Pam was pacing the living room floor with her phone to her ear. Bill was once again calling to see why Eric was not conducting Area 5 business that Sunday evening. It was March 21, and Eric had been in the cubby for almost a month, fighting—with no sleep at all thanks to the aid of Jesus’s spells—to stay alive for both Sookie and himself.
Bill had been beside himself, and the bugs in his home had picked up his increasing tension and frustration. The king was anxious to steal Hunter and/or Hadley away from Eric, but he was afraid to enact his plan or even to come onto the property as long as the Viking was there. Bill had also become irritated with Lillith because she’d been unable to find out any information about why Eric had not come to Fangtasia for the last several Sundays. For Pam, the only silver lining was that Lillith had become so much more enthusiastic as she’d tried to “pump” her for information. Pam had to stifle a giggle at that thought. The brunette vampiress was certainly “trainable”; she’d give her that.
Much to Pam’s annoyance, Bill had called her almost nightly for the past two weeks to inquire about Eric’s absence. And the last fucking thing she needed to be worrying about was a twitchy Bill Compton. She’d resolved that if Eric wasn’t better by the next week, she was going to find an opportunity to take out the king herself. The only thing that had been stopping her was that she couldn’t figure out a way to get him out in the open and vulnerable. Since Eric had kicked his ass back in November, he’d stayed tucked into his mansion like a rat in a nest, and rumor had it, he’d put his home into a human’s name so that vampires couldn’t just come in anymore without an invitation. And his fucking guard had been doubled, and they all carried Uzis with fucking wooden bullets.
Pam worked hard to calm herself. Through the surveillance equipment in Bill’s home, she’d learned that the guards had orders to shoot any vampire that came onto the property without an explicit invitation from the king, and Pam knew that she didn’t have one of those.
Still—having to listen to his insipid voice each night tested the very limits of her control. She had to force herself not to march over to his poorly decorated mansion and slowly saw off his pasty head with her stiletto.
She looked down at her custom made Alexander McQueen 4-inch pumps. She loved them and would hate to sacrifice them for regicide, but the temptation of seeing the dusty rose heel stabbed through Compton’s scrawny neck was almost too much for her to resist.
But she did resist. From her almost-nightly discussions with Eric during his ordeal, Pam knew that it was best to wait until Bill thought he had the advantage so that he would place himself in harm’s way. Her maker—always so wise when it came to battle—knew that the best way to defeat Bill was to use his own delusional overconfidence against him.
But, frankly, Pam was fucking exhausted by dealing with the shit storm that had been placed at her feet, and she needed for her maker to get better ASA-fucking-P! For one thing, she was tired of seeing Hunter’s forlorn little face. Oh—the little human laughed and played with other household members, but in all of his unguarded or unoccupied moments, he looked incredibly sad, and Pam didn’t care for how that made her fucking feel. In fact, the whole household was walking around as if in a holding pattern waiting for Eric to get well and waiting for him to tell them that Sookie was also okay.
She rolled her eyes. Stackhouse had been a fucking mess since he’d found out that Sookie was in pain. Jesus walked around like a fucking zombie because he was worried about Eric and was torturing himself over the fact that his own waking spells were—indeed—torturing Eric by keeping him from sleeping. Lafayette was so depressed that he had stopped wearing any purple―not that that was necessarily a bad thing. Jarod was constantly on high-alert due to a slight scare with Miranda’s pregnancy, which had turned out to be nothing but a fucking stomachache due to the volume of strawberry milkshakes she was putting away because of her most recent craving. Pam had been forced to endure a five minute lecture from Ludwig about that false alarm, and she’d still not forgiven the Werelioness for it.
And on top of everything else, the kitten was once again refusing to fucking eat when she fed it!
Between keeping everyone from falling the fuck apart, managing Fangtasia, and looking after Area 5, she hadn’t even had time to get a fucking manicure in twelve days, and the pedicure peeking out at her from her pumps was a travesty. Eric was going to fucking pay! There weren’t enough Louis Vuitton bags in the world to make up for all this shit. She nodded to herself; she would require Marc Jacobs too.
Pam shook her head even as she half-listened to Bill whining on and on about a sheriff’s duty. She opened up her end of her bond with Eric—as she did every half hour or so—to make sure he was still there. She stopped herself from sighing. Yes, he was still there. Yes, he was still in intense pain. Yes, he was still sending his energy to the fairy bond. And all that meant that she was still in the center of the clusterfuck, just trying to ride out the storm. She shut back down the bond.
Pam didn’t like it at all that everyone in the house seemed to look to her to fix the shit that was going down—as if she could do anything. That was Eric’s fucking job, and he needed to fix the fucking fairy bond and get well so that he could get back to it!
Still—as much as she was frustrated, Pam was worried―deeply worried. Eric was weak, and despite the fact that he was taking in a lot of blood every night AND day, he was getting progressively weaker. She’d heard about vampires who were tortured through sleep deprivation for long periods of time, and none of them had mentally survived the ordeal. So far, however, Eric’s mind was intact, and he was carrying on the best that he could―even holding nightly meetings with Miranda and herself to get progress reports―but she knew that most of his strength was being fed straight into the fairy bond.
Pam had to hold in another sigh. Except for her periodic checks, during her every waking hour, she’d been keeping her end of the bond with Eric shut down in order to avoid feeling her maker’s agony. Truth be told, shutting it down pained her, and she ached to feel her maker whole and contented through their bond. She didn’t know what she would do if it wasn’t for Eric’s nightly visits with Hunter, which seemed to give her maker some respite from his pain.
The boy would spend about half an hour with Eric each night, and it was only during those times that her maker seemed somewhat energized. Most of their time together was spent with Eric holding the child as Hunter told Eric about his studies and what he’d done since they’d last been together. Honestly, Pam wasn’t sure that Eric would still be in one piece if it wasn’t for that little boy. And that fact just made her want to kill the person who was droning on and on to her through the phone even more. The thought of Bill Compton putting even one of his stubby fingers on the little human made her want to crush him with her fucking hands.
Pam closed her eyes and tried to focus more on what Bill was saying. She was listening for the change of pitch that would indicate that he was winding down so that she could make a graceful exit from the conversation without drawing more of the king’s suspicion. She rolled her eyes as he seemed to pick up momentum again. “Seriously,” she thought to herself, “how can he possibly stand the sound of his own voice?”
Just that evening, Compton—with the help of Lillith—had formulated a plan to seek out Jessica for the first time since their maker/child bond had been severed. The purpose of approaching her was solely to use her for information about Eric. Unfortunately, Jessica had been monitoring Bill with her at the time, and Pam had had an additional heartsick vampire to deal with―which was about one goddamn more than she could deal with at any given time! After that, she’d needed to call Jason over to keep Jessica occupied. Fucking Bill Compton—she wanted to kill him so badly!
Finally, Bill seemed to be summing up, “I am tired of your brushoffs, Pam. I need for Eric to conduct the business in his fucking area. If he cannot handle it, rest assured, he will be replaced.”
Pam tried to act coolly. In truth, Area 5 business―because of her own efforts and the instructions Eric had managed to give her―was up-to-date, except for a few face-to-face meetings that she couldn’t cover, including the dispute involving Lillith and Simon Brown. Of course, Pam knew the real nature of Lillith’s dispute, but she had been certain to act sympathetic during her encounters with the beautiful brunette vampiress.
“Do not worry about Area 5, your majesty,” Pam said, finally getting in a word edgewise with the asinine Bill Compton. “Did you not get your tribute earlier this evening? Is it not more than the projection? The Area is running like a well-oiled machine.”
Bill grunted, “Then why has Eric not been at Fangtasia, settling Area 5 disputes for the last month?”
“He’s been making surprise personal visits to the vampires involved in disputes, as you know he just loves to do,” Pam answered casually. “Why―is there a case he’s missed? Have you heard complaints?”
Of course, she knew that Bill wouldn’t want to directly mention Lillith’s dispute with Simon Brown for fear of drawing attention to his own interest in it. “No,” Bill said hurriedly, “I just need for my sheriffs to be available―visible―and doing their duty. One day per week in a public setting is already too little, and I have let Eric get away with that for months now.”
“When was the last time Thalia held public court?” Pam asked in an overly saccharine tone, knowing that the answer was never. “Anyway, what do you care how Eric does things as long as it all gets done?”
At these words, Eric stepped out of the cubby, looking drained, but better than Pam had seen him since he’d first collapsed on the floor of the workshop. In fact, she’d not seen him on his own feet unsupported since that night.
Eric reached out for the phone, and Pam gaped and then handed it to him, even as she stifled her sounds of surprise. She quickly and fully reactivated the bond between them. She was shocked to find that Eric was no longer struggling to feed his energy to Sookie and that he was not in any pain at all. He was simply tired—very, very tired.
“Hello, Billy Boy,” Eric said as strongly as he could into the phone. Pam could feel that he was faking the strength, but she was still happy to hear it. “What is this I hear? Are you dissatisfied with my work? Tsk, tsk, Bill. I would think you would know better than to doubt my running of Area 5. Didn’t I tell you once not to interfere with my business, your majesty?” Eric couldn’t quite bring the menace into his voice.
Pam could hear Bill’s stammering response on the other end of the phone.
The Viking slumped over a bit and leaned against the couch, his small exertion taking its toll. He continued speaking, though his voice was considerably less authoritative. “You needn’t worry. I will be at Fangtasia holding court on Sunday next.” With that, Eric hung up the phone and wearily handed it to Pam before slowly making his way to the kitchen and getting a bag of donor blood from the refrigerator. He warmed it and then drank it down as Pam watched him, her face still a picture of disbelief.
A little stronger, he turned to her. “Sookie is out of danger. I do not know what happened, but she is no longer in pain.” He sighed and smiled a bit, “And she is alive and strong.”
Pam sighed with relief and returned his small smile. “You look,” she paused, “tired.”
Eric nodded in agreement. “I am, but I will soon be rested enough to take care of Compton,” he spit out the name. Eric warmed and quickly drank a second bag of donor blood, and Pam could feel through the bond that he was steadier.
Eric felt the rub of fur against his leg and looked down to see the kitten, which had grown quite a bit in the last month. The creature looked up at him expectantly, and Eric picked him up gently, being sure to stroke him behind the ears as he liked. He walked the little animal over to its full food bowl, but the kitten looked up at him stubbornly. Eric chuckled again, dumped out the clearly ‘inferior’ food, and refilled the bowl with a fresh batch. The kitten looked up with satisfaction, purred happily, and then ate.
Pam sighed dramatically. “I am glad that you are feeling better. That mangy fleabag has been getting fat because it has only accepted tuna to eat for the last month. Seriously Eric—I don’t even think that you are as stubborn as this damned cat!” She added under her breath, “It’s not like I wasn’t feeding it from the same fucking bag that you just used.”
Eric bent down to pet the kitten, whose purr had gotten even louder. He chuckled, “Well—you obviously weren’t feeding him correctly, Pam.”
Pam seethed at him. “I intend to do some damage to your credit card for all this!”
Eric looked up at her; his expression held only one emotion—gratefulness. “Take the one without the limit, Pam.”
She quickly wiped away the tear that had made its way to the corner of her eye and turned around. “I already did.”
Eric chuckled and then looked toward the second floor. He smelled that Hunter was in his room playing with Jessica and Jason, but he walked straight into his own bedroom at human speed. It had been almost a month since he’d been in there, and the smell of his wife had faded, just as he’d feared.
Eric paused at the closet and opened the plastic bag with the sheets he and Sookie had used on her last nights in the human realm. Having been sealed, the sheets still smelled strongly of her—much more strongly than even the afghan—and he took in her scent deeply. After having held onto her so tightly for the last weeks through the fairy bond, he needed that moment. Thanks to Jesus’s magic, he’d had no sleep in all that time, yet his wife’s scent refueled him a little.
Eric resealed the bag and then got into the shower. He wanted desperately to see Hunter, but he also wanted to seem more fully like himself first. The water felt good on his skin, and he indulged himself by using Sookie’s shampoo and body wash so that he could continue feeling closer to her. He could admit to himself that a part of him―a very small part―was saddened that the fairy bond was no longer calling to him for help. He’d felt more useful to Sookie in the last weeks than he’d felt in months―and he’d felt closer to her too. He’d come to almost relish his pain because it meant that he was taking some pain away from her.
Now the bond was back to how it had been before―stable and present, but not actively reaching for him. Eric told himself that it was better―that it meant that Sookie was no longer dying―and he chastised himself for his selfishness as he rinsed his tired body.
Eric dressed at human speed and then tiredly walked to Hunter’s room. The boy’s back was turned to the door, and he was playing a game called Candy Land with Jessica and Jason.
Eric had seen the boy for half an hour earlier that night―just long enough to tide them both over. The vampire walked into the room. “Hunter,” he said almost tentatively.
Hunter turned and then got to his feet as if he were seeing a ghost. “Uncle Eric?” he questioned.
Eric nodded, and the boy rushed over, stopping just short of him. Eric squatted down and then opened his arms, and Hunter launched into them, holding Eric as tightly as he could. “Are you all better?” the boy asked, looking up at the vampire with tears in his big brown eyes.
“I am tired, but I will be as good as new soon,” Eric answered.
“And Aunt Sookie?” Hunter asked. “Did you make her better in your bond?”
“Aunt Sookie is also all better,” Eric assured.
Eric heard both Jason and Jessica sigh with relief from the other side of the room.
Hunter once again tightened his grip around Eric’s neck and started crying in relief and pent up worry. Eric picked up the boy and carried him to the rocking chair in the living room―to their chair. He sat them down and began rocking. The action comforted them both, and Eric felt sleep pulling him despite the fact that it was night.
A little while later, Pam draped the afghan, which she’d retrieved from the cubby, over Hunter and Eric. For several minutes, she watched the boy and the vampire sleep in the comfort of one another. She felt better than she had in weeks.
Everyone in the house spent at least some time taking in the sight of the sleeping boy and vampire that night. They all knew that Hunter had been having a hard time sleeping, and though Eric had always cleaned up the evidence of the bleeds before Hunter came for his nightly visits, Hunter didn’t like seeing his favorite person sick. And when Hunter did go to bed, his sleep was restless, though—thankfully—because of Jesus’s spell on the night-light, his nightmares had not returned.
Everyone in the little family knew that a rough patch had been hurdled, and each of them was glad that the house could rebalance itself now.
All night and into the next day until Hunter woke up, Batanya stood guarding the pair from the corner of the living room. Britlingens were known to be impartial defenders of their clients. In her long life, she’d guarded people on one side of a conflict through one contract period and those on the opposing side through another. She rarely cared about whom she was protecting or why.
However, it was difficult for her not to become personally involved with her current charge and current employer, especially given the fact that she had worked so frequently for the Ancient Pythoness, whom Batanya did like. In fact, she was secretly working for her even now―with the ancient lady supplementing her salary so that the Viking could afford her.
The seer had told her many years before that she would need her service to watch over a young one so that her vampire grandchild could concentrate on bucking against the cruel hand of fate. Batanya had agreed to take the assignment from the Ancient Pythoness with more-less indifference; it was—after all—just another job. However, the more she was around the Viking and his child, the less indifferent she felt.
Seeing the vampire out of his cubby and with the boy, the Britlingen found herself more at ease than she’d been in the last month. She was gratified that her charge would be happier again.