanked the maid. It made me happy that he’d thanked her. I couldn’t tell you why.

Brian came back to his chair and sipped at his juice.

‘Okay, then.’ I sighed. ‘Where have you been sleeping.’

I’d shifted gears on him and he didn’t know how to answer.

‘Where have they been keeping you in the daytime?’ I tried again.

‘Well…they just locked me in the store room at the bar.’ He answered.

‘Am I going to have to lock you up?’ I asked pointedly.

He gave his head and emphatic shake, ‘No!’

‘Good.’ I said. I pointed at the bed. ‘Now, I want you to lay down there and sleep for a while. You’re safe for now. We’ll talk more later. Do it.’ I urged, pointing at the bed then got up and went to take my own shower.

Eric’s things were everywhere. It was comforting in a weird way. I used his shampoo and body wash. His towels. There was an extra toothbrush, since I’d forgotten mine. I dried my hair and put on some makeup.  Brian was sound asleep when I left the room.

It was late, but there were a few more hours until the sun came up. I walked out into the giant throne room. It was full of Vampires and humans alike. None of them knew me and I didn’t know any of them, so, I took advantage of the situation turning my Vampire hearing on. I listened to the room, much the same way I would have done if I still had the telepathy. I learned a lot. The more I listened, the more I was glad Freyda was dead. 

‘What a bitch.’ I thought foully.

I couldn’t even imagine what Eric’s life had been like here. I didn’t hear a lot about anything one thing. It was mostly gossip. The court here was in awe of how powerful their Queen had been and were looking forward to the justice she’d get when Bill Compton was caught and brought to justice. According to her subjects, Freyda had proven her strength to them once and for all with her marriage to Eric Northman. A formidable Vampire in his own right and she’d been able to subdue him, turning him into little more than a submissive toy for her amusement. She was a heroine according to them. The talk disgusted me. I moved away from the conversation and shook it off. A group of well-dressed humans were talking Vampire politics in a secluded corner. I took up position and listened intently. I’d been out of the Vampire life style for a long time and we’d been secluded on Sunniva so I needed to acquaint myself with the happenings. From what I could make out, there was a war brewing. That was nothing new. There was always a war brewing. Most of the humans in the gossipy clutch, thought that Freyda had been murdered by The Karaftu and that Bill was a patsy. The reason being, the VLA couldn’t acknowledge that they’d lost a Queen to The Karaftu. Especially after what had happened in Flint, Mi. 

There was that word again, Carabo. What had happened in Flint?’ I wondered, ‘I mean, other than obvious.’

Joe Velasquez couldn’t believe his luck. Sookie Stackhouse was in Oklahoma! This solved one of his biggest problems. He’d use Sookie to find Barry for him…or, hell, he’d just take her instead. Then again, he could take her and make her tell him where to find Barry and keep them both. Northman was dead, Compton was on the run, soon to be executed for treason. All of the obstacles surrounding her were removed. He could solve his trust issues with the Yakuza immediately. He began to stealthily make his way across the room toward her, Isabel followed.

I’d drawn the notice of the men I’d been listening to when I’d glanced over my shoulder to see who they might be. I wanted to ask one of them about this, Carrottoo or boo or whatever it was, but they turned and walked away. ‘Crap.’ I mumbled and turned to leisurely follow them through the room. Instead of following, I ran smack into Joseph Velasquez, The King of Texas.

‘Double crap…’ I groaned inwardly.

Well, this wasn’t good at all.

‘Oh, excuse me.’ I said, pretending that I didn’t know who was standing in front of me. 

I moved to maneuver my way past. His face darkened with recognition and he grabbed my arm.

‘Sookie Stackhouse!’ He exclaimed, noting that she was now a Vampire and curious as to how he could’ve missed it. He let it go for the moment though and demanded without preamble, ‘Where is Barry Bellboy?’

‘How the hell should I know.’ I said rudely. Yanking my arm away from him, I tried to leave again. 

Isabel Beaumont appeared out of nowhere and punched me in the face so hard, I flew for 10 feet. 

‘Triple crap! This day just keeps getting worse.’ I grumbled, pushing my hair out of my face.

Both of these Vampires despised me. Joe, hated me on principle. I was friends with Barry, who’d double crossed Texas when Stan was the King. Isabel hated me because she’d spent two months being starved and chained in silver, after I’d revealed that her human lover, Hugo had betrayed the Texas Vampires to the F