Chapter Twenty-Five: Effulgent Evacuation
“Quickly, Sookie,” Eric urged once they returned home. The woman went straight to the bedroom and began throwing together bags and suitcases while Eric went to the phone. With lightning speed, he was dialing, giving his clock glances, hoping that if his home was bugged, it was close enough to dawn that translations would not be ready until the following evening when they would already be boarding their international flight. The phone rang, and Eric was forced to punch a series of keys before speaking, “Två flyger till Stockholm Sverige från Shreveport, Louisiana, USA (Two flying to Stockholm Sweden from Shreveport, Louisiana, USA.). Vampyr flyg (Vampire flight.). Två stora hörntänder medföljer (Two large canines accompanying.),” he ordered. “Snarast möjligt bekvämlighet när det är mörkt (Soonest possible convenience after dark),” He paused a moment and replied, “Cash.”
Scrawling out the departure gate and time, he glanced at his Bonded. She was moving at top speed as their entire closet was emptied into their luggage. Her anxiety was ringing shrilly through their Bond.
Hanging up the phone, Eric stopped Sookie in her tracks, “There is no need for this worry, Dear One. We will be fine. I will stay aware until it is dark in our destination.”
“Can this really happen so quickly?” she asked desperately.
“For someone of my means, yes.”
“And the dogs won’t cause any trouble?” she pressed.
“Please, do not say you are sorry again,” Eric leaned his forehead against hers.
Eric sighed, and then laughed lightly. “Let us walk the dogs one last time before dawn.”
Sookie nodded at his suggestion, and finished dumping one more bundle of clothing into a nearby duffle.
Mags and Junes barked shrilly when the pair emerged from the room, both sensing a disturbance looming over their heads. Sookie leaned down and hugged the dogs to her sides, kissing the tops of their heads. “It’s okay, Girls,” she soothed. “We’ll all be fine.”
Junes gave a loud bark at the comforting tone of their mistress’s words, nuzzling her muzzle under Sookie’s chin while Mags whimpered into her chest. The four of them went outside then, and Sookie let out a deep breath.
“I’ve never been out of Louisiana, let alone the country,” she commented softly.
“It will be all right,” Eric assured her. “You will have me to teach you the language and customs. You will learn quickly with that sharp mind of yours.”
“I’ll have you. You could have just stopped at that,” she said.
Eric smiled and kissed the top of her head while the dogs ran around the yard. When they were ready to come back inside, Sookie filled their bowl with water, and allowed Eric to usher her back into their room. “Is there anything else I should pack other than clothes?” Sookie asked.
“No, Sookie. There is nothing here that I need. What about you? Is there anything you need? Knick-knacks? Mementos?”
Sookie frowned as she thought about this before zipping out of the room and into the guest room where all of her belongings from her old apartment were still crammed. She rustled through several boxes before finding two picture frames.
There they all stood in one. Her mother holding her, her father with his hands on Jason’s shoulders, and Gran standing with her head leaning against her father’s arm. In the second photo, she stood with her high school diploma, Jason giving a rueful grin into the camera, and Gran looking at her with so much pride, she looked ready to burst. Jason had been so kind to her that day, marveling at her final GPA, and the honor chord she was adorned with for such high marks. That evening had not been so splendid as Jason had eventually lulled out of his awe, and instead began accusing her of cheating for her grades.
Still, in the moment the picture had been taken, Jason had been proud of her, too, probably for the last time she could remember. More than likely for the last time she would ever know.
“Ja, situationen är det ödesdigra (Yes, the situation is that dire.),” Eric confirmed as he lay in bed, stroking Sookie’s hair as she remained indisposed for the daylight hours. “Min lagerförråd har hotats av nordamerikanska rådet och Magister. De försöker manipulera henne genom rädsla, och hon är bara tre nätter gamla! Jag förstår inte varför de försummar så många protokoll, men jag inte vill stå bredvid och ta reda på! Vi behöver asyl (My Bonded has been threatened by the North American Council and Magister. They are trying to manipulate her through fear, and she is only three-nights-old! I do not understand why they are neglecting so many protocols, but I do not wish to stand by and find out! We need asylum.),” He paused as he listened to the response from Sweden’s Vampire King. “Ja, vi har en flygning strax efter första dark. Vi bör anländer i Stockholm omkring fyra hundra timmar (Yes, we have a flight shortly after first dark. We should be arriving in Stockholm around four hundred hours.),” Sighing, Eric nodded, “Vi är din skuld, ers höghet. Tack (We are in your debt, Your Highness. Thank you.).”
Hanging up the phone, Eric rubbed his thumb against Sookie’s cheek before sliding down the bed and curling up alongside her. Shutting his eyes, he succumbed to death.
When the pair arose a few hours before true dark, they quickly finished packing what they could. Sookie fretted over Mags and Junes, going as far as to leave the safety of their bedroom to open the hallway door enough that the girls could sneak into the bedroom with them, much to Eric’s disapproval.
“I’m sorry, I want them nearby,” Sookie admitted.
“If it were not safe, I would not have let you do it,” Eric answered.
“So, how does this whole thing work?” Sookie asked as she began petting and scratching her four-legged companions.
“We will drive to the tarmac in Shreveport, the dogs and our luggage will be loaded. I have chartered a private plane. We will board like normal passengers. When the sun begins to rise, we will go below the cabin deck to where the dogs will be, and slip into a two sleeper travel coffin. If my calculations are correct, we will have several hours of darkness left when we arrive in Stockholm. I will remain aware as long as I can during the day so we are not caught off guard. There is a layover in Frankfurt, but that is only while we refuel for Stockholm, no more than an hour or two. A two-natured concierge will take care of our passports-”
“What about Mags and Junes’ passports!?” Sookie realized.
“I made arrangements for that as well, Sookie, while you were dead for the day.”
“Oh,” she let out a relieved sigh.
“Do not worry, Dear One. I have thought of everything for this evacuation. Once we are in the air, we are safe.”
“I wish you could just fly us there,” she pouted.
“Even if I could just have our belongings shipped overseas, I unfortunately could not make it in a single evening,” Eric wished that, too.
Sookie nodded as she returned to bed, grinning as Mags and Junes followed her to cuddle between the couple. Eric’s arm wrapped around Sookie’s shoulder and drew her closer to his side so that he could kiss the side of her head. The anxiety in the Bond was causing him to ache with his own distress at being unable to comfort her.
“I will never let anything happen to you, Sookie,” Eric tried again to reassure her.
“It’s not that,” Sookie whispered. “I never wanted to have to leave,” she told him.
“You wished to stay in Shreveport for the rest of eternity?” Eric joked.
“No, just… I didn’t want to have to leave so soon. There are so many things I thought I would get to learn before having to learn more,” She took a steadying breath before continuing, “So much has changed so quickly. Darlin’, you came into my life like a bolt of lightning! You’ve been keeping tabs on me for so long, it probably doesn’t seem as quick to you, but for me? Three Months, Eric. Three months ago, I didn’t even know you existed. Three months ago, the only ones who knew about what I am were me, Jason, and Gran. Now, it feels like the whole world knows. I feel like there’s been this spotlight shining on me, and I’ve always tried to stay far, far away from that.”
Eric buried his hands in her hair, tangling the soft strands around his fingers. He had no words to offer her. Even for him, their flirting, courtship, and Bonding had been swift. He had wanted years to prepare her for this and had only managed to scrounge a handful of months.
“This was not what I wanted for you,” Eric told her, “but you have overcome so much, Sookie. You are even stronger than I thought possible. You told me in the beginning that you fought against running from me and what I was making you feel. However, the only regret I have for this whole situation is the despair it has brought you along the way. I do not regret the discomforts or even the fears you have been forced to endure. Those are parts of any creature’s existence, but this… What you have had to endure the past three evenings is unfair. There have been plenty of vampires with special gifts in our long history, but I have never witnessed the complete disregard you were shown last night. Even if you were not Bonded, you should not have been approached like that! It is a sign of disrespect toward you and me both to have you threatened in such a way. Had you only been a Child and not my Bonded, the Magister’s actions would still have been quite taboo.”
“Have you spoken to the Council and stuff?”
“I have,” Eric nodded. “I will also be calling the North American Council once we are at our destination. I want to confirm whether or not the Magister’s play was ordained by them. If it was, the European and North American Councils will be at great odds with one another… An outside mediator might be called upon,” he added.
“Who would that be?” Sookie asked curiously.
Eric grimaced, “The Pantheon. Particularly Endymion.”
“Who’s he… or she?”
“He is the Voice of the Pantheon, which is the collective of Gods and Goddesses. Usually, he only comes to Earth for brief visits with Selene when she takes on a human body with whom he will reconnect.”
“I suppose you could call it a Divine Booty Call, but they are very much in love. However, since Selene is not a physical being, she must obtain a mortal vessel.”
“Is Endymion a physical being?”
“Yes, though he sometimes possess normal humans for brief periods of time. He pops in from time to time, but I have not seen him on Earth in several centuries. Of course, the odds of me being in the same place as him are very unlikely.”
“So, he’s like the Ancient Pythoness? Only popping in for special events?” she teased.
“Not so much,” Eric laughed, thankful to have distracted her. “Since he has a physical body, he is capable of influencing things happening on Earth more directly. Suppose that there was a prophecy that needed to be fulfilled, and two individuals needed to meet. If the chances of that happening were not favorable, Endymion could enter the human realm and force the odds into better favor.”
“Sounds like a cheater.”
“A bit, he can be quite mischievous at times. He is also the only being other than the Black Cervine Clan that is allowed to enter the Void of Time and Space.”
“Oooh, that sounds Fated! Tell me about that!” Sookie giggled.
Grinning at her enthusiasm, Eric explained, “Well, the Black Clan is a special creature that can survive in the Void. The Void is a realm where one can travel, not only through time, but into parallel dimensions.”
“Like an alternate universe?” Sookie asked.
“Yes. There must be a universe, unlike this one, where Elfyria is still thriving and strong, you see. If there were not, then there would be no magical creatures. The land of the Fae is very important because it is the root of all magics. Vampires, two-natured, witches, fairies, all of us would cease to exist if there were not a dimension that had a strong and lustrous Elfyria.”
“Would a world without magic be so bad?” Sookie asked.
“Oh yes, Dear One. A world without magic is a world without life. Even the most mundane things are magical, but overshadowed by mythical creatures such as us. Energy is magic, Sookie. We can try and explain and deconstruct what it is made up of, but only more and more questions arise when we try. That is the magic of energy and life; that there are always more questions. More to explore, more to wonder. It is the ceaseless cycle and pursuit of knowledge. It is the strength of the spirit. It is the opening of a heart. A woman who feared being hurt, but still offered so much love? That was magic,” he whispered as his thumb traced her plump bottom lip. “The sun has now set, and we must depart. Are you ready?”
“As I’ll ever be,” she offered.
“All right, I will start loading up the car. You finish getting whatever it is you need for the girls,” Eric instructed before quickly rising, dressing, and grabbing the handles of their luggage in his large hands.
Sookie made quick work of packing up her dogs’ supplies. Food, toys, bowls, it all went into a large, unoccupied duffle bag. When she arrived at the Escalade, Sookie was astounded to see two large carrier crates in the back, and all of their luggage smashed into the seats between the front and trunk. With ease, Eric lifted each dog into their own crate and closed them. Mags whined at the unfamiliar transportation, accustomed to traveling directly behind Sookie. Junes merely let out a suffering sigh and flopped onto the plastic floor.
The pair of vampires quickly jumped into the front seats and Sookie gripped her Bonded’s hand as he tore off into the night to the airport. Their drive was a swift one, and Sookie almost felt disoriented by the speed in which they were moving toward the private tarmac.
“Is that the plane?” Sookie pointed to the sleek, Anubis emblazoned aircraft.
“Yes,” Eric nodded as he came to a stop.
That was all he said before slipping out of the car and assisting the luggage handlers with quickly moving their baggage from the vehicle to the plane’s hull. Sookie effortlessly pulled the kennels from the trunk and set them down, petting and scratching at her dogs through the thin bars.
“It’s okay, girls,” she murmured. “Tomorrow, we’ll all start getting used to the new “normal.”
Sookie gasped in horror as the cages were suddenly flung across the black surface of the tarmac, and her fingers that had been lovingly caressing her dogs were instantly broken as a series of yelps and cries rented the air.
“YOU CANNOT LEAVE!” a voice boomed above her. ‘They will kill me if they realize what I have done!’ the Magister’s thoughts penetrated Sookie’s mind as he grabbed her by the wrist.
Mags and Junes were crying and yelping several feet away in their overturned carriers, her fingers were throbbing as they healed, blind fear and rage were emanating from the wounded and emotionally injured baby vampire.
“HOW DARE YOU!” Sookie screamed not from the pain from Jorge’s grip, but his actions against her canine companions.
Before she could stop it, before she could realize the terrifyingly familiar sensation pulsing inside of her, Sookie exploded with righteous fury just as she had nearly a week before in the homicide division of Shreveport P.D. She watched in stunned silence while her skin radiated with pure, white light, and the Magister’s jaw slackened as his hand, arm, and chest turned to ash. Then that slackened jaw dislodged, fell to the ground as if it were charred wood, and finally, his entire frame crumbled into a pile of nearly unrecognizable ash.
“Sookie!” Eric was at her side, fearlessly placing his hands on her shoulders until the glow subsided, and she stood trembling. “Are you all right?” he inquired cautiously, spinning her around to face him. A breeze picked up, blowing the scorched remains of Jorge across the tarmac.
“The girls!” Sookie grasped consciousness and ran for the cages as several stunned airline employees looked on in paralyzing fear.
Unable to risk the escape of witnesses, Eric quickly went back to the handlers and glamoured them. Next, he found a security guard who was running over to their plane, forcing him to retrieve the security footage of the incident and bring it to him. After their safety was guaranteed, Eric returned to Sookie’s side as she opened the kennels and inspected her dogs.
“They’re fine!” Sookie gasped in relief once she had the dogs out walking, and they showed only the slightest hints of sprains and bruises. “Oh, my girls!” she sobbed into their coats.
“Sookie, we do not have time for this,” Eric urged her to put the dogs back in their kennels before loading them into the hull.
“What did I do? What just happened?” Sookie asked fearfully.
“I do not know, but it does not cause me any injury it would seem,” Eric answered her, accepting the disc the security guard dazedly placed in his hand. “We will give this to Ludwig to see if she can offer any explanation.”
The most Sookie could offer was a sensationless nod of her head, letting Eric lead her onto the plane.
“Please, scan the crew,” Eric instructed.
Another numb nod of her head followed his directive, and Sookie peered into the minds of their pilots and attendants.
“They’re good. Scared though, they know something happened outside-”
Eric was gone and glamouring the crew for only moments, but by the time he returned to his Bonded, she was trembling all over.
“You are safe, Sookie,” Eric told her. “I cannot believe I was so stupid to put that much distance between the two of us while still in North America!”
“Who’s Diedra Thorn?”
Eric’s face turned to hers, his eyebrows raised, “Diedra? She is a representative of the North American Vampire Council, and the vampire representative of the International Council of Supernaturals. Why?”
“When the Magister grabbed my arm, he was thinking of her.” Eric growled at her remark. “No, no! Not like they were in cahoots, but… Envy? He wanted a spot on a continental council and he wanted to get it the same way Diedra did.”
Eric frowned at that, “Diedra was given that spot for submitting the Ancient Pythoness to the use of the International Councils.”
“The Magister wanted me to be his Ancient Pythoness, his bargaining chip for a seat on a council,” Sookie realized.
The plane began to shudder then as the engines roared to life, and Sookie held her breath. Aside from Eric’s abrupt aviation the previous night, the telepath had never flown before.
“The relationship between the Ancient Pythoness and Diedra is a very long, very trusting one. They had been friends for a millennium or so before they struck such a deal,” Eric told her. Sookie’s hand grasped his as she felt the plane begin to move. “Scared of flying?”
“Er,” Sookie looked out the window nervously, “not sure. Apprehensive of the unknown?” she offered.
Eric smiled at her reassuringly, “It will be fine. As soon as we leave the ground, we will be safe to make new plans.”
“Even though I just killed the Magister?” Sookie hissed.
“There is no evidence of that,” Eric shrugged, then sighed in relief. “I have the only footage, and there are no witnesses. Thank goodness there were not any Weres on duty! Even if it were proved, I do have evidence that you were assaulted. Still, considering the means of how you dispatched him, I would prefer not to be forced to disclose it to anyone.”
“So, I still haven’t done anything bad?” Sookie asked with bated breath.
“You had every right to protect yourself. If I had been closer, I would have murdered him myself.”
Regret thrummed through the Bond, and Sookie leaned her head on Eric’s shoulder, “Well, we could think of it this way… No one’s gonna get the drop on your Bonded. She’ll torch ’em.”
Eric laughed, “Yes, that is comforting.”
With that, the plane left the ground and Sookie held her breath again. Soon, she felt the disorientation of being scent-deprived and reminded herself to breathe, doing as Eric had suggested and tasted the air. It was perfumed with deodorizers and disinfectants. She did not like the flavors at all.
“Would either of you like a drink?” a flight attendant asked once the plane reached cruising altitude. Sookie frowned at the question. “We have types O negative, AB positive, and AB negative available. Once we are flying over international waters, a donor will be available to you,” she explained.
“Have I ever had AB negative?” Sookie asked her Bonded curiously.
“No. I believe you have mostly had the O’s, and that first one you drank was a B positive. Your donors have all been AB negative though. Curious. It is not an overly common type, but you seem to make a beeline for them,” he chuckled.
“Can I try an AB negative, please?” Sookie asked the attendant.
“Of course, Miss,” she nodded, returning to the small galley at the end of the aisle.
A few moments later, a warm bottle was in her hand, and Sookie sipped it tentatively, “Hmm, even for synthetic, I like this one the best.”
“I will keep that in mind,” Eric nodded as the seatbelt light turned off and he quickly pulled Sookie into his lap. “I hope you are not offended that I wish you to be so close in public…?”
“It’s fine. I sort of wanted to crawl onto you this whole time,” she admitted hesitantly. “Although, the two donors over there are annoying me. I want to bite the guy.”
“Excuse me?” Eric’s eyebrows rose.
“Not in a sexy or hungry way, in a “go to hell” way. I don’t like the way he’s thinking about me.”
“How is he thinking of you?” Eric asked.
“He wants me to pick him. He thinks he’ll get me in the bathroom cause his blood has gotten so many compliments from vamps. He’s not AB neg, is he?” she asked forlornly.
“No. A positive.”
“Thank goodness. There’s no temptation for me then,” she laughed.
“Neither of the donors is AB negative,” Eric offered. “The girl is O positive.”
“Maybe I’ll just stick with the TrueBlood. After the incident on the tarmac, I don’t know if I could keep control if I fed on a human. I’m still angry. He could have killed my girls,” Sookie scowled.
“I am amazed he did not,” Eric agreed. “With the force he used to flip those crates, it should have shattered them and the girls along with them.”
“Eric,” Sookie frowned thoughtfully, “what does V do to dogs or other animals?”
“I have always heard that it is normal blood to animals. For the two-natured, their animal instincts are heightened in human form, and they are more powerful in their animal form,” he explained. “Why?”
“Well,” Sookie grimaced, “with all the crying I’ve been doing lately, the girls have licked up my tears more than a couple times.”
“I see,” Eric frowned. “You think they survived the blitz because they have consumed your blood.”
“The thought crossed my mind,” she confessed.
“It would be an interesting question to raise to Ludwig… We will summon her once we are settled in at the estate.”
“We’re staying with the King of Sweden?” Sookie asked in surprise.
“Only for a short time,” Eric replied. “Perhaps three days or so. Then we will continue on to my property in Öland.”
“An island just off the mainland. It is comfortably populated.”
Their conversations switched between light and extensive throughout the evening. Eric distracted his Bonded with more tales of mythology and magic when he felt her anxiety beginning to rise, but mostly soothed her with his presence and touch. When it was time to retreat to the hull, Sookie took her time preparing for death by talking to Mags and Junes some more.
“Are these their passports?” Sookie asked, pointing to the pamphlets on top of the cage.
“Yes,” Eric nodded.
“They look pretty official.”
“They are,” Eric agreed. “I had the forms expedited last night and they were delivered this afternoon. I grabbed them from the front door drop box before loading up the car.”
“Dang, Northman, you work scary fast when you want something!” Sookie whistled as she finished saying “goodnight” to her dogs and came to the two body sleeper coffin that Eric was holding open. He insisted she go to rest on the hinged side so that he could operate the locks easier when it was time to rise. “Fine by me,” she easily relented, “I haven’t had the chance to build a preference for things like that,” she laughed. “Although I’m used to sleeping on your right side,” she confessed.
“You will not even notice,” Eric laughed while kissing her forehead and then her lips. Satisfied from his kisses, Sookie slipped into the coffin and wrapped her arms around Eric’s waist when he joined her. Closing the lid and setting the locks, Eric held Sookie firmly against his side, “Comfortable?” he asked.
“Snug as a bug,” Sookie confirmed, nuzzling her face into his ribs. “I’m kind of relieved to be dying for the day.”
“The anticipation is getting the better of me. I’m worried and excited all at the same time. It’s like going to bed on Christmas Eve when you’re a kid, scared you won’t get that one thing you really wanted, but excited that you might.”
“I see,” he laughed. “Well, by the time you rise, we will only be airborne a few hours longer before reaching our final destination.”
“Good to-” Sookie succumbed mid-sentence to the sun, and Eric chuckled to himself as he settled in for several hours with nothing to preoccupy himself.
Rather than going into “down time,” as Sookie jokingly referred to it, Eric chose to reflect on the peculiar survival of Mags and Junes. Eric had witnessed the force with which Jorge had smashed into the cages, the dents and cracks alone testifying to the brutality, and the vampire could not fathom how both dogs had lived with so little damage. If they had been broken and bleeding, but still alive, Eric might have believed that possible. However, only a few tender muscles and a sprained paw?
Eric shook his head in disbelief. Either his Bonded’s luck had finally shifted for the better, or vampire tears had somehow made the canines strong enough to walk away from the attack. Still, the latter possibility seemed impossible. There had been plenty of tests and experiments over the centuries about the effects of vampire blood on animals. The only creature aside from humans that had any reaction were mosquitos, and all vampire blood did to the annoying insects was kill them instantly.
Shaking his head ruefully at Sookie’s good fortune, Eric took her hand in his and began playing with her fingers pensively. He was grateful. Despite knowing that Mags and Junes would be gone forever in a short time, he was glad that Sookie had not experienced them being torn from her so violently and so soon. She needed more time with them. His Bonded had been perfectly honest at Fangtasia the other night. Whether or not it was true, Mags and Junes had saved her mind, perhaps even her life. Without their stalwart support, she might have broken long before Eric had come into the picture. If she had not become the true shell she thought herself to be, she might have not been as receptive to him when he finally entered her world.
‘I wish I could make them stay with you forever, Dear One,’ he thought sadly.
Gladly he would keep the dogs around forever for Sookie. Their existences would not be a burden upon him, knowing how Sookie loved them. Trent had been quite accurate in classifying Mags and Junes as Sookie’s daughters. She loved them like a mother, worried for them to an extreme that she put their comfort at the forefront of her mind. Sookie was prepared to go through the pain of loss once again, just so her face would be the last one they knew when it was time for them to leave this world.
Eric laughed to himself as he realized that the two dogs had managed to worm their way into his own heart. Not just for the appreciation he felt for their loyalty to Sookie, but the pleasant enjoyment of their company. As if they could read the room, Mags and Junes knew when it was time to play and be carefree, or merely lounge quietly like furniture and allow the mood to be warm and content.
‘I suppose I would not mind keeping you forever either.’