Eric and Aldis both frowned disapprovingly as Adam walked out of the emergency room of Melbourne General Hospital and climbed back into the car.
"Should have killed him." Eric muttered.
"He's going to die delirious with a belly full of morphine, Eric." Bo said with a resigned sigh. She didn't have the energy to fight with him. "Nothing we can do is worse than that."
"I resent not being given the opportunity to try." He sniffed disdainfully. "I think you underestimate my imagination."
"Just let it go dear one. I'm tired, I need to find something to eat – Winston don't even think it" she interjected mid thought when the little man looked to be offering up his arm again. "I need more than you've got to spare anyway. Then I need to talk to Abbott about what the fuck we're going to do now... What do we do with this idiot?"
"For fuck's sake Bo, just kill him. Remove the brain-addled red-head, and be done with it. You over-complicate things."
Bo sighed again and leaned heavily against Adam's side. The Overseer had one lithely muscular arm wrapped around her shoulders and was resting his cheek against her hair. He had hardly spoken since they left the basement, content to simply carry Bo and follow directions. None of the others had mentioned the change which had come over him, nor his inexplicable return to normal...
"You know I wont do that Eric, so stop aggravating everything with suggestions you know I can't follow. I'll talk to Abbott, we'll sort it out. You don't have to stay if the way I do business vexes you so much." She turned her face so her cheek touched Adam's neck and closed her eyes.
"If that's what you want." Eric said stiffly.
Sookie shook her head and put her hand on Eric's knee, "Why are you bein' such an ass, you know you don' wonna go and she's not askin' you to leave. What's gotten into you?"
"Bullshit. C'mon, don't start this again, talk to me." She looked up at his face, dark and moody as it was, and worried everything might backslide terribly if it kept going this way.
With noticeable effort, Eric put his hand over hers and squeezed it gently. "I'm fine..." he said quietly, "just tired."
Sookie could see that was a load of crap, but she shuffled a little closer to him and let him put an arm around her rather than arguing. She looked down at the bound and gagged figure of Robert Oakshott, whose skin steamed and hissed slightly where she'd wrapped silver around him to keep him still. "What did he think he was doin'?" She asked quietly.
"Who knows? I think he's cracked." Bo said without opening her eyes.
"He thought he'd replace you, you know, if you died." Winston said. "He said he was the 'logical' choice."
"...then he's completely nuts. He's a baby. No one would allow anyone that young to become a sheriff, certainly not sheriff here. I've already made all the arrangements for my replacement anyway." She looked down at their captive. "You've gone to a lot of effort for a fantasy that could never work Mr Oakshott."
"Who'se going to replace you?" Winston asked.
Bo said nothing but glanced at the front passenger seat, and the back of Aldis' massive and deformed head. Winston raised an eyebrow and mouthed 'really?' silently. "You know as well as anyone that the outside is irrelevant. He's smart, loyal, honourable and he understands what we're doing here. I know I can trust him to do the right thing, and to keep you out of trouble." She added with a smile. When Winston looked surprised she shook her head and gazed at him affectionately. "Don't worry little brother... no matter what happens to me, I've made sure you'll always be taken care of." This did not make Winston smile, he just lurched from his seat across the van to sit beside her and burrow under her arm so he could hold her. Bo winced but said nothing.
"Is nearly home Boo." Aldis said from the front seat. "don' try to lift stupid man, yeah. I come get him. You carry Boo, Lord-man?"
"I've got her..." Adam said over Bo's immediate protestation. "Will you bring Winston in please, Eric?"
It wasn't an order, and Eric felt none of the aggressive compulsion to obey that had driven him to his knees in the basement an hour earlier. Whatever that had been, it seemed to be gone for the moment. Still, Eric nodded without complaint and once Adam had lifted Bo gently from the car and was carrying her inside, the huge viking looked down at his human charge. Winston looked back up at him, weary and overwrought. After a long pause, Eric shook his head and leaned over to scoop Winston up in his arms, "come along little brother," he said lightly, and Winston blinked in confusion but said nothing as Eric carried him inside. "I expect you're going to be on a short leash for the foreseeable future. If you spend more than ten minutes out of her sight, she's likely to start tearing the place apart looking for you."
"Fuck... I hadn't thought of that."
"Hey Sook, how's it goin'?" Sookie smiled to hear her brother's voice. She'd called to check in, amazing that so much could have happened since the last time they spoke.
"It's good, I mean, things here were in a bit of a state, but I think we're more or less on top of it now. How 'bout you? How's the clean up goin'?"
"Done an' dusted. Vampers clean faster 'an Gran after a double shot o' espresso. Some folks din' come back... Andy thinks they was more ashamed after Terry's speech than anything... better off without 'em."
"Oh... well, yeah I guess. Still seems sad though." Sookie sighed.
"We'll get by jus' fine. Oh ah, you know that Pam woman? Eric's friend? She's goin' kinda crazy over here. Visits at least once a night, wantin' to know if I heard from you an' Eric at all... might wonna get him to call her. She got those 'woman crazy eyes' you know? Might come home and find all his shit shredded if he aint careful."
"I'll tell him," She promised. "How are you doin'?"
"Oh you know, can't complain... It's weird Sook, with you gone, seems like people jus' kinda assume I'm in charge. I mean, there aint no one to fight no more, but they're still comin' round askin' for opinions and stuff. Half the time I don' even get what the problem is, but they seem to think askin' me'll get 'em somewhere..."
"You were a huge part of savin' their town Jason! They've seen how brave you are, how much you care about them. That matters to folks, you know? Besides, I don' think they really need help with anythin' really, sometimes people jus' like to talk their shit out, an' they trust you to listen."
"Wow... I never thought about it like that. So... it's OK that I don' really know what I'm doin'?"
"It's fine Jason, I trust you too."
"I love you... you come back soon, OK?"
"I love you too Jason, an' I'll be back soon as I can."
Sookie was still smiling as she hung up. When she turned around to put her phone back in her bag, Eric was leaning against the door frame watching her. "All's well at home?"
"Yeah, yeah he's doin' just fine. I worry about him, you know? He's got a good heart but does thing 'for he's really thought about 'em."
"Don't we all..." He moved into the room and somewhat gingerly slipped his arms around her waist as though unsure how the gesture would be received. "I am... sorry, this has been very hard on you."
"Been hard on you too, I think." She leaned in against his chest and looked up at him. "You wonna tell me what that was about in the car? You were lookin' for a reason to get angry with her..."
Eric sighed and rested his chin on top of her head so he could pull her closer. "She's not just mine anymore. Sharing her affection with Godric was nothing, it was natural, and he encouraged her to drop everything should I call... this will not be the same."
"You love her very much..."
"She's constant. When you live for a centuries, very little is stable, endures. Bodicea endures. People change, Godric did, I have, everyone... except Bo. I look at her now and she is almost indistinguishable from the woman who crawled from the earth in Godric's arms. She has been my constant..." he kissed the top of her head and gave her a small smile. "The world seems... unstable."
"Everyone grows up eventually." Sookie smiled.
"You think she's finally grown up?"
"No... I thinkyouhave."
Bo sat with her back against the arm of the couch, her legs stretched out and her feet in Winston's lap, who was sitting opposite her, his bare feet on her thighs. He rubbed the soles of her feet gently and avoided looking at her, as she sliced the pad of her thumb open and ran the wound gently of the ripped and raw skin above his ankles where he'd struggled against his bonds.
"True Blood for you," Adam said as he placed a warmed bottle on the coffee table when Bo could reach it, "and a triple shot strawberry daiquiri for you." He stood, watching them carefully while the skin on Winston's legs made the strange hissing noise that so often accompanied rapid healing, and Bo watched with a tender expression as the last evidence of his captivity disappeared.
"I, ah... I'm gonna go get some sleep." Winston said after a short uncomfortable silence. He got to his feet and hurried off, only to come back and scoop up his drink. "Can't forget you... night my lovelies."
"Winston..." he stopped and looked back at her. "I love you..."
The thin little man smiled and blew her a flamboyant kiss. "And I love you, my scary Queen of the night. Always." Then he flounced out of the room, taking a deep swig of his incredibly alcoholic drink.
Bo lifted her legs and allowed Adam to settle on the couch before putting her feet in his lap. He lay one hand over them gently and stared off into the distance. "Do you think he's really OK?" he asked after a while.
"Winston? He will be..." She smiled, her eyes slightly pink tinged with tears she kept tightly under control. "I believe what Sookie heard... he never lost faith in me. He knew I was coming... I have to make sure I never let him down."
"I don't think you can. You're too good..." He glanced sideways at her, his large dark eyes slightly haunted. "Are you ever going to ask me?"
"About the basement? No... it's not my place."
"If not yours, then whose? Who else will check up on me if not you?" He bit his lip and looked away.
"You don't need checking up on any more, Adam. You've proven that. You're ready." Adam shook his head and swallowed hard. "You don't need me any more."
"I'll always need you," he said softly, his hand tightening around her ankle.
"You know why... you just don't want to say it."
She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Maybe that's true... but if it is, it's only because what I want is to hear you say it..."