A/N: This is a short story companion piece for Dead to Rights. If you haven't read it, I suggest doing so first (just look on my profile). I expect this to run maybe four chapters. I was going to wait and put it all out at one time, but I got some PMs asking me to get something out soon. It contains some set up for the Dead to Rights sequel (still untitled). Think of it as similar to one of Ms. Harris' anthology pieces. Oh yes, it's told from Bill's POV, which I hope I'm getting at least somewhat right. Bill doesn't 'speak' to me like Eric does, and I find myself struggling to get inside his head, but it was important for this piece to be from his POV (which will make sense down the road). Let me know how I'm doing!
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or stories from The Southern Vampire series. I can only hope that Ms. Harris does not mind me taking them out to play with.
If he had any choice in the matter, Bill Compton would be anywhere but here. His eyes roamed the smoke-filled room, not focusing on anything in particular. A half-drunk bottle of True Blood sat on the table in front of him, idly being shuffled silently back and forth between his hands. A fangbanger across the room had been eying him for awhile and seemed about to make her move. She'd regret it the moment she took a step, being met with his icy glare, warning her to stay away. He was in no mood.
He'd been summoned to Fangtasia the night after he'd crawled from the ground where he'd been buried to heal. Bill had already been sitting in the corner booth near an hour, growing impatient. He knew Eric was purposeful in making him wait, and the amused smirks Pam would occasionally give him from her post at the door only confirmed it. Sometimes he wanted nothing more than to rip her throat out, other times he just wanted to throw her against a wall and fuck the smirk right off her face. She was far too big for her britches, in his estimation. Mostly Eric's influence, no doubt.
Bill was sure there was no good reason for him to be here, and that Eric was only using this meeting as an excuse to belittle him and flaunt things about Sookie in his face. His jaw clenched at the memory of how Eric had danced with her on New Year's Eve. Nothing could ever convince him that Eric cared about Sookie as anything more than an asset. She was just another prize to him, like the hood ornament on his Corvette. He would hurt her in ways that would pale in comparison to the wrongs Bill had committed. He just had to be patient. Sookie would eventually see Eric for the manipulative bastard he is, and Bill would be there. He would kill Eric, one way or another, and Sookie would finally be free to love him again.
He suppressed a growl as he felt Pam drawing near, opting to chug down the rest of the True Blood so that he needn't look at her.
"The Master will see you now," she said, the emphasis intended to get a rise out of him.
He made no reply, grabbing his laptop case, and moving silently past her toward Eric's office. She patted his ass. He fought his instinctual response.
The mere sight of Eric was always enough to stir Bill's lust for battle and for blood. He hated him beyond all reason. His fangs ran down slightly as he paused in the office doorway, waiting permission to enter.
Eric's gaze flicked up from his computer, "Compton."
Bill forced himself to nod appropriately, "Eric." He moved to the chair Eric indicated across his desk. After drawing the cd-roms from his case and setting them on the desk, he crossed his ankle over his knee, hoping this would go quickly.
Eric barely regarded him as he spoke, "Those the VDB updates?"
Bill nodded silently.
"Good, Edgington wasn't happy about the wait," Eric said, referring to Bill's healing time.
"Will that be all?" Bill asked, not bothering to hide his irritation.
Eric ignored his tone, "No." He paused, as if considering his next move, but Bill knew better. Eric had this entire scenario planned long before Bill walked in, the pause was designed merely to make him uneasy. Bill set his jaw, preparing himself for the mental chess match about to ensue.
"Edgington has indicated interest in turning state affairs over to me," Eric commented in a rather blasé tone.
This was hardly surprising news, and Bill was sure Eric was only saying it to gauge his response. If Eric were to take over Louisiana, he would most likely have to move to New Orleans. Sookie would never willingly agree to leave Bon Temps, Bill knew, and certainly Eric did as well. Bill had to play this one carefully.
"You are certainly the logical choice," Bill replied, making sure to keep his enthusiasm over the idea concealed. While he may not relish the idea of Eric as a pro se King, getting him away from Sookie was worth any other issues that might arise.
Eric leaned back a bit in his high-backed, leather office chair, his gaze steady on Bill. He steepled his fingers in that smug, 'I'm superior to you' way, tapping them together like he was thinking. Just make your move already, Bill thought, unable to ignore the tension Eric was so purposefully building. He knew something was coming that would test his ability to remain in control, and he was adamant with himself that he would. Even as Eric rose from his chair, pacing slowly around behind him, Bill attempted to fix his mind to the task at hand. Eric would not get the better of him this time.
Eric stopped directly behind him, and Bill could feel his eyes boring into the top of his skull. "We will need a liaison to Mississippi, of course..."
Bill instinctively tensed, immediately cursing himself for showing any reaction. How could he have thought for one moment Eric would allow a situation where he was gone and Bill still in Bon Temps? He had to think fast.
"Given my history with Russell, I assume you don't mean me, of course," Bill said, as if he were stating the obvious. He knew, of course, that's exactly what Eric meant. Not only would he remove Bill from Sookie's life, but he'd send him to the place of his own torture. Right back to where his relationship with Sookie first began to crumble.
"Oh, I wouldn't worry about that Bill. Russell's all but forgotten it. He was only returning a favor to Lorena, you know," Eric stated in that cocky, smooth voice that made Bill's blood boil.
"Of course," Bill said coolly, though he knew Eric could feel his anger rising. The air was almost palpable with tension. Things were quickly going down hill, and Bill cursed himself once again. He needed something... a comeback Eric wouldn't be expecting... something pragmatic.
"However, my work on the database consumes the majority of my time. Russell certainly would not want me... distracted from something that brings in so much profit," Bill said, a bit of his confidence returning. Argue with that one, Northman.
Eric didn't miss a beat.
"On the contrary, Compton. That's what makes you perfect for the position. This way Russell can oversee the financial end of things, leaving you more than enough time for the technical work and your liaison duties," Eric smirked, and his tone indicated no further discussion was required. He may as well have said 'checkmate'.
But Bill... was about to throw the chess board.
"Why don't you just admit you want me away from Sookie," Bill hissed, giving Eric, who had rounded to the side of the desk, an icy stare.
Eric bent toward him, his eyes widening with warning, "And why would I care about your proximity to Sookie, Bill? She is mine." His tone was daring Bill to make a move, throwing words he once spoke back in his face.
Bill stood so fast he knocked his chair over backwards, fangs running out, followed immediately by Eric's.
"Compton, turn around and walk out of this office now," Eric growled.
They were staring each other down, and Bill's survival instinct wrestled for dominance over his anger. He would not survive long in a straight on fight with Eric, but his jealousy and rage over Eric's theft of Sookie were winning out. For that's exactly how Bill saw it, Eric had stolen Sookie by tricking her into taking his blood so many times. Eric was undoubtedly forcing her compliance through their bond.
"You don't care about Sookie, she's just another trophy to you. You force her to heel like a dog!" Bill heaved.
Eric's fist was making contact with Bill's chest before he had a chance to react, and he was sent flying backward, smashing into the corridor wall outside the office. He scrambled to his feet, lunging for Eric, who was already leaping toward him. The two clashed together in a fury of gnashing fangs and clawed hands. Blood lust and rage had taken all sense of control or reason from Bill, and all he could think of in that moment was sending Eric to his final death.
That, of course, was not going to happen. It could not have been more than ten seconds before Eric had his hand around Bill's throat, flying through the back exit into the alley. Bill felt bones breaking as Eric hurled him into the wall, and he landed in a heap on the gravel, knocking the fight out of him. He braced for the next fist or kick or bite, but Eric just hovered over him, growling, his face strained with... holding himself back.
"Just stake me and get it over with," Bill croaked, his voice raspy.
"You'd like that, wouldn't you, Compton? To go to your final death thinking yourself a martyr for Sookie's honor," Eric snarled.
Bill glared, "That's right, Eric. If you actually cared about her, you would've thrown me into the sun after... after what I did to her in Mississippi."
Remembering what he'd done to Sookie in the trunk was more pain to him than Eric could ever dish out. There were so many nights he considered waiting for the sun, barely able to bear his own guilt and shame. Eric should have killed him then, to avenge Sookie. If he'd loved her even a fraction of what Bill did, he would have.
His words seemed to have the opposite effect on Eric from what he'd anticipated. Bill knew he'd given Eric every justifiable reason the Sheriff ever needed to declare his existence forfeit. But, instead of the torrent of rage he'd expected to unleash, Eric... was laughing.
"And that, Bill Compton, is why you lost her. You have never had any understanding of that magnificent creature." Eric shook his head down at Bill, "Compton, you rise each night... because I love her."