Never End Ch. 24

Chapter Twenty-Four

 

Chapter Twenty-four: Dirty Dealings

Mmm,” Sookie grinned with a delicious stretch, “that’s the best night I’ve had in a while.”

Eric laughed as he pulled his Mate lazily against his side, “Every night with you is the best.” Smiling at the sentiment, Sookie stroked his cheek while subduing a cringe. “Are you all right?” he asked softly.

The sun’s coming soon. I should let the girls out,” Sookie told him.

Ah, yes,” The pair rose from bed, dressing sparsely for the brief excursion outdoors. “You remember that Ludwig requested I keep us aware as long as possible, correct?”

Oh, yeah. I forgot,” Sookie admitted.

It is important that you alert me if it is becoming too much for you,” Eric explained. “Being as young as you are, you will be quite stressed, regardless of irritations. I do not want you succumbing to the bleeds though, so I would request that you make me aware of any discomfort as soon as it occurs.”

What do you mean by ‘discomfort’?” Sookie asked while she ushered Mags and Junes out the door.

Burning sensations would be the first thing you would notice,” Eric told her. “They are very mild in the beginning. Pressure behind your eyes and in your ears would follow that, coupled with a sensation of fatigue. Finally, just before the bleeds begin, you will feel a very uncomfortable pressure on your chest, which can cause the young ones to begin panting out of old habit. If you begin panting, I will let us rest, but I would request that you not let me take you that far.”

Does sun sickness cause any damage?” Sookie asked while the dogs galloped around the yard.

It can cause weakness into the following evening,” Eric informed her. “Insatiable thirst is often another symptom.”

You don’t like the idea of doing this, do you?” she guessed.

I do not,” He shook his head.

Why?” Sookie asked, shivering slightly as the sun grew closer to the horizon.

You are only two nights old, and have already had to deal with so much more than a normal newborn. I fear that the physical stress this will put you under is asking too much,” he confessed sadly.

Well, I promise not to push myself too hard today,” Sookie assured him, giving his arm a comforting squeeze. “If I feel any burning sensations, I’ll let you know immediately.”

You promise?” he asked quietly.

I really, really do. I won’t push myself on this.”

All right. Mags! Junes!” he called. “Inside!”

The pair turned back to the door while the dogs came loping back toward them, and Eric quickly flicked the locks before heading to the front door and arming the security system for the day.

Is there anything you want to bring into the room with us?” Eric asked.

Why?”

It might be a long day,” he pointed out. “With my age, you might be able to stay aware rather comfortably for several daylight hours. I do not wish you to get bored.”

Grinning impishly, she asked, “How could I be bored with a Viking in my bed?”

Shaking his head amusedly, Eric told her, “Unfortunately, I will not be ravaging you during the day. I want you aware of your body on a much more investigative scale. If you intend on informing me of discomforts, they will be more difficult to discern while writhing underneath me.”

Oh, foo,” Sookie pouted, giving her foot a playful stomp. “All right, let me grab a couple books,” She skipped toward his office to quickly peruse his bookshelves and returned with several different leather bindings. “What language is this in?” She held up a rather impressive-looking volume.

Tilting his head to read the spine, he said, “German.”

Is it any good?”

Quite.”

Will you read it to me?” she requested.

It is very emotional,” he confessed. “It does not have a happy ending.”

Considering his statement for a moment, Sookie grinned, “Then read it to me in German. I won’t understand a word of it, but I get to hear you talking all sexy in a foreign language.”

Eric laughed, “German is a sexy language?”

Sookie shrugged, “Sure, why not?”

Shaking his head, Eric took her free hand and lead her to the bedroom. They curled up together under the covers and Sookie giggled when her Bonded brought them over their heads.

Well, I think we’ve talked enough,” she grinned at him through the darkness of their makeshift tent. “I know what you want from me and what you expect of yourself. You’ve got a pretty good handle on my expectations. What do you say we just veg out until we can’t take it anymore?”

Letting out a relieved sigh, Eric nodded, “Would you like me to read to you?”

Yes, please.”

Before Eric could crack open the book Sookie had selected, she succumbed to the rising sun. “Sookie,” Eric boomed, initiating his Maker’s Command, “rise.”

The young vampire did not budge, and at Eric’s second command, he realized that she would not.

Reaching for his phone, Eric dialed the doctor.

She will not remain aware?” Ludwig’s voice came over the phone.

Not at all. She is too young,” Eric told her. “I cannot fathom a magic that could raise a two-night-old. Even between my age and our Bond, I do not see her resisting the morning sun until she is at least a decade old. She is able to rise shortly after me in the early evening, though,” he offered.

I suppose I was being unreasonably optimistic. Still, the tests I have run are particularly interesting.”

How so?” Eric asked curiously.

I used part of a sample in daylight. It did not smolder,” Ludwig chittered. “Your blood did not either.”

What does that mean?” he pressed for more information.

It remains to be seen. Maybe in a decade or so, your Mate will be able to show us more, but currently, you are right. She is too young. It might be closer to a century before she starts showing us of what she is truly capable.”

I find that disconcerting,” Eric admitted with a scowl.

I am certain that you do,” the doctor agreed. “Regardless, all tests indicate that she has rather reasonable variations than a normal vampire. Have you tried mixing honey with her blood?”

Not yet,” Eric confessed. “With the trial, we were under much scrutiny. I did not wish to risk questions if anyone smelled the additive.”

I see.”

Her transition is particularly worrisome.”

There are more concerns with her vampiric powers?”

No,” The Viking looked down at his unconscious Mate. “I fear Godric was right, and that I was too young to create a Bonded Mate.”

That was not really up to you. Trust me when I say that the compulsion to Bond is not a fickle one. Had you truly been consumed with doubts, you would have run. There is no running now, and I know that you would not wish to.”

I would not,” he agreed.

Viking, I like this Mate of yours. You know I do not say such things easily.”

I feel juvenile around her,” he admitted.

That is to be expected. Bonding is not something for which one can prepare.”

Godric and Emily-”

Are not you and Sookie!” Ludwig snapped. “Tell me a single hardship that befell them in this century! They have overcome no obstacles together. Emily never knew the hardships and anguishes that have consumed your Mate. Their story is not yours.”

When did you become a psychiatrist?” Eric teased.

Northman, mental health is not one I take much interest in. I am more capable at diagnosing and treating physical ailments and afflictions,” Ludwig paused a moment before adding, “Still, as I said, I like your Mate. She is the only newborn I have encountered in the last several decades that has not annoyed the hell out of me. Right now, she needs her Bonded to be strong because her hardships are nowhere near over. If that means I must fortify your resolve and confidence, then I will do so.”

That is what worries me.”

That she will need to endure far more?”

Yes.”

Ludwig paused to consider the vampire’s confession, “Merely remember that Bonding is the pinnacle of the vampire experience, one that you will bask in until your True Death. It is a transformation not only for that baby vampire in your bed, but for you as well. Be prepared to experience and feel things you never knew you could. That means your responses will need to be relearned as well.”

I allowed mercy for a vampire who I should have condemned. All for Sookie.”

Was she a threat?”

“… No.”

Then do not fret.”

My reputation-”

Rides coach to your Bonded.”

Yes, of course,” Eric nodded though the doctor could not see him. “I suppose that while she is unconscious, I should take the time to reflect and meditate on our new situations.”

That would be advisable. Call me when you discover further developments.”

Of course, Doctor.”

Eric quickly hung up and leaned back into bed. His arm unconsciously wrapped around her bare shoulder, and he pulled her snugly to his side. Tracing his thumb along the curve of her jaw, Eric considered his multitude of fuck-ups the previous evening, beginning with his snapping at her in the car, to bursting past her once they returned home, only to lock himself away in the den. Truly, he had acted like a child the previous night, but there was no taking it back.

Relearning his responses would take far greater work than he had thought. Unlike creating a typical Child, there was little to no room separating his emotions from Sookie’s. Her humanlike responses and emotions were bewildering, to say the least. Those, coupled with vampiric intensity were overwhelming. Her anger at herself had gotten the better of him, and he had unwittingly snapped.

I will just have to love you that much more, my Bonded,” Eric whispered as he twirled a long golden lock around his fingertip. “How can someone so perfect hate herself so much? So much, in fact, that you overwhelmed my love for you with anger? Please do not hate yourself, Dear One. I love you far too much to wish to be forced to feel such a way about you.”

{†}

Something’s different,” Sookie rose abruptly.

Hmm?” Eric purred, his hand buried in her hair.

I feel different,” she said, sounding somewhat surprised.

Different how?” he pressed for her to continue though he remained lazily on his side, finger-combing her hair.

Good different,” she assured him. “There’s this underlying calmness in me… I guess that’s you?”

It is,” he confirmed, bringing a lock of her hair to his nose and breathing it in. “I realized many things while you rested. The most important being that I was unwittingly being influenced by your emotions. I have never truly known the repercussions of another’s emotions and I was just as blinded as you were by your presence within me. I allowed you to overpower me and I reacted to that poorly.”

Power play?” she asked.

Not so much,” he shook his head. “It was not a reaction to being overpowered. It was a reaction to being consumed. I was overwhelmed by your anger toward yourself, and it was too late for me to realize that I was not angry.”

So, I was so mad at myself last night that I actually made you angry at me?” Sookie observed.

Something like that. My anger was not directed toward you. Though you and I know what the other is feeling, we do not know what causes those feelings. I was angry, but not at you. Does that make sense?”

Enough,” she supposed. “So, are you going to be Mr. Zen Master now to try to give me an undercurrent of calm without making me calm?”

Nothing quite so underhanded. I am merely trying to find myself in the center of your storm. This undercurrent you speak of is just a side effect.” Sighing, Sookie began to rise from bed. “Are you all right?”

Fine,” she replied, looking for an outfit to lay out before taking her shower. “I’ve just been in bed a whole lot lately. I want to move around. I feel a bit restless.”

Eric rolled out of bed as well and met her between the bathroom and the closet. “Company?” he asked, making his Bonded smile.

Of course.”

Their shower took the remaining time before true dark, and Eric felt anticipation for getting out of the house. He was just as unaccustomed to spending so much time at home though he had grown more and more familiar with it since meeting Sookie.

Where would you like to go?” Eric asked after they had taken Mags and Junes for their nightly run.

Fangtasia?”

Really?” He was surprised she wished to return there.

Sookie shrugged, “I…sort of want a donor,” she admitted bashfully.

Grinning at her confession, Eric kissed the top of her head, “Then a donor is what you shall have!”

Wow, you really are excited about seeing me suck on someone else’s neck!” she taunted as he opened the car door for her.

I am excited about anything you do that exhibits vampire behavior.”

I thought you liked my uniqueness,” she teased, sticking her tongue out at him.

Chuckling, Eric took her hand in his and gave it a kiss, “Always, but with the variations you have shown, you cannot fault me too much for being relieved at brief glimpses of normalcy.”

It’s sort of a relief to me,” she sighed, leaning back into her seat as they drove away. “I wish there was stuff to do at night so that I could bring Mags and Junes with us,” she said after a few minutes of silence. “I hate how much time they spend without me.”

Perhaps you are right,” Eric replied.

Oh, you’re not going to try and convince me to give them away, are you?” Sookie moaned.

Of course not,” Eric shook his head. “I was actually thinking that maybe we could move up north for a while. I could step down from my duties as Sheriff, we could move north, and spend the next decade or so spending quality time with the girls, letting you find yourself again.”

You wouldn’t get bored?” Sookie asked quietly.

Eric actually laughed at that, “Dear One, I could never get bored with anything that involved you. Besides, it would not be the first time I have lived reclusively.”

I’ll think about it,” she relented after a moment’s consideration.

That is all I ask,” he nodded while pulling into the Fangtasia parking lot. He frowned at the overabundance of cars for so early on a weekday.

Shaking off the suspicion, Eric went to Sookie’s door and opened it for her. She tentatively took his hand and began looking around anxiously.

What is it?” Eric asked, his body on high alert with her unease. The excessive amount of vehicles became a red flag.

I have a bad feeling,” Sookie answered apprehensively. “The minds here are strange. I feel like I’m being spammed.”

Spammed?” Eric asked while they moved toward the club.

Yeah, Jason used to do it to me all the time. When he really didn’t want me to listen to him, he’d intentionally think really hard about trivial matters. If I asked him something, he’d ignore me and just keep thinking stupid things,” she explained.

As the couple entered the back door, and then proceeded through to the club floor, Sookie was nearly blinded by the onslaught of flashbulbs.

Detective! Detective!” a voice yelled. “When did you become a telepath!?”

What do you hear?”

Can you access privileged information!?”

The public has a right to know if their privacy has been breached!”

Sookie stumbled back into Eric’s chest at the abusive strobes of flashes. There were several phones recording her as well as taking her picture. More phones were being used as recorders, and judging by the state of the press agents’ dress, they had made their way into Fangtasia disguised as club goers.

Excuse me! EXCUSE ME!” a voice boomed above the collected paparazzi. The blitz of flashes ceased as a man in a black suit and tie shoved his way through the ring of reporters. “I am Special Agent Tallouis with the FBI. Ms. Stackhouse, I need you to come with me.”

Eric made a move to come between the agent and his Bonded, but Sookie took his forearm and shook her head. “It’s all right, Eric,” she whispered. Turning back to Tallouis, she nodded, gesturing for him to lead the way. When they passed the front door, Pam’s eyes were wide and confused. “It’ll be okay,” she whispered hoarsely to her Bonded’s Child.

Agent Tallouis opened the back door of a nondescript, black car and ushered the vampire inside. Sookie was not surprised to see the vampire sitting next to her.

Magister,” Sookie tried to keep the worry out of her voice.

A telepath, eh?” Jorge shook his head. “I thought there was something special about you.”

It’s just the media. I don’t know where they get this crap,” she complained. “The precinct knows I’m hyper-observant. It was probably just a bad joke going around the departments that the reporters ran with.”

Is that all?” he asked, looking deceptively disappointed.

Yes,” Sookie told him firmly.

Well, bad joke or not, you have put us in quite the position,” the Magister shook his head.

Sookie frowned, asking, “What do you mean?”

Vampires can remain in the public eye as a whole, baby vampire. We cannot protect our dealings when a single one of our kind jumps in the limelight.”

Believe me, there was no jumping. I was pushed!” Sookie snapped, frustrated that the Magister was trying to paint her into a corner. The whole charade of media and government officials was just a slew of normal humans that had been glamoured into playing a role and hopefully scare the newborn vampire into showing her hand. Worse yet, Sookie could not call the Magister out on his farce without giving herself away.

Be that as it may, you are our unwanted poster child. World-wide, do you know the name that falls from the lips of humans when they are asked to name a vampire? I will give you a hint. She’s three nights old,” he was smirking in a way that unsettled Sookie.

I can’t help that. Sophie-Anne-”

Is truly dead, and we can’t bring her back for another staking now, can we?” Jorge asked. “The Council has decreed that you be erased.”

Sookie swallowed hard, “I’m Bonded! You can’t without a trial!”

Only if it meant we were planning on ending your existence. No, no… We have no interest in extinguishing the Viking’s flame. As a matter of fact, he has become almost compliant since Bonding, especially now that we have a string of his that we can pull at our need and desire.”

I won’t let you,” Sookie hissed. “You have no evidence to support your claim!”

Do we really need it? If we allow the media to run this story about you, the real FBI and CIA will come knocking. They do not hold much respect for Bonded vampires.”

Tell me what you want, and I’ll tell you what I’m willing to give.”

I want to give you an opportunity, Sookie,” Jorge grinned at her. “The opportunity to have a free, clean start to your new existence. I want to give you a purpose for that gift of yours. That is what you wanted, wasn’t it?”

Sookie’s eyes narrowed, “You glamoured my brother.”

Why would you say such a thing?” Jorge actually frowned. Was the Stackhouse boy wrong? Can she hear vampires too?

Jason is the only one other than Eric that I told I needed a purpose for my hyper-observation!” Sookie spat. “I know for damn certain Eric wouldn’t tell you such a thing about me. Jason, though… He can be glamoured.”

If I did glamour your brother, do you really think you can hide behind the pretenses of hyper-observation?”

You will never hear me call it anything else,” Sookie spat. “Besides, how can you think I’m telepathic? Why the hell would I walk into a club full of reporters, knowing what they were about to bombard me with?”

Oh, Sookie,” Jorge shook his head, “you are boring me with your resistance. I am a busy, busy vampire. Let us cut through this pretense and get to the point,” ‘You will tell me soon enough whether you are telepathic or not’, “I am offering you the chance to disappear once and for all. The Council is prepared to utilize the world’s strongest coven and do a mass memory wipe. You and your Bloodline as well as a few choice representatives,” he straightened his tie importantly, “will be the only ones in existence that will remember who or what you are. You can explore a limitless existence! No friends or family to mourn you. No enemies. No spotlight to shy away from. Wouldn’t the world be so much more exciting for you if you did not have to hide?”

Assuming that what you think of me is true, what do you get out of it?” Sookie demanded.

The Magister’s grin returned, “We would, of course, request your assistance in human and two-natured investigations. Only the most controversial, of course. Much like the Ancient Pythoness, we would only drag you out of the cupboard for special occasions.”

And what would I do when not at your beck and call?” Sookie asked through her clenched teeth.

Whatever you wish, travel, become a recluse. I do not care. Merely stay out of the limelight and refrain from creating new enemies whenever possible. Perhaps you can teach your Viking some restraint in that regard at the same time.”

I don’t want to be your lap dog, Sir,” Sookie reached for the door handle. “Besides, even if I were a telepath as a mortal, it doesn’t mean that I still am.”

Think about it, Youngling. Talk to your Mate about what you are being told to do.”

Told or asked?” Sookie looked at him sharply.

You might find you will not be asked again. You might also find that generosity is the precursor of a threat.”

Sookie swallowed reflexively and felt her fangs began to distend out of fear. Taking a deep breath, she willed her incisors back into their human façade before she spoke, “I hope you haven’t told your superiors I would come without a fight.”

I hope you enjoy the little box the humans will put you in,” the Magister smirked.

I was doing a perfectly fine job of putting myself into a box before anyone else tried,” Sookie opened her door slowly and placed a foot onto the curb. “The thing is, I don’t know that I can trust you and what you’re promising. I don’t know if you were hoping I’d scare like a child and run to you for protection, mercy, or what, but I’m not going to do that. I’m going to talk to my Bonded and ask what he thinks is best for us, fighting you or following you.”

And if I told you that this is the only chance you will get to accept?” the Magister demanded.

Then you wanted this to turn into a fight. You don’t corner a child and scare them into making a decision unless you are a monster. I am not a child and I am not afraid of you.”

But I could still be a monster,” Jorge grinned devilishly.

I’m prepared to believe that,” Sookie nodded, “but I’m still not afraid.”

With that, Sookie climbed out of the car and strode back into Fangtasia. When she arrived back on the floor, she was not surprised to see all of the reporters subdued, their phones, cameras, and recorders confiscated, and Pam busying herself with deleting footage.

What did that FBI agent want with you?” Eric demanded.

Nothing. I didn’t talk with the FBI at all. I spoke with the Magister,” Sookie explained. “Eric, we need to talk. Not here. Not at the house. Somewhere random. I don’t trust the Magister any further than I could throw him… Oh, scratch that. I’m a vampire now, I could probably throw him pretty far,” Her eyes glazed over as she began visualizing such a scenario, but then she quickly shook her head to clear the image.

Eric placed his arms on her shoulder, “That is fine, but you need to drink something. This is too much stress for a newborn to deal with while so depleted.”

Fine,” Sookie looked around. “I’ll take her,” She pointed to one of the reporters.

Is that wise?” Eric asked in surprise.

Sookie looked around before zipping over to the bar, grabbing a pen and paper, and jotting down a message. She handed the scrap of paper to Eric.

~Not a real reporter. I’ll explain when we aren’t here anymore.

Eric sighed, pulled a matchbook from his pocket, and set the note ablaze before stomping it out on the floor. Once the evidence was gone, he took the “reporter’s” hand, and pulled her in the direction of his office.

Finish taking care of this mess, Pam,” Eric instructed.

Once the trio was alone in Eric’s locked office, the older vampire hurriedly re-glamoured the woman, and Sookie fed quickly.

Sookie. Sookie, stop!” Eric commanded, making the newborn yank away from her donor’s neck. She took a deep, steadying breath, and sealed the wound before Eric dismissed the wobbly brunette. “This must be serious if you are that distracted.”

Quite,” Sookie confirmed, wiping her bloodied lips on her forearm before licking it clean. “Can we go now?”

Yes,” Eric frowned, taking her hand in his and leading Sookie out the service door. Without another word, he wrapped his arms around Sookie’s waist and took off into the night sky.

Holy Christ!” Sookie shouted, clutching her Bonded’s middle when her feet left the ground.

Ah, I forgot you have not flown with me before,” Eric realized, chuckling at her shock and exhilaration.

Slow down, slow down!” Sookie squealed as the ground beneath them flurried past at a dizzying pace.

Eric relented on his speed while descending into a forested area, landing beside a small creek. When their feet were firmly on the ground, Sookie began stripping off her clothes before forcefully yanking at Eric’s pants.

I know you did not bring us out this far for a fuck, Lover,” Eric purred as he began tugging away his shirt.

When they were both naked, Sookie dunked their clothes into the creek and turned to look at her Bonded worriedly.

What in the hell happened, Sookie?” Eric asked softly.

The Magister glamoured Jason into telling him about my gift. He glamoured all of those people into pretending they were reporters. He forced their minds to run on an infinite spam until they saw me and bombarded me with accusations and questions. He was trying to catch me off guard, to make me panic,” she explained rapidly while beginning to pace. “He offered to do some global glamour or something to erase my existence from the minds of humans. He wants me to be like the Ancient Pythoness, some secret judge that they keep stowed away for special events. Eric- Eric!” she began sobbing. “I’m so scared!”

Shh, shh,” Eric wrapped her into his arms. “I will never let them take you. They cannot take you from me.”

They don’t want to take me. They want me off the grid, out of the public eye. There’s… There’s so much! I don’t know what to do. I don’t know,” She buried her face against his chest and took in a deep breath of his scent. That alone settled her rising fear to a more manageable level. “In a way, the Magister was trying to paint me into a corner so I would accept, to scare me enough into thinking it was the only avenue. I don’t know what to think, Eric! I don’t know if he was trying to help while getting something out of it in return, or if this is some ploy to make me the Council’s pet? I was too scared to push into his mind to find out anything, I didn’t want to do anything suspicious. Then that thought about confirmation from the horse’s mouth…”

You believe we were bugged?” Eric guessed at their state of undress.

Yes. Fangtasia too. Maybe the house. I don’t know,” she admitted. “He doesn’t know who all I can hear. I tried to imply that I lost my ability, while never admitting I had one, when I was turned, and that Jason didn’t know that I was “normal” now. It didn’t sound like he believed me.”

Then we will just have to show him it is true,” Eric replied.

How?” Sookie whispered.

Let us try to run away for now, Sookie. Abandon Bon Temps and Shreveport. I will step down as Sheriff like we discussed, and we will go up north. Perhaps if we can remain out of the public eye for a time, hide what you can do, the North American Council will back off and realize that you were being honest.”

I don’t want to go,” Sookie sobbed. “I don’t want to leave yet.”

I know,” Eric murmured into her hair. “She will understand though, Sookie. She did not want you to mourn forever, and she will understand why you had to run.”

I’ve never really, truly ran from anyone but myself before,” she cried.

It will be all right, my Bonded,” Eric reassured her. “It would be best if we left North America. The Magister only oversees this continent, and there is an entirely different Council in Europe. If we make our plea now, explaining the harassment my Bonded has received, I am certain we will be granted an emergency deportation for all four of us.”

The girls?” Sookie looked at him hopefully at the mention of “four.”

Yes, the girls,” Eric told her.

Won’t it be suspicious if we run like that?” Sookie asked.

Eric scowled, “When I inform the European Council of the treatment you have received in North America, they would be shocked if I did not take this course of action!”

This is really that bad?” Sookie asked in surprise.


“Sookie, Bonded couples are not to be treated in this manner. The trial the other night was not something a newborn should have been meant to endure, let alone a Bonded newborn!” he told her. “The Ancient Pythoness should have been in attendance to save you that sort of circumstance!”

How soon will we have to leave?” Sookie asked.

Are your dogs up to date on their vaccinations?”

Of course,” Sookie frowned.

I can get us out of here by tomorrow night.”

Won’t they quarantine the girls?” Sookie fretted.

Not with the wheels I am about to grease,” he told her. “Shall we adorn our sodden clothing now?” He gestured to their submerged garments.

Y-yeah,” Sookie nodded stiffly.

Going back toward the creek, Sookie picked up the soaked bundle of clothes, apologizing profusely for ruining Eric’s cell phone. “What about Trent? And the Captain?”

You may call them when we are safely in Europe.”

I can’t say goodbye?” Sookie asked sadly.

No, Dear One. I am sorry. We cannot risk the North American Council or Magister catching on to our plans.”

I’m sorry,” Sookie wept. “I’m sorry I’m doing this to you! To us-”

This is nothing you could have protected against, Sookie. This is not something you should have needed to protect against,” Eric comforted her.

Why do I feel responsible for it then?” she wailed in distress.

Because it is being done to you for something that was never yours to control, but has dictated your entire life.”

What about Pam? And Godric and Emily?” Sookie sobbed into his chest.

We have all survived without each other before, Sookie. We will do so now. For our Bloodline this is not goodbye, but, see you later.”

I’m going to be locked away again,” Sookie sniffled.

No,” Eric sighed, rocking her back and forth. “You will not be locked away. I would never do that. We can go to Sweden! I will teach you the language, and we will go out so that you can learn to speak with the locals. Oh, Sookie, you will see snow, and I will teach you to ski. The dogs will get to play in the drifts and run around. I promise will not let you be pushed back into that loneliness,” he told her firmly.

O-okay,” she sniffled.

Okay?” he pulled back with surprise.

Y-you promised,” she stammered. “You always keep your promises to me.”

I will make you happy, Sookie,” he promised further. “I swear; by Christmas this whole mess will just seem like a tiny shove to get you past the doorway of a new adventure.”

I love you, you know?” Sookie whispered around another sniffle.

Smiling at her declaration, Eric kissed the top of her head and whispered, “I do know, and I love you too.”

On to Chapter Twenty-Five

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Never End Ch. 23

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Three: Run Away

Hi,” Sookie tentatively greeted her Bonded as she peeked around the front door. Mags and Junes came storming through the entrance, yanking the door from her hand so that it flung open and exposed her entirely.

Eric was standing in the entryway, arms folded over his chest, looking vulnerable rather than intimidating. “Hi,” he returned just as carefully. After an uncomfortable pause, he asked, “You are feeling better?”

Yeah, I really think I am,” she nodded slowly. The awkward silence hung around them again and Sookie played with her hair to give her eyes something other than him to focus on.

I am glad.”

Yeah,” she reflexively cleared her throat. “I- uh… I know it was selfish and stupid of me to go away from you like that. I’m not going to pretend like it wasn’t. I’m also not going to pretend that I didn’t know it would hurt you. I knew, and I’m sorry, but it was what I needed.”

Why?” he asked quietly.

Because I’ve broken in front of you so many times, but never as a vampire. You’ve seen me at my worst when I knew what my worst was, but I didn’t anymore, and I got scared. I didn’t want to say anything to you that I didn’t mean. I didn’t want to hurt you with words when I was already hurting you with my emotions. So I needed to figure myself out by myself.”

And have you?”

Enough,” she smiled sadly. “Enough that I can face you and not say hurtful things. Things you couldn’t do anything about.”

I would do anything for you,” Eric argued.

Yes,” Sookie nodded, “you would. Only, you’re shouldering too much of the blame, Darlin’, and the thing is, you didn’t do anything wrong. You blame yourself for the Queen coming after me, but she came after me for what I did. You blame yourself for not protecting me, only I would have been truly dead if you hadn’t forced me to take your blood with me to work. You think you screwed up my transformation, but it was all me. My heritage, my quirks. I’m just one big ol’ grab bag of problems, and you didn’t deserve to be burdened with them.”

Sookie,” Eric’s voice was an apprehensive warning.

I’ve already told you I’m selfish,” Sookie whispered. “I already told you I couldn’t stand to be left behind again, and, Darlin’, I’m too close to you not to hurt if I ever tried. So, I want you to know, if I need some physical space from time to time, it’s not because I don’t want you near me. I want you near me always, but my heart!” she gasped, clutching the front of her blouse and waiting for the ache of its pounding to kick in, but it no longer could. “My heart can’t take the guilt of you seeing me like that and you thinking it’s your fault.”

Eric closed the distance between them and picked up his Mate to crush her against his chest. Her tears were staining the front of his shirt, but all he felt was relief that she was in his arms and still wished to be there.

Thanks for sending Pam and letting me keep my space,” Sookie added gratefully as Eric carried her to their bed.

I understood that much, but I could not leave you entirely alone,” he admitted as he laid them both down.

I’m scared I won’t know what to do with my telepathy anymore,” Sookie confessed. “I think that’s what scares me most of all.”

We will figure it out, Dear One,” Eric assured her, kissing her crown.

Can we stay here? Not travel?” she asked after a moment.

Is that what you want?”

I think so. Pam told me to think about what I might have wanted if it weren’t for my telepathy, and I think it’s finally time for me to do that.”

Really?” he asked with hope in his eyes.

Yeah,” Sookie nodded. “When I was a kid, the cop thing just made sense, you know? I had an advantage, it would be perfect. When I was in cadet training, getting my ass handed to me and wanting to quit, I told myself that I would only be alive so long. A gift like mine shouldn’t be squandered, and it was my responsibility to help as many people as I could with it before I was gone. Now I have eternity to help people, and I can spend some of that eternity just being Sookie. I still want to help people, but I want to have a life now that I’m dead.”

Eric chuckled at that, and kissed the top of her head, “It really is remarkable what we have lost in The Great Revelation.”

What do you mean?”

When we were still myths, there was no opportunity to cling to the mortal coil. A Maker was obligated to get his progeny as far from anyone who could recognize them as soon as they had risen, a swift, clean break. No goodbyes, no last glances. There was a defining line between mortality and immortality. Now, with our existence in the public eye, the young ones do not need to run from their human lives. For all of the real estate and financial advantages our openness gives you, it hinders you just as much,” Eric explained.

Even if it does mean I get a nasty, jagged break, I’m glad I can be out of the coffin,” Sookie admitted. “I’ve been in the dark all my life… I’d hate to be trapped there forever.”

I would never do that to you,” Eric whispered as he began playing with the strands of her hair in his usual, comforting gesture.

I know,” Sookie smiled at him, giggling as her dogs came bounding into the room and quickly made a space for themselves on the bed. “Hey, girls!”

This will take some getting used to,” Eric admitted as he pushed at Junes with his leg so that she was flopped behind his knees rather than between him and Sookie. “They are not usually in here.”

I think they know I had a rough night,” Sookie admitted ruefully. “They did the same thing when I found out about Gran’s cancer,” she reminded.

Yes, I remember,” Eric pulled her body closer to his own, delighting when her knee draped over his hip almost instinctively. “Is there anything I can do, Sookie? To help you figure yourself out?”

Well,” Sookie frowned, tangling her arms around his torso and pressing her face into his chest, “you’ve always been pretty good at keeping me honest with myself. As long as you’re doing that, I think that’s the most I need.”

I can do that,” Eric assured, combing his fingers through her hair. “What about your little joke about opening a personal investigation firm with Emily?”

Giggling at the reminder, Sookie admitted, “I don’t know if I’m ready to work so closely with anyone just yet.”

They scare you,” Eric realized.

They just want in too fast,” Sookie replied. “It’s like, I rose, and all of a sudden, they think they know me. Godric with his connection with me through you… Emily with her connection to me through you through Godric… It’s really annoying and frustrating having strangers thinking they know how I feel and why.”

I see,” Eric rumbled, still playing with the ends of her blonde locks. “Honestly, their presumptions at Fangtasia were frustrating for me as well, but I understood where they were coming from. For them to see a newly Bonded couple so gloomy was disconcerting.”

I get it, I really do,” Sookie interrupted, “but understanding doesn’t make me feel any better. I just want them to back off, let me come to terms at my own pace.”

And that is perfectly reasonable,” Eric assured, “but it is me that is making them impatient.”

What do you mean?”

I am not the fretting, preoccupied vampire that I have been since meeting you, Sookie,” Eric laughed. “You turned me into something to which my Bloodline is unaccustomed. I worry about you, Sookie. I have never been so brooding in my entire existence as I was upon becoming involved with you. I am indulgent with Pam a great deal, but I never made near the amount of allowances with her as I have you.”

What allowances?” Sookie demanded.

I have never comforted anyone in front of others. I have rarely done so in private, let alone in front of the Magister of all individuals!” With chagrin, he confessed, “For our Bloodline to see me in such a way… Perhaps it caused their concerns to stretch too far.”

Pam didn’t bat an eye,” Sookie grumbled pointedly.

No, she did not, but Pam has been around us this entire time,” Eric reminded. “She has seen and felt the changes in me even before you and I officially met.”

You started changing before we even met?” Sookie gaped.

A grin split her Mate’s face and he gave her a playful kiss, “More than you could possibly realize.”

Tell me.”

Well,” Eric turned onto his back, pulling Sookie along to rest her head against his chest, “to begin with, I was paying large amounts of attention to a mortal. That was not common. Even when I was moved to turn Pamela, I did not sacrifice excessive amounts of time in the decision or preparation. When my Child arrived at my office purring about a lady cop who could not be glamoured, I was initially moved to investigate you for safety’s sake. A non-Were officer that could not be glamoured would raise many eyebrows and tempers.”

Sookie grimaced at the comment, knowing just how influential that aspect had been in putting her under Sophie-Anne’s murderous sights.

I had connections to the department’s office and managed to get your picture, badge number, and name to distribute to the vampires in my Area. They understood that if they were pulled over by you, they were to be polite and accept their punishment without any attempts at coercion, bribery, or glamour.”

Realizing that her sex trade bust involving Michael Grosse had not been the reason she was so well-recognized on her first trip to Fangtasia was a surprise, but Sookie hid it well and remained focused on Eric’s recounting.

That was the first step in my plan,” Eric continued. “Outing your inability to be glamoured gave me a reasonable excuse to continue keeping a close eye on you. No one thought twice about my donations to the police department, figuring it was my famous schmoozing opening slammed doors. In reality, I wanted your department well-funded so that you would remain as safe as possible on the streets, properly-issued body armor being the top priority with funds available for overtime and a well-staffed precinct being the second motive. If your department was well funded, you would be safe and decently paid for your services,” He looked at her tentatively, gaging her reaction physically and emotionally. She was professionally stoic. With a sigh, he went on, “I only researched your town from a distance. Stepping in Bon Temps so early on was more interest than I could raise at such a time. There would be few excuses to warrant such an action.”

But, why me? Did you suspect some sort of gift behind that inability others had to glamour me? I mean, I know I’m pretty, but you’ve been around long enough to see plenty of women who were gorgeous, so it can’t have been my face!” Sookie protested.

First off, you are gorgeous. Second, you were my Valkyrie,” Eric shrugged. “That is the most sense I can make of it. The second your photo was on my desk, I wanted you to have me. I wanted you to choose me,” He bobbed his head a moment as though preparing to admit a white lie. “As you know, I sort of stalked you a little bit. Just enough to know how to not put you off when I finally had the chance to meet you. You could not be glamoured, so I would not have second chances at a first impression. I had to stack the cards in my favor.”

How did you manage that?” Sookie asked. “Did you use Compton as an informant on me?”

Eric’s face transformed into a displeased scowl, “Of course not! I did not want him anywhere near you. The only vampire I intentionally put in your sights was Pamela who was actually the one doing my snooping. She would run a red light here and there, glamour the officer pulling her over if it was not a Were, and gather information. You made it quite hard on us, Dear One.”

Sookie rolled her eyes, “I’m sorry I don’t share my personal business with everyone at the precinct.”

Grinning at her response, Eric nipped at her bottom lip, “That in itself was telling. A private person. Also, the fact that, even under glamour, every officer called you ‘Stackhouse’ was quite informative. No one ever called you Sookie. That was really all I needed to know. You were distant, careful, but kind.”

How’d you know the ‘kind’ part?” Sookie pinched his nose playfully.

When you pulled over Pam. You were good natured, polite, and you lowered her speed on the ticket to save her a few dollars.”

Well, she was flirting with me,” Sookie teased, rolling atop him, and straddling his waist. “I didn’t used to get flirted with much, so I might have been preening a bit when I dropped the overage on her speed.”

Oh, and now you are a receptive temple of flirtatious advances?” Eric cajoled right back, sitting up to kiss the tops of her breasts. “Who might I be murdering for such unwelcome attention on my Mate?”

Darlin’, I meant you! Ya got me for forever and you still flirt with me,” Her Bonded did not look convinced. To placate him, she held his face firmly between her breasts, making him laugh.

When she went to lean back, Eric placed a hand between her shoulder blades, “No, this is the perfect place to be!” he claimed, nuzzling his face in her cleavage.

Laughing at his antics, Sookie wrapped her arms once more around his head and held him to her breasts. She kissed the top of his head before finally forcing him to pull away so she could heatedly capture his lips with her own.

When their mouths parted, Eric asked in a soft whisper, “I am frightened for you still.”

You want to keep talking, don’t you?” Sookie accused teasingly.

I do,” he nodded, bringing his hand to her face and stroking her cheek with his thumb.

What about?”

You.”

What about me?” Sookie brought her hand to his and played with his fingers.

I want you to talk to me, Sookie,” he whispered. “About how you are feeling, why you are feeling that way. I want to know how you are finding vampirism, and if there are things I can be doing for you to make it easier.”

After a moment of thoughtful silence, Sookie murmured back, “I’m feeling scared a lot of the time. Really confused… It makes me angry and frustrated. I know the anger and frustration are because of the first two things.”

The fear might be due to the confusion as well,” Eric pointed out.

I suppose.”

What is confusing you?”

Shrugging, Sookie continued playing with his fingers quietly. Finally, after a few moments, she answered, “Not knowing what to do with my gift is probably the biggest conflict right now. I guess the runner up would be how much like a vampire I don’t feel… I still feel like me. The only differences between human me and vampire me are that my throat burns when I’m hungry instead of my stomach aching. The other thing is when I’m nervous or scared, there’s no racing heart or butterflies in my stomach. The only physical signs my body gives that I recognize is when I’m turned on. That makes sex really nice and familiar, and I want to do it all the time… Or more of all the time than how much I was already doing it.”

Eric laughed at that, “You will start noticing the smaller reactions once you stop focusing on the absent reactions.”

What do you mean?” Sookie asked.

You say that your stomach does not get butterflies when you are nervous, but you go extremely rigid and stop breathing. This means you would feel the tightness in your muscles and the disorientation of being scent-deprived. Your nerves are probably harder to rein in than they were, correct?” he guessed.

Yeah,” Sookie’s eyes widened in surprise. “I thought they were hard to bring under control because I couldn’t focus on slowing down my heartbeat!”

More than likely you are making your discomfort greater by the fact you are not breathing at all. Your predator instincts rely heavily on scent. When you are not breathing, you are not tasting the air to make yourself aware of danger. This is causing a hyper-reaction in your other senses, which causes you greater stress.”

So, just like when I was human I should just breathe through it?” Sookie asked.

Yes.”

Wow, that’s reassuring.”

However, instead of breathing and focusing on your heart rate, you should breathe and focus on what you are smelling and tasting in the air. Try identifying the different scents and flavors. The small distraction will calm you as you realize there are no physical threats,” he suggested.

Why don’t you just use the Bond to calm me down?” Sookie asked.

I would if you were becoming hysterical or uncontrolled, merely for the sake of your safety and the safety of others. However, repressing your emotions, or forcing you to feel something you do not, is only going to make these transitions harder on you,” he brushed his thumb over her bottom lip before giving her a brief kiss. “You need to feel, Sookie, even the bad things. Not just for the sake of learning the many realms of self-control needed to be a successful vampire, but for your own mental health. You know that vampires feel things more strongly than mortals, and this means you need to develop a measure of your responses to those emotions.”

I thought I was exhibiting pretty impressive self-control already,” Sookie frowned.

You definitely are, but it is because you are repressing your own emotions much like you did as a mortal… It does not feel like you have properly mourned your grandmother yet,” he hinted softly.

Sookie scowled, “I’m fine!”

So stubborn,” Eric sighed, pressing his forehead to hers. “Well, if it turns out that you are not, do not fight it. All right? You believe you have seen yourself at your worst already, but I have my doubts.”

I really want to say you’re wrong about that,” Sookie disagreed.

Can you?”

She paused briefly before shaking her head, “No.”

Will you run from me again if you find that I was right?”

No,” she shook her head again.

You are certain?”

Hurting away from you hurt more than hurting with you,” Sookie whispered.

I would understand if you needed space,” Eric replied softly.

That’s not what you were saying before,” It was not an accusation, but more an inquiry.

It was Eric’s turn to retreat into silence. After a long moment, he confessed, “I handled myself very poorly tonight, Sookie. I am actually ashamed of it.”

Ashamed? Why?!” she asked in alarm.

When we were driving back, I begged you not to cry again. When we returned to the house, I stormed off like some petulant child who did not get his way. I pushed you out the door, and then had the audacity to act as though you ran from me.”

Sookie’s lips tightened into a thin, thoughtful line before she consoled him, “Hey, hey!” She nudged him carefully. “This is crazy for both of us. We had a really crappy start to our vampire existence together, and a really crappy end to our human/vampire life. We’re both confused, frustrated, and angry. I mean, sure we’re those things for different reasons, but it doesn’t make it any easier on either of us, right?”

Sookie, I am over one-thousand-years your senior. I had no right to treat you like that. I am supposed to be your rock, your guide, and I failed at that tonight.”

Oh, Darlin’,” Sookie crooned, “don’t say that! This isn’t like when you were training Pam. You can’t pretend you had much more knowledge on what you were doing entering into this Bonding thing than I did!”

But I did!” he protested.

No, you really didn’t. You can read all the books on doing something, but it doesn’t make you an expert the first time you try to do it. Plus, how levelheaded can you be when you have this mess,” she pointed to herself, “swirling around inside you?”

They returned to companionable silence as they considered the turn their conversation had taken. After several minutes, Sookie asked, “How you feel me, it’s nothing like how you feel Pam… Is it?”

No. Knowing one’s emotions is not the same. It is like the difference between sympathy and empathy.”

When’s the last time you empathized with someone?”

I could not say for certain if you are asking about events that happened before I knew of you.”

Then we’ll just have to go through the growing pains together.”

I suppose we will.”

Ah, guilt,” Sookie frowned. “I know this emotion easily enough.” Tangling her fingers in his hair, she lightly nudged at the Bond with encouragement. “You know; I don’t expect you to get everything right the first time. I don’t expect perfection. You’ve already gotten me through the hard parts. We can do the rest of this journey together. No one leading, no one following, just hand in hand.”

You deserve perfection,” Eric told her softly.

Sookie sighed, letting Resignation sing through the Bond. “You’re just going to beat yourself up over this for a while, aren’t you?” Eric pouted, making Sookie laugh.

Deciding to take himself out of the spotlight, Eric suggested, “You should practice reading the Bond. You still rely quite heavily on me to read it for you.”

Swallowing reflexively, Sookie quietly confessed, “I was void for so long, I really don’t know what most of my emotions are anymore, let alone yours.”

All the more reason for you to exercise your interpretations of the Bond,” Eric pointed out.

Nodding in understanding, Sookie closed her eyes and reached deep within herself and their connection.

Try sending to me, Dear One,” he encouraged as he reached up to play with the strands of hair that framed her face. The swirling apprehension in the Bond nudged weakly, and a tentative trickle of love poured into his heart. “That feels wonderful,” Eric whispered, running his thumb across her cheek, “but you love me much more than that, right?” Now that digit scraped across her plump lower lip. “It is just you and me, Sookie. No need to police your feelings.”

Carefully the Love from her end of the Bond swelled until a grin split Eric’s face. “Now, you know what you are feeling because you are sending it to me. What do you feel from me?” he asked.

I-I don’t know,” Sookie stammered, trying to interpret the emotions that her Love tangled around. “Concern? Patience?”

Those are just byproducts of what I feel, Sookie,” Eric explained. “Feel all of it at once, do not break it apart.”

Is this how you love me?” Sookie gasped as she felt a strange, but pleasant expansion in her heart.

Yes, my Sookie,” Eric cupped her chin in his palm to draw her lips to his own. “This is how I love you.”

It doesn’t feel as lusty as I would have imagined,” she admitted jokingly before his mouth found hers. As their tongues twisted around one another, Sookie groaned and pulled away, “Oh, there it is!”

Chuckling, Eric rolled atop her and continued peppering kisses across her cheeks, the bridge of her nose and finally lips once more. Mags and Junes made a quick escape as their pair’s movements forced them off the bed.

Give me more, Sookie,” Eric pleaded as he began suckling the length of her neck. “I want to feel how much you love me.”

Capturing her lip between her teeth, Sookie tried once more to focus her intentions into the Bond. Lust-laced love flowed from her, twisting into his own feelings until she heard her Bonded’s approving purr.

You feel so good in here,” Eric brought her hand to cover his unbeating heart. “You do not need Reservation in here,” he squeezed her hand tightly. Sookie’s response was to nod, and Eric moaned as he felt her end of the Bond split open and flood him with everything she had held back the last two weeks. “There you are!” he crowed, his hips rocking against hers. “Oh, Sookie, why do you keep trying to hide from me?”

Never again,” she groaned while his rolling hips brought her further pleasure. His hand released hers to glide down the length of her body and cup between her legs. The firm pressure caused her to gasp as his fingertips stroked over her clothing. Jaw slackening, Sookie’s fangs popped, earning a laugh from her Mate, “D-don’t laugh, I can’t help it!” she whimpered at his attention.

Those fangs are just too beautiful, my Sookie,” Eric kissed the corner of her mouth. “I cannot help but laugh when I see them because they make me so happy.”

Halfheartedly exploring their Bond, Sookie found this to be true. Aside from happiness, the sight of her pointed teeth brought more lust singing through their connection.

Why does it feel so good when you run your tongue along ’em?” Sookie asked before experimentally doing just that and shivering pleasurably.

Bracing an arm alongside her head, Eric gave her a chaste kiss, “You have glands right here now,” he leaned in, and gently rubbed his tongue along her gum line of her fangs. Sookie made a small, simpering noise at the contact and arched her hips against his hand. “It produces the anesthetic that dulls the pain of our bite. Your salivary glands now produce coagulants rather than saliva.”

What about down here?” she arched against his hand. “What makes me wet?”

Me,” he teased.

Well, obviously,” she nipped at his lower lip. “I meant, what does it do?”

Eric shrugged, “Nothing really. Your secretions are similar to my own, residual plasma and blood from what we have consumed. It is why we are much more sexually insatiable after feeding. There is excess blood for our genitals to utilize.”

Sookie’s face scrunched, “That sounded way too clinical. My curiosity is satisfied, so turn the sexy back on.”

Laughing at her mood swing, Eric leaned down and kissed her deeply, running his tongue along her fangs. This tactic paired with his nimble fingers between her thighs had Sookie squirming and mewling within moments. Soon his hand was slipping beneath her skirt and navigating around the elastic of her panties to glide against her weeping slit.

Eric,” she groaned into his mouth when she felt his fingers slipping inside of her. “Oh!” she wrapped her arms around his neck to keep his lips pressed against her own.

A brief, flat tone diverted Eric’s attention, Sookie pouted as his mouth parted from hers, and he looked at his phone on the nightstand.

Ignore it,” she told him. “Keep kissing me.”

Momentarily distracted, Eric continued sliding his fingers against her entrance, but he sat back on his knees to reach for his phone.

Eric,” Sookie moaned with a strange combination of annoyance and arousal.

Shit,” Eric grimaced before lobbing his phone on the bed beside them.

What?”

Nothing for you to worry about,” he assured while layering his body once more over hers.

Easily distracted baby vamp,” Sookie reminded. “What was that text message?”

The King of Arkansas is making a play for the Louisiana kingdom,” he griped, pressing his mouth back to hers.

What does that mean?” Sookie pulled from his lips.

Annoyances. It is too late in the evening to do anything about it now. I will work on it tomorrow.”

But-”

Sookie,” Eric looked at her amusedly, “you have two choices. I either take my fingers out of your wet, little pussy to continue a very boring discussion that will take the remainder of the evening, or we drop this topic until tomorrow, and I fuck you so hard you do not stop cumming until dawn. Which would you prefer?” When a burst of Confliction rang through the Bond, Eric had to admit he was surprised. Realizing where her apprehension stemmed, the older vampire smiled and murmured, “I promise that no matter what the King of Arkansas does, it will have no effect on us.”

Really?”


“Really.”

Then I will take option two,” Sookie grinned up at him.

I was hoping you would say that.”

0I

Jason Stackhouse flung open the front door of his home, agitation creasing the corners of his eyes at being awakened by the obnoxious, continued ringing of his doorbell at 4 AM. “WHAT!?” he hollered, but suddenly stumbled back at the presence rooted at his doorstep. His eyes glazed immediately at who stood before him, and another tentative step of retreat backed him further into his home.

Jason Stackhouse, tell me everything you possibly can about your dear, sweet sister.”

On to Chapter Twenty-Four

Never End Ch. 22

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Two: Family Dynamics

Yes,” Godric leaned back in his booth at Fangtasia after carefully examining Sookie’s wide-eyed face, “very pretty.” A lazy smile tugged at the head of the Bloodline’s lips as he folded his hand in his lap and draped his other arm over Emily’s shoulders, “And that control! I have never seen anything like it!”

Thank you, Sir,” Sookie replied bashfully at the scrupulous examination Godric, Emily, and even Pam were giving her.

I could not help but notice that she is a bit warm…?” Godric continued.

Her genealogy has brought a few variations in her transformation,” Eric explained, causing Sookie to look up at him uneasily. Was her Bonded going to keep her fairy heritage and advanced telepathy between the two of them, or was he merely waiting for complete privacy before divulging their secret?

I see,” Godric did not seem pressed for further knowledge. “Sookie,” he addressed her gently, “how are you holding up? Pamela told Emily and I about the circumstances surrounding your metamorphosis. My condolences for such a terrifying experience.”

Sookie squared her shoulders, “I’m doin’ quite well, Sir. Thank you,” she announced, making Godric smile sadly at her.

Are you going to file assault charges against your brother?” Emily asked.

Shaking her head, Sookie placed her chin in her upturned palm, “No. I told my Captain to let it go.” Eric’s Disapproval in the Bond made Sookie take his hand and squeeze it comfortingly.

You do not need to put up such walls with your Bloodline, Young One,” Godric encouraged her, concerned by her levity toward such a complicated situation.

The former officer’s face remained politely blank despite the familial way he spoke an affectionate pet name. If her heart could still beat, it would have constricted. Familial…

She wondered how Jason was doing, if he still hated her. The young vampire worried that she would never see him again, despite only being an hour away from Bon Temps. When would be an appropriate time to check on him? Would he detest her even more if she returned to him now as a vampire rather than just leaving him in the appalling denial that she had gone through with turning?

Better her dead for good than becoming a soulless fanger!” still echoed painfully in her head. Her own brother wished for her death. He would rather be alone in the world than share it with his vampire sister.

Concern.

I’m fine,” Sookie whispered at her Bonded’s prodding. “I just need a drink.”

I’ll get it,” Emily responded in a cheery way that Sookie found strangely comforting.

Watching the petite blonde skip toward the bar for a TrueBlood, Sookie could not help but feel like she reminded her of someone. When Emily returned with the bottle, that same sweet, unassuming disposition, Sookie realized of whom Emily evoked memories.

Hadley.

That smile which was a mask of unspoken secrets, hidden concerns, and dark, dark memories. No one could ever know her pain.

Sookie knew that her musings only drew the comparisons between Hadley and Emily because her brain was fixated so intently on family. Her throat tightened as she played with the bottle, not drinking. A pitying thought had flitted through Emily’s mind, and Sookie did not have the energy to ignore it.

Just say it, please,” Sookie whispered.

Say what?” Emily asked sweetly.

I know that face. That’s the face of ‘something I’m not saying,’ and I can’t relieve concerns when I don’t know what they are,” Sookie appealed.

Emily’s spine straightened at Sookie’s gloomy expression. “It’s nothing bad, Hun,” she assured. “We’re just all worried about you is all.”

Why?” Sookie played with her bottle, still not drinking from it.

Let’s not pretend that Pam hasn’t been keeping Godric and I informed about you. We know so much about you already. Your home life, your isolation, your pride. It’s not unlikely that pride of yours would make you withdraw from those around you, and we don’t want that for Eric. He cannot be happy unless you are,” Emily explained.

You’re worried I’m going to draw him into a spiral of depression?” Sookie asked.

To be direct, yes.”

This really is not necessary,” Eric defended. “It is reasonable for her to be unhappy with the circumstances. This is not at all what we had planned. It has only been two evenings. She needs more time.”

I am unhappy,” Sookie murmured, “but not about being a vampire, not even about my career falling to pieces. I love Eric, and the Bond does make me extremely happy. I’m scared, I’m confused, and I don’t like any of that one bit. I’m sorry I can’t be the lovey-dovey newlywed ya’ll would expect, but I just can’t right now. I miss my Gran… I miss my brother… I miss my family, and I don’t even know why! I’d gotten to say goodbye to her a hundred times, always wondering if it was the last time, now I’ll never die and get to see her in heaven. That’s okay, I chose Eric. I finally got to make a real choice for myself, and I don’t doubt that decision. I just really miss my family,” she concluded sadly.

Godric nodded solemnly at her confession before speaking in a soft, respectful tone, “I suppose Emily and I are concerned over the radical difference between our Bonds.”

Can you feel me?” Sookie asked.

Yes, you are my progeny’s creation, and I can feel you just as I can Pamela. However, I cannot sense you as easily as I do Eric.”

Sookie nodded slowly, understanding from where the concerns were stemming. She and Eric did not have the same temperaments that Godric and Emily experienced after their first rising as a Bonded couple.

That is not to say we are a fair comparison,” Emily blurted. “We didn’t have nearly the trauma that you two did!”

I just need time,” Sookie assured quietly, almost hesitantly, before finally taking a sip of blood and restraining a cringe.

For a moment, Sookie wished she still needed to use the bathroom just for an excuse to escape the group. A small reprieve from their concerned expressions and doubts would be a godsend for her, but she knew it was wishful thinking. Instead, she let her mind wander into the thoughts of the Fangtasia patrons.

Sookie’s back straightened when she heard a thought that impulsively made her scan the room. “Addict,” she announced under her breath to Eric. “Brunette, 5’4”, red tank, black pants. She’s got a ‘hunter’ look about her. Might be a drainer.”

Eric’s eyes quickly swept over the room to spot the short, brown-haired woman his Mate had pinpointed. Immediately he was out of his seat and in pursuit.

Old habits?” Emily teased the detective.

It’s more of a way of life than a habit,” Sookie replied, watching her Bonded intently as he snuck up on the woman, disarming her with his stunning appearance and glamouring her to follow him.

You are stunningly perceptive,” Godric praised. “To see so much, it must be tedious?”

Very,” Sookie agreed, confused that Godric and Emily did not seem to know about her telepathy. Had Pam not told them of her quirk? Why not?

There was a brief temptation to pry into their thoughts intentionally, but Sookie quickly suppressed it. Godric and Emily were her family now, and she would extend the same courtesy to them as she had to Gran and Jason.

She ached at the thought of her late grandmother and her estranged brother as they quickly raced through her mind. How long would it be that even the most fleeting memory of them would bring her nothing but such consuming sadness?

Mistress,” Pam’s voice was sharp, and Sookie quickly shot back to attention, “did you hear Master Godric?”

Oh,” Sookie searched, trying to regain her center, “sorry, I must have wandered in my head again. It’s scary easy to do that now. I don’t remember ever being so distracted.”

It is understandable,” Godric assured. “Young ones are quite prone to drifting in and out of attention.”

What was your question?” Sookie asked shyly.

Do you have plans for yourself now that you are vampire?” Godric asked again.

Well, I don’t know much about the process for reinstating new vamps to the force, assuming they’ll have me. Vamps aren’t usually allowed in the interview rooms because defense attorneys love to presume reasonable doubt on the grounds of possible glamour or witness tampering,” she explained. “I guess we could use the earwig and I could have a human officer doing the interrogations while I remain in the observation room.”

You plan to return to law enforcement?” Emily asked, surprised.

Yeah,” Sookie nodded. “It’s where my heart is, but I don’t know if we can swing it. I don’t want Eric a hot mess all the time, worrying about me.”

I was thinking,” Eric announced, returning to their table, “that you might wish to travel?”

Travel?” Sookie cocked her head curiously.

Yes, it would give you a chance to adjust while not feeling examined by those around you.”

What about my dogs? We can’t travel with them on top of dying for the day,” Sookie reminded him.

We could leave them with that shifter again. He seemed to really enjoy their company,” Eric offered.

Sookie began to object, but froze on her words when she realized what her Bonded was trying to accomplish. Separation. Eric was trying to create distance between her and the dogs. They would not live forever, and their time with her would seem even more brief now that she was immortal.

Eric,” she whispered, “are you trying to prepare me for not having them anymore?”

His jaw tightened then he admitted, “I am.” He had hoped that she would not perceive his intentions, but he reprimanded himself for his timing.

Her face fell immediately and Sookie could feel and see the red liquid building in her eyes, “I’m not ready.”

All right,” his voice was gentle like a soft blanket offered to keep the cold at bay. “I am sorry that I suggested it.”

You’re just trying to help me,” she said, choking back her tears.

I really am,” he softly kissed her temple.

I know it would be easier to give them to Sam or Trent, and walk away for a decade, pretending they were still out there running, but I don’t want that. I don’t want to abandon them when they were the only ones who stuck with me through my peak isolation. How can I say I ever cared for them, that I ever loved them, if I dumped them off on someone else just so it would be easier on me?” Sookie shook her head, causing the welling blood tears in her eyes to trickle down her cheeks. “I will love them forever for keeping me alive inside, for letting me love someone without worry or hesitation. If it weren’t for them, I couldn’t have fallen in love with you.”

Do not say that, Sookie,” Eric ran his thumb along the red river marring her face.

But it’s true!” she sobbed, feeling sick and self-conscious for crying so publicly. It went against her very nature to allow others to see her weak like this, but the emotion was beyond her control. The dam of her sorrow was breaking, and the thought of leaving her beloved companions behind broke the final shreds of her willpower that contained the flood, “They were my lifeline, they let me love freely, and if I hadn’t had that, I would have been a husk by the time you met me.”

It did not matter that her claims were empty in Eric’s eyes. Sookie truly believed she would not be the woman he loved if not for her canine counterparts. Rather than argue, Eric smiled and brushed away the other trail of crimson, “Then we will enjoy their remaining years together.”

Thank you,” Sookie sighed, reining in her emotional outburst.

Are these actual dogs?” Godric asked quietly of Pam.

Yes, German Shepherds,” Pam answered just as quietly. “She is unreasonably attached to them, but they are very good dogs. I have met them a few times and they are remarkably well trained.”

Emily’s brow knit as she watched the newborn across the table.

What is it, my love?” Godric asked of his Mate, sensing her concern.

After a moment of contemplation, Emily replied with a soft smile, “Nothing, Sweetheart. Just trying to suss out our newest family member.”

Godric shook his head wryly at her remark, “I think she will be remarkable for him.”

Absolutely,” Emily agreed quickly. “All of this time you’ve felt him growing toward this, and to see them together is very reassuring. Even with all of the hardship, oh, Godric, I’m so happy for all of us!”

All of us? Sookie latched on to that final remark, wanting to resist when Eric began to pull her away from the table.

Shall we return home now, Sookie?” Eric asked gently.

Snapping out of her curiosity, Sookie gave her Bonded a short nod and was lead out of the club.

What did she mean by “all of us?” Sookie asked once they were in the car and driving back home.

Eric glanced at his Mate, recalling the conversation, and finally smiled, “Happiness for one is happiness for all in a Bloodline. Emily was merely remarking that she understands that even though we are encountering rough spots early on, we are still very happy. In turn, we are all happy.”

Oh,” Sookie could not help but feel as though there was more to the comment, but she brushed it aside.

I am sorry that the conversation brought you sorrow, especially when Mags and Junes were discussed,” Eric apologized softly.

I understood where you were coming from. I only hope you understand where I am coming from,” Sookie responded just as quietly.

I do,” he assured. “I still believe travel would be good for you,” he continued. “Perhaps we could stay in the continental US? Maybe go up North?”

Sookie pondered this a moment, “I’ve never seen snow before.”

You would look beautiful in the snow,” he whispered.

The nights are longer there too, right?” Sookie asked.

It depends on where we go,” he explained. “The most noticeable area would be the Arctic Circle.”

That seems a bit too extreme,” Sookie scrunched her nose with disapproval. “Too isolated, I’d get bored.”

You would get bored with me in a matter of three months?” Eric asked with a playfully wounded expression and tone.

Sookie pouted at what she had implied, “No, but what would we do for three months of nearly endless night?”

I can think of many things,” Eric purred matter-of-factly, his hand trailing up from her knees toward her thigh. Lips pursing to attempt hiding her amusement, Sookie brushed his hand away, silently telling him she wanted further convincing. “We could go to Alaska,” he continued, placing his hand back on her knee and giving it a squeeze. “Drive north with Mags and Junes, stopping as we needed to until arriving in the Seward Peninsula where I will have already had a vacation home built for us by the time we arrived.”

So, road trip?” Sookie laughed.

Have you ever been on one?” Eric asked, tracing small symbols into her kneecap.

Darlin’, the only road trip I’ve ever been on is the one between Bon Temps and Shreveport.”

You have not even been to New Orleans?” he asked with surprise.

Nope,” she confessed.

How does my plan sound to you?”

Interesting,” she smiled, placing her hand over his and squeezing it, “but how in the world would we make that work for the dogs?”

I can glamour a handler at the locations we are forced to take rest in. They will take care of the dogs until we rise and can leave for the evening.”

I don’t like the idea of forcing people to take care of them,” Sookie admitted.

It is the way we have done things a long time now, Dear One,” Eric assured.

Sookie sighed, “I suppose it’s as good a plan as any to spend the first year of being a vamp. I can’t even reapply to the police department during my first year.”

You plan to return to the force?” Eric tried to sound supportive, but the Bond betrayed his Concern.

I don’t know,” she whispered.

Maybe a year off will give you some perspective on your wants and needs,” he consoled.

Maybe,” she bowed her head in thought. “Any chance I can swing over to my Gran’s place?”

Eric glanced at the mile marker and replied, “I can turn around at the next exit-”

No, I mean just me,” she continued, staring at her knees. “I want to see her again, and I want to walk through the house…”

I see,” Eric took his hand from her knee and placed it on the steering wheel.

Are you mad at me?” she asked.

You know that I am not,” he answered sharply.

You’re frustrated,” she accused.

Not with you,” he assured.

Then what?”

Myself, our circumstances, this. All of this,” he waved his hand in an all-encompassing gesture.

I’m sorry I can’t wrap it all up yet,” Sookie replied quietly, on the verge of tears again.

Please, do not cry again,” Eric beseeched.

I can’t help it,” she tried to brush away the crimson tears, only managing to make herself appear more gruesome.

Do you really wish to visit Bon Temps without me?” Eric asked.

I do,” she choked back tears once more.

Then we will return to the house and you can take your own car,” he told her. “You need to pick up the key and code anyway.”

You’re mad at me,” she sobbed.

I am NOT mad at you!” Eric roared.

Shrinking back into her seat, the pair remained silent for the duration of the drive back to the house. When they arrived, Sookie slunk into the house to retrieve the new key to her Gran’s home and the security system code. She watched painfully as Eric stormed past her and slammed the door to the den.

Mags, Junes,” Sookie squeaked at the dogs, calling them to follow her to her Toyota. The dogs quickly took to her heels and the three drove into the darkness to Bon Temps. “Why am I acting so completely imbalanced?” she asked her dogs as she pulled off the highway.

Junes whined at the inquiry, licking Sookie’s jaw comfortingly from the backseat.

I want so much to just accept the cards I was dealt,” she told them. “I want that so much, but everything hurts. Why does it hurt so much?” Junes placed her face on Sookie’s shoulder as Mags anxiously circled several times in the backseat. “Great, now I’m upsetting you guys too!”

Pulling up to the cemetery, Sookie stepped out, her dogs trailing in her starlit shadow.

Hey, Gran, I’m back. Shoot, I forgot flowers again,” she grumbled. “Sorry, I’ve never been good about those things…”

The young vampire sat down in the dewy grass, her dogs flopping on either side of her as they curled up before the headstone. “I’m really screwing up so many things right now,” Sookie began. “I ran so fast into Eric when we first met. I grabbed him and ran with him. Now that we’re ‘forever,’ I’m getting cold feet… Everything changed so fast, Gran!” she exclaimed. “I went from so much isolation I thought I’d go nuts to constant company. It’s nice, but strange. Well, different, not strange. No, definitely strange,” Sookie committed to her first response. “I just wish I knew what I was doing,” she confessed. “I wish you could tell me what to do, Gran. I really need someone to point me in the right direction again. I feel like I’m still underground and I don’t know which way the sky is. I don’t know which way to dig…”

Standing up, Sookie called her dogs to follow her up to the farmhouse on the hill. When she arrived at the door of her childhood home, she unlocked it, and turned off the security system. Her dogs jumped up on the sheet covered sofa, making themselves comfortable while Sookie wandered the narrow hallways.

Even with her new sensitivity to sound, the noise of that familiar truck was still the same. The way the gravel crunched under its tires and the engine rattled slightly out of time when it idled were key indicators that Jason Stackhouse had pulled up to the house. Mags and Junes promptly jumped off the couch to greet the wayward brother.

Figured y’all wouldn’ stay away long,” Jason’s voice was harsh as he flung open the screen door and entered the house. Contrary to his vehemence, he still scratched and petted the dogs as they danced at his feet.

I’m havin’ a real bad night, Jason,” Sookie cried as her accent automatically thickened as it only did anymore around her brother. “I really can’t deal with ya hollerin’ tonight.”

Jason snorted, “Ya think I give a shit if it’s convenient fer ya? What the fuck you think I owe ya anyways?”

Nothing,” Sookie flung her arms in the air. “You owe me nothing. Hopefully you know that goes both ways by now.”

Listen, I just wanna git my shit outta here. Couldn’ do that while you was underground cause them lawyers had the cops watchin’ the place til ya got dug up. Then I come up here day after, an’ the locks was changed, an’ there’s a new security system,” Jason sneered at her audacity to keep him from taking what was his.

I just did that to protect the things that weren’t yours,” Sookie defended her actions. “You were real angry at me the day I died.”

I still am real fuckin’ angry at ya,” Jason snapped. “Why the fuck didn’t ya tell me Gran was dead!?”

I was shot!” Sookie shouted. “I just found out about Gran, Trent was gonna drive me home so I could calm down t’ call ya in private, and I was fucking SHOT on the way out the station! I almost died that morning and was only saved by the fact Eric sent me to work with his blood. If you hadn’t screamed at me and hit me, I might not be a vampire right now! I might still be alive and have had more time to come to grips with what I was gonna become in the future! I might have been able to stay on the force! I might have got to actually enjoy living for a little while longer after twenty-five years of being a shell.”

You was the one who chose it,” Jason gestured to her transformed body.

But I never chose this!” Sookie pointed to her head. “I never chose this. This… And now I don’t even know what to do with it anymore. What can I do with it now? I can’t be a police officer anymore, Jason! I can’t be the one thing that made sense; that gave it a purpose.”

Yeah, well,” Jason scratched his head uncomfortably, and looked away from her, “sounds like a pro’lem,” Shouldering past her, he headed upstairs to his old bedroom. “It sounds like yer pro’lem.”

Sookie watched his back as he ascended the staircase, longing to just reach out and hug her brother again like when they were teenagers. When no one was looking, and he could just be Jason, her big brother, when no one could see that the star QB actually loved the little sister he made fun of in public.

I deserved so much more than you,” Sookie whispered to herself as she crumpled onto the floor of the living room and cried softly to herself until he left without a single acknowledgement.

There was a puddle of bloody teardrops in her lap by the time her distress was interrupted again.


“Oh, now this is just something else,” Pam’s voice caused Sookie’s tears to stutter to an abrupt halt, and she blinked up in surprise at the blonde. Wiping at the evidence of her breakdown, Pam merely shook her head at the attempt. “You don’t have normal tears anymore. They’re going to betray you every time now.”

I just can’t stop,” Sookie sobbed.

So I see,” Pam nodded, and went toward the kitchen to dampen a rag, which she used to scrub the blood off the youngling’s face.

Why are you here?” Sookie sniffled.


“Eric sent me.”

Of course he did,” Sookie accepted the towel and continued to blot at tears that kept welling.

You have had a very tough evening,” Pam shrugged. “Between last night, and tonight with the added bonus of super vampire emotions, we all anticipated a break.”

Eric’s mad at me still? That’s why he sent you?” Sookie stammered.

Pam sighed, “He has not been mad at you once in your entire life.”

Then why did you come and not him?” Sookie asked.

Because despite the fact you can feel everything he feels; you are still adamant that he is angry with you!” Pam flung her arms in exasperation. “Why do you think everyone is mad at you!? Why can’t they just be concerned or worried?”

You’re mad at me!” Sookie pointed out.


“You’re damn right I am! Eric is a mess with you like this, and you seem hell bent on prolonging his suffering.”

I’m not trying to!” Sookie protested.


“Then snap out of it, clean up your face, change your clothes, and fake it ’til you make it, Missy!” Pam ordered. “If you keep dwelling, of course you’ll stay sad. Instead, focus on him. Focus on fun. Focus on eternity. Your dumb-ass brother will be dead in a few decades, sooner if I get my way, and he won’t be able to hurt you anymore!”

That’s not what I want,” Sookie dabbed at another red river.

You have been living a harsh life for how long, Missy? Did you really think you’d come here tonight and have some grand reconciliation?” Pam demanded.

No.”

Then what were you expecting?” she stomped her thinly heeled foot.

Closure.”

Did you get it?” Pam’s posture relaxed as she understood.

Less than I wanted, more than I expected,” Sookie told her. “I think I needed a verbal scrap to find out what I was holding in.” Sookie laughed bitterly as she spat, “Ironic, right? I’m stronger, faster and heal quicker than lightning, but I’ve never felt more vulnerable and weak than I ever did as a human. You know what the icing on the cake is? I’m a telepath who can’t figure out what she’s thinking.”

Did that verbal scrap shake anything loose?” Pam pressed, ignoring the following confessions Sookie had made. Those were problems for Eric to handle with his Bonded. Pam’s mission was to stabilize the young vampire enough so that she would come home. It annoyed the older progeny that Eric would not just use his Maker’s Command to force his Bonded back home, but she understood that Sookie needed to come back from her break down as naturally as possible.

My career as an officer is over,” Sookie took a shuddering breath. “What made it the outlet I needed is no longer applicable. Vampire officers can only work vampire crimes, and I’m far too young to be any sort of officer in that department. Even if I could, I’d be putting myself, my Bonded, and my Bloodline in too great a danger. It’s a pointless venture.”

What else did you find out tonight?” Pam asked, coming to sit on the couch, her face a mask of disinterest, despite the inquiry.

I’m really sad,” she admitted the dark secret aloud. “I wasn’t ready for this. All I feel is sadness and guilt, and knowing that’s hurting Eric only makes it worse. I know he feels responsible, and it’s not his fault. It’s not his burden, and I’m making him shoulder it.”

So, what are you going to do about it?” Pam nudged her.

Looking up toward the ceiling, Sookie took a deep breath and replied, “I’m going to go try to figure out what there is for me.”

Did you ever wonder,” Pam began, “what it is you would have done if you were never a telepath?”

No,” Sookie answered.

Maybe you should.”

Sookie continued staring at the ceiling a moment longer before rising from the floor. “We should be heading back to Shreveport. I don’t want Eric worrying if I push it too close to dawn.”

Realizing that the conversation was over, Pam merely nodded and walked out the front door. Sookie ushered her dogs out the entry way and armed the security system. As she locked and closed the door behind her, she stood a beat longer than needed before shutting that front door for the last time.

On to Chapter Twenty-Three

Never End Ch. 21

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-One: The Trial

I wish there was more time to prepare you for this, Dear One,” Eric apologized as he drove them far from the outer fringe of Shreveport toward the bayous.

It’s not anything like a human trial?” Sookie asked curiously.

Not really. There is no jury, only the Magister and, in this case, the Ancient Pythoness. There are no appeals, only the verdict and the sentencing,” he told her.

Sookie shivered at the idea of ‘the sentencing.’ Looking out at the tree line that zipped by them, she asked, “What will happen tonight?”

The Overseers of the trial will list the charges. If Sophie-Anne is smart, she will plead guilty, and that will be all.”

Sookie frowned, “Why would pleading guilty be smart? Doesn’t that mean instant death?”

It does, for her.”

I don’t understand,” Sookie admitted.

The Ancient Pythoness is an Oracle… Really The Oracle,” Eric explained. “To be under her direct scrutiny for too long could cause Sophie-Anne to implicate the other members of her plot. If she values the existence of any others who were involved, she will plead guilty and accept her True Death.”

Sookie frowned deeper, “Then why have a Magister at all? Why not just use the Ancient Pythoness for everything?”

Eric smirked, “She is deeply respected in our community, Dear One. We only bring her out on special occasions. If it were not for the severity of our case, she would not be summoned at all.”

Because of the Bond?”

And the allegations against a regent as well as the standing of my Maker,” Eric told her. “You may call it the unholy trinity of misfortune for Sophie-Anne.”

Shaking her head at Eric’s jovial mood, Sookie leaned back into her seat and continued gazing out the window until fireflies glittered all around. She knew by their swarms that they were now deep into the swamps.

Why is it so isolated?” Sookie asked.

Habit,” Eric shrugged. “For so many vampires to gather in one place, and considering the outcome of the trial, it is best to be undisturbed.”

So, what would happen if it were just the Magister presiding?” she asked.

Eric lifted his shoulders once more, “Sophie-Anne would attempt to submit an alibi for her whereabouts of the three days surrounding her attempted assassination of you.”

Why three?” she asked.

That is the longest amount of time in our recorded history that an order can be implanted in a human’s mind without needing to refresh it,” he told her, “Sometimes a vampire decides to create progeny and glamours a human to protect the burial site until they rise again. The human served as protection as well as a first meal for the newborn. It was particularly common before the Anatomy Act of 1832 when grave robbers would dig up fresh graves so they could sell the corpses to anatomists.”

Creepy.”

Quite,” he agreed.

So, what if she has an alibi?” Sookie pressed him to continue.

Eric thought for a moment before he admitted, “Then she would have had someone else glamour that rookie who shot you, and then had them use one of her own aliases to make it appear that she was being framed.”

Sookie sneered, “Oh, man, I wish you’d let me at her! I would kill to interrogate the pants off this bitch!”

Eric’s eyebrows rose as he looked briefly at his mate, “You are rather feisty this evening.”

She practically killed me, Eric! Of course I’m feisty!” she bit back. “I don’t like someone getting the drop on me, especially not some scum rat who deals in human trafficking!”

Eric chuckled, “I see!”

Seriously,” she continued, “I’ve had years of interrogating others without the slightest suspicion of my abilities. Even the Weres didn’t suspect a thing.”

That is true. Unfortunately, as I said, with the Ancient Pythoness there, Sophie-Anne would not dare attempt a defense unless she had no regard for her co-conspirators.”

I dunno,” Sookie said contemplatively, “she let Grosse take the heat for the trafficking without batting an eyelash. I mean, did she even try and get him leniency?”

She did not,” he confessed.

What if her game is to incriminate enough vampires that they can’t possibly condemn them all?” she told him. “Maybe she’s looking to strike a deal.”

Even if she did involve several other vampires, they would be tried separately from her. Their sentencing could even be milder depending on the degree of their involvement. Let us say that a vampire knew that Chlebowski was the perfect subject for the queen’s glamour. The vampire who passed on that information would not be sentenced to True Death unless it was revealed that he knew why the officer was being glamoured. Even if he knew that Chlebowski was glamoured with the purpose of murdering an officer, he would not necessarily be sentenced with death unless he knew that the officer was Bonded. It would be up to the accuser to press charges and begin secondary trials in the event he or she wished to see all of those punished to the fullest extent of our laws.”

Crazy,” Sookie muttered as she felt the car slow to a coast.

Besides,” Eric continued to inform her, “there is no interrogating between the defense and prosecution in vampire trials. Evidence is submitted directly to the Magister. He is the one who asks the questions.”

Oh,” was all she could reply.

We are here,” he told her as the wheels eased to a stop and he smoothly moved the car into park.

Sookie took a deep, unneeded breath while Eric slid out of the car and came to open her door. She accepted his hand hesitantly and blinked through the darkness with ease, spying several high-end vehicles amongst the bayou and fireflies.

There’s so many cars!” she gasped in surprise.

This is a very big trial,” Eric reminded as he led Sookie down some invisible pathway. His steps were so assured that it seemed to the female that the route was marked, but she could not see it herself.

As they came closer to their destination, Sookie’s stomach turned at all of the minds she heard. There were nearly fifty vampires gathered in the clearing, one of which would have made goosebumps erupt all over her skin if she were still human. She recognized the internal ‘voice’ that had echoed in Chlebowski’s brain the day she had been shot. She would only need to hear the vampire actually speak to determine if the mind was Sophie-Anne’s.

Eric frowned as the seas parted upon their arrival. Confusion flooded him as centering the trial were the seats occupied only by the disinterested and bald Magister, Jorge Alonso de San Diego, and Sophie-Anne. His eyes discretely scanned the crowd, but the Ancient Pythoness was nowhere to be seen. The smirk on the queen’s face was all he needed to ascertain that the Oracle would not be attending.

It appears we are not in for a simple evening, Dear One,” Eric told her quietly as they walked down the aisle those attending had formed.

There’s no Ancient Pythoness?” Sookie asked with unease trembling at her lips that she dutifully subdued.

No, she is not here.”

What do I do if I’m questioned too? I’m really new to vampire law,” she said.

I trust your abilities. I will be by your side the entire time if you should falter,” he assured her.

I got this, Darlin’,” she replied firmly, in her element for the first time since becoming a vampire. She had never been a lawyer, but this was not exactly a court room. Sookie knew how to stick to her report when under scrutiny. She was not afraid of the queen’s answers in the least. She knew with ninety-nine percent certainty that Sophie-Anne was responsible for her untimely demise. Once the royal opened her mouth, and judging by her smug disposition it would not be very long, Sookie would have the final scrap of confirmation she needed to go after her murderer like a charging bull.

Once the pair met Sophie-Anne in front of the Magister, Sookie’s posture went ramrod straight, her expression clinically patient. The queen spoke in a snide, over-confident manner that made Sookie’s teeth grind.

“Magister,” Sophie-Anne pompously insisted, “I ask that you grant a motion for me to bring a charge of treason against Sheriff Eric Northman and his Mate and for this waste of all our time! This is an obvious attempt to dethrone me and take my crown! This is treason and I demand the highest penalty once I have proven my innocence!”

Motion heard,” Jorge waved his hand impartially. Sookie could not help but acknowledge that the Magister was anything except bored. He was practically vibrating with excitement and though it made her nervous, an intriguing thought amongst the crowd set her at ease.

At Sookie’s sudden explosion of confidence, Eric looked down at her in surprise, and then looked at the Magister.

Jorge’s eyebrows were raised at Eric’s expression, and he looked at the Viking for an explanation.

Sookie was rather hyper-observant as a human. Now that she is vampire, she is all the more adept at reading body language and facial expressions. I suppose there must be something she sees that reads in our favor,” Eric shrugged nonchalantly while internally belittling himself for openly responding to her emotions. Her Confidence had left him staggered, and he had yet to feel that sort of assuredness from her since her rising the previous night. Its sudden presence had yanked away his usual stoic demeanor.

I see,” the Magister eyed the smaller blonde curiously. “I would like to inform you that I interviewed the officer allegedly glamoured to shoot you. There was evidence of a glamour when he was put under my review, but we have no way of knowing who it was that instilled the command. The presence has been duly noted, nonetheless.”

Thank you, Sir,” Sookie nodded at him. “Though we can’t log it as evidence, your confirmation may sway your opinion as the interview presents more coincidences.

The interview?” the Magister raised his eyebrows once more toward Eric.

As you know, Sookie was a police officer. She is merely using the terminology with which she is familiar,” Eric responded.

I see,” Jorge chuckled to himself. “Shall we commence the trial, then?”

Whenever you are ready, Sir,” Sookie nodded.

I like this one, Northman,” Jorge commented as he appraised the new vampire. “Confident, respectful without brown nosing… It is good to see a young one of this era who is not a grand disappointment of whining and ignorance.” The Magister’s eyes swept over the Mated vampiress and Sookie would have blushed if she still could. There was no hunger in his eyes or thoughts, but his blatant appraisal made her feel as though he was seeing something in her that was very private. “A seemingly good choice to raise from the lower race. I look forward to seeing what this new one offers in the future… We will begin in a moment if you wish to prepare her any further.”

Pulling his Bonded against his side, Eric kissed the top of her head, sending Comfort. Eric could sense the unease within His Sookie, and he offered both emotional and physical consolations.

‘Beautiful, confident, and self-controlled. Good for you, Eric!’

Sookie turned her head toward the thought and saw a young man in the crowd standing beside Pam and another female vampire. The young man had short, brown hair and stone-gray eyes. She stared at him for a moment, seeing a strange shimmer around him and the unidentified blonde girl. Realization struck swiftly and she tilted her head toward the trio.

The pair by Pam, they are Godric and Emily?” Sookie guessed.

Eric did not need to look where she was staring as he nodded, “Yes.”

They’re a cute couple,” she offered. When Godric smirked, she realized that everyone had heard her. “Seeing another Bonded couple… I couldn’t see the aura we put off in our Bond, but I can see theirs. That shimmer…?”

Yes, that is what others see when they are looking at us,” Eric confirmed.

It’s subtle, but I guess it’s obvious when you know what you’re looking at,” she replied proudly.

Yes,” Eric rasped as he kissed the top of his Bonded’s head and turned toward Pam. “You have my documents prepared?” he held out his hand expectantly, receiving a thick envelope that Pam produced from her oversized purse.

Everything that Roary managed to scrounge up,” Pam nodded.

Roary?” Sookie looked to her Mate curiously.

An FBI agent based in New Orleans. Pam was very busy last week convincing him to do a server scan for Sophie-Anne’s email accounts. She was so persuasive that she managed to get cell phone dumps for Compton, the queen, and all of her progeny. Lorena even came to the trial to force Billy to testify against Sophie-Anne under the condition that we would not prosecute him as well.”

Sookie shrugged, “That’s fair enough. Other than being a creep, he didn’t really do anything to me.”

Eric nodded distractedly as he scanned the email printouts, cross-referenced several phone calls and the towers from where they had bounced, and compared them to copies of the moving violation committed by Sophia Cesira.

Satisfied, Eric took the envelope to Jorge and handed it over. “These are documents collected by my progeny over the last week. Unfortunately, the cell phone records are not as incriminating as I had hoped.

A list of phone numbers generated the week I Bonded with Sookie was compiled. It was reduced by confirmed registrations, and then reduced further by incoming and outgoing calls that were deemed benign or related to drug dealing. Fifteen phones were unable to be determined, but only three were purchased at the same location, the same day and at the same time. Two of those burner phones were used in proximity to the Area 1 estate judging by the tower from which they bounced. The third phone transmitted from Shreveport several times earlier this week. The emails I have in my possession imply that the Queen had deadly interests toward my Bonded prior to the appearance of these numbers,” Eric told the Magister as he quickly skimmed his eyes across the papers.

Is Bill Compton present?” the Magister called.

I am, Sir,” Bill wove through the throng of vampires to the center of the trial.

These correspondence suggest that you knowingly and willingly conspired to murder a human police officer,” Jorge accused.

Yes, Sir,” Bill nodded gravely. “The plan was to not allow any connection be made to vampires. However, once I witnessed that Northman and Stackhouse had Bonded, I abandoned my mission.”

The Magister nodded disinterestedly before pushing the papers back into the envelope and thrusting them into the waiting hands of his attendant. Turning to Sophie-Anne, Jorge asked, “What damages were caused that you felt compelled to end the life of a police officer and further, to risk a war with the two-natured community?”

Swallowing hard, Sophie-Anne attempted to explain her defense, “She was unable to be glamoured. I feared that a young one would take her life if they found they could not glamour her. To protect the vampire community from war with the Weres, I put out a commission for execution to Bill Compton.”

Your Bonded could not be glamoured as a human?” the Magister asked of Eric, his face suspicious.

She could not,” Eric replied.

Jorge looked prepared to inquire further, but his interest quickly waned, and he returned his attention on Sophie-Anne and demanded, “And when she Bonded?”

I backed off just as swiftly as Compton had,” Sophie-Anne declared.

Sookie clenched her teeth at the defendant’s claim.

Tell me why one of your very well-known aliases is listed on this moving violation just two evenings before Sookie Stackhouse was shot and turned?” Jorge pressed.

It is an obvious ploy to incriminate me,” Sophie-Anne shrugged. “Someone forged documents with my alias and glamoured a cop to shoot Stackhouse. If I had wanted the ugly beast truly dead, I would have ordered a head shot.”

Sookie frowned at the Queen’s comment, wondering why Sophie-Anne had not ordered an instant kill.

That would have been impressive,” Eric countered. “A potentially fatal wound is much easier to convince someone to do than a kill shot. I doubt anyone could have glamoured an officer to take such extreme measures.” Turning to the Magister, the Viking offered, “It is obvious that she is attempting to make us accept this as truth. She is trying to play the role of the victim.”

Prove it!” Jorge snapped. “With the grievous nature of the crime of which you are accusing your Regent, I want no doubt in the minds of those attending that her True Death is warranted. If you cannot prove your claims, well… You have wasted your time and your Mate’s when you bothered to bring her over.”

Sophie-Anne grinned smugly as Eric scowled.

Sookie pushed forward awkwardly and bowed her head to the Magister, “Magister,” she requested nervously, “have I, Eric, or any of our Bloodline stood anywhere near Sophie-Anne or her progeny?”

Jorge’s brow furrowed at the strange question, but he replied, “You have not.”

Please, dial the numbers of the suspected burner phones,” she implored.

There were murmurs through the crowd when the Magister took out his phone and began dialing the highlighted numbers on the submitted evidence. After two “no longer in service” messages, a trilling sound was suddenly heard throughout the dark and still swamp, making all eyes turn to a small brunette vampiress whose body stood rigid and frozen among the crowd.


The Magister smirked, “This just got interesting. Bring her here,” he demanded. “Who might you be?”

Veronica,” the small vampire squeaked under the overseer’s scrutiny.

She is not one of Sophie-Anne’s progeny,” Eric mumbled under his breath to Sookie who stood her ground.

Why do you have that phone?” he asked with a warmth that would not thaw the ice in his eyes.

Veronica cowered behind her huge head of hair that practically eclipsed her slight body while she cried out, “Mercy, please!”

Tell me why you have that phone!” Jorge bellowed.

It was mailed to me a week ago,” Veronica hiccupped as bloody tears streamed down her face. Sookie’s heart ached as she realized that Veronica was the Child of Michael Grosse. It was obvious how she had been recruited by Sophie-Anne.

Before the shooting,” Jorge waved his hand impatiently.

There was a note that said, ‘If you want him free, call the number in the contact list.’” she continued nervously. “So I called and…” Veronica’s eyes glanced to the Queen’s vehement glare before she blabbed, “Sophie-Anne ordered me to find someone who could shoot Stackhouse during the day. I found a cop who had a really big crush on her. I began glamouring two nights in a row to increase his obsession with Stackhouse so that when he was given the order to kill, it would be easier for him to accept the command due to his fixation on her.”

Did you know that Stackhouse was Bonded at that time?” Jorge demanded.

N-no!” she wailed. “I had no idea. I’ve just always been exceptional at glamouring, and Sophie-Anne promised that she’d get my Master freed if I helped get rid of the detective that put him in prison! I just wanted my Maker back!”

Can you prove that Sophie-Anne is the one who sent you that phone?” Jorge demanded.

I still have the envelope. It was sent from New Orleans… and I saved a voicemail she left me as collateral,” Veronica testified.

Play it,” Jorge commanded, looking strangely excited. Sookie realized that all of the drama was entertaining him.

Fumbling with the phone, Veronica punched in the password, and then pressed the speaker button so all of the attendees could listen and hear clearly.

You know better than to not answer this phone,” the unmistakable voice of Sophie-Anne echoed throughout the crowd, “I expect progress to have been made by the time you return my call.”

An automated voice chimed after the call ended:

To replay this message, press 2, to delete this message press 7, to dial this number, press 8-”

Press 8,” Jorge instructed.

Veronica followed her orders quickly.

Dialing, (504) 555-8264… We’re sorry. The number you are trying to reach has been disconnected….”

And that would be the number of the second burner phone previously submitted into evidence,” Jorge smirked, “which just so conveniently happened to spend a great deal of time in New Orleans the week prior to Stackhouse’s murder, and then bounced off a tower in Shreveport two nights prior to the shooting.” The Magister actually laughed. “My, my,” he shook his head, obviously delighted. “Sophie-Anne, you seem to have been caught!” Looking at Sookie now, he asked, “How did you know Veronica still had her phone?”

Smiling, Sookie replied, “She was clutching her bag rather tightly and her eyes would stray toward it every so often. I knew she was either hiding something or she was debating about turning over evidence.”

Why did you suspect it was a phone?” the Magister pressed.

Sookie shrugged in a deceptively nonchalant manner, “It was the only means of communication we had suspicions of between the queen and her co-conspirator. I took a stab in the dark that it was one of the burner phones.”

A detective’s gut instinct?” he sneered at the notion.

Experience,” Sookie responded. “Vamps have quick and subtle body language, but I can still see it. I actually handled a few contract hits as a human detective, Sir. Mind you, this was one of the more sophisticated ones I’ve seen. Mostly it’s gangbangers that get hired ’round these parts for a kill job, but Veronica did exactly what any one of them would have done. She made sure she got collateral on her buyer. You know what makes catchin’ y’all hard though? Most of what you buy and sell for a hit has nothing to do with money. Money’s easy to track, even when you use multiple accounts. Vamps trade things humans can’t detect, vendettas, favors, allegiances… That’s gonna take me a while to get used to.”

It would seem that since you have proven your case, you will have that opportunity,” Jorge announced. “Attendees!” he addressed the crowd, “I rule that Sophie-Anne Leclerq is guilty of the attempted murder of another vampire’s Bonded, causing a well-respected ancient serious grief and losses. The penalty for this abhorrent offense is True Death. Is this fair!? Is this just!?” he demanded from the crowd.

Sookie held her breath as an affirming roar came from the crowd, drowning out the few protests over the extreme repercussions.

The Magister turned toward Eric and asked, “Are you ordering the eradication of the Leclerq Bloodline, or will you be satisfied with the final death of Sophie-Anne?”

Eric’s gaze hardened at the question. “When have you known me to be compassionate?” he hissed.

Sookie glanced up at her Bonded with widened eyes that he deliberately ignored. While she looked at him, a skirmish took place in her peripheral vision when Sophie-Anne’s three progeny attempted to flee and several of the trial’s attendants were forced to apprehend them.

The young vampire tried desperately to keep her emotions in check, not wanting to burden her Bonded with her terror. A face, she reminded herself, a face he wears when he is Sheriff. This is vampire law, Stackhouse. Eric knows what he’s doing!

And the co-conspirator?” the Magister grinned with delight once the Leclerq Line was restrained.

Sookie’s hand tightened in Eric’s, and despite the attempts she made to rein in her prayers for mercy, her Bonded could still sense the Pleading.

I will not hold her accountable for the attempt on my Bonded. Veronica was unaware of Sookie’s status. I do not seek to condemn her,” Eric announced, and Sookie heard resounding relief in the minds of several Area 5 vampires. Their Sheriff may be ruthless, but not unreasonable. For a moment, Sookie wondered if Eric had spared Veronica for Sookie’s sake, or to allay an uprising in his own Area.

My existence is yours, Sheriff,” Veronica bowed her head meekly.

Yes,” Eric agreed monotonously. Dread settled in Sookie’s chest at her Bonded’s cold reply. His inflection sounded almost hateful, making the telepath wonder if this truly was a favor.

Finally,” the Magister seemed petulant over Eric’s show of mercy, “how do you side on William Compton and his conspiracy with the Queen?”

“As much as I detest the weasel, to hold him accountable where I did not hold Veronica would be a personal grudge, not a just cause. I submit that he be pardoned,” Eric declared.

There was another murmuring of approval with which Sookie half-heartedly agreed. She did not like Bill Compton, but there had been many people for whom she did not advocate as a police officer.

If that is your decision, then the execution of the Leclerq Line will commence,” Jorge gestured for his attendants to bring the four vampires before him. “Do you wish to carry out the sentencing yourself, Northman?” he offered.

As much as I wish, killing Sophie-Anne would make me the new King of Louisiana. I have no desire to rule,” Eric explained while declining, “Sookie, do you wish to end her existence? You are too young to be Regent,” he suggested.

I’m an officer, not an executioner,” Sookie stated flatly, hoping that her revulsion was not evident in her eyes. Eric automatically reached to stroke her hair in a soothing gesture.

Such a loving gesture,” Jorge smirked at Eric. “I’m intrigued, really,” he defended with feigned respect, “as to what could tame the ruthless Viking. Seeing your meek Mate, well, I suppose it answers my question.”

Everything I have needed to prove this evening has been accounted for, Sir,” Sookie began in a husky tone. “I feel no compulsion to display my fortitude as well.”

Jorge shrugged, unimpressed with her words, “I am merely stating that you are rather domesticated for a newborn. Did my statement imply otherwise?” he challenged.

With a strained smile, Sookie responded, “No, Sir. Forgive me, I’m getting thirsty.”

After that comment, Sookie crossed her arms over her chest and took a deep breath, wishing the action could still even out her emotions the way it once had. Dealing with her emotions was far more difficult as a vampire. There were no biological responses to distract her from anxiety or fear; no racing heart to subdue or labored breathing to even out. All there were now were the emotions and lacking physical reactions that were born of instincts, instincts that humans knew to follow without question.

Jana,” the Magister nodded at a small, fierce looking vampiress, “carry out the sentencing.”

Swiftly, unceremoniously even, Jana strode down the line of the four restrained vampires awaiting execution. Jana’s movements were as swift as viper strikes. Her arm moved almost imperceptibly fast, and then a pile of sinew and blood slopped to the ground.

Sophie-Anne wept in grief and rage as each of her progeny were reduced to bloody masses until Jana stood before her.

Goodbye, Your Majesty,” Jana grinned toothily before executing the Queen of Louisiana.

Sookie’s fangs popped when Sophie-Anne splashed to the ground, and the Magister grinned at the fledgling’s reaction, “Finally!” he exclaimed, roaring with laughter as Sookie buried her mouth in her hand, “A reasonable response from your Mate!”

Eric’s hand continued soothing his Bonded’s hair. The Magister was mistaken as to the cause of Sookie’s displayed fangs. She was not aroused by the carnage, she was terrified. Eric could feel Vulnerability welling up inside of her, and he tried to send Comfort through the Bond, only to hit a wall. Sookie was accustomed to policing her expression, but her fangs were not a reaction she knew how to control.

Trial concluded and sentencing carried out,” Jorge announced. “This case is closed.”

Turning toward his Bloodline, Eric lead Sookie to meet his Maker. “Dear one, this is Godric and Emily,” he introduced.

The slight, blonde vampiress smiled kindly at Sookie, “How about we go to Fangtasia and find you a donor, Hun?” Emily suggested sweetly after looking into the younger vampiress’ wide eyes.

Yeah, sure,” Sookie replied coolly while she was lead out of the bayou and back to Shreveport.

It was time to finally meet the in-laws.

On to Chapter Twenty-Two

Never End Ch. 20

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty: So What Does this Mean?

Now!” Ludwig clapped her hands enthusiastically, “Northman! Tell me every single irregularity you have witnessed so far!”

In order or by peculiarity?” Eric muttered.

Ludwig pondered a moment, “In order.”

Ticking off his fingers one by one, Eric began, “She rose considerably early this evening, she is warmer than I am by quite a bit, she has remarkable self-control, her dogs barely gave any pause when reintroduced to her, she cannot use glamour, she has little to no interest in drinking human blood, and,” Eric then grabbed a pen, paper, and jotted down a note, handing it to Ludwig. ~She can now hear vampires, except for me. After Ludwig read the note with increasingly widening eyes, Eric plucked it from her fingertips and quickly grabbed a book of matches to set the incriminating document on fire. When the note was nothing but ash, Eric mashed them with his thumb as though he were concerned they could still be read.

That is quite a list,” Ludwig murmured to herself. “Northman, I would like to make a deal with you and your Bonded.”

We are listening,” Eric waved for her to go on with her proposal.

I would greatly enjoy studying your Mate, testing and observing how she varies from normal vampires. In return, I will forgo my usual treatment and consultation fees.”

Deal!” Sookie shouted excitedly.

Sookie, you do not know what sort of tests she has in mind,” Eric pointed out.

I don’t care,” Sookie turned her imploring eyes toward him. “I just started in my new existence as the same freak I was as a human, but this time, there’s someone willing to help me learn and understand what makes me different. I don’t care if she has to chop off a limb if it means I’ll get answers and not be a step behind the way I was when I was human. I don’t want to be that scared, isolated shell of a person I was for the past twenty-five years! I can’t become that again! I don’t want you to be the only creature I can stand to be around. I love you dearly, but I don’t want to be in the dark again!”

Eric’s shoulders tensed hearing her confession. “I do not want to hide you away, Dear One,” he answered her, struggling to remain composed, “but I cannot lose you either. I do not want to put you at risk by letting others discover what you are, what your capabilities are.” Bowing his head with guilt, he admitted, “I would not have told even Ludwig of your gift if it had not brought me such uncertainty and concern.”

Nodding in understanding, Sookie pulled her Bonded into her arms and rested her head against his chest. “I’m so sorry if I am being selfish right now,” she whispered, squeezing him tighter. “Only, I’m scared… Of so many things,” she finished.

I know, Sookie. So am I.”

Ludwig cleared her throat at the intimate moment occurring before her, “Well, if I may, I would like to take a small sample of your blood, Young One. I wish to compare it to your mortal blood, and also a sample of your blood, Northman. I am curious to see if you underwent any changes when you transformed her.”

But you have nothing with which to compare it,” Eric indicated, even as he offered his arm.

Snickering to herself, the doctor opened her medical bag and took out the instruments she required. “Oh, I have samples of all of my patients,” she laughed as she stuck Eric with a needle and used the plunger to extract the blood out of his pulseless body.

What were you treated for?” Sookie asked her Mate, her voice pitching in surprised anxiety. She scarcely noticed the new needle piercing her own arm.

Shrugging uncomfortably, Eric admitted, “I sustained a partial decapitation a few centuries back.” Sookie’s eyes widened, and Eric could feel a wave of panic flooding her. He kissed the top of her head soothingly.

Partial!” Ludwig cackled. “Three centimeters deeper and you would have been a pile of flesh! I had to bolt iron plates from your T4 to your C3 just to keep that boulder of a head from snapping the rest of the way off!” Eric grimaced at her recollection. The experience had been the most uncomfortable of his existence. Four years of high collar shirts and having to turn his entire body to look either direction had been grueling enough in itself without the added anxiety of being in a suspended state of impending instant death. He had been forced to reunite with his Maker only for the added security while he recovered.

How were you almost decapitated!?” Sookie demanded shrilly.

Eric shrugged, “Territory dispute. Two kingdoms were at war. I was fighting for my King’s territory and went up against another vampire one hundred plus years my senior. The dispute ended mid-battle, but our fight continued. My opponent caught me with a transverse swing, and I only managed to pull back before my head was severed. Russel Edgington, the current King of Mississippi, stepped in and saved me, transported me off the battlefield, and summoned Ludwig. He even made the arrangements to have me returned to my Maker once my head was immobilized.”

Remind me to send him flowers and a ‘Thank you’ card,” Sookie shuddered.

Laughing now, Eric kissed the top of her head once again, “It was five hundred years ago, Sookie. I doubt he even recalls it.”

Still,” she insisted, “I want to thank the man who spared my Bonded and gave me to chance to know him.”

Which brings me to my next question,” Ludwig interrupted. “How is your Bond? Any variations there?”

None that I can tell. It feels unquestionably stronger than when she was mortal, but other than that, it is well and intact,” Eric described.

Ludwig nodded. “That is good to hear. Stackhouse,” she focused her attention on Sookie, “you have had both synthetic and human blood already?”

Yeah,” Sookie confirmed.

Yet you did not enjoy human blood?” Ludwig pressed.


“Well,” Sookie answered after some careful thought, “it’s not that I didn’t like it, I just didn’t find it all that much to brag about. I like it better than synthetic. It doesn’t have that gross aftertaste,” she offered.

Tapping her fingers against her chin, Ludwig asked, “But you can drink either just fine?”

Well, sure, but it’s kind of bland to me either way. If I’m drinking TrueBlood, it’s not so bad until I stop drinking. Then the aftertaste kicks in, and it’s disgusting. If I had a chaser of human blood behind it, I could drink mostly synthetic and not really notice a difference,” she responded even more precisely.

Very interesting,” the doctor murmured to herself. “Well, I will study your samples and get back to you tomorrow evening,” With that, the little doctor POPped out of the office.

How did she manage to preserve a five-hundred-year old blood sample?” Sookie asked Eric.

Her Mate lifted his shoulders, not certain himself. “Probably a magical stasis chamber,” he guessed.

Sighing, Sookie reasoned, “I suppose nowadays I should just assume if I don’t understand how something works, I should just chalk it up to magic.”

Eric chuckled while he nodded in agreement, “Perhaps, but keep asking. Who knows, I might have a theory in the future that does not use the magic excuse.”

Well, when that happens, I’ll mark the calendar!” Amused by her remark, Eric kissed the side of Sookie’s head while he guided her toward the door. “What are we doing now?” she asked while he ushered her down the hall onto the main floor of Fangtasia.

We are going to find Pam to discuss the current climate of our situation with the Queen,” Eric replied, leading her expertly through the club to his aggravated Child.

I can’t believe he didn’t even bother to call to let me know he left the grave already… Stackhouse doesn’t smell right… I still have the urge to bite her. She still smells good enough to eat!

Remembering how she had managed to silence the thoughts in the club back in Eric’s office, Sookie let go of her shields and all of her guards. Immediately the thoughts dissolved and all that rang in her head were the same noises every other vampire was subjected to hearing.

Master,” Pam nodded at Eric, and then turned to do the same to Sookie, “Mistress.”

Sookie made a face at her new title. “Oh, please tell me I don’t have to get used to that,” she winced.

Only when other vampires are around,” Eric assured her. “In this club, you will only hear Pam call me by my name when those under my protection are not present. Because you are my Bonded, she must show you the same respect she gives me when my subordinates are within earshot.”

Oh, okay,” Sookie nodded in understanding. “Sorry,” she told Pam, “I thought I’d have a few years to learn all the rules before I was suddenly abiding by them.”

I understand, Mistress,” Pam nodded.

What is our situation with the fly in our ointment?” Eric asked.

Grievances have been filed with the Council,” Pam answered him. “The Magister will arrive in Louisiana tomorrow evening. They tried getting him here before you rose, but I requested that they give your Bonded Mate at least one evening’s time to adjust to her immortality.”

When will the pest be detained?” Eric demanded.

I contacted Russel Edgington shortly after you were buried. He arrived in the pest’s lair that very evening to subdue it and its entire Bloodline. He is currently handling matters in an effort to keep panic at a minimum. Master Godric and Mistress Emily will arrive later this evening. Their accommodations at my residence have already been prepared to allow you two a proper first evening together.”

Eric smiled wryly while he shook his head, reaching into his back pocket. Pulling out his wallet, he took out his black AmEx and handed it to Pam who grinned like a fiend.

No online shopping,” he warned her before taking his grip off of the card.

Pam frowned over his one restriction, but nodded, and then she zipped out of the club.

What was that?” Sookie asked, more than a little perplexed.

Eric cleared his throat needlessly. “Well, there is another reason Pam uses my credit card rather than her own. She has…shall we say, impulse control issues when it comes to shopping. My black AmEx is the only unlimited card I carry.”

Why no online shopping?” Sookie asked.

Because my account will be a mess for months when she shops online. She changes her mind when she tries on the clothes, or the shoes are not tall enough, or she discovers that the leather is fake. All of the returns are tedious to balance when I pay off the card.”

Sookie laughed at his frustrated explanation, “Okay, so we’ve talked to Pam. Now what?”

Now,” Eric tilted his head down to catch her eyes, “we go home, take the dogs for a run, and spend the remainder of the evening relaxing and being thoroughly indulgent.”

Letting out a deep, unneeded breath, Sookie wrapped her arms around Eric’s waist and snuggled into his side. She let him lead her back out of the club, and once they were in the car, she turned to look up at him and asked, “Shouldn’t you have introduced me to the other vamps? You were going to do that when I was still human, weren’t you?”

Eric shook his head, “Those who were there knew who you were once they saw us. There was no need to be formal. Besides, Pam informed the vampires of Area 5 about the abrupt necessity behind your metamorphosis. That was why we were not bombarded when we arrived this evening. The vampire community has a great respect for Bonded vampires, and a strange, almost unnatural empathy for what I was forced to endure before bringing you over.”

How do you mean?”

Eric’s hand faltered as he went to start to the car. His hand settled in his lap and he stared out the windshield a moment before he replied. Sookie could feel his caution as though her heart could still hammer in her chest.

Dear One, you were dying in my arms. Everything we had planned, every intention we had was being ripped from me in that moment. I asked you if you wanted me to turn you, but the truth was that I had no choice. Those moments before you told me to save you were the most grueling of my existence. In those moments, a million possibilities ran through my mind,” He looked at the upturned palms in his lap, sounding so lost as he softly admitted, “I was afraid you would not agree, terrified you would succumb to unconsciousness before you could… Mortified of the possibility of you rising in three evenings and hating me for eternity for turning you into the monster whom you were never prepared to become.”

I’m not a monster, Eric,” Sookie said gently. “I’ve never seen you as a monster, and I definitely don’t see myself as one. I still see myself as a freak,” she teased lightly, “but not a demon. I drink blood, sure, but I still feel. I feel love for you and my girls. I care about what happens to my brother despite everything that happened. I am grieving, and so downhearted for missing my Gran’s funeral.” Sookie took one of his hands in hers and gave it a reassuring squeeze. “I still feel all of these very real and very human emotions, Darlin’, maybe even more strongly than before.”

Eric brought their joined hands to his lips, smiled, and kissed the back of her knuckles, “I am glad.” He placed her hand on his thigh then finally started his car. When they were on the road, he took her hand back into his and held it there, managing to shift gears while still keeping their fingers laced.

When they arrived at the house for the third time in that single evening, Sookie raced to the door, ready to spend quality time with her dogs. Eric quickly had them leashed, and they took off on their promised run. Sookie set the pace to Junes’ speed, knowing the sturdier shepherd would never be able to keep up at Mags’ roadrunner pace. Now that she did not need the air, Sookie maintained a pleasant conversation with her Bonded while they ran, bantering and laughing the entire time.

After nearly twenty minutes, Sookie turned them around to start heading back to the house when Eric took out his cell phone.

Who are you calling?” Sookie asked.


Her Bonded replied, “I need someone to come to the house and take measurements for an estimate on that fence you wanted. I also need to have a door installed for them so they can go in and out of the house as they please.”

Oh… Wait! You have a guy’s number on your phone who can just do that stuff?”

I do.”

You have some weird priorities on that phone,” she told him.

He smiled and held a finger up to signal her to wait while he began speaking to his contractor about material specifications, and starting and ending points for the fence. As they rounded up on the house, Eric hung up his phone, “All finished. He will take measurements tomorrow during the day and have an estimate for me by nightfall.”

If you’re gonna use him anyway, why do you need an estimate?” Sookie asked.

Estimates for completion, Dear One. I am already aware of the quality of his work and no matter the cost he gives me; he will still install it.”

Nodding that she understood, the couple walked the remainder of the way home, giving the dogs time to cool down after their run. When they were back at the house, Eric lead Sookie to the living room and curled up with her on the couch.

Movie?” she asked, surprised.

I thought it would be something nice and familiar for you,” Eric replied, going to the DVD rack and grabbing a case at random. He popped it in the player and came to curl Sookie against his side.

For you, too?” she guessed.

For me, too,” he agreed. “Admittedly, all of the news this evening has me out of sorts. I am unaccustomed to this sort of dread and concern.”

I don’t think any of my abnormalities are your fault, Eric,” she crooned. “Even Ludwig thinks it all has to do with my heritage. You can’t do anything about with whom my great-grandparents had sex,” she reasoned.

You are correct,” Eric sighed. “Still, I worry greatly about what effect vampirism will have on you. Why are you warmer than me? Why can you not glamour? Why do you not feed like a man who has found water in the desert?” the ancient vampire shook his head, confused. “It frightens me, these variations of yours. It means that other standards might not be the same. What if you are not genuinely immortal? What if you can be killed by less than me? What if you are not able to heal as quickly-”

Eric,” Sookie pressed a finger to his lips, “this is our first night of forever. Don’t think so far ahead, Darlin’. It’ll all work out, I promise.”

How can you promise that?” he asked.

A soft smile adorned her lips, “Because Fate owes me, and I have faith that Fate will deliver.”

Ah, your bullet of destiny theory?” Eric remembered.


“Yes, and you’re the target I was supposed to hit. I will do things in this world that have nothing to do with you, just as you will do things that have nothing to do with me, but you will
always be why I want to exist. Forever.”

I could not have said it better myself,” Eric whispered before going silent and focusing on the movie.

The couple watched several mindless films, hands running over arms and thighs until Eric turned off the TV, and rose to let the dogs out one last time before sunrise. As he stood next to Sookie on the patio, he could feel her body tensing against his side.

It is the dawn,” Eric explained the anxiety rising inside of her. “You can feel the sun beginning to rise and your body is telling you to take shelter.”

I think I’m a little scared,” Sookie whispered.

Understandable,” he nodded reassuringly. “You will more than likely feel a similar panic just before you die for the day. It is normal.”

That’s a first for me!” she snorted at the irony.

Eric smiled at her joke, “For you, anything normal is a relief for me.”

After the dogs had done their business, Sookie made sure they had fresh water and put food in their dishes, watching as they gobbled it up. “Okay, girls, you’re getting breakfast early, but you’re also getting dinner late!” she told them. “Now, be good, and I’ll see you tonight.” She knelt down and kissed the tops of both of their heads. “Love you, girls!”

Once Sookie had said her good night to Junes and Mags, he took her hand and lead his Bonded back to their bedroom. He was amused to find her suddenly shy, and once the door was closed and security system engaged, he turned to wrap her in his arms and give her a curious tilt of his head.

Are you all right, Sookie?” he asked gently

The woman shrugged, “I suppose everything is sinking in now.”

Such as?” he began unbuttoning her shirt.

I’m a vampire now, but… I’m still not normal, even by vampire standards,” she answered softly, as if she was trying to explain to herself as well. “I guess I hoped that I would finally fit in, and now there’s a distinct possibility that I fit in even less.”

You fit me,” Eric told her reassuringly. “It does not matter if you are the most ordinary vampire in the world or the most unique. You will always be my perfect Mate.”

Even though I can hear vampires now?”


“We will see danger coming a mile away and easily clear its path,” he told her.

Even though I don’t like blood?”

You will never be overcome with bloodlust to put yourself at risk.”

Sookie smiled as her Mate pushed open her shirt and off her shoulders. Next, he unclasped her bra and flung it aside before unzipping the back of her skirt and let it drop to the floor. Left only in her kitten heels and panties, Sookie reached forward to undress her Bonded. When he was naked, Eric lifted Sookie by her bottom and carried her to their bed.

You left my shoes and underwear on,” she reminded him.

You like it when I wait to take off your panties,” Eric smirked, gnashing his teeth at her pouting lip, “and those shoes are sexy.”

Giggling at his comment, Sookie wrapped her legs around Eric’s waist and pulled his head to her own for a kiss. She loved all of the little things he noticed about her. Even without the Bond, he could tell how she felt just by what she chose to wear. He recognized all of her little sexual quirks, such as yanking off her panties in a frenzy or being more aggressive when he shoved her legs apart. He knew when her need for comfort required a hug, kiss, or sex.

I wish I knew your body as well as you know mine,” Sookie spoke against his mouth when she felt his hardening staff press against her pubic bone.

Grinding against her firmly, Eric answered, “You know it better than you think.”

Pulling away from his mouth, Sookie gave her Mate a wicked grin, “Because I know to do this?” she asked, letting her hand drift down his back and firmly gliding her nail into the muscle lateral of his spine. Eric’s reply was to moan and buck his hips rather roughly against hers.

That is one reason,” Eric nipped at her throat as he began trailing kisses down her body. “Now we will both have to relearn your body. There are going to be all new sensitivities you will experience due to your increased senses. There may be some touches that you do not appreciate as much as you did when you were mortal. There may be some touches that you appreciate more. I wonder…” Eric ghosted his fingertips across her ribs, making Sookie smile and squirm with a giggle. “Oh good, you are still ticklish. I would have missed that!”

What else will you miss?” Sookie asked softly.

It does not matter. Regardless of the minimal losses, I have gained far more,” he rumbled in her ear.

I still want to know,” she whispered.


Eric sighed and flopped onto his back, pulling his Bonded against his side. “I will miss that first hour we are together after I rise, when your skin and hair smell of sunshine. I will miss being able to feed from you because it means I will have to have someone else inside of me. I will miss the hot dampness of your skin when I have made love to you… As I said, they are all little things, and I will replace them with new ones that I will never lose.”

I’m glad I’m still a little warm,” she offered.

Eric smiled softly, “I am glad for that as well.”

Sorry, I keep getting distracted,” she laughed, crawling onto his lap, much to his great approval. She ground her damp panties against his stiff member, rocking gently. “Wow,” she gasped, “this feels even more amazing.”

Grinning up at her, Eric grabbed her hips while flexing his own, pushing that much harder against her. As her bottom lip caught in her teeth, Eric smirked and reached up to release it just as her fangs ‘snicked’ into place. On instinct, Sookie’s hand reached to hide her fangs, but Eric caught it, and held her wrists in his hands.

No, Dear One,” he purred, “let me see my little vampire in pleasure.”

Smiling down at him shyly, Sookie continued rocking against his body until Eric let out a low groan, releasing her wrists to savagely rip away her panties. His Bonded moaned at the act of aggressiveness while she raised her thighs enough to sink back down on his rigid length.

A small, “ah!” escaped her as he slid deeply inside and Sookie remained perfectly still atop him while she savored the sensation that left her completely filled. After a moment, her walls trembled around him, and Eric growled almost impatiently. As much as he wished her to explore and learn her body, his frustration was mounting as minutes passed and she had yet to do more than flutter around him in maddeningly minor contractions.

Her Joy and Contentment were enough to stave off his impatience, but after nearly ten minutes, Eric finally abandoned his resolve and rolled Sookie beneath him. When she blinked up at him in confusion, Eric cocked his head and asked, “Dear One, where did you go just now?”

Go?” she asked blearily.

You have been sitting with my cock buried in you for nearly a quarter of an hour,” he frowned.

Have I?” she looked at their joined bodies and recoiled in terror. “Oh God!”

What is it?” he asked, beginning to thrust inside of her.

Sookie stared in horror at the deep wound in her abdomen that had spilled blood. When she looked to Eric’s face, wanting to demand to know what was happening, it was not her Bonded’s face that met her eyes.

A featureless mask. An un-sculpted mannequin’s head tilted down at her. It pointed at her as though staring with its generic brow and cheekbones, casting an endless void of shadows where its eyes should have been. The void sucked her in.

She tumbled into the darkness, spiraling out of control as her throat tightened with a scream that could not ring from her mouth. Empty faces, dead eyes, cold… COLD!

SOOKIE!” Eric roared, making the newborn vampire snap out of her trance.

Blinking up at her Bonded, Sookie shivered and cried beneath him.

What happened?” he demanded, and Sookie realized that he was sitting up beside her, leaning over her horizontal form, not actually atop her.

What happened?” she cried back, realizing bloody tears were running down her face. “I don’t know… Where? What happened? How did?”

Sookie,” Eric wiped her face gently, his own eyes stricken with panic.

Before either could utter another word, a loud POP sounded and Ludwig was staring at them in alarm.

I am sorry to come unannounced,” Ludwig told them with large, disbelieving eyes, “but my first experiment of the day has forced me to come now.”

What? What happened?” Sookie demanded in a near hysteria, clutching at the teary, bloodstained bedding.

It is imperative that you never give a human your blood, baby vampire,” Ludwig told the newborn.

What is going on?” Eric snapped. “What did you do to my Bonded?”

I wanted to see how her blood’s magic paralleled yours,” Ludwig began to explain, pacing as she stroked her chin purposefully. “Not knowing, I decided to administer a dose on a V addict and drainer who was due to be executed. The effects were terrifying. A mere drop of your Mate’s blood rendered the individual near-catatonic and when the high ended, the human suffered immediate and extreme withdrawal symptoms. It was like nothing I have ever seen. I do not even wish to do a second test to gather further information on the matter, but I can hypothesize that your mate’s blood is highly addictive to humans. The European Magister immediately dispatched the test subject, so his suffering was short-”

But vampires can track people who consume their blood!” Sookie wailed.

This was in Spain, Sookie,” Ludwig attempted to calm her. “The quantity of blood I gave him could not have allowed you to track that far.”

Was I feeling him? Is that what that… That… That dream was?”

Dream?” Eric and Ludwig looked at her, both puzzled.

I don’t know,” Sookie grabbed her hair and buried her nails in her scalp. “It all felt so real, but it couldn’t be real. A mannequin’s face. My death blow reopened… And that abyss.”

Calm, little vampire,” Ludwig pressed her hand against Sookie’s forehead, “Oh my, she’s even warmer than last night!”

Am I all wrong?” Sookie looked at the doctor with blood-rimmed eyes. “Am I not supposed to be a vampire?”

Shh,” Eric pressed his lips to his Bonded’s forehead, but peered over it to look at Ludwig worriedly.

As I said,” Ludwig told her, “an individual with as much fairy in them as you has never been turned. However, if you were not meant to be compatible with a vampire transformation, you would not have metamorphosed.”

Are you sure?” Sookie sniffled. “What about those babies who are born with terrible defects and only live for a few hours?”

I have analyzed your blood, little vampire,” Ludwig assured her, “and there is nothing that shows any signs that your general vampiric qualities are incompatible. You are missing a few things. Still, your healing factor appears intact, but-”

But?” Eric froze.

There are some…quirks.”

What sort of quirks?” he asked.

Ludwig replied by opening her medical bag and extracting a knife that made Eric instantly recoil, already tasting silver. Without hesitation, Ludwig pressed the belly of the knife against Sookie’s forearm. Eric’s warning snarl died in his throat when his Bonded did not pull away in pain. “You are immune to silver, but…” She put the knife away and extracted a spoon. She then performed the same action and Sookie jerked back her arm. “You are now sensitive to iron. It will not burn you as badly as a normal fairy, but it will weaken your strength just as a vampire’s is weakened by silver and cause mild skin irritation that heals as soon as contact is ended.”

And the blood?” Eric asked. “Have you determined why she does not crave blood?”

Shrugging, the doctor speculated, “It could very possibly be the iron in human blood. The thing that makes the Fae so sweet to vampires is that their blood binds oxygen differently to the cells and tissues and contains no iron. The young one does not have a taste for blood because the iron is unappealing. You could try mixing honey into her drinks to see if it makes it more palatable for her. Many subcategories of fairies live on nothing but honey.”

Making a confused face, Eric asked, “Will she be able to withstand it? It is human food.”

It is also fairy food,” Ludwig reminded. “This undertaking does not come with an instruction book, Northman. We have to try unorthodox methods to find what works best for this young one you created.”

Sookie sat in silence as the pair talked. She knew they were not trying to be rude while they discussed her without acknowledging her presence, but the longer they debated, the more frustrated she became. This frustration did not stem from being ignored, but the realization that she had become a burden.


Eric ended the conversation abruptly when he felt Guilt slipping into the Bond. His eyes quickly turned to his Mate and he quietly asked, “Dear One, are you all right?”

In a hushed tone, Sookie answered, “I’m sorry I couldn’t be normal for you. I know you’re just gonna say that you’d take me any way you could have me, but I still feel…” She shuddered around an unneeded breath as her throat contracted with sorrow. “I still feel… Like the most impossible creature to love!”

Ludwig watched with compassion as the young vampire allowed her mate to wrap her in his arms while she broke down and cried.

Sookie,” Ludwig drew the girl’s attention, “you are not causing any problems here. I have already confirmed your healing factor and immortality are well intact. Those are the two most important things you needed, and you have them. Your Bond is strong and healthy. These things that Northman and I are discussing are trivial, inconsequential even. We are only discussing them for historical background, and so that we can discover the best ways for you to exist comfortably. Wouldn’t you like to feed comfortably?”

I just,” Sookie took another breath, nuzzling into the strengthening embrace of her lover, “I just don’t want to be a burden…”

I understand, Little Vampire,” Ludwig nodded. “Try focusing on the positive things right now. The most disconcerting aspects have already been assured. Now we just need to unlock the mysteries of how to keep you comfortable. We will try adding honey to blood to see if you can ingest it and keep it down so that the blood will properly nourish you. We will test to see what percentage of iron it takes to weaken you. I would also like to do a UV test on both of you in the next couple of days to see if this fairy heritage has given either of you any resilience to sunlight. Northman, if you could try and resist the sun sometime in the next few mornings, I would like to know how long either of you are able to do so before succumbing to the bleeds.”

Eric’s face contorted into a sneer, “I would prefer not to subject her to that much discomfort at such an age.”

It’s okay, Eric,” Sookie assured him. “We would only be uncomfortable for a little bit, right? Then we just stop resisting and pass out?”

Letting out a huff, Eric shook his head, “That may sound simple, but the pain of resisting is nothing to overlook.”

“Whatever you want, Darlin’,” Sookie patted his hand. “If you think it’s too soon, then we’ll wait. We got an eternity, right?”

Relaxing at her concession, Eric kissed the top of her head, “That is right, all the time in the world.”

On to Chapter Twenty-One

Never End Ch. 19

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Nineteen: Rebirth Realizations

Trent stood motionless at the mound of earth. Captain Kleinman stood at his side along with two other Were officers. The four men watched the grave intently as the sun began to set.

She’ll rise soon,” Trent spoke out hoarsely as the sun grew nearer the horizon.


Kleinman shook his head, “Not as soon as you think. The first rising takes longer. Her Bloodline will be here well before she’s aware enough to rise.”

Trent nodded jerkily in understanding, “It’s been weird… Not seeing her for three days, not hearing her voice. Even when she was on administrative leave, she still called to check in.”

Drove Silva nuts,” Lieutenant Greggs chuckled, shaking his head, replying in a gruff voice that spoke of his amusement and woe.

But she’s not gone,” Kleinman reminded the men. “We’ll just not see her during the day is all, and we can’t get her drunk.”

When have we ever gotten her drunk?” Trent teased, brushing away a tear.

I saw her drunk once,” Kleinman replied slyly, “at the police fundraiser a couple weeks ago.”

Trent chuckled, “Wish you’d taped it.”

The levity ended there and the men went back to standing in silence. Waiting… As the sun kissed the horizon and the moon began to glow greeting the night sky, Kleinman frowned, “I did not expect that.”

What?” Trent looked at his captain in confusion.

Listen,” Kleinman whispered.

Shutting his eyes, the deputy listened closely. “Are they moving already?” He looked to the horizon confirming it was not yet true dark.

She’s trying to move. Northman’s keeping her down,” Kleinman explained. “She’s panicking.”

How can you tell?” Trent demanded.

I’ve been to an early rising before,” Kleinman explained, kneeling down toward the grave. “Stackhouse, this is your Captain speaking. The sun has only just set. I know you’re disoriented and Northman can’t explain this to you, so I’m doing it! It is too early to come up. Just close your eyes, let him hold you, and relax! We’re here guarding you. You’re safe! You don’t have to come up yet,” he called to the ground.

Is she calming down?” Trent asked worriedly.


“She’s stopped moving toward the surface. I think she heard and understood,” Kleinman reassured him.

Letting out a relieved breath, Trent crossed his arms over his chest.

{†}

It felt like an eternity to Sookie while she lay in the cold earth with her vampire’s arms around her. After a few minutes of trying to remove herself from under the ground, she heard her captain shouting the reasons as to why she needed to remain buried, and why her mate was keeping her there. Soothed for the time being, Sookie stopped struggling and returned to Eric’s arms. The Bond was singing with Reassurance and Love, and Sookie could not help but allow it to surround her.

Rather than become bored, Sookie began testing her gift. She could clearly hear the words of her colleagues and after a few minutes, she was relieved to discover that she could still also hear them.

‘I’m still a telepath!’ she thought with a sense of comfort. An even greater relief was that Eric’s mind remained blessedly silent.

After listening to the Weres for some time, sudden panic struck when Sookie began to fret over what had become of Mags and Junes. Who was taking care of them? Were they okay? Did they miss her? Would they still love her when she returned to them as a vampire? Unbeknown to her, tears began trickling down Sookie’s face, and she sobbed against Eric’s palm while she worried over her canine companions.

Comfort. Love.

Sookie sobbed even harder while Eric tried to soothe her through their Bond. His thumb rubbed her wet cheek, and his palm continued to prevent dirt becoming pulled into her lungs after she took a few instinctive breaths.

Finally, after what felt like forever, Sookie felt Eric urging her toward the surface. It was almost a bit like swimming through mud, but with Eric tugging and digging the way, it was not as difficult to break the surface.

There she is!” Trent shouted happily when Sookie wriggled the remainder of the way out of her grave.

Sucking in that involuntary breath when she reached the grassy side of the Earth, Sookie sprawled on the cool blades while she took in all of the sounds around her.

Sookie,” Eric’s voice brought her back from exploring the insect noises and heartbeats of the Weres around her.

Yeah, Darlin’?” Sookie asked sweetly.

How are you feeling?” Eric whispered, kneeling beside her.

Dirty,” she answered, frowning at all of the mud covering her.

The four Weres chuckled in harmony with Eric. “Pam has not arrived?” the older vampire asked in surprise.

You guys rose really early,” Kleinman explained. “It’s only just turned true dark. Ravenscroft will only just now be able to leave her resting spot.”

Nodding in understanding, Eric helped Sookie to her feet.

Ben,” Sookie looked to her cadet friend, “where are Mags and Junes?” she asked.

Oh,” Trent grinned, “I left them with a shifter friend of mine. He’s actually from your hometown, Sam Merlotte?”

Sookie shrugged, “I don’t know him.”

Oh, well, he has a bar and grill. They serve TrueBlood. I’m sure you could hop over there and get your dogs,” Trent suggested.

Sookie looked to her Bonded and asked, “Will it be safe for me to go there?”

Eric nodded, “I will be with you. You will not cause any massacres with me nearby.”

I’d like to think I won’t cause any massacres period,” she told him pointedly.

Babies have temper tantrums,” Eric shrugged as Sookie rolled her eyes. “You are merely a baby capable of leveling a small town, exactly what that shithole of Bon Temps is.”

Are you guys good to go?” Trent asked, gesturing to a patrol car. “We figured we’d drop you off at Northman’s place now that you don’t need security.”

Oh!” Sookie beamed at him, “Thanks, that would be great! I want to shower somethin’ awful,” she admitted.

There’s some bottles of TrueBlood in there, too,” Kleinman told them while they walked to the car. “I’m sure it’s pretty uncomfortable for a baby vamp to rise without a drink.”

She is controlling herself remarkably well. Most newborns would have attacked you, even though you are Were,” Eric noticed as he monitored their Bond and found his mate rather at ease.

Kleinman snorted, “Well, if there’s anyone who would have that level of self-control, it’s Stackhouse. I’ll see you later, Sookie, and we’ll talk about your standing with the department,” he called to the departing couple.

Thanks, Captain!” Sookie called back as Eric opened the back door for her. She slid in and curled into Eric’s side once he was seated beside her. “Okay, Ben, give me the skinny. What’s happened over the last three days? Where’s Jason? What happened with Chlebowski? How did you get into Eric’s place to take my dogs to Merlotte’s?”

Easy, Tiger!” Trent had not even turned the key in the ignition. Once the engine was running, he began answering her questions the best he could in the order she had asked. “First, a lot happened the last three days. Your brother took off once you started nursing on Northman’s arm. He had some real shitty things to say. I caught up with him at your Gran’s funeral and gave him a piece of my mind,” he growled darkly. “I told him that the only reason you didn’t call him about your Gran was because you were shot on your way to do just that! He told me to mind my own business, and that he didn’t need any excuses from his ‘blood sucking sister’, as he put it. Sorry, Sooks, but your brother’s a real ass hat.” Sookie sighed in agreement as a pang jolted through her at having missed her Gran’s funeral. “Chlebowski is being held by Ms. Ravenscroft. He’ll be interviewed tonight for your case against Sophie-Anne. They’re calling in the Ancient Pythoness to adjudicate the hearing. Ms. Ravenscroft has been organizing all that evidence while you’ve been under,” Taking a deep breath, Trent wrapped up, “And Ms. Ravenscroft was also how I got your dogs out of Northman’s house. She brought them to me, I took them to Sam.”

I see,” Sookie replied, flinching when Eric pushed a bottle into her hand.

Drink, Dear One. This reserve will not hold out for long,” Eric told her.

Making a face, Sookie brought the bottle to her lips. At the first taste, Sookie knew why Eric hated the stuff. It was like trying to pass tofu off as steak. There was no comparison, or at least Sookie figured it to be true, having yet to taste genuine human blood.

This stuff is horrible!” the telepath grimaced between gulps.

Such a refined palate at a young age,” Eric teased, taking the empty bottle from her and handing Sookie a second, “Try O neg, the universal donor has the mildest flavor.”

Sookie took the offered bottle and chugged it. “Still disgusting,” she complained, handing the empty over. “Don’t you want one?”

I drained the remainder of your blood three days ago. I will not need to drink again for over a week or two,” Eric admitted, feeling more than discontented that his Bonded could no longer nourish him.

For real? I thought I was already almost tapped out by then!” Sookie laughed.

I am glad you feel such levity over your death, Sookie,” Eric teased.

Shrugging, she took Eric’s hand into hers, “Well, it’s not exactly when or how I wanted this thing to happen, but I’m still in existence and I still have you. It’s much easier to feel lighthearted over the matter when all I lost was sunbathing and a pulse.” Squeezing their linked hands, she admitted, “This will take some getting used to though. You feel kind of warm to me now.”

Eric nodded, “You are actually considerably warmer than me still. Strange…”

Am I?” Sookie asked in surprise. “I can’t tell ’cause I’m used to the difference being so much more extreme,” she admitted with a laugh. “Is that bad?”

Eric shrugged, “It is curious, although it could very well have to do with the fact you are also Fae. A question later for Ludwig. We shall wait to see if there are any more peculiarities before summoning her again.”

How long?” Sookie asked.

A few evenings. Two, perhaps three. I do not wish to allow any abnormalities to go unchecked for very long, however; I also detest summoning Ludwig more than required.”

She seemed rather rude,” Sookie agreed.

She also charges an arm and a leg for every call,” Eric muttered.

Wow, Croesus is worried about money!” Sookie taunted.

Pretending to pout, Eric gave her hand a playful, warning squeeze, “I am not one to throw money around carelessly.”

Yes, you have Pam to do that for you,” Sookie pointed out.

Sighing in defeat, Eric conceded, “I do at that, but Pam also contributes a great amount to our Bloodline’s wealth in her own way. She is much more adept at determining trends than I am, and has made some very cumulative investments in areas where I would not have thought to allocate my money.”

I thought you had the best business sense of the Bloodline,” Sookie asked in wonder.

I do, but Pam is the best at predicting the next big fad fashion-wise.”

Oooh,” Sookie finally understood, “You let her invest in designers?”

I do.”

Nodding to herself, Sookie leaned her head against Eric’s shoulder. “I hope I can become just as lucrative for your future financial gains.”

Eric laughed softly to himself, “We do not have any expectations. Pam did not start contributing to the Bloodline’s finances until the 1960’s, and we never had any requirements that she do so. Of course, Pam is Pam, and though you may see her swipe my credit card rather than her own, she only does so because she is well aware that it is money she has earned as well. Despite her desire to portray herself as the spoiled Child, she is actually not spending nearly as much as she contributes.”

I see,” Sookie replied thoughtfully. “What does Emily do to contribute? You said she’s a pretty hefty contributor.”

You will like Emily. She has a knack for finding things, people. She has made a business out of finding things for others. During her century she has reunited several families with their loved ones,” Eric told her.

Maybe we can open a private investigating firm,” Sookie chuckled.

Perhaps.”

The pair remained quiet during the remaining drive to their house, thanking Trent in turn as they exited the car. When they reached the threshold of the front door, Eric swept Sookie into his arms and carried her over, making her laugh.

You’re such a goof!” she said, running her hands through his hair while Eric carried her to the master bathroom. Finally setting her down, Eric began tugging off her bloodied and dirty clothes. “Oh, I’m wearing what I died in!” Sookie realized in sudden shock. “I’m surprised you didn’t change my clothes!”


Eric flinched at the memory, “I wanted to get us in the ground as quickly as possible. I did not want to run any risks.”

Oh… Is that a thing? Going to ground quickly after turning someone?” Sookie asked as she shimmied out of her underwear.

It can be with those who were turned during a trauma they sustained. Also, with your being part-fairy, I was hyper-diligent,” he admitted while leaning around her to turn on the shower. As it warmed, Eric stripped out of his own clothing, and then ushered his mate into the falling spray. While streaks of dark water ran in rivulets over her skin, Eric noticed the unexpected luster of her tan. “You stayed quite golden,” he commented. “Usually those with a tan appear more pallid than this after being turned.”

We’ll chalk it up to another thing to mention to Ludwig,” Sookie sighed, running one hand down Eric’s chest while reaching for the soap with the other. They took turns lathering and scrubbing one another before moving on to their hair. Each put a glob of shampoo in their hands and then worked a lather into the other’s golden locks. Eric was forced to crouch so that Sookie could reach his scalp, and she chuckled at his awkward stance. “You look like a gargoyle,” she laughed.

You look like a water nymph,” he commented, planting his hands on her hips and tugging her toward him.

Hold your horses!” Sookie swatted his hands away. “I need to finish rinsing my hair and so do you.”

Eric groaned at the torture of having to wait for her to finish rinsing her hair, but he dutifully tilted his head directly beneath the shower spray and quickly rinsed away any suds. Sookie’s longer hair took a bit more time to clear the lather, but once she was done, Eric turned off the water and carried Sookie to bed.

She giggled excitedly when Eric threw her onto the bed, her body bouncing on the mattress as her arms and legs opened invitingly. Gracefully slipping into her offered embrace, Eric ran his tongue up the length of her body until his mouth found hers. When his pelvis ground against hers, Eric heard the sound of fangs descending and felt the sharp slice on his lip.

Groaning in pleasure, Eric pulled away in time to see Sookie’s hand cover her mouth self-consciously. “No, Dear One,” Eric encouraged, “let me see them!” Sookie pulled her hand shyly from her mouth and he could see the uncertain tremble of her plump lips when she displayed her fangs. “You look so lovely, Sookie,” Eric whispered, reaching for her mouth with his own. Now that her true teeth were shown, he snaked his tongue up along the ivory points toward her gums. As he did this, Sookie gasped, and her hips flexed beneath him. “Feel good?” he teased.

Oh, yes,” she whimpered into his mouth. “Almost as good as that tongue between my legs!”

You are getting ahead of me,” he groaned before kissing her again, pulling her body closer to his. She could feel his hardness growing against her thigh and she rocked her limb to encourage his stiffness. “It seems you are not in the mood to play…?” He inquired at the half-hearted attention she was paying him.

I just feel easily distracted,” she admitted guiltily. “It feels as if I’m thinking about so much more all at once than I did when I was human.”

You are,” Eric agreed. “Though unlike a normal newborn, I can keep you in the mood as long as I like…” With that statement, Eric flooded the Bond with Love, Lust, and Desire. New to the overwhelming susceptibility to her emotions, Sookie immediately arched under Eric’s motivating forces, moaning loudly as the space between her thighs began to throb as if he had been licking the area the whole time. “Mmm,” Eric whispered into her ear, “much better.”

Purring with the sudden change in mood, Sookie wrapped her legs around Eric’s hips and drew them against her core. Her hips rocked, coating his staff with her moisture, but not quite managing to slip him inside her depths. As Eric moved himself around the churning motion, he slid between her folds and let out a loud moan.

You are even hotter here,” he remarked against her throat. “How are you still so warm?” he wondered, frantically rocking his pelvis against hers. His hand drifted between her thighs and began rubbing at her hard little nub just as urgently as his hips pumped against hers.

In a hurry, Darlin’?” Sookie gasped, her thighs tensing while her hands clutched at the bedding. Before he could answer, the young vampire shivered and began to sob with an unexpected climax. As she fell over the edge, Eric thrust toward his own completion, filling Sookie with his seed. Though it took little time for Sookie to recover, her inner walls were still trembling around Eric’s semi-hard member. “What was the rush?” Sookie asked breathlessly, trying to run a hand through her wet, sex-tousled hair.

Eric shrugged, “I could feel you losing your concentration. Rather than force you to keep fucking, I finished us off.”

You realize you can’t force me to want to fuck you, right? I’m pretty much always up for it!” she teased.

Eric smiled softly at her admission, “I am sure that is true, but fledglings are quite scatterbrained. It takes them a few years to stay focused for any length of time. Their minds wander, they get distracted. I have seen newborns stop mid-fuck to go hunt, read, or watch television. We have a saying for screwing newborns; ‘Cum before they go’.”

Sookie laughed, “You think I could want anything more than you?”

There is nothing you feel pressed to do at the moment?” he tested.

I do kinda want to go get Mags and Junes… I want to know if they still love me,” she whispered sadly.

They may do as they did with me and jump when they first scent you. When you begin talking to them, they should begin recognizing you again,” Eric warned her softly.

Taking a deep, shuddering breath, Sookie nodded, “Can we drop by Gran’s grave while we’re in Bon Temps? I,” Sookie took another long inhale, though it did nothing to calm her nerves as it had when she needed to breathe, “I want to say goodbye.”

Of course, Dear One,” Eric kissed the top of her head as he held her tightly to him. “I was curious if you wanted, but I did not want to press the matter considering your current volatile nature.”

Smiling up at him, Sookie kissed the underside of Eric’s chin. “Thanks.”

Now that they were alone, that constant state of uneasiness was finally lifting its troubling weight off her chest. She was His now, completely, irrevocably His. He could control her, manipulate her emotions however he wanted. Despite her love for him, she had fears that he would not be the same Viking she had fallen in love with after her turning. To have this warm and intimate happiness was a relief. He had not been pretending. Eric Northman truly wanted to be everything and anything she needed, and it made her love for him increase past the point she had ever believed humanly possible.

‘Then again, I’m not human anymore, am I?’ Sookie thought wryly.

Eric’s breath caught as he rose from their bed. A surge within their Bond made him gaze at his mate in wonderment. The love pouring out of her end of the Bond was awe-inspiring, completely eliminating all it had been before this moment. Whatever dam she had built before had finally crumbled, and he was experiencing unconditional love for the first time in his very long existence.

The couple quickly dressed and climbed into the Escalade to begin their journey to Bon Temps after their silent musings of one another. They went to Adele Stackhouse’s grave first, not wanting to leave the dogs in the car, nor bring them into the cemetery.

You know where it is?” Eric asked, breathing in the night air to taste freshly turned soil.

Yeah, she had a plot right next to my Granddaddy. I know where it is,” she answered him quietly, leading Eric through the maze of headstones; a path Eric realized she knew well. As they came to the fresh grave, Sookie lamented softly, “I just realized… I didn’t remember to bring her flowers!” Looking around frantically, Sookie glanced up at the old farmhouse perched on the hill overlooking the graveyard. “Be right back, Gran!” Sookie said swiftly before standing, turning, and darting up the hill.

Eric waited patiently, knowing that she had simply gone to the farmhouse to pluck some summer blossoms from the plentiful bushes by the house. When she returned, Sookie knelt beside the grave, and placed the colorful bouquet next to the marker.

Sorry about that, Gran,” Sookie sighed. “I’m sorry I couldn’t come to your funeral, too.” Swiping at a bloody tear, the young vampire brought her hand back to her lap, fisting it in the material of her skirt. “So much happened that day. I’m not trying to make excuses, but let’s just say I’d be buried right next to you otherwise. When we spoke in the in-between… I wonder if you knew what was going to happen to me before I did? The way you spoke to me? It was almost like you were trying to prepare me for becoming a vampire.

It’s pretty neat so far!” she told her conversationally. “I’m super-fast and strong. You’ll probably be angry… I absolutely hate synthetic blood, but it’s disgusting! You know how you hate kidney pie? Ugh! Synthetic blood is just as bad! Worse, if you ask me!”

Eric smiled softly to himself while he listened to Sookie converse animatedly to her deceased grandmother. If he had not known better, he would have thought Adele was sitting atop her headstone, holding a conversation with his newborn Bonded.

I promise to visit lots and lots!” Sookie said while rising, “and I’ll remember flowers that I don’t have to steal from your-” the fledgling paused. “Gran… Did you leave me the house?” Her eyes looked to Eric, “Can we see if I can enter the house?”


Eric nodded in reply, “I suppose that we could. Did your grandmother intend to give it to you?”

Yeah, but now that I’m a vampire, I don’t know what that will do with the barrier,” she admitted.

Eric easily explained, “Well, the police department was filing a Certificate of Vampirism on your behalf. That means anything that was bequeathed to you would be held until after you rose. It is actually quite convenient being out of the coffin. It saves much of the paperwork and red tape for you youngsters.”

Sookie chuckled, taking Eric’s hand in hers while they walked back up the hill. As they took the two steps onto the porch, Sookie reached out her hand to try the door. It was locked.

Quickly extracting his lock picks, Eric had the door open in a matter of seconds, and Sookie reached past the threshold, more than pleasantly surprised to discover she still had access to her childhood home.

Well, I guess she did leave me the house after all!” Sookie gleefully remarked.

Is there anything you need here?” Eric asked.

I just want to do a quick walkthrough to see if Jason’s nicked anything while I was underground. I’ll need to get the locks changed, too,” she noted.

I will call someone to handle that. You go ahead and take your walk through the house,” Eric encouraged while he took out his cell phone.

Leaving her Bonded in the entryway, Sookie quickly zipped through the house, delighting at the speed in which she could move in such close quarters. It was one thing to run at the speed of sound in the open, but to find she could maneuver just as swiftly in a building was even more exciting.

Everything looks sound,” Sookie announced once she returned to the front door.

A security company will arrive shortly to change the locks and install a system on the house. They will drop off the keys tomorrow along with the code. Is there anything you want to take with us now that you will not have access to until tomorrow night?” Eric asked.

Sookie shook her head, “There’s nothin’ here I haven’t lived without the past eight years.”

All right then, shall we go get Mags and Junes?”

Absolutely! I miss my girls!” Sookie grinned.

Back in the Escalade, the two made their way to the bar and grill Trent had told them about. Sookie remembered the decrepit building from her childhood, but nodded in approval at the way in which Sam Merlotte had restored it.

I’m impressed this Merlotte guy didn’t have to bulldoze the whole building,” Sookie remarked while they walked toward the entrance.

It is still a shack,” Eric remarked dryly.


“It’s no Fangtasia,” she teased, giving his side a pinch.

Eric snorted, “Considering your history with Fangtasia, I would not be surprised if you preferred this place.”

I dunno, the first couple times I was there were real nice,” she said, giving him a wink. “That third trip was the killer!”

Eric rolled his eyes at her terrible joke, “You are the most unfunny creature I have ever met. Your puns are terrifying.”

Uh, you know the saying, ‘people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones’?” Sookie raised her eyebrows, “I mean, ‘Fangtasia’?!”

Sighing, Eric pushed open the bar door and quickly scanned the room. There were three men sitting at the bar, and three tables where people were seated. Sookie found herself having to swallow hard with the temptation their pulses brought forth.

You are fine, Sookie,” Eric whispered. “Keep it together just a little longer and I will take you to Fangtasia tonight for a donor.”

Nodding stiffly, Sookie walked up to the bar where a fire engine redhead was wiping down glasses.

Excuse me, Ma’am, is Sam Merlotte here?” Sookie asked, a bit of strain coming through her voice due to the multiple tempting heartbeats in the room.

The redhead looked up, and Sookie noticed the name ‘Arlene’ on her tag. She also noted the slack-jawed appreciation Arlene gave her Bonded before stammering, “H-he’s in his office. You a vendor?”

Sookie shook her head, “No, he’s been watching my dogs.”

Oh! The shepherds?” Arlene asked, surprised out of her fantasizing of one mouthwatering Viking.

Yeah, Mags and Junes,” Sookie nodded in confirmation.

Such sweet dogs! I let my kids play with them, I hope that’s okay?” she nibbled her lip nervously.

That’s fine,” Sookie assured her. “They love anyone who plays with them.”

I’ll go grab Sam,” Arlene told her, walking out from behind the bar and through a door by the kitchen service window.

Shortly after the redhead disappeared, a shout of, “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!?” could be heard from the back, and soon a man in a plaid shirt, grubby jeans, and shaggy, reddish, dirty-blonde hair emerged. He approached the two of them and immediately glared at Eric. “Northman! How the hell could you bring a fledgling in here!?” He demanded through clenched teeth with a forceful tone, but his voice was not raised; in fact, had they not been vampires, Eric and Sookie would not have heard him at all.

Snarling under his breath, Eric swiftly closed the distance between him and Sam Merlotte. “She is under perfect control, shifter,” he hissed authoritatively in the man’s face, clearly the dominant of the two.

I just want my dogs,” Sookie interrupted, attempting to ease the animosity. “I’ll leave real quick, I promise!”

Eric snapped his attention back to Sookie before sighing in defeat. Sookie was not at all the confrontational type, avoiding it at all costs, only getting her dander up when her walls were intruded upon. It was apparent to Eric that his Bonded was not the sort to become defensive with those who viewed her negatively. A pang of sorrow ran through him while he considered the reasons.


That was enough for the bar owner. He might not have been the smartest man, but he knew better than to get on the bad side of the Area’s vampire Sheriff. Sam rolled his eyes, tilting his head toward the door, “C’mon, then. Let’s get this over with.”

The vampires followed the shifter out the back door and past his office to a little trailer planted a few yards away. Excited, Sookie called out, “Mags! Junes! Mamma’s here!”

A duet of harmonious barking broke out at the sound of Sookie’s voice, and the young vampire recognized it as happy yelps. They had missed her!

Stay here, I’ll open the door, an’ let ’em out,” Merlotte requested, jogging the rest of his way to the trailer.

After the door was opened, Sookie flung her arms wide, “My girls! Come! I missed you so much!”

Junes came barreling out the door first, lunging straight for Sookie. The dog scarcely hesitated to jump into her arms. Mags, on the other hand, paused halfway to her mistress and waited several seconds until she closed the distance, kissing her mother just as eagerly as her sister.

Oh, my girls!” Sookie sobbed, burying her bloody tears in their coats while she hugged and kissed them. “I was so worried you wouldn’t love me anymore!” she cried, reminding herself not to squeeze too hard as she embraced them. The dogs cleaned her face and Sookie blanched while they did so. What would vampire blood do to dogs?

When the dogs did not appear to show any effects after drinking her blood, Sookie let out a sigh of relief.

Thanks for taking care of my dogs, Mr. Merlotte. I’m sure taking them in at the last minute was not easy on you. Is there anything I can do to thank you?” Sookie asked.

Uh…” Sam looked at her uncomfortably. I know she’s a baby vamp, but she’s so nice! Wonder how long that’ll last? “Nah. They were good girls. Cried a lot, but that was OK. I understood. They didn’t know what happened to ya. Trent brought their food and stuff, so I wasn’t out no money watchin’ them.”

Nodding, Sookie rubbed her dogs’ ears while she said, “Well, if there’s anything I can ever do for you, just let me know. I owe you a huge favor. Mags and Junes mean the world to me!”

Oh, thanks,” Sam replied hesitantly, and Sookie could hear in his mind how uncertain he was of her cordial nature. Usually even a fledge vamp don’t like us two-natured folk, and she’s with Northman? Surely she’d be quick to look down on us with that kind of Bonded…?

I was a cop, you know,” Sookie told him. “I’ve been around Weres a long time, and I would never be mean to a two-natured just cause they’re two-natured, no matter if I’m human or vamp.”

Sam processed that a moment before accepting her explanation and changing the subject, “Trent just said they was a friend’s dogs. I didn’t know it was a friend from the force. Hey! You’re Sookie Stackhouse, ain’t you? Adele’d talk my ear off ’bout you at the butcher!”

Sookie’s smile faltered with the mention of her Gran, “Did you, umm, go to her funeral?” she asked.

Sam nodded, “Yeah.”

It was beautiful, right? They sent her off good and proper?” she asked while she held back a sniffle.

Sam’s expression softened, “They sent her off just right, Stackhouse. It was a real nice service… So, this why you missed the funeral?” he gestured to her transformed body.

Yeah,” Sookie answered him, “I was shot the morning she died, but I managed to survive it, although something else happened later that night. My wound reopened and I began to bleed out. Eric had to turn me.”

Sounds to me like you was havin’ a pretty shitty day,” Sam crossed his arms over his chest while he thought about the young vampire’s appalling exit from mortality.

Could have been worse,” Sookie shrugged, not wishing to dwell in that moment.

I take it then your brother ain’t too happy about the vampire thing? I seen him and Ben having words at the funeral.”

Sookie frowned, “No, he’s not happy at all. He said he’d rather me be dead than vampire, only that wasn’t his decision to make.”

No, it was not,” Eric agreed, snarling. “Merlotte, if you will excuse us. Sookie has just risen this evening and is in need of another meal.”

The shifter nodded in understanding, “Yeah, sure, I hear ya.” He waved at the couple as they lead Mags and Junes back around the bar to the customer parking area. “Don’t be shy ’bout bringin’ those girls back for a visit!” he called, “We had a good time!”

Sookie’s back tensed, “Not sure how to take that…”

Eric laughed, wrapping his arm around her waist, “They probably all went running together. Shifters are particularly social with the species into which they often transform. Actually, they tend to have better kinship with familiar animals than other shifters or Weres.”

Merlotte turns into a dog?” Sookie asked, only a little stunned.

Yes.”

That’s cool,” she answered, opening the door of the Escalade to herd Mags and Junes into the backseat. “Good girls,” Sookie cooed to them before closing the door. Eric had her door open as she turned around, and she smiled at him when he held out a hand to help her inside, “Still such a gentleman.”

Only for you,” he replied, closing the door and heading to his own side.

The drive back to Shreveport was short to Sookie because she was paying so much attention to Mags and Junes, and discussing some of the modifications she wanted to make to give the dogs maximum comfort while she was dead for the day.

-and some kind of doggy door so they can get outside during the day, and maybe we could fence in part of the yard just so I know they aren’t wandering around? Oh! Maybe I should get them a bigger water bowl? And one of those timer food dishes?”

Eric laughed while she rambled on, “If I had realized the best way to spend money on you was to spend it on the dogs, I would have started spoiling them much sooner.”

Sookie rolled her eyes at her Bonded’s statement, “I can’t help that I want my babies comfortable while I can’t be watching over them!”

Nodding in agreement, Eric pulled up to the house and they took the dogs inside. Sookie quickly fed them, and then let them outside to run around. Afterward, Sookie filled their water bowl and the couple left for Fangtasia.

As they pulled up to the club, Sookie frowned when Eric helped her out of the vehicle.

What is it, my Bonded?” Eric asked after feeling her confusion and seeing the expression on her face.

Full house tonight?” she asked, perplexed. “It’s much noisier than usual,” she commented, pointing to her head.

Eric frowned as well. The parking lot had not shown a surplus of patrons, and his own enhanced hearing had not identified more heartbeats than were typical for a weeknight. As the confused couple entered the club, Eric monitored his mate closely while she took in the sights, scents, and sounds with her newly enhanced senses. Suddenly, he noticed her eyes begin to dart all around as they widened and an overwhelming panic rose within the Bond.

What is it, Sookie?” Eric asked, seriously concerned.

Eric, I can hear everyone!” she hissed, making the ancient vampire laugh.

Of course you can, Dear One. Your superior sense of hearing can now differentiate sound frequencies clearly, and this allows you to hear everyone despite the music being so loud,” he explained.

Sookie shook her head violently, “That’s not what I mean!” she insisted.

Eric stilled, comprehending what she was attempting to say without actually saying it. The realization came quickly, and it shook the ancient to the core. “Everyone?” he asked pointedly.

Everyone except you,” she replied, pulling her lip between her teeth.

We must call Ludwig,” Eric responded quietly, dragging Sookie toward his office. As he made the beeline, his eyes scanned the room looking for a quick meal for Sookie. He saw an unassuming brunette standing uneasily by the bar, and he knew she would be perfect for his telepathic Mate. “You,” he pointed to the woman who jerked, and then became instantly entranced by his blue stare, “do you wish to feed my Mate?” he gestured to Sookie.


“Uh, umm… okay?” the woman tripped over her words, not having anticipated becoming a meal for a vampire on her first trip to Fangtasia, especially not the snack for a pretty blonde one. However, curiosity was on Sookie’s side and the brunette followed the pair to Eric’s office.

Eric gestured to the couch, taking Sookie and the donor over to be seated. “Ready for Glamour 101?” he asked.

Let’s do it,” Sookie nodded.

First,” Eric began his instruction, “capture her eyes in your stare and draw in her mind as though it is the only one in existence. Become void of anything that is not her.”

Sookie trained her eyes on the brown orbs of her meal, though she could not clear her mind as Eric had instructed. The thoughts of all the other patrons and vampires penetrated her mind. The distractions were both great and overpowering. Aggravated, Sookie pushed at the distractions, and then was greatly surprised when the world around her silenced. As a human, the only time Sookie experienced silence was in Eric’s arms.

Do you feel her, Sookie?” Eric’s voice was fluid, forcing the telepath to focus harder. “Sookie?”

The telepath shook her head, distracted by her mind being hers and hers alone for the first time in her existence. “Sorry, I got lost in my own head,” she admitted.

Eric chuckled, “That is normal. Now, try again to empty your mind.”

Oh, gosh, the brunette beside Sookie thought nervously, I didn’t realize she was a new vamp! They’re supposed to be a lot more dangerous when they’re hungry! Oh, God, am I going to die!?

You’ll be perfectly fine, Darla,” Sookie crooned, reaching out to brush a lock of hair off the young woman’s face. “There’s nothin’ to worry about.”

Darla’s shoulders relaxed visibly, and Eric’s brows rose in confusion once he realized the donor was not under the influence of glamour. She was merely comforted by Sookie’s assuring tone and gestures.

Sookie, focus,” Eric coaxed.

The youngling shook her head, “There’s nothin’ to focus on, Eric. There’s no pull. There’s not a hint that I’m doing it right. I can turn off everything, but I can’t turn on the glamour,” she tried to explain.

Yet another curiosity. Some vampires are more adept at glamour than others, but I have never heard of a vampire who could not do it,” Eric was frowning to himself as he leaned over to capture Darla’s gaze to glamour her. The woman’s body went limp. “She is under. You may feed at any time now and not injure her.” Sighing, Sookie pulled the woman against her chest. “Find her pulse point with your tongue… Hmm, your fangs have not dropped yet. No matter, they will once your tongue is on her carotid,” he assured her. Eric was quickly finding that Sookie was not responding as a normal fledgling, not even a Bonded fledgling. Even Emily, with her sweet and protective disposition, did not have the same resistance to her nature Sookie appeared to be having.

Sookie’s tongue traced the donor’s neck, finding the fluttering pulse beneath the thin membrane of skin. Instantly, her fangs descended and pierced Darla’s neck like a needle though silk. Sookie’s mouth rapidly filled with warm blood, but the telepath found herself not compulsively gulping it down. To her, the action felt rather mechanical, like eating salad until she had been full as a mortal. It was easy enough to consume, but she only did so to keep herself nourished. There was no pleasure, and the flavor was only moderately more palatable than synthetic blood had been.

Drinking her fill, Sookie then laved her tongue over the injury as Eric had done for her so many times to seal the wound. When Darla was gently pushed away, Sookie looked to her alarmed Bonded.

What?” she asked. “Did I not do it properly?”

Eric’s surprise was in the expression of his tightly-drawn face, “You did it perfectly. That is what is so surprising. Newborns have a tendency to drain.”

Sookie shrugged, “It’s like eating healthy food, you eat until you’re full. It’s not chocolate ice cream,” she explained.

Eric’s frown became deeper before he caught Darla’s stare once more, and then dismissed her. “I am calling Ludwig,” he announced once the human was gone.

Is it that serious that I’m not a blood-lusting psychopath?” Sookie demanded while Eric took his phone out of his pocket and made the call.

While the phone rang, Eric listed, “You have no bloodlust, your gift has expanded to include everyone with the exception of me, you have no true desire for blood, even your dogs barely paused at accepting you. I must have done something wrong-”

I will appear immediately!” Ludwig’s voice chimed excitedly over the phone. Eric had no time to warn Sookie before the POP of Ludwig’s entrance announced her arrival. “There are several abnormalities?” she demanded with impatient exuberance.

Apparently,” Sookie muttered.

Ludwig appeared ready to do a tiny hobbit-like version of a happy dance, refraining only on account of her distaste for anything resembling pleasant or overly-ecstatic expressions.

When you were bleeding out at the police station, I thought it might be my last chance to get a decent blood sample,” Ludwig began in her regular terse tone only to change it dramatically in the very next sentence. “I have been examining that sample over the last three days and I must say, Young One, for such a fraction of fairy blood in your veins, you sure are a whole lot of fairy!”

I don’t understand,” the baby vampire tilted her head curiously.

Ludwig answered her, now practically gushing, “From what I have traced through your genetic line, you should be only one-eighth fairy. That would mean you have little to no direct Fae heritage. Unless you are not biologically Michelle Stackhouse’s daughter, you should not have nearly as many fairy markers in your blood as you do. As a third generation hybrid, your gift could have been an understandable occurrence. However, your blood has far more DNA of a half-breed fairy than that of a thrice-removed fairy.”

I really don’t speak Supe all that well, Doc,” Sookie admitted, completely baffled by the explanation she had just been given.

Ludwig flung her hands in the air, exasperation and a scowl prominent upon her face, “It means that you are the closest we have come, and potentially will ever come, to seeing what a vampire fairy will be!” At Sookie’s continued confusion, Ludwig elaborated further, “Your blood is the purest I have seen of a hybrid who was successfully transformed into a vampire. Vampires cannot turn fairies. They do not have the control to do so without draining them.”

Sookie’s confusion quickly turned into terror, “So what does this mean?”

Ludwig’s grin widened, “I can’t wait to find out!”

On to Chapter Twenty

Never End Ch. 18

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Eighteen: Terrible Timing

Why you couldn’t just turn her?” Ludwig grumbled as she adjusted the IV next to Eric’s bed. “How much blood did you take anyway?” She asked in an accusatory manner.

None!” Eric snapped. “She was shot this afternoon. I send her to work with my blood in case of accidents, but it does nothing for exsanguination!”

Ludwig eyed the vampire, her lids in tiny slits as if silently demanding to know if he believed she was unaware of that fact.

Shot, you say?” Ludwig asked instead of continuing to glare. “What does your Bonded do for a living?”

She is a police detective with the Shreveport P.D.,” Eric explained grimly.

Ludwig’s eyebrows rose, “Just how long have you been Bonded?”

Nearly a week now,” Eric answered her.

Looking between the vampire and the human in question, Ludwig asked, “Yet she hasn’t quit her job? You haven’t made her quit?”

She wishes to remain on the force…” Eric looked over to his Bonded and the pain-filled ache in his chest intensified. “She is trying to bring down her danger levels, and it was all going well until today…”

Ludwig scoffed, “Is everything seemingly fine with your Bond? You can send to each other properly? You can influence each other? There’s a desire to be with one another?” She demanded.

Yes,” Eric assured. “All of that. We are quite blissful when we are together. When she is not home by the time I rise, I can feel her longing for me until she arrives home.” The doctor’s perplexed expression gave Eric pause, “What is it?”

Shrugging, Ludwig began packing up her bag, “Nothing. I am just amazed she has the willpower to remain a police officer while Bonded. Are you certain she’s human?”

She is a telepath.”

Is that all?” Ludwig raised her eyebrows again.

Her blood is sweet,” Eric offered.

That doesn’t narrow it down all that much,” Ludwig quipped.

I’m a Fairy,” Sookie murmured from her bed, squirming slightly at the needle in her arm.

Eric’s head snapped to the side, staring at his Bonded in disbelief, “Why did you not tell me?” he asked, astounded.

I just found out today,” the frightened young woman whispered wearily. “Gran told me in the in-between…” Her eyes closed as she shifted into a more comfortable position.

The in-between…?” Eric murmured to himself, trying to determine just what it was she was attempting to explain. “Did you say that your grandmother told you this today?”

Mmm-hmm,” she sighed, repositioning herself once more.

Kneeling beside the bed, Eric took Sookie’s hand in his own and cautiously asked, “Sookie, this in-between, is it the realm between life and death?”

Her blue eyes cracked open and he felt a pang of concern pass through him. “Yes,” she admitted.

Kissing her palm, Eric nuzzled his cheek into it and then stroked her forearm while he tried to reconcile the thought that his mate had been so close to death.

I’m sorry, Darlin’, I… I fought real hard,” she cried.

No crying!” Ludwig commanded. “You’ve lost enough fluids for one day!”

Sookie turned her brimming eyes to the little doctor, “Are you the Supe doctor?”

A look of indignation crossed Ludwig’s face before she huffed, “I am.”

Will I still be a telepath after he turns me?”

Crossing her arms over her chest, Ludwig considered the hybrid on the bed, “It is quite likely that you will retain your gift. Is there anything else you need of me, Northman?” She asked.

No,” Eric whispered. “Nothing, thank you.”

Do not drink from the girl for at least a week, nor should you share your blood with her in that time. I believe a transfusion will be impossible with her genealogy. She has lost too much of her own blood for now, and if you were to share any with her, you could turn her. I assume that is not your wish at this time,” Eric nodded numbly at her statement. “I will return in two weeks to take a blood sample from the girl. We will know more about her heritage after I have run some tests.” With that, Ludwig POPped out of the room and Eric was left to his anguished thoughts.

Eric,” Sookie began, but he silenced her with his haunted stare.

For a heart-rending moment, Sookie was left to grasp for words. How could she possibly comfort him?

I’m sorry, I didn’t know I was a fairy-”

That is not why I am upset,” Eric replied, a solemn expression upon his beautiful face.

I know,” They were silent for what seemed an eternity until Sookie whispered, “You want me to quit my job, don’t you?”

I…” Eric stifled the request he wanted to make. He could already feel her resistance through the Bond, and it caused him even more pain to ask her to make yet another sacrifice. She had already lost so much that day, and then almost so much more.

Sitting in silence, Sookie played with his cold fingertips until she asked, “Do you want me to quit, Eric? Do you want to turn me into a vampire now?”

Sookie,” Eric hushed her, his single word filled with such deep emotion. “I want you to be happy. That is all I have ever wanted for you.”

Gazing at their twined fingertips, Sookie admitted, “I don’t think I’m meant to be happy, Eric. I’m afraid that I’m too broken.”

I have felt your happiness,” he reasoned gently. “I know that you can be happy, Dear One.”

I-” Sookie stopped and shook her head. “We need to get to the station. Everyone will wonder what’s keeping us,” she whispered. Nodding her head at the IV she asked, “How long do I need to be hooked up?”

Glancing at the bag, Eric answered, “Another twenty minutes or so.”

Sighing, Sookie leaned back against the pillow and shut her eyes. “I’m just gonna shut my eyes for a couple minutes then,” she whispered softly once more.

Rest,” he agreed, crawling into her bed and curling against her side. Eric played with the ends of her hair as he contemplated the terror growing inside him.

He desperately wanted to convince her to leave the police department, but he knew that she was close to being released from field duty. He knew the danger that had nearly stolen her from him earlier in the day was due to an act on the part of his own kind. How could he make her leave something she loved when the dangers that tore at his soul had been caused by vampires? How could he turn her into the very thing that wanted to see her dead, wiped from the Earth?

Before he knew it, Sookie’s IV bag was empty, and he was gently waking her rather than jarring her awake by removing the needle in her arm.

Hmm?” Sookie groaned softly while cool kisses caressed her face.

I was going to take the needle out for you, but I did not want to wake you with the pain,” Eric’s voice crooned into her ear.

Oh, is it time to go?” she asked groggily.

Yes, my Bonded. Soon we may leave and put an end to my Queen’s reign.”

What happens after she is dethroned?” Sookie asked while Eric carefully removed the needle.

A new regent will take her place,” Eric replied as he rolled off the bed and stood to help her up as well.

Who will that be?” Sookie asked while she walked unsteadily toward the closet to change.

Eric shrugged, “It could be a regent from another state wishing to expand their territory. It could be a vampire who wishes to increase their political involvement. There is no telling who might be my new monarch.”

Could you be king?” Sookie asked.

I will be the first vampire offered the position given that it will be my deed that unseats Sophie-Anne,” he admitted, “but I have no ambition to be king.”

Why?” Sookie asked.

It is not a headache that I desire,” he smiled forlornly.

As she dressed, Sookie looked back to her Bonded, sorrow in her heart. “I wish I could make you smile the right way,” she whispered, tearing up.

Oh, Sookie,” Eric came to her and wrapped her in his arms. “I have barely had you in my world two months, and you have been shot just as many times!”

Circling her arms around his waist, Sookie pressed her cheek to his chest. “I know,” she said. “I’m sorry.”

Eric shook his head and held her tighter, “Do not be sorry,” he pleaded. “It is not something you can help… It is who you are, it is what has made you the woman I love, but I do not want to lose you. I have gone over a thousand years without you, but I would not recognize my world without you in it.”

Thinking of her near-death moments with Gran, Sookie wondered if the old woman had been asking her something other than saying her final farewell. Is he enough, Sookie?’ She could practically hear Adele’s voice in her ear. Is he enough to say goodbye?’

This time, she would not only be saying goodbye to Gran. She would be saying goodbye to her career, her purpose in life, that ever-burning flame of right versus wrong that had always driven her, keeping her going throughout the harshest and most dreadful times in her life.

Being with him isn’t painful or difficult, Sookie reasoned with herself, every moment I have ever lived for myself has been with him.

The Bond had no place throughout her internal struggle. Even before their Bond, Sookie would have happily agreed that Eric had become the principal focus in her life. The truth of the matter was that Sookie was now uncertain if the Bond meant that she had no further purpose or aim in her life other than to be with Eric, and she was rebelling. Would she still be Sookie Stackhouse if she were no longer a police officer? Was she still meeting her expectations for herself if she became a vampire housewife? Would she truly be happy, or would her happiness be an artificial byproduct of the Bond? Who would she become?

Eric,” Sookie sobbed. “I don’t even know who I am anymore! I want to quit my job and run away with you, anywhere, everywhere, but is that really what I want? Is it me? Is it the Bond? What have I been working for all this time, only to become your Bonded so that everything I’ve accomplished is just something I now shirk off to the side and just walk away, leaving it all behind me?”

Taking in all of her confusion, Eric leaned in and kissed the crown of her head, “Dear One, let us take care of the Queen and get you on interrogation duty. We will see how we fare once you are not patrolling the streets and in danger. After that, perhaps we can find a balance. Maybe my concerns for you will not be so… Paralyzing.”

Nodding against his chest, Sookie sucked in a deep breath between her teeth and let out a sob. “Why can’t I ever just have one terrible problem at a time?”

Eric laughed unsmilingly, “Because your life has never been an easy one, my Bonded. The Powers that Be seem to believe you are strong enough to take your tragedies in triplicate rather than one by one.”

Triplicate!” Sookie moaned. “Oh, God! What will be my third tragedy!?” she laughed almost as if on the edge of hysteria.

My apologies, Sookie. I did not mean to imply anything else would go wrong,” he responded somberly.

Please stop being sad, Eric. I hate feeling you so torn up,” Sookie cried.

Taking a breath, Eric pulled away and took Sookie’s hand in his. “Shall we depart?”

We shall,” she agreed, letting Eric lead her out of the room. They made quick work of walking and feeding Sookie’s dogs before making their way to the police station.

Are you certain you are well enough for this?” Eric asked for the hundredth time while he helped her out of the car.

Unable to resist, Sookie rolled her eyes as she accepted his hand, “Yeah, Eric, I’m fine.”

Together they walked into the station, picking up Eric’s visitor pass before proceeding to lock-up. Sookie fired off a text to Trent, Kleinman, and Greggs while they headed to Chlebowski’s cell. Once they arrived, Sookie found the three men she had texted waiting with a fourth whom Sookie recognized as Sargent Darsen of the Internal Affairs Department.

Good Evening, Stackhouse,” Darsen greeted apprehensively, and she could hear in his mind that he was very distracted by the news regarding her abilities. “Doin’ all right?” He asked in attempted courtesy.

Fine,” Sookie responded. “How do you want to do this, Sargent? This is IA’s show so we’ll proceed however you see fit.”

Surprised at the Detective’s recognition, Darsen floundered a moment, “I suppose it would be best if we took Chlebowski to an interview room rather than Interrogation. I’ll interview Chlebowski, and you and Northman do your thing…?” He suggested with an edge of uncertainty.

Nodding, Eric and Sookie followed Darsen while Kleinman and Greggs went to retrieve Chlebowski.

The three had just settled in, Darsen front and center, Sookie and Eric off to the corner of the interview room when Greggs and Kleinman arrived with Chlebowski.

Good Evening, Officer,” Darsen greeted smoothly.

The younger man tensed as he took a seat, his eyes drawn to Sookie. “Stackhouse, I’m so sorry-”

It’s all right, Chlebowski, relax. We’re all going to figure this out,” she assured him gently, feeling Eric’s hand tighten over hers. When she looked at his expression, she could clearly see how much he wanted to kill the young patrol officer. Their Bond was not the least bit necessary for Sookie to know what he was feeling.

Tim, why don’t you tell us about your day today?” Darsen suggested, trying to distract the man from his confused reaction to Sookie’s comment.

Shaking his head to dispel his confusion, Tim Chlebowski finally spoke, “It… You won’t believe me,” he said, almost too quietly to be heard.

It’s okay, Tim,” Darsen encouraged. “We know what happened this afternoon wasn’t your fault. Just tell us about your day before the shooting.”

With an unsteady breath, Chlebowski began with the same uncertainty, “It was like a pounding in my head all day, there was this voice saying over and over that I couldn’t do anything about it too close to dusk.” Sookie’s back tensed, having heard those words all day as well. “I didn’t know what it was I wasn’t supposed to do,” he said shakily, but it seemed as if he was talking to himself even while he continued, “but when I saw her in the hallway, my hand was on my gun, I was pointing it at her, and I fired. When I saw her hit the ground, the pounding went away, and it was like it was never there… like a dream,” he finished.

Had you met anyone new the previous night? Anyone suspicious?” Darsen asked.

Chlebowski shrugged, and began to speak like the young man they knew, “I was on duty the night before last. I pulled over a woman. She was driving a rental… I can’t remember her face, which is weird. I’m pretty good at remembering stuff like that. Petersen stayed in the cruiser. I wrote up the ticket, went back to the cruiser. Petersen said I was there a long time and asked if it was a hottie. I told him she was nothing worth remembering.”

We’ll need the write up from that moving violation,” Darsen told him. Leaning back, he said to Eric, “I’ll run the plates from the rental and get the information on who rented the vehicle.” Eric merely nodded. “Anything else you can tell us, Tim?”

Sophia Cesira, that was her name,” Chlebowski remembered suddenly, and Eric cursed under his breath.

Mean something to you?” Darsen asked the vampire.

It is a common alias of a vampire with whom I am familiar,” Eric replied in a firm, yet disturbingly calm manner. “A well-known one in our community. She either used it as a calling card or wanted it to appear as if she was being set up. That will be all the information I need to pursue my grievances combined with the additional evidence I have gathered for another crime to which she is connected. If you will keep this man on hold for me while I contact the proper channels, I would appreciate it. Dear One, do you need anything else?” he asked of Sookie.

Rising from her seat, Sookie looked at the young patrol officer with a sad smile, “I’m sorry you’re being put through all this, Officer,” she told him sincerely.

With that, the couple left the room, and Sookie took a deep breath that did nothing to allay her anxiety.

As they made their way to the Homicide Department, Eric squeezed Sookie’s hand, “Go, speak to your friends. I will make my calls, and then we can leave,” he encouraged.

Sookie nodded numbly and went toward her department, scarcely registering the mind just beyond the door. When it swung open and she was met with the red rimmed eyes of her brother, Sookie gasped, startled.


“Jason-”


“Shut the fuck up, Sooks!” Jason bellowed while he rose from her desk chair, storming toward his sister, “Ya don’t even have the fuckin’ decency ta call an’ tell me Gran died!?”

I-I-”

Was too busy bein’ a fangbangin’ cunt ta call an’ lemme know!?” He accused.

Jason,” Sookie tried to scramble for her justifications, “I was-”

That’s enough, Stackhouse!” Trent roared, reaching for the older sibling to halt his verbal assault.

Ain’t bad enough I gotta put up with your high horsin’! Now I’m gittin’ even more looks a ’shame from the locals what wit’ them all knowin’ ‘zactly what a freak you always been!” Jason continued, shrugging out of Trent’s grasp, swinging his fist.

When Jason’s fist connected with her face, Sookie felt many things, none of them anywhere near good-natured or the least bit kind. Grief, anger, spite, envy, turmoil, malevolence, resentment, rage, disgust, fear, and then an all-encompassing sense that her life had just disintegrated around her. There, in that moment, the young woman wanted to cry, to scream out at the inequality, and Jason’s disgusting thoughts. She wanted to explode with righteous fury, then for all intent and purposes, that was exactly what happened.

A sudden burst of light illuminated the already well-lit office as radiantly as that of a supernova’s flash. Every occupant in the room was thrust against one wall whereas Sookie stood in a five-foot circumference of desolation. All alone in her sphere, Sookie felt whatever energy she had propelled filter out of her body and away from her, until all that remained were tiny scraps of the rationale that had seen her through the day. She was empty…cold…void of anything she could recognize as her own… Alone.

Sookie!”

Stackhouse!”

What the FUCK!?”

For the second time that day, Sookie felt as though she was struggling from deep within a great abyss. She was submerged, only this time her body was too leaden with grief to break the surface that had drawn her under.

Fuck! Her wound is opening!” Trent’s voice was miles away in the stratosphere.

How is that even possible!?” Kleinman cried out, astonished.

Whatever she did, whatever energy she just put out, it must have torn apart any healing by Northman’s blood,” Trent answered, clearly panicked. “Is this a fairy thing?!’

Fairy!?” Jason exclaimed.

WHAT HAPPENED!?” Eric’s bellow rang through her ears, clear as day. Sookie struggled to open her eyes, seeking his face.

Her brother hit her,” Trent rushed to put in plain words. “Sookie fuckin’ lost it, and a huge flash blew apart the room! Her wound reopened and she’s bleedin’ bad. Give her your blood!”

I cannot!” Eric shouted, in a panic himself now. “She has lost too much of her own today. If she consumes any more she will become vampire! She is not ready-”

Then she’ll need a transfusion!” Kleinman reached for his phone, preparing to dial an ambulance.

She cannot be transfused. She is fairy. Her body will reject human blood,” Eric’s voice was rapidly devolving into a near-animalistic growl as he grasped his phone, “Ludwig, appear now! Sookie is hurt!”

The POP that followed made Sookie’s body flinch unconsciously.

“What did I tell you about letting her bleed, Northman?” Ludwig snarled as she strode over to the injured woman. “Oh my,” she gasped, seeing the wound. “There is nothing to be done,” she spoke gravely. “I do not even have the time to transfuse her. There is no time to get the fairy blood. You must change her, Northman, now, or lose your Bonded-”


“The hell he’s turnin’ my sister inta some Deader!” Jason yelled, oblivious to the fact that a little, mythical hobbit creature had spontaneously appeared in the office.

Then she will die,” Ludwig told him. “Forever.”

Better her dead for good than becomin’ a soulless fanger!” Jason shouted forbiddingly.

A tear leaked out of Sookie’s closed eye though she could scarcely feel as Eric’s thumb brushed it away.

Tell me, Sookie,” Eric beseeched, “Please, tell me what you want?”

Her eyelids were too heavy, her throat too raw, but somehow through the pain and exhaustion she breathed out, “Save me…”

On to Chapter Nineteen

Never End Ch. 17

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Seventeen: Cold

Are you all right, Stackhouse?” Captain Kleinman asked gently. “You look tense…”

Sookie’s eyes looked up from her desk phone to the warm brown irises of her boss. “Y-yeah… Everything’s fine,” she replied.

Expecting a call?” he asked, somewhat confused.

Dreading,” she admitted.

Kleinman’s eyes widened marginally just as he blanched in realization. “Oh, I see,” He reached out and patted Sookie’s arm. “Just let me know if you have to leave on short notice.”

Yes, Captain.”

Nodding, Kleinman walked over to Trent’s desk and leaned against the edge. “How’s she holding up, Ben?” he asked quietly, unaware that Sookie could hear his conversation with the officer even with the distance.

Trent’s eyes swept over to Sookie and he frowned, “Worse, I’d say. It’s hard to tell if it’s the Bond or all the other shit going on with her. It’s been nearly a week since her and Northman Bonded, and she just gets more and more withdrawn by the day.”

Almost like the pre-Northman days,” Kleinman agreed in disappointment.

Trent nodded. “I don’t think the interrogation pitch will let us keep her,” Trent admitted sadly.

I’m afraid you’re right…”

Do not cry, Sookie. Do NOT cry, Sookie! The telepath prompted herself miserably while she listened to Trent and Kleinman’s conversation. Her heart was pounding furiously, her throat was dry and tight, and her gut was twisting with the effort to hold back her tears.

On top of the dread she was feeling over her grandmother’s fading health, a critical sense of foreboding had begun to envelope her over the past two days while she was at the station. At first, Sookie had feared the discomfort was a product of the Bond and that she was being compelled to quit due to her connection with Eric. However, early that morning, a new piece of evidence had given Sookie a much more disconcerting reason to be in fear of her life.

Not too close to dusk. Not too close to dusk….

A shiver ran down Sookie’s spine at the memory. It had been the briefest glimpse into a mind she did not recognize. Of course, the mind’s mantra had not been noticeably directed toward her, but the implication behind the words was enough to raise the hair on the back of the telepath’s neck.

Almost like a premonition, the thought had evoked a chill in her bones. Someone wanted to hurt her, most likely kill her, and they did not want Eric to be able to treat her injuries.

Today, it has to be today! thought the agitated mind.

Sookie jerked away from her desk and made a start to look for the body connected to the thoughts. The members of the homicide division looked up at her sudden movement, and Sookie stood frozen, a half-step away from her desk. She stared at the door as her co-workers trained their eyes intently on her.

It would not be wise to find the person whose thoughts sent icicles into her stomach. If the danger was genuinely directed toward her, she would be much better off putting an ocean between her and that person.

What worried Sookie was the fluidity of the thoughts. The voice seemed to weave in and out of her perception. It was a rather bizarre circumstance for the telepath, and the frustration it caused was almost as unbearable as the gnawing fear.

The only comfort that Sookie could take in the situation was the lack of familiarity with the voice or mind. The internal musings of every officer on the force were particularly recognizable to her, and she knew now that whomever it was that had bad intentions toward her was a stranger. It would be easy enough to discern through the Visitor Sign-in Log which unfamiliar person had been wandering the Shreveport P.D. hallways over the past several hours.

Just as Sookie was convincing herself not to make the worst decision of her life, her desk phone began ringing. Her eyes quickly glanced at the shrilling phone and her hand reached for the receiver automatically.


“Detective Stackhouse,” Sookie spoke huskily into the phone.

Miss Stackhouse, this is Patty Garza,” the crooning, comforting voice of her Gran’s nurse came through the phone.

Yes, Ms. Garza,” Sookie answered, her hand clutching the phone so tightly her arm began to tremble.

I’m sorry to tell you that Adele did not wake up this morning, Miss Stackhouse,” Patty told her solemnly.

I… See…” Sookie swallowed hard and took a long, shaky breath. “Umm… What do I do? D-do you need me to… to… Umm… To come out there? I-I can-”

Shh, Dear. Don’t worry. Mr. Spencer is on his way and he’ll take care of Adele for now-”

B-but,” Sookie choked back a sob, cupping her hand over the receiver and turning her back to her coworkers who were trying to look anywhere else but at the young woman receiving the terrible news, “But I want to kiss her goodbye…” she whispered with an all-consuming regret into the phone. “She can’t leave the house without someone kissing her goodbye!” She could no longer repress the sob as this time the sorrow overtook her.

Sookie!” Patty’s voice became moderately firm. “Take a breath. It will be okay-”

No,” Sookie moaned. “No, it won’t! Did Jason even come to see her!?” she demanded. “Did she even get to see him one last time!?”

Okay, Stackhouse,” Trent was behind her clutching her arm, and taking the phone out of her death grip. “Thanks, Patty. She’ll call you back.” He hung up the phone and started leading her out of the office.

I’m sorry you’re seeing me this way,” Sookie murmured.

You look much more composed than you might think,” Trent joked lightly. “Hey, I’ll take you home, okay? You look like you need to lay down, and there’s nothing you can do for your Gran right now, okay? So let’s just get you back to your house, and you can curl up until dusk-”

do it. Do it. DO IT! DO IT!

Sookie’s eyes widened at the sudden, close proximity of the ‘Stranger Voice’, and as she experienced that freezing block in her stomach, a deafening crack sounded behind her.

Oh my God, what did I do!? Why did I do that!? What am I doing!?’

Sookie looked down at the flash of color that had drawn her attention. ‘Is this my blood?’ she wondered in disbelief. The glacial pit in her belly now felt as if a blinding hot poker had seared its way through the wintery gloom. Her hands reached up while her gaze strayed further down only to see the blossoming floret of blood beneath the area where her fists were clutched. ‘Have I been shot?’

As the shock slowly began to wear off and the pain began to make itself known, Sookie turned her head to see who had fired on her.

Chlebowski.

You stupid, fucking rookie!” Sookie snarled just as her legs weakened and she crumbled to the floor. Chlebowski had already dropped his firearm, his hands were above his head, and on his face was an expression so stunned and disbelieving that Sookie was almost convinced into believing someone else had fired the gun and then stuck it in the younger man’s confused hands.

What did I do!? Why did I do that!?’

That was not the ‘voice’ of the bone-chilling thoughts from earlier…

Trent was roaring, issuing orders all around. Several other officers appeared and were dragging Chlebowski away. Sookie just lay there in a pool of her own blood, watching as a third party observer.

Ω

Why aren’t any of you worried about me?” Sookie whispered. “There’s a lot of blood here, you know!” she screamed at them. “Don’t you even care that I could be dying!? Has anyone even CALLED AN AMBULANCE!?” she demanded.

Sookie, Dear.”

Sookie’s shoulders stiffened and she turned her head to look at her Gran standing over her, looking spry and jubilant.

Oh, no,” Sookie moaned. “I died!?” she began crying. “No! Eric!”


“Shh, Dear,” Gran cooed, sitting on the floor next to Sookie, not getting a drop of blood on her. “This is the in-between. I spent a good deal of time here over the past week or so.”

I’m dying,” Sookie wept.

Yes, Dear, you are,” Gran patted her back sympathetically.

But I finally fell in love,” she whimpered. “I barely got to be happy, and…and…”


“Life’s not fair, Sookie,” Gran reminded her. “You had some happiness though.”

Why aren’t you telling me to fight!?” Sookie demanded of her grandmother.

Gran smiled, “You always do. Why should I have to tell you?”

Ω

SOOKIE!” Slowly the telepath’s eyes opened into tiny slits. “Stay with me, Sook!” Trent’s voice bellowed, yet it sounded as though it was underwater. “Ambulance is comin’, just hold on!”


“Bbottom ddraw,” she slurred woozily.

Shh, save your strength,” Trent’s hand squeezed hers.

Bottom. Drawer,” Sookie forced her mouth to articulate. “Get. It.”

You can hang on, Sook. You can do it. No one’s stronger than you. Just hang in there. Ambulance will be here any second-”

Eric’s blood,” she hissed, feeling more pain while she tried to hang onto consciousness. Her muscles flexed, instinctively trying to pull away from the injury, but were incapable of escaping.

You have some of Eric’s blood here?” Trent asked in a hushed voice.

Bottom. Drawer,” she repeated.

Trent leapt to his feet, leaving bloody footprints all the way back to the Homicide Division. By the time he reached Sookie’s desk his feet were sticking to the floor, and he wrenched open the bottom drawer of her desk to find a small insulated lunch bag. Unzipping it, he found a pint of blood nestled in a pocket of cool air.

You glorious bastard!” Trent cheered at Eric’s grim pragmatism as he lunged to his feet and ran back down the hall. “OUT OF THE WAY!” he screamed, shoving a lieutenant kneeling next to her to get to Sookie. Captain Kleinman was kneeling at her other side, and Trent fell to his knees, swiftly yanking open the container to hold to Sookie’s lips. “Drink up, Sooks!” he commanded, tilting Sookie’s head back and trickling the blood into her mouth.

He sends her to work with a pint of his blood?” Kleinman gasped in surprise.

Gotta admit, that guy doesn’t leave much to chance,” Trent agreed. “Damn it, Sookie! Drink it!” the deputy roared.

She’s out again,” Kleinman fretted.

SOOKIE!”

Ω

Sookie, did you miss me again already?” Gran teased.

Sookie’s eyes opened slowly and she found herself lying in Gran’s bed with Adele sitting in the chair where she herself had sat so many afternoons over the past several weeks. “How’d we get here?” Sookie asked warily.

This is where you wished to be, isn’t it?” Gran guessed.

Sookie frowned, “I wanted to be able to say goodbye to you.” A series of coughs erupted from her mouth and Gran dutifully filled a glass of water, offering it to her granddaughter. “I’m fine.”

Adele clucked her tongue in disapproval, “So stubborn.”

Always,” Sookie agreed.

Glancing slowly at the bedroom door, Adele admitted, “Well, I suppose, if this ends up being the last time I see you, there is something I should tell you that I learned in the in-between.”

Frowning at her Gran’s cryptic statement, Sookie asked, “What is it, Gran?”

Adele licked her lips, fidgeting with her hands slightly, “I want you to know something very important. You shouldn’t tell Jason; he would never believe it.” When Sookie nodded in agreement, Adele continued, “Your granddaddy was half-fairy.” Sookie’s eyes widened a bit before she choked out a disbelieving laugh. “It’s true, Sookie,” Gran told her sternly, sobering Sookie’s tittering. “Earl knew something was happening to other part-fairies. His fairy godmother was trying to get him to go away with her. He said that you weren’t safe because you were special like he was, that the fairy godmother might try to take you away, too. That day your granddaddy fell into the quarry? I never believed he fell. Now I believe he was pushed or maybe he was running for his life and didn’t see the ground end. He doesn’t know…” Adele stared at her hands guiltily. “I’m telling you this so that you can be aware that there are beautiful creatures who may try to take you away.”

Sookie nodded gravely, uncertain whether or not to believe her grandmother’s tale. Could this be a dying delusion that Sookie was suffering? At the very least, she would mention these things to Eric and see what he had to say. “Do you know the fairy godmother’s name?” Sookie asked in a whisper.

Claudine. Claudine Crane.”

But she won’t come after Jason?” Sookie asked to be sure.

No. He does not have the spark of the fairies,” Gran assured her before clapping her hands and asking, “So, when are you going to say goodbye?”

Do I get to?” Sookie asked sadly.

Do you want to?” Gran pressed.

No,” she admitted.

What about Eric?”

Sookie felt a tear stream down her cheek and mechanically brushed it away, “I don’t want to hurt him.”

Then say goodbye to me and drink your water,” Gran insisted.

Sookie stared at the glass, pouting. “Why do I keep having to say goodbye to the ones I love?” she sniffled.

Because the world is full of meetings and partings, Dear,” Gran consoled.

If I survive this, I’ll never see you again. I’ll become a vampire at some point and I’ll never die. I’ll never see you in heaven…” Sookie whispered.

But you love Eric, right? You’ll never have to say goodbye to him,” Gran pointed out.

I know.”

Isn’t he enough for you to be able to say goodbye to me?”

Yes,” Sookie said without hesitation and reached for the glass. Leaning forward, she kissed Gran’s cheek and murmured, “I love you, Gran. Goodbye.”

I love you, Sookie. Goodbye, and finally be happy!” Gran returned the kiss, Sookie pulled away, and drew the glass to her lips.

Å

She’s drinking!” Trent cheered. Sookie could hear a collective breath release around her, and then heard the minds of her colleagues letting out relieved sighs. “Whoa, Tiger! Slow down, don’t choke!” Trent gave a watery laugh as Sookie chugged the remaining pint.

Make room!” a new voice yelled, and Sookie felt hands all over her while her body left the floor. She panicked and began thrashing against her defiance of gravity.


“NO!” she cried, struggling for the ground. “No! I said goodbye!”

Sookie!” Kleinman cried at her wriggling body.

I said goodbye!” Sookie yelled. “I don’t want to die!”

They’re just putting you on a stretcher,” Trent tried to sooth her. “You’re not dying. They’re taking you to the hospital.”

Relaxing somewhat, Sookie eyed the frightened EMT and tried her best not to scare him further with her large, terrified eyes. Instead, she sought out Trent’s face and asked, “Did I drink the whole thing?”

Every last drop,” Trent assured, keeping up with the stretcher as they wheeled her toward the doors. “You’re gonna be fine, Sooks,” he patted her hand.

Go with her to the hospital. Keep us updated,” Kleinman called from down the corridor.

Yes, Captain!” Trent yelled back before returning his attention to Sookie. “You really scared us there, Sook.”

Sorry,” she replied, wiggling slightly against the sensation of her wound healing. Her lower left quadrant felt strangely missing through her awareness. “Is it healing?” she asked. “It feels numb.”

Trent’s hand palpated the wound, much to the EMT’s annoyance. “Yeah, it’s not bleeding anymore.”

What?’ The EMT thought, astounded.

Vampire blood,” Sookie answered softly in response to the medical personnel’s unasked question.

Once she was loaded into the back of the ambulance, Sookie gestured for her coworker to come in close. “What is it, Sookie?” he asked, leaning in.

Chlebowski was glamoured,” she hissed into his ear.

Trent’s eyes widened in surprise, “Are you sure?”

Yes,” she whispered. “He was hearing a command all day. I could hear it in his mind. It confused me at first, but when he shot me, everything made sense. The voice I was hearing was the vampire who glamoured the command for him to shoot me.”

Trent licked his dry lips, “Who could’ve done it? It’s really hard to glamour a command like that, or so I’ve been told.”

I think it was the Queen,” Sookie replied softly. “She’s the only vampire who has it in for me, but I can’t imagine why she would risk so much! It’s a huge vamp no-no to kill a vampire’s Bonded.”

It’s a huge Supe no-no,” Trent assured.

Nodding, Sookie leaned back and rested her head while the EMT continued checking her wound.

Can’t believe it. It’s almost completely sealed!’ The EMT thought in alarm. ‘Damn, vampire blood does a body good… I heard vamps can track humans who drink their blood though. Trade-off might be worth it-‘

Sookie groaned.

Does that hurt?” the EMT asked, reducing the pressure he was applying to the healing flesh.

No,” Sookie griped, “It’s still pretty tingly. I’ve never had my abdomen fall asleep, but that’s what it feels like, itchy, tingly, and kind of numb.”

Nodding at her explanation, he went back to checking her vitals.

The trip to the hospital had Sookie a nervous wreck by the time they arrived. She was trying to think of a way to save Chlebowski’s life, and the only way she could do that was to reveal her telepathic ability.

When she was packed away in an exam room, Sookie looked to Trent with concern. “I don’t know what to do, Ben,” she admitted.

About?” he asked, brow furrowed while he tried to discern what she was talking about.

How am I going to save that stupid rookie without revealing my ability?” she explained.

Trent sighed, collapsing in the chair near her bed. “I don’t know, Sookie,” he finally answered.

Fisting her hands against her forehead, Sookie leaned over herself and tried to think of something she could use to defend Chlebowski.

I wasn’t paying attention in the hallway earlier… How many people were there with us?” Sookie asked.

A couple.”

How many were Weres?” she asked.

The Lieutenant. There was another patrol officer, and then you, me, and Chlebowski.”

Nibbling her bottom lip, Sookie continued, “You think the patrol officer saw exactly what happened?”

Trent shrugged, “I wouldn’t know what he saw. You’d have a better time determining that than I would.”

Call the Captain, ask him to pull the Lieutenant and the patrol officer, and to not to let anyone speak to Chlebowski,” she directed.

What are you-”

Just do it. I’ll explain later. I need to think all this through,” she answered him sharply.

Nodding, Trent reached for his phone and dialed the Captain, relaying Sookie’s order. When he was done, the Were looked to his friend expectantly.

I’ll have to inform the Captain and Lieutenant of my telepathy. We’ll need to convince the other patrol officer that it was a weapon malfunction and my own bad luck. Worst case scenario, we’ll glamour him. We’ll see if Eric can do anything with Chlebowski. Maybe Sophie-Anne left some breadcrumbs in his memory that I might be able to link back to her, and then Eric can take her before the Council.”

Shit, you’re good at this,” Trent shook his head in disbelief.

I’ve had a long time to hide who and what I am, Ben. Now I’m just gonna need a little more help,” she chuckled darkly.

Before the conversation could continue, the doctor entered the room and both officers’ mouths snapped shut.

I heard we have a celebrity in here,” the doctor joked. “Detective Stackhouse, I am Dr. Ragnard. I heard you were shot today and that you ingested vampire blood to heal?” he asked.

Sookie nodded, “Yes, my boyfriend is a vampire… He sends me to work with his blood in case of emergencies like this,” she explained.

The doctor blanched, but still shrugged with the realization of how much sense it proved to make, “I see. Well, vampire blood is still being tested and has yet to be approved by the FDA. Technically, it is catalogued as a controlled substance.”

Sookie snorted. “Believe me, they don’t hand out their blood lightly. Seeing as I’ve not been given my Miranda rights, I could just as easily claim that I never took any. Vampire blood isn’t a substance that can be found through any type of screening,” she pointed out.

I suppose that’s true,” Dr. Ragnard agreed. “Well, let’s see if there’s any other damage. I’m also going to order an ultra-sound to make sure there’s no internal bleeding, and then you’re going to Radiology so we can be assured there were no bones broken.”

Yes, Sir,” Sookie nodded.

Once all procedures were completed, Sookie accepted a green scrub shirt to replace her destroyed blouse. She threw the ruined garment into the trash and followed Trent out of the Emergency Room where a patrol car waited to return them to the precinct.

You doing okay, Stackhouse?” Patrol Officer Petersen asked from the driver’s seat.

Yeah, healthy as a horse,” Sookie replied unenthusiastically, leaning her head against the seat while Trent got in the back with her.

Good thing you had that blood. Does Northman always send you to work with it?” he laughed.

Yup. He knows how much this job means to me, and I knew that accepting it would help to put him at ease,” she sighed.

I’ve never seen V used for anything other than getting high,” Petersen admitted. “Wish we had some of that stuff out on patrol.”

Sookie grimaced, “Vamps are really reluctant when it comes to sharing their blood. Ingesting it also allows him to track me.”

Oh,” Petersen grimaced. “Not sure I want it that bad then…”

Sookie chuckled to herself, still sitting with her head leaned against the back of the seat. With a tired sigh, she closed her eyes and let the slight swaying of the vehicle lull her into a short catnap.

Stackhouse?” Sookie jerked, awakening violently. “Whoa, Tiger!” Trent laughed nervously as Sookie gave a sudden lurch. “You OK?”

Rubbing her eyes, Sookie glanced out the window to see that they were in the station’s parking area. “Wow,” she mumbled, “it didn’t even feel like I fell asleep.”

Yeah, V will do that to you,” Trent said.

As the pair climbed out of the car, Sookie asked, “Have you ever taken it?”

Nah, but our Packmaster has. He got to know a vampire real well, and the vamp gave him some blood during one of the wars so he could keep fighting.”

Which war?”

Yup,” Trent laughed. At her questioning look, he told her, “A war against a witch coven. Amazing, isn’t it? The most human of all the Supes and they cause us some of the most grief.”

Really?”

Oh yeah, and it’s cause they pop up all over the place. Weres, shifters, vamps… We all have long memories, either from longevity or lineage. Witches don’t have that. They learn through word of mouth, or just fumbling around with their magic. Lots of room for corruption or accidents. Sometimes a coven gets corrupted and tries to exercise control over other Supernaturals. Annoying little shits-”

Wow, they must cause a lot of trouble,” Sookie could hear his frustrated musings.

They can, but vamps and Weres usually band together to put them back in their place.”

Sookie snorted, “I didn’t realize you guys knew how to cooperate.”

Trent laughed as well, “We’ve all kept each other’s secrets long enough to learn cooperation.”

I see,” Sookie thought about what Gran had told her during her brush with death. “Trent… Do you know if fairies exist?”

Frowning, the Were looked at his friend in surprise, “They used to… Well, they still kind of do… It’s a sore subject. They used to be the most powerful Supernaturals, and then the segregation between Fae and humans began. After a while Fairies became so inbred that their arcane magic became corrupted and weakened. Now part-fairies have more viable magic than full fairies do…” Trent eyed Sookie suspiciously. “Why?”

Nearly freezing up in shock, Sookie whispered, “I’m part-fairy… Or at least that’s what my Gran told me…”

Before she died?”


“No, while I was dying this morning,” Sookie admitted.


Trent stopped midstep in the hallway, looking at Sookie in utter astonishment. “You talked to your dead Gran this morning?”

Sookie nodded, “I know, it’s crazy. It-”


“No, it’s not crazy, it’s terrifying!” Trent cried in alarm. “None of us realized you were that… That close to dead!” His eyes were wide with panic that he was trying to subdue while reminding himself that Sookie was perfectly safe now.

Everything’s fine, Ben. You got me Eric’s blood. I’m fine,” she cooed soothingly.

Nodding distractedly, Trent put his arm on Sookie’s shoulder and walked the remaining way to their department. Several officers nodded at the blonde as she passed and she gave them a tight smile in return.

When the pair arrived at Captain Kleinman’s office, Sookie took a deep breath before opening the door. Lieutenant Greggs was there as well as the patrol officer who had been present during the shooting and they were seated across from their captain.

Stackhouse!” Emmett Kleinman rose from his desk and came around to hug her tightly, much to her surprise and embarrassment. “Thank God you carry Northman’s blood! You lost so much-”

I’m fine,” Sookie assured him, trying to discretely pull out of his embrace. “Officer Jennings,” she turned to the younger man, “I was wondering if you saw what happened in the hallway?”

I was talking to the Lieutenant,” he admitted sheepishly. “I wasn’t facing you guys when the shot was fired.”

Sookie nodded, seeing in his mind that he was, indeed, oblivious to the goings-on in the corridor. “Chlebowski was stupidly checking his firearm in the hall. He had a misfire,” Sookie told him.

Lieutenant Greggs looked at Sookie in disbelief, ready to protest, but at one look from her, he closed his mouth.

Idiot,” Jennings grumbled.

Sookie nodded in agreement. There was no way for her to take all the blame off of Chlebowski. There was just no possible way for her to have been hit without his gun being unholstered.

I just thought… you know… Given that it was so traumatic, you should know what happened,” Sookie told Jennings.


“I appreciate that. I was surprised to be called down to Homicide,” Jennings laughed. “Glad to see you’re OK, Stackhouse.”

Thanks,” she smiled when the officer rose and left the office.

Greggs wasted no time, “That was NOT an accident! I distinctly saw him point his gun at you, Stackhouse!”

You’re right, he did,” Sookie nodded.

Then why-” Kleinman began.

He was glamoured to shoot me,” Sookie told them. At their stunned looks, Sookie began slowly, “There is something you should know about me, and the reason why you two are in this room and Jennings isn’t included…” The young woman took a deep breath and felt Trent’s hand squeeze her shoulder reassuringly, “The reason you two are here is because you’re Weres, and I trust you to keep what I am about to say in the strictest confidence.” Both Kleinman and Greggs looked at her with alarm and apprehension. “I don’t mind the Were community knowing my secret anymore. Trent knows, and he’s been respectful and admirably silent about it.” The older men stared at Sookie expectantly and she took another deep breath before she finally admitted, “I am not hyper-observant. I’m a telepath.”

The Lieutenant and Captain looked at one another in shock, and then looked back to Sookie. She could hear in their minds that they were both taken aback by her confession and had no idea on how to proceed or what to ask without sounding disbelieving.

I also have it on good authority that I am part-fairy. Not much, but apparently there’s a little fairy blood in my veins.”

Greggs sat back heavily in his seat and Kleinman clutched his desk for additional support. “Why are you telling us this?”

It’s the only way I know to explain Chlebowski’s actions,” Sookie answered him. “He doesn’t deserve to have his life ruined because some vampire queen has it in for me.”

Sophie-Anne?” Kleinman asked in surprise. “Why would she want you dead?”

It’s related to a case I worked.”

Kleinman frowned, and then asked, “The Grosse case?”

Sookie flinched at his immediate bullseye. Trent had not yet made the connection. “Yes,” she whispered.


“Was she the actual ringleader?”

Eric believes so, especially now. That was one of our reasons for completing our Bond so quickly. Sophie-Anne commanded him to kill me. He told her we were Bonded to keep me safe, and then we Bonded shortly after the call.”

Kleinman felt his way back to his chair, collapsing into it, “You Bonded to Northman for your safety!?”

Sookie shook her head, “I Bonded to Eric because I love him and I want to be with him for the rest of forever. We Bonded when we did for my safety, but it was always my intent to accept. The only reason I planned to wait was because I didn’t want to risk my career.”

The two newly-informed Weres nodded in understanding, “So, where do we go from here?” Greggs finally asked.

We need to keep IA away from Chlebowski until after dusk. Then we’ll need to get Eric in here so he can see if there’s any remaining evidence to link the glamouring to Sophie-Anne. I didn’t want too many Weres knowing of any vampire involvement because we can’t risk a war when we have a single suspect within our sights.” The three men nodded agreeably. “I don’t know what Eric might need from Chlebowski, but whatever it is, we need to give it to him so he can clean up this mess neatly and with as little backlash between the two communities as possible.”

Kleinman thought for a moment, “Darsen from IA is a Were. I’ll talk to him and get him to lead the case. Do I have your permission to bring him up to speed on what’s happening? Including about the information regarding your gift?” Sookie’s body went rigid, however, she nodded her consent. “I’ll get on that right now. You… Trent, take Stackhouse home. Stackhouse, you go home, get some rest, and come back with Northman as soon as you can. I’ll stay here with Greggs and Darsen until you return, and then we’ll sort out this whole mess.”

Sookie nodded, “Yes, Sir.”

C’mon, Sook,” Trent placed his hand on her side and pushed her toward the door. “Let’s get you home.”

Thanks, Ben,” Sookie replied with sincerity while she let her friend lead her out of the station once more.

The drive to the house she shared with Eric was a quick one. Sookie fell asleep shortly after getting into Trent’s car, and it was not until he was shaking her that Sookie realized she had fallen asleep again.

Can’t seem to keep my eyes open,” Sookie muttered while she climbed out of his car.

You gonna be okay?” Trent asked worriedly.

Yeah… It’s just the wound was bad enough that Eric’s blood could only heal it. That doesn’t help the blood loss much. I’m feeling a couple pints low,” she laughed teasingly.

Trent grimaced, but nodded while he watched Sookie go into the house.

Tired and maybe a bit more than apprehensive about having to explain all that had happened throughout the day to Eric, Sookie trudged her way to his dark room and peeled off her borrowed scrub top. She threw it into the hamper and then quickly tugged off her boots before stripping out her remaining clothing. She was surprised at just how much blood she had all over herself, but then decided not to think too much about it, rather, she went straight to the shower and began rinsing away the remaining blood, all the while wishing she could wash the memories away as well.

When she climbed out of the shower, she looked over her body in the fogged-up mirror while she wiped the condensation in order to get a more enhanced view of her healing injury. The shiny, pink pucker of healing tissue glared in opposition against her tan skin and she touched the wound tentatively. It did not hurt, but felt strangely absent of sensation. A peculiar need to scratch at the new, weak skin until she could feel it flashed through Sookie’s mind, but she ignored it and went to lay in bed beside her unaware boyfriend.

Eric’s body was cool and solid, and Sookie felt safe pressed against him despite the fact that there was little he could do to help her at the moment. She glanced at the clock, determining how much longer she needed to wait until she saw his beautiful eyes, allowing her to vanish into the fragility that only she let him witness. She wanted to cry, to feel dependent, but she could not nor would not until he was there to protect her in her vulnerable state.

She could hear Mags and Junes whining through the two doors and she wanted to go to them to let their warm, furry bodies absorb some of her pain. Still, she could not move away from the bed. She could not leave Eric’s side. Her body was slowly refusing to acknowledge her orders, and her limbs felt as if they no longer belonged to her.

Sookie,” a worried voice murmured against her ear.

Uh,” she responded while her eyes slowly opened.

What happened?” Eric’s voice did not betray his Panic in the same way as the Bond did.

Gran died,” Sookie sobbed.

Why do I smell your blood almost like it is a perfume in here?” he demanded, and then she felt his hand reach between her thighs as if he was trying to determine whether she had started her period. She knew he only did this out of blind Denial. He did not want to believe that she had been critically injured.

I was shot today,” Sookie answered almost inaudibly.

Eric snarled and he turned her onto her back to examine her body. She knew the instant he found her healing wound when he let out a pained growl and the Bond flared with Rage.

Who will I be murdering this evening!?” Eric roared, crushing Sookie’s body to his own.

Probably Sophie-Anne,” Sookie admitted.

What?” Eric’s Rage turned to Confusion.

Someone glamoured another officer into shooting me,” Sookie told him. “I’ll need you to come to the station with me at true dark so we can see if there’s any additional evidence that may lead back to the Queen.”

Eric’s hand began petting her hair anxiously while he processed this information. Tentatively, Sookie began tracing soft symbols on his chest, sending him Comfort in the Bond as her lover absorbed all of the news. After a few moments when her comforting had scarcely thawed his darkness, Sookie took his hand in hers, slowly moving it to caress her breast. Surprised at her action given that he had felt no building lust or desire in her before this, Eric looked at Sookie, slightly confused.

I’m still here, Darlin’. I’m safe cause of you,” Sookie whispered as she pulled him carefully over her body and snuggled beneath his frame. “Come here,” she spoke softly as she took his phallus into her hand, stroking him calmly and steadily. “Make love to me, Eric. Reassure yourself that I’m here and I’m fine,” she encouraged as her legs parted.

Without a word, Eric crushed his mouth to Sookie’s, tangling his tongue with hers while his hips rocked against her hand. It was as his lips were on hers that he realized just how cold her skin felt although she was sweating. He listened intently to her pulse, noting its speed and weakness.

Sookie,” Eric pulled away in alarm, removing her hand from his body to examine her nails that were turning blue at the nail beds. “Sookie!”

Hmm?” she cooed to him.

How much blood did you lose?!” he quickly laid her flat on her back and began situating the pillows until her legs were propped up.

Chuckling at his concern, Sookie assured him, “Maybe a pint or two… I went to the hospital, Eric. I’m fine,” she reached out her hand for him, but frowned when the limb took far too much time to respond.

Eric felt her Unease and grabbed his phone. Pressing a number he had set into his speed dial after meeting Sookie, Eric only needed to wait halfway through a second ring.

Ludwig,” came the annoyed voice who answered the phone.

Doctor, I need you to appear! My Bonded is dying!”

On to Chapter Eighteen