If you are going to read anyway, just skip this.
Okay—I just wanted to let you know that although there is no new damage done to Eric in this chapter, we will hear about some of it as Lillith tries to help him. I have not made an alternative because this context is not as disturbing, but I just wanted to give you the heads-up so that you can mentally prepare.
Chapter 168: Wounds
Having experienced firsthand that any little thing could set off Russell and seeing the evidence of his most recent violent “outburst,” Lillith approached the ancient vampire hesitantly—unobtrusively. With Lorena, she had had years to perfect the art of avoiding the path of an insane, stronger vampire. However, at least Lorena’s actions could be anticipated; she had always been run by her obsessions, but there was logic to be found in her self-serving actions.
But with Russell, Lillith was still looking for the logic.
The ex-king of Mississippi was speaking to Eric Northman almost contritely, “Once again, I must apologize for my actions, Eric. I’m afraid, I got carried away—just as I did last night—and I have placed you on the true death’s door yet again. I mean―certainly―I did intend for you to hurt a bit,” he chuckled almost nervously, “but I didn’t plan for your true death. I swear it.” He put a hand over his dead heart to go along with the words that he was performing. “I am truly contrite.”
Russell bowed a little in Eric’s direction, but there was no indication that the Viking was paying him any attention.
Russell turned to Lillith. “Feed him some TruBloods. No―wait. Feed him that donor blood you are so fond of—as much as he will take. And, Lillith, I am not done with him, so he’d better be alive and well when I return tomorrow night.”
Lillith heard the threat in Russell’s words and tone; she stifled a shudder. She nodded and bowed to the elder vampire.
“Did you take care of that other project I told you to see to?” Russell asked the vampiress in a manner that seemed both offhanded and deadly serious at the same time.
She cowered a bit and lowered her head contritely. “I was not in time.”
“Pity,” Russell said icily. “You have had two nights now. I will give you one more, but if you cannot accomplish your task, I will be very, very displeased. I cannot forgive failure.”
“But,” Lillith started protesting, “she’s behind the protective barrier now.”
Russell growled, “Then find another witch, or become one yourself.” He toed Yvetta’s dead body again. “Make sure that you find one who can bring it down—unlike this one.”
Lillith knew damned well that there no such witch to be found in a day; perhaps, she could distract Russell or prove her worth in another way. “What happened to her?” Lillith asked in a soft voice.
She’d not liked Yvetta—though she’d taken her blood a time or two—but she didn’t think that Russell would kill her, despite the fact that the Estonian had not been strong enough to take down the protective spell around Northman’s house. Yvetta had proven useful with other spells, however, and de Castro “liked” her. The Nevada king would not be pleased to find out that one of his favorite pets was dead.
“That is none of your concern,” Russell stated evenly. “Inform Felipe of her death before you sleep today.”
Despite knowing how poorly de Castro took bad news and how he tended to blame the messenger, Lillith could only nod. “He will not be happy,” she said quietly.
“I don’t give a flying fuck about Felipe’s happiness,” Russell said coldly. “His affection for this second-rate witch and first-rate bitch is his own problem. And yours now,” Russell smirked.
Russell continued, “All you need to know is that she accomplished the task I set out for her to do, whereas you have so far failed me!” He thumbed a talisman that was hanging around his neck. “Yes,” he continued cruelly, “she succeeded in giving me what I needed today, and you have bungled a simple task—yet again!”
Lillith couldn’t help but to notice that Russell was basically telling her that—whether she succeeded or failed—she’d likely end up dead. Lillith kept her eyes down in apparent supplication.
Her survival instinct was telling her to get the fuck out of there—to run—but she knew that there was nowhere that she could go that Russell wouldn’t track her down. However, more and more, she was coming to understand that it was just a matter of time before Russell killed her anyway.
She tried logic with him. “But,” Lillith explained, keeping her voice as calm as she could in the face of the vampire she’d come to know was even more sociopathic than her own maker, “how will I find a witch as powerful as Hallow in a day when de Castro has not been able to find one in months?”
“That is your concern,” Russell shrugged. “Maybe you won’t need a witch; maybe you can use that sweet cunt of yours to draw her out.”
Lillith cringed at Russell’s words. They hit too close to home. First, Bill had given her the task of seducing Eric, and then when that didn’t work, he felt no hesitation in asking her to try for Pam instead—despite the fact that Bill knew well that Lillith hated having sex with women because of her many years being commanded to please Lorena when her maker had found no one better for the task. And then when Lillith had found her way to de Castro’s court, the king had decided to “test her loyalty” himself—many nights.
Russell’s tone was unyielding. “You will do whatever you need to do to kill his bitch of a progeny, or I will begin to question your usefulness to this operation.”
Lillith nodded meekly.
Though he was not able to listen to their entire conversation, Eric understood the gist of it. Pam had escaped Lillith’s attempt to kill her. He was comforted by the fact that his progeny was safe and with his son.
Russell turned his attention back to Eric, speaking to him almost kindly. “I apologize once more for my lack of hospitality. Talbot would not have approved of my actions―not at all.”
Eric took his eyes from the fairy bond and the Sookie there for a moment and let them really look upon Russell. The ancient vampire’s act upon his body had not drawn shame from Eric, but the mention of Talbot’s name had. Of all the mistakes that Eric had made in a thousand years, killing Talbot was the one that he regretted most. He’d wanted to make Russell suffer as he’d suffered all those years ago when the ancient vampire had taken away those who were most important to him—his human family.
And the effect of his killing Talbot was bitter from the start. It was why he was currently on Russell’s table, but it had been the cause of so much more suffering as well.
He remembered the moment when he’d killed Talbot; he’d expected elation, but he’d found emptiness—and then fear. Certainly, he’d feared Russell’s wrath; that was why he’d initially wanted to get Pam and then run. But his greatest fear that day had come from knowing that in the moment he had staked Talbot, he had become Russell.
And everything since then—being with Sookie, losing her for so long, becoming a father to Hunter—had been working to bring him back to himself. No. It had worked to bring him to a better self. And in that moment, he knew that there was something that he needed to do before he met the true death—whether that death came before dawn that very morning or in another thousand years. He had to do it so that he could deserve the gifts he’d been given; he had to do it so that the soul that he’d once tried to deny existed could become whole. He had to.
He spoke for the first time since Russell’s attack upon his body had begun.
“Sorry,” Eric whispered, even as blood escaped his mouth due to the severity of his injuries.
“What?” Russell asked, looking at Eric with shock. He was surprised that Eric could speak at all and even more surprised by the word he’d chosen to say.
“Sorry for Talbot,” Eric managed to stammer.
Having taxed himself to the limit with those words and thought behind them, Eric had to return himself into the fairy bond fully. He was too frail physically to say or do anything else, and even focusing on the world around him for that few minutes had been extremely difficult.
He had no idea what Russell’s reaction to his words had been. But it didn’t matter. It had been the saying of them that was important. Maybe that was part of what Godric had been trying to tell him that day outside of Fangtasia as he and Russell had been burning.
Once Eric was tucked back inside the fairy bond, he marshaled what little power he had left and assessed his condition again, all under the proud, supportive smile of his beloved. The wound that was bleeding the most profusely was on his inner thigh where the blade had severed his femoral artery. Sookie’s hand seemed to light up a bit, and Eric sent some healing magic to that wound; he did not know if it was his own or his beloved’s in that moment, but it didn’t much matter. He felt the wound begin to stop bleeding, and then he felt his artery shoring up and his flesh slowly putting itself back together. He once again inhaled the scent of peaches and smiled as Sookie nodded her approval. It was a start.
At Eric’s words, Russell seemed frozen for several minutes. The blank look on the ancient vampire’s face scared Lillith more than anything she’d ever seen from him before. She took a few steps backward.
Finally, Russell seemed to regain his bearings. He turned to leave the room. On his way out, he ordered again, “Feed him and cover him; keep him alive. Oh—and get rid of the human too; she’s beginning to smell.” And Lillith,” he said, his sarcasm returning, “try not to fuck up anything else tonight.”
Lillith looked fearfully at the retreating Russell and then back at the battered vampire she saw on his table.
With Russell gone, she was no longer able to hold back her own trembling at the sight of the battered Viking. She was no longer able to stop herself from remembering just how many bodies she’d seen broken; she couldn’t help but to feel her guilt over how she’d helped to break them—even though it had always been against her will. She closed her eyes and refocused.
It was the nurse in her who opened her eyes. She did a quick evaluation of his injuries.
Eric had been raped, brutally. And he’d been stabbed, repeatedly. However, the look on his face showed no pain, and though she’d been smelling his blood since she’d gotten to the warehouse an hour before, she’d not heard his voice betraying any of the pain he’d obviously gone through. His inner strength was obviously keeping him alive, and she’d found in her years as a nurse to humans that that factor was generally the most important thing. It was something to work with.
Generally, a vampire would have been able to close his or her own wounds by now, but Eric’s continued to seep. There were too many for him to try to deal with. Then, she saw the stained silver blade. Lillith knew that if Eric was to survive, she would have to help him. She zipped upstairs and quickly grabbed a few bags of donor blood and several sheets from the light-tight space she’d been staying in.
She returned to the beleaguered vampire’s side and raised the first bag of blood to Eric Northman’s mouth.
He made no movement to drink.
She tried again.
Still nothing—no reaction at all. He didn’t seem to recognize that she was even there.
Lillith wondered what it was that was keeping Eric Northman alive—what it was that gave him his strength. She knew that he needed to think of that and fight for it. And he needed to trust her enough to let her help.
In that moment, she knew that she needed to give him something more important than the bag of blood. She looked over her shoulder at the camera. She’d been the one to install it, and she knew its specifications well. With her face away from the camera, she bent down and whispered to him, almost inaudibly.
“I have not told them about Hunter,” she said.
She saw a flicker of something in Eric’s eye, but that flicker told her that he’d heard what she’d said.
After that, the injured vampire seemed aware enough to try to take the nourishment.
Eric had been too busy looking into Sookie’s eyes and working on his wound to understand that Lillith had been trying to feed him blood. But when she said Hunter’s name and―more importantly―said that Russell didn’t know about him from her, Eric woke up to her efforts and drank. He felt a little of the human blood begin to enter into him; it would help him.
Sookie smiled at him. Eric smiled back. The wound on his thigh was halfway healed. Then, they would move on to one in his neck.
Lillith saw that much of the blood she was trying to feed Eric was escaping through a large cut in his neck. She heard a sickening, bubbling sound which told her that the wound had cut into his esophagus, so the blood was not getting into his body as it needed to.
Quickly, Lillith set down the blood bag and grabbed one of the sheets. She set about wrapping Eric’s neck and throat with it, not only to reduce his blood flow but also to help the bagged blood reach further into his body when she tried again. She found that her efforts did help a little, so she fed him a bit more blood, but the gurgling sound could still be heard.
She quickly went upstairs again. She walked into the surveillance room where she found two guards. Luckily, one of them seemed less dazed from V than the other. She grabbed a notepad and wrote down a list of items she needed.
She thrust it into the hands of the more-aware guard. “Go to the clinic on Caddo Street. Tell LaMarque that I sent you for these things and that I will pay later. Hurry.”
The Were looked at her and shook his head. “I don’t got to do nothin’ Russell don’t tell me to do.”
Lillith’s fangs came down, and she thrust the man’s body against the wall, holding him by the neck. The other guard was so high that he just laughed at the sight.
“If Northman dies, then Russell will kill me, but I will make damned sure that you die first,” Lillith threatened. “Now,” she trapped the Were with her glamour, “be a good boy, and do as I say.”
The Were nodded dumbly.
Lillith quickly went back downstairs and fed Eric the rest of the first bag of blood even though she knew that his body was still not holding in much of it. After that, she tore more of the sheets into strips and started to bind Eric’s larger wounds as best as she could. She noticed that a very severe wound she’d seen earlier on his thigh was the only one that seemed to be healing on its own, and she realized that the Viking was likely marshaling his strength to heal his worst wounds first, instead of trying to deal with all of them at once. She knew that older vampires were able to do that, and she was thankful that Eric was at least trying to hold himself together.
Twenty minutes later, the Were returned, and Lillith rushed to get her requested items. She’d asked for more blood, of course, but she also got what she needed to start a line in Eric so that she could give him some packed red blood cells. Due to the fact that he had fewer wounds on his right leg than anywhere else, Lillith decided to start the line in his right foot. She worked quickly to get several units into him.
She sighed with relief as he began to stabilize. She could tell that he’d begun “working on” the wound in his throat now, so she tried again to feed him a blood bag. This time, the blood flowed much more smoothly down his esophagus. After that bag was gone, she hung another unit of packed cells.
That done, she went to the small sink in the corner of the room and wet a few towels. She began to clean the blood off of Eric’s body so that she could better monitor the progress of his healing.
As she removed her makeshift bandages, she noticed that many of the wounds had not closed fully, but there was improvement. Once Eric was clean and re-bandaged, Lillith thought about trying to replace the bloody sheet that he was lying on, but would have to take off his chains to do that, and she couldn’t risk it.
Instead, she fed him another bag of blood. She smiled when she noticed that the tubing she’d used to start Eric’s line was no longer in the vampire’s body. That meant that he’d been able to push it out as he healed. It was a good sign. In that moment, she had hope that her patient would survive the night.
She had slightly less hope for herself surviving the next night.