Catalyst Ch. 48

Chapter Forty-Eight: Faith

Sookie’s POV:

Eric!” I whoop excitedly once my husband arrives in the driveway. I can’t even wait for him to pull into the garage before I’m running out the door and bouncing like a toddler for him to scoop me into his arms.

He seems just as impatient because he throws the car into park, gets out of it and wraps me up into a tight hug. His lips find mine quickly and soon I find myself twisting my arms and legs around him. “I missed you,” he murmurs against my mouth.

I missed you, too,” I assure him. “Three days felt like forever!”

How is Camilla doing?” he asks me next as we just stand hugging in the driveway, the car still running and its driver side door hanging open.

She’s just fine. A little weak from being still for so long and not eating, but she’ll be right as rain by the end of the week,” I reassure him. “Godric’s good, too. Where’s Pam?”

Pam took a flight to New York to gather her things and make her way back to Shreveport. She is going to stay with Godric and Camilla until the end of the school year. All three of them will come North after graduation,” he tells me.

I pout a bit. I miss Pam. Heck, I miss having another girl around. Hanging with my brother and husband all the time is great, but sometimes a girl just wants her girlfriends. Even though I’ve only been without the two of them for a month now, it already feels a bit lonely.

Any ideas what’s been going on?” I ask worriedly.

Eric frowns as he nods, “I have some theories. This attempt on Camilla was more than likely meant to have us tip our hand. Although Lorena seemed to have been acting of her own accord, it does not mean it will not have inspired others to try and neutralize us.”

I don’t like the sound of that, but Camilla’s mind can’t be erased. She can’t even be put into that coma thing again. The rest of us can only be hurt, not killed, so I guess I gotta amp up my pain tolerance…

Sookie, everything will work out,” Eric tells me comfortingly.

I know,” I whisper. “What makes you so positive, though?”

Because we have time and experience on our sides. We know a threat is looming and that is all I need to know to protect you.” Though every part of me has faith in Eric, I’m still feeling something like disappointment. “What is it, Sookie?”

I’m not sure,” I confess slowly.

Eric sighs and presses his forehead against mine, “Go inside and let me park the car, Sookie. Then we will talk.”

Instead of pushing for answers, I do as he suggested and go to the kitchen to make myself some tea. Tea is good. Even if I’d prefer coffee…

When my Bonded arrives in the kitchen, I look up from my steaming mug and wait for him to deliver whatever bad news it is he’s keeping to himself.

As we discussed before my departure, I am noticing shifts in policies and political positions that are… Telling,” Eric announces as he sits at the counter and pauses. At first I think it’s because he’s trying to emphasize the issue, maybe even increase the drama, but I realize it is because he could hear the family moving to join us. Soon Godric, Camilla, and Jason are all there, so Eric continues, “The vampire community knows our stance. They are aware if they want to take arms against humans, they will be fighting our bloodline and our allies. The attack on Camilla was probably meant to force our hand. If we had any sort of vulnerability, it would have been exploited to allow Camilla to be restored or even to allow Godric to end his and Camilla’s lives.”

Godric gives his Bonded a sheepish, apologetic look. None of us miss the exasperated eye roll she gives him in return.

Instead, we proved the attack was inconsequential,” Jason points out. “So, wouldn’t that mean they’re gonna have to alter their plans?”

Eric shakes his head, “Alter, yes. Scrap, no. I have taken William Compton on as an informant. We will see if his new loyalty to us is genuine, and take action from there. His current job is tracking Grissom down so we can give him a long overdue staking. With any luck, the attack upon Camilla is separate from whatever plan the rest of the vampire community is forming.”

Theories?” Godric asks, taking a seat and pulling Cammie into his side a bit tighter. He seems unmoved by Grissom’s death sentence.

My husband frowns and crosses his arms over his chest, “I am not prepared with many, but I am hoping that these political shifts are just advantageous maneuvering. Perhaps the intention is to push laws that would protect the vampire community into the human justice system. I only considered nefarious action because of the attack upon Camilla. Now that I know Lorena is the one who initiated it, I am less certain that it was a purposeful move toward some world changing goal. The fact that Lorena is the one who took the action of glamouring the human who attacked Camilla only assures me that it was not some conspiracy. If multiple vampires had been involved, Lorena would have suggested someone unconnected to Compton initiate the attack. She did not know with whom she could align against us.”

That makes much more sense to me,” Godric agrees. “After all, if some sort of plan for our destruction were intended, it would have been much more difficult to find an unwavering group to take on the task. The second we announced our immunities to the vampire world, they knew any failure would be their death sentence. If this had been an organized attack, we would have been pelted with bombs and fire the second I sought out my progeny.”

So the war is on us? The war the Ancient Pythoness saw?” Jason asks in confusion. “That doesn’t make any sense. That’s not what I saw at all!”

What did you see, Jason?” Godric asks patiently.

Vamps killin’ humans,” Jason frowns thoughtfully, and I see this look on his face that makes my heart ache. Something in the Pythoness’ vision has stirred him deeply. “A lot. In churches, on the streets and just all over. A bunch of ancient vamps were killed too.”

It is difficult for a Seer to interpret what and when they See, Jason,” Godric tells him gently. “The reflective glimpse you stole from one is not very telling.”

My brother makes a displeased face at his Maker’s point, “I guess that’s true, but why would Diedre and the Pythoness get all worked up and try to force our hand like that if it wasn’t meant to stint a war?”

Because we wanted to keep hiding…

Because,” I whisper, “we were scared to show off our power. You said yourselves, Endymion was there confirming all these powers. We were just going to keep hiding in the shadows, not really letting anyone know that you guys had your immunities. Endymion, Diedre and the Pythoness want us to be a deterrent. Maybe we are already stopping a war. Maybe our very existence is what really matters, and that others know we exist.”

That would explain the desperation Diedre was experiencing, as well as her momentary displeasure at the wedding,” Eric considers my point. “She knew that we had every intention of maintaining our secret for the time being.”

Godric interrupts our musings with his own theory, “Perhaps we should make another announcement to the vampire community.”

Such as?” Eric asks.

The Master of the Bloodline smiles, “With the existence of V addicts and drainers, perhaps we should assure the community that we will protect them from human threats as we would protect humans from vampire threats.”

What do you foresee that entailing?” Eric raises his eyebrows skeptically.

Godric shrugs, “Stopping a drainer if we happen upon one. Keeping our homes stocked with blood in the event that a weakened vampire finds himself upon our doorstep, and maintaining light proofed chambers if they need shelter.”

My lips tilt into a smile, “I like the sound of that.”

You do?” Eric asks me in surprise.

Of course,” I laugh. “I don’t want anyone to be hurt; not vampires, humans, Weres… Anyone.”

Speaking of two-natured folk,” Jason raises his hand slowly. “We got an unpopped shifter at the school, and he’s adopted without any two-natured support system. We tried calling the Pack Master around here, but he said in no uncertain terms that he doesn’t want anything to do with this kid. I guess his parents got themselves ostracized from the local pack, and now he’s on his own with adoptive, human parents.”

I see.” Eric frowns and leans back into his seat thoughtfully. “I will have to make a call in the morning.”

I smile gratefully at my Bonded and lean my head against his shoulder. Suddenly the future doesn’t feel so daunting. Even though I’ll have to wait longer than I’d like to have my girlfriends back by my side, it’s not so scary or sad now that a war isn’t about to break out. Cammie is well, and Eric’s taken care of part of the problem. I’m sure Godric will take care of the other part of the problem posthaste.

For the first time I can remember, the “vampire stuff” is a lot less frightening. In a way, it feels justified.

But why is my stomach shrinking at the idea of it? Why is my heart pounding in objection?

Eric’s POV:

After our meeting has adjourned, I look around the room with a bit of annoyance. With so many additional vampires in the house, I know it will be a chore convincing my Bonded to make love, and after so many days apart, I am anxious to do so.

Eric,” My wife takes my hand and tugs me toward the door. “Will you take me out for some dinner? I’m feeling cooped up.”

I nod as I reach once more for my car keys. “Where would you like to go?”

I follow Sookie out the front door, and she takes the keys from my hand to climb into the driver’s seat. This turn of events makes my body coil worriedly. She has the keys to my Corvette. Gods, please protect my poor mechanical child!

C’mon, I know a great place,” Sookie smiles and slips behind the wheel. She pulls the adjuster on the seat and I find myself saying another silent prayer. This is happening. This is actually happening.

As I sit in the passenger seat, I stare at my wife with fear and anxiety. The first thing she does upon turning over the ignition is stall the engine. Before I can demand to drive, she gets the car in reverse and takes off down the driveway… Where she stalls again trying to put it into first gear. As I am about to make a demand to change seats, she bolts down the street like she has been suddenly possessed by the spirit of Dale Earhhardt… I love my wife, I love my wife… I think helplessly as images of my car wrecked into a tree spring to mind.

We drive easily for a few miles before I note that she is already slowing down. We eventually end up sitting in a parking lot near the bike trails.

There is food here?” I ask in surprise.

No,” Sookie replies, “there’s just no vampire family members to eavesdrop on my husband making me cum like a freight train.” I look at her in surprise as she slips from behind the wheel and crawls into my lap.

Gods, I love you,” I growl as I pull her hips tightly against my own. I grind up against her, and Sookie moans as my hardness quickly grows. Reaching up, I let her perfect breasts rest into my palms. She sighs into my mouth as her hips begin to rock teasingly against my own. Her heat is already warming me, her desire is already flooding me.

Eric,” Sookie mumbles against my mouth as she takes a breath from our kiss. My fingers give a tightening nipple a hard tug and she squeezes her thighs in response. “Let me feel you, Darlin’.” She kisses along my jaw and down my throat as I reach between us to undo my belt and fly. Soon enough of me is exposed to meet our goal, and the only task remaining is to tear her panties from her hips.

Without warning, I reach beneath my wife’s skirt and destroy the scrap of fabric that keeps me from her true warmth. She gasps against my throat and I feel her approving lust flare in the Bond. My wife loves a little ‘caveman’ primitiveness in our lovemaking.

No longer with a barrier between us, Sookie begins to lower herself upon me. I feel the head of my cock slip between her welcoming folds, and thrust up to meet her. However, she recognizes my intent and quickly raises herself away so I am left unsatisfied. Instead of letting me deep into her pussy, Sookie rocks so that only my head enjoys the sweet suction and squeeze of her heat.

Sookie,” I grip her hips, but refuse to force her all the way down. She will want it soon herself, and it will be that much sweeter when she gives in. Her resistance is admirable as her full, thick ass jiggles with the quick staccato of her movements. If only I had a mirror to watch her bottom as she rides my tip with such fervor.

Eric,” she moans loudly as her will power can hold back no more. Her weight shifts and finally I am buried inside of her completely. “Oh!” She arches back and twists her hips frantically. Finally I am able to thrust up to meet her, and she releases a rising cry as I pound beneath her furiously.

Her hand reaches back to plant against my knee, and I know this is her way of telling me to be still. My wife’s eyes lock upon mine, glazed and focused as she finds a new rhythm. She undulates with great intent until her jaw slackens and she seems to go into a trance. At last she cries out, and her internal muscles tighten upon me. Her body bows as those muscles squeeze and release me over and over until the contractions slow. When I feel Sookie’s body begin to relax, I begin my own movements once again.

Grabbing Sookie’s hips, I start pounding upward again, and she braces her hands upon my shoulders. “Yeah,” she mumbles as her second wind has not arrived yet, “yeah, Darlin’, like that!” she says more eagerly.

I reach between us to stroke her clit, but she seems more content to grind against my pelvis when our hips meet.

Oh, Eric,” she groans as her muscles start flexing again.

As her orgasm causes her body to tighten around me once more, I find my own release. While her body grips at the final shreds of my control, I give her all that I am. All of my lust and love. Every ounce of my essence and being. Finally, to be with her once again.

{†}

The following morning after Sookie leaves for school, I break out my black book of Supernaturals.

Scott here,” The Ohio Pack Master’s voice comes over the phone.

Hello, Scott. This is Eric Northman-”

Like I told your woman, I got no interest in-”

Keeping your position as the local Pack Master?” I finish for him in my most bored tone. Scott remains silent, so I continue, “My wife may not know any better quite yet, but I certainly do. You cannot knowingly ostracize an orphaned two-natured like this. Your kind is not prepared to come out to the public yet, and with vampires in the open, no one is going to overlook a fifteen year old boy spontaneously turning into a house cat or a golden retriever.”

Scott snarls in the back of his throat and I resist rolling my eyes at the ‘big bad wolf’ trying to intimidate me. I am the biggest bad he will ever meet!

If you are through posturing, I suggest you begin making calls among your pack and see who is willing to volunteer services. I highly suggest the parents of Rick Chandler. The child goes to school with this young shifter, and it would be much easier for his family to spend time with Taylor than others from your pack.”

Scott snarls some more under his breath and I change my tone to reflect that I am absolutely through with his bullshit, “Or I will be contacting every last one of your pack that I can find and inform them that their leader is risking their exposure.”

I’ll talk to the Chandlers and get back to you,” Scott finally utters and then hangs up.

I put my cell phone down, a bit of smugness tugging at my ego before I mentally check off my first task of the morning. Next, I pull my keyboard closer and begin drafting the mass e-mail that will assure the vampire community that they still have allies in the Gaul Line. When the message is complete, I send it to Godric for notes and revisions. We send it back and forth several times before we both seem content with the letter.

Mostly it is a statement about our bloodline’s intention to protect the vampire community from human attacks. We offer our assistance toward investigating any human related grievances, taking care to address the infantile organization known as the Fellowship of the Sun. It is a relatively new group, but they have ‘zealots in the making’ exuding all from their demeanor.

Finally, I open a fresh composition and address it to Russel Edgington of Mississippi, Caroline Greer of New York, Joan Scooner of Minnesota and finally Diedre Thorn and the Ancient Pythoness. In my letter to them I explain the blatant, yet futile, attack on the Gaul Line, and its concerning possibilities. I ask my allies to please keep their informants aware of any news regarding future attempts on my family to prevent any future hinderances.

Hopefully none read too much into my request. The last thing I need is for them to believe we have vulnerabilities that could be exploited. Russel can be quite a Wild Card when he gets bored.

{†}

Sookie has been very distracted these past weeks and every time I bring it up, she merely shrugs. At one point, she brought up the unpopped shifter again and I assured her that a member of Scott Smilie’s pack had already agreed to come assess the boy as well as speak to his human guardians about the situation.

However, even after a mentor of sorts was found for this lost shifter, Sookie did not brighten or appear any less distracted. At first I thought it was the new job, learning to balance the closeness of her new colleagues as well as her career, but the level of this distraction never fluctuated. She was never more uncomfortable at school than home.

If only she would let me in on these concerns. After she continually brushed off my worry and questions, I asked her brother, Camilla, and Pam if she had mentioned anything. Nothing.

Everything feels as though it is making her sad or unhappy and it has felt that way for nearly two months now since I returned from Louisiana and Camilla had regained consciousness.

A creeping, terrifying realization hits me. What if she felt my gloating and amusement while Pam tortured Compton? What if she felt my vindication while I gave Lorena her True Death?

That thought nearly paralyzes me and my mind tries to think of a way to coax understanding from her. Yet, I cannot fathom how I could make her understand, nor a reason why I would want her to. Instead, I try to think of how to earn her forgiveness and I get to work preparing my groveling.

If only I knew what this mood was about! I think desperately as I flip through her family cookbook for her favorite food. When I find her ‘comfort food,’ I make a quick run to the grocery store before I get to work cooking. I know it will not be as good as when she makes it for herself, but hopefully it will be good enough to open her up.

When Sookie arrives home from school and sees me in the kitchen, she smiles and comes to lean into my side.

What’s the occasion?” she asks when she sees me frying chicken for her.

Kissing the top of her head, I reply, “You have been melancholy lately. I thought this might help?”

Really? I’ve been so down you’re fryin’ me some chicken and you bought a chocolate cake?” Sookie looks at me guiltily.

I wanted to make you smile,” I whisper.

You do. All the time,” she tells me as I take the chicken off the pan and let it set on a plate of paper towels as I have seen her do so many times in the last four years.

It has been a smile of consolation these past weeks. I feel you hiding from me, Sookie,” I tell her in as gentle a tone as I can manage. I do not want her to feel attacked. “At first, I thought it was the new job. Then I thought it was the shifter boy. Now, I am worried that it is me.”


“It’s
me,” Sookie confesses as she turns her back against the kitchen counter and leans against it. “I keep trying so hard not to worry so much about the future, but-” she takes a nervous breath, unable to finish her statement.

Tell me?” I plead gently. “I ache knowing you feel this way and I am unable to make it better.”

Sookie looks at her feet and I hear her murmuring her confessions, “I felt like it was fair that you killed Lorena. I feel like it’s right that you beat it out of Compton.”

And that upsets you,” I note.

It makes me confused about the sort of person that I am,” she whispers.

How do you mean?” I frown and take her hands.

Sookie shrugs weakly as she looks at our joined hands. “Four years ago, I could never fathom condoning a murder. Now every action we take seems gray and foggy. If I can’t feel the difference between right and wrong anymore, how am I supposed to teach it? In four more years, what more of my moral compass will point away from North?”

Four years is a short time, Dear One. I am certain that life will slow down shortly, and you will not find yourself needing to make such compromising decisions.”

In four years, I’ll be the same age that version of me who could have your babies was when she first got pregnant,” Sookie rambles out quickly.

Babies! I think bewilderedly. Why do I keep forgetting about the babies!? I am going to be just as terrible a father in the twenty-first century as I was in the eleventh!

So, these past weeks you have been worrying about becoming pregnant and that you will be too morally compromised to raise them right?” I ask, tugging her toward the kitchen table to talk more comfortably.

Sookie nods as she sits meekly in her seat.

It could never happen,” I tell her truthfully. She takes another shuttering breath and I take her hands to squeeze comfortingly. “Sookie, the fact that such a thought occurred to you and you are responding like this is testament to the fact you are not compromised.”

But I’m so confused,” she whispers and looks at our joined hands like they can ease her concerns. I know that children have been a point of conflict with her for a few years now, but every day I can feel a mild impatience brewing more and more inside of her. As much as she fears being a bad mother, she also anticipates the day she finally becomes pregnant.

What do you mean?” I plead for these answers that seem to evade me.

I want my certainty back,” she explains in a voice that squeezes my heart like a vice. “I want our family to be safe! I feel so lost, Eric. My spirit feels weak, and I don’t know how to fix it.”

I wrap Sookie into my arms and let her cry against my shoulder. Sometimes, having a love like Sookie’s keeping me bathed in light, I forget that I am a callous bastard. I forget she gives me more than her love, more than her body, and that more than anything, she gives me a long-lost conscience. She is my moral compass long-lost, drifted into my hands, and where she points, I must follow her direction.

You are at a spiritual conflict,” I tell her. “I am sorry that I did not recognize it sooner.” I should have recognized it sooner.

Sookie leans away and looks at me in surprise, “Eric-”

I forget often what a good, Christian woman you are,” I smile as I pull away and play with the strands of hair framing her face. “Perhaps we should be spending some time searching for a new church. Will going back to services help you?” I ask gently.

I don’t know,” she confesses and squeezes my hands. “That’s where all this is coming from, I think. I’ve met the Voice of God, Eric. Everything I’ve ever believed in, everything I held close to my heart is chipping away and crumbling. The more I learn, the less I know, and I just feel so… lost…

Suddenly I realize something very saddening. Every year more and more of her beliefs have become more impossible than the last to reconcile. All of us forced mountains of information into her without context. Now my wife is adrift in this sea of fairy tale and magic, and she cannot find where her own beliefs remain.

Sookie, the Voice of the Pantheon does not negate the existence of your beliefs. I wish I knew more to say to help you, but my own existence has never relied on my beliefs. Even as a human, belief was found more in myself than stories of the Divine.”

My wife takes her hands from mine and gazes at her upturned palms. I can feel some objection in her, but her lips refuse to move. She resists the urge to voice her worries or concerns.

I try once more to ease some of the burden on her heart, “Do not think of Lorena as a retribution. Her True Death was one that was necessary for the safety of our family. That is all, Sookie. There is a threat against our family, and Godric and I are merely protecting our family. Our child will know that your true heart is family. He will feel loved and safe.”

So, it’s gonna be a boy?” she teases as she pushes away the last of her drying tears.

The first will,” I tell her with certainty. “I do not know about any after that, but I know our firstborn will be a son.”

And how do you know that?” she laughs.

My shoulders lift as I rise from the table and go to the stove to retrieve her cooled chicken. It is still warm, but no longer scalding. Setting the plate in front of her, I confess, “It is just a feeling I have.”

What are we going to name him?” she is still teasing, but there is a name on the tip of my tongue. I think she can read the hesitation on my face, or perhaps in the Bond. “Eric, do you have a name picked out?” Her voice is so earnest and patient.

On one hand, I am hesitant to let her change the topic while it is unresolved, but on the other, I do not think we can go any further today. The Bond is telling me that she feels emotionally drained by the topic. All I am able to do now is hope that having her talk about her crisis of faith is enough to let her begin healing.

Leif,” I whisper and I feel bashful? “It was my brother’s name.”

Her lips split into a smile, “I like it.”

Sookie’s POV:

With my twenty-third birthday comes the day I’ve anticipated the most in months.

Pam, Camilla, and Godric are moving up north to the same subdivision as Eric, Jason, and me. Pam’s moving in with Jason while Cammie and Godric are getting their own place. I can’t contain myself as I bounce around the airport, waiting for my best friends to come home!

Though I just saw Cammie last month for her college graduation, it feels like forever! When her wavy brown hair springs into view, I hop, skip, and jump into her arms. We hug and squeal and jump like schoolgirls as our vampires just watch us. Pam looks a little put out that I’m not squealing all over her, too, but I know she’s a little relieved as well. She still has trouble accepting that she’s one of the girls and doesn’t have to be so solemn and cold.

Jason greets Pam with one of their usual cheek kisses, but Cammie and I are clinging to each other like we’ve been apart for decades.

I can’t understand how all vampires don’t live in larger nests! As much as I love my husband and brother, I miss having my girlfriends around and I miss having the one man who can make Eric express any form of humility. I missed Pam’s teasing remarks and quipping abilities. I missed Godric absorbing some of the heavier conversations.

As I look at the three members of my family who have been missing, I realize I’ve missed the outlets they provide. Eric and I are always so serious lately. Our conversations, our silence, even our sex life, I miss the teasing and the playfulness!

Are we splitting ways?” Eric looks at me with raised eyebrows as I still haven’t let Cammie go.

Yeah,” I laugh with a bit of embarrassment. “I want to catch up with my girls!” I finally tug Pam into the group hug she’s been holding out on and watch as Eric smiles and nods. The guys just laugh and go to the luggage carousels to start bringing all the bags home while Pam takes the keys to Jason’s truck from him. We three ladies are soon piled into the pickup and tearing through Columbus instead of heading back to the suburbs.

So,” Pam looks at me sideways and smirks, “I take it you missed us?”

Soooo much,” I confess with exasperation. “Everything has felt way too huge without you guys.”

How do you mean?” Cammie asks, leaning in between us from the small seat behind us in the truck cab.

I go into an epic tale of the past eight and a half months. Soon they know all about my baby fears, the stress of the Were community and our family, the fact Eric’s been tracking down these political shifts, Jason’s fang throbbing obsession with some student he knows better than to actually go after, and the fact I feel ready to explode at any moment.

Who is this girl?” Pam asks curiously and I roll my eyes. Of course, Pam would focus on a delicious female.

She’s a Freshman and Jason’s been complaining that her scent is making his fangs want to pop. Eric told him its perfectly normal. Sometimes a human smells tastier than others and they can be harder to resist. Jason’s resisting and everything, but he looks really agitated at lunch. I think this girl might be in his third or fourth period class,” I explain.

Pam grins and I see her hands flex a bit on the steering wheel, “I might need to do a little drive-by on Monday,” she declares.

I laugh at her statement as she pulls into the mall parking lot and we all spill out of the truck we packed into. Pam leads the way toward the main doors and starts scouting out the wears of her new home. I know by the end of the week she’ll have found us a new spa and salon, but right now she needs to know what sort of shoes and clothes are at her disposal.

Your hair looks like a rat’s nest,” Pam comments as she examines the ends of my hair. “When is the last time you had it cut?”

I blanch apologetically, “Umm, whenever it was you dragged me to get it done last?” I confess.

Pam rolls her eyes, “We will find a place to get this cleaned up. This is what you could be looking like, Sookie,” She gestures gloriously to Camilla and my friend does a little spin.

I smile, “It wasn’t the same going without you guys.”

You’ve started shaving instead of keeping up on your waxing, too,” Pam accuses when she looks at my legs.

I groan, “I’m sorry.”

There are no women in Ohio with whom you could become friends and at least have a monthly spa trip?” Pam keeps nagging at me.

It’s hard,” I mumble. “Everyone is so… Un-relatable,” I finally admit. It’s a hard truth to confess, but it is a truth nonetheless. Officially, I have very little in common with humans. In six short years, I have forgotten what exhaustion feels like. I have forgotten what it feels like to “have no time.” I have never worried about aging or missing out… Only, now I feel like I am missing something. I feel like I am missing connections. I am missing the opportunity of knowing others, and it only brings back the unforgettable burdens of my crumbling beliefs.

Sookie?” Camilla takes my hand and I feel her take a sharp breath.

Don’t use that empathy touch on me,” I ask her, wrenching my hand away. At first, the magical exercise was a sweet, beautiful thing, but now I feel like it betrays my inner turmoil that I have no right to feel.

What’s wrong?” Pam seems to finally realize that something is just not right with me and she stops to stare.

Cammie, how did you feel when Compton called Godric with Grissom’s location?” I ask Camilla desperately.

Well,” Cammie frowns as she considers my question, “I was a little worried people would realize we were connected to Grissom…”

It didn’t bother you that Godric,” I pause quickly. I know better than to insinuate a murder in public.

Nope,” Cammie shrugs easily.

And you didn’t feel guilty for not feeling guilty?” I press.

Pam’s shoulders finally relax as she guesses one of my many problems, “Sookie,” she places her hands on my arms, “these things effect everyone differently.”

What’s wrong with me?” I demand sadly.

For the first time in my life, Pam pulls me into an unasked-for hug and holds me tight, “We all know, Sookie.”

Know what?” I whisper into her chest.

We know you have been having a crisis of faith,” Pam replies, pulling away to look me in the eyes.

I don’t,” I confess. “I don’t know why it’s effecting me like this!”

Pam pulls me back against her chest and I feel Cammie wrap herself around me from behind. We must look like the strangest group of women ever to shop these parts.

We can’t tell you how to feel, Sookie,” Cammie mumbles against my ear.

Or how to act,” Pam continues for her. “But you cannot shut yourself away to find your answers. Ever since the incident with Lorena, you have been hiding away with Jason and Eric this whole time instead of exploring the world. Find yourself, Sookie. You have all the time in the world to do so.”

Eric’s been tellin’ me that from the beginning,” I mumble into Pam’s chest. “Why does it only seem wise when you guys say it?”

Because he’s your husband,” Camilla laughs. “They’re meant to sound placating, not wise.”

He’s over a thousand,” I laugh as well and our little group hug breaks apart at last. “And yours is over two. Shouldn’t we take them at their word?”

Camilla’s nose scrunches, “Where’s the fun in that? That’s like playing poker with all the cards facing up.”

I let out a laughing sob as I begin wiping my eyes free of tears.

You don’t have to hide from your humanity or beliefs, Sookie. There is nothing wrong about not being callous,” Pam tells me. “However, you do not have to hide from making connections with mortals. In a way, the more people you know and remember, the more they become immortals as well. Isn’t that a little amazing? Isn’t that a wonderful gift to give?”

The poisonous feeling inside of me begins to slowly recede. I can finally feel the excitement of my gifts again. Here, I’ve been paralyzed by my lack of empathy for an enemy and terrified of the losses I’ll experience. During all that, I forgot that life is experiences, the good and the bad. Enemies are not always meant to be mourned, and I can remember the friends I’ve made and lost, the family I’ve had and the new one I’ve made. There’s been fear and sadness, but it doesn’t make me cherish those connections any less. I loved Tara like a sister, even though our friendship ended in an unhappy fashion, I’ll always remember the good times fondly.

Immortality is really confusing,” I tell my friends.

It is even more confusing when you experience several new awarenesses simultaneously. Still, you get used to it,” Pam shrugs.

Or you spend more time as an immortal than you did as a mortal and it just becomes natural,” Camilla teases. “I just cheated a little.”

The three of us laugh and finally fall into our shopping groove. Pam finds a suitable salon and I get my hair cleaned up. Cammie finds a New Age store that she walks into and immediately back out of with wide, disbelieving eyes.

Is that what they think witches are like?” Camilla asks worriedly as she looks back to the shop in disappointment. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocator for essential oils, but damn! The way they talk, you’d think they could cure cancer!”

We all chuckle and continue wandering around, letting Pam persuade us about what we need in our closets. At one point, we stop into a restaurant and Pam surreptitiously glamours a server to bring her a True Blood with a stalk of celery to make it look like a Bloody Mary.

Can you believe a Bloody Mary costs less than a bottle of that synthetic crap?” Pam grumbles as we leave the restaurant.

I can’t believe you actually drank it,” Camilla replies with a laugh.

As my two best friends laugh and lead me through the mall, I feel a weight finally leaving my shoulders. For the first time, I think I finally realize the truth about marriage and family. I love my husband and I love my brother, but sometimes a girl just needs her friends.

On to Chapter Forty-Nine!

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Catalyst Ch. 47

Chapter Forty-Seven: Compton Reborn

Eric’s POV:

Pamela,” I greet my Child as I come to the bottom of the stairs and meet the cold, concrete floors.

Master,” she pouts slightly as I have interrupted her tethering Compton to a set of shackles suspended from the ceiling of my old warehouse basement.

You went all the way to New Orleans and brought him back here?” I ask, trying to keep my prideful admiration of her foresight out of my voice. It is always heartwarming to know your progeny has taken your teachings seriously. I have to wonder if she knows that I hesitated in my pursuit of her. After all, she cannot learn how to protect herself or the bloodline if I do not give her the chance when a younger offender presents an opportunity for a lesson!

Pam shrugs, “It felt safer to bring him here than to stay in New Orleans.”

Good girl,” I praise with a smile and find a folding chair to seat myself upon. “Proceed.”

You are not going to stop me?” she asks in surprise as I relax into my chair.

I cross my legs at the ankle, stretching them far out in front of me before resting my arms over my chest and leaning back, “No. I will supervise. I need this matter resolved just as badly as you and Godric.”

My Child nods and smiles excitedly before turning back to Compton and yanking off his gag, “Now, I gave you a lot to think about on the drive up here, Billy. Have you decided to be cooperative?” The young vampire says nothing and Pam grins, “I guess not!” Her arm swings back and delivers a rather nasty sucker punch that forces a mouthful of blood to splatter from Compton’s lips.

Pamela,” I frown as I speak her name. “Did you just rupture his stomach?”

I did,” Pam takes a surprised step back and looks to me for instruction. She is very much the picture of a student attempting to apply a lesson to real life for the first time, finding herself floundering when it is not going by the textbook.

There is not a large enough age gap between you two for his body to burst like that,” My frown deepens as I rise from my chair and make my way over to our captive. Unless a vampire applies no resisting strength, it usually takes at least a fifty-year gap between vampires for such a thing to occur. “Billy, did you even try to resist that strike or are you intent on letting her kill you by accident?”

Compton’s eyes are spilling over with bloody tears, “A painful True Death has a better result than betrayal,” he confesses, his arms flexing intermittently as the pain ripples through him in lulling and upsurging waves.

Hmm,” I frown again and return to my chair. After Pam takes her stance once more, I call her down, “Pam, no. He needs to heal first and maybe give him a True Blood. Stomach ruptures are not the way to start off an interrogation. There is little room to move from there with his healing ability stunted. Let him heal and start over smaller. Use tools, not force. Even if he did not tense up for the blow, your age gap should not have allowed you to do that much damage so easily. Our continual awareness may be causing our strengths to expand faster.”

That is moderately terrifying,” Pam replies stoically, belying her words and the feelings within her. “I will go get a True Blood.”

Pamela leaves the basement to find some synthetic blood and I rise from my chair once again to observe Compton more closely. “She could very well kill you by accident.” I see acceptance brim within the younger vampire’s eyes and it does not surprise me, “Have you ever considered your True Death negatively? I remember your upbringing with Lorena. Never releasing you, calling in favors, hurting you at her leisure whenever possible. I remember you as a fledgling. You were only just coming upon your decade marker when we first met.”

Compton’s eyes cast downward as he remembers our first encounter. It is still vivid in my mind as well.

Lorena had begged me to lend over my Child. Do you remember?” Compton nods tightly. “I knew her reputation and declined. She offered you in temporary exchange-”

And you said, ‘What would I need with that little fuck boy?’!” Compton barks in my face.

I did,” I agree calmly.

Then she proceeded to show you in front of all your subordinates what you could need from a little fucker like me,” Compton snarls angrily.

She did,” I nod.

Making me angry will not get you any information-”

How many times had she humiliated and abused you in front of your peers and superiors during your first ten years of existence, Compton?” I ask, and he startles at my seemingly new topic.

Countless,” he admits after his surprise has waned. “I do not even think I could recall how many.”

And how many times after she did that to you in front of me?” I continue and Compton stares.

Before my peers… Never again,” he admits. “But privately-”

I could not control what she did to you privately. I warned her what happens to abusive Makers,” I shake my head. “I told her that vampires who become ancient do not do so by being vicious Makers. You treat your Child as an extension of yourself, not a whipping boy. Publicly she displayed a caring exterior. Privately… She did not heed my advice.”

Why are you telling me this?” Compton asks me.

Because you have made a terrible mistake, Billy, and this is your one and only chance to rectify it,” I tell him.

Compton snorts, “I made no mistake, I was made to tell.” His eyes are all the evidence I need. Lorena forced the code out from him.

And did she sell that code, or did she use it herself?” I ask. His body goes limp and his eyes glaze over slightly. That would be a Maker’s Command binding him from speaking. “She used it herself,” I finish for him and his body returns to normal. Sometimes a command is more telling than the witnesses themselves. “It would seem I am about to do you one favor.”

Compton’s eyes look at me with surprise, perhaps even hope, “What is this favor?”

I will be killing Lorena,” I offer and see him hold his breath. “However, in return, you must tell me how Lorena came to know of your little secret?”

Bill sighs, “She commands an information dump from me every few years. This was the first year she commanded one since I obtained Godric’s Mate’s reset code. I tried to hold it back. There’s only two vampires who know it and Grissom isn’t stupid enough to sell it. He’d know it could be traced right back to him. Even if you all found a way to kill yourselves, you’d have killed him first.”

Why did you not tell my bloodline of Camilla’s code when you restored her?” I ask next.

He pauses, “I wanted to wait and see if I could use it as a bargaining chip to get rid of Lorena. Sophie-Anne’s progeny are too young to go against Lorena and the Queen herself would never go on her own. Not for someone like me…”

I am not too young to destroy Lorena,” I tell him.

When you seceded from the community, I figured Godric’s Mate became immune to the code along with our glamour. I figured I’d lost my bargaining chip,” he confesses.

I see,” I nod thoughtfully. “I take it that it was recently that Lorena obtained the code from you?” His body zones out momentarily before he stops fighting the command. Did Lorena believe this Child would not betray her? “Well, Billy, it looks like you have been as forthcoming as can be expected this evening.” The vampire lets out a huff of air. I still do not trust him, but I am more than capable of giving him a chance. “I will kill Lorena for you, but there is something you must understand if you are to be given this freedom. Pam will teach it to you this evening. Consider it earning your freedom.”

What must I learn?” Compton asks me quickly, desperately.

That you reveled in the hurt you brought others,” I tell him darkly.

Wh-what?” His lips tremble and if his body could, a fine sheen of sweat would have broken out upon his brow.

If there is something I cannot abide, it is a vampire who cannot be honest with his darkness. We have all come from a dark place, William, but it cannot be worn as a veil of an excuse for all of eternity.”

I know what I’ve done-”

It is not about knowing, it is about understanding,” I emphasize. “As I understand that on a certain level, I am going to enjoy feeling what Pamela does to you, as Pam understands that she will enjoy what she does to you. When you realize that to some degree, you enjoyed what you have done, then you are past knowing and in the realm of understanding.”

You think because you are these… Indestructible beings… You can torture your sick ideologies-”

No, it has little to do with ideologies, even less to do with my indestructible existence,” I cannot help the grin spreading across my lips. “It has to do with the fact that you must earn your right to continue existing. In exchange for never having to answer or submit to Lorena again, I will become the one to whom you answer. In exchange for Godric’s forgiveness regarding the infraction against his Mate, you will be subjected to his ideologies… Under mine and Pamela’s tutelage, that is.”

Lord,” he says quickly, “forgive me all the times I break Your heart-”

Oh, hell, he is praying!?

The burden of knowing Your disappointment is overwhelming-”

Pam arrives with the blood, apparently having had to drive a distance to acquire it and she stares confusedly with the fresh bottle in her hand.

Lord,” Compton continues, “I need Your strength right now. “For I do not do what I want, but do the very thing I hate.”

Pam rolls her eyes at the vampire’s prayer, cracks open the bottle, and shoves it down Compton’s throat. His ramblings cease as he chugs the liquid and soon another bottle is open and forcefully drained down into his healed stomach.

I am so sorry!” Compton cries when the second bottle is drained and his lips are dribbled with synthetic crimson fluid. “Lord, I ask for Your Forgiveness right now. My existence has come to a point where most sins don’t affect me at all.”

Pam looks at me for permission to interrupt as our captive continues to beseech his God, but I have enough respect for my own deities not to interrupt another while they speak to theirs, especially when they are trying to make peace before their True Death.

Lord, I have some hard layers on my heart that need peeling-”

Oh, he is accepting my offer, I realize.

Please give me a heart of flesh. The hardness is a barrier between us that I can’t stand! I love You and I am so regrettably sorry for my selfish actions.”

‘Is he done yet?’ Pam mouths at me and I give my head a brief shake. I am almost certain Christians end their prayers with an ‘amen.’

Thank You for Your Forgiveness, Lord. Without Forgiveness, I am nothing.”

Damn right you are. I suppose without it you are a pile of flesh, but that seems like splitting hairs.

With your Forgiveness, I am whole again. I praise Your Name! Amen!”

I knew it!

With that ending of the prayer, I raise my fist and check my strength before belting Compton in the face. Several of his teeth fly out of his mouth, clattering across the concrete floor and I let out a contented sigh.

Pamela, Compton has repented and sworn his allegiance to the Gaul line. Now, I need you to work him over nice and proper, and then explain the conditions of Godric’s ‘Empathy Bootcamp,’ patent pending,” I tell her.

My Child makes a displeased face, “I do not get to kill him?”

No,” I shake my head. “We need our own informants in the vampire community and Billy is about to be indebted to us up to his ears.”

Hmm, his ears,” Pam frowns, grabs the cartilage of Compton’s left ear, and easily rips it from his face. I actually need to repress a flinch. Something about harming ears unsettles me as of late. Probably because you worship your wife’s ears, I think bemusedly. I would probably roast someone and feed them to the dogs if they damaged my Sookie’s beautiful, sexy ears!

I must fulfill other obligations now. Use my teachings well, Pam…and remember, do not kill him,” I remind her.

Yes, Master,” Pam sighs and goes back to her methodology.

I will take my own wrath out on Lorena, but first…

As I exit the warehouse, I take out my cell phone and hold down “2.”

Eric.”

Master.”

Sookie’s POV:

Jason and I are hanging out around the house, grading our first batches of homework while Godric and Cammie get reacquainted. I’m so relieved my friend doesn’t seem to be too worse for wear. She seemed pretty put together and calm, like she’d just woken up from a bit of a longer sleep than usual.

Suddenly Jason perks up from his papers and I see his eyes glaze a little bit.


“Y’know what they say about eavesdroppers,” I prod at him annoyedly. Since getting the vamp telepathy and hearing, he’s turned into such a busybody!

Eric’s called Godric,” Jason tells me softly.

What’s he saying!?” I whisper excitedly. I haven’t seen my Bonded in almost two days! That feels forever in Bonded time. I don’t know how Godric held up like he did. He couldn’t even feel Cammie like I’ve at least been feeling Eric this whole time he’s been absent.

Somethin’ somethin’, is it okay to kill Lorena? Whoever she is. Call Ludwig to check out Ja- Me. Possible acceleration in advancements and I’d be the easiest to get a baseline from,” Jason frowns and tries to fathom Eric’s request.

What does that mean?” I ask my brother curiously.

I don’t know,” he confesses. “I guess maybe we’re getting stronger faster than we should?”

You did stop needing more blood than they thought you should pretty early on,” I tell him. “Remember those two months they kept checkin’ up on you? ‘When is the last time you drank? You are certain you are not thirsty?’ Blah, blah, blah,” I remind him.

How could I forget? Even Pam was gettin’ all mother-hen on me!” Jason chuckles. “You’re gettin’ real good at impersonating Eric, if you don’t mind me sayin’. If ya could get your voice down about three octaves, you’d have it perfect.”

I laugh and roll my eyes at my brother, but our moment of joking is interrupted by a familiar *POP* that we were both waiting for on some level.

I have been told to examine you?” Ludwig asks my brother curiously.

Jason sighs and rises to his feet, towering over the squat, steely doctor.

From what I overheard, there’s a chance the bloodline is strengthening or maturing faster than normal?” I offer.

Ludwig nods and becomes thoughtful, “That would imply that vampire strengths and maturities are ruled by experience rather than merely time. What an interesting concept!”

What do you mean?” I ask curiously.

The doctor begins digging through her stained and odorous bag until she comes up with several different colored bands.

Pull this apart,” she tells my brother before looking at me. “It could mean that since the bloodline remains aware indefinitely, or at least almost indefinitely, because they do choose to die for the day from time to time, they are receiving twice the experience in a single day,” Jason tugs at the band she’s given him and it stretches the full span of his arms. Ludwig hands him another band and looks back to me, “If advancements in power are contributed by experience and not just time, then that means they have more time to have those experiences. Also, they benefit from additional factors. Love, family, and joy…those are very important experiences, too, young lady. Happiness for one is happiness for all in a bloodline.”

Jason pulls the new band as far as his arms can reach and looks down at the doctor, “So, we are maturing faster because…?”

Because you are mature. Eric and Godric offer the maturity only centuries can bring, you offer the maturity of the spirit, and Sookie… Teaches the joy of a loving family,” Ludwig tells us as she hands Jason a new band. “We do not take strength from knowledge alone. We take strength from compassion, from love, and from family. Strength is not merely one of brute force, but of the mind and spirit. I do believe that the true source of most of this strength comes from Godric. Finally, that boy’s childish heart is healed and it is the heart of a man with a mind holding the wisdom of the ages. Having a heart that old, strong, and finally capable of love at the base of your bloodline’s roots is what I think is helping the rest of the line flourish.”

Jason is on his fourth band now and he’s finally showing some difficulty stretching them. His arms shake violently and he barely extends his arms fully before he drops the band to the floor. Ludwig hands him a fifth and he can barely do more than remove the slack.

Taking the band from him and collecting the others, Ludwig takes out one of her zillions of charts and starts writing in it. “I might as well do your fertility test while I am here,” she points at me with her pen and I groan.

So, I guess it’s a real good thing Godric met Cammie, huh?” Jason remarks.

Camilla is not the lone variable of Godric’s mending heart. Of course, she is the main component, but everyone within the bloodline has helped. Even you, Baby Vampire,” she points at my brother as she reaches into her bag and supplies me with a sample cup. I banish myself to the powder room and return quickly as not to miss any more of the conversation.

Watching Ludwig go through her usual motions of analyzing my urine and drawing my blood, I wait for her news on the vampires in my life. Jason is standing, waiting silently as well.

Still not preheating that oven yet, eh?” Ludwig teases me. “Well, you obviously have plenty of time to start a family.”

What about me?” Jason asks impatiently.

You will never start a family, Stackhouse,” Ludwig rolls her eyes.

That’s not what I meant!” my brother whines.

Ludwig cackles at her joke and finally starts giving the assessment. “I averaged your strength to that of an eighty-year-old vampire. As it has almost been five years, that would be a twenty-year strength increase for a single year.”

Whoa, so in another six years I’d be equivalent to a two-hundred-year-old!?” Jason asks excitedly.

I must evaluate all vampires of the bloodline. I am sure that by a certain age the gap lessens, but yours and Pamela’s youth is allowing you to expand faster,” Ludwig explains.

Question?” I interrupt as curiosity and a little hope tugs at my heart.

Potential answer,” Ludwig offers impatiently.

Isn’t Bonding related to maturity and age?” I ask.

It is,” Ludwig agrees.

So, if they’re aging at a faster rate, doesn’t that mean that they’d be equivalent to an ancient’s age in just fifty years or so? Would that mean that they could find their Bondeds in less than a century?”

Jason looks at me in surprise and Ludwig’s face has tightened thoughtfully, “I suppose it is possible… An interesting theory even, but,” Ludwig looks at me with a super serious gaze, “Bonding is a compatibility with the spirit. The reason Bonding is a compulsion and not merely a wish is because a Bonded is the equivalent of a soulmate. There is only one spirit that could spark such a response from a vampire. If you were to look at existing vampires who have remained with a single lover for centuries, chances are it is because they found their soulmate, but cannot Bond.”

I frown, “I don’t know any-”

Diedre and Cassandra, or as you know her, the Ancient Pythoness,” Ludwig smiles. “That is the oldest love I have ever known and it is nearly older than me!” The doctor pauses a moment, waiting for any sort of response before finally speaking, “Well, that is all I will do for now. When this current situation has settled, I will return and do an evaluation on the entire bloodline and see where all of you stand within your power.”


“Thank you, Doctor,” I murmur a bit distractedly as I take all this in.

When Ludwig leaves and it is just Jason and me standing around the living room, we look at each other at a loss for what to say. Instead, we settle back into grading papers and sit in silence.

Hey, you got ‘Snow White’ in any of your classes?” Jason asks me suddenly.

Which one is that?” I ask, hating his nicknaming method for his students.

Uh, Jeremy Lintner,” he tells me. “He’s that… What they call ’em? Not Goth… Emo! He’s that Emo kid.”

I have a Jeremy Lintner in my third period Freshman English class,” I tell him. “Why?”

Check this out,” He hands me a paper. “I asked the class to write three paragraphs about Venice. Check out Snow White’s.”

I read the paragraphs and nod approvingly, “Technical mistakes in his grammar, but very good imagery. Is the historical aspect accurate?”

Hammer meet head of the nail,” Jason tells me.

I’ll talk to him about taking a creative writing class next year-”

Sook, have you noticed anything about him? I know we’ve only been teaching here a couple days, but… He seems…withdrawn, don’t he?”

Honestly, I’ve been following Taylor Charleston around since I met him. Haven’t even noticed much about Jeremy.”

Taylor, that’s the shifter boy, right?” Jason asks.

I nod and worry my lip between my teeth a bit, “Jason, I don’t think he knows what he is.”

Jason frowns at this news, “We should contact the local Pack Master and make sure they know about Taylor.”

That’s not a bad idea,” I murmur thoughtfully.

There’s at least one Were kid at the school. Wouldn’t he know?” Jason asks.

I shake my head, “Not until Taylor’s first transformation. He’s too young himself to sense an unpopped shifter.”

Jason nods, rakes his hand through his hair, and goes to my husband’s office to find his little black book of Supernatural contacts.

You think this would be him?” Jason asks as he returns with the open book and points at a name.

~OH:PM:2001-CURRENT~ is written in Eric’s elegant script and highlighted in green. The abbreviations seem right.

I think so… Scott… Smiley?” I giggle a bit at the name, but know not to get my hopes up on an amicable conversation. “Here, let me call. Maybe if one of the living members of the family makes the call, it’ll be more civil?” I say hopefully, taking the phonebook from him.

Picking up the phone, I quickly call and wait nervously as the receiver rings. Finally, the line picks up and I hold my breath as, “Scott here,” comes to me over the phone.

Is this Pack Master, Scott Smiley? Of the Ohio pack?” I ask a bit unsteadily.

Who’s asking?” his voice growls at me over the phone.

H-hi, Sir,” I swallow hard. “This is Sookie Northman, I-I teach at Stone Water High School-”

I know who you are, Northman,” I’m a bit taken aback. Only my husband gets called just plain ‘Northman,’ and I’m definitely not used to it! “What are you bugging me for?”

Well, I’m new to the area and I know this is none of my business, but one of my students is a shifter who hasn’t made his first transfor-”

Taylor Charleston. Yeah. I know him. And you’re right. He’s none of your business,” Smiley snarls at me and I feel my shoulders tremble a bit. How I can be an immortal and still feel weak in the knees when someone’s mean to me is beyond me, but I just can’t stand when someone doesn’t like me when we’ve never even met!

You’re right, he’s your pack’s business. I just wanted to make sure he wasn’t alone in-”

He is alone. His parents got themselves shunned by the local pack before he was even born. Then the same crap that got them banned is what got them killed. Little shit is on his own-”

But he’s just a kid!” I protest. “He wasn’t even born and you’re just gonna make him figure out-”

You went and stuck your nose in his business. You can take care of him for all I care,” Smiley tells me just as he hangs up on me.

Putting the phone down, I look at Jason for help. What am I going to do?

Any idea when he might pop?” Jason asks after I’ve been frozen into silence for too long.

I raise my hands helplessly in an effort to explain that I have no idea. “It could be any full moon this year.”

Jason nods pityingly before asking, “Got any idea how we could handle it?”

I ponder this a moment before deciding, “The next full moon isn’t for another week and a half. Eric will be back well before then. We can talk to him and see what he has to say.”

My brother nods again and looks back at his ungraded papers, “I guess that’s all we can do for now.”

Yeah,” I reply sadly.

Eric’s POV:

In all honesty, Lorena should be much more difficult to find than she actually is. A call to Pamela and Compton informed me that his link to his Maker was open, that she was on her way to him. I must give the bitch credit, I did not expect her to come to her progeny’s aid so quickly.

As a matter of fact, I stop into a nearby store for a gallon of vinegar to dump over my head to mask my scent. Thankfully vampires do not shed skin cells like humans and all we must accomplish in hiding our signature scent from Weres or shifters is to overwhelm our scent. Of course, the potent stench of vinegar will almost always convince them a Supernatural was involved, but there is no way for them to identify that scent’s owner in the future. Garlic and coffee grounds also work, but garlic lingers too long and coffee is too time consuming to apply. Therefore, vinegar is a Supernatural’s go-to scent disrupter.

Stepping out into the late evening, I find a safe spot to ascend into the night sky.

With my trained eyes, I oversee the incoming traffic to the city, looking for a frantically driven vehicle. When I spot my mark, I dump the bottle of vinegar over my body and dive down toward my victim. I have just enough time to glimpse the vampiress through the windshield as I clutch the front end of the car and fling it heavenward. Cars nearby swerve and honk, reacting to, though not understanding what exactly their eyes have witnessed.

With no regard for the confused humans, I follow the vehicle’s impromptu journey into the skies and catch it upon its descent before flinging it outward into the nearby lake. When it lands, Lorena forces her way from the wreckage as it sinks and flinches as I grab her by her neck.

Stealing my family’s secrets, Lorena?” I cluck my tongue at her disapprovingly as I hold us above the water.

Enjoy your impervious immortality while you can,” Lorena seethes between her teeth. “It won’t be long before your Master orders you to remove your Mate’s wings so that he may perish!”

His Mate will recover,” I smirk. “You miscalculated and now you will be the one who meets their Final Death. Did you honestly believe we would not track down the one who attacked our family?”

Mine will be far from the last attack,” Lorena assures, “and, eventually, someone will tear your nest asunder!”

I cannot help the smile that tugs at my lips, “Do you think threatening a Viking with battle is anything more than an invitation for fun?”

Then why am I still talking?” my prey demands angrily, but her eyes speak the truth. I can read their fear and frantic scramblings for an escape.

I want you to meet your True Death knowing you lost your existence for absolutely nothing. You slowed my bloodline down for a few days and you left a trail of breadcrumbs all the way back to yourself. If you say my bloodline has aligned more enemies, then now I know to start gathering our comrades.” With that, I grasp her chin and the top of her head. Her weight acts against her as I spin with cyclonic speeds until that weight severs her neck and her head detaches. Next, a wave of blood arcs across the lake and splashes into the water to disperse and leave no memory of Lorena, other than the sinking wreckage of her vehicle.

I allow my body to be pushed by the gentle winds coming across the lake. My body pushes closer and closer to the coast where I dive into the not yet chilling waters and let any residual blood and vinegar disperse among the soft ripples. As I float, fully clothed, in the water, my hair undulating along with the ripples, I stare up at the sky and nervously ask of the barely visible stars, “What is about to become of my world?”

TBC

Catalyst Ch. 46

Chapter Forty-Six: With or Without You

Godric’s POV:

I hate the creature I am acting like right now, I think in agony. I do not like the accusations I have thrown at my Child, nor the fact I am being comforted by my newest progeny. I am two-thousand-years-old and should not be taking comfort from a fledgling. It is I who should be the calm in this storm. I should be their rock, but I cannot feel my Camilla and the pain is paralyzing, making me act irrationally.

Godric,” Sookie whispers gently like she is trying to coax a frightened animal from beneath a piece of furniture. “Why don’t you take Cammie to rest in one of the bedrooms upstairs?” She offers to lead the way, gesturing toward the staircase.

All I can offer is a nod as I rise from the sofa and allow Sookie to lead me down the hall. She glances over her shoulder from time to time, giving me reassuring, beautiful smiles.

Do you really believe Camilla will be all right?” I ask of Sookie when we arrive on the upstairs landing.

I do,” she nods and opens a nearby door. She turns on the light, revealing the soft blue walls and brown and cream bedding. “I have the same faith as Jason.”

What if she does overcome this…whatever it is, but she is not my Camilla any longer?” I voice my fears, hoping to receive better reassurances than Pam gave me. All Pam could offer was an insistence that I get to Eric… Or maybe she was telling me to get to Sookie. Run to the person who brings strength and comfort to our bloodline.

Sookie sits on the edge of the bed, stroking Camilla’s foot as she gazes thoughtfully at her best friend. It is difficult to fathom that my Bonded’s condition is hurting anyone other than myself, but I am reminded in this moment that Camilla is Sookie’s best friend, the one person who understands her life as first hand as possible.

If that’s the case,” Sookie smiles sadly, “then we’ll have to fall in love with her all over again. There are some traits that inherently belong to Cammie, y’know? You cared about her that first night, right? I know I liked her immediately, in her first life and this one. I’ll love her in the third one if that comes to be. I don’t want that, but I know I’ll still love her and make new memories with h-her,” Sookie clears her throat, trying to dispel the emotion that is building. It makes me admire her strength and I offer her a consoling smile.

Before I can say anything, Eric leans into the doorway and grimaces apologetically, “Sookie-”

You’re goin’ after Pam?” Sookie guesses my Child’s intentions.

Yes,” Eric nods. “I have to be certain no war erupts prematurely and if Compton is not the culprit, I am the one who can confront Grissom.”

Sookie rises from the foot of the bed and goes to Eric. I see her hesitate to kiss him in front of me, so I cast my eyes to my own Bonded.

Be safe.”

You, too,” Eric tells her and I hear their lips meet briefly. “Please, stay with your brother at all times while I am away? Yes, that means letting him drive the two of you to work. Carpooling makes more sense anyway.” I am not unaware that Sookie is still a horrendous driver, which usually brings me amusement. “Please, stay home with Godric and Camilla when you are not at work?” he requests in that voice that tells me it is not really a request, but he knows better than to make commands on Sookie outside the bedroom. That is a conversation we have had in length, I think with the first burst of amusement I have felt since this afternoon.

I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else while my friends are like this,” Sookie replies softly and it makes my heart swell that such a young woman wishes to be the anchor to this ancient vampire’s drifting spirits.

I will call you once I arrive in New Orleans,” Eric tells her and I hear their lips touch again. “It should only be about five hours,” he whispers softer and another brief meeting of their lips punctuates his promise.

I’ll miss you,” Sookie murmurs.

As I will miss you,” Eric chuckles before the sound of a long embrace.

After Eric departs, I look over my shoulder at Sookie who is leaning out of the doorway, staring down the hall longingly.

Are you all right?” I ask as she finally comes to sit back on the bed and stroke Camilla’s feet absentmindedly.

It’s silly,” Sookie blushes.

I could use silly,” I encourage.

It wouldn’t be silly to you,” she admits.

I am waiting.”

Eric and I haven’t been more than fifty miles apart since before we were married,” she mumbles, tilting her head down. “I can feel him flying away and I already miss him.”

My lips tilt into a small smile, “He has died for the day on many occasions. When that occurs, he is far more absent from you than he is now.”

Sookie frowns, “I really don’t have any right to be complainin’ right now, especially not to you of all people.”

As I am about to reply, Jason arrives in the room and goes to flop on the opposite side of Camilla on the bed. Before he can, I am up and snarling involuntarily.

Fine. You flop on the bed and gimme your chair then,” Jason grumbles. “I may be a vamp, but it don’t mean I wanna stand around lookin’ like a statue or gargoyle, y’know?”

My eyes roll toward the heavens. How did I land such a Child?

Slipping into the bed beside my Bonded, I wrap her in my cool embrace. Her body immediately begins to warm me as I pull her closer. Jason takes my seat and one of Camilla’s hands while he looks her over.

You called Ludwig?” Jason asks curiously.

Ludwig can treat only the body,” I tell him in exasperation. “This is purely an affliction of the mind.”

I meant so we can feed her while she’s down for the count,” Jason tells me and I flinch. “Maybe a feedin’ tube or somethin’?”

Would you-”

I got it,” Sookie assures, reaching for her phone and calling the doctor.

What is it?” I hear Ludwig’s voice answer Sookie’s call.

Dr. Ludwig, it’s Sookie Northman,” Sookie answers the phone formally. “We have a situation here and I was hopin’ you could lend us some expertise?”

I can arrive in two hours. I am with a patient. Will it wait?”

It will wait,” Sookie replies sadly and I know it is not because of the doctor’s delay, but because she wishes the situation would not continue another two hours.

I will see you around eleven,” Ludwig tells her and hangs up.

She’ll be here at eleven,” Sookie announces.

I know,” Jason and I say in unison and Sookie smiles.

We are sitting in companionable silence for an hour or so when I hear Jason chuckle.

What is it?” I ask, surprised he can muster so much amusement under the circumstances.

Cammie’s gonna be so pissed at you when she wakes up,” Jason laughs a bit harder. “She’ll say somethin’ like, ‘you flew us to fuckin’ Ohio just ’cause I took a nap‘!?”

Sookie giggles, “And then when I tell her how you came all the way up here to beg me to chop my wings off, she’s gonna say ‘over react much’!?”

Both Jason and Sookie are laughing at my expense and while part of me wants to reprimand them and say they do not know what this feels like, another part of me is laughing right with them. Those are words my Bonded would definitely say.

Camilla’s POV:

You flew us to fucking Ohio!?

I am going to throttle my Bonded when I can move again! I swear on my eternal life I will!

For now, I get to hang out and reflect on what the hell went wrong today.

One-Twenty-Niner, Echo, Romeo, Alpha, Sierra, Echo,” I think bitterly. I may not be completely up to date on codes and crap, but the words that stranger shouted at me are obvious. One-Twenty-Niner is probably the serial number Grissom gave me and the rest of it is some sort of code that sends me into this state?

What is this state? I start to wonder.

Every once and a while I catch a glimmer of what’s going on around me, but, for the most part, my ears and eyes aren’t filtering me any information. All I know is I’ve definitely heard a word or two from both Sookie and Jason. So, either they came down to Louisiana or Godric brought me up North. I get the feeling he brought us up North. Sookie and Jason just started their new jobs today or what I assume is still today, so he wouldn’t make them come down South.

It’s scary, but my heart won’t race, despite the fact I feel terrified. My skin’s not feedin’ me any information, either. I don’t know if I am sitting or lying down. It’s like my brain is in a glass jar, still firing all these thoughts, but unable to do anything.

Oh, my God, if I could have an actual panic attack right now, it’d be one for the books!

Instead, I’m just existing in this dark, little, place in my mind, wondering if Godric can feel me or if that’s disconnected, too? I can’t feel him, so it must go both ways. My poor Bonded!

I really hope he only brought us to Ohio for support during this confusing time and that he’s not about to do anything brash. After all, I still have all my memories as far as I can tell, which means I’m still conscious of who I am. I can’t be glamoured anymore and vampire commands can only last three days. If I’m lucky, this is a one and done experience. Maybe it’s some sort of short-cut Grissom planted in my brain if I needed to be “reprogrammed” for my buyer?

I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about this long before now. Not to Godric, of course. He’d get overprotective and make me walk around in some sensory deprivation tank so no one could hit the reset button. I’ve talked about it with my magic tutor, Rose, though. Not specifically about me, but hypotheticals. I told her about a story I heard involving old human trafficking instances with vampires. I asked if she had any insight about the types of Dolls Grissom used to create.

Rose taught me a lot about vampire glamour and spoke about the terrifying genius of Grissom’s methods. Afterward she asked me if it was real and if so, she would need to be wary. I told her to be wary.

You flop on the bed and gimme your chair then,” Jason’s voice rings through and I want to laugh. My big brother makes me laugh. He’s way more of a brother to me than Eric. Eric, weirdly enough, feels more like a dad to me, but that’s a whole can of what does that make Godric that I don’t like to think about opening!

So, I’m guessing I got three days of this nonsense if Godric doesn’t do anything brash and stupid. I haven’t felt so alone in my entire life, but I take comfort in the fact that I’m not alone. My Bonded and best friends are beside me. I’m safe and all I need to do is focus on not losing my mind while I’m stuck like this and fighting like hell to get my senses back! I. Can. Do. This!

Godric’s POV:

So,” Jason murmurs thoughtfully, “I know I’m just a fledglin’, but Cammie don’t feel blanked out to me.”

I look up from where I have been staring at mine and Camilla’s joined hands and give him a glance that tells him to elaborate.

It’s just… A feelin’,” Jason tells me a bit louder. “I mean, I can feel she ain’t right, but I can feel her mind. Like… When I do glamours, I can feel a person’s consciousness. It’s like their mind wants to fill me up and move in mine. With Sook, I get that same full feelin’, but I can’t will it either way. That’s how Cammie feels-”

You have been trying to glamour Camilla?” I ask, trying to temper my frustration.

No, I’ve just been tryin’ to see if she feels any different,” He assures me quickly. “And she does, but not in an unfamiliar way. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just being optimistic,” Jason mumbles self-consciously.

Sighing, I bring Camilla’s hand to my lips for the millionth time in twelve hours before encouraging Jason, “Please, speak your mind.”

Jason looks at me nervously, “Okay, so from what you and Eric have told me about glamour… Y’know, what I can and can’t do and why, it’s not something easy to erase someone’s mind.”

Correct,” I tell him. “You remember what we told you was done to Camilla to achieve this state-”

But she’s not in the state Eric found her,” Jason insists. “That Camilla was conscious. She was awake, but only had the sense to blink. She didn’t have the sense to eat, even though she was awake. Even with food right in front of her! She didn’t have the sense not to piss all over herself. Cammie isn’t awake. She’s unconscious. Isn’t this more like a coma?”

He is right, I realize in surprise. Camilla is not conscious. She had been after Eric retrieved her from Grissom’s. That would mean that whatever state my Bonded is in currently, it is not necessarily as dire as I had feared.

You are right,” I tell him softly, as I am still awed by the realization. “That would mean-”

She’s under an imbedded command!” Jason whoops. “That means she’s gonna snap outta it in three days ’cause that’s how long a vampire command can hold! Boo-yah!” He raises his hands in victory as he rises to his feet.

I would join in his celebration if I were not stunned into silence. How did none of us realize this? How did I fly several hundred miles with my unconscious Bonded in my arms to beg my family to give up all their gifts so that I might kill my beloved and die myself?

Godric?” Jason’s voice calls calmly and I feel his firm grasp of my shoulder. “Hey, it’s okay. You were worried about Cammie. It’s figured out now,” he tries to sooth me as I feel this terrible urge to sob like some human child.

What did I nearly lose? What did I nearly take from my family!?

Love makes you stupid, y’know?” Jason tells me, still attempting to ease the burden of my betrayal and weaknesses. “Look at me and Sook. We’re just brother and sister and we ’bout killed ourselves for one another. I nearly lost my arm and Sookie ’bout starved to death. Okay, some exaggerating, but the truth is love makes you dumb. Whether it’s family or your true love, you’re gonna miss some of the answers. That’s why you got family, to solve shit for you while you’re bein’ stupid,” He tells me and laughs. “It’s okay. When it’s my turn to fall in love and Bond, you’ll have my back. Right?”

Yes,” I agree, nodding weakly. I almost killed myself and Camilla!

Now, no more Romeo and Juliet thoughts. Okay?”

Yes,” I tell him firmly in agreement as I try harder to shake off the shock of what I had come here to do.

Cool. Now, you wanna tell me what’s goin’ on with Eric and Pam? I can’t feel them,” Jason demands.

Pam is in New Orleans. Eric is just flying along the Arkansas/Tennessee border. He should arrive in New Orleans in two hours,” I inform him. “Pam’s frustrated, so I would assume she has not yet tracked down Compton.”

What do you think will happen if she finds him before Eric finds her?” Jason asks me with genuine curiosity.

Shrugging my shoulders, I confess, “I do not know either way. I have no idea what Eric’s intentions are any more than I know Pamela’s. For as long as I have known those two, they still surprise me regularly by their decisions. Pamela because she is spontaneous when not ordered by myself or Eric. Eric…he has a certain predictability about him, except when he decides to be unpredictable. He takes just enough risks to keep me guessing while not bringing me any concern. As long as Eric arrives before Pamela finds Compton, I have no worries.”

Jason nods at my explanation and sits back in his chair, having completed his victory lap after figuring out Camilla’s ailment.

We sit in silence until a sudden POP fills the air. The abrupt arrival of Dr. Ludwig causes Jason’s fangs to snap into place and he snarls in disappointment.


“Damn it, Doc! I ain’t popped these things unintentionally in almost two years and you gone and ruined my streak!” Jason complains as his lips curl and his fangs ascend back to their human façade.

Quit your complaining and…” Ludwig pauses when she sees Camilla, “and explain why your Bonded is in a coma.”

I sigh, “We believe it is an imbedded command from when Grissom was erasing her memory. A glamoured human spoke strange words to her, and then Camilla collapsed and disappeared from the Bond.”

Ludwig frowns, “I see.” She comes to Camilla’s side and begins evaluating her, but thankfully does not command me to move. Instead, she considerately works around me. That takes me by surprise. “I have seen this before,” Ludwig tells us softly. “It is an imbedded command. A short cut, if you will.”

Short cut?” Jason asks.

The doctor nods as she explains, “I had the displeasure of mending one of Grissom’s Dolls once. The poor thing had been so physically and emotionally traumatized that Grissom had to come and erase her memories all over again. I was setting a dislocation when he arrived. He spoke a code to the girl and she fell into a sleep just like this one,” She gestures to my Camilla. “It was a brief sleep, but when she awoke, she could not recognize her face… What Grissom said to her, I could practically see her mind breaking. When he tried to strike her, I stopped him. I told him I would report him and his techniques to the International Council of Supernaturals.”

And they did nothing,” I whisper.

And they did nothing,” she agrees gruffly. “Because she was a human. I told them I may be a supernatural doctor, but it is my creed to harm none, not to look the other way while harm is done to others. That was when I petitioned Endymion and the Pantheon to grant me neutrality. I am one of very few supernatural creatures not governed by most magical laws.”

As I listen to the doctor her words ring in me anxiously, “Does that mean Camilla will not know herself when she wakes?”

Ludwig frowns, “She will have all of her memories, but there is a possibility she will not recognize her face. If you handle that situation calmly, it will be far from the most traumatizing thing she has experienced.”

I suppose if I warned her before she sees her reflection, it might help?” I wonder aloud.

That would definitely be a good idea. How long has she been out?” Ludwig asks.

About twelve hours,” I tell her.

I will hook her up to an IV and put in a catheter. When she wakes up, keep her in bed for the first day with a few walks around the room every few hours, then straight back into bed. Sex as soon as she is willing after waking, but gently. She will be weak. Sex will help reaffirm your Bond,” She explains. “Light foods the first two days after she rises. Broths, fluids, and those protein drinks I have them on… Stuff like that.”

Is that all?” Jason asks in surprise.

Yes, because you have told me she cannot be glamoured. That means her mental state is in no danger and she has living immortality, so even if you don’t feed her, she can’t die. Still, there is no reason to let her come back from this in poorer conditions than she must,” Ludwig shrugs. “I will swing by in four days to check her over. I suggest you two remain here for the rest of the week.”


Jason leaves the room as Ludwig begins rolling up the bedding to insert Camilla’s catheter, and I hold my Bonded’s hand as she is given the most basic of treatments.

Do you know… Could this be done to her again?” I ask of the doctor.

I’m not sure. From what I could tell the code had to be re-imbedded, but that was because the subject’s memory was wiped. Camilla’s cannot be. However, depending on her current mental state, whatever is going on in that head of hers right now? Who knows? Her magic is growing stronger every day now. She may be able to erase the command herself.”

Camilla’s POV:

… may be able to erase the command herself…”

Herself.”

Herself-”

I can erase the command myself!? I think with excitement and surprise. Does that mean somewhere in all this darkness, I’m actually just existing in my mind?

Whoa, that’s way too paranormal, even for someone married to a vampire!

That’s also the first voice I’ve heard in forever and it was Ludwig’s. It’s also the only time I’ve heard Ludwig’s voice, which makes me think I haven’t been out for very long. After all, Godric would have called Ludwig pretty quick, right? Then again, he did fly all the way to Ohio before he did… Ugh, I have no idea what’s going on and it’s annoying the heck out of me!

However, that is a thought for another time. Right now, I know I’m trapped in my own head and while I’m here, I got an imbedded command to erase! This task seems way out of my league. Maybe if I was studying to be a psychology teacher or brain surgeon I’d have a better idea of what to do, but I’m a freakin’ math teacher. What do I know about brain mapping?

Mindfulness. Being aware of thoughts as they pass, but allow them to pass. Do not cling, merely be aware,” Rose’s words ring into my brain and I groan. Meditation isn’t really my thing, but my magic tutor has been rigorous about guided meditations. She has told me countless times that the natural ability to manipulate energy is useless if you cannot make it do what you want.

That’s why I’m still sitting in the dark, trying to figure out how to meditate when I can’t focus on my breathing or heartbeat. I’m not good enough at this yet!

Don’t make excuses for somethin’ you know how to do. So, it doesn’t come naturally. That’s not an excuse to do it poorly,” Sookie’s voice rings in my mind, her words from back when I was first trying to understand my biology lessons. It was my worst subject by far and I hated it. Sookie’s solution was studying with me. Every time I got frustrated and shoved her notecards or books away, she would push them right back and say it would become easier if I worked harder. Everything couldn’t come easily. Some things had to be worked for.

Okay, Cammie. You had your entire memory stripped from you and you managed to get your GED within a year. You’ve had four years training with Rose. You. Can. Do. This! I chant my new favorite mantra several times before slowly stripping away thought after thought.

Unbidden by me, my memories swell with words my Bonded spoke several hours ago. They fill my thoughts and his voice becomes the breath, the heartbeat that brings my mind to focus.

It is amazing, Mila meum,” Godric whispered in my ear early yesterday morning before my classes began, “despite the same predictability the day shares with the night, there is also a newness to every day. A new openness, a new beginning. These past five years that I have been an Impervious Immortal, I experience every day with wonder. There are so many things to be found in the daylight. Trust, love, happiness. Since being gifted with the day I have seen more of those beautiful things in the past five years than the last five hundred wandering only in the night. Those months in the sun before you were brought into my existence… I think they gave me the hope and faith I needed to let myself accept your love.”

Really? I thought Eric still had to smack that sense into you,” I teased him.

Godric looked at me with that level of annoyance he only enjoys when I bring him to it, “Whatever the case, I am here now because I finally witnessed that those things still existed. That a woman like you could still exist in this world. I love you, Mila meum.”

I love you, too, Godric.”

Suddenly this corner of mind doesn’t seem as dark or isolated. I feel free to wander and chase that memory deeper. Thankfully the darkness doesn’t return as I explore. Listening to memory after memory, conversation after conversation, like traveling back through time, through my five year past until I hit the edge.

No more whispers, I think as I have gone as far back as my memory exists and old conversations can no longer murmur to me. It is like hitting a wall.

One-Two-Niner,” a vaguely unfamiliar, but most unwelcome voice snarls in my ear. “Echo, Romeo, Alpha, Sierra, Echo. When you hear these words, you will allow yourself to be rewritten. Your mind will not cling to its memories. They will be disposable to you. Obey.”

No, I think indignantly, they’re not disposable. They’re invaluable.

Then again, this memory is disposable. I do not want or need it.

Echo,” I try to say out loud, “Romeo,” I hope speaking it myself works just the same, “Alpha, Sierra,” I’m going for it! “Echo.”

Godric’s POV:

Are Cammie’s lips moving?” Sookie asks with a frown as she stares at my Bonded’s face.

I look at Camilla’s plump lips and see them tremble ever so slightly. It is the first sign of movement she has given me in just over fifty hours. As I feel my emotions swell at this tiny sign of awareness, I hear a soft, “’Ko’,” sound in the back of her throat.

Suddenly her emotions burst forth within me. Fatigue, relief, love, and gratitude as her eyes flutter rapidly open.

Godric,” Her weak hands reach for my face and I cup them with my own as I lean down to kiss her.

I see Sookie and Jason quickly withdraw from the bedroom and I deepen the kiss. “I missed you,” I say against her mouth.


“I missed you, too,” she tells me, sliding her hands behind my neck and pulling me tighter to her mouth.

Camilla,” I try to speak against her lips, “there is something you should know-”

What? Did you get over me already?” she teases in that way I have missed the past two days.

Do not even joke about such an impossible thing,” I kiss her again.

What is it, Godric?” Camilla asks calmly.


“There is a possibility that you may have forgotten what you look like, so when you look in the mirror, the face you see could be a stranger’s face,” I whisper guardedly.

Camilla pauses as she absorbs this information, “As long as it’s still the face you love, I’ll get used to it.” I smile and kiss her once more before she pulls away suddenly. “I’m sorry, I just gotta pee so bad-”

You have a catheter in,” I tell her. “It is probably giving you a sensation of urgency to urinate.”

Her face scrunches unpleasantly and she whispers, “Can you take it out?”

Chuckling, I nod, “I do, in fact, know how to do that.”

I can feel her embarrassment as I slide down the length of the bed and push the blankets up. Despite all the things I have done to her body, none of them have been as clinical as this particular act. I suppose a part of her feels I should not witness her nether regions in such a state, but I do not dwell on her strange insecurities. Instead, I focus on my task and break the shackles of her comatose state with the removal of the catheter.

Do you still need to pee?” I ask jokingly when she is free.

She pauses before answering, almost as if she is considering her body very carefully. “Yes!” she announces suddenly, flings away the bedding, and hobbles toward the door.

Other door,” I tell her amusedly and go to assist her. She has not moved a muscle in over forty-eight hours, and I can see she is hurting from it. Soon I have her sitting on the toilet and she holds her head in her hands as she urinates.

Go away,” she mumbles tiredly.

I laugh and shake my head. “You probably will not be able to stand up again.”

She finishes quickly and, sure enough, cannot lift herself off the toilet.

Okay, help,” she admits defeat when she cannot find a surface to hold onto and haul herself back to her feet.

I smile and take her into my arms. She has me stop to let her wash her hands and I oblige. When she reaches for the towel to dry her hands, she pauses and stares at the mirror. I can feel her surprise and I look at Camilla worriedly.


“That’s my face,” she murmurs.

Yes,” I agree gently.


“No! I mean, I recognize it! That’s my face!” She laughs and smiles and I hold her even tighter. “I must not have had that command!” She grins back at me from the mirror and I kiss her cheek before returning to the bedroom.

What command did you have?” I ask of her and her face frowns.

I don’t know… I don’t remember,” she confesses.

What do you remember?” I ask gently as I set her back on to the bed.

I remember being in darkness. I remember hearing you guys from time to time,” she thinks back. “I heard Ludwig once. She said something about overcoming the command myself and all I could think was, ‘I can do that?’ So, I worked on doing that,” Camilla tells me thoughtfully. “I don’t know. Maybe I succeeded? How long was I out?” she asks.

About fifty hours,” I tell her softly.

Camilla nods, accepting that fifty hours of her life have vanished, “I should have been out for seventy-two. It was an imbedded glamour. It should have held me for three days. If I woke in just over two, then I probably erased the glamour successfully,” she states confidently.

Why would you not know?” I ask.

She shrugs and offers, “I probably erased the memory of the imbedded command. If I did that, I probably wouldn’t remember erasing it either. That’s my best guess, anyway.”

All I can do is nod at her assessment, but my anxiety will not be quelled until her safety has been assured.

You want to see if I’ll go back under, don’t you?” she guesses accurately.

I do,” I confess.

Go on, then,” she waves her hand with her consent. She quickly snuggles back into bed and looks at me expectantly. “Well?” she prods when I have yet to speak.

What if you go back under? I will be without you again,” I whisper sadly.

It will be fine, Godric,” she tells me confidently. “I know it will be.”

I let out a sigh and finally utter, “One-two-niner, echo, romeo, alpha, sierra, echo.”

My words barely hiss past my teeth at the last word and I stare at Mila expectantly. She blinks at me with her cocky, little smirk, then leans in and kisses my tight lips.

See?” she teases. “I can take care of myself, too.”

My lips relax and I lean in to kiss her slowly, “I have missed you so much.”

I’ve missed you too, Godric,” she says quietly as she wraps her arms around my neck and pulls me atop her. “Now make love to me.”

On to Chapter Forty-Seven!

Catalyst Ch. 45

Chapter Forty-Five: Relapse

August 2005

Jason’s POV:

I feel like the new kids in school again, I think nervously as Sooks and I make our way through the hallways of Stone Water High School.

As I guessed he might, Eric managed to get me and Sookie jobs at the same school and now, we’re the new kids, in a new town, in a new state. After Sookie graduated from Endene, Eric moved the three of us to Ohio to start a new life. I know it’s ’cause Sook wants to raise her kids in our family home and since none of us know exactly when that will happen, Eric thought it might be best to leave Louisiana behind until she gets knocked up.

It’s cool, though, Yankee girls got a thing for my accent, but I gotta make sure I throw some knowledge down pretty quick, otherwise I’m looked at like a stupid redneck and not an educated, southern gent. I’ve barely been in Ohio a month and I’ve already banged half the eligible women in my subdivision. Pam’s gonna be so jealous when she gets here this weekend!

Pam decided to go to New York before meetin’ us here and Godric’s stayin’ in Louisiana until Camilla finishes school. She’s got one year of college left, and then they’ll be on their way up here. Cammie surprised all of us when she said she’d like to teach math. When I asked what made her want to become a teacher, she’d told me nice and simple that the bloodline had shown her the importance of patient, knowledgeable people offering their abilities. If it hadn’t been for all of us, it might have taken Cammie a lot longer to get her GED and get enrolled in college. Eric’s already workin’ on glamouring one of the older math teachers into puttin’ in for retirement so Cammie can take his place next year.

Sookie’s spot opened when the former English teacher’s husband got a terrific job in Michigan, but it meant they would have to move. His new job just so happened to be for a company Eric owned. My job actually came about naturally. I swear Eric did not give that poor old guy a heart attack!

Are you nervous?” My sister asks as we make our way to our respective classrooms.

Super nervous,” I confess. “Do I look all right?” I got on a pair of dark khaki pants and a deep blue polo shirt. Pam says duller colors won’t make my skin look so pale. Although, I got a pretty good color palette to work with ’cause Pam insisted I tan really good before comin’ over. She hung out with me on the old condo roof, soakin’ in the rays all summer those three years ago.

You look great,” she tells me confidently. “Don’t go makin’ any young girls fall in love with you!”

I roll my eyes, “Yeah, don’t go makin’ no little boys fall for you. Eric will kill ’em.”

Sookie flinches, but nods. I didn’t expect her to agree so easily that her husband is one possessive, homicidal dude. It ain’t jealousy. Eric knows better than anyone that Sookie ain’t goin’ nowhere, but that doesn’t mean he wants to see some yahoo gettin’ handsy with his wife. It doesn’t mean he’ll let someone walk away afterward.

I’ll see you at lunch. Did you remember your thermos?” Sookie, the mother hen, asks.

Yeah, Ma! I remembered it. See you at lunch,” I laugh and kiss her cheek as I open her classroom door and let her in. She waves goodbye to me as I head to my own classroom.

When I arrive at my desk, I make quick work of organizing myself and getting the chalkboard written up for the beginnin’ of my first class. Soon, my first student arrives and sits in the back of the room. He’s a quiet lookin’ kid with long, floppy black hair and downcast eyes. He sits in the far back corner, crosses his arms over his chest, and tucks his chin against his sternum. His brown eyes close and it looks like he’s already fallen asleep. Any thoughts I had about him being a quiet kid are shot to hell as he starts to snore. Whatever, it’s early. Let the kid sleep till class actually starts.

I go back to preparin’ the chalkboard and leave Snow White to his shuteye. Soon my class trickles to full. Some kids are noisy, others are still half asleep. Eventually the bell rings, signaling it’s time for me to start lessons. I begin by grabbin’ a copy of my thickest book and slammin’ it down on my desk. The noisy kids fall silent and look at me in surprise. The unconscious kids jerk awake and look around in confusion until their eyes are on me.

Good mornin’, Class,” I address my new students. “My name is Mr. Stackhouse. I’m the new history teacher and this is World History. Before we dive into it, let’s do roll call.” I pick up my first period class registration and quickly get through it, checkin’ off people’s names. “I’m gonna pass out this seatin’ chart. Write your name in the corresponding box, and congratulations! You are now married to your seat for the remainder of the semester.”

My mornin’ goes the same for each class. Same preparation, same announcement from class to class. World History, Ancient/Medieval History, Geography, and Government. Those are my classes this year and I’m stoked about the first two, a lot less stoked about the other two. Whatever, I think as I grab my thermos and head to the Teacher’s Lounge for lunch. My sister waves to me from a round table and I sit next to her.

How was the first half of your first day?” She asks, bubbly as ever.

Good. Only a quarter fell asleep so far. I think that’s good for a history teacher on the first day. To be fair, that entire quarter was my Geography class. It’s just so hard to make country borders and topographical maps interesting,” I tell her as I open my thermos and take a swig.

Is that all you’re eating, Jason?” A nosey P.E. teacher asks of my thermos. “You need more than that to maintain that muscle mass.”

It’s a protein drink,” I tell him. When he seems to have gone back to mindin’ his own business, I turn back to Sook, “How were your first classes?”


“Okay,” she smiles. “A lot of groaning when we went over the assigned readin’. My American Lit. Class wasn’t so happy about some of the novels, but they’ll get over it.”

I laugh and nod as Sookie dives into her three-course lunch. The gym teacher looks surprised at how much my little sister can pack away, but wisely keeps his mouth shut this time. He obviously knows that you don’t comment on a woman’s eating habits.


While she eats and I sip at my drink, I write her a quick note.

~ Had a Were in my second hour class. Don’t think he stopped staring at me for a second. His notes are going to suck. ~

She continues munchin’ on her sandwich as she takes my pen and replies.

~ Had a shifter just before lunch. He seemed very confused by me. I think he’s too young to understand what I am in the culture. His name’s Taylor Charleston. Check to see if you have him. I didn’t get a chance to get a good read on him, but he’s a freshman and I don’t know if his magic has popped yet. ~

I nod in understanding and sip at the last of my blood. I can feel my fangs pulsin’ in my gums, wonderin’ why they’re still sheathed when blood is on my tongue, but I ignore them. The past few years have given me plenty of time to hide the telltale signs of what I am. My fangs don’t pop unless I’m really caught off guard and no human has managed that in almost two years now. Also, it took a few months, but I finally managed to pull off a glamour. Apparently, I’m pretty good at it ’cause Sook said the human’s mind accepted it seamlessly. She said it was almost difficult for her to tell the memory I left her with was a fake one.

That sorta makes me nervous. I can manipulate humans way too easy for my likin’. I hope I don’t abuse that ability…

You’re thinkin’ awful hard,” Sookie comments as she dabs at the corners of her mouth with a napkin.

A shrug lifts my shoulders, “I guess I’m still distracted by some of the things we’ve learned over the past few years.”

Sook folds her hands under her chin and gives me a thoughtful look, “I have faith in what Endy has told us. Even if there are things he could not foresee or determine the origins or weaknesses, he’s seen us far, far beyond now. That’s all the reassurance I need.”

My sister’s words ease my nerves and I gotta confess she’s becoming the woman Endymion knew she would be, cool, considerate, and still absolutely lovely. I think Faith is her greatest strength. She has faith in me to keep it together. She has faith in Eric to love and protect her. She has faith in everything Endymion has seen for us. Most of all, she has faith in herself and that she will reach all those expectations the universe has set for us.

Earth to Jason,” Sookie laughs as I’ve spaced out again.

Sorry,” I laugh. “I just keep gettin’ caught up in all that’s happened over the past few years. I wonder when it’ll all settle for me, y’know?”

Sookie nods in understanding, “I do know.”

We finish our lunches, and then go back to our classrooms. It’s sometime halfway through fifth period when I feel the most unearthly rattle in my connection to Godric. All my willpower goes to keepin’ my face straight as Agony unlike any I’ve ever known tears through me like a knife, worse than the shredded muscles and tendons my shoulder had, more gut-wrenchin’ than losin’ my parents and Gran, and more destructive to my soul than seein’ my sister’s body disappearin’ from starvation I was failin’ to prevent. I feel blood in my eyes and need to turn away from the class.

Whatever’s happenin’, Godric’s tore up and it’s significant enough that he can’t even close his end of our connection. Ah, God, make it stop! I think desperately as bloody tears threaten to spill and divulge my true self.

Mr. Stackhouse, are you all right?” One of my students asks nervously.

Thinkin’ quick, I clutch my side, “Y-yeah, sorry, guys. I got a cracked rib and I must’ve strained it.”

There’s a real brief murmur as my excuse is digested. Before anyone can ask questions, my classroom phone rings and I reach to answer it.

Yeah,” I rumble into the phone.

Jason, your brother called. He said there’s an emergency?” The school’s receptionist, Tammy, tells me.

Which brother?” I ask.

Godric,” Tammy replies. “He left a message saying he’ll be arriving tonight and to keep an eye on your sister.”

Something happened to Cammie! Fuck! Somethin’ happened to Cammie! I think wildly, “Okay. Thanks, Mrs. Parker. I’ll be right there.”

Huh?”

I hang up the phone and turn to my class. “I want notes on the first two pages of the first chapter by the time I get back from the office,” I command before leavin’ to glamour the hell outta Tammy. That was too weird a phone call and message to let a human remember.

I’m in the office in a few short minutes and Tammy looks at me in confusion. “Your brother isn’t on the line anymore,” she tells me.

I know,” I catch her gaze and she slumps slightly in her chair. “You answered a crank call and I just wanted to tell you that.”

I’m sorry,” she says slowly. “That must have frightened you.”

It’s all right, Tammy,” I assure her frazzled mind. “No harm, no foul.” It’s a lot easier to change a human’s interpretation of a situation than to change the memory entirely.

Slowly I drift Tammy out of my glamour and she blinks rapidly several times before shakin’ her head. “I can’t believe I scared you like that! I’m so sorry!” she apologizes again.

Like I said, no harm done,” I pat the counter before wavin’ goodbye. Next, I swing by Sookie’s classroom and pull her out.

What happened?” Sookie demands as her door snaps shut behind her. “Eric actually panicked a bit before he brought himself under control.”

I think somethin’ happened to Cammie,” I tell her quick and quiet.

What? How?” Sookie frowns.

I don’t know,” I confess, “but Godric’s on his way up here. Should be in by tonight.” Sooks nods and pulls her lips between her teeth thoughtfully. “I’m only tellin’ you this because I know you’re worried and I also know Eric’s not gonna call, too. They wouldn’t want to draw too much attention.” Sookie nods again and I pull her into a quick, comfortin’ hug outta view of her class. “It’ll be all right. No matter what it is that happened, it’ll be all right.”

Pullin’ away, Sookie wipes at her eyes and nods silently again before turnin’ back to her classroom. She doesn’t have any words of assurance or comfort, but the set of her jaw as she opens the door tells me her faith in the future remains intact.

Pam’s POV:

It is almost five in the early evening when I arrive in Shreveport. A rather concerning phone call from Godric has brought me here and I waste no time finding a taxi to take me to his home. So abrupt was my summoning, I did not even pack. I merely grabbed my purse and caught a flight.

Pamela,” Godric flings open the door as I walk up the steps to his front door.

Godric,” I reply worriedly at the look in his eyes as he opens the door further to usher me in.

I stare confusedly at the scene before me. Camilla is resting upon the sofa in an unsettling stillness that is like no sleep I have ever seen, but more like a vampire’s day death. If my body still could, it’s hair would stand on end as goosebumps broke out along my flesh. Instead, all I experience is a strange pain as if my heart has been staked and cannot mend.

Her cognition has been switched off. This must be the same condition Eric discovered her in nearly five years ago.

How?” I turn to Godric desperately.

My Maker’s Master points to the human I have barely even registered as present. He is a young man, probably Sookie’s age or a little younger. He is entirely human and his ability to bring Camilla to this Purgatory once more is confusing.

Godric goes to kneel in front of Camilla and takes her hands in his own. I see that those ancient, strong hands tremble with fear and agony I cannot begin to comprehend.

I was walking her to classes as I usually do,” Godric tells me. “That young man approached and I could tell he was not right. I could see the glamour. He stopped several yards away and shouted out to us. I thought perhaps it was a prank or perhaps not a glamour, but a man having a mental breakdown…until Camilla went unresponsive beside me. Her emotions vanished within me. It was like someone purged my entire body from the inside out with freezing water. She was gone from me,” Streams of blood wind rivers down Godric’s face as he finishes his tale and I feel my own crimson tears drip down my chin.

What were the words?” I ask softly. “Maybe if they turn off her cognition, repeating them will turn it back on?” I suggest hopefully.

Godric shakes his head. “I have tried that!” he barks in frustration and I regret making such an obvious suggestion. Of course, Godric will have tried countless options already. “I called you here for two reasons. One is to try to determine what vampire sent the human to recite those words and the other is to attend Camilla’s classes until we have figured out…”

It will be all right, Godric,” I try to comfort the eldest of our bloodline.

What if it was an imbedded memory reset?” Godric whispers. “What if Grissom left a code in her mind to wipe her memories?” He brings Camilla’s hands to his lips and kisses them frantically as if praying to his Bonded to rise from this nightmare. “I will never have my Camilla back. She will start from scratch all over again. What if I do not love that Camilla? What if she does not love me?”

Godric, get her to Ohio,” I tell him. “Jason has the best glamouring skills of our bloodline, shockingly enough. Maybe in her state he can try-”

He is not experienced enough. He could do more harm than good!” Godric snaps and kisses Camilla’s hands once more, rubbing his thumbs repeatedly into her palms.

What is it you suggest then?” I frown.

I am going to beg Sookie to cut off her wings,” Godric announces as he lifts Camilla into his arms.

But then-”

I know,” Godric whispers, cutting me off. “I am sorry, Pamela, but I will not live without Camilla.”

Though every fiber of my being wants to shriek and beg him not to even consider robbing the entire bloodline of our freedoms and futures, a newer, less selfish, part of me cannot bear to think of him existing another day after such a loss.

I will see what I can find out from this one,” I tell him without protesting his intentions.

Thank you, Pamela, and I am truly sorry,” he tells me sadly before leaving the house and taking off into the night sky with his vacant Bonded.

Turning to the captive who has brought this turmoil upon our bloodline, however unwillingly, I begin to dig for my answers.

Around one in the morning, I end my delving after concluding that this young man has what Sookie would call, “A hole in the head.” The memory of his encounter with whatever vampire has not been replaced, but blatantly ripped out, a very dangerous method that can inadvertently ruin the way a human’s brain forms future memories. If we all went around pulling this sort of crap, most of the human populace would be incapable of forming new memories!

I hate sloppy work and I am not all that gifted at glamouring. Whomever did this is not only gifted, but brutal. Initially, I would have thought Grissom or Compton because of the knowledge of some sort of mental self-destruct button in Camilla’s head. However, this car wreck of a glamour tells me it was neither. They both have too much respect for their skills to leave something this slovenly.

Still, that does not mean Grissom did not sell the code to some other vampire. It does not mean Compton did not discover or plant the code as insurance, either. Either way, it still comes back to those two. They are the only vampires Camilla has encountered since before becoming immune to glamour. They are also the only two vampires with the means and abilities to do this.

Even with my immunities, I can’t hope to detain or interrogate Grissom. However, I can easily make Compton spill his guts literally and figuratively.

Glamouring the young man to sleep until I return, I grab my purse, head out the door, and find my quickest route to New Orleans.

Jason’s POV:

I’m sittin’ as quiet and still as I ever have in my entire life. I can feel Godric approachin’ and I look to Eric nervously. All I can really feel is his presence. I can’t tell how he feels, just that he’s on his way.

There’s little else to do. Eric’s already told me that Godric rushin’ up North can mean only one thing. He’s comin’ to ask Sookie to chop off her wings and take away our immunities. Only problem is, Sook’s wings aren’t the source of our immunities, nor how they’re shared. That’s the work of the Blood Lettin’ Blade and Sookie’s own heritage. Hell, even if Eric turned Sookie, there’s no guarantee it would reverse Camilla’s immunity to glamour.

Godric will arrive in a few moments,” Eric tells me as he sits, holdin’ my sister’s hand, and pattin’ it calmly. I don’t know how he keeps so much in. Even though I can keep my body still, I know my face is tellin’ the entire room how nervous and uncertain I’m feelin’.

Like Eric predicted, the front door flings open and we all rise to greet Godric almost like a funeral procession. When I see Godric’s face, I realize somethin’ very dark and scary. Godric ain’t here to ask Sook to chop off her wings so we can reverse the damage done to Cammie. He’s here to ask Sook to chop off her wings so he can kill the both of them. If my heart could beat, it would break my chest right now!

Master,” Eric greets Godric all solemn and I can’t do nothin’ but keep my mouth shut. I don’t trust myself not to sob like a little bitch. A girl I’ve been comin’ to love like a sister is bein’ held limp and unresponsive in my brother’s arms. My new family is breakin’ and I don’t know any kinda glue that could put it back together.

While I stare sadly at Cammie, I feel somethin’. It’s a familiar sorta pull that tugs at some pure instinct in me. It has a taste, texture, and whispering voice. It brings me a calm relief that’s totally welcome right now.

Godric,” I start, but get cut off by a snarlin’ Eric. “What?” I ask him, more than a bit exasperated. Drama King much!?

Where the fuck is Pamela going!?” Eric roars as he takes out his cell phone and speed dials my friend.

I see Godric shut his eyes and frown, “She is heading South of my residence.”

She’s headin’ to New Orleans,” I announce with a shrug.

What?” Sookie frowns. “Why?”

She is going after Compton,” Eric groans as he snaps his phone shut when Pam’s goes to voicemail.

I nod in agreement. That’s really the only way she would head. There’s no way she could handle Grissom, even if she knew where he was, but Compton’s easy to find. He’s also a bit younger than her, so she can hold her own against him by herself.

She ain’t about to start a war, is she?” I ask with a groan.

Eric’s jaw clenches, so I take that as confirmation.

Sookie,” Eric turns to my sister and sighs, “could you grab the green portfolio in my desk? Master, please, put Camilla down,” He gestures to the livin’ room and the comfy sofas.

Godric nods slowly and lets himself be lead further into the house so we can all sit around comfortably. Sookie returns with the paperwork Eric asked for and sets it on the coffee table.

I have been keeping tabs on vampire movements since we disbanded from the community,” Eric tells us. Godric is sittin’ with Cammie’s head in his lap, strokin’ her hair all sad and slow. What is this feelin’ in me? I wonder. “Tracing donations and glamouring a few representatives along the way, I have discovered many “bought” politicians and officials. At first, I only focused on Louisiana, but have since expanded to include other vampire population dense states. Pam was supposed to bring me more information on New York, but was diverted. Nevertheless, I do have California, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Texas under enough scrutiny to conclude a very intense political shift is occurring.”

Not that this is not fascinating,” Godric rumbles under his breath and I can tell he feels like he’s bein’ stalled, “but what are you getting at?”

The ruling vampires of the United States are trying to influence the next presidential election. My guess is a human is already being groomed for the position and is deeply funded by vampires,” Eric explains.

What makes you think that?” Sookie asks, but it’s me who answers.


“Those states you mentioned all have the biggest swing in the electoral college,” I realize.

Yes,” Eric nods. “This past year’s election went as normal, but now the vampires of those states I mentioned have four years to imbed the fondness for their chosen campaign hero in 2008.”

I thought a command only lasted three days,” I frown.

A command, yes,” Godric sighs, “but an alteration to memories is forever. Otherwise, we would have to track down and glamour every meal we had every three days to keep our existences secret.” He turns back to Eric and sighs, “You think war is coming.”

I believe something is coming,” Eric replies, “and without enough information, I cannot begin to presume what it means. Depending on those responsible for these actions, it could be something rather benign. Regardless, if they are trying to plant the next leader of the the United States, it is not a good thing.”

What could they be after?” Sookie asks with a frown.

It could be something as simple as having a vampire sympathizer in office, Sook,” I tell her. “They could just be trying to push some vampire friendly bills through office, or it could be more nefarious. Without really knowin’ who’s pulling the strings, it’s a mighty big gamble to let it follow through.”

Sookie looks at me skeptically, “You really think vampires could accomplish that in four years?”

Eric shakes his head, “I have seen vampires accomplish political shifts in a fortnight. Given a decade or two, they could change the world if they had half a mind. They changed the world overnight merely by exposing their existence. Do you really believe vampires did not already have several politicians packed neatly away prior to the Great Revelation? After all, many laws and restrictions to the vampire community cropped up a mere week after their existence was known, well thought out, but intentionally vague laws they could manipulate as needed. I should know, I was helping to write many of them prior to meeting you,” he tells my sister.

Godric has been silent up until now, but his voice finally comes out angrily, “This is your way of trying to dissuade me from ending mine and Camilla’s existences, correct? You think I would suffer for this cause a hundred-fold?”

Master, our bloodline is the only one who can stand in the way of another vampire’s motivation,” Eric tells him gently. “Do you not believe that Camilla might possibly be the first flame to this future war?”

You believe you are the only one who has seen this on the horizon? Perhaps you are the only one who has spent time trying to prove rather than speculate, but you are not the only creature who sees this coming,” Godric tells him, his voice a combination of growls and snarls. “You sit there in front of me with your healthy, safe Bonded and pretend to worry over the world, but I know the truth. You want your eternity with your Mate and eternal damnation to me in exchange-”

Stop!” I snap. “You two aren’t like this! Stop bein’ like this!” I demand. “Godric, Cammie’s gonna be just fine. Even if we do absolutely nothin’, she’s gonna be just fine.”

Godric looks at me in surprise before finally demanding, “How could you possibly know such a thing?”

Clenchin’ my fists, I say the thing that’s been ringin’ in my ears all day, “’I have faith in what Endymion’s told us. Even if there are things he couldn’t foresee or determine the origins or weaknesses, he’s seen us way beyond now. That’s all the reassurance I need,’” Sookie looks at me, surprised I’m quotin’ her, but gives a soft smile. “Endymion saw Cammie in the future,” I tell Godric soothingly. “He saw all of us as Impervious Immortals well down the line. She’s gonna be okay, Godric. It’ll hurt for a little while, but it’ll right itself. I promise.”

Godric pulls Cammie tightly into his arms and holds her there. It’s somethin’ I wish I could unsee. That kinda love and pain is just somethin’ I’m too young to understand. I hope I never feel that kinda pain.

On to Chapter Forty-Six!

Catalyst Ch. 44

Chapter Forty-Four: Runaway Bridal Party

(Wedding Arc Finale)

Jason’s POV:

So, the Ancient Pythoness and her Sugar Mama know all about what’s up. She even knows about my telepathy. Apparently, she’s known since Sookie and Eric Bonded. That was when the vision came to her.

The Pythoness, who saw what we would become, witnessed two futures. In one, we continued to hide our advantages, in another we came out on this night. In the first world many ancient vampires lost their existences. In the second, the loss was way down. Unfortunately, in both possibilities, the Ancient Pythoness does not see herself existing much longer…

‘Do not tell them about me, Young One,’ the Pythoness doesn’t beg, but somethin’ in her mind gets to me. ‘We will stand behind your bloodline, but you cannot tell Diedre or your family what is to become of me.’ After the commanding thought, there’s this glimpse of an image. Just a little scrap of foresight. It’s Diedre in the arms of someone taller than her. I can’t tell much, ’cause I’m seeing it from a downward perspective. It’s like I’m looking at Thorn from someone taller’s perspective, but there’s some arms around her in a loving kinda way. Just like that, the image is gone.

Do you know me, Young One?” the Pythoness asks simultaneously, ‘Do you understand?’

Yes, M’am,” I swallow hard. How long will I have to keep this from everyone? But if the Pythoness says no one can know, then I gotta be strong and keep this part to myself.

‘In both time lines, the only thing that stopped the deaths was my own. However, without your family’s abilities outed, the wrong party will go unpunished, and a whole new problem will grow.’

I see the countless humans screamin’ and fleein’. I swallow hard a few times as I realize what it is the Pythoness has to see all the time. All I can do is hope she gets to see nice things from time to time too.

Thank you, M’am,” I murmur. I hope she knows when I say that, I mean for her sacrifices and the pain she’s probably had to endure for a very long time.

Leanin’ into Godric, I give him my best ‘I need to talk to you now‘ face while Diedre talks to Eric and Sookie. He gets my point, looks at Eric sternly, and then leads me out to the balcony. At first, I look at him in confusion. The balcony doesn’t offer any privacy from Supes, but he answers my confusion by bear huggin’ me and flyin’ up into the sky.

Speak quickly,” Godric tells me impatiently when we are up so high no one could ever hear us.

Uh, Pythoness obviously knows everything. She’s sayin’ if we don’t come out now a lot of people and vamps will lose their lives,” I tell him. “If we don’t make our announcement tonight, it could start a timeline we can’t hope to fix later. Diedre and the Pythoness have our backs, though. They’ll stand with us.”

Fuck,” Godric growls low under his breath. I admit, he doesn’t curse much, so it catches me a bit off guard. As we start descendin’ toward the balcony, Godric tells me, “Keep up appearances. Keep your sister calm. If I could tell you were having a telepathic conversation, so could she. After the humans leave, we will make our announcement and simultaneous exit. Your and Pam’s jobs are to get Camilla and Sookie to safety. Fuck the hotel. Head straight back to Shreveport. We will regroup there.”

Yes, Master,” I tell him a bit cheekily. I don’t usually do the vampire formalities, but he’s gone into full-Maker-mode, so I can’t really help myself. Godric actually sighs and rolls his eyes a little bit once we land.

First thing I do is write out a note for Pam. Godric does the same, but for Eric, and then goes to my brother-in-law’s side. I find Pam as quick as I can, show her the note, and watch as her face remains politely stoic. Damn, these vamps can keep a straight face when they need to!

Pam takes the note and burns it on the candle on a nearby table’s centerpiece. Across the room, I see Eric doin’ the same thing as he nods to Godric. A human at that table gives Eric a confused look but, other than that, he just shrugs and goes back to starin’ at the dance floor.

None of the vamps in the room look like the burnin’ of notes is anything suspicious. Obviously, because there’s some things that are just meant to be between members of a bloodline and no one else.

Once everyone’s brought up to speed, except Sook and Cammie, Eric takes my sister back onto the dance floor and makes a show of dippin’ and spinnin’ her. They’re gonna have some beautiful weddin’ pictures of the two of them dancin’.

All too soon, the humans start leavin’ and I know that our playtime is comin’ to an end. Once all the mortals are gone, Godric will only have a short amount of time to make the announcement. That’s when Pam and I make our designated moves. I grab Cammie and Pam grabs my sister so we can disappear among the departin’ guests. Pam’s changed Sookie into a dress that appeared out of nowhere and we meet out by the door.

Soon we’re all piled into the Escalade and tearin’ toward the highway.

Someone wanna explain what’s goin’ on?” My sister asks in confusion.

Pam chucks a metal and plastic wand at me and tells me to sweep the car for bugs before she’ll explain anything. I climb over seats and find nothin’. I guess they learned it was a waste of time and resources, buggin’ our cars.

The Ancient Pythoness knew of your brother’s ability. She has issued a warning that if we keep our powers hidden, great misfortune will befall both humans and vampires,” Pam tells them.

Sook nods, “I figured the Pythoness knew about my brother. Cammie and I looked a lot like Jason and the Pythoness did when we were having conversations no one could hear. Too long periods of silence, too many meanings to my responses.”

Yes,” Pam nods, “even I knew what was happening.”

So, what’s the plan?” Cammie asks as she relaxes into her seat.

We are driving straight back to Shreveport,” Pam tells her. “We will wait for Godric and Eric to return to the farmhouse, and then we will decide from there what it is we must do.”

Somethin’ in the tone of Pam’s voice makes my body tighten. She doesn’t sound so confident. She actually sounds a little concerned and I know if Pam’s worried, the rest of us should be shittin’ ourselves. What aren’t you sayin’, Pam?

Godric’s POV:

Northman, where is your Bonded Bride?” Sophie-Anne asks of my Child, scanning the room curiously. She is understandably surprised to see the newlyweds separated. Even though vampires hold no considerations for human marriages, they are still aware of their significance to humans. Therefore, undoubtedly, she is curious to why Eric’s Bonded would have left his side on their wedding day.

I had her leave ahead of me,” Eric replies firmly. “There are matters that must be negotiated now, so this is no place for her.”

Sophie-Anne smiles at his statement and waves her hand for us to address our requests. No doubt the Queen is assuming we are vying for a decree for Sookie to fall under her Queendom’s protection. Our actual requests will certainly create a riff in our relationships!

Sookie is not human,” Eric tells her and the vampire chatter dies behind us. All attention is now upon the throne as my child and I open a whole new world for those who had believed they had seen everything. “Upon my Bonding to Sookie,” I feel Diedre’s hopeful stare and I find her gaze, briefly, among the fifty or so vampires in attendance, “the bloodline of Gaul became immune to the sun.”

The silence that falls after Eric’s announcement is a silence that can only occur within a roomful of vampires. No breath is taken, no eye blinks, no heart beats. It is a silence of death. Diedre and the Pythoness are the only ones among the throng who lack any note of surprise in their expressions. Still, their masks do not match. Where Diedre wears a face of hope, the Pythoness wears a face of hesitation. What is that look?

And what, pray tell, is your Bonded Bride?” Sophie-Anne asks in a quiet whisper. The sound of weight shifting behind us alerts me to the presence of a potential blitz.

She is a descendant of an Angel,” Eric tells her as we had discussed in one of our many different scenarios for this moment. Feeling the room beginning to contract around us, there is little option other than to warn that a fight with us is one that will not succeed. “Which means that her lifespan is one without end. She is a true immortal and now so are all who share the magic of her blood. Even Master Godric’s Mate has been gifted the benefit of living immortality.”

You are telling me that…that the entire Gaul line is immune to any final death?” Sophie-Anne demands quietly. Her face speaks of displeasure and disbelief.

I am,” Eric confirms. “You may try to take my head right here and now if that is your desire, but it will only provoke a fight, one you cannot win. We will fend you off until daybreak, and then end what would have sparked a war.”

Then what have you stayed to negotiate?” Sophie-Anne hisses angrily. I both feel and see ourselves being enclosed by the minimal mass of vampires; Jorge leading the mass. What fifty of them plan to accomplish when the likes of Joan and Russell are standing, shocked, yet unmoved, along the edges of the mob, I could not say.

Finally, it is my turn to speak. Turning to face both the queen and all those in attendance, I call out, “It is the desire of the Gaul line to secede from the vampire community. From here forth, we will not interfere with vampire politics and we will not be interfered with by vampire politics. That is our offer. We ask that in return for peace.”

A violent murmur rolls through the crowd, some voicing outrage and others disbelief. Finally, Diedre silences all with a raising of her arms and impossible silence fills the room once more.

Are you saying you refuse to act with or against vampire policy?” Diedre demands, but I can see a glint of hope.

There is no point referring to things that have not yet happened. Therefore, in my most commanding voice, my reply is simple, “I am saying that my bloodline wishes to exist alongside the human race rather than the vampire race. However, we do wish to offer peace. If the vampire community finds itself needing our assistance, we will happily come to its aid.”

Diedre looks pleased by my response, “I see.”

You are siding with the breathers over your own kind!?” Sophie-Anne demands shrilly.

We are siding with freedom,” I reply. “The freedom to live, not merely exist.”

Camilla’s POV:

Pam and Jason are being quieter than I am used to. Normally the two are making rude jibes at one another or lewd innuendos that are both creative and simultaneously embarrassing. Seeing them both this quiet, though, is worrisome.

Guys, everything’s going to be okay, right?” I ask from the backseat where Sookie and I were shoved upon our escape from the Queen’s estate.

Pam glances at me from the rear-view mirror and I see her shoulders lift. A shrug is promising. A shrug implies she is more at ease than I thought, but I can see the sternness in her eyes, which isn’t a good sign, and I’m left stumbling in uncertainty about the situation.

Truly, the only comfort I can take is Godric’s emotions. He’s calm, occasionally amused, but there’s a sense of caution about him that has me on edge.

Don’t worry,” Sookie takes my hand and gives it a good squeeze. “They’ll be fine. The most you can do is stay calm and don’t distract them. Okay?”


“I wish I could do more,” I whisper.

Me, too, but, for now, this is it,” She squeezes my hand again and I let out a resigned sigh.

Before Sookie can comfort me further, I feel a surge of anger and maybe a little bit of glee. Sookie must be feeling something similar coming from Eric because our hands simultaneously clutch one another’s. I hear Jason gasp in the front seat and could swear Pam’s body tensed up.

Is this a fight?!” I ask anxiously.

No,” Pam answers me sharply. “This is something far different than a fight. They are gloating.”

Sookie groans, “What about approachability?”

It would seem that option was not met with enthusiasm,” Pam replies.

Which means?” Sookie demands impatiently.

Pam lets out another sigh, “More than likely they will be forced to fight their way out. Eric will love that! Either way, our request to be treated separately from the vampire community will be respected.”

I can feel Godric calm suddenly, maybe even a small inkling of disappointment. I wish I knew what was happening!

Eric’s POV:

Damn Endymion!

I watch as the Voice of the Pantheon approaches the dais where Godric and I have announced our bloodline’s newest status. There is a hush amongst us Supernaturals and Endymion smiles smugly at the attention his presence commands.

Good evening,” Endymion begins in a rather professional timbre. Gone is the jovial, teasing cadence he usually maintains around my bloodline. In its place rings a voice of authority and little patience. “It is my duty as the Voice of the Pantheon to inform those in attendance to spread word far and wide among those of Supernatural ancestry and creation that the Gaul Line is to maintain human appearances as the multiple supernatural communities make themselves known to the world of mortals.” The command brings no questioning murmurs. No one dares to risk obscuring Endymion’s decree. “Susannah Stackhouse-Northman is a creature sent by myself and the Pantheon to maintain balance between the supernatural and mortal worlds. Through Fate, her heart has chosen the Gaul line to represent her support. I do not appear before you to sweep the Gaul line into the Divine Protection of the Pantheon, nor threaten with our wrath should they be harmed. I appear now to assure you that the immunities and abilities of the Gaul line are ones of truth and those who wish to take up arms, be assured your true deaths will be imminent. The Gaul line needs no sweeping protection from the Pantheon. They are more than capable of protecting themselves. Take them on at your own risk, and lose the peace offering they have extended to you all.”

There is a pause in the silence as if one burning question can be contained no longer. Finally, a hidden face shouts, “Why give them such power!?”

Endymion’s body tightens, justifiably angered at being questioned by a lowly vampire, “Because this world is on a precipice of destruction. Within it, a cancer is festering and we need Susannah to rid this world of it. In this world lurks a darkness that only a God or Goddess could rid. Susannah is the answer the Pantheon has sent.”

Without another word, Endymion vanishes before our eyes and in his place, are faces of anger and disbelief. I can read resentment there. I can see pair after pair of eyes wondering, demanding, to know what makes the line of Gaul so much greater than their own. Why should our bloodline receive such gifts and not theirs? The answer is simple, of course.

Because Sookie is mine. In this world and the next. Because I make Sookie a hero where others make her a damsel in distress. In return, she makes me her hero, someone whom she can look up to and she makes me kinder. Yes, where I give Sookie strength, she gifts me with compassion. The truth behind her power is not the strengths or immunities she provides; it is that she makes me care for more. She makes me desire the intangibles. Sookie is the harbinger of love. She makes me love her and she makes me love any world with her in it and all those she loves. That is her true power. She is an Angel of Love.

Pam’s POV:

How do I tell them that we may not be able to take on this human façade of which they all dreamed?

It would destroy Jason to learn he won’t be able to pretend he’s still human and explore his dream of becoming a teacher. What can we do, though? If we do not offer some sort of gesture of subordination, we will be fending off attacks from all angles.

The complications of our new gifts grow more and more each day. I charged headlong into those gifts, never fully appreciating the complications they brought. Now that Thorn and the Ancient Pythoness have shown themselves to be less than trustworthy allies, our secession from the vampire community is likely to become much more complicated.

Endymion did warn us that our relationship with the vampire community would never be the same again, I remember nervously. Even though we cannot be killed, the prospect of being attacked endlessly or being constantly on guard protecting Sookie and Camilla is daunting.

Still, these fluctuations within Godric and Eric are curious, if not plain-old confusing. At this point, I have no idea if Eric’s announcement is one merely stating we are daywalkers, or if it is a declaration of our bloodline’s secession from the vampire community. Godric and Eric had planned several different circumstances and responses for this very moment. The only consistency to those options was that Jason and I were to remove Sookie and Camilla before any action was set into motion.

So, here I drive North, returning to the farmhouse, and wondering what life I will be leading from this moment forth. Will I live an existence of freedom in the sun, or freedom in the moonlight? Will I escape the persecutions our kind may expect in upcoming years, or openly exercise my overwhelming power and abilities freely? I have hidden my true power for over a century. I have learned to protect myself without exposing my gross advantage over mortals. In my mind, the only freedom I truly want and desire is the sunlight. I want to stroll in its golden rays and watch the beautiful women jog half-naked through the parks, their breasts bouncing and glistening with sweat in the warm sunlight. Hardly any women jog half-naked at night through the parks, and there are no twinkling beams of light to make their bodies glow invitingly.

There is a calm in the connection with Eric and I feel him and Godric speeding toward us. No doubt they have taken to the air. Perhaps we will have our answers upon arriving in Bon Temps rather than waiting there for answers.

Eric’s in the air,” Sookie announces and then blushes. “Sorry, I forgot Jason can feel Godric now,” she confesses with a laugh.

No worries, I was wonderin’ why he was movin’ so fast,” Jason replies with a chuckle.

Feels like they made it out without a fight,” Sookie frowns. “Does that mean they didn’t announce anything other than the daywalking?”

Maybe they made a really good demonstration of how futile a fight with them would be?” Camilla suggests hopefully.

We will know in two short hours,” I tell them sharply. “It would be best not to speculate before then.”

Though my words bring respectful silence from my companions, I know they are all doing exactly as I am, wondering about what the future holds. Two hours, even for immortals, is a long time to wait to know the path your entire future is now headed down.

Sookie’s POV:

Eric!” I yelp excitedly as I lunge out of the car and fling my arms around my Bonded. Camilla’s done practically the same thing as me with Godric and she’s nuzzlin’ into him as we all walk toward the house.

What happened?” I ask impatiently as we are walkin’ up the porch steps.

Before Eric replies, he scoops me up into his arms and carries me through the front door Godric opened for us. His lips press to mine as he carries me over the threshold, and then sets me back on my feet.

We are no longer under vampire rule. We are, for lack of a better term, humans,” Eric tells us with an expression that shows a surprising lack of disgust. I’m not at all oblivious to the fact Eric thinks himself a far greater caliber of creature than human. “Officially, we are free to walk about in the day.”

YES!” Jason and Pam yell, raising their arms up into the air excitedly. Jason turns to her for a high five, which Pam rolls her eyes at, but begrudgingly returns. I have to laugh at their sudden show of exuberance, mostly ’cause they were both so tight-lipped and solemn over the last three hours. Seein’ that somberness break is both relieving and entertaining. It’s like two kids who just found out they’re goin’ to Disney after havin’ the chicken pox!

Though Jason still needs to complete his newborn year before he can comfortably remain aware throughout the day,” Godric reminds my brother and he scowls openly. And that’s the look of a kid bein’ told he’s too short to go on Splash Mountain, I think pityingly.

But no vamp formality crap?” Jason asks hopefully.

No vampire formality,” Godric agrees with a smile. “However, you will need to forgive Eric and I if we fall on old habits. You must understand we have over a thousand years of that “formality crap” guiding us.”

We all laugh and crowd up in the livin’ room to talk some more. Discussions about our next course of action, timelines for how long we can remain in one area before our lack of aging forces us to depart. Heck, we even talk about findin’ Camilla a magic tutor now that her powers are starting to resurface.

Finally, sometime around five in the mornin’, everyone leaves for their own houses and Eric turns to look at me.

What?” I ask, tiltin’ my head curiously at his intent gaze.

Eric smiles and pushes a stray lock of hair from my face, “I was just wondering if my bride was interested in consummating our marriage?”

The question’s barely outta his mouth and my butt’s jumped off the sofa impatiently. “Darn right I am!” I tell him, reachin’ for his hand to drag him to our bedroom. He laughs again as he finds himself in our bedroom with a needy, new wife climbin’ him like a tree.

So impatient!” he chuckles against my mouth as I yank his shirt open and rake my nails through his curly chest hair. I give a lock of it a tug, makin’ him let out a little snarl. “How am I going to make your wedding night special if you do everything yourself?” he asks as my hand is already undoin’ his pants to play with his hardenin’ cock.

I was thinkin’ you’d put it up my butt,” I tell him with this devilish wink I’ve developed in the past year and a half. Eric looks at me stunned. “What? I gave ya one virginity for our Bondin’, I figured you’d get the other for our wedding.”

You are the strangest girl,” Eric tells me, his eyes full of lust and humor, a strange combination, but mighty powerful. “You barely handle two of my fingers up that tight ass of yours,” he rumbles against my ear and I melt.

I’ll take anything and everythin’ you give me, Darlin’,” I assure him with a moan.

Gods, I love you, Sookie,” he whispers and catches my ear between his teeth. I cry out at the attack and bring his hands against my body to rub them all over. We haven’t had sex all week, which is really like two weeks since we’re both awake nonstop. It’s been torture, but I don’t want to leave our lil’ love nest until the end of winter break. We’re not even havin’ a Christmas celebration this year just so I don’t have to leave the house.

My anticipation for the next few weeks is pushed to the back of my mind as Eric pushes me onto my back on our bed. His mouth is coverin’ me in kisses, but I ain’t had him in a week and I just want him inside me, makin’ me forget it’s been so long since he’s been where he’s supposed to be.

Eric, please, I don’t wanna play. I want you so bad,” I tell him weakly, drawin’ my arms and legs around him. His mouth covers mine now and I feel one of his hands trace down my body to test between my thighs. How can he not tell how bad I need him!?

When he’s satisfied with the fact there’s a flood worthy of Noah’s Arc between my legs, Eric wastes no time divin’ himself deep inside me. I cry out when he’s finally home and wrap my limbs around him tightly, keepin’ him in close for a moment longer, and savorin’ how long seven days felt without this familiar sensation.

In no time at all I feel myself start to cum and as the tremors are still wrackin’ my body, Eric flips me onto my front and drives right back in. I cry out at the roughness, but it’s an appreciative cry. Lord knows how long it’s been since I’ve felt any sort of genuine discomfort durin’ sex!

Of course, I know the reason he’s put me on my chest and knees and I’m proved right when I hear the click of a tube of lubricant and feel his thumb pressin’ and probin’ at my backdoor. I just let myself get lost in the stroke of his cock and try to enjoy the far less common sensation of fingers strokin’ and twirlin’ up my butt. We’ve been playin’ back there for a few months now and I take his fingers easily enough. I’m relaxed and maybe a bit impatient to finally try anal sex.

Are you ready, Dear One?” Eric whispers against my ear and I shiver with anticipation and arousal.

Uh huh,” I mumble my consent and take calm even breaths to keep my body from coiling from the excitement. My Bonded Husband chuckles as he can feel exactly what I’m doin’ in the Bond, but I feel him slip from my pussy and start pushin’ against my butt. “Ah, ah!” I do my best not to panic at the sudden pressure and fullness and Eric stills to let me accommodate the girth I’m not used to.

Slowly, Eric starts to slip deeper and deeper until I feel his curls pressed firmly against my bottom.

Like a pro,” Eric tells me and I feel his wonder and marvel at my newest accomplishment. I want to laugh at his awed voice, but the sensation of him fillin’ me in this new way has stolen my words. Instead, I grunt and gasp as his hips buck short, soft little bucks against me. “Gods, Sookie, I finally have all of you. Every inch of you is mine at last,” He’s bitin’, lickin’, and kissin’ my neck and ears. Down one side, up the other and back again. It’s arousing and soothing all at once.

I find myself widening my thighs a bit and pushing back ever so slightly to encourage him to move more. He takes my silent hint and begins to openly thrust inside of me and it is the strangest sensation of wrong and right I’ve ever felt. When his free hand finds my clit and begins rubbing at me, all former ideas of ‘wrong’ are thrust away, everything becomes just right.

I love you, Sookie,” Eric tells me as his hips start to move in a familiar rhythm. He’s not bein’ careful anymore. He knows I can take it just like I said, that my body can recover from him being less than gentle, and that I love the less than gentle.

I love you, too, Eric,” I tell him in a much higher voice. Anal sex definitely isn’t my preferred act, but hot damn, does it change up the game!

My husband snarls at my words and I feel his movements become more erratic until he’s pressed as deep as he can get. I feel his cock begin to pulse in a way I’ve never truly felt before. Admittedly, feelin’ him cum inside my butt is much different than when he cums in my pussy. It’s like my walls are holdin’ him so tight I can feel every little quiver of his cock. That’s so sexy, I think with a tired moan and a slightly kinder criticism for anal.

Shower?” My husband asks me and I know it’s a sensitive way for him to offer cleaning me up.

Mmhmm,” I agree. “You gonna do me again in the shower?”

Of course,” he laughs and lifts me into his arms.

As I’m placed carefully on my feet in the shower and the water starts to fall around me, all I can do is reflect on the last two years. All I can think to do is thank every one of my lucky stars as my husband wraps his arms around me in the warm spray. Officially, I am home with my husband, enjoying an evening in.

On to Chapter Forty-Five!