Set after Dead and Gone.
Lord only knows if anyone will read my first-time ramblings or not – but heck, my brain practically vomited this story (enjoy that visual!).
Ooooh, and I don't own these characters, they belong to Mrs. Harris. It would be a waste of time to sue me… unless you want a gently-used crock pot or a broke-ass iPod Nano.
"The vampire is a good man, and he loves you."
I could see Niall's beautiful face shimmer behind my closed eyes. The parting words of my great-grandfather seemed to still haunt me while my mind was stretched so thin. It had been weeks since the Fairy War and the visible signs of my horrific torture were finally fading. It was a testament to how brutally I was maimed that I still felt, and looked, so downright awful. Despite a few huge doses of 1000 year old vampire blood, I still felt like Hell warmed over. I rolled onto my back slowly and painfully in my bed. Gran's old quilt felt heavy against my wounds, but also warm and safe. Its familiarity seemed to anchor me in the chaos of my terrifying world. Overdramatic? Yep. But I thought I deserved a bit of self-pity just now.
My neck felt very stiff so I stretched it experimentally across my pillow. Ouch. Well, that still hurts. I suppose the pain was to be expected after being enthusiastically strangled, sliced and bitten, even two weeks after the fact.
That uncomfortable ache brought my consciousness aware of the hundreds of other aches all over my battered body. The bandages shielding the messier wounds had been removed the previous day by Dr. Ludwig, and that simple procedure felt like a huge step towards recovery. At least bodily. Mentally, I still felt like… well, like shit run over twice.
Even as broken as I had been, as much as I needed dreamless, restorative sleep, my tortured mind still had enough juice to conjure up the most horrible nightmares. Thing One and Thing Two (aka. Lochlan and Neave) were still haunting me, still laughing at my terror and pain. I awoke many times since my capture gasping for breath and scanning the shadows for the tormentors who were preparing new ways to siphon my screams and my blood. As if the memories themselves weren't enough…
I had been unconsciously frightening myself again, so I gave my head a determined mental shake. The Things are dead. I am safe. Safe in Gran's bed, in my home. Alone.
Aw, heck, here comes more pain. Namely, heartache...
Alone, alone, alone!
I still hadn't opened my eyes, but I could sense that my house was entirely empty. Amelia had left a week ago after Trey's funeral, so there weren't even her dreaming thoughts to comfort me with their presence. My ex-roomie had told me that she needed to go to New Orleans to supervise the reconstruction of her apartment property, but I could 'hear' that she just wanted to get away from me. Amelia didn't blame me for Trey's death… but the sight of me, of my Gran's house, of Bon Tempes… it was too much for her. My witch friend needed her space in order to grieve. I could respect that. I only hoped that she could be the crazy-sweet lady that I loved again someday soon.
Suddenly, these thoughts were menacing and I flew into a panic. ALONE! I sat up and screamed shrilly. The safety of my quilt, my bed, suddenly felt like a smothering tomb - one which I desperately wanted to escape. I felt so exposed, so vulnerable, but also so very, very tired. My heart was pounding wildly, but I felt all of my energy empty out of my body. I simply didn't have the strength to maintain a panicked state. I was emotionally and physically tapped out and my moment of terror only intensified my inability to move. I lay back down and pushed away my irrational fear, chanting 'I am safe I am safe I am safe' in my mind.
A wave of serenity and security washed gently over me and the fear drained from me like tepid water from a bathtub. I couldn't be sure, but I thought I felt a cool caress across my cheek. The peace was a Godsend, and as a woman who never looked a gift horse in the mouth, I finally drifted back to sleep.
Fangtasia was packed; every booth, chair and available dance space was filled with pathetic fangbangers, frightened tourists and the required vampires in my retinue. Felicia tended bar, Thalia manned the giftshop, and my Child Pam oversaw the hostess station. A dozen human servers diligently scurried amongst my customers. All sought to please me and referred to me as 'Master". As they should. So many subservient beings surrounding me normally made me quite content.
But I was not content tonight. I was - to use the human term – pissed.
The menial constraints of my domain annoyed me. That my presence here among the scum correlated directly to my revenue was an undeniable fact. I covet wealth and power, and though I have plenty of both shored up, the compulsion to aquire more is deeply ingrained in my mind.
I could end every life in my bar - both human and vampire - in a single moment if I wished. I could eviscerate or decapitate all of them in an instant; I could crush their skulls in my bare hands or glamour them into ending themselves to save me the trouble… if I felt so inclined. Not a single one of them – not even Thalia with her advanced age (still nowhere near my own), nor even Pam, my favorite Child – could have survived if I wished them to meet their final death.
The thought of my superiority was never an epiphany. It simply was. There existed no creature in this relm or any other that could defeat me. Not even the Fairy Prince Niall – although he could certainly present a challenge. A challenge I would have relished, despite my debt to him for rescuing my Bonded. That whim, however, was rendered irrelevant by the closure of the Fae Relm. A good riddance to them all.
It is only by my wishes that I am not a King, and every vampire I have encountered knows that fact. I could be King of North America were I so inclined. But I am not. I could lay waste to and command this continent - or any other, for that matter – but I do not. I do not more desire titles of authority as I command my due respect without the paperwork required by a kingdom. I show allegiance to the King because it is convenient for me to do so. Felipe is many centuries younger than I am, and far less devious. De Castro knows that he is King because I allow him to be – the power play with his pawn Victor Madden at Sookie's home was simply that: a play. He would be – what do they say now? - fucking retardedto not realize that no one he commanded could possibly defeat me. And Felipe de Castro was not fucking retarded.
The King is inferior to me. Again, this is not arrogance; it is simply fact.
If de Castro valued his undead existence, he would know not to cross Eric the Northman. I could have ended him in the blink of a human eye, but no being could say that the new King of Louisiana wasn't prudent. This was why I was 'spared' during the take over. Felipe did not want to incur the Viking's legendary wrath. Such a thing would mean certain, and final, death for the Spainard. Swiftly.
The King will not cross the boundry between political and personal issues, I was all but certain. He well knew the consequences of such a blunder would entail a broadsword separating his royal head from his neck.
Reassured, my bloodlust subsided and my consciousness drifted toward my Sookie. I could feel her anxiety and her tension through our blood-bond. I could hear the whisper of her breath as she exhaled through her perfect lips. I could sense her confusion and loneliness… and I felt her longing for me.
Finally, she longed for me.
I detested every second I was kept from Sookie's side as I presided over my small dominion.
Vermin, all of them… disgusting. The beings in my bar continued to enjoy their existence despite my growing annoyance. The humans only vaguely sensed their danger and expressed it with awe of me, but the vampires seemed to absorb the constant peril they courted in my presence. Both species were wise enough to show me defferance.
I vehemently denied the advances of all of the humans at Fangtasia, and any other being unfortunate enough to approach me that evening.
Lost in my thoughts, I inadvertantly allowed a crawling brunette fangbanger to grab my leg before I noticed her approach. Her greasy face was painted with white makeup and I could smell the perspiration coating her grimy skin. Vile.I enjoyed a brief second of perverse amusement as I glanced at the pathetic cow gripping my jeans. Granted, I hadn't been paying attention at the time, but I still felt quite generous that I had allowed it to touch me… before I kicked the wretched skank in her shiny forehead. The cow's blood sprinkled around my throne from the slice my heel had inflicted, but I had no taste for it. The blood stank of cheap liquor and desperation – raw sewage compared to the deliciously innocent fae blood of my Bonded.
The human was still flying through the air. I neither noticed nor cared where it landed. If furniture needed replacement, it would be replaced; if the cow required medical treatment, one of his lesser minions would see to it. Or not - I didn't spare the issue another thought.
Sick of all swarming livestock, I rose swiftly and strode towards my office. Mentally I equated my time amongst humans with the experiences of a human man accompanying his young to a 'petting zoo': It smells like shit, but maybe it will make your mouthy rugrats shut the fuck up for an hour or two! Here, have some goat-pellets…
My precise vampire-ears could hear the collective moan of disappointment in the bar when I departed. This common reaction would normally stroke my ego, but at the moment I derived no pleasure from my popularity. There was only one woman who I desired to stroke my ego.
I sat behind my desk and leaned back into the comfortable leather of my chair. A framed photo on the desk caught my eye. I grabbed it and ran a finger lightly over its metal frame. How many years have I had this? I wondered. A blink of an eye to him, several years to her…
The picture was of a beautiful blonde woman, untouched and lovely. She was wearing a white dress embroidered with red flowers and she was seated at a table in my bar. Her elegant fingers were curled around a sweating gin and tonic, and her luscious smile conveyed both her innocence and her strength. Shining golden curls were held back from her ethereal face with a red headband. It the same shade as his own hair. Her glowing blue eyes seemed to mock him with their blaze of sheer life. I remembered again how those eyes had sparkled below me in ecstasy as I eased my length into her beautiful body. I heard the frantic beat of her heart and saw exactly how her silky blonde waves had spread out across the pillow…
An ache rose in my chest as I gazed at her printed face. I let my forefinger trace her frozen features… and I came to a dangerous realization: I actually missed her.
A thousand years spent without the emotion and it was now ripped from his undead heart. By a human girl.
I had no idea what time it was when I awoke. Heck, I didn't know which day it was. My squinting eyes registered dim sunlight peaking through the faded lace curtaining my bedroom window. Gran had made those, I mused idly. I was still weary and was closing my heavy eyelids again – be damned what day or time it is! – when I registered another brain in my bedroom.
Oh shit! I gasped in sheer panic and sat up abruptly and my fight-or-flight instinct ignored the searing pain caused by that abrupt movement. My hand flew to my throat.
"Oh, hell Sookie! I didn't mean to scare you! It's just me!" The frantic and apologetic voice was familiar.
My eyes searched around for the speaker. In the corner of my bedroom sat Alcide on Gran's old rocking chair. The adrenaline pumping through my body evaporated and I slumped back down on the bed like a wet bag of sand, with no thought whatsoever about where I would land.
Alcide caught my head before it could slam against the headboard. Undoubtedly that heavy oak would have done a number on my noggin.
"Sook, it's ok! I've just been watching over you today", he said as my Were friend lowered my head onto the pillow.
I closed my eyes again. What with the panic and the near-fainting I turned into a woman of few words: "Time?" I mumbled.
"Its dusk on Wednesday", Alcide replied while settling my quilt back into place. "You've been out for a whole day and we all thought you needed some watching-over." He was leaning over me still as he swept a tangled blond lock of hair away from my forehead. (I wondered briefly who "we all" was, and figured that just ment "the supes".) Alcide's touch felt good – safe - but I was surprised that he, the Packmaster of the Long Tooth Pack, was here watching over a lil' invalid barmaid.
I managed to say as much and he laughed heartily. "Oh, Sookie. Of course I'm here! You've given me your help every time I needed it, whether I asked you to or not. You always stood beside me even when you didn't want to, solved dire and dangerous issues with your presence, not to mention all the fantasies you have given me to dream about." Alcide's eyes danced warmly as he looked into mine. His warm hand stroked my cheek as his handsome face inched closer to mine. "Watching the embodiment of beauty and goodness sleep isn't a sacrifice, Sook, let alone repayment for all you have done for me and mine."
I managed a weak giggle while shaking my head. His flattery was over the top and complete bullshit, but I could still feel a blush staining my cheeks. Ri-darn-diculous! Alcide seemed amused with my denial and chuckled along with me. It seemed silly that this powerful man would sit idly by and watch me sleep. The idea got exponentially (thanks, calendar)funnier when I thought of the other powerful men in my life who gave a crap about what happened to Simple Barmaid Sookie Stackhouse…:
Bill Compton, Civil-War-Veteran-Vampire and Internet-Mogul; Felipe de Castro, Vampire King of Nevada, Louisiana and Arkansas; John Quinn, Bad-Ass-Rockstar-WereTiger; Sam Merlotte, Rare-True-Shape-Shifter; Alcide Haveraux, Shreveport-WereWolf-Packmaster; Calvin Norris, HotShot-WerePanter-Head-Honcho; Niall Brigant, Literal-Fairy-Prince; Eric Northman, Gorgeous-Deadly-Viking-Vampire-Sheriff...
Jesus Christ, Sheppard of Judea!What had my life become?!
I couldn't stop my insane giggling – must have been the fatigue – when said Deadly Viking Vampire Sheriff appeared hovering outside my window sill.
Blinded by my mirth, I didn't notice that Alcide seemed to be coming in for a kiss until I heard an icy voice come from over my shoulder.
"Mutt! Dare you be so familiar with my Bonded?" I turned to see as Eric, seething with menace, folded his huge body through the open window.
Though Eric's sudden appearance didn't seem to startle the werewolf, his words certainly had. He jerked away from me like I was a white-hot branding iron and glared daggers at my vampire.
"Bonded?"Alcide demanded with a growl. Obviously the Were knew a bit more about the term than I did, and his dangerous tone shocked me.
The Viking regarded him imperiously. "Yes, my Bonded. I appreciate your guard over Sookie, but I will not tolerate her being touched! Am I understood, wolf?"
The Packmaster cowed slightly under Eric's piercing gaze, but the burning anger hadn't left his expression. After a moment Alcide seemed to gather himself and he turned to leave. He spared a parting look of exasperation for me and one of sheer loathing for Eric before stomping out of my bedroom. Seconds later I heard the front door slam behind my friend with enough force to rattle its frame. Super.
Men! I grumbled in annoyance. Just when I was truly appreciating them again they had to get all… manly. I glared at Eric and rolled my eyes pointedly.
Eric's short visit concluded with a kiss on my forehead and I grew blissfully peaceful. Whether it was due to the recent presence of my vampire, the awe-inspiring dedication of my friend, or just plain 'ol exhaustion, I finally felt safe and secure. My sheets wrapped me in heaven and I slept like the dead. I didn't dream a single thing.
A/N: I couldn't find a good English/Norse translator so I went with an online dictionary. The line doesn't say what I really wanted, and I'm sure the words are out of context, but what Eric thinks ("Astir.Hættr gráðr…") means: "Love. A dangerous hunger."
…Wait. Did he just admit he loves her? No. That couldn't be… ;)
If anyone gives a crap for me to keep goin' let me know! Truth-be-told, I have about 12 chapters of this story written already, but I'm shy – hehe!)