"That woman is here."
Eric Northman raised his head from where it rested in his hands and smiled. "Dr. Bramwell?" he asked, mildly amused that despite both he and his Child having known the psychiatrist for almost six months, she was still 'that woman.'
The blonde in front of him shrugged and turned to face him. "Are you smiling?" she asked in disbelief. The question escaped before she could stop herself, and Eric immediately frowned.
"Of course not," he said quickly, waving a large, pale hand toward the door. "Show her in, Pamela."
He waited, listening, as Pam wordlessly led the equally taciturn woman through the empty club, before rising from his seat. "Doctor," he said, nodding, as the pair entered.
Pam hastily gestured to the couch facing Eric's desk, as she did every Saturday evening, and leaned against the door, closing it. "Shall we?" she asked, pulling out her phone. Pam detested the weekly meetings and what they represented, but most of all, why they had come to be.
Dr. Bramwell settled her small frame on the couch and pulled out her leather-bound planner, which earned a quiet sigh from Pam. There was little the doctor could do, right or wrong, that didn't earn Pam's disapproval, and her tolerance was rapidly waning. Shooting her a look, Eric took his seat and leaned back in the chair to observe.
Henrietta Bramwell, the human, had been the eldest daughter of a prominent turn-of-the century psychiatrist, in whose footsteps she had followed to her own position on-staff at the infamous Bellevue Hospital in New York. Centuries younger at her turning than Pam, and more than a millenium younger than Eric, he once wondered of Dr. Bramwell exactly what had motivated a fellow vampire to take interest in the quiet, serious woman in front of him. She was young for their kind, though he estimated her to have been middle-aged as a human.
"Wednesday will not work," he heard Pam say hastily, rousing him from his thoughts. "Reschedule it."
Raising an eyebrow, the doctor dutifully scratched across the paper of her planner and waited patiently while Pam tapped at her phone. "Friday, then?" Dr. Bramwell asked.
Eric's thoughts strayed again as he vaguely listened to the mingling of the women's voices, their accents not that dissimilar. At times Pam's English origins could be heard in her accent, particularly when she was angry, and it was much like the odd, clipped tones of Dr. Bramwell's upper-class manner of speech.
"Getting all that, Sheriff?" Dr. Bramwell suddenly asked, nearly startling him.
"Mesmerized," he replied, smirking at his own joke. He considered all of it a joke. That she would call him on his apparent lack of interest was ludicrous, as was the entire nature of their relationship.
"As always," the psychiatrist murmured, shoving her things back into her bag and standing. There was a distinct lack of deference between her and the local vampire Sheriff, on both their parts, which Pam found ominous.
"I'll show you out," she said briskly, ignoring the uncharacteristic eyeroll of her Maker as well as the way he loudly propped his heavy boots on top of his desk. She led the prim-looking vampire through the now-crowded night club as quickly as possible, grateful she didn't ask to stop at the bar as she had once before. It had been the longest thirty minutes of Pam's undead life, entertaining the government lackey who had become the source of Pam's misery over the last half year.
Dr. Bramwell cast a wistful look at the long line of humans outside the club's door and nodded. "Until Friday, then."
"Of course," Pam agreed, smiling grimly and wondering if that would be so. If anything, she feared that her Maker's club would not remain standing by then. She hastily made her way back to Eric's office and flung open the door.
"How do you suppose she was trained?" Eric pondered, raising an eyebrow to his Child. "Did they ever really use watches?"
He knew the doctor's father to have been in the forefront of the use of hypnosis in treating psychiatric patients. It was, he assumed, the reason she'd been chosen to 'work' with him, though Dr. Bramwell's involvement seemed mostly relegated to copious note taking while Eric used his glamor.
"Have you any self-preservation left?" Pam hissed, and Eric looked at her iwith mild surprise. "You continue to bait her," Pam went on. "You barely listen half the time!"
"It was you who suggested this, Pamela," Eric replied coolly.
"Suggested this?" Pam's tone was incredulous, and her anger nearly froze her in place. "I suggested this?" she repeated.
Eric shrugged. "The first time," he said evenly. "It was you who suggested we may as well make money from it." He closed his eyes and leaned further back in his chair, seemingly oblivious to his Child's distress.
Since becoming a vampire, never had Pam felt her eyes burn as they did then, as if she would cry. "I did not," she said icily, though her voice wavered, "suggest crawling into bed with the United States government." When Eric remained silent, she circled his desk. "And I did not suggest, that we go against everything we are, in some depressed lack of effort to drag us all down-"
"Enough!" Eric bellowed, leaping from his chair. The pair had become increasingly antagonistic in the previous weeks, and he was at a loss as to how to resolve it. "I do exactly what is asked of me," he seethed.
"Since when?" Pam angrily countered. "Since when do you follow? Since when do you allow yourself to be used?"
"I am not!" he yelled, splintering the desktop with his fist. "They pay me!" he insisted, thumping his own chest. "I am using them!"
Pam swiftly took a step back from her Maker and lowered her eyes to the floor. Eric was the angriest she'd seen since almost a year before, and as she had then, she backed down. "It is a matter of time…" she started, and Eric laughed bitterly.
"Until what?" he asked. "I glamor...smokers, who wish to quit. Humans who wish to lose weight!"
"Government employees," Pam corrected. They were not simply run-of-the-mill humans, and that he refused to acknowledge what he was slowly being asked to glamor out of them was alarming to her.
Eric waved his hand dismissively and eased onto the couch. "They are all the same" he said distractedly.
"They have become more...complicated."
He mulled over Pam's observation, thinking back to the first woman whose behavior he had unintentionally altered. She had been young and somewhat naive in visiting a vampire club that night, and her friends had talked her into approaching him. It was unnecessary, as Eric had immediately noticed the woman, her frame and hair too familiar to have been missed.
He'd led her back to his office, against Pam's protests, and had his way with the pretty, happy blonde. She'd been willing, offering her blood as he had taken her against the wall, and he'd obliged her request. It had been weeks since Eric had fed from a human, almost as long since he'd fucked one, and his only misgiving had been the stale smell of cigarettes in her long hair. He had tasted them as she had gathered her things to leave, and without thinking, he'd admonished her, telling her never to smoke again.
His Child had watched as the woman left the club, and it had been Pam's sarcastic remark that he consider getting into the business of glamoring addicts as opposed to fucking women who looked like old girlfriends, that had started it all.
"It is your fault," Eric said quietly, and a part of her agreed. Had she not remained silent during his scheme to protect the one woman Pam had ever known him love, perhaps they would not be careening toward the disaster she knew was ahead of them.
She slid onto the couch next to him and clasped her hands. "We are in too deep, Eric. This has to end."
"We have a contract-"
"As if agreements on paper mean shit to vampires," she said, interrupting him.
The trickle of clients had been slow at first, though lucrative. Sheriff Northman had proven to be a savvy handler of humans, and Pam had been as formidable with the business end of it, as he had been with the glamoring. Together they had kept a tight lid on their illegal practice of relieving humans of their habits for profit, and no one had been as surprised as they had, the night Dr. Henrietta Bramwell had tip-toed into Fangtasia with a proposition.
"It means 'shit' for the next six months," Eric said drily, and Pam snorted.
"It is a death sentence."
He rolled his head toward her and waggled his eyebrows. "Perhaps you haven't noticed…"
But Pam had noticed. She had watched the life theoretically draining from her Maker over the previous year, and she was determined to put a stop to it. "What I notice, is that you are no longer being asked to treat addictions," she replied seriously.
Dr. Bramwell, it had turned out, worked for the federal government, an organization deeply interested in the idea of vampires who could alter human behavior. And though Eric and Pam had denied their abilities to do so, it had become clear it had been an offer they couldn't refuse. They could pay with their freedoms for their illegal activities, or they could pay with their services.
"I am aware of that."
The skeletal office clerk with an eating disorder had led to the obsessive-compulsive medical officer who could no longer treat patients. The alcoholic MP guard had given way to the sexually abused assistant of one of the officers. Eric Northman was slipping deeper and deeper into the human psyche and successfully glamoring his way out of it. He assumed it was a matter of time, before he was asked to bring certain memories along with him, instead of simply removing the unwanted behaviors.
"Eric," Pam whispered worriedly.
"We both know what they want."
When vampires had chosen to reveal themselves, when they had promised humankind that human blood would remain safely inside human bodies thanks to the invention of a synthetic substitute that could be consumed by vampires, Eric had wondered how his kind would spin the rest of the story. How would they convince humans that their minds and their lives, not just their blood, would remain safe?
Glamoring, the innate ability of every vampire to bend a human to his will, was a slippery thing. Controlling the mind, controlled the body, and its appeal to the human military establishment was not lost on him. What the government perhaps did not understand, Eric felt, was that the primary purpose of glamor resulted in death. It was intended to feed the vampire, not power-hungry humans.
"They are playing with fire," Pam hissed, her anger directed at him, as well.
"We are," he agreed, stretching his arm behind her along the couch. His long fingers idly twisted the ends of Pam's light hair, and she knew of whom it reminded him. Several minutes passed until she summoned the courage to speak again.
"You miss her." It was a gross understatement, but the most Pam dared to say.
Eric's fingers stilled ever so slightly before moving again. "She is a only a memory," he replied hoarsely. He had seen to it himself, that only he would remember, not her.
Pam nodded, her face neutral. It was time, she reasoned silently, to collect.