Everything belongs to Charlaine Harris. I just stop by to play in her sandbox.

Many, many thanks to my beta treewitch703!

Sorry for the wait, gotta say, real life got in the way and I couldn't find time to write.

The following night, when Eric woke up, he found his instincts piqued by the rhythm of two different heartbeats in his house. It took him a few seconds for everything that had happened last night to replay in his mind. Niall. The deal. The hospital. Sookie. The Sylph. The long, long talk. The tears. Fuck.

A young telepath and a Sylph were living with him now. How would he deal with them? No, seriously? How was he supposed to take care of a child? A part-fairy telepathic child? A part-fairy telepathic girl-child? Fuck. Granted, having a fairy prince in his debt was reason enough to accept this request, but how was he supposed to take care of her? He knew nothing about taking care of children - the few things he might have known had been forgotten over a thousand year ago - and he knew even less about taking care of a girl-child.

Sighing - that was becoming an annoying habit - he closed his eyes and scanned the house. The child was sitting in the living room, he could hear her small heartbeat there and the muffled sounds of TV and the Sylph... The Sylph seemed to be in the kitchen, he could hear her moving stuff around, he could hear the drawers opening and closing and the snicks of cabinet doors. Leaving his bedroom, he walked silently through the corridors. The child's tantalizing smell was everywhere in the house and he could tell she had done some exploring during the day. That made him smile a little. The sooner she felt at home in this house, the less she would pine for her old life and the easier it would be for him to protect her.

When he suddenly appeared in the kitchen, the Sylph gasped and jumped out her skin, almost dropping the pan she was holding. She quickly put it on the stove, next to another pan and Eric smirked as he watched her drop to her knees to clean the water she had spilled. Her cheeks were flushed in embarrassment as she averted his eyes. "Good evening, sir." She told him without looking at him.

"Evening," Eric replied without dropping his smirk. "What are you making?" He then asked, feigning an interest.

"A mess apparently." The Sylph muttered under her breath and Eric actually chuckled. Nice. "Pasta." She then said out loud. Eric nodded his head but said nothing. Food was a foreign concept for him. He couldn't remember what it felt like to eat. Over his thousand years, he had forgotten the texture and the taste of food. But that didn't bother him in the slightest. Unlike young vampires who still held onto their human lives - and therefore hated anything that reminded them of what they had lost - he actually enjoyed watching humans eating. It could be a very sensual experience for him - watching women bringing food to their mouth, sometimes moaning at the taste of it - that is, if he bothered to buy them food before using them.

"When did you go out to buy it?" He asked, frowning. He still needed to find someone to stay with the child and the Sylph during daylight. Going out by themselves was foolish. The Sylph wasn't powerful enough to protect the child if necessary.

"This morning." Rhea answered. "When Sookie was still asleep. You have all the necessary equipment but there was absolutely no food in the house."

"Of course." Eric replied disdainfully. And then, another question struck him. "How did you pay for it ?" He hadn't thought to leave any money for them... "I forgot to give you some money."

"Master Niall." The Sylph told him. Niall, of course. "He gave me a credit card to pay for anything Sookie might need." She looked pensive for an instant before adding. "I don't think he wants you to provide for us as well."

"I see." Eric nodded briskly. "Of course, he doesn't. That would just increase his debt in his eyes." He told the Sylph offhandedly. But he was actually quite sure that it wasn't the main reason. Eric was confident that Niall hadn't wanted Sookie to see him as her caretaker, but merely as a bodyguard. Niall wanted to be the one who provided her with food, clothes and anything else she might need or want. Maybe because she was his kin, maybe for some other reason. Never know with a fairy. But apparently he hadn't wanted her to feel grateful toward Eric. Niall was the one who wanted her gratitude. Why?

A muffled squeal of laughter broke this train of thought and brought his attention back to the child. "How did the day go?" He asked Rhea, nodding toward the living room.

"Not very well," The Sylph shook her head sadly. "She spent half her time crying."

"Only half her time?" Eric asked, cocking an eyebrow in surprise.

The Sylph looked outraged. "What do you mean by that?" She asked stiffly. Eric smirked again, did she think she was impressive? He could break her neck like a twig. And maybe he would. Someday.

"Calm down," he told her, his amusement clear in his voice. "I merely mean that I was expecting her to cry more than that. Her life completely changed in the last twenty four hours and I'm quite surprised to actually hear her laughing right now. I was expecting tears." Not that he was complaining. He had had more than his fair share of tears the previous night.

When the Sylph averted her eyes, he growled. "Did you used your powers on her?"

"I...I..." She stammered.

"Shit." He growled. "I told you she needs to cope with things. You have to let her work through her emotions." Eric told her sharply. Fucking Sylph.

"I...I know, sir." Rhea told him in a trembling voice. "But her pain breaks my heart. Each and everyone of her tears is like a stab in my chest." She apologized. "I...I can't help it. My loyalty toward the Brigant-mark tells me to help her, and if for that I have to use my powers to alter her emotions, then so be it." She told him fiercely.

"Bullshit." Eric replied. "You're not helping her. How can she move on if you alter her emotions? What you make her feel is not real. You're filling her with false emotions..." The Sylph opened her mouth to interrupt him but he raised a hand to shut her up and continued. "...to make it easier for her, I got it. It might be in your nature to want to help her in anyway possible, but you're not helping her. By doing so, you're altering her reality." The Sylph shook her head but Eric continued. "Her parents died a few days ago. Last night, I removed her from the hospital she was in and took her away from her family. Definitively. She'll never see them again, I can't allow that, it would be too dangerous. With me, she found out that her parents had been murdered, and that the murderer was now after her." The Sylph opened her mouth again but Eric didn't give her the opportunity to talk. "She's only ten, just a child. But in less than a week, she's lost her whole family, she's been taken in by two strangers with whom she'll have to live and she has become the prey of a psychotic fairy. Her whole life has been ripped to shreds. She has to come to terms with that. She has to accept what happened to her and what her life will be from now on. She has to deal with the death of her parents, the loss of her remaining family and the changes in her life." Eric assessed forcefully. "She needs to mourn for her family, for her old life, for everything she's lost. It's only natural. She won't be able to move on if you don't let her grieve." The Sylph shook her head. "You have to let her." He ordered.

Rhea frowned sadly. "She's just a child."

Eric nodded. "But she's strong. Stronger than most humans. She'll come to terms with everything that has happened to her and it will make her even stronger. If you let her." He told her pointedly.

"I..." The Sylph stammered. "I'm not sure I can watch her suffer." She told him temporized.

"Then, I'll have to ask Niall to send you back to the astral plane."

Rhea's eyes widened. "Sir...Sir...Sookie...Sookie needs me." She stammered. "You... You can't do that."

"I sure can." Eric told her harshly. "If you can't let her work through her emotions, I'll let Niall know that you're not suited for the child's needs. I know you only want to help. I saw that last night, but as I said earlier you're not helping her. If you're not strong enough to let the child suffer when she has to, if you're not strong enough to resist the urge to take the easier path and shield her instead of letting her work through her emotion, then you're not made to take care of her."

"I have Sookie's best interest at heart." The Sylph protested weakly.

"I know you do. And that's why you have to let her cry for everything she's lost. If you can't control that compulsion of yours, then she'll never move past this. And what will happen the day you aren't around to shield her from her emotions ?" Eric asked.

"I'll always be here." The Sylph answered indignantly.

"You can't be sure. She might not need you anymore once she grows up. Niall could call you back. You could die..."

"Or you could send me back," Rhea interjected sharply.

"That too." Eric nodded. "Or I could do worse if you push me."

A sharp intake of breath dragged both of their attentions to the little girl who was standing in the doorway. Sookie stood there with tears already pooling in her wide eyes. "What are you talking about?" She asked in a quavering voice.

The Sylph smiled brightly to the little blond. "Diner will be ready soon. Go back and watch more TV, Sookie."

The child ignored her. "Are you going to hurt Rhea, sir?" She asked Eric. Fear, his blood whispered.

"Of course not, Sookie." He told her, through gritted teeth. "We're just talking."

Incredulity. "Are you going to send her away?" She then asked him. He opened his mouth to answer her but she continued. "You can't do that, sir. Rhea's really nice to me. She stayed with me all the time. I don't want her to go." Words tumbled out. "Please sir, don't send her away." She begged as tears ran down her cheeks. "Please."

The Sylph looked at him with a smug expression on her face. Fuck it. Eric wasn't in the mood to deal with that. That fucking Sylph disobeyed him and she had the gall to look smug. If he stayed here, he would kill her in front of the child. He needed to leave, he needed to cool off, he needed someone to take his frustration out on.

He left the house without looking back and took in the air.

Hope it was worth the wait. Reviews, please !