Note: In keeping with a theme I've had going lately, this story is being re-edited and reposted. Unlike 'Belong to You' which was reposted as 'To Belong to You' (which you should REALLY read before reading this as that's where the OCs are introduced) this is simply being reposted under the original title. The reworking is finished, a chapter a day will go up until we're up to date and then I'll follow it through to the end. Thank you to everyone who followed the Belong to You story all the way to this point, I hope you stick with me to the end!
"I am not wearing that," Eric crossed his arms over his bare chest and glared daggers at Pam, who was holding up a lime green suit.
"It's modern, the colour will hide the fact that you have neglected your hair, and"
"And it's hideous."
"I will not allow you to go on television and embarrass me!" Pam snapped in irritation. For the last two hours she had used her recent incarceration to wring a number of concessions from Eric that she'd have had no hope of achieving under normal circumstances, but it seemed to Sookie, who was in the corner trying not to laugh, that Pam had used up most of her points.
"You couldn't get me into that thing in the seventies and you certainly aren't getting me into it now!"
"Well what do you suggest then? A black cape? You're supposed to look personable!" She huffed and crossed her own arms, glaring right back at him petulantly.
"Can I try...?" Sookie asked, raising her hand as though she were back in grade school.
Eric's eyes brightened and Pam huffed even more. "I deliver myself completely into your power. Protect me from that." He gestured rudely at the suit.
"Fine," Pam grumbled, folding the suit over her arm.
Sookie nibbled on the knuckle of her thumb as she looked through the comically large wardrobe. "I've never seen you wear most of this stuff,"
"Pam is a shopoholic," He sank down into a chair and put his feet up on the little table, "she enjoys 'styling' me."
"Oh my gosh," she giggled, grabbing the sleeve of something yellow.
"Just... please. Dress me, so we can get out of here, get this bureaucratic shit over with, then come home, so you can undress me again." His eyebrows waggled at her and she blushed. "You know my face almost feels warm when you do that."
Sookie touched her cheek and then let her hand drop. "Is it weird...? Havin' me jus' floatin' around in there?"
"Sometimes I hardly notice, if you're calm or bored, then what ever I am doing takes up most of my attention... When I am calm and bored, and you are busy, then it can be most diverting." His grin was positively filthy and Sookie got the distinct impression he was referring to any number of late night activities she may or may not have done just before going to sleep. He was up and across the room at her side by the time she'd followed that thought through to the end and was starting to get angry with him. "When you're fucking me," he breathed against her neck, "then it is very diverting."
"Not now Pam, I don't have time to play tonight, ERIC!"Bo's voice came through clearly as she barged in and Eric grunted in irritation and head-butted the edge of the wardrobe, leaving his forehead pressed against it.
"Your timing is,"
"Unavoidable. Shirt, now." She closed the door, pointedly leaving Pam on the outside and looked at Sookie speculatively. "Can you hear vampires?"
"I, um... no..."
"Can't have everything...My area is exploding and I don't believe it's a coincidence! Fuck," She sat in the chair Eric had just vacated and glared at no one in particular. "He's left me in a fine fucking mess now, and he doesn't have to deal with it, noooo he doesn't have to explain shit. He's dead, now it's just me with a big pile of shit on a continent made of sunlight. Fuck!"
"What the hell are you taking about?" Eric crouched next to her and gabbed her hands squeezing them hard. "Calm down, and talk to me. What's happening?"
She took a deep breath and flopped back in the chair. "My area has exploded and the shit's spattered everywhere. No one gives Australia that much attention, it's not worth it. They're provoking me, trying to get me to give away where he is and..." She screamed angrily and kicked the chair out from under herself, launching and and stalking back and forth across the room. "I need you to come back with me, Eric. I've got shit piling up on all sides and Godric's gone. He's fucking gone and no one else knows!"
"Knows what?" Sookie blurted but Eric shot her a warning look.
Bo turned her eyes to Sookie, as though just remembering she was there. "It's all a lie," she said, half hysterically, giving a guilty little giggle. "Oh Nan Flanagan's a smart one, she's got her finger on the fucking pulse, but even she's not sure. Come with me, to Sydney." She seemed to clamp down on herself then, push aside whatever madness it was that threatened to undo her and reached for Sookie's hand, taking it in both of her own and begging with her eyes, "Come with me, and I will tell you the biggest secret in the world."
Eric was at the door a moment later whispering to Pam, "Call the airline, get two coffin's ready, and book..."
"There is already a van parked out the front," Pam told him, affecting her usual frustrated expression, though Eric could see right through it. Pam was scared.
"We'll leave immediately. Watch the Bar. Negotiate with Isabel for what ever help you might need and tell Flanagan something came up."
"She'll pitch a fit."
"Quite likely. Tell her Sookie and I have gone to Australia with Bodicea on the order of a higher authority." Eric told her firmly.
"Eric... is it a good idea to lie about something like that?" She asked in Swedish.
"I'm not convinced it is a lie. Do as I say." When he looked back, Bo was pacing again, fidgety and manic. "Bodicea!" He said firmly, getting in her way and grabbing her shoulders. "Stop... get in the van. We can talk about it when we get there."
"Do you trust me, brother?" She asked, suddenly the foot and a half of height difference made her seem tiny, even with her broad shoulders. Her brown eyes looked black in the less than adequate light and Sookie thought she seemed incredibly sad.
"If you're not careful, when this is over... you'll never trust anyone again."
Sookie didn't even have a passport! Eric and Bo had assured her that it'd been taken care of but she still had images in her head of being detained by some huge, tanned, muscle bound guy who talked too fast and thought she sounded like a hick. Even worse, because they'd be landing during the day thanks to crossing the planet, her undead companions were sealed up safely in the bowels of the plane, and she was all alone, admittedly in first class, but still, all alone.
"We should be starting our descent in about an hour. How are you doing?" A bright faced waitress asked as she paused beside her with a little trolley.
"Oh, I'm fine, thank you. I guess I'm jus' a nervous flyer."
"Would you like some water?" The bright faced woman lent down and whispered conspiratorially, "Or maybe some orange juice with a dash of vodka?"
"Oh I couldn't, I'm a two pot screamer an'... well... isn' it illegal to be drunk on a plane?" She asked.
"Technically," the stewardess said, handing over an orange juice and a tiny vodka bottle, "but this is first class honey. No one's looking, just don't throw up."
Sookie shared her friendly, secretive little giggle and accepted the drink, making it up weak for herself. Everything would be fine. She had little to no idea how she'd been caught up in all this, the whole business was bizarre. Bo hadn't really explained anything to them in the van on the way to the airport, something about not wanting to be heard. Eric apparently bought that because he carefully kept Sookie busy, asking her about her papers, who she needed to contact and so on until they arrived. All the while Bo had stared out through the heavily tinted windows as the night sped by. Sookie wondered how flying into the sun would affect vampires, or if they got jet lag, or if they'd lain down there for most of the trip talking quietly from the inside of their coffins...
Below, before the sickness caught up with them, Eric had said "you want to tell me, I know you do,"
"I do," Her voice had come back through the darkness. "But I don't want to hide in here while I confess. That's cowardly. I'll tell you to your face."
"I have known you for seven hundred years, Bodicea. I'm deeply concerned by what could be upsetting you this much..."
"Seven hundred years... God we're so old." He heard her groan and laughed softly.
"You are today, every inch the princess we found beside the old road... among the bodies of her attackers... that woman has never been afraid of anything,"
"Blood," Eric sniffed it on the air. Blood and death, under it, floating delicately all around him... the scent of near-death.
"There," Godric moved along the road, his feet barely touching the dirt. Eric could see a rapidly dying fire through the trees and twisted silhouettes he was sure were bodies. "Romans."
Four men in the dress of the legion, deserters from the look of the camp. Disorganised... Stupid. In their midst, half covered by the body of her last victim, lay their killer.
"Eric," Godric called softly, gesturing down at the young woman, run through with a gladius and rapidly bleeding out.
"Celt," the Viking said carefully. "Stupid bastard's tried to take her. They're all like this. Can't be had." Eric winked at him, "My people tried for years, cattle, treasure, sure... don't bother with the women. It is why they're still short." He grinned.
Godric waved him off in irritation as he knelt by the girl. He shoved the body off that covered her, then smoothed her hair back. "Can you hear me?"
"Gwydion...?" she gasped, blood flecking on her lips as she reached for him.
Godric looked to Eric, his eyebrow raised. "She thinks you are her warrior god." The viking told him.
"I am Godric," the girl looked like she might cry but bit her lip hard to hold it in."You are dying."
"They died first," she hissed fiercely and Godric chuckled softly, stroking her hair again.
"That they did," Godric glanced up at Eric again, his head tilted to the side, seeking his opinion. Eric stared down at the dying girl and held his hands up, backing away into the night... this was a private business. "Are you afraid?"
"Yes," she admitted, looking away to hide her guilt, but Godric turned her back to face him.
"I can keep you here... with me. What do you want?"
"To stay," she coughed, trying to sit up.
"Are you Gwydion?" She asked, her eyes wide, but her hands clutched at his arms desperately.
"No... I am something else..."
"That woman is a master of faking it, brother. I thought Godric was a god... I think I believed that for a long time. I'd do anything he asked, ha," she laughed, a little bitterly and Eric heard her hit the back of her head against the coffin, "if he appeared now, I still would. I've lied to my brother, for two hundred years... I'm ashamed Eric."
"We both worshipped him,Bo. Had he asked, I would have lied to you until my tongue turned black." He paused then, and Bo wondered if he was going to leave it there. "I would have had to trust that you would forgive me."
By the time the plane landed at the Sydney airport, Sookie had managed to down four of the stewardesses little vodka and orange cocktails and was feeling pretty happy. Surprisingly, the airport wasn't the maze she'd been expecting, but was instead just a two kilometer long run of terminals with the security and exit at one end. She hadn't had time to pack anything, so the business of getting out was pretty straight forward, even if she was a little tipsy. To her surprise, on the other side of the security gates, was a little man holding a sign with her name on it.
As she approached him she couldn't help but think Lafayette would have loved him. He was thin as a rail with slightly effeminately flared hips, accentuated by the fact that he wore a pair of jeans that had obviously come from a girls store. His shirt, likewise, looked like it was probably a woman's, a gentle tan with tiny flared sleeves and the whole business was capped off with a pair of orange rimmed sunglasses that Elton John would have been proud of. She gave the tiny man a little wave and hurried over.
"Sookie Stackhouse?" He asked, letting the sign drop to his side so he could hold out his hand.
She took it, still feeling the buzz of the booze, and shook it a little more vigorously than she might have otherwise. "That's right, where do ya go to pick up your coffin's around here?" She couldn't believe she'd said that, but other than a few strange looks, no one paid her any mind.
"I'm Winston... most people call me Tony." He laughed at her and folded up his sign and shoved it into a leather satchel. "And we go get them around the back. Everything's been taken care of, and we've got about three hours before sunset." He clapped his hands together and nodded towards the door. "C'mon. I'll take you somewhere you can change... and maybe top up. Tonight's going to be a little mad."
"How do you mean?" She hurried along after him.
"We're in a bit of a mess at the moment." He confessed, "See, Bo's been here since the beginning, of my country I mean. She arrived in 1901 for federation. As sheriff she's been in our politics up to her dead little eyeballs for two hundred years. Now we've had what you might call a bit of a coup in the last few days, huge mess. Our prime minister's got the chop and his deputy's taken over. "
Sookie looked around curiously at everyone, no one seemed particularly worried. It just looked like an air port. "But... nothing's happening..."
"Hmm? This isn't Zimbabwe, Sookie. I didn't mean to give you the impression there was violence in the streets or anything. We're just in a bit of a political pickle, that's all. Gillard - that's our new prime minister, is in spastic spin mode. She's got to call an election like, last week, the opposition is all over it like flies on shit and to be perfectly honest, from our point of view, they're all incompetent."
"Wait, your prime minister is a woman?" Sookie asked.
"For now. There'll be an election in the next three months, then we'll see how the shit falls."
"And Bo is a member of your parliament?"
"Not exactly." Winston ushered her into a dark tinted SUV while two fairly burly looking men hitched a small airport trailer containing two unconscious vampires to the back. "Things are a little different here. Technically speaking Bo holds a seat on the Senate that's been reserved for the sheriff of Oceania. That's here, new Zealand and a decent chunk of Papua and Indonesia... though that bit's pretty recent. There was some shit up there with the natives and... never mind. Long story. Anyway, Bo isn't an elected official which... well let's just say some things have had to be finagled so no ones nose gets out of joint."
"I don't understand any of that..." Sookie confessed.
"That's OK, not many people do really. The punch line is that the government has been used to taking under the table advice from Bo on various unusual matters for a very long time and for some reason, Gillard has decided she's not interested in continuing the deal." As Winston pulled away, Sookie could see the cityscape of Sydney appear before her in a tangle of buildings and overpasses that easily rivalled Dallas. "Have you ever been here before?"
Sookie shook her head. "Up until a year or so ago, I'd never been anywhere... now I got vampires dragin' me all over the world!"
"That's usually how it happens. All or nothing. C'mon, I'll take us over the bridge." He indicated and changed lanes through a mass of traffic, hardly even glancing over before shifting the SUV. "How'd you end up with Northman?"
"I... I really don't know."
Winston chuckled. "Bo said he's high maintenance, but one hell of a sex machine." Sookie blushed helplessly and looked off out the window to try to hide it. "Hey, just us girls here. Relax."
"I thought human companions were usually... well... you know," She glanced over at Winston, who was grinning impishly. "You do... know? Right?"
"Yeah I know. And no, we're not." He shrugged, leaning casually back it seemed he dropped some of his flamboyant persona. "Bo probably saved my life." He said seriously. "I was an angry little faggot with a grudge against just about everything and everyone. I hated myself... and I hated everyone else for making me hate myself. Eventually I was gonna mouth-off at the wrong biker and... well, wind up a twitching stain on the pavement as Bo is so fond of saying. Bo showed me things that were more out there than me,"
"She said, I mean she told Eric that you run things here, when she's away."
"I do," he replied, somewhat proudly. "I'm good at organising things, and I get along well with the vamps. Truth is everyone loves Bo, and even if they didn't, they were hell scared of that guy that made her."
"Godric? But he was so sweet, and gentle!"
Winston laughed, nodding, "I thought so too, you know? Hell, the man opened doors for her, pulled out chairs. He was always perfectly polite, even friendly to me... but the vamps still crap themselves at the mention of his name, even now."
"I guess he was really old, he must've one hell'uv a history." She sighed sadly. "I was there when he died."
"You don't know the half of it." Winston pulled the car around a tight left hand turn and Sookie gasped as the Harbour bridge filled her vision. 'All this bullshit just cuz vampires have a yen for secrets. This is all so fucking stupid, why didn't he just tell them?'
"Tell them what?" Sookie asked, without realising she'd heard his mind and not his mouth.
"Huh? Fuck, forgot about that. You just stay over there on your side of the car, OK? Bo'll explain everything. Christ she's been itching to explain it to Eric for two hundred years, I'm surprised she's held out this long."
By the time Eric and Bo emerged from their coffins, Winston and Sookie had relaxed on the balcony and were sipping at fruity looking cocktails that smelt of summer and decadence with just a hint of sinful gin. Winston held up his glass and nodded to Bo, who moved past him, ruffling his hair in the process before sitting on the low stone planter opposite them. "You two seem to be getting along well," she said with a weary smile.
"I was just telling Sookie about the time you threw that kangaroo into the harbour because you thought it was the shifter who stole our AC/DC tickets."
Sookie was giggling helplessly into the sleeves of the over sized jumper Winston had lent her to cut the cool sea breeze."It's not as bad as it sounds," Bo assured her, "the stupid thing had run from the street performer who had it assaulting a punching bag. I did save the roo..." Sookie was forced to put her drink on the little table beside her and double over, clutching her stomach.
"You've rendered her speechless," Eric's voice came from behind her, sounding tired but amused. "That's a rare gift."
"All the tourist literature says you have the best adventures in the land of Oz." Bo took a deep breath and nodded towards the door. "You should both come inside. I have Jedda organising a car to take us for a little road trip, but we should talk first." She ushered them back into the apartment, where Winston promptly put his bare feet up on the couch and wriggled his toes, inviting Sookie to take the space left at the end, which she did.
"How much do you know about the vampire hierarchy, Sookie?" Bo asked her.
"Well, I know there are sheriffs and magisters and Kings and Queens an' such. To be honest I don' know how it all fits together though..."
"That's not really the problem, for right now, let's worry about a single question... do you know who they all answer to?" Bo asked intently.
"Well I... I don' know... I guess I never thought about it."
"Few do, even those who associate closely with us, by and large we encourage this." Bo sat on the coffee table and clasped her hands over her knees. "Above the Kings and Queens, above even the magisters who police them... climb high enough up the ladder and, as always, you'll end up with just one man."
"The Overseer," Eric rumbled softly from where he lent against the wall near Sookie's end of the couch.
"Alright, what's the overseer?" Sookie asked, sure they were all waiting for her question with intense theatricality.
"That depends on who you ask," Bo said carefully. "But the magisters and the Kings and Queens, the great council itself, they all know the overseer is here, in my area. Godric sent him here in 1901, when this nation federated. It was isolated, it was stable and more to the point because we were here at its inception we were in a unique position to shape the way it developed."
"OK, so this overseer lives here. That's the secret? Did someone find out?"
"There have always been rumours, it's why I have always had more sway than the sheriff of such an unimportant area of the world should. I have autonomous control over the largest area of any vampire, even the old monarchs of Europe... but it's a backwater. On the world stage we hardly rate a mention, the overseer is the sole reason that I am listened to." She unclasped her hands, then resettled them, shifting uncomfortably and glancing up at Eric. "Now we come to the great lie..."
Eric scooted Sookie up the couch and sat beside her as Winston tucked his legs up under himself and nodded encouragingly to his best friend. "The truth is, the overseer hasn't exercised, or been interested in exercising any sort of control over his domain in five hundred years."
"What does that mean?" Sookie asked, but Eric was tensing up next to her.
"It means... it means that five hundred years ago, Godric discovered that his maker, the overseer, was having some sort of psychotic break. He couldn't contain his emotions, he was becoming childlike..." She looked up at Eric sadly, "Godric had to protect him... From that time, up until 1901, Godric made every decision attributed to the overseer. After 1901, it was me."
"You?" Eric half stood but Sookie grabbed his arm. "You were behind the revelation? The announcement of our existence to the world?"
"Australia was the great experiment." She said carefully. "Godric planned it that way. I have been an integral part of this country's development. I helped chart its course, and every major politician for two hundred years has been well aware of what I am. All to protect an ancient man who can barely understand what is happening to him."
"The overseer is Godric's maker..." Eric said softly to himself. "He never said. The power he could have wielded,"
"You know as well as I do, he didn't want it. There's more, more that no one outside this room has ever been told, though some have guessed the theory... Godric believed that our existence is tied to the overseer." She stood and began to pace, "the legends all say that if you kill a vampire, all his infected, his progeny, will either die or become as they were. We know of course that this isn't the case. Godric believed that every vampire alive today, can trace their blood back to the overseer. That as the other ancients were killed or met the sun, that our race was whittled down to this single line."
"Are you saying that if someone kills the overseer, every vampire in the world will die?" Sookie gasped.
"I honestly don't know, but Godric thought it was possible, and was afraid enough for our safety that he built the perfect protection for his maker... This country."
"Why you?" Eric asked, his face having become impassive. "Why did he send you here and not me."
"Insurance," She said simply. "In case he was wrong. Should the overseer die, tradition dictates that the oldest vampire of his line replaces him, traced directly through... Godric was his oldest surviving progeny, and you, my brother, are Godric's heir. If the Overseer dies, and it turns out we don't need him to survive, you are his replacement. Godric wouldn't keep you both on the same continent."
"He said we weren't supposed to be here..." Eric breathed, his eyes distant.
"And so he came to believe, I think. But he loved us, and he loved his maker... so he couldn't bring himself to end it all. He just ended himself, at least that's what he wrote in his letter." Bo looked like she wanted to reach out for him, but Eric's face was a twisted mask of confusion and pain warring with worry. "The parliament is turning on me, and the criminal elements are using various supe's for their enforcers. I can't believe its all coincidence, I can't afford to. All our lives could be hanging in the balance."
"Or it could all be nothing." Eric spat in irritation.