These characters belong to Charlaine Harris and Alan Ball. I just like to give them better lives.
The flight between Bon Temps and Minden was short, but the feel of the air rushing around me calmed my senses and permitted my mind to go silent for the first time that night. The sensation was freeing, even short lived as it was. I landed with a clearer mind and my maker on it.
Godric. My father, my brother, my son. He'd held my unwavering trust and devotion for a millennium and in all those years, not once did I think he could do anything to shake that faith. A good maker is more than a parent or sire; a maker such as mine became a confidant and friend while offering guidance, support and wisdom. Even with time and space between us, Godric's very existence was a comfort.
It's not that he lied to me. It is as I told Sookie: I will never be able to trust a truth offered by him again. He'd known so much about my story; he'd known the root cause of the fucking misery which plagued my pre-amnesia self and hadn't been able to tell me. The lies he'd offered so easily through the years could well continue under another guise. The Ancient Pythoness was clearly a complicated maker to have.
The famed oracle was revered by my entire species, but few had any personal interaction with her. I did and while I couldn't claim to have her on speed dial, I enjoyed a pleasant, though really quite formal, relationship with her. At no point was any undue interest shown in me, so what was her fucking point? Why was my existence even important, let alone the choice of my maker? Appius was a miserable freak and there were no circumstances where I would choose him as my sire, but the question was why it mattered to her and why it was held as a secret from me.
The girl in the meadow was the source of everything. There was nothing to suggest the old one had even met her, but yet had believed in her enough have to set these events in motion. What had she seen to propel her into this plan? The norn had clearly foreseen Sookie and marked her with importance. What of the Pythoness? What role did my lover play in the ancient one's visions? I found myself wondering if the old seer had also seen my alternate destiny.
The instinctual warning of the dawn's approach drew me from my thoughts. An acute awareness of Sookie's absence passed through me; too much time had elapsed since I left her. She should have been here by now. Unease settled around me as her cell phone went to voicemail, just as the house phone was directed to her cheery voice on the answering machine. Messages were left in the hopes she would return them before I succumbed to the day.
I retreated to her room - our room - where I could wait for her in safety. The fact I couldn't feel her pissed me off. Not knowing pissed me off even more. Bonding would be her decision, but situations like this played in my favour, I hoped. With my blood in her, at least I would have some idea what was happening with her.
I fucked up.
I did. I fucked up royally. I could try and justify it; I could wean and whine about how bad a night I had. And I did have a stupendously bad night but there was no way I could excuse my behaviour.
Because I fucked up.
Honesty is my only defense. Hearing her story, trying to comprehend the ramifications of it...I don't know. In those few minutes my entire existence was reviewed and found suspect. I doubted everyone and everything. Cracks formed within and anger was the putty holding me together.
I lashed out.
The venomous words I threw at her felt wrong even as they left my mouth. The one brave enough to tell me my life was built on nothing more than fucking pretense did not deserve my anger. Again, honesty being my best defense, I did go to the farmhouse to apologize.
But, again, I fucked up.
In those blissful hours between when I first left her to go to work and when I returned to face what I had, I'd thought of little more than the sensation of taking her blood into me. The blood itself had been divine, but the sneak peek of our bond had been eye opening and awe inspiring.
Sookie Stackhouse was a woman of unfathomable depths. Every single time I thought I had an understanding of who she was, she did or said something to make me see just how wrong I was. She was curious, courageous, smart as a fucking whip and had a core made of love and steel. Feeling her amazing vitality come to life within me was the absolute best sensation I had ever experienced. As brief as they were, those seconds showed me what we could be, and more importantly, gave me an unshakeable sense of the man I could be for her.
I would always be a vampire first and foremost because it is the vampire inside me that can protect her. The tantalizing taste of the bond told me I could also be the man she needed me to be. Her and I, our very essences mixed and forged together.
Where the hell was she?
There was nothing left to do but pick up my bag and go when I noticed the light flashing on the answering machine. Guilt overwhelmed me when I realized I hadn't checked the messages there in days. One from Sam, reminding me to drop by for lunch sometime and one from Jason telling me he was going to come by and borrow the old chainsaw in the shed. The last one was from Mr. Cataliades and he informed me in his deep voice that I should check my mail for some documents he'd sent.
Even though I knew it was likely more boring financial forms for me to review and sign, I was curious. I'd asked the demon lawyer to look into ways I could anonymously spread some of my newfound wealth to the small group of people I loved and I hoped he had some suggestions for me. I picked up my bag and instead of going directly to Eric's as I promised him I'd do, I decided there was no risk in popping to the mailbox first.
It was a fateful decision.
One moment I was reaching into the old wooden mailbox, my bag resting by my feet, and the next moment there was nothing. I felt nothing and knew nothing until I snapped to awareness in the cold, dank room I was being held in. The single bare bulb provided little light but I didn't need to see him to recognize his voice when he spoke.
"Can the vampire control you at all?" Preston Pardloe queried bluntly. "I can tell you carry a lot of his blood, but I would guess you can't even be glamoured, can you? I've been trying to get into your mind for damned near fifteen minutes now. It's truly impressive how you tight your controls are."
"I'd say thanks for the compliment, but under the circumstances, I think I'll pass. I know you've been following me. What the hell do you want?" My hands were restrained in front of me, linked together by seamless iron cuffs. My human side prevented the iron from burning but the total depletion of my Fae powers was obvious.
"It's nothing particularly personal, I assure you. You've actually stirred some admiration in me. For a hybrid, you're remarkably powerful."
"As reassuring as that is, I'm still here and you brought me here. If you admire me so much, why are you doing this to me?" My tie with Eric told me he was at rest, meaning it was still daylight, but I had no idea of the actual time.
The fairy simply shrugged. "There are jobs you do for pleasure and those you undertake for profit. This one proves to be both."
"If it's money you're after, we can talk about that. I have plenty of money. Tell me what you need to make this go away." I'd been poor my whole life. Every single cent I held would be well spent to get me out of here.
"It's too late for negotiating," he laughed humorlessly. "My profit isn't about money, but even if it were, I'd have to be alive to enjoy your money and the vampire would surely kill me if I released you."
"What vampire?" My blood grew cold as the implications set in. With my powers stripped, I was a sitting duck.. Even though he was still out for the day, I opened my bonds with Eric as wide as possible. The irony of the situation was not lost on me as I prayed to God he'd be able to track me as he'd done the night of the maenad attack.
Again, the fairy laughed. The sound grated on my nerves.
"You really think yourself clever, don't you? Hiding behind the old ones to protect your secrets. Do they even know who you are, princess?"
"Who? Tell me who you're working for," I demanded, my heart pounding in my chest. "Tell me what they want from me."
"She wants you for your talents, though she knows little of how deep your abilities run. She sees you as nothing more than a blunt object; a tool to help her ascertain her goals. Her Royal Highness believes she is entitled to your services." He laughed - no, he snickered at me.
"Sophie-Ann is behind this? I don't understand. I've already agreed to work for her and she's yet to call me." I was puzzled. We'd wondered why there had been no contact with the palace, but I hadn't expected to be taken by her.
"You should be more careful with how you interact with those above you. You offended her deeply with your refusal to join her in New Orleans." Preston tsk'ed at me, the mockery evident in his smarmy tone and gleeful expression. "Even still, I think it was him who talked her into it, no matter how much she thinks she's in control."
My body grew cold. Somehow, something deep inside me told me exactly who he was talking about. We'd all been talking about him, too. He was the reason for all the precautions and wards we'd put into place. The very wards I'd knowingly left, placing myself directly in the path of disaster.
"You're working for Appius, aren't you?" My stomach churned as my mind flickered through all I'd been told of him. It did nothing to ease the bleakness taking over my soul. No matter what he wanted with me, it wouldn't be good.
"See?" Preston nearly crowed. "You are so much more clever than they think. Bloodsucking fools think you're limited to reading minds. Idiots!" He scoffed merrily, his chest rising with self importance as he regarded me in the murky light. "I didn't tell them, you know. The least I can do is give you a fighting chance."
"You call this a fighting chance?" I spat at him angrily, holding up my bound wrists for his perusal. "How is this meant to give me a chance against a vampire who's at least a couple of thousand years old?"
"Your restraints are insurance for me; I needed to be sure you couldn't teleport away before he gets here. The only magic holding them in place is my own. Once I leave, I'll take my magic with me. Then you're on your own."
"And what if he kills you first? Then you leave me as helpless as a damned kitten." Some degree of hope and relief accompanied his words, but anger was still forefront in my mind.
"Why would he kill me when I'm giving him what he wants?"
"What is he giving you?"
"Your price, you mean? Don't worry. You've not been sold out cheaply." That grating laugh came from him once more and I gritted my teeth in annoyance. "I'm getting my enemy's head on a silver platter. Well, probably not silver, but you get the idea."
"You needed a vampire to do your dirty work?" I sneered at him, contempt blazing from my eyes.
"He came grovelling to me. It was the vampire who needed my help," he retorted haughtily. "All their efforts failed with you and they needed a fairy to get close to you. Why should I not take advantage of the boon he offered me?"
"I thought it would be at least against your moral code to give up one of your own to the enemy."
"And you would be right. I would never give up one of my own to that monster. But you are nothing but a talented hybrid. You and your kind might see nothing wrong with your existence, but my kind don't give a damn about your kind. My kind would wipe the likes of you out of existence." His words were cold but his tone was nearly conversational.
"You are Water Fae," I stated, recalling the history Claudine related. In that moment, the conversation with my fairy godmother seemed so long ago; it was as if it happened in another life.
"And you are Brigant's whelp. Sky Fae," he replied derisively.
"I am Sookie Stackhouse, granddaughter of Adele Stackhouse. I was raised human and I think it's really crappy that y'all keep holding the circumstances of my birth against me!"
Booming laughter was the response to my impassioned declaration. The fairy slapped a hand over his heart as he regarded me gleefully.
"Are you trying to fool me, or yourself?" He was still chuckling as he spoke and I had to tamp back the rage rising within my heart. "You may have been raised human, but you're more of a supernatural mongrel. It's not an insult; I'm just stating the facts. You are Brigant's whelp, but you utterly reek of vampire, too. And telepathy? Where do you think that comes from? Another unknown supernatural relative? You are no more human than I. You have the essential spark; no human could hold that much power within."
It did not help that his words came very close to my own thoughts on the matter. Being raised human might not matter considering everything else. I was a supernatural mutt and who knew what was yet to be discovered? There was so much with Eric and I that couldn't be explained by any of my known roots. And he had a point, too. Where does the telepathy come from?
But this realization did not suppress my very human desire to be my own person, thank you very much, and not be stolen, bartered and used. Not knowing how much time I had, I decided to move past this and try to learn everything I could.
"Why does he want me?" Just speaking the words caused a violent shiver in my spine.
"He's not supposed to want you at all. He's supposed to turn you over to the Queen. He gets the vampire and she gets you. Win win, right?" Preston laughed spitefully. "Except I think he wants a two for one deal. He's nearly as obsessed with you as he is with the North Man."
Godric had told us of Appius' unhealthy obsession with Eric, but what benefit could I offer other than being a means to an end?
"With me? Why?" Appius was a psychotic crackpot. Despite this, I was mildly reassured by the idea Eric and I might stay together through this nightmare. And yes, I do understand this makes me sound mildly nuts, too. But, hey….at least it was a better scenario than being split apart.
"You'll have to ask him yourself," Preston shrugged carelessly. I gritted my teeth at his attitude. "He will be here soon enough. Long before your vampire gets here, I would imagine."
Great. Just great. Alone time with a crazy, angry supe.
My irritation increased exponentially as the dark fairy announced his intentions to leave me alone. "Don't worry; I will return before sunset. If I were you, I would get some rest. You will need it and struggling to make an escape is pointless. You'll only wear yourself out."
With that pithy commentary he was gone, leaving me alone to silently contemplate the only other object in the room. I stared into that single hanging bulb until my vision was obscured by the stars exploding behind my eyeballs. I stared some more, narrowing my eyes against the glare until I could handle no more.
A scream of utter frustration tore from my throat as my eyes conceded defeat in their battle with the light. I'd been in danger for weeks and it was my own bloody fault I was here. I wish I could declare I 'just hadn't thought about it' but the truth is, I did think about it. Knowing all I did, I stood in my kitchen and blithely decided the obvious risks were worth it because it was something I wanted.
I had promised Eric - hell, I promised everyone - I would stay within warded safety. The danger we faced was uncertain, but it was known. Curiosity got the best of me and now I faced sharing the fate of the darned cat.
My moment of stupid selfishness put not only me in danger, but Eric, Godric and Pam, too. Almost everyone I loved was in danger because I put them there. The utter weight of my responsibility settled on me heavily, filling my bones and muscles, racing up my spinal cord and transforming into remorse and self-recrimination in my mind. Should I be responsible for any harm befalling them, my fate would not matter.
A life without Eric was unfathomable. To lose him would be to lose the most important parts of myself; he was the part of me that made me whole. He was my every dream come true. All the best parts of me were truly Eric; he was love and hope and joy.
Taking deep breaths to center myself, I tried the meditation techniques Lala showed me last year. I hadn't quite 'reached my zen' as he had, but I suspected that had a lot to do with the joint he'd smoked which I'd declined. The breathing exercises I'd actually enjoyed and found helpful for clearing my head of all the residual baggage I carried around.
After a few minutes I found myself clear-headed enough to channel my inner Eric with all my might and began strategizing. I plotted and planned as I tried to imagine every eventuality I could. Actions, reactions and counter reactions were examined and reimagined.
No matter my scheming, as the day progressed I had to admit that as things stood, none of my plans had merit. Everything hinged on Preston releasing his hold and my powers returning. If that didn't happen, I was a helpless human girl in cuffs. With a sigh - and a darned good mental shake - I settled in to do the only thing which might make a difference.
I opened my bonds with Eric as wide as I could make them and prayed. I prayed for myself, I prayed for Eric and for everyone else I cared for.
Most of all, I prayed we would make it out alive.
And another chapter down. Closer and closer to the end all the time.
Tell me what you're thinking!