When Warlow awoke he was back inside his hotel room. It was day. For a blissful second he allowed himself to believe it had all been a nightmare, that he'd never left the room last night. Then he saw the blood on his shirt. He sniffed to be sure. Fairy blood. Damn it! Damn it all to hell! He yanked the shirt off and brought it over to the bathroom sink. He plugged the drain and turned on the cold water. After the sink filled he dunked his shirt into the bowl. He used hand soap to scrub the stains. As he clean he caught a glimpse of his face in the mirror. It appeared his shirt wasn't the only place he'd left blood. He raised a wet hand to wipe the dark stain away, then stopped. What was the point? He never, ever be truly clean. Why should he even bother to mask his guilt?
Sookie's kind, beautiful face appeared in his mind's eye and he snorted in self-disgust. Yes, of course he needed to clean up. He needed to hide what a monster he was from the woman he loved so he could convince her to become a wretched being just like him. Nothing says "I love you" like turning a pure soul into a tormented being at constant war with herself. He'd thought back to how he'd rewarded Lillith for bestowing that gift on him.
No! It wasn't the same. Lillith had given him no choice and he would never force Sookie to do anything against her will. Sookie also would never have to suffer the guilt of taking innocent lives. He would feed on her and she on him, and no living soul would suffer for it. Warlow reminded himself that this wasn't just about him needing her. She also needed him.
If he'd arrivedin Bon Temps and found Sookie settled in her human life, happy and safe, he might have felt some reservation about his plan. In the short time he'd been here, however he'd learned she was neither safe, nor happy. She had told him herself how isolated she felt, how lonely. He could fix that. He could make her feel loved and valued and understood. He could protect her from any threat. He could make her so strong that she would never have to fear anything ever again.
Protect Sookie…that gave him an idea. Niall was guarding Sookie with only the help of Sookie's brother Jason. If he were to stumble across a fairy, or even a Halfling prepared to assist him, Niall would be a fool to refuse wouldn't he? It was the perfect way back in.
Warlow stared at his reflection in the bathroom mirror. He was undeniably a monster last night, but that didn't mean he had to be one forever. When Sookie was his, as destiny had decreed she would be, there would be no more slaughter, no more guilt. He'd never have to hurt anyone else again. That alone was reason enough to move forward with his plan.
Within the hour his face and shirt were clean and dry. Any evidence of last night's misconduct had been removed. He needed to find Niall. He sped to Sookie's house first to pick up the trial. The smell was nowhere near as overwhelming as it had been the night before. At least one good thing had come of the atrocity he had committed.
He pushed the thought away and focused on distinguishing the two fae smells of Sookie and Niall. Warlow singled out the thicker aroma tinged with tobacco and followed the trial. The hunt wasn't easy, thanks to Niall's fondness of hopping between planes, but after a few hours he'd managed to trace the scent back to Tibito Field. Had Niall tracked him here?
The King of the Fairies emerged from the doorway of the fairy club. Show time. He limped slightly toward Niall.
Are we kindred? Niall's voice asked inside his mind.
We are. He replied, smiling briefly.
"Um, my name's Ben. I heard that there is this fairy haven close by? This is Tibito Field, right? I've been searching for this place since yesterday, I can't find it!" Warlow figured it was good to have a pre-offered excuse on hand, in case Sookie asked how he'd escaped the massacre at the club.
"It was destroyed by a vampire." Niall informed him gravely.
"My God." The surprise is his voice may have been counterfeit, but the pang of sadness was not. Fairies may have hated and feared him since he'd become the half-beast he was today, but in his heart they were still his people.
"You're wounded." Niall had noticed the bandages Sookie had placed on his arm. It reminded him that the flesh beneath that the gauze was undoubtedly healed. He should probably reopen them the second he had a moment to himself, just in case Sookie wanted to inspect the wound.
"Yeah, uh, I was also attacked by a vampire. I was just looking for a safe place to rest. Like I said, I couldn't find the club. I've been searching for it all night. Were there any survivors?" As Warlow asked the question he couldn't help but wonder what answer he hoped to hear.
"No." Warlow was ashamed of the relief he felt upon hearing that no one would be able to identify him, "The vampire who did this? I've hunted him across centuries, across millennia. You see, he drained my entire village and reduced my parents to a pile of dust." Warlow walled of his mind to the memory Niall's word's threatened to call to the forefront. It was done and could not be changed.
"This vampire you speak of, is his name Warlow?" Warlow knew this story was in circulation among the fae, therefore it was possible that "Ben Flynn" would know the legend.
"Yes, it is."
"Shit." Warlow dropped to one knee and bend his head respectfully.
"What are you doing, son?" The fact that he was bowing should have been fairly obvious to the King.
"Forgive me, Your Highness, I just realized, you're Niall Brigant, you're the King of the Fae, right?" Warlow figured that by demonstrating knowledge of the fae hierarchy, he present himself in a more attractive light to Niall. Many halfings roamed the Earth with little knowledge of or control over their powers. Warlow needed Niall to see him as a valuable potential ally.
"You're right, but the pomp and the circumstance aren't necessary. Stand up, son. What did you say your name was?" Niall was exhibiting interest in him. Warlow's ploy was working.
"Ben. Ben Flynn." He could sense Niall's assessing gaze as he weighed "Ben Flynn"'s suitably for service.
"Well, Ben Flynn, because of a mistake one of my son's made many years ago Warlow believes he is entitled to my granddaughter Sookie." That wasn't entirely accurate. Warlow didn't think he was 'entitled', he didn't deserve her and he knew that. Fortunately for him his worth didn't determine his destiny.
"Sookie Stackhouse?" Niall's mentioning Sookie's name had given him the opportunity to nudge Niall a little further in the direction he wanted him to go.
"You know her?" Warlow looked away, a genuine smile on his face as he remembered his encounter with Sookie. He felt the ghost of her hands on his skin as she had gently tended to his wounds.
"Yeah, after I was attacked by the vampire she found me, she took me to her home, she showed me great kindness." Warlow had given Niall ever reason to draft him into his service. "Ben" was a Halfling who acknowledged Niall as his King and who personally owed Sookie a favor.
"I came to this club, Ben Flynn, in the hopes of assembling an army of Fae so I could hunt Warlow down and I found you. Are you prepared to return Sookie's kindness?" Warlow struggled to kept the triumphant smile from his face. Niall had taken the bait.
"It would be a privilege. It would be an honor." Niall smiled at Warlow warmly and put an arm around his shoulder.
"Let's go." As they walked together Warlow couldn't help enjoy the sense of camaraderie Niall's one armed embrace invoked. The paternal approval felt good, despite the fact that it was built on false pretenses. He scolded himself for being so foolish. Sookie was the objective here, not Niall. Not only was Niall a threat, but he was the worst sort of threat, the kind that was both dangerous and hard to eliminate.
Warlow had managed to avoid killing Niall all these years by staying constantly on the run. He'd chosen the life of a fugitive, not because he was a coward, but because he did not want to hurt the child he'd managed to spare. He had wanted their line and their people to continue.
Niall was an old man now, and had provided the world with multiple offspring, but that didn't make Warlow more anxious to kill him. Sookie knew Niall now, and given her loving nature, had probably developed affectionate feelings toward him. Warlow had already taken Sookie's parents from her, he was loath to deprive her of any more family. He needed to be very careful with Niall, very careful indeed.