Read this author's note! This picks up three days after Eric gets Sookie's letter. Oh, and Tara doesn't really fit too much into this story, so I've axed her via her whole stupid tan machine suicide attempt, but Sookie doesn't know. Eric does know about Tara and Debbie though, because Pam told him all about it already. Creative license.
Alright, the story's here, after five fucking rewrites and more than 20 days of work to write the whole frigging thing. Enjoy and review!
Disclaimer time! I do not own the characters in this story. Only the plot is mine, along with any original characters I may introduce. Everything is the property of Charlaine Harris, HBO and Alan Ball. Disclaimer applies to this entire story.
Going to Sookie was an exercise in dimness. Every step I took to her porch was like a sun ray getting dimmed by the boughs of a tree. In some ways, that was born of our separation, a remembrance of her words on that agonizing night with Bill.
In my amnesia, I had thought of her as the sun - now that we weren't really together by any means, that sun was now dimmed by the shadows of disjointedness.
Even so, I still took each measured step to her door. My hand rose up and knocked twice on the wood, while my eyes scanned her property out of sheer habituation. My fiery Stackhouse and I had made a deal to meet at eight, and my internal clock told me that I'd arrived a hundred and twenty seconds early. Points for me.
Five seconds barely passed before she was opening the door with a smile on her face.
"How I've missed your smile," I whispered to myself as I saw her, leaning in for a stolen kiss on the cheek. Given the precarious nature of this meeting, I simply didn't want to overstep.
"Come on in," she said, stepping aside so I could enter her house.
Immediately upon entering, I was assaulted with the memories and the history, of the place. It was like coming home in more ways than one. Quite against my own wishes, I found myself pulling Sookie towards my body.
The ensuing comfort was too welcome to be complained about. Much to my own benefit and surprise, she didn't pull away at all.
Nuzzling her hair, I whispered an apology, just loud enough for her to hear. "I don't mean to be this forward, I swear to you, but I cannot resist any longer. You've been gone too long."
At my own words, I found myself counting the days that she'd been gone. In the scheme of things, it wasn't a great length of time, but I'd felt our separation too acutely to find any solace. Thankfully, our closeness was a balm to the wounds we both had suffered.
For my part, our connection by blood alerted me to her emotions. On the outside, Sookie was fine. On the inside, I could feel her taking much comfort from my sudden gesture, as it were. I didn't really mind, so I let her. In the silence of her foyer, we just stood for a while, my nose nuzzling her hair and her mouth making sounds of comfort and approval.
Even with the rather stiff set of her body, my suddenness had a better result than I would have ever expected. But then, as with all good things, our mutual seeking of comfort eventually came to an end. Of course I was reluctant to let her go.
For a moment, kissing her senseless seemed more viable than actually talking about our present problems. Sure as hell, it would be more pleasurable than speaking of the Authority, or of Russell Edgington. Even so, I knew it would be a fleeting source of satisfaction that offered no lasting happiness. Better to just face the damned problem instead of hiding in the shadows like a mouse.
"Shall we talk?" I asked her.
"We shall." She pointed to the living room. "Get yourself comfy and I'll be back with your True Blood soon enough."
I shook my head. "I am not hungry," I told Sookie. "At least, not for that vile substance. I would rather have you, if you are offering?"
"Not on your life. Or death. Whatever."
"Point taken." I pointed to the exact same place she did. "We must talk."
"We're not even in the living room yet, Eric."
I carried her all of a sudden, speeding away to set her down on the armchair I knew she liked. "Easily remedied as you can see," I told her. I settled on the chair right across. "Does your offer to fight still stand?"
"Of course it does. Like I told you, I'm tired of running. I mean, with Debbie and Tara, I'm just tired of all this shit. I'm facing this head on."
Hearing her speak of her friend and that were-bitch Pelt caused a bit of alarm on my end. I already knew. Carefully studying her face, I asked her, "What are you talking about? What of Debbie and that friend of yours?" I was lying about my lack of knowledge, blatantly.
My question had her back-tracking quick enough. "It's nothing, Eric."
"Bullshit." I leaned in closer to let her feel the full weight of my stare, satisfied with the way she flinched at the closeness. "I can read your face, Sookie. You are evading me."
I needed her honesty. After all, maybe my child had left certain details out regarding the whole Debbie-Tara debacle. "How am I to protect in the midst of what is to come if you insist on hiding things from me?" I went over to sit next to her. "Dear one, I must know what happened. I cannot protect you if I know nothing of what you need from me."
"Eric, I appreciate it, okay?" For a moment, I was distracted by the softness of her hand on my cheek. "But please, just let it go."
I cradled her face in my hands, our faces so close they were almost touching. "I cannot let it go, my Sookie. You are already more agitated, so this is most likely something of significance. I need to know, especially now."
Another lie, but she needed to learn to share things if this whole defeat-the-Authority thing was going to succeed.
"Why are you so pushy?"
"Stubborn girl." I kissed her forehead, and then her lips, very lightly. "I must know because I love you, and I will not break my promise to protect you as well." It was true. I was no oath-breaker.
She was debating, I could see that much. Her eyes were filled with the uncertainty and fear of telling me. Judging just by the set of her face and the sudden increase in her heart rate, I knew she was worried about my reaction.
I had no idea why though, it wasn't as if I was a stranger to death or something. Sure, I did live as a monk one time, but then the blood from the nuns did prove surprisingly good.
When she finally spoke, it was so fast I wouldn't have caught it if I were human. "I killed Debbie Pelt because she shot Tara and now I'm still in denial, plus Tara's now a vampire." She slowed down. "I'm not okay. I'm still reeling inside."
She went still, as if reliving the entire ordeal. I went into survival mode. "Where is Pelt's body?" Pam had neglected to tell me that.
"It's been disposed of. I'm afraid of the police though."
"Don't be. I'll take care of it if it comes up. Any further shockers you need to tell me?" I didn't comment that I already knew of what happened to that friend of hers, nor the fact that she was already a finally-dead vampire. I would cross that bridge when it came.
Sookie shook her head, so I enveloped her in a hug. She was surprised, but didn't resist. "I do not care much for the death of your friend, but I have known what loss and grief can be like. I am here for you."
My feisty yet frail girl burrowed deeper into our embrace. The close contact calmed me as nothing else did. It filled me with a sense of comfort and belonging that I was sure I had no right to feel, but I didn't care one bit. Sookie was no longer mine, but in this moment, it felt as if that were untrue.
We stayed like that for the longest time, until she finally broke away, saying, "Thank you for that, Eric. I didn't expect you to care, but I'm glad you did."
"Anytime," I said. "Can we move on to the plans against the Authority now?" I didn't know any other topic to move on to. I couldn't very well tell her about Nora and my indiscretions. At least, not yet. If I did, I'd get thrown out, I was sure.
"You have something in mind, Viking? You just spaced out on me there."
"Ah yes, sorry." I composed myself. "To simplify things, all of us are in search and destroy mode. I have every possible resource attuned to finding Russell Edgington, as well as finding out who released him."
"What's happening on the Authority's end?"
"They have already tried to plant bugs inside my office at Fangtasia, to no avail. Pam routinely sweeps the bar for such things. They have issued an ultimatum though, which is actually more of a reminder that our lives are at stake."
I couldn't even bring myself to laugh at the pun. Sookie said, "How exactly do you plan to win this entire thing? From the limited things I know, the Authority is crazy-powerful."
"It is, yes. That success is owed to the brains of the chancellors. Even so, there is in-fighting and more than a few instances of rebellion already. We can use that to our advantage."
"But aren't they old? Surely if they head the Authority, they must be big names among your kind, right?"
Her natural logic pleased me. I said, "Politically they are, but age isn't necessarily on their side. Roman is only 500, while Chancellors Rosalyn and Alexander are around the same range. Dieter, Salome and Kibwe are another matter though. We need to deal with those three from a careful standpoint or we will lose."
"I wish Godric was here."
My heart constricted with her words. The loss of my maker was still a gaping hole in my chest, a chasm of pain that continued to exist inside me. Sookie sensed my agitation and immediately apologized for her supposed tactlessness.
I forgave her. "I wish he was here too. He would have been much help. There is another source, but we cannot count on that as of yet."
"Really? Who? What source?"
"Our source is a she. And she is exceedingly volatile, very elite and hard to get on your side. We cannot count on her, as I said. Not at this point."
Sookie seemed satisfied enough by my answer. Scratching her jaw once, she said, "So, what about my end of the bargain? What do I do to help?"
"Your value lies not only in your telepathy, but also your attitude. Like I told you, Fairy Sookie is a staunch survivalist. It would do us all much good to let her out. At least, try to let her out more often. We need her."
"I can try," she said. "Any specific tasks though?"
"You seem eager," I teased.
"This is as much about saving my ass as it is about yours." A smile went on my face when she didn't mention Bill, but I old her to continue. "So," she said, "I need to let out Fairy Sookie a bit more and go all warrior-princess on all this."
"Very good." I paused to think about what I was going to say next. I wasn't sure if Sookie would balk or accept. I anticipated the former.
"You spaced out again. Something's up with you tonight." Oh, she knew me so well.
"Well, this is an important thing to say." I locked eyes with her. "Will you go with me to Europe, Sookie?"
"What?" Her face was an odd mix of surprise and indignation.
I tried to cover all my bases and think of all the possible ways to convince her. "Many of the oldest vampires in the world reside on that continent. If we are to even hope for success, we will need to go where the resources are."
"I can't just leave! Tara is still out there!"
I didn't have the heart to tell her of the lies I'd just perpetuated. Pam had reported the idiot youngster's suicide via the tanning machine, and I cared nothing of it. For one, the Tara wouldn't have served my bloodline well, nor was she even accepting of the vampire race. In the end, she was a liability, so her death was a good thing for me.
I opted for deflection. "Sookie, you promised to fight with me."
"I did, and I still am, but you know going to Europe isn't a choice right now."
"It is not a choice. It is the choice we need to make if we desire survival. Only ancient ones would possibly be able to stand against the Authority, and this country has virtually no vampires who fit that qualification. Do you want us all to die?"
"Eric, don't put this all on me."
"I'm not, dear one. I'm just making you aware of the stakes. If we do not proactively seek out my allies, we will all be destroyed. I will die, and so will Bill. In the event of our true deaths, the Authority will get wind of your talents. That's a life you would not want, and I don't wish servitude on you."
That seemed to get her attention, so I continued with the scenarios. If scaring her was what secured her agreement, then I was happy to paint all possible worst-case situations. Knowing the Authority, my scenarios were close to the truth anyway.
By the end of my speech, Sookie was trembling slightly in fear, and her eyes were beginning to glisten with her unshed tears.
It was time for damage control. Speaking soothingly, I said, "I don't wish for you to cower in fear, merely to make the right choice. Our survival depends on you and I being willing to make hard choices, and this is one of them. For you, at least."
"What about Bill? Has he got no say in your plan?"
"I have no enduring interest in the survival of Bill Compton. He is of no use when it comes to planning, neither does he bring much to the table in a fight. The vampires I know are far above his status and would never care about him anyway. He matters little."
Sookie resigned herself to what I said, evidently unable to provide any rebuttal. What could Compton provide anyway, besides a few resources granted by his kingship? Nothing. I would need to handle this my way, and we both knew it.
"I should have known you'd never include him," she said, with a hint of sadness. "Eric, is there really no other alternative except going to Europe?"
"It is imperative," I said. "I have more allies there than here, and Pam can deal with the Authority's efforts to have me tracked. She is capable of managing all that happens in America."
It was true. I trusted no one more than I trusted Pamela, and I knew I still had a lot to make up for. She would be more than able to take care of things while Sookie and I worked in Europe to secure support.
Many long moments passed before the current target of my persuasion spoke. Luckily, her words were what I hoped for. "If there's really no other choice, then it looks like we have to go. You promise Jason will be perfectly safe here?"
"I will arrange round-the-clock security for him, if you wish it. Call the shifter too. Tell him you need time off work and that I will provide replacements."
"How long should I ask for?"
"Indefinitely." Her eyes grew wide, but she didn't push the issue. She did as I asked and told Merlotte of the fact that she needed time off. I listened in and he let her have it, just as I expected. Fucking gentle oaf that he was, he wasn't able to resist Sookie at all.
Finally, I said, "I just want to be clear on this. Are you agreeing to go, dear one?"
"Uh, yes? I just told you that."
"Well, that's good. I just wanted to ensure your consent one last time." Without another word, I carried her off at vampire speed to my Corvette. She shrieked the whole way, but I had her buckled in pretty quickly. I even managed to lock her front door on my way out.
"Eric, what the hell?"
"You consented, right? No time like the present, dearest. We're leaving right now."
Before she could protest, I was already backing out of her driveway. Soon enough, we were on the road to Shreveport, preparing ourselves to go to Europe. It was the one continent that would help save our perpetually-endangered lives.
At least we could go sight-see as we worked, and I would finally get to breathe in the Stockholm air I missed so very much.
Another note! So, that's the first chap. I wrote and rewrote this entire story so goddamn much, which is why it took so long. As of this writing, this chapter version is the sixth. Crazy. Anyhow, posting schedule will be every two days, alright? Next chap is in Sookie's POV. Review!