It was 3:30 in the morning, and Eric was installed at the dining room table―conducting some area business and returning emails. He sighed. He needed to go to Fangtasia on Sunday night to see to some matters personally, so that meant he would have to leave Hunter for several hours. He would need Pam at Fangtasia as well that night, so he emailed Thalia to see if she could come and visit Bubba on Sunday in order to provide extra security for the household while he was at the club. He was relieved when he received a terse phone call of agreement from her a few minutes later.
Cataliades had contacted Batanya, and a meeting was set for the next night. The Britlingen would come with the demon when he dropped off the books for Jesus. With any luck, Batanya would accept his employment offer right away and begin working on Saturday, which meant that she would also be in place before he had to go to the club on Sunday. Of course, Britlingens sometimes spent months negotiating and re-negotiating their contracts. Eric only hoped that his past dealings with Batanya would make things easier; after all, Batanya and her sister Clovache were the two main guards for the A.P., and they knew him well. They rotated in their duties to the old bat every century or so, but one of them had been with his grandsire every time he had ever seen her, and even Godric didn’t know how far back their association went. Now—he hoped that association would grease the wheels, so to speak.
The Britlingens were like fairies in that they were not of the human realm, but they seemed to have the ability to jump from one dimension to another almost at will, and they could temporarily take others with them on their jumps. They were also extremely proficient in their work and rarely made personal connections. However, about three hundred years ago, Eric had helped Batanya to protect the A.P. from a group of twenty strong, well-organized vampires who wanted to capture her, weaken her, and then use her for her ability to see into the future. Eric had gained the Britlingen’s gratitude and respect, and if he was not mistaken, the Britlingen liked him—as much as Britlingens could like anyone, that is.
Eric zipped up the stairs to check on Hunter again. The boy was safely tucked into Eric and Sookie’s bed where he’d wished to sleep again after an earlier nightmare had awakened him at about 2:30. He was sleeping soundly now, and the kitten was curled up at his side―also in a sound sleep. Eric closed his eyes gratefully. Once again, the nightmare had included the fairies and his own death, and the boy’s tears had caused him a pain that he had found difficult to shift to the side. Thankfully, a few minutes of assurances and rocking had stopped Hunter’s tears, and the boy had been able to go back to sleep quickly in the bed that he associated with Eric and safety.
Eric understood the pull of the boy to the one he felt safest with as he remembered once again his own night terrors as a child. He’d crawled many a time to his mother’s furs in the middle of the night, and she had held and comforted him until he’d fallen back to sleep each time. To Eric, his mother had possessed a special kind of magic, and the monsters of his dreams never dared visit him when he was by her side.
Eric knew that Hunter would eventually need to be secure enough to sleep on his own, which is why he’d not allowed Hunter to begin the night in his and Sookie’s room; however, he couldn’t turn Hunter away when he was crying any more than he could deny the boy’s aunt when she cried. He looked at the picture of Adele and Sookie next to his side of the bed for a moment.
He’d not gone to Sookie’s Gran’s grave yet, but he knew he would eventually be drawn there. At the moment, however, going seemed like it would be more than he could handle. With difficulty, he pulled his eyes from the photo and checked the boy again before returning downstairs.
He could feel that Pam was getting closer; she was then about an hour away. He also felt Jessica to some extent, just as Godric had been able to feel Pam’s life force. He thought again about the A.P. He’d emailed her the evening before seeking her guidance―asking her when Sookie would return to him―but she’d not returned his email. He wondered if she could feel his distress and anger for her even then. He was trying to put aside the fact that his grandsire had not warned him that Sookie was going to be taken, but he needed assurances now―right goddamn now―that Sookie would be with him again in the future, but his maker’s maker―the one person who he knew that could fucking see into the fucking future―would not answer his goddamned email. Eric’s anger began to boil within him, but he forced his calm to take over again—just as he’d done earlier with Compton.
He went into the living room where Jarod was dozing. Miranda was sleeping in the downstairs bedroom for the night. “Jarod,” he said quietly. “I need to go somewhere for a while, and I need you to look after Hunter if he has another nightmare.”
Eric hated to leave the boy again, but he felt the need to move―move so that he could overcome the emotions that were swirling inside of him—and there was an errand he wanted to see to before dawn.
Jarod answered as he stretched. “Sure. I can hear him from here, and I’ll go to him if he should cry out.”
Eric nodded, “Pam will be here within the hour, and she and Jessica will stay in the cubby today. I will most likely be back before they arrive. Tomorrow, all of Hunter’s belongings should be placed in the downstairs room, which he’ll use until after the renovations. The rest of the items—those belonging to Hadley—should be placed in a storage facility.
Jarod nodded, “No problem.”
Eric listened to Hunter’s steady breathing and heart rate for another moment and then went out the door. The privacy spell made it impossible for him to hear inside the house, but he knew that Jarod and Miranda could care for Hunter in the short time he’d be gone. He nodded to Bubba and then took off into the air.
He flew to the cabin quickly—though not quite so jarringly as the night before. He let himself in and moved quickly to the bedroom, shutting the door behind him. He allowed himself his minute with the black shirt. He allowed himself the image of Sookie’s supple, soft legs poking out from under it. He ran his fingers over the buttons and recalled the feeling and sight of helping her button those buttons and then later unbuttoning them and slipping the shirt over her silky shoulders. His minute done, he once again put her away in his mind, just as he placed the shirt back into its previous spot.
He reached to the top shelf of the closet. Pushed to the back, he found that he’d come for.
He pulled his father’s sword from the shelf. It was―other than perhaps the eagle claw he wore around his neck―his most prized material possession.
As a boy, he’d watched the blacksmith forge together strips of iron and steel to make the sword. The process had taken more than a month, but the sword had been a thing of great strength and beauty when finished―the finest sword that anyone in his village had ever seen. Like the other swords of his people, it had a double edge. The weapon had passed to Eric at his father’s death, and Godric had taken it after he’d drained and turned Eric. Eric had always been grateful for this and had cared for the sword well over the years, keeping it sharp and ready, but using it sparingly. The elk hide scabbard his father had used had worn away with time, but the iron and steel of the sword had remained pristine.
Eric took it out of the leather holder that he now kept it in.
It was not his most practical weapon against vampires due to the materials of its make-up, but as Eric ran his fingers down one edge of the sword, creating a small wound in his flesh, he smiled as he smelled his blood mix with the smell of the iron of the sword.
It would be the perfect weapon for killing fairies, and he would carry it with him every time he left the property until it was rich with their blood.
Eric put the sword into its holder, secured it to his back, and left the cabin. He half expected to see Godric again, but there was nothing and no one outside. Once in the yard, he once again pulled the sword from its scabbard and gave a few practice swings. He smiled. It had been too long since he’d felt his father’s blade in his grip.
Eric placed the weapon back into its holder and took to the air, ready to get back to his home and to his child.
When Eric landed at the farmhouse, he felt that Pam was very close, probably only ten minutes away. It was still about an hour before sunrise. Eric nodded to Bubba once again and then went inside. Jarod was sitting at the dining room table with a cup of coffee in his hand.
“Did he remain asleep?” Eric asked.
Jarod nodded and yawned.
“Go join your woman and child, Jarod,” Eric said quietly.
Jarod nodded gratefully and rose to join Miranda in the guest room.
Eric quickly strode upstairs to look in on Hunter. The boy was sleeping just as soundly as when Eric had left. He quietly took off his sword and put it onto the top closet shelf, well out of Hunter’s reach. His hand brushed against Sookie’s keepsake box―their keepsake box―which also contained Godric’s shirt. His thoughts moved to the morning Godric met the sun. He thought of Sookie on that Dallas roof with his maker. He knew that she had been up there for himself as well as for Godric; even then, she had cared for him.
He had smelled her tears that morning as she’d passed his hotel room to return to her own room with Compton. His blood had been inside of her, and he’d felt her pause for a moment right next to his door. He’d gone to it and had placed his hand on the teak wood of the door; he’d heard her take a step toward him. He’d felt her, but had been unable to use his blood to influence her because of the nature of their tie. He’d longed for her even then, but now his body wanted to break into two pieces at the loss of her. He tried to push that emotion to the side. He had to concentrate on the boy and on finding Sookie. He couldn’t allow himself to get lost in his feelings; if he did, he’d be lost—perhaps, forever.
It was just that her clothing in the closet smelled so strongly of her. The room still smelled so damned strongly of her. Part of him wanted to escape her smell, which seemed to suffocate him in its embrace. The other part of him never wanted that smell to fade, though he knew that it inevitably would—it had already begun to do so.
Lafayette and Jason had been right. One day for Sookie in the fairy realm would be more than a normal human lifespan here. He had the luxury of immortality—if he didn’t meet his true death, that is—but he knew that all scents and physical traces of her would disappear within a few years. The photo he had next to his bed would fade with time. Even the furniture he would build for her might rot before she ever saw it.
He shook his head, trying to shake Sookie from his thoughts. He felt his knees trembling as he looked around the room again.
She was everywhere that he looked―everywhere that he thought of. She was the boy lying peacefully in the bed, she was the kitten, she was the workspace being built, she was the apples on the counter in the kitchen, she was Godric’s shirt, she was football, she was the sun, she was the wide world and everything good in it, and there was nothing he could do to get away from that world—unless he met the sun. But he’d made promises to her—promises to wait and to take care of Hunter.
He closed his eyes, once again trying to steady himself―trying to place his love for her into the ever-filling room in his mind. It didn’t fucking fit! For the first time since she’d been taken to the fairy world, that emotion didn’t fucking fit. He closed his eyes tighter even as his emotions brought him to his knees.
The boy―he reminded himself. He needed to remain on his feet for the boy. He needed to be strong for the boy. He needed to keep his promise to his wife about the boy. He couldn’t be overwhelmed by his emotions—not now. He thought of the lessons Godric had taught him in the early days of his being a vampire―the lessons in control.
Eric sighed deeply, brought himself shakily to his feet, and turned around from the closet to once again look at the child. Hunter was still sleeping peacefully, his steady breathing filling the room with little snores. Eric concentrated on that noise, the noise of the boy that he had already adopted as his own. Eric calmed, and―finally―the emotion that had threatened him was put away where it needed to go. He would focus on taking care of the child until he found a way to bring Sookie to him―or to go to her.
He held to his logic. He had learned much today of how to defeat the fairies. He had his father’s sword now. In a few years, the child would be old enough to be taught to fight if he wished. Or Hunter might choose to learn the art of building things. Or perhaps he would excel in scholarship. As Eric looked at the sleeping child, he knew that he would support Hunter in all of his chosen endeavors.
Eric was steady now. He could no longer allow himself the minutes he was taking to remember his love for his wife―to feel that love. It was becoming too difficult to pull himself out of that luxuriant time, so he simply couldn’t indulge in it. And he could not allow himself to get lost in his memories of her, or he would despair. Instead, he would stay focused on his duties as the boy’s guardian, on the practical work involved in getting Sookie back, and on his responsibilities as the sheriff of Area 5. He would keep busy. And luckily, there was much to do.
As Eric made his resolution, he felt Pam arriving and then heard the loud rumble of the U-Haul vehicle as it pulled into the driveway.
He gave Hunter a last look and then zipped downstairs to greet Pam and to make sure that she was quiet and did not disturb the slumber of those in the house.
A/N: Here is a picture of Eric’s sword, as I see it in my head.