Chapter Forty-Seven: Compton Reborn
“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.”
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.
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?”