AUTHOR NOTE: Well here is the sixth and final part of the story! Big thanks to all of you for reading, and I hope that you will enjoy the conclusion! I'd love to know what you all thought, so reviews would be very much appreciated if you get the chance. :-)
It took me and Eric two attempts before we both managed to get showered. The first time I went in there, Eric had followed me in and we ended up entwined on the bathroom floor having another dose of mind-blowing sex. Yet again, his fangs were a no show.
After towel drying my hair and putting my clothes back on, I sat on the edge of the bed and Eric and I discussed all that had happened since Carter had taken us. I told him everything that I had experienced while he'd been unconscious. He was growing increasingly concerned about what had taken place at Fangtasia, and I could tell that he was anxious to find out wether or not Pam had survived.
"It is not often that I have found myself in the position of feeling this helpless." Eric said.
"There was nothing that you could have done. The vaccine completely knocked you out. Did it really quickly, too." I said in an attempt to reassure him.
Eric sighed as he paced the length of the room, his tall frame worrisome, "Still, if anything happened to Pam, I will never be able to forgive myself."
I could understand Eric's concern, but there was really nothing we could do until sun down. Even if Pam was okay, she would of course be asleep safe in her coffin right now.
"Look, maybe one of the humans that you employ are in the club now. We could call to see if they know anything." I suggested, hoping that this would help. "I remember seeing a pay phone out in the parking lot." Carter must have taken Eric's cell while he'd been holding us, which was an almighty inconvenience right now.
Eric stopped pacing then and looked at me, "Yes, of course." he said, "We must do that immediately."
Though it wasn't exactly the best time for it to happen, my stomach let out an angry growl, reminding me of how long it had been since I'd eaten anything.
"We must get you some food, as well." Eric said, a smile appearing on his face at last, apparently amused at my body's call for attention.
"What about you?" I asked him, "You must need blood."
"Well I certainly feel hungry." he said sighing.
"I just don't understand why your fangs havn't shown. The vaccine must have affected them. How do you feel right now, anyway?"
"I feel...different." he stated looking almost puzzled. "My hunger isn't the same. It is leaving me with much more of an emptiness then usual. It is a difficult feeling to describe."
"You'll have to have some of my blood." I told him, and even though my teeth were not as efficient as a vampire's fangs, I held my wrist to my mouth and bit into my skin as hard as I could, trying not to think about the pain too much as I did so.
Immediately, blood pooled out of the teeth shaped indents that I had made. There wasn't as much as there would have been if I'd been pierced with Eric's fangs, should they have been able to come out, but it would just have to do for now.
Eric approached me and took my arm, holding the freshly opened wound to his lips. I could feel him sucking, and it stung like a bitch. After a few moments, Eric released my arm, a strange expression on his face.
"What's wrong?" I asked him, clutching my other hand around my wrist to stop the blood from going everywhere.
"I do not know," he replied, "It doesn't taste right."
"Is there something wrong with me?" I asked, startled.
"I do not think so. It just doesn't appeal to me for some reason." he looked a mixture of disappointed and puzzled.
"Maybe you've just lost your appetite." I joked.
"But that doesn't make sense. I do feel hungry. Very hungry."
"If we wait a little while, you might feel more like it later on." but even as I said it, I could see that Eric didn't look so sure about that.
After we had locked up our room and checked out, we used the pay phone to dial Fangtasia. There was no answer.
"We'll try again in a little while, okay?" I told Eric.
We then headed back onto the highway, Eric drove again, it seemed to relax him a little. As worried as he must have been, I could tell that he was still enjoying the feel of the warm sunshine on his skin.
We soon came across a diner, so Eric parked up and we walked across the dusty gravel lot and went inside. It wasn't a very busy establishment, but the few patrons in there all looked up from their lunch with curiosity as we approached the counter, completely unaware they were now in the company of a day-walking vampire. Their thoughts were a jumbled mass. Some were thinking that they really didn't want to get back on the road to finish up their days work, and I even heard one thinking about what he'd like to do to me if only he could get me into the cab of his big-rig. I felt uncomfortable as we walked past his table, glad that I was safe next to Eric.
A slim woman with a thatch of silky red hair bunched up into a pony tail came to serve us. Her tight red T shirt was straining against huge breasts that carried the diner's logo. "Hi y'all, what can I do for you?" she said pleasantly looking from me to Eric, her smile widening as she took in his good looks. I let myself listen in to her thoughts, and wasn't at all surprised to hear that she was thoroughly impressed by him. Though she thought he looked ill and pale, she was wishing that she could pick up a guy like him instead of getting stuck with idiots like her loser boyfriend Carl. If only she knew the truth about Eric. She sure didn't look the type to run with vamps.
"I'd like to get something to eat, please." I told her.
"Sure thing, hun." the woman said, and reluctantly turned to face me again, "Go get yourselves seated and I'll bring you menus right away."
Me and Eric sat opposite each other in a booth in the farthest corner, keeping our distance from everyone else for privacy. Eric was still being very quiet, and was busy staring out of the window, his eyes taking in all that they could while they had the chance.
The red-head was soon striding over, and as she put the menus down on the table in front of us, she took a pad out of the pocket on the front of her white apron, "Can I get you a drink to start with?"
"I'll just have a cola," I said as I started to peruse the menu, already spotting what I wanted, "And the breaded shrimp with fries, please."
The waitress hurriedly jotted down my order then looked back up when she was finished, turning her attention to Eric, "And for you, sir?"
Eric looked from the window and regarded the waiting red-head for a few moments before he spoke, "I won't be needing anything, thank you." he told her abruptly before looking back out of the window.
The waitress looked a little surprised, and from her thoughts I could tell that she was feeling disappointed that Eric hadn't been a bit more pleasant to her. With that, she took back the menus and made her way back across the room and disappeared through the door which I was guessing, lead to the kitchen.
I leaned over the table slightly so that I could whisper to Eric, "Maybe we could find you a bottle of True Blood from somewhere. You need to have something."
"I cannot afford to let the other humans suspect what I am. For them to witness one of us out during the day would cause further problems." he sighed, his voice as low as possible, still keeping his eyes affixed on the sun-drenched world outside, "At any rate, I somehow feel it would not satisfy me."
"The vaccine must have really screwed around with your system if its made you go off blood."
"I am sure that once it wares off, I will be able to go back to my usual...diet."
"Speaking of, Eric, you need to be careful. We have absolutely no idea what's gonna happen to you if you keep in the sunlight."
Eric managed to tear his gaze from the window, "Have we not already had this discussion? Not only do I want to see out as much as the day is possible, but I also feel as though I owe it to Professor Simmons. He died so that I might have this chance. Is that really something that I should waste?"
"You don't owe him anything, Eric. It was his choice to involve you with all of this in the first place. He knew the risks of what he was getting himself into."
"Maybe so, but I am still going to honour the experiment."
For a moment, I swear I could see a hint of denial on his face. A sudden refusal to believe that this was over.
"There is no more experiment, project or vaccine!" I told him sharply, "I'm sorry for that, I really am, but you have to snap outta this before you get hurt!"
"Because I care about you, you big idiot!" I said, utterly exasperated.
Eric looked taken aback at that comment, obviously not sure what to say next, but as it turned out, the waitress saved him from having to respond by bringing my food and drink.
I started to eat, aware of Eric's eyes on me the whole time. I was too tired and hungry to carry on the conversation for the moment.
"That smells...delicious." Eric suddenly said. I looked up noticing that he was leaning closer to my plate, sniffing.
I paused, fork in mid-air and watched him as he grabbed one of the pieces of shrimp, held it out in front of his face, turned it between his fingers and studied it. He certainly was a puzzle today.
I was further shocked when suddenly he put the shrimp into his mouth. He chewed with an initial uncertainty, but then seemed to get into the flavour.
"Eric? Why are you eating food?" I had to ask him. This of course was something that vampires never did.
"I...don't know, but it tastes good." he then reached for another piece and ate it more confidently and quickly this time, "My hunger is passing."
"Oh my gosh!" I exclaimed, "The vaccines made you feel 'human'! That's why your fangs never came out. Its stopped your vampire impulses and given you human ones instead!"
Eric stopped chewing, "But Simmons didn't say he'd developed the vaccine to do that."
That's because he didn't know it would happen. It's one big side effect!"
"That's really quite remarkable." Eric smiled, "Then I am guessing that I should be able to feel some sign of when I will be about to become my usual self again. It may give enough warning so that I can get into the dark before it causes me any harm."
I pushed my plate nearer to the middle of the table before us, and we shared what was left. It was quite enjoyable watching Eric savour the taste of food for the first time since he'd been human. I could see that he was finding the whole experience fascinating, and he experimented by dipping the fries in various condiments to try out the rainbow of different tastes that they created.
Afterwards, Eric insisted on trying one of the desserts, settling for an apple pie with whipped cream. He was practically moaning with pleasure as he shovelled it into his mouth in heaped fork-fulls. I had to work hard at suppressing giggles. It really was a sight. I only wished that I'd had a camera on me so that I could record the moment forever.
It was getting late in the afternoon when we left the diner, Eric was stuffed full, but very much happier for it. We knew that we really needed to be finishing the drive home, as we couldn't put off what awaited us there for much longer. As we walked through the parking lot, I wondered what else Eric might have chosen to do during daylight, if only he'd had more time, and what other human-like indulgences he would have allowed himself. I had to resign to the fact that we'd never ever find out.
The sun was getting lower in the sky with every passing minute, a golden, pink and lavender hue painting the sky with a heavenly tranquillity. I was starting to relax now that the vaccine had lasted in Eric's system this long, however, he'd promised me that if he started to feel different (or about to burst into flames), that he'd jump out of the car so that I wouldn't get hurt for being in such close proximity. It wasn't very reassuring.
From the road signs that we passed, I could see that we were only twenty miles outside of Shreveport now. Twenty miles until we would find out the scale of damage that Carter and his men had wreaked upon Fangtasia.
Mixed thoughts ran through my head. Of course I hoped that Pam had somehow managed to get to safety in time, and that she'd be there to greet us when the sun went down, but the day that I'd had with Eric had been unique and wonderful in so many ways. Of course, we both could have done without being kidnapped, but even if I could somehow go back in time, I would very selfishly still want it to end this very way.
"Pull over." Eric said suddenly.
I was a little confused as to why he'd want to stop now that we were so close to home, but as I stole a glance at his face, something about his expression made me silently comply.
I stopped the car, the tyres crunching onto gravel as we left the asphalt and I applied the brakes. I glanced around quickly at our surroundings. Off to the side was a bayou, a broken down fence laced the sides of the murky water it once enclosed fully.
As I turned to look at Eric, he was opening the door and pacing across to the fence as if in a hurry to observe something. He didn't stop until he was right at the edge of the water.
I got out of the car and joined him. It was then that I noticed what had caught his attention.
"I had forgotten how beautiful a sunset could be." he said softly, his eyes focused on the sky above the water.
I had to admit, this was definitely not something I would have thought I'd ever hear from someone like Eric. He wasn't exactly the most sentimental being there was.
"No painting from an artist great, nor any photograph taken with the most expensive camera in the world could ever capture the sheer magnitude of the sight before us. It's vastness, it's possibilities, make everything and every one of us seem somewhat unimportant." he sighed.
"So this is something that you have missed the most after becoming a vampire?" I asked him.
"Yes. Though it might be unbelievable to yourself, I often watched the sun go down over my homelands before I was turned." the sound of his voice was tainted with sadness, "Maybe it is a silly thing."
"I don't think it's silly. I mean, you're right, nothing can compare to seeing this in person. It's just one of those things that us humans take for granted, I guess."
Eric looked at me then, and I met the intensity of his gaze, "Though I will never again get the chance to see this, Sookie, I would like you to know that I'm glad you are here with me now to share this moment with me."
He then went back to staring at the ever fading light, savouring the precious seconds that ticked by. I took his hand and together in silence we watched as the light slowly disappeared behind the horizon showing Eric his last sunset.
Eric hardly spoke for the rest of our journey, he seemed deep in contemplation, his mind absorbing the days events like a sponge.
As I pulled into Fangtasia's parking lot, we were greeted by several parked police patrol cars.
Eric practically leaped out of the car as soon as I braked, and approached the officers who appeared to be talking to somebody just outside of the door. I couldn't see who it was, as the officers were blocking them from my view.
I got out of the car quickly, and made my way over to them, noticing Pam flinging herself into Eric's arms. Two thoughts sprang to mind. Relief that she had survived, and two, that even though a lot had happened, how rare it was to witness the two sharing a moment of affection. It certainly wasn't something that Pam was in the habit of doing.
"Thank god you're alright!" I said happily just as the two vampires had released each other.
"Yes well, I managed to flee the club in time," Pam stated, "Unfortunately I can't say the same for the rest of the patrons." as she said this, she shot a glance to the club's main door. I hated to think what a mess it must have been in there right now.
"Mr Northman," one of the officers, a round-bellied, sweaty looking man, suddenly said, "We will need to ask you some questions."
Eric's expression turned serious as he spoke to the officer, "Of course."
"And were you here at the club last night?" the same man asked me."
"She was not," Eric answered for me, "She simply provided me with a safe place to stay during daylight."
The officer nodded, seemingly happy with the given response, his thoughts confirmed this.
"Sookie, you should go home now." Eric said, "I will have a lot to deal with here. There is no need for you to give up any more of your time."
"Are you sure that there is nothing I can do here to help?" I asked.
"Believe me, you don't want to it see inside. There are still body parts stuck to the floor." Pam dead-panned in her usual manner.
Well I certainly could do without seeing that kind of grizzly sight, and besides, I was feeling like I could fall down to the ground asleep at any moment. I was absolutely exhausted!
Before letting the officer lead him inside, Eric pulled me to one side, "Thank you." he said and leaned over to kiss me. It was tender and almost fragile. Just perfect.
As he pulled his head away from me, his fangs suddenly popped into sight making me jump a little.
Eric smiled solemnly, "Well I guess I'm back to being me again."
"I wouldn't want it any other way." I said genuinely.
"Ah, Sookie. What would I do without you?"
The moment ended when the police officer who'd spoken before asked Eric if they could get started. I watched as he followed him into the main door, ducking under the bright yellow crime-scene tape as they went through.
Now stood alone in the parking lot, I sighed and headed towards my car where I'd parked it last night, leaving the Mercedes abandoned. Eric would have to figure out a way to get rid of it later on, hopefully before the police found Carter, Simmons and the rest of the bodies at that old warehouse and linked it to them.
I drove home carefully, looking forward to crawling into my own bed, though I figured that it would be a good idea to call Sam first and explain why I'd not been to work that day. Of course, I would leave out the part of the story that involved mentioning the vaccine. Hearing about that would piss him off. He wasn't exactly a big fan of the vampires, so hearing that there had almost been a chance for them to be among us during the day, wouldn't go down to well.
What a long, long day it had been.
It took a few weeks for Eric to get Fangtasia up and running again. He'd had a team of builders, carpenters and decorators working around the clock to get things fixed up and restored back to its former glory. Luckily no damage had been done to the building's structure and afterwards, they had pretty much managed to get it to look exactly how it had done before, right down to the colours used throughout the club.
Eric's office had been left untouched, but the basement lab had been ransacked after we'd been taken, the equipment smashed to smithereens onto the floor.
Though I think deep down he knew it would come to nothing, Eric had also hired an independent scientist to see if he could make sense of anything that Simmons had used and set up in the lab before his death, in the hope that he might be able to discover something that just might lead them to uncover the formula for the vaccine.
He'd even asked the scientist to run tests on the grate and pipe in the floor, those which the beaker's contents had run into on that fateful night to see if any of the components could be identified.
Unfortunately the scientist informed Eric that the drain had too many contaminates, and it would be impossible to get anything conclusive from there.
As for the death toll, a total of twenty-five vampires, and thirteen humans died by the hands of Carter's gang that night. Eric was dedicating the club's grand re-opening to them, which I was invited to.
I turned up a little apprehensive. I had only seen Eric once since our little daylight-adventure, and I wasn't really sure what to expect from him. Things were now back to normal.
As I walked through the door, the loudness of the music assaulted my ears, the bass causing vibrations to rumble beneath my feet.
I carefully made my way through the crowds of vampires and fang-bangers, my eyes searching around the room as I went. You would never have been able to tell what had taken place here just weeks ago, it looked as if nothing had ever changed in here.
I stopped just short of the bar noticing Pam walking towards me, dressed in an extreme lacy-black ensemble, the trail of the long dress floating gracefully behind her.
"He's in his office." she said planting her hands on her hips, answering the question I hadn't yet asked, "I'm sure that he'll be grateful of your company as you havn't been to see him much recently."
"I would have, it's just that I had to help out Sam by working extra shifts at Merlotte's. It has been really busy there at the moment." I answered with a smile.
"It's not me that you should be explaining this to." she retorted, then dashed off in a blur of vampire speed leaving me to make my own way to the office.
Eric was sat at his desk reading something in a newspaper when I entered his office, but he as he looked up and saw me, he pushed it aside slightly and smiled, "I'm so glad that you could make it this evening." he said in a pleasant tone.
"The place looks great!" I said, "Can't believe you got everything fixed so quickly."
"Yes, well it certainly took a lot of work. It has been worth it though."
"I'm glad that everything is back to normal now." I said sitting down across from him, soon realising that I had chosen the wrong words.
Eric sighed, "Normal seems so dull after experiencing the daylight, albeit very briefly. I only wish that I could have convinced Simmons to give me a copy of his formula when all of this had began."
"So I take it that you've still had no luck finding anything out from what was left of the lab?"
"No. And I don't doubt that that is how things shall remain."
"What about Carter's warehouse?" I had heard that Eric had sent some vamps over to search the entire building.
"We were able to safely recover and destroy the computer files that described the nature of the project before the police discovered the bodies. At least we will not have to worry about anyone finding out about any of it, or our involvement."
Eric then opened one of his desk drawers and removed something from it which he then handed to me. It was a cheque for two thousand dollars, "I promised that I'd pay you for your time." he smiled.
"Thank you. I guess I really wasn't expecting it to be so much." I told him as I stuffed the cheque into my purse. The money would sure come in handy, and it really was more then I thought I'd receive.
Eric leaned back in his chair, "You should go out there and enjoy yourself." he smiled.
I stood up, part of me hoping that he'd be coming with me, but he went back to staring at the newspaper, his eyes wide at the picture in front of him. A picture of Professor Simmons, bespectacled and smiling. I stood close enough to Eric's side that I could read the article.
It told how the professor and Ronnie Carter had been found dead, and that it had been presumed that Carter had killed Simmons before taking his own life by jumping off the roof of the abandoned warehouse in an act of professional jealousy. If only they had known the truth.
Seeing that Eric had completely dissolved into a silent contemplative mood, I decided to leave him alone with his thoughts. As I left the room, I had a feeling that it was going to take a while for him to let go of this completely.
I also knew deep down that things were going to be left unresolved between us again. I didn't know if that was a good thing or not, but like Eric, at least I'd still have the memory of our day together to hold onto.