As time goes by
She used to hate it.
The unyielding chill that was somehow always present in the winds regardless of the season, the vast stretches of desolate countryside and the detached settlements that shot up through it, in a staccato of flickering lights against the heavy gray skies.
Pam used to loathe the small country bordering the arctic circle, and would resort to profound sulking each time Eric dragged her up there.
Funny how things could change.
In many ways, she still hated it. It wasn't sudden approval that had driven her there as much as it was pure and utter necessity. She needed it like a refugee needed shelter, however fragile that shelter was. She was there because she had to be.
Most of all, she needed the darkness. The Swedish winters were harsh and drawn-out, providing large portions of the year with very little sunlight. And with less time spent under ground, Pam wasn't as subjected to the dreams, the resurrected images that were tearing on her carefully composed mind, threatening to shatter it.
It was always the same dream, and it was unlike any mortal nightmare. Instead of phantoms and monsters, she was haunted by a scene from the past, more lucid and terrifying in her dreams than any waken recollection could grant it.
She saw it all, felt it all.
The blunt weight of the rocket launcher. The strange way her hands were trembling. The blast, the sudden heat, the pressure knocking them back. Flames licking her skin. The witch, collapsed onto the pavement. Beside her; Sookie's body, charred and lifeless. And then, Eric's face, inches from hers. His eyes, glazed with a piercing, deadly chill, sending a violent shiver through her. His voice, eerily calm though his features were nearly crumbling beneath his rage.
"Now you run, Pamela." he said.
Her desperate words, freezing in her throat as Eric bared his fangs.
"You run, and you run fast; because you know what will happen if I catch you."
Oh, she knew. Perhaps better than anyone.
And so she ran.
Twenty years. It had almost been twenty years since that night.
As it proved to be, running had been the easy part.
But Pam still hadn't managed to leave Eric; simply because he wouldn't leave her.
Early December, 2030
The final model swept by with the excessive train of her dress rustling behind her, and Pam entered the runway. The music had stopped, and for a brief moment the pattering of her heels against the solid glass floor was able to cut through the exited mumbles. Then, the spotlights fell on her and the crowd exploded in a bedlam of acclaims and frantic lens flares. The three enormous screens behind Pam flashed from showing the empty catwalk to a close-up of her face, and the crowd had yet to pace themselves. A pertinent smile placed itself on Pam's lips as she adjusted the concealed microphone running snugly along her shoulder down to her cleavage.
By the sounds of it, she could have well been a countess or even some sort of royalty. In a way; she was - a bellwether of the decadent steamroller that was the 21st century fashion industry. In the past decade, the deflation had allowed the Scandinavian scene to rise to the point where it could compete with southern Europe. It had taken Pam only a few years to place herself at the center of it - nobody could resist her sense of glamour - and as a compère, she was already revered. The best shows were always of her design, and tonight was no exception.
"There there, mind the roof will you?" she said, her sly voice booming out from the speakers and bouncing off the arena walls. "Sadly, my hotness alone isn't enough to keep this blasted weather out!"
Pam broadened her smile in order to shadow the contempt that wanted to break out through her eyes.
Northerners. Mention the weather and watch them drool.
It had all become so mundane to her. She preformed the rest of her little speech (a contemporary remark here, a sassy joke there) in much the same way that she had done hundreds of times. She was winning the crowds over simply by the force of her reputation now, and there was no longer any challenge to it. Through training, she had become the pokerfaced crowdpleaser that Eric always had been and she never were.
Had she chosen the celebrity path to give Eric a shout-out? To incite some sort of reaction, a vital sign, even the slightest indication of where he was or how he was doing? Maybe, from the beginning. But with years upon years without a single word from him, Pam had lost track of her purpose. She had only this now, and though surfing on top of the fashion world had held some thrill at first, everything she did had become more or less habitual.
Still, her spectators kept on cheering. They were not yet satisfied.
The sharp lights washed out all color and turned them to a dull homogenous mass. They came here from across the continent, but to Pam they were all the same. As soon as the lights went out; they were nothing but faceless containers of polluted blood, quivering in their pathetic quests for the latest thrills. Animals. Vermin.
"And as our beloved Yves would have said if he could have been here tonight: `Fashion fades, but style is immortal.'" Pam said, turning her smile into a slightly smug grin. "Trust me, I should know."
She was awarded with chuckles and stares of awe. At this point, there was nothing she couldn't get away with. They were hers to wield, and yet in her mind, she was already far away.
"Have a fangtastic evening, lovers." she concluded, placing one hand on her hip and blowing her audience a kiss with the other.
The roars were still raging as she stepped down and made her way towards the media that rushed to meet her off stage.
Another flawless performance.
Over time, her boredom had grown to match her solicitude. At the expense of her dignity (that she used to have such great amounts of), she was doing well.
The question was, for how long could she keep doing it?
She had been asking herself that a lot lately.
For how long?
It was one hour and several tedious interviews later that Ida's actions really started to bother Pam. She could feel them like an itch somewhere at the back of her consciousness; small but persistent enough for her to be unable to ignore it. With her smile slowly freezing, Pam smartly terminated the TV-shoot she was participating in. The arena had turned into a full-scale nightclub by now, but though the music was loud enough to make the speakers shift, Pam's mind was picking up the inward current that was her and Ida's bond as clear as if it had been dead silent. Suppressing a grunt, she started moving across the hall.
Was it supposed to be like this? Had it been the same for Eric? Pam didn't know, but she had begun wishing that she'd asked him about it sometime during their years together. Ever since she'd turned Ida, she could almost instantly sense whenever she had screwed something up and needed to rescued; without Ida needing to call her they way she was used to. It wouldn't have been so strange, if it hadn't been for the fact that Pam would also receive an assortment of her child's other emotions, if they peaked high enough. Like now.
Forcing her pace to appear casual, Pam tapped in to the itch. Ida was gorging herself. This wasn't unusual per se. What was unusual was the level of perverted satisfaction that came bursting through the bond, like flares of red fire. It was nauseating. Though Pam wasn't even close to her yet, she already knew that Ida was playing way outside the field. And when she did, things had a tendency to turn very ugly very fast.
Moving towards the runway again, Pam scanned the frantic mass of models, designers and their cohorts, self-proclaimed fashionistas and b-list celebrities. Ida was supposed to be among them now, kissing cheeks and having a couple of hundred mingle-shots taken for the blog, but she had obviously found something more entertaining to do.
Stupid little brat…
Making sure that no prying eyes followed her; Pam disappeared behind the stage and turned to the stairwell leading down to the model lounges. The door was wide open, and the smell of blood rising from the lower floor was so powerful that it made her dormant fangs tingle.
It had seemed like a good idea at the time. Pam had started making a name for herself, and it just so happened that she crossed paths with Ida; the most influential fashion blogger north of Berlin. The girl had desired eternal youth more than anything, naturally, and the PR-value had been impossible for Pam to deny. The arrangement had granted both of them much success, but any pleasure Pam might have once derived from their relationship had paled in comparison to the amount of shit that Ida was consistently putting her through.
A couple of the lamps in the ceiling were busted, leaving the corridor Pam was entering half-way covered in shadow. The loud thumping of the bass traveled through the building like a ritual drumbeat and muffled the sounds of her heels. As she advanced towards the dressing rooms, the flares coursing through the bond became almost too intense for her to bear.
Extending her fangs, Pam turned the corner.
The young woman on the floor wasn't dead, but as good as. Her lank body was splayed across the doorway, as if she had been trying to drag herself out of the room before she collapsed. She probably had. Every inch of her skin - she was wearing nothing but an underskirt and a tiny strapless bra - was pale like paper. She was clutching at her throat with both hands, and the blood staining her chest and discoloring her bleached hair told Pam what she already knew. Tiny, shallow breaths made her lips shiver, but her eyes were closed and her life fading away. Very soon, there would be no more.
It wasn't that Ida had lacked the common sense to finish her off. She simply couldn't have cared less.
For a moment, Pam was nailed to the ground by the sheer force of the anger rising within her. Then, she stepped over the girl on the floor and barged into the dressing room.
The particular room was big enough to host at least five models, their garments and a couple of stylists. Huge mirrors covered the walls and the tables were cluttered with cosmetics, hangers and various junk. The air was dense with hairspray and perfume, but the smell of blood drowned it out. It drowned out everything.
Ida was leaning across the couch in the center of the room, hunched over another girl, this one brunette. Her nails dug into her victims back like claws as she drained her, and the front of her black Prada dress was wet with the blood she wasted in her gluttony. A few steps away, yet another girl - Pam recognized her as one of the models - was curled up into a trembling ball beneath a table. She was sobbing, but Pam doubted Ida could hear it over the sounds of her feeding frenzy.
"For fuck's sake, Ida!"
Now, and only now, Ida lifted her head to acknowledge her maker. Her hair was disheveled and several blonde strands clung to the blood that was smeared across her face, but such was the extent of her beauty that it wasn't at all affected by this. Her eyes - that shade of icy blue that had reminded Pam of Eric and made her weak when she should have been strong - positively sparkled as she smiled.
"Oh, hi Pam!" she said. "You have got to try these - there is this new drug, I dunno what it's called but all the models are doing it and it makes them freaking delicious."
The chill in Pam's stare would have terrified anyone, but Ida remained completely unfazed. The woman in her arms moaned and Ida tightened her grip around her.
"You can't have this one though, she is too damned sweet." she said. "But don't worry; I saved that one for you."
She gestured towards the girl under the table.
"There is a still live one, outside, in the bloody corridor!" Pam hissed.
Ida raised her eyebrows and shrugged.
"She was being a bitch." she said. "And besides, they are so high they don't even know where they are."
"Do you have any idea what happens if someone, anyone, comes down here and sees this? I'll tell you; all our work, all that we are will go straight to hell, because of your stupid arrogance!"
Pam rarely ever raised her voice, she didn't have the need. But as she stood there, she realized that for the past four years, the times she had done it had all been because of her child.
"Come on, Pammy, don't be such a wet blanket." Ida pouted.
Pam could tell that she had meant to sound innocent, but her true intentions shone through, perhaps even more because of the strangely vivid bond they shared. Ida had no respect for her whatsoever. More than anything, she was annoyed that Pam was even there.
"You haven't been listening to a word I've said, have you?" Pam said. "Not now, not ever."
Ida snorted. Throwing a glance into the nearest mirror, she started to adjust her blonde waves. The girl in her lap was as limp as the one in the corridor now and she had already lost interest.
"I don't expect you to understand." she said. "I mean, what do you know? You are over 100 years old. What do you know about fun, about passion, about living? You have forgotten all about it, and for that I pity you."
Pam's fingers curled somewhat, pushing her nails into her palms. Her mind was vibrating with Ida's scorn.
"It's going to be like this." she said slowly. "You will not change."
It wasn't a question.
Ida smiled into the mirror.
"The hell I won't." she said. "And there is nothing you can do about it."
For a moment, the only thing that was heard was the thundering of the music upstairs. Ida had gone back to fixing her hair. Pam watched her.
In the beginning, there had been so much about her that reminded Pam of herself. Her vanity, her smugness, even her appearance. But her sadist streak, that combined with her childish mindset was dragging Pam into one bloody mess after another, had only grown deeper with time. There was no class or refinement to her actions, only an unquenchable greed. Pam's biggest mistake was her failure to realize that this would happen.
It had seemed like a good idea four years ago. Was it possible that it had seemed that way because of the fact Pam had been refusing to admit to herself - that she had simply missed Eric too much to be alone anymore?
Pam dropped her gaze to her hands, and then focused on Ida again. This arrogant little brat, this pathetic excuse for a vampire in front of her had Eric's blood in her veins, because Pam had granted it to her when she turned her. She wasn't worthy.
How could she have ever believed that anyone was worthy?
With a swift, fluid motion, Pam grabbed a wooden hanger from the nearest table and tore it apart. In the corner of her eye, she could see the girl under the table cover her head with a whimper.
Ida's first reaction was a sneer. When Pam started moving towards her, it faded. She rose from the couch and started backing away. The woman she had been draining slid to the floor with a thump.
"No fucking way…" she mumbled. "Come on Pammy, I'm sorry! You have to forgive me!"
She wasn't sorry. And even if she had been, had it mattered? Their eyes locked, and Pam felt no compassion for her at all. No pity, nothing that would have caused her to hesitate.
She didn't feel anything.
When she noticed that Pam wasn't stopping, Ida growled and made a leap for the door. Pam caught her by the throat as she was passing her, ramming her into one of the mirrors. The glass broke with a crash, but Pam was deaf to everything except for an uncanny ringing noise that washed through her consciousness. She could not place it.
"Let go of me, you hag!" Ida spat between her fangs, writhing in her maker's grip. "You can't do this!"
And Pam got it. For the first time, Ida was afraid of her.
"Watch me." she said, raising the broken piece of wood and plunging it into the young vampire's chest, jagged end first.
Pam stepped away just in time to avoid being caught in the gush. Since the remaining girl was hidden, she too got away with only a few splatters. As it were, the room itself took most of the mess. Thanks to Ida, the blood had been there to begin with; the only real difference now was that there was more of it, and that a touch of vampire had been added to the mix.
Pam surveyed the damage to her dress. It wasn't substantial. With her fingers still clasped around the broken hanger, she met her own gaze in the cracked mirror.
She looked so much younger than she felt.
The music was still raging upstairs, but the silence that came over Pam was overwhelming. She hadn't experienced that kind of silence for some time. Not for four whole years.
Naturally, the girl beneath the table had to be dragged forth by force. Though, once Pam had coaxed her into opening her eyes, she seemed almost happy to be glamoured.
"You used this," Pam said, placing the blood-drenched hanger in the model's pale hands. "in order to defend yourself. If you hadn't, she would have gone for you next. As for me…"
Pam paused to give the young woman a soft pat on the head. "I was never here."
"Okay." the girl smiled, a smile of pure, mindless joy. She wasn't crying anymore.
Pam rose from the floor, letting her eyes wander over the carnage one last time. Then, she moved out, past the body in the corridor, down the next hall and out the emergency exit, into the blizzard.
Not once did she look back.
The weather was indeed blasted, if you happened to have an aversion towards winter. It had been snowing heavily for the past three days. The snow wrapped Stockholm in a soft but heavy layer that immobilized the infrastructure and made nearly everyone, even the most hardened locals, choose to stay indoors by their fires. However, by the time Pam's thoughts caught up with the present, the wind had abated and the stars were visible between the clouds for the first time in weeks. Slowing down, Pam had a look-around.
From the arena, her aimless wandering had brought her across the city into the Olde Town. She always seemed to end up there for some reason, and though she hated to admit it, nostalgia was the most probable one. She had been engaging in that a lot lately.
The street she was walking on was narrow and the snow was bunched up against the walls so high that it covered some of the shop windows. As she dwindled deeper into the mazelike region, she encountered several young humans walking in the opposite direction. Not one of them did as much as frown at Pam's blood-splattered appearance. Instead, they threw lustful glances after her as if they knew exactly what she was and desired her for it.
It no longer came as a surprise to her.
Had she been walking down this same street just a hundred years ago (she had, and it felt like yesterday) looking they way she did now, all hell would have broken loose. The difference between then and now was that hell was already loose; only no one seemed to care or even notice. The rate of vampires had exploded in the past years, and the revelation was either to thank or to blame for that. The dead were walking the streets, coveted by the living, when they were not busy making up new ways to drug themselves or destroy the earth.
Times were different now, and Pam was not sure if she liked it.
She had thrown her cellphone into Strömmen to delay the inevitable, but it had already been three whole hours, and her time was steadily running out. By morning, the whole country would know and she would be unable to linger here any further. It was common practice to put any witness to a crime through an EEG, largely because of the discovery that forged memories - glamoured memories - emitted different brain waves than actual ones. The days of easy cover-ups were gone. They would come for her, and golden reputation or not, the magnitude of the scandal would be too great.
She wasn't panicking, though, even if she perhaps should have been. The life she had worked so hard to build was about to fall apart, and all Pam could think about was Eric.
She had refrained from thinking about him to keep herself sane, but there was no longer anything she could do to stop it. Now that Ida's bond wasn't occupying her mind, her most recent memories of him were flooding it from all corners, drowning it. Since her release, the last she knew of Eric was that he must have somehow managed to kill the witch; seeing as her curse had been lifted (had it not, she would probably have been long gone by now). After that, nothing.
Could the bonds be severed, and if so, had Eric severed their bond? She had been too afraid to look into it; too afraid of what she might find.
But now, as the snow fell, diminishing all sounds and lowering the world into the strangest, most potent silence; she felt him.
Moving into a narrow, empty alleyway, Pam fell back against the frozen brick wall. Wrapping her coat harder around her body, she closed her eyes and listened.
It was all in her head. It had to be.
Yet, the familiar feeling of being in close proximity to her maker was there; and though there was no use, Pam grasped at the illusional strands of the bond, calling for Eric with all the power still left in her.
"För bövelen, kvinna, are you trying to deafen me?"
If Pam's heart had still been beating; it would have stopped doing so right then and there.
She jerked her head in the direction of Eric's voice.
Eric was standing at the other end of the alleyway, watching her. The light from a distant lantern fell on him, throwing his shadow onto the snow. The coat he wore was dark, making him appear even taller than he was. His hair, almost flaxen in the yellow light, was glistening with snowflakes. Through the night, his pale blue gaze reached straight into Pam.
It was as if no time had passed at all since their very first meeting. The street had been switched from London to Stockholm, and the mist had been traded for snow. But there he was; dumbfounding her, turning her world inside out, just like he had then.
Stunned, Pam said the first thing that came to her mind.
"What the fuck are you doing here?"
Her voice rang through the silence, stopping short as the snow swallowed the echo.
Eric didn't answer. He merely kept her in that frozen stare that had brought fear into his enemies' hearts for an entire millennia. His face was devoid of expression.
And suddenly, Pam understood.
He had finally decided to chase her down.
She had been expecting it. What she did had been intolerable, unforgivable. And Eric was a Viking. If anyone could hold a grudge, it was him. Twenty years was nothing in that aspect.
The only thing that puzzled her a little bit was the fact that he had waited until now.
"You're in luck." she said. Her voice was steady. "It just so happens that I have spent the night burning bridges. I won't be missed for long."
Eric's face remained deadpan.
"I know." he said.
Pam had the time to briefly wonder how exactly it was going to happen. Then, the snow on the ground where Eric had been standing burst into a cloud as he sped towards her.
She had closed her eyes, and it took her several long seconds to realize that Eric was embracing her, hiding her face softly against his chest, wrapping his strong arms around her shivering back. A few more seconds passed before she had the strength to return the embrace. The ever falling snow tickled her cheeks as she looked up at her maker. It didn't seem as if he was about to stake her.
"But… what about Sookie?" Pam mumbled, at a loss of words. Eric was the only one who could do that to her.
For a short moment, Eric's gaze became slightly vacant, but it was over so quickly that Pam wasn't sure if she'd imagined it or not.
"Sookie has been dead for some time." he said. "But not by your hand."
Pam could only stare at him.
"The blast broke the barrier." Eric continued. "And Bill had his wrist shoved into her mouth in two seconds flat. By the time we had gotten rid of the witch, she was as good as new. After that… we both had our rounds with her during the years that passed, but she never gave herself completely to either of us ever again. I wanted to turn her, but she blatantly refused each time I brought it up. She would never give up the foolish idea of herself as a normal girl, destined for a normal life. It grew to be really obnoxious."
The snowfall was subsiding, and if Pam had been able to break her focus from Eric's face, she would have seen the night sky starting to manifest over the rooftops as the clouds dispersed.
"Then; when her brother was killed in an effort to protect Jessica during a situation that she had provoked, Sookie turned her back on vampires once and for all. She returned to the faeries."
Eric's voice had become deeper, darker, but his expression didn't change.
"She is even more dead to this world now than we are." he concluded.
Pam realized that she had been holding on to Eric's coat tight, as if a part of her was convinced that he would leave at any moment. It was very possible. Even if Pam hadn't caused Sookie's death, her betrayal remained. By going against Eric's will and ignoring his orders, she hadn't given him any reason to ever trust her again.
Without breaking their eye-contact, Eric lifted his gloved hand to stroke his fingers along her cheek. It wasn't until she noticed the red stains on it that Pam realized she was crying.
"I am here to tell you two things." Eric said. "Firstly; I was wrong."
Pam couldn't help parting her lips in surprise. Throughout the entire time she had known him, she had never heard him say those words with sincerity.
"In my rage, I was convinced that I had to have you gone or dead to make up for what you did. I was sure of that for a long time. It wasn't until much later, when I was forced to review my decisions as of late, that I begun to understand my mistake."
Eric's hand had slid down to Pam's shoulder and was resting there as if to emphasize his words.
"I never told you this; but back in Dallas when Godric was about to meet the sun, I would have done anything, or killed anyone, in order to keep him alive. Nothing would have stopped me, not even his word. Such was the extent of my loyalty."
Pam faintly felt the icy wind caressing the wetness beneath her eyes.
"What I had ruled as treachery from your side," Eric said, his gaze more intense now than ever, "was in fact a display of the same unquestionable loyalty that I would have shown my maker. I had, and still have, underestimated just how much of myself is in you."
Looking into his eyes, there was no doubt. Eric was honest. He meant every word.
And though he didn't say it, Pam knew him well enough to read between the lines. He was sorry.
She was forgiven.
Wiping her tears away as elegantly as she could, she cleared her throat.
Eric's expression had been concerned as he watched her, but as she spoke, a smile begun at the corner of his mouth.
"Secondly; I am getting sick and tired of doing all the dirty work myself." he said. "And believe me, there is a lot of it these days."
"Yes." Pam said. "I would like to come back."
"As if I would have ever allowed you to refuse." Eric smirked, offering Pam his arm.
It was 5 AM, but there was still a few hours of darkness left. As they approached the city center, the streetlights combined with the twinkling Christmas decorations made the night almost as bright as the day. Pam could not recall the last time her steps had been so light.
"Where are we going?" she asked.
"Since we both have had our share of snow, I was thinking somewhere dry." Eric said.
Pam raised an eyebrow, and Eric shot her an amused glance.
"The rednecks turned Fangtasia to cinders a few years back, so don't worry." he said. "Good money though, and I was finished with that place anyway. I have something else going on."
They came to a halt in front of a fancy apartment building. Pam wrinkled her brow.
The area was only two blocks away from her flat.
Eric pulled up a set of keys from his front pocket.
"We are going to make a pit stop here." he said, letting her in.
The apartment was furnished, well lit and had a custom, vampire-friendly bedroom. Into the smallest detail, it was fit to Eric's taste.
He had been living here for some time.
"You have got to be freaking kidding me…!" Pam said, shaking her head in disbelief.
"What, you didn't think you wowed all those big shots so fast without a little backup, did you?"
For the first time in twenty years, Pam's smile reached her eyes.
A/N: This fic was my contribution to the 'Sookie's Secret Santa' fic-exchange (I highly recommend everyone joining in next year, it was great fun). My recipient (vicvega66) had wished for an AU, and though I had no real experience with it, I decided to try it out.
When I did my homework, I saw that there are quite a few different definitions of the genre, but I believe I succeeded somewhat nonetheless. What do you think? What makes a good AU to you?
Thanks for reading, and thanks again to vicvega66 for giving me this challenge. Merry Christmas!