Chinese Proverb: A tiger never returns to the prey he did not finish off.
Eric walked to his workshop and opened the door quietly. Pam was sitting to the side filing her nails. Quinn was unconscious on the work table, and plastic had been spread around its surface. Eric could see the evidence of a large wound on the tiger’s chest and another on his thigh. “Not quite neutered,” he said as he checked the wound’s location.
“I cannot speak for Miranda’s aim―or lack thereof,” Pam said sarcastically. “Apparently, they got the troll to stop his bleeding and to stabilize the worst of his wounds.”
Eric chuckled, “Remember not to call Ludwig that in front of Hunter. He actually quite likes her.”
Pam rolled her eyes but nodded.
Eric went over to his utility sink and filled a bucket with water. He gestured to Pam. “Would you like to do the honors?”
“Absolutely.” The vampiress eagerly took the bucket and poured the cold water over the Weretiger’s face.
Quinn spit and choked on the water as he woke up. His famed purple eyes were unfocused.
“Hello Kitty!” Pam cried out gleefully. She laughed as if at a joke, and Eric looked at her with a bit of confusion.
“You know,” Pam said, “Hello Kitty—the child’s toys?” She rolled her eyes as Eric still looked confused. “The thing on Emma’s clothing all the time. The white cat?” she asked with frustration.
“Oh,” Eric said with some recognition and a shrug of his shoulders.
He approached Quinn, who now seemed more aware of his situation. The Weretiger was looking back and forth between Pam and him with skittish eyes. Eric couldn’t blame him. Pam looked absolutely teeming with excitement at the prospect of torture.
Quinn had been tied down with thick silver chains, and though they didn’t burn through the flesh of Weres as they did vampires, they would have definitely depleted what strength he had left after his encounter with the Werelioness. As Eric further examined the tiger, he saw that he had many cuts and bruises on his body in addition to his two larger wounds. His breathing was also labored, which meant that Quinn had suffered broken ribs as well. However, there was no active internal or external bleeding.
“Well, Mr. Quinn,” Eric began. “It seems that you’ve had a very bad day.” Eric put on a pair of gloves and then checked the Were’s chains. “It must suck to realize that lions really are better than tigers. It looks like the age-old question has been answered—definitively.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Pam drawled. “I think a nice tiger rug would have so much more,” she paused, “impact in a room than a lion rug.”
“Hmm,” Eric mused, “you might be right. The stripes would be lovely. And Mr. Quinn here was quite something to look at. It’s too bad that Weres always turn into their human selves when dead.”
Quinn was cringing at the casual nature of their conversation.
Pam clapped her hands together. “I have it! We could easily skin him before he dies. That way, we could keep the pelt.”
Eric sighed, “Alas, he would turn as soon as we started, Pamela. You know that Weres return to their human forms when injured. Quite inconvenient, really.” He looked down at Quinn, “At least for us―I mean. You don’t think you could hold off long enough for Pam to get her rug, do you, Mr. Quinn?”
Quinn shrank back as far as he could into the table that was holding him.
“No—I didn’t think so,” Eric shrugged.
“Perhaps the witches could come up with something to make him stay in his tiger form. Now that I’m thinking about it, a tiger rug would look so good in my bedroom—purr-fect in fact.” She giggled at her bad pun. “And his head mounted on the wall at Fangtasia would be fucking fabulous for business.”
Quinn was now twisting against his chains.
Eric looked down at the Weretiger, who had just wet himself. He smiled. That meant that Quinn was ready to talk—to cooperate. “Pam,” he said, “go call the other sheriffs and have a report ready for me when I’m done with Mr. Quinn. Oh—and monitor our friend’s phone, but do not answer it.” Eric handed her Quinn’s phone.
Pam looked disappointed but bowed and left.
Eric wandered around the table, lifting his hands up and down as if weighing two options. “Well, tiger, I’m in a bit of a quandary. On the one hand, my child desires your pelt, and on the other, I desire information. I suppose I could simply take both, but it would be a shame to rid the world of a Weretiger. I hear they are almost extinct as it is. Then again,” his voice took on a sharper edge, “you did come here to kill me and my people today. And I am quite upset that you would have allowed the Were-witch to take my blood. That would have been unacceptable.”
Eric’s voice was now steel, “My blood belongs to my wife—only her. She would not be happy with you. Not. At. All.”
He sat down in a chair next to the Were and stared at him quietly for a few minutes. “My Sookie is generally not one to support my killing when it is not required, but I think she would make an exception this time. On the other hand,” he sighed, “she is something of a cat person.” He paused dramatically. “Decisions, decisions, decisions.”
The vampire stared coldly at Quinn until the Weretiger flinched and had to look away. “What do you think, Mr. Quinn? What would you do in my position?”
“I don’t know,” Quinn said weakly, his violet eyes looking defeated. “I was only following orders.”
“Yes—from de Castro,” Eric said.
Quinn nodded. “He is a bastard,” he paused, “but he owns my fucking life.”
Eric tilted his head to the side, “Explain.”
Quinn sighed, in obvious pain due to his broken ribs. “I know that you don’t really want to hear my story, Sheriff Northman. Why don’t you just kill me and be done with it. I am not high up on de Castro’s list of confidants. In fact, if you knew enough to know we were coming, then you likely know more than I do already.”
“I said explain, kitty cat!” Eric said icily. “I won’t ask again.”
The tiger brought his eyes to Eric before taking them away again. “De Castro owns me because he once covered up eleven murders that I committed.”
“Talk,” Eric said, his jaw set.
Quinn sighed, “Twenty-one years ago, my mother, who is also a Weretiger, was running during the full moon in southern Nevada. She came upon a group of drunken poachers looking for bobcats; you can imagine how,” he paused and his jaw clenched, “excited they were to find her. There were too many of them for her to fight, and they all had rifles, so my mother ran from them. She managed to evade them for a while, but eventually they corned her in a small canyon. She chose to transform into her human form rather than to risk being taken or injured in her tiger form. When they found her—naked and apparently helpless—they forgot all about the tiger and turned their drunken perversions onto the nude woman before them.”
Quinn closed his eyes and steeled himself before continuing. “They raped her—repeatedly. My mother almost died from her injuries at their hands. And they left her for dead; had she not been Were, she would have died!”
He paused, again steeling himself. “Eventually, she healed physically, but when she learned that she was carrying the child of one of those bastards, the last of her mental stability cracked. She broke and has stayed broken.” He took a deep breath. “I was only thirteen, but I hunted them and killed them—all of them.” Quinn exhaled deeply. “In my youth and my rage, I was not discreet about my killing either, so de Castro had to cover things up as well as glamour the authorities. He made sure that my mother and the child were taken care of in exchange for,” he stopped.
“For your servitude—your life,” Eric finished, standing up. “So you sold your soul to the devil.”
“Is that why you fought in the pits for so long?”
Quinn nodded again. “I was profitable for Felipe,” he said bitterly. “After several years there, I was allowed to go free—or at least I thought I was free at first. But every time de Castro decides that he wants my service, he threatens my mother and sister, so,” he stopped again.
“So here we are,” Eric supplied. “What will de Castro do to your family now?”
Quinn shook his head sadly. “I failed. He’ll kill them. He may have done so already.”
“Because you have not checked in?” Eric asked.
Quickly, Eric called Pam back in through their child-maker bond. She looked excited, like a child on Christmas morning.
Eric rolled his eyes and then looked at the tiger. “Do you know where they are?”
“Give me the address.”
Quinn looked uncertain, “What are you going to do to them?”
Eric loomed over Quinn. “You told me that de Castro will kill your family since you have failed. The worst that I could do is the same.”
Quinn’s eyes clouded with indecision, and then he said. “The address is 374 D Street. It’s in Las Vegas—the north part.”
Eric turned to Pam. “Call Duncan. Tell him to secure Mr. Quinn’s mother and sibling and bring them here by car. No plane records.”
Pam nodded and left the workshop again.
“Do you intend to torture them to make me talk?” Quinn asked, now fearful he’d made the wrong choice.
“No,” Eric said. “I intend to offer them protection and a real life in my area in order to make you talk, Quinn. I have never liked de Castro’s ways. I would have dealt with a situation such as your mother’s and yours very differently.” Eric looked at Quinn through narrowed eyes. “You may not believe me, but I have,” he paused, “sympathy for your desire to revenge the wrong done to your mother.”
Quinn looked at Eric skeptically. “I have heard many words to describe you, Northman, but ‘sympathetic’ is not one of them.”
Eric sat down again. “I am getting soft,” he said matter-of-factly. “My wife’s cousin is currently carrying the child of a man who raped her, so I have sympathy for your mother’s plight. My own mother was killed long ago—as was the rest of my human family—and I sought revenge for many years, so I,” he paused, “empathize with you as well.”
Eric’s tone became menacing. “However, make no mistake, tiger. If your mother and your sister become a threat to me and mine, they will be killed. If you become a threat, you will be killed. I have no time for making nice with my enemies, Mr. Quinn. The question is—do you want to be my enemy?”
Quinn looked up at Eric, not knowing what to say.
“It is an easy question, Mr. Quinn,” Eric said. “I suggest you answer it—now.”
Quinn slowly shook his head.
“Good,” Eric said. “Now—tell me everything you know, and prove yourself to be loyal to me.”
Twenty minutes later, Eric loosened Quinn’s chains, but the Weretiger was too weakened to get up. Eric sent a quick text to Pam. “If you know what is best for you Mr. Quinn, you will stay in this workshop. If you attempt to leave, I will end you.”
Quinn nodded weakly.
Eric looked around. “And don’t fucking touch anything. This space is important to me.”
Quinn nodded again. “I won’t.”
“Ludwig will be here soon to better see to your wounds. And then we will discuss where your life will go from here. Meanwhile,” Eric said, as he checked a new text, “your family is secure.”
“How do you know you can trust me?” Quinn asked as he tried to sit up a bit to drink the glass of water Eric had offered him.
Eric smiled. “If you really intended me harm, tiger, you would not have stayed on my table this night. Your body would have been ripped apart as it was yanked outside of the scope of the newly-re-raised protection spell around this home.”
The vampire paused. “You are—I believe—what you say you are: a man who has been used most of his life to do the bidding of others because you wished to avenge and to protect your kin. I have told you that I will protect those you hold dear so that impediment is no longer against you. If you are smart, Mr. Quinn, you will continue to cooperate with me.” Eric smirked, “And if you are very, very smart, you will never fight Miranda again. Oh—and don’t call her ‘Babe’; I’m a thousand years old, and even I know that most modern women would despise that.”
With that, Eric turned and left the workshop. He motioned for Bubba to come over to the door. “If the tiger tries to leave, I want him dead,” Eric said.
Bubba nodded. He didn’t much care for violence; however, he did care about the people that he lived around. And he knew that the Weretiger inside the workshop had fought with Miss Miranda that day and had come to kill Mister Eric. Therefore, Bubba was more than willing to take the blood of the big cat if need be—though he knew he wouldn’t much care for the flavor of it.
Eric returned Bubba’s nod. “Ludwig will be here soon to tend to the cat’s injuries. You can let her in immediately when she gets here.”
“That’d be just fine, Mister Eric,” Bubba said as he took up his station.
Eric quickly zipped into the house. He made sure that Hunter was still sleeping peacefully, and then he rejoined Miranda and Jarod at the fire. Pam and Tray were also there now too.
“He must have cooperated,” Pam said with a mix of amusement and disappointment.
“I think he told me all he knew,” Eric returned as he sat down in his and Hunter’s chair. “It seems the tiger’s service to de Castro has been forced over the years, and he is anxious to remove the yoke of that servitude.”
Everyone looked at Eric expectantly.
Eric chuckled and launched into the information that he’d gotten from Quinn, most of which he had already known.
“He didn’t really tell me much that Duncan has not reported already,” Eric said, “though his information about the witch was new. It seems that de Castro had been keeping his association with Hallow quiet—even among his guards.”
Jarod nodded. “That makes sense. From what we’ve learned about Hallow, she was generally feared by other witches and reviled by vampires.”
Eric nodded. “About six months ago Yvetta—a woman who used to dance in my club and whom I once,” he paused, “fucked—showed up in Vegas with Hallow. They convinced de Castro that I was a vulnerable target because of Sookie and because the location of my home was well known. This was confirmed by a spy placed by de Castro himself, Felicia. Felipe decided—with the encouragement of Victor Madden, of course—to expand into Louisiana, even though he was already taking over Mississippi. They figured that they would pretend to be ‘content’ with that arrangement, and de Castro decided that he would issue Thalia a formal marriage proposal―both to distract us from his real plan to take over the state and to placate the AVL, who wanted him to try to gain power in more,” he paused, “conventional ways. It seems that the AVL doesn’t much care for our queen.”
Pam growled a bit.
Eric chuckled, “I agree, Pamela. Thalia is pretty fucking great in my book too—despite her being MIA for the last month or so. And there are enough members of the Authority who agree with us, but—as we already knew—some prefer de Castro and Madden.”
Eric continued, “Now that the coup has failed, Quinn is not certain what will happen. De Castro and Madden wanted to take over the state without having to get their own hands dirty; that’s why they had Quinn collecting and training a Were and human force. However, there is a small force of vampires waiting at the Mississippi border for Quinn’s signal to cross. He told me their location—a warehouse on the Mississippi side of the river. I’ve texted Isabel with that information already. She is surrounding the vampires with a force of her own as we speak.”
Eric grinned widely, “I also texted Thalia with the same information. It seems our illustrious queen already knew of the vampire gathering in the warehouse because she has been stalking Victor Madden, who is leading the group, for some time. As soon as Isabel is in place, they will move in and take out the force.”
Pam’s grin matched Eric’s. “Pity that we can’t be there. I’m surprised that Thalia’s even waiting.”
“Me too,” Eric nodded with a smirk. His phone went off and Eric looked down to see that it was a text from Isabel. He chuckled as he read it. “Apparently, she did not wait. Isabel just arrived at the warehouse to find all the vampires inside dead—except for Madden, whom Thalia is questioning.”
He received another text. “Thalia claimed that she was forced to go in alone because she was,” he paused dramatically, “tired of Madden’s incessant pacing.”
There was another text. “Apparently, the silver has limited his ability to pace.”
Everyone chuckled at that information, including Bubba, whose smooth baritone voice drifted over from near the workshop.
“What will de Castro do now?” Jarod asked.
Eric sighed. “He will either start open war or back down completely. Quinn isn’t sure which. De Castro was, it seems, so confident that today’s plan would work that he has not made a Plan B—at least not one Quinn knows about. Duncan believes that de Castro will likely try to spin the situation so that he can gain support from the Authority. Of course, Felipe is not yet aware of Madden being in Thalia’s very capable hands.”
“And what of Quinn?” Pam asked. “I don’t suppose you will let me kill him now—will you,” she pouted.
Eric smirked and shook his head. “Duncan has secured his family and is bringing them here. I intend to let the tiger live—unless he proves himself to be a true enemy of mine.”
Pam narrowed her eyes. “I still think you should just tie up that loose end, Master.”
Eric looked into the fire. “Pawns can be dangerous; however, once they have been removed from the board, the threat from them ceases completely. Quinn was a pawn; he has no personally grudge against anyone in this household. If he did, he would already be dead.” He glanced at Miranda who gave him a little nod in agreement.
Eric continued, “He will soon trust that I will not harm his family, and then he will likely come to me in order to pledge himself. If he does that, he may prove to be a good asset—perhaps even taking over day security at our new casino. Even if he does not offer me his loyalty, I don’t believe he will cause us any more problems. He knows that his end would come swiftly if he did.”
“But he’s such a douche,” Pam whined.
Eric chuckled. “In truth, I do not care for Mr. Quinn personally, but he has had little agency over his own life. Perhaps if he is given his independence, he will prove to be less,” he paused, “irritating.”
“I don’t know, Eric,” Pam intoned. “He is pretty fucking irritating.”
Eric smirked. “Perhaps he and his family would like a change of scenery then? Maybe South America would suit them. Or Siberia?”
A/N: Hello! I know that some of you REALLY wanted Pam to get a nice Quinn-rug, but it is not to be—at least not for as long as he behaves. Here is my confession: I HATE Quinn in the books—really, really, really! But as I was writing and he was at Eric’s mercy, I wanted to show that the Eric in this story is both more evolved and more willing to evolve even further. Quinn’s backstory—if Eric had learned of it BEFORE the tiger was such a douche regarding Sookie—would have, perhaps, “touched” the vampire. And Eric would have seen the tiger as a potential asset. At the same time, Eric would be smart enough to wait for Quinn to get his shit together and come to him b/c he doesn’t trust the Weretiger for many reasons. Anyway, that’s why Quinn is keeping is miserable flea-bitten life for now. (darn)