Authors Note: This is the final chapter of this of Fanfiction. I do intend to continue Eric's POV for the other books, but I doubt I'll start Living Dead in Dallas for a month or two. School and work are severely cutting into my free time or I wouldn't be breaking from my habit. Thanks for being such a great audience for my Eric musings. –Evey Edge
"Eric, Bill Compton is here to see you." Pam had entered my office without knocking, exactly as I'd asked her to earlier this evening. She had left the door open just far enough for Bill, who was waiting in the hall, to glimpse the naked blond temporarily resting on the top of my desk. The woman I'd ordered from Minas bore a passing resemblance to Sookie Stackhouse. I'd chosen her specifically for that reason.
"You may go." The woman appeared vaguely disappointed, but she nodded, dressed and moved to exit my office. As she reached the door, she glanced back.
"If you want me again-" I cut her off immediately.
"I have the number." She left without another word. I considered for a moment whether I would purchase her again. I hardly needed to pay for sex and blood, what with the willing throng circulating Fangtasia night after night. Still, as humans went she was far less noisome than some. She hadn't spoken more than necessary or lingered when she was no longer wanted. She was physically appealing, and despite not being an exact duplicate of the human I'd recently been craving, she was close enough to pass until I possessed the original. I would ponder this at another time. Presently I had more pressing matters to attend to.
"Send him in." Pam, who had watched my exchange with the escort with disinterest, merely nodded and went to retrieve Compton. When Bill entered I sensed his displeasure, rather than saw it on his face. To the casual observer the vampire appeared coldly impassive, but I was learning to read that veneer. It would seem that the calmer Bill appeared the more effort he was making to control his temper. From the coolness in his demeanor I gleaned that he was very, very, angry. Excellent.
Tonight I wanted Bill's thinking as muddled as possible, and I knew from personal experience that rage had a way of doing just that. Hence I'd hired a blood whore similar in appearance to his human and arrange for him to glimpse her naked in my office. Although Bill's rational mind knew Sookie was bruised head to toe and lying in a hospital bed, the insane jealousy that accompanied romantic attachment would be tripped into overdrive. Having no doubt passed the woman in the hall, Bill now knew the truth, but the lingering emotion would still be there. Negotiations had not yet begun, but I had already delivered by message.
"Eric." Bill nodded to me, not a millimeter lower than custom demanded.
"Bill." A few seconds of silence hung in the air. Neither he nor I would mention the woman. Pam, who had followed Bill into the room, grinned in anticipation of what was to come. "I understand congratulations are in order. Fifth Area Investigator. I had no notion you had political aspirations." I paused to see if Bill would respond, but he said nothing, no doubt waiting for me to make the first play. "I've also become aware of certain events occurring in your absence. Tell me, did Sookie like my flower arrangement?" That got a reaction, a small one of course, but a reaction none the less. He'd blinked. Bill had had no prior knowledge of my gift. Sookie had not told him. Interesting.
"I'm sure she'll send you a thank note. Sookie is fond of observing codes of courtesy towards everyone she comes in contact with." I'd never have suspected Bill had it in him. In two sentences he dodged my question, implied Sookie's supposed indifference to me, and subtly reminded me of the "code of courtesy" I was expected to obey toward him. Perhaps he did have a future in politics after all. I might have been impressed if I wasn't so irritated.
"I'll look for one once she's fully recovered. Tell me what was the total damage? Bubba was unclear on the specifics." I, too could play this game, in fact I was an expert, were Bill was a mere novice. With my reply I'd forced Bill to admit his failure in protecting his human and informed him I knew about Bubba's involvement.
"A broken nose, two ribs, and the collarbone." He words were terse. Again I could sense the undercurrent of anger, but I suspected this time not all of it was directed at me.
"How long should I expect to be without her services?"
"The humans estimate she'll be healed in a month's time." It's no wonder humans accomplish so little within their lifetimes given how long the spend recovering from illness and injury.
"I'd be happy to speed Sookie's recovery, if you are unwilling. She is a valuable asset to my businesses, and I don't know how soon l may require her." I grinned enjoying both Bill's anger and Pam's surprise. Both knew the full implication my offer. I had not given blood to a human in over a century, perhaps not since Pam, and never without taking blood in return. Such an intimate exchange was irregular among vampires to say the least. In my case it was nearly unheard of. Of course, I hadn't been completely earnest in my offer. I knew Sookie had refused Bill's blood, so it was unlikely she would voluntarily accept mine. Still, Bill wasn't aware of that.
"Sookie wishes to recover naturally, so as not to attract notice from other humans." Bill's voiced had cooled a few more degrees. I suddenly had a fiendish curiosity to know what would cause him to explode.
"Shame. If your incompetence is going to restrict my asset's availability, we must come to an understanding."
"My incompetence?" Pam looked positivity gleeful, watching the back and forth of the conversation like a spectator at a human's tennis match. At any moment I expected her to begin a tally sheet.
"You claim Sookie is yours, yet she was nearly beaten to death in a cemetery outside your house. What you would call it?" My serve.
"I would call my affair, not yours." Bill's weak rally.
"I disagree. I am your Sheriff. It is my privilege to requisition your property if I deem it essential to the prosperity of my area. Your negligence could have cost me a rare commodity." Point to me.
"I arranged protection for her in my absence. What happened was an unforeseeable circumstance that will not occur again." 'Unforeseeable circumstance' wouldn't be the term I'd use. Gross incompetence would be closer to the truth.
"Unforeseeable? You thought Bubba a suitable bodyguard?" The vampire may be strong and capable of handling simple assignments, but only under close supervision. Bill had no way of keeping a leash on the dead singer from New Orleans.
"Against the threat I had assumed Sookie was facing, yes." So it was as I suspected. Bill had known Sookie was in danger when he had left for New Orleans.
"And what threat would that be?"
"I had reason to suspect a human was targeting women in Bon Temps who were known to be associating with vampires," I thought back to the night Sookie had come into the bar, showing pictures of the two women. Most likely the victims of the Rene character. Humans murdering humans out of hatred. And to think that it's my species that's accused of bloodthirsty savagery.
"In addition risking the telepath, you endangered Area Five. You were made aware of terms of Bubba's temporary guardianship, I assume." Bubba's caretakers are responsible for keeping Bubba from the public eye and providing some degree of supervision.
"I have not violated any of terms. I checked in with Bubba every night. There was no exposure." True, but there easily could have been the night he was drugged. He could have been found by the human policemen or been seen on the way to Fangtasia.
"This time. We must be sure such serious miscalculation does not occur again." We had reached the crucial junction of the conversation, the reason I'd demanded his presence this evening.
"What do you propose?" Bill's eyes had narrowed slightly, suddenly more wary then he had been moments before.
"That we come to an arrangement regarding Sookie." Bill's jaw tightened betraying, his emotions.
"Sookie is mine." There was a grim determination to his words. Bill would not surrender to me tonight. Force would not do. If I pushed him to it, Bill would fight me to the death for his human. He would almost certainly lose, given the centuries I had on him, but he would fight all the same. Whether he was driven by pride or, I shuttered to think it, love, I did not know or care. What mattered was that I find a way out of the stalemate that worked to my best advantage.
"So you've said. None the less, an arrangement must be made, if only to avoid future mishaps. Let us begin on common ground. I'm sure we can both agree that Sookie of no use to either of us dead," Bill inclined his head to show grudging assent, "Good. In that case I'm sure you'll have no objection to my proposal. If the human is again in jeopardy and you are unable to protect her, I will take over the responsibility. In return you will refrain from inhibiting my business dealings with your human. You will not use your new title to put roadblocks in my path. We both know I would eventually overcome such obstacles, but I'd rather not have to put in the effort." A fair compromise in my opinion, but Bill, as seemed his custom, did not agree with me.
"How do I profit from this agreement?" For a start it would allow you to leave this interview alive. Although two stakings in one month might be considered overkill, so to speak. Would unleashing Pam and her silver whip on Compton seem an overzealous punishment for insubordination?
"You gain the assurance of your human's continued well-being." That really ought to be enough for the besotted vampire.
"Only until your business concerns endangers it. I want something else." So perhaps Bill was not as enamored as I previously assumed.
"What is that?" What would he ask for? Money? A favor? As Sheriff I'd heard every kind of request imaginable.
"Your word that you will immediately cease your personal pursuit of Sookie." Of course it would have to come back to the woman. It had been foolish to entertain hopes of Bill's rationality. There would be no bartering with him on this point.
"No." Compton is not the only vampire who knows how to be stubborn and inflexible.
"She does not desire your advances."
"If that is that case, you have nothing to fear. She is immune to glamour and I never use force." Compton knows my reputation too well to doubt the truth of my words. I've never had to coerce women into wanting me. Some have required more seduction than other, but it always ended the same.
"I will settle for your assurance that you will not contact her without my knowledge." Not too great a sacrifice on my part. I had no intention of attempting to sneak around my underling. When I succeeded in taking his human, he would be the first to know.
"Very well. But in return, I too want something."
"In the event of a severance between yourself and Miss Stackhouse, you will revoke your claim and send her to me." Human relationships, like their lives, tended to be fleeting. Change was their only constant. Sookie, I had no doubt, would obey this law of human nature. In time her affection for Bill would fade and their connection would dissolve.
"The old ways are over Eric. You, as Sheriff, know that better than most." Bill thought I wanted him to perform the antiquated custom of passing willing humans from vampire to vampire. Now such practices violated the laws we had adapted into order to coexist with human society.
"I am not suggesting an immediate transfer of ownership. Doubtless Sookie would find that somewhat objectionable." I had a feeling the feisty human would probably find this entire conversation offensive to her modern woman sensibilities.
"Doubtless." For a moment I thought Bill had been answering my thoughts, then realized he was, somewhat dryly, echoing my words.
"I only desire opportunity. The rest will be entirely up to Miss Stackhouse." I waited for Bill's response. He was undoubtedly weighing the probability of getting a better offer from me and not liking what he was coming up with.
"On the proviso that she come to you willingly, I accept." It was done. The road to my acquisition of Sookie Stackhouse was paved.
"That will be all Bill." Pam led Bill from the office with a backward smirk. I didn't let it trouble me. I had shaped events to my satisfaction. Nothing to do now but wait. As I've said, time is a relative concept. New, old, short, long are words that vary based on perspective. From my perspective Bill's relationship with Sookie was new. From hers it would soon be old and tiresome. She would be mine in a short while. Once she was it would be a long time before I let her go.