Title: System of a Down

Author: Terri Botta

Support Stacie Auction Winner: EricNorthman

Ficlet Challenge: Write a story about why Eric had a set of pink spandex in LDiD

Pairings: Eric/OFC

Rating: M for Mature

A/N: Warning for violence and disturbing scenes. What started out as something fun and lighthearted twisted into the exact opposite. What I thought would be a little lark, turned real dark. This is anything but funny. Honest. You have been warned.


System of a Down

Fall 1985

He rises to another night of ear splitting rock music blaring from the main house in the compound, and he grits his teeth. It is becoming less pleasant to live here and he is thinking that soon he will either have to kill some members of his nest or move on. Since he is just recovering his losses from the last episode involving the killing of his own kind, he is inclined to choose the latter, but he still wishes that he did not have to make such a choice.

He's been content in this little de-facto commune located on the outskirts of San Francisco, but somewhere over the past two decades the psychedelic rock of the Sixties has been replaced by the hard-edged, electric guitar-screaming of Metal, and he finds the transition less than appealing.

He misses the twisted, often insightful, LSD induced lyrics of bands like The Byrds and The Grateful Dead, only to have them be replaced by disturbingly perky Pop songs. Pop being a very apt and operative word, and the best he can say about it is that at least the new crap replaced Disco, which had to be the worst. If he had to listen to one more falsetto shrieked at him through a set of waist-high speakers, he was going to go on a killing spree.

He'd start with the Bee Gees and work his way up.

But he has to admit that, despite the lack of music acumen, it is a very good time to be a vampire. Who would have thought there would ever come a time when humans embraced the monsters that bit in the night? The fun started with the mind-altering drugs of the Sixties, and it has continued on at a steady pace. He finds he barely has to glamour anyone for a meal anymore, and since he's pretty much given up killing when he feeds, he can move about within human circles almost completely unaccosted. It is a freeing and delightful prospect, and he is capitalizing upon the unlimited opportunities with his usual zeal.

He finds he has no lack of choices, whether it be in accruing profits or in acquiring a warm body to share his bed. He has his favorites as always, and for the moment his preferred treat is a sweet, young blonde aptly named Candy. Candy is part fae, although he does not think she is aware of that particular little quirk in her genetic make-up, and her blood carries just a hint of fairy sweetness. Candy indeed.

Candy knows what he is; an odd thing even in this day and age, but he allows her to live with the knowledge because she is useful. She knows better than to reveal his secrets, and to be honest, she does too many drugs for anyone to take her seriously. But he keeps an eye on her just to be sure, and he holds her where he wants her with the promise of more drugs and great sex. She likes both in quantity.

She is waiting for him when he enters the large mansion. He does not shelter in the main house, but rotates his sleeping place to encompass a number of other secure spots on the property. He is too old to be stupid enough to set up a crypt in a basement and then sleep there every day. Not even his second in command in this little nest of four knows where he lies when the sun is up. He trusts Gordon, but only to a point. Gordon is not his Child, and therefore does not owe him fealty out of blood bond, but only thru oath and obligation. He knows from experience that these things often are not enough to assure loyalty.

He could call Pam if he really needs her, but he does not, and he has heard that she is enjoying her freedom in the Midwest somewhere, so he is inclined to let her be until such time as he truly requires her presence. As he has said, his nest is small, and he is the leader simply because he is the oldest of the group, and the others automatically defer to him. They think since he has managed to live for over 900 years, he has an inside track on what it takes to survive.

They'd be right.

Candy gives him a watery smile as he comes in. Her bottle-blonde hair is crimped in the fashion of the music stars, and she is dressed in an array of neon colors. He doesn't mind what she wears. After watching human fashion change over the past nine centuries, nothing really bothers or surprises him anymore. She hasn't applied her garish make-up however, because she knows full well that he hates the taste of her cheap lipstick and powder, and he's going to fuck her and feed from her before she puts that shit on.

She is lovely without it; her pale skin and hazel eyes are packaged into a round face and a body that is just slightly on the plump side. He likes his women slim, but not fashionably starved as is the habit these days. Bonies never last long as vampire companions because they have no reserves to pull on if the vampire overfeeds. He hasn't killed a companion by accident in decades, but he's known others who are less careful.

A member of his nest, Noelle, is famous for "Oops"-kills. He's given her warning that if her next "Oops" is in the compound, she had best run for her life because he will kill her if she jeopardizes the safety of the nest. She doesn't think he's serious, but Gordon knows he is because Gordon came with him when he left the Los Angeles nest he'd been part of to relocate to San Francisco.

"Eric," Candy slurs as she comes to him.

He frowns. Her eyes are dilated and glassy, which means she has taken a hit of something. He doesn't like that because he is not in the mood to be impaired from drinking drugged blood. Normally she will wait until after he's finished with her before imbibing in her drug of choice, but tonight, apparently, she's dipped in early. It bodes badly for her because she knows better.

"Darling," he smoothes, catching her as she stumbles into his arms. Her head automatically lolls back to expose her jugular, but she reeks of 'Shrooms. Fresh ones. He casts a glare at one of the other humans kept at the compound; a Vietnam vet who handles his Shell Shock by pimping himself out to vamps and keeping himself high.

Donovan should never have been a solider, but The Draft does not discriminate, and he came from a poor community who had expendable young men. Blacker than most dark-skinned humans he's ever seen – which pegs him for a Nubian in his mind – he is Noelle's favorite, but she shares him with Gordon who does not discriminate on the basis of gender. Neither does he, but he does not touch Donovan because he does not like the visions he gets from the soldier's blood.

Donovan participated in the now infamous My Lai Massacre, slaughtering unarmed women and children and participating in gang rape after gang rape, and now he cannot live with what he has done. Eric has seen it before; soldiers caught up in the berserker rage of warfare, only to kill themselves in the aftermath. He himself has never lost control like that, but he understands how it happens.

"Hey, Baby," Candy sighs, rubbing against him suggestively. He hates it because he's hungry and horny, but he won't touch her because she's got too much crap in her blood right now.

He growls low as she presses her pert breasts into his hands, and his fangs come down, but he wraps his control around his hunger enough to push her away.

"Give her another hour," Gordon tells him apologetically. "Donovan went down to the Haight today, and he didn't get back until late."

"He brought back enough to share I see," he comments drolly.

Gordon smiles slightly and nods. "Mary-Anne and Simone are still in the back bedroom."

"Ah. Is that where Noelle and Siobhan are?" Siobhan being the fourth member of their nest. She isn't really an Irish Lass, but her real name is Marcie, so she decided to change it to something more "exotic." Whatever. She's young. After a few more "exotic" names, she'll learn to love the simplicity of Marcie. If she lives that long.

The longest name he's ever claimed was in Rome in the 13th Century: Julianus Arris Invictus Nicephorus Pilopogos. He was barely three hundred, and still in love with his own immortality. He switched back to Eric shortly after the Inquisition began and relocated to the relative sanity of the Orient.

Gordon makes a face. "Noelle, yes. Siobhan…"

His second doesn't have to finish his sentence because the aforementioned vampess comes storming in from the office, waving a book and a flyer. He knows the book all too well.

'Oh dear.'

"He's done it! He's gone and done it!" the young vampire screeches, her wild brunette hair unkempt and flying around her head in her rage.

She waves the book and flyer in his face. He recoils and hisses at her, and she has enough sense to back off a bit.

"We must kill him! He is jeopardizing all of us!"

He glances at the image of a blond vampire in black clothes and a cape singing with a rock band. "The Vampire Lestat! Come DIE with Us!" reads the headline on the flyer. It is a concert announcement for a show in San Francisco on Halloween three weeks away.

'Bastard's looking for Louis. Too bad his kind can't Call their Children to heel like we can, otherwise there would be no need for all of this fucking drama,' he sighs to himself.

"His own kind will rein him in if they think he is a threat. Their Queen is aware of his antics, I am sure," he replies calmly.

"He needs to die! He is breaking the Cardinal Rule!" Siobhan argues.

"And you young ones have been looking for Louis de Pointe du Lac for almost a decade and you still haven't found him," he points out.

"He must die too! We will find him! We will find them together and kill them both!"

He sighs. He knows Lestat and Louis's kind are different vampires from his own. They have different limits and abilities, the biggest being that their kind cannot have sex. A little detail he believes is the crux of everything. If Lestat or Louis had been able to get seriously laid, then neither of them would have felt the need to publish books or go on a pointless crusade to make their "evil" known. Then again, their kind killed almost all the time, and they often made life difficult for other types of vampires living near them. More than one vampire hunt has been instigated by a careless vampire of Lestat's species – impulsive brats the lot of them, but their Elder is five thousand years old, and he has no desire to cross her.

"Yes, well, good luck with that. Let me know how it works out when Maharet comes after you for killing two of her coven."

"She can't kill all of us, and I am sure she is just as concerned with Lestat's betrayal as we are."

He wants to refute that, being that since Lestat is obviously still alive, Maharet must be allowing him to live, but he sees the futility of it. She's got herself in a dander. She'll probably go to the concert and try to kill Lestat, and she'll probably get herself killed in the process.

He won't mourn her loss.

"Mmm. I'm sure," he agrees in a bored tone.

Siobhan huffs. "You don't agree. You don't think this heretic deserves to die. You won't help us."

He flashes fang at her, reminding her who is in charge. "You be careful who you are calling a heretic. You forget I witnessed the Inquisition, and I saw what they did to heretics then. I want no part of a mob, nor do I want any member of my nest involved in one."

"Are you forbidding me to join the cause?" she challenges.

"I know better than to forbid you, Siobhan, but I will not help you. If you do this thing, and bring the wrath of Maharet down upon us, I will disown you and hand you over to her."

She sneers and flashes her own fangs. "Fair enough, Master. And when Maharet rewards us for bringing down the rogue, I will tell her who did not support our efforts," she says, pointing her finger into his face. He hates that, and he has to refrain from biting it off right then and there.

"You do that," he tells her, his voice hard. He doesn't say that he and Maharet are more likely to toast each other over Siobhan's crumbling ashes.

Siobhan growls one more time before throwing her hands up and stalking away.

"I'm going hunting!" she announces. "All the food here is tainted with Noelle's toy's drugs, and I'm in the mood to kill." She rounds and casts him a scathing glare as she heads out. "Don't worry. I'll hide the kill. I know how to follow the rules."

She slams the door behind her, and he has half a mind to go after her and make her submit, but he does not. Per Gordon's predictions, Candy is coming down from her high, and she realizes that she has done wrong. In keeping with her personality, she will want to be punished, which is fine because punishing her then fucking the living daylights out of her will assuage his own anger.

"She is a wild one. I have no idea what her maker was thinking when he brought her over," Gordon comments, coming to stand on the side opposite the one Candy is now rubbing against in apology. He finds it more irritating than anything.

"He obviously wasn't, which is probably why he's dead," he replies.

"Do you want me to deal with her when she gets back?"

"Hmmm. Chain her in silver and leave her for me. I'll decide what to do with her later."

Gordon nods, but then looks askance at him. "You aren't concerned about this Lestat at all? He is drawing attention to us."

"Only if we come out to play. If we ignore him and let him scream, he will eventually bring himself down. Maharet probably already intends to make an example of him." He gives his Second a sober look. "If that's the case, we would do well to be as far away from that concert as possible."

Gordon reads his silent message and nods. Candy moans and drops to her knees at his feet. The high is almost gone now, and she is sobbing with remorse.

"You've been a bad girl," he tells her.

She looks up at him with red eyes. "Forgive me, Master."

He reaches down and grabs her by the forearm, lifting her up like a rag doll. She goes with him willingly as he half-drags her to one of the mansion's many bedrooms. This one has the usual bed and bedroom accoutrements, but it is also outfitted with a few extras for use in the more "creative" pastimes.

Candy knows what is in store for her because it is not the usual room he takes her into for fucking, and she sobs harder. When he releases her, she kneels before him and automatically begins to tug at the zipper on his jeans, and he decides what to do with her while he fucks her mouth, fisting handfuls of her long hair to hold her head still. Even on the downside of a trip, she has amazing control over her gag reflex.

Her blood is still tainted, so he does not want to do anything that will cut her and further incite his hunger, but he knows pain, and the endorphins and adrenaline it produces, will burn off the rest of the drugs quicker, so he opts for shackling her to the bedposts and fucking her roughly from behind, his hand slapping her ass as she pleads with him to stop. He knows it's what she wants, so he ignores her cries.

It is only when she has been very thoroughly punished and ridden, and when he cannot smell any residual vestiges of the 'Shrooms in her blood, that he releases her and finally feeds. He bites her on her inner thigh while she writhes and bucks under his mouth, and he turns her over to deliver a few more hard swats to her backside when he is done. He leaves her weeping on the mattress, curled in a ball of self-recrimination, long enough to fetch some food for her.

She turns onto her stomach when he returns, and sniffles when he places the tray of food on the bed. It is disgusting stuff – misshapen hunks of fried meat that was once passed for chicken and fish, and a pile of greasy thin-sliced potatoes that have been cooked in hot oil. The smell alone makes him want to retch, but has learned the hard way that junkies like Candy often forget to eat.

"You are forbidden from imbibing in drugs before I give you permission," he reminds gently.

"I'm sorry, Master. I was weak. Donovan brought back such good things, and I could not resist."

"I do not like to drink drugged blood, and you made me wait. I am displeased with you."

She nods, whimpering pitifully. "Forgive me."

"You are forgiven, but you will not do this again. Understood?"

"Yes, Master."

He pets her hair. "Good. Very good. I know you want to be a good girl."

She sobs. "Oh yes, Master, I do. I really do."

"Good. It pleases me to hear you say that. Now, you must eat something."

He indicates the tray of food on the bed, and she raises herself to her elbows in order to pick up a lump of chicken.

"Thank you, Master. You are too good to me."

"I know. I am going out now. You will stay here in this room until I return. You are allowed to use the attached bathroom to clean up, but you are not permitted to leave. If Gordon or another of my nest comes in, you will serve them as you would serve me. I expect you to be naked and waiting for me upon my return. Understood?" he instructs.

"Yes, Master."

"That's my good girl," he smoothes, patting her backside lightly. She hisses and squirms, but does not try to pull away.

He gives her a final pat and leaves the room. He catches Gordon's eye as he exits the house, and Gordon gives him a knowing nod. He knows his Second will avail himself of Candy's assets in his absence, but that is permitted and, frankly, Candy expects it. Gordon's favorite is Mary-Anne, but if she is as high as the others, he might go for the clean one first.

He takes his car, a fine, black Trans-Am convertible, and heads into the city to the vampire bar called Dracula's Daughter. The bar is a Mecca for the Goth scene and tourists, but the real vampires go there for information. There is a network of such bars all over the country, some are even owned by vampires – in secret of course – and they serve a vital role in the continuing organization of vampire-kind. With the invention of modern technology and computers, vampires are "networking" more and more, and he foresees a time when his kind will be highly efficient in communicating with each other and in regulating their society. If there is a plan to kill Lestat, or to attack him at the concert, he will find out about it in the Daughter.

He takes a seat in the back room where the real vampires gather and sits back with a cup of hot water in a stoneware mug for his hands. He listens for hours, but hears nothing concrete. There are many vampires, all young, who are incensed and planning to do something about Lestat's brazenness, but none of them have any clear plan other than to show up at the concert and make trouble. He thinks things will not begin to take shape until Lestat is actually in San Francisco.

But there appear to be bigger issues at stake. Many of the vampires of Lestat's species are speaking of dreams, of seeing a woman walking in the jungle, and there are stirrings of a call for help. There are rumors of an ancient power being awakened and many of them are afraid. There is even talk of vampires being killed, whole "covens" as their kind calls them being wiped out at once, and he does not like the sound of that.

He beats a hasty exit and makes his way back to the compound. There is someone he can call to discuss what he has heard. They are not friends by a long shot, but they are colleagues of a sort, and if vampire nests are being destroyed, it is news that needs to be confirmed and spread. He picks up the phone upon his return and dials Las Vegas.

"Victor Madden," the vampire on the other end answers.

"Victor, it is I, Eric the Northman."

There is a moment of silence, then Victor replies. "Yes?"

"I am here in San Francisco, and I have heard some… disturbing rumors."

"What kind of rumors? We know about Lestat. Stupid child," Victor says and Eric can hear the sneer.

"Not about that idiot. About nests being destroyed. Have you heard of this?"

There is more silence before Victor answers with some caution. "Yes. But none of ours. Only theirs. Whatever it is does not seem to be interested in us."

So only Lestat's kind were being killed. Very interesting.

"That is… intriguing," he says. If the numbers of Lestat's species were reduced… he moves chess pieces in his head. The balance of power could very well shift to favor his kind.

"Yes. Intriguing. We are… assessing the… possibilities," Victor agrees shrewdly.

Victor works for Felipe de Castro, a ruthless Latino vampire who is on the up and up. Obviously, Felipe is seeing the same opportunities Eric is.

"Possibilities. Yes, I agree. I will keep an open ear and let you know if I witness any of these coven destructions personally."

"To whom do you owe fealty, Northman?" Victor asks him bluntly.

"I am pledged to no one at the moment," he admits with equal bluntness.

"You should consider my Lord. He is ruthless, but he protects what is his."

He sneers at the phone, his fangs down. Few have had his loyalty and each of them have earned it. He has heard much about de Castro, and he has not liked it. He has lived long enough to know that money and material acquisition are not all they are cracked up to be, and Felipe revels in the heart of the biggest tribute to materialism there is: Las Vegas.

"I am not interested in serving anyone at this time. I am leader of a small nest, and I am content with that for the moment."

Victor laughs but his tone is indulgent, as if he is humoring a weaker foe. It grates on him because he has many centuries on Victor, and Victor should show him some respect.

'But I did call him, so certain protocols don't apply.'

"Very well. Thank you for calling. Keep us apprised," Victor tells him.

"I will."

He hangs up, his ire still piqued by Victor's disrespect, and stalks towards the bedrooms. Gordon meets him in the hall, reeking of Candy and sex, and other things: Siobhan and Mary-Ann and blood and dust and dirt. He turns up his hearing and hears his little human toy weeping, and he smells her blood. Gordon has whipped her, then fucked her.

"You punished Candy," he states.

Gordon's eyes flash with a bit of challenge, but it fades immediately. "She disobeyed and made you wait."

"I had already punished her."

"She wanted more."

He does not know if he believes his Second. Gordon likes meting out pain, but Candy likes taking it, so it is probably a bit of both.

"I see."

"I have done as you requested, Master. She is waiting for you in the basement."

He nods and alters his destination. He will see to Candy, but for now he has his own pain to mete out to an insubordinate. He finds Siobhan naked and chained to the wall in the cellar. Gordon has used padded silver manacles on her wrists and ankles. The padding prevents the silver from burning her, but it weakens her so she sags in the shackles, her brown hair covering her face. Gordon has punished her too.

Some nights he thinks Gordon is far too ruthless to live. He is ruthless himself, but he has learned the art of only exhibiting just enough force to keep power. Gordon enjoys causing pain far too much to be an effective leader. He doubts his Second's rough handling of the young vampess has done anything but earn her hatred and defiance, but there is nothing to be done for it now. Now he must take Siobhan's punishment to a level he had not wanted, but he must in order to maintain his position as leader.

Maybe that was Gordon's plan all along.

He snarls and slaps the young one across the face, drawing blood. She moans and rolls back her head.

"Did you think you could disrespect me and get away with it?" he demands.

She drops her fangs and snarls at him. He slaps her again.

"Speak and I rip out your tongue," he threatens.

She is wise enough to know he is serious so she bites back whatever retort she had planned to hurl at him.

He undoes his pants and thrusts himself into her with no preparation whatsoever. He is very large, so he knows it hurts, and he begins to pound her hard enough to slam her against the cement wall.

"You endanger this nest with your recklessness. You will bring whoever is hunting Lestat down upon us. You will incur the wrath of their Elder. For this I will leave you chained here until the concert. I will fuck you every night and let Gordon have his way with you. You will be not be fed, nor will you be allowed to climax."

He says this just as he pulls out, knowing that she was building towards a release, and he leaves her hanging so to speak. It is one of the worst things he can do to another vampire. Sex and blood are so intertwined that to deny both is a heavy torture. To bring a victim to the brink of release, but not allow her to finish is even worse.

Siobhan whines, tears streaming down her face, but he is not done with her. He's put off his own climax in order to punish her, and that infuriates him with is own stymied need. With a growl, he rips off the finger she had stabbed in his face earlier and shoves it into her mouth with such force that she swallows it. Now she will have to retch it up while she is still chained, and he gives her a ruthless smile.

"Don't ever point your finger in my face again," he states with sadistic glee.

She gurgles and jerks in her chains, but he just gives her nipple a tweak and leaves her there, gagging and unsatisfied. Then he makes his way back upstairs to the bedroom where Candy has done exactly as she has been ordered.

She is naked on the bed. He sees that Gordon has not scored her flesh too badly, and he has left her face and breasts unmarked. Candy sees him come in and immediately presents herself to him for fucking. He gives her the courtesy of fingering her to make sure she is ready for him before mounting her and slamming her down to the mattress. She jerks and cries out, but arches up into his thrusts, pressing her ass back against him. He rewards her by letting her come right before he empties himself inside her.

When he is sated, he lets her sleep, but he stays in bed with her while he ponders what is happening in his world and what he should do about it.

888888888

October 30, 1985

The weeks fly by alarmingly fast, even for him. There is much to occupy his time because the reports of nests being destroyed are growing. So far the vast majority have been nests of Lestat's kind, but there have been a few of his own breed that have gotten caught up in what is obviously a "cleansing" by a very powerful, previously unknown vampire. No one knows for sure who is doing the killings, but it the overall consensus is that it is a vampire who was either dormant or on hiding, and the impulsive Lestat has brought the culprit out with his music and taunting.

Why the murderer is killing everyone but Lestat is a mystery, but so far the killings have been everywhere Lestat is not, which means that he and his nest are safe for the moment. But that can change at any time and probably will because Lestat is headed their way, and he cannot believe that whoever is hunting vampires will not follow the Brat Prince here.

He released Siobhan after a nest in Redondo Beach was blown Sky High. He is still displeased with her, but he wasn't about to leave her chained when there is a chance that the house might burn to the ground with her in it.

Tomorrow night is the concert, and everything is approaching a fever pitch. His little nest is fractioning. Noelle and Siobhan have taken the side opposite him and Gordon. The vampesses believe that Lestat poses an immanent threat to them, while he and Gordon believe that whatever is hunting the vampires around the world is a bigger threat. The females want to join the mob of vampires who are intending to attack Lestat on Halloween. He and Gordon want to keep as far away from the concert as possible with the caveat that if nests in San Francisco start to blow up, they run for it.

The difference in opinion has thrown the house into turmoil, and it doesn't help that the upset pushed Donovan over the edge and he OD'd. Since he did it during the day, none of them were awake to handle it, and Gordon's favorite, Mary-Anne, was the one to find the body. She's been a hysterical wreck ever since, and Gordon will probably kill her if she doesn't snap out of it.

He might kill her anyway. It looks like their nest is disbanding, and they rarely take pets along when they move. He wonders if he should take care of Candy now or later. After he released Siobhan from her punishment, she drained Simone, but none of the remaining humans were witness to that. As far as Mary-Anne and Candy are concerned, Simone decided to hitch a ride to Vegas with a truck driver she met at a bar. Since no one will ever find Simone's body, neither girl will ever be the wiser, and since they will probably share the same fate, it's probably for the best that they be kept ignorant.

After he fucks Candy and feeds on her sweet blood (she has not made the mistake of being high when he wakes again,) he heads down to the Daughter to do more reconnaissance before all hell breaks loose tomorrow. He can already tell that the vampire population of the city has swelled to nearly triple its normal size, and he's seen at least two species of vampire different from his own roaming the streets.

The feeling is one of tension and anticipation, and he is on edge as the night of the concert looms just a short twenty hours away. Lestat has already been spotted driving through the streets in a black sports car, obviously looking for Louis. Many have tried to track the young vampire, but with no success. He could find Lestat if he really wanted to. His sense of smell is keener than even most vampires. All he would need was a faint whiff of Lestat's scent, and he could track the rogue anywhere.

But since where Lestat is is the last place he wants to be, he does not offer his tracking services to any of the vampires in the Daughter. Let them find the young one on their own, and if they can't, everyone knows where he will be tomorrow night.

He leaves the bar and heads home after a couple of hours. While there was much talk of Lestat, there were no new reports of nests being burned. He has no doubt, however, that the Hunter is here. He is old enough to tap into the vampire mind net, if only on its fringes, and he can feel the presence of a new and powerful threat. This threat might or might not have a name, Akasha – The Queen of the Damned.

He's heard of her, of course. Even vampires have their own version of fairy tales, and Akasha – the once great Egyptian Queen is featured in one or two of the creation myths. If he is to believe the old stories, the origin of Lestat's kind began when a formless blood-drinking demon entered the bodies of Akasha and her king. It's an interesting tale because the heart of it reveals a dark secret.

Kill the Queen and you kill all of the vampires related to her – which of course means all of the vampires of Lestat's species. His own species would be unaffected because they bear no relation to Akasha, but what an Achilles' Heel for Lestat's kind.

Eric smiles. Killing the Queen would be a great boon for his kind because it would wipe out a whole host of competition, but it looks like Akasha – if indeed that is who is responsible for the "cleansing" – is doing a fine job on her own. As long as the deaths among his own breed are minimal, he is inclined to let things be. If Akasha decides to turn her eye towards other vampires once she is done with her own…

That could be a problem.

When he gets home, the rest of his nest is waiting for him, and he feels an impending sense of doom. Siobhan is there because she must be. She has sworn fealty to him, and by their own laws she must obey him until he releases her.

"What?" he demands.

Siobhan steps forward. She keeps her eyes down, but every other bit about her screams defiance. He sees her looking at the re-growing stub of a finger on her right hand.

"Noelle and I are going to the concert tomorrow," she tells him.

"No," he states firmly.

She growls and extends her fangs. He drops his and prepares for a fight. It will be two against one – possibly three if Gordon decides that now is a good time to try to seize control of the nest- but they're idiots if they think they can take him. He's fought off legions single handedly. Three vampires under the age of three hundred is nothing, and if they think they have him at a disadvantage, they have no idea that he has plastered any number of weapons within the walls of the mansion, just waiting for him to thrust his hand through the gypsum to grab a sword or stake.

Fools, all of them, but he'll bide his time and try to assess what they are planning to do.

"You can't stop us. Lestat must be destroyed and the Hunter must be stopped," she argues.

"Lestat's own kind will take care of him, and the Hunter is too powerful for us to stop on our own," he counters.

The crunch of a boot behind him triggers his alarms and he leaps and whirls, snarling, his fists curled into claws as he prepares to do battle, but the newcomer is someone he knows, albeit he is surprised to see him.

"Victor," he says with some apprehension.

"Northman," the dark-haired vampire greets cheerfully.

"What are you doing here?" he demands.

"My King has sent me to assess the situation and offer aid."

"Aid?" he repeats.

"Vampires of all kinds are amassing to stop the Queen," Gordon tells him.

"Has it been confirmed? Is the Hunter Akasha?" he asks, looking at his subordinate.

His Second nods. "Victor brought the news. There's been a positive identification of her. And word has come from a reliable source that her caretaker, Marius, was attacked and buried when she rose."

He frowns. Marius has a reputation. "Did he live?"

"Yes. He was saved, but he is coming to San Francisco. They are all coming," Victor confirms.

"This is to be the battleground, then," he says.

Victor nods. "Yes."

"What is the plan? Tell me there is a better one than storming the concert and hoping sheer numbers will suffice," he questions.

Victor smiles. "The plan is to capture Lestat by any means necessary. It is obvious that the Queen wants him. Holding him hostage will draw her out."

He sneers. "She can kill from a distance. How do you intend to keep her from blowing us all up?"

"We have a safe house prepared. Witches have placed protective spells upon it. Aksaha will not be able to use her mental powers to attack it," Victor explains.

"Witches? Witches? The bitch is five thousand years old! You think a bunch of fucking witches are going to control her?"

If anything his outburst only makes Victor smile more. "We got the spell from the Ancient Pythoness herself."

"The Sacred One is here?" he asks with some surprise and reverence.

"No. She has been ensconced in a safe place, but she is certain that the spell will work."

"She's Seen it then? Our victory?" he presses.

"Not in so many words, but we do prevail," Victor answers.

He growls. "I do not like this. I prefer to let Lestat's own kind deal with him and her."

"Once Akasha is done with her Children, she intends to start killing the rest of us. We have to stop her now before she gets more powerful," Victor argues.

He looks at the game board in his head, trying to see where the pieces are and what moves need to be made. In many ways, Victor is right. They must strike while the Queen is still vulnerable or they could all be dead. He wishes there was more time, or a better plan, but there is neither.

'Ah, well. If I die, I will die fighting,' he reasons with some resignation.

"Very well. What is it that you want of me?" he asks, trying to ignore Siobhan and Noelle's looks of triumph and glee.

"You have spent the night at the vampire bar. You have heard and seen things. I want you to tell me everything you have witnessed. I will report back to my King and we will use the knowledge to help formulate our plan."

He nods and sighs wearily.

"All right, but I am hungry. I wish to feed before we continue this conversation."

Victor nods. "As you wish."

"Have you fed?" he asks.

"Yes, but I could eat again if you are offering."

"The Master has a woman who is part fey," Siobhan announces.

"Part fey?" Victor repeats with cheer. "Delicious. Do you share?"

He scowls. "No," he lies and casts his underlings a look that dares them to challenge him. "Order food," he tells Gordon. "The humans can have the food and you, Victor, are welcome to the delivery boy."

"Excellent. It's been a while since I've tasted California cuisine."

He nods to Victor. "I hope he will be to your liking. I will return shortly."

He takes his leave without another word and heads for the bedroom. Candy is in there, dressed in a sheer pink babydoll nightie with no panties. She reminds him of one of those spools of spun sugar at the fairs, the ones that are always dyed bright pink or blue. He imagines that the treat tastes similar to her blood – sweet and flavorful.

"Master," she greets, bending towards him so her breasts show.

"Dearest," he smoothes and goes to her, already getting hard as his fangs come down.

He kisses her and she melts against him, and he wastes no time in undoing his jeans and taking her, spreading her legs and hitching them high on his hips so he can thrust deeper. She moans and writhes beneath him, making wonderful noises of pleasure, and he regrets what he knows he must do.

When he has fed, and come, and she has come, he holds her briefly while she catches her breath.

"My darling," he coos, stroking her hair. "Tomorrow night is the concert."

"I overheard Master Gordon speaking of it with the new Master who came from Nevada," she admits.

"Did you now? Were you eavesdropping?" he asks, only half-teasing.

"Oh no, Master. I wasn't. I just heard them talking when I went to the kitchen to get something to eat."

"Ah. Then you know I will be leaving. That there is danger and I may have to fight."

"Yes, Master. I am very worried for you."

He kisses her temple gently. "There is no need for you to worry. I am going to take care of you."

"I know, Master. You are so good to me."

She has no idea that he intends to kill her tomorrow.

"Yes, I am. And you have been very good to me. I am very pleased with you." For that he will make her death painless.

"Oh, thank you Master."

He gives her a final kiss and leaves the bed. "Gordon is ordering food. I will have it brought to you when it gets here."

"Thank you, Master," she answers from the bed.

Her breasts are exposed where he yanked down the babydoll, and she looks thoroughly ravished. He could have her again easily, but business before pleasure so he stamps down his lust and heads out to speak with Victor.

88888888

October 31, 1985

He rises the following night to a feeling of both fear and excitement. Tonight will be a fight. Many will die. He might die, but he hopes he takes a bunch of his enemies with him if he does. He knows for certain that Candy will die by his own hand tonight, and Gordon will most assuredly kill Mary-Anne. After tonight, they will leave this nest and probably go their separate ways. It was time to relocate anyway.

Candy is waiting for him, but she is not naked. She is dressed in pink and black striped leggings, and a short black mini-skirt with a white tank top and no bra. She smells of the outside world so he knows she's gone out. There is a bag next to her on the bed and she reaches for it as he enters.

"I got these for you, Master. To wear to tonight's concert," she tells him, offering him the bag.

"Oh? What did you buy for me, Dearest?" he asks, accepting the present.

"I wanted to get you what the rock stars are wearing," she answers.

He raises an eyebrow at her as he pulls a set of bright pink Spandex leggings and a tank top. She blushes and looks away.

"I wanted black, but they were all sold out. All they had in your size was the pink, Master. I am sorry if I did wrong."

"I will be happy to wear your gift, Dearest. Thank you," he assures her, putting the clothing aside as he reaches for her.

She smiles a happy, innocent smile and he feels just a small pang of regret. She's been a good pet, despite her drug addiction, and he wishes there was some way to let her live. But he knows if he doesn't kill her, another of his kind will, and he's never been one to leave his responsibilities to someone else.

"Come here, Dearest, and I will pleasure you to show my gratitude."

"Oh yes, Master. I live to please you."

"I know."

He peels down her tank top and takes her nipple in his mouth, suckling gently, and then he makes love to her with patience and tenderness. He does not care that he is running short on time. He will not rush this or allow her to feel any pain because he was hasty.

He makes her come, arching under him in rapture as he licks her core and fingers her until she climaxes, then he mounts her and rides her until she comes again. As she builds a third time, her hands gripping his arms as she cries out her pleasure, he turns her head and sinks his fangs into her jugular, drinking deep.

Her blood tastes of fairy and sex and happiness, all flavors that add a tang of sweetness to it. Some prefer the spice of fear or the sour taste of pain, but he has a sweet tooth as he likes to call it, and he much favors the taste of joy.

"Master," she breathes, arching to him even as he is killing her.

He pumps her hard, striking her special spot, and uses his hand to work her little nub. The dual assault makes her keen and spikes her blood with even more flavor as they both build towards their respective climaxes.

She gives a harsh cry as she comes again, and her body is still quivering with orgasm as she dies. He swallows the death and ejaculates inside her violently, his teeth tearing her neck as he shudders. When he pulls back, her face is peaceful, and he knows she died without ever having any knowledge that the end was nigh. He smoothes back her hair and kisses her forehead sweetly. He is very full of her blood, and he almost feels alive again.

"Thank you, Dearest."

He leaves her there, cooling on the bed. Since he intends to torch the house when they leave, there is no need to hide her body. He puts on her gift to him, feeling that it is the least he can do, and he is glad to find that the items fit well, if not a bit snugly. The silky material rubbing against his crotch is an… interesting sensation.

He hears Mary-Ann scream once before the sound cuts off abruptly so he knows Gordon has seen to his pet. He frowns because he finds Gordon's method of killing distasteful, and because Mary-Ann wasn't all that bad as far as humans go.

He has already packed what few items he wants to take with him and loaded them into the trunk of his car when Gordon joins him. His Second is looking very healthy, and he is still wiping a bit of blood off his mouth, when he enters the garage.

"Nice outfit," Gordon comments with amusement.

He looks at the pink Spandex and shrugs. He's added a pair of high, black leather boots and a leather jacket to complete the ensemble. The jacket is custom-made with secret pockets for weapons, and he has a number of knives, stakes, lighters, and even a small, silver blade tucked away in them. There's no room for a sword in the tight pants, but he's got a dagger in each boot.

"Where are Noelle and Siobhan?" he asks, not remarking on Gordon's comment about his attire.

"They went into the city to hunt before the concert. They'll meet us there," Gordon replies.

"They've got all they want from the house?"

"Yes."

"And you?"

"Yes."

"Okay then."

Burning things is an old talent of his, and the mansion is engulfed in flames before he and Gordon leave in their respective cars. He gives a brief thought to Candy burning up in the fire, but she's beyond pain and he has a battle to concentrate on. Thinking of the pending fight makes him hard, which is somewhat uncomfortable in the pink Spandex pants, but he still finds the feel of them appealing, and he's glad he wore them.

He parks several miles from the venue and flies the rest of the way. The last thing he does before entering the arena from the roof is cut off his ponytail. In a fight like this one, his long hair is a liability, and it'll grow back by tomorrow night. If he lives.

He slips in by the roof access, amazed to find it unguarded. He knew Lestat was arrogant, but he never thought the vampire would be stupid enough to leave such a glaring hole in security. Maybe this will be easier than he thought it would be, he wonders as he makes his way down from the catwalks with vampire speed.

There are no vampire guards, only human bouncers, and a few Werewolves, but none of them are too keen on helping a vampire so he is pretty sure they won't try to stop the assault when it comes. He finds a place to stand and watch the concert, surveying the crowd to pick out the vampires skulking their way through the throng. There are many, mostly of Lestat's kind, but some of his and of other breeds. He finds it ironic that they are all tolerating each other now that they have a common enemy.

Gordon finds him just as Lestat is taking the stage, and they both wait, tense and at the ready, for the real fun to begin.

No one makes a move until the concert is over, and he feels sorry for the young vampire because his voice is actually pretty good. It's almost a shame to have to kill him, but he knows his job and he knows the plan, so he is hurling himself into action before the encore has ended.

Up out of the arena he flies, going through the hatch he came in and circling around to the back of the venue. Lestat and his entourage were almost waylaid by the mob, but they manage to escape in a black car. He follows, keeping track of the vehicle as it speeds down the highway. There is a van full of vampires in hot pursuit, along with other cars as well, as he sees the van hit the car Lestat is in and send it careening off the road. It isn't that he objects to this, but the plan is to take Lestat alive, and burning him to a crisp in a flaming vehicle is not part of it. He spares a cursory glance to make sure Lestat and his companions are getting out of the car, before landing to deal with the throng of vampires descending upon them.

He screams a war cry and starts killing. He rips off the head of one vamp in order to take the sword the vamp is wielding, then he throws himself into battle with full zeal, slicing and hacking his way through the mob. He hopes the ones tasked with capturing Lestat can get to the young one before anyone else does, but that's not his problem.

Everything is going great until vampires start blowing up around him. When his opponent suddenly bursts into flames, and he knows he wasn't the one who set the vamp on fire, he knows he is in deep trouble. He dives and looks for an exit because the Queen is there, and she is going to start killing all of them.

He no longer cares about Lestat, but he kills four more vampires in his way before he manages to fight clear of the mob. Vampires are exploding all around him, but so far Akasha hasn't been able to get a lock on him even though he can feel her trying, and he breaks free of the crowd just as he sees Lestat and his companions running off.

He curses in Old Norse and moves to track them, but a large hand grabs his arm. He whirls and finds himself looking up (yes UP) at a huge warrior vampire with a scar across his face.

"You come wid me," the vampire says in broken English.

'Saxon. Old,' he realizes.

"Who are you?" he demands.

"I Sigebert. You come. Queen want you."

He could fight, yes, but it would be a close battle, and somehow he doesn't think this hulk of a man works for Akasha, so he follows Sigebert away from the melee. He is led to meet another, equally formidable Saxon vampire, but it is the small female with him that makes him shiver. He knows her. She is Sophie-Ann, the vampire Queen of Louisiana.

'That means these two are the famous Saxon bodyguards, Sigebert and Wybert.'

Although he is not pledged to her, he bows as is expected of him. "My lady."

"You are Eric the Northman," the Queen states.

"I am, your Majesty."

"I have been watching you fight. You are very skilled."

"Thank you, your Majesty."

"You do it well despite your ridiculous clothing."

He lifts his head and smiles. "It takes a real man to wear pink, my Lady."

The Queen smiles back, and he is about to make another comment when another vampire joins them. He was turned young, his face lacking maturity, and he takes his place at Sophie-Anne's side. The Queen smiles at the newcomer and offers him her hand.

"Andre," she says as the vampire kisses her hand and bows down on one knee.

"Forgive me, my Queen. The prey has escaped."

The "prey" must be Lestat. Damn.

"It is of no consequence. We have ways of finding out where he lies," the Queen answers. "Andre, meet Eric the Northman."

Andre rises to his feet and nods towards him. "The famous Viking vampire."

He nods back.

"We have been watching him fight. His reputation as a warrior is well earned."

Andre raises an eyebrow and gives him a once over. "As is his reputation for being… unique."

He can tell the white-blond vampire is being tactful. He looks at his pink Spandex and is pleased to see that it has weathered the fight quite well. There's blood on the jacket, but that will wipe off easily.

"We know you are not pledged to anyone. If you prove yourself to me in this battle, I will give you a place in my Kingdom," Sophie-Anne offers.

"In Louisiana, my Lady?" he asks.

"I am in need of a new Sheriff in my northern Area. I have heard good things about you. I am willing to offer you the position on a trial basis if you will pledge yourself to me."

It's dangerous ground he is walking on, and he knows he must go carefully. "I will consider your Majesty's very generous offer, but we must deal with the current threat to us before I can make any decision."

"That is acceptable."

"My Lady, I am able to fly. If you permit, I will attempt to catch Lestat's scent trail and track him to his nest."

"That will not be necessary. We already have trackers on him. We will know where he has sheltered by dawn, and we will seize him at sunset," Andre replies.

"What of Akasha?" he asks.

"She will be where Lestat is. He is the one who woke her. We must get to him before she does," Sophie-Anne answers.

He nods. "Yes."

"In the meantime, I invite you to come with us," the Queen tells him and he knows better than to refuse.

He bows and agrees. "I am honored to accept your invitation, my Lady."

Sophie-Anne extends her hand and he steps forward to kiss the back of it, then he follows her and her entourage back towards the center of the city.

As it turns out, all of their plans are thwarted when Akasha takes Lestat before dawn and whisks him away. There is little any of them can do but wonder what is next as reports of a Virgin Queen and her Angel begin making their way across the vampire news wires. Akasha and her protégé have graduated from killing vampires to killing humans, mostly men, en masse. It's bad. It's very bad, and they are scrambling to figure out a way to stop them, when they get word that a handful of the remaining vampires of Lestat's species are gathering at a compound in Sonoma owned by Maharet.

They begin to congregate in a nearby town to formulate a new plan. There is a large group of them made up of three different types of vampires, and a number of other Supes, and reconnaissance missions are sent out to map the compound and get a lay of the land. It is known that Lestat and Akasha are not there, but they believe that the two will eventually come if only because Lestat will want to see Louis again.

After days of waiting, news reaches them that Akasha has brought Lestat back to the States and they are headed for Sonoma, but there is also news of another power moving swiftly towards the compound, and several of their Seers are expressing caution and alarm. The decision is made for them to wait to see what happens, and the night comes when Maharet's missing twin, Mekare comes to exact vengeance from the Queen of the Damned.

What happened that night is a mystery. All they know is that Mekare killed Akasha, but that somehow the vampires related to her survived. How this was managed is not known, but what is known is that the threat of immanent death is over.

The landscape of vampire politics has also changed because many powerful vampires of Lestat's breed are gone, leaving voids in the power structure, and per Eric's predictions, his species moves in to capitalize on the opportunities. In doing so, they seize control of California, Texas, New Hampshire and Florida. Heavy gains for his kind, with more to come no doubt.

Although he had not proved himself in a fight with Lestat and Akasha, Sophie-Anne is impressed enough with his reasoning and battle-skills to make good on her offer, and he finds himself having no reason not to swear fealty to her. She takes him with her when she leaves for Louisiana. It is unfortunate that none of his other nestmates survived the first fight, but he is not terribly aggrieved by their deaths. Gordon might have made a good Second, but then again, maybe not.

He takes over Area Five for the Queen of Louisiana and serves as her Sheriff. He is still in her employ on the night of the Great Revelation when all vampires go public to the human world, and nothing is the same after that.

88888888

Summer 2003

"So you want me to go to a human orgy, where I will not be welcome, and you want us to leave before I get to enjoy myself," he states carefully to the infuriating yet intriguing human woman on the phone.

"Yes. And… do you think you can pretend to be gay?"

Gay? What on earth was he getting himself into with this woman? Well, it was an orgy, and that might open a door to a whole host of possibilities. Not to mention what the delectable little telepath would wear…

"What time do I have to be there?"

"Um? Nine-thirty? So I can brief you?"

"Nine-thirty at your house," he agrees and motions to Pam to take the phone.

She obeys and carts the handset off, and he closes his eyes and shakes his head.

He's just agreed to go to an orgy with a woman he wants but who is claimed by another. Dangerous ground, but then he's walked on deadlier.

He smiles as he remembers a particular outrageous outfit he wore on the night he was offered this position as Sheriff, and he wonders what Sookie will think of him in pink Spandex.

"Well, my future lover, you want me to pretend to be gay, hm? Well, I have just the thing."

FIN