Sookie kept her mind inside of Henry’s. He was so damned systematic―so thorough. And he was continuing to look in places that were smaller and more concealed than the one she was in. She would have been impressed by his commitment—if he was not searching for her.
“Okay,” she thought to herself, “Henry is going to find me here; it’s just a matter of time.” She closed her eyes. From Niall, she had learned that there were two kinds of teleportation that fairies could use. One was traveling between the human realm and the fairy world through a portal―like the pool. According to Niall, it was easy to get to the human realm, but harder to get back. Getting back involved two things. The first was acceptance by the portal itself. This was how Niall kept his enemies from using the pool and other portals within his territory. The second was calling upon one’s “fairy blood” to “return home,” and though Niall said it might be challenging for Sookie to do this at first, he had been certain that she could master it.
This kind of teleportation was a skill that could be learned by anyone with fairy blood and an invitation. And Sookie felt confident that she could return to the pool at a moment’s notice—if Henry got too close. Her intuition told her that since this was an ability that Niall knew she could develop even before she’d completed the ritual, then the ritual itself had given her the necessary tools to do it successfully. All she had to do was call upon them.
This thought comforted her, for it gave her a back-up plan if she couldn’t figure out something better. And one thing that being around Eric had taught was that one should always have a back-up plan.
On the other hand, there was a second type of teleportation that was not a skill; it was innate. This kind allowed a fairy to travel from place to place quickly within a realm or between realms without the aid of a portal. It was how Niall and Claude moved so quickly within Faerie or how Claude “popped” Eric to and from Fangtasia. It was also how Claudette moved them directly from the human realm to the fairy realm. If Sookie could teleport that way, then she could simply “pop” into another room that Henry had already searched.
Sadly, however, Niall had informed her that he didn’t think this second kind of teleportation was one of her innate gifts. Briefly, she wondered if she might have gotten the ability during the light of the ancestors ritual. She certainly felt more powerful; however, Niall had made clear to her that the ritual would work only to increase the strength of the gifts she already had—not give her new ones. She closed her eyes and tried to catalogue her skills in a way she had never done before. Niall and Claude both had the ability to sense what kinds of gifts a fairy had. According to Niall, it was a skill that developed in the majority of older fairies.
However, Claude had developed it much sooner than usual. Sookie hadn’t questioned this fact at the time she’d learned of her tanu’s skill, but now she realized that this premature development was because he’d completed the ritual. And that meant that she would also now be able to sense the gifts inside fairies—including herself. So she looked within to see if she could find the ability to do this second type of teleportation.
She sighed softly when she didn’t find it. “Damn. Okay—well that’s out,” Sookie said to herself. “Moving along.”
Sookie once again calmed herself by keeping in mind that she could use the first type of teleportation to retreat temporarily to the pool if need be, but she didn’t want to move backwards.
She continued to try to look for other options even as she felt a new warning from Eric. With that warning, however, came more love and trust—extreme trust. Sookie smiled. She wondered how someone in Eric’s current condition could trust so much, but then she felt their bonds―so strong and so sure. And she knew. His body had been nearly broken and his mind had wavered for a time, but their bonds hadn’t been touched by Russell’s torture. They’d held firm.
Inspired by Eric’s trust and knowing that her husband was even more methodical and systematic than Henry was when coming up with a plan, Sookie decided to follow her husband’s example. She quickly catalogued her options as Henry entered the large room that she was in and began his meticulous searching.
If she used a light burst to knock him unconscious, then Russell would know that something was wrong when Henry didn’t report in. Plus, Russell might hear the commotion. She figured that Eric could hear her even now, and her heart skipped a beat even thinking of that. There was a surge of support from the bond in that moment, and Sookie had a feeling that he’d heard that skip. She felt so much joy in their connection that it almost hurt.
“All right,” she said to herself. “If I can’t pummel Henry with my light, what else could I do?”
She could use one of her force fields to keep Henry rooted in place if need be, but that wouldn’t prevent him from calling out for help, so she discarded that idea.
As the thorough Were moved ever closer, she kept herself calm and quiet and continued running through scenarios. She’d thought about her obvious options, but she’d not yet considered all of the complementary abilities that went along with those gifts. Niall had emphasized to her time and time again that every fairy power had a counter-power—even though individual fairies tended to “favor” one side of an ability over the other. In other words, one side came to a fairy naturally, and the other side often had to be developed.
For instance, the light to injure was countered by the light to heal. As she’d trained with Niall, Sookie had realized—somewhat to her surprise—that she used her healing light instinctually, whereas she had to concentrate to generate the other kind of burst. But when she’d talked it over with Claude, things had made more sense, for they’d been able to isolate the first time she’d used that gift. It had been on that Dallas rooftop the morning Godric had allowed the sun to take him. This fairy ability in Sookie had just been awoken the night before by Eric’s blood, but she’d intuited how to use it. She’d taken Eric’s hand on that rooftop and had unconsciously sent some healing magic into him. Much later—after they were together—he’d told her just how much that he’d been comforted—healed even—by that brief touch. It had given him the energy to take shelter inside and to live on despite Godric’s death.
It had been only two days later that Sookie had used the other “side” of her gift—when she shot the Maenad to defend herself. That too had come unexpectedly, but that kind of burst had always taxed her strength before. However, each time she’d used her healing light on Eric, she’d felt no depletion of energy.
The force fields she could put around foes—to keep them in a kind of stasis—were the complements to the fields that she could erect to protect herself from harm. Sookie had discovered that placing a defensive field around herself to repel a foe was more instinctual for her than placing an enemy into a field to keep him or her still. Without even knowing it, she’d likely placed this defensive kind of field around herself and maybe even around Hadley when they were in Mab’s palace, but—at least before the ritual—she had to concentrate to use the other kind of field.
Covering one’s scent as Sookie was doing at that very moment was complemented by the ability to make it stronger. Niall said that this could come in handy when trying to distract a foe.
Similarly, the power to teleportation was offset by the ability to stay put and not be moved if need be. Those with the gift of empathy, like Hadley, could transmit emotions as well as receive them. So every fairy gift had its complement—every single one. Including telepathy.
That’s when Sookie figured out the solution to the Henry problem!
At first, she’d assumed that the complement to her telepathy was simply the ability to transmit thoughts in addition to hearing them, but during one of their shared dreams, Eric had wondered if there could be more to it than that. And—come to find out from Niall—there was. Or at least, there could be if the gift were developed enough.
Sookie smiled. Her telepathy—the very thing that had been her “curse” for most of her life—was now going to be the key to her staying where she was so that she could continue to send Eric her healing magic!
Yes—she had the power to receive the thoughts of others, as she was doing now. But she could also send thoughts, not just to communicate, but to influence.
Niall had told her that when this skill had matured, it would be possible for her to covertly send ideas into some people’s minds. He likened the ability to vampire glamour, but warned that it would only be able to work on those who didn’t have the power to see it coming, like humans and Weres.
In her mind, Sookie compared the power to Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Jedi mind trick in Star Wars; she had to stifle her giggle as she remembered Eric’s impression of Obi-Wan’s “These aren’t the droids you are looking for” line on the night that she’d told him about this potential gift. However, she’d been reticent about practicing this ability because she thought it was morally questionable to influence others’ thoughts. In fact, she’d only agreed to try to hone it after she promised herself that—even if she did ever learn how to use it—she would employ it just in life and death situations.
“Well—you are definitely in one of those,” she thought to herself. She closed her eyes and focused on her love for Eric and the power they had together. Then she called upon the gift that she knew she would be able to use now.
She sent ideas into Henry’s head in whispers. She sent the notion that he’d already checked the area of the room that she was hiding in. Having gotten to know his extremely logical mind, she sent the image of him very carefully sifting through the clutter in the area. She sent that he’d looked under the tarp that was covering her, explored behind and under the desk where she was crouching, and checked out every space on her side of the room where even a small child could fit. Her thoughts to him were subtle yet detailed.
As she implanted these ideas in Henry’s head, Sookie realized that the challenging part of using this ability was to make sure each thought that she sent matched the pattern that Henry himself thought in. In that moment, she was glad that she’d spent a bit of time in his head. And given his reaction, she knew that she was doing well.
Right before she was ready to leave Henry’s mind, she saw a doorway behind which she could sense his pain, which was currently being covered by the V in his system. From his mind, she picked up that the physical pain that he felt was exacerbated by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which led to anxiety, which in turn made the physical pain worse. In that moment, Sookie felt sorry for Henry, whom she could sense was a truly decent man—just doing the best that he could with his life. Neither he nor his pack understood Russell’s intentions, nor did Henry know what Russell was up to in the basement. Henry was just trying to be a good soldier. On impulse, Sookie sent one last thought into the Were’s mind, this time into his unconscious mind.
She told him simply that if there was an attack that his pain would be too much to allow him to join the fight and that he should stay on the second floor and give up without a struggle if anyone found him. She whispered that this would not be a cowardly action. In fact, it would be the smartest thing that he could do.
She inserted this thought both out of compassion and strategy. On the one hand, she didn’t want to see good men like Henry die because of Russell’s insanity. On the other hand, she didn’t want to have a man of Henry’s military background fighting against her people.
Once Sookie was done sending Henry thoughts, she checked her work. She was certain that even if he were glamoured, the Were would swear to the veracity of each thought that she had sent him. She heard from his mind as he left the room that he had accepted the thoughts she had sent as truth. He had checked the room completely. He had looked in every nook―every cranny. There was not a mouse to be found, let alone a person in there. Whoever had been on the third floor was long gone.
Sookie smiled as Henry walked into the next room, and she felt a triumphant jolt from her husband too—a jolt this time, not just a whimper. She smiled again, this time wider. He was healing.
“Okay, min bóndi,” she said to herself. “Now that you are healing and I am safe, I need to figure out a plan for getting you out of there.
First, she needed to consider what Russell might have planned for her in that basement so that she would be ready to counteract it.
She already had a theory about why she’d not been able to transport right to Eric’s side from the pool. The place where he was being kept was obviously constructed to keep full-blooded fairies out completely―or at least to weaken them. Niall had mentioned that he could not teleport into the room because of the iron walls.
The fact that she could not transport directly into the basement either meant that Russell had obviously taken additional precautions to make sure that Sookie specifically couldn’t teleport in and then simply take Eric out, especially during the day. Sookie posited that a magical ward of some kind had been used in addition to the iron. She figured that Russell had designed his own twisted version of the Hotel California. “Yeah,” she thought to herself, “you can ‘check-out any time you like, but you can never leave.’”
Russell was a sociopath, but not a dumb one.
She figured that Russell wanted to draw her into the basement where he was keeping Eric, but he wanted it to happen his way. That meant that he likely had mechanisms in place that would keep her there like a trapped rat.
He would also have something in place that would protect him from or counteract the kind of magic that he’d felt from her before.
Sookie wondered if the iron in the walls of the basement would work to drain or stifle her power. She’d never had trouble when she’d come into contact with iron before, but the Fae within her had never been so “awake” before either. Whatever the case, it was clear to Sookie that Russell had something up his sleeve to get her into that room and to keep her there.
And it was just as clear to her that he was not willing to come out after her either; after all, he didn’t seek her out himself when he’d smelled her in the warehouse. That meant that there must be something about that room in particular that would prevent her from just shooting him straight to hell.
But to that basement she was going to go; that was where her heart was lying strapped to a table. She just needed to figure out Russell’s plan so that she could come up with a better one. That’s what Eric would do.
“Okay—so what are my assets for getting into that room and making sure that I can get back out again with Eric?” she asked herself. Sookie smiled when she realized she was thinking just like her husband would.
She had her telepathy and her new ability to influence. Those would certainly be of benefit in monitoring the movement of the Weres and getting them out of her way so that she could get into the basement.
She had her force fields. She could use them to protect herself or Eric once she was in the room with him, and she could also use them to keep Russell in stasis. The best thing was that he wouldn’t be expecting these things because he’d never seen them before.
She also had her light bursts. She’d kicked Russell’s ass with those before, but he had already been weak because of the sun that time. And he would have likely been looking for a way to defend himself against that power since he’d experienced it firsthand. Again―Russell was no dummy. However, even if he’d found some kind of defense, he couldn’t know how much stronger she’d gotten—could he?
“Shit,” she cursed to herself. “He’s talked to Mab.” She sighed. Okay—that meant that Russell probably DID know that her power had increased, and that meant that he’d be even more prepared.
Sookie calmed herself down and thought about her number one asset for a moment—her Viking. The bond told her that he was no longer receiving fresh wounds—at least for the moment. That would mean that little by little, he’d be healing. As long as she kept pumping her magic into him—and she didn’t intend to stop—he’d be getting stronger and stronger.
Eric had not moved since she’d gotten there—obviously still bound to Russell’s torture table—but if she could free him and he’d healed enough, then his renewed strength would come as a big surprise to Russell. She decided to turn on the faucet of her healing magic just a little higher, and when she felt only gratitude and love from Eric, she knew that it was not too much.
She smiled. Yes—Russell was sure to have some surprises waiting for her, but she and Eric would also have some of their own.
Eric allowed the deeper wounds on his bare torso, in his neck, and along his arms to stitch themselves up from the inside, but he did not close them completely. Instead, he left them seeping in order to keep up the illusion with Russell. The sheet that Lillith had carefully tucked around his body the night before had become tangled and had fallen to waist-level due to Russell’s more “enthusiastic” knife strikes earlier in the evening, and the part of the sheet that did cover him had been shredded in many places, but he discerned where it still provided adequate coverage. To the wounds hidden by the fabric, Eric began to send the bulk of his magic, now entwined fully with Sookie’s healing power, which was more potent in efficacy than any blood he’d ever taken in to heal, except for perhaps Sookie’s own blood.
Russell’s phone rang, and Eric heard the Were, whom Russell had called Henry, report in that there was no one currently on the top floor. Russell inhaled deeply and looked at the ceiling once again before he told the Were to return to the second floor and to continue with what he’d been working on before.
Russell hung up with a deep sigh, “Oh well—I was hankering for a little action today.” He looked at Eric with a pout. “To be honest, I have been anticipating Sookie coming here like a child looks forward to Christmas morning. It’s the thought of her taste that has me so giddy,” Russell said, as if confiding a big secret to Eric. “I have thought of little else since I first sampled her luscious blood.” He licked his lips at the memory.
The Viking could see Russell bristling in anticipation, but he kept himself still. He knew that if he moved too much—even if he growled at that point—then Russell would suspect that Eric was not as bad off physically as he should have been.
Instead, Eric blinked and turned his eyes away, movements that Russell would likely interpret as Eric once again sinking into despair. Eric hoped that Russell would start crowing and boasting if he felt that Eric was crumbling once more.
The ancient vampire took the bait and sat down in the chair next to Eric once again. “Tell me something, Northman,” Russell asked dreamily, “did you take blood from her every morning just so that you could watch the sun rise? I know that her fairy magic doesn’t last long, and we had to take a lot of blood to even get the time that we got, but it was a glorious few minutes, and those are minutes I plan to have every morning—at least every morning that my little fairy can provide enough blood.” Russell winked at Eric who again let his eyes slide to the side as if he could no longer stand to hear Russell’s words.
“Do not worry,” Russell said with a dramatic wave of his hand, “I will monitor her health as if it were my very own. But—oh—I can only imagine how difficult it will be not to drain her each time I feed.”
Eric blinked again and his face contorted—as if in both physical and emotional agony due to Russell’s words.
Russell felt triumphant. Certain that his words would continue to hurt Eric and feeling confident that he once more had the upper hand over the Viking, Russell continued his prattling. “I am over three thousand years old, and it was difficult for me to stop drinking from her that morning. I mean—I understand how Bill Compton kept himself in check. He had a stick so far up his ass that it must have been difficult for him to feed from a human at all.”
Russell affected a tortured voice. “Compton was a master of the ‘Oh woe is me! I’m a vampire, and I didn’t want to be one’ routine.” He rolled his eyes. “I’ve seen it a thousand times. And it is always those that torture themselves the most on the inside that are loose cannons just waiting to go off. Of course, there are those at the other extreme too—like Compton’s maker Lorena. That one had no control at all—not ever; of course, she was a lovely dinner companion and her ruthlessness had its charms, but she lacked discretion and finesse.”
Russell stood up and walked a few steps away. “Ah,” Russell said, pulling out his phone, “that reminds me. I should check on the progress of Lorena’s other spawn.”
Eric watched Russell out of his peripheral vision. He almost couldn’t hold in his smile as, with each ring, the ancient vampire became more and more agitated. That meant that either Pam had succeeded in killing Lillith or Lorena’s child had fled.
“Fucking incompetents!” Russell boomed as he hung up. Eric watched as Russell closed his eyes, probably to “look for” his blood that was inside of Lillith.
Russell sighed with resignation. “It looks like I will have to come up with another plan to capture your progeny,” he said in frustration. Russell sank back into his chair.
Now certain that Lillith was truly dead, Eric spared her a moment of his sympathy. He was ecstatic that Pam had prevailed, but he would always be grateful that Lillith had not told anyone about Hunter. Her existence had been full of strife and misery because of her maker. At heart, Lillith had been—or had tried to be—a good person, and it was a shame that she’d allowed herself to get mixed up with Bill and then Russell. But she had, so Eric could not be sorry to see her gone.
“It is a real pity,” Russell said after a few minutes of silent pouting, “that you couldn’t just be as you appeared to be at first—a loyal servant to me, a new lover for myself and Talbot to play with.” He sighed wistfully. “I know—at least—that you are competent. Your child too. And it’s so hard to find good vampire help these days!” he lamented. “Most have no conception of strategy—or how to win a fight they begin. Few could have come up with the plan you did to entrap me in the sun, and of those, fewer still could have held steady long enough to pull it off. Your only mistake was not letting me die in the sun.”
Russell looked at Eric with admiration. “And as I said before, your control with the fairy has been remarkable. Bill didn’t drink too much because he liked to deny his nature, but you—you embrace it as I do!” He waved his hands in a flourish. “Or,” he continued a little derisively, “at least I thought you did before I heard about all this bonding nonsense from Compton’s truly useless sister. Still—it had to take much control for you not to drain her every day, as I’m sure it will take much control from me. Luckily, I will have years and years to practice!” He clapped his hands together in delight and sat forward a little.
Eric turned his head away a little, playing the role of the distressed and hopeless vampire to perfection; he wanted to keep Russell talking if he could. The longer Russell was distracted by the sound of his own voice, the longer Eric could continue to use Sookie’s ongoing trickle of magic to him in order to heal.
“What was your secret?” Russell asked―though he didn’t expect a response from Eric. He answered himself. “I suppose you would say ‘true love,’” he intoned sarcastically as he used air quotes. “Ah well—I will have to simply keep in mind that if I take too much one day, I will not be able to have any the next. And I wouldn’t want to kill her. That would ruin the whole plan of tying her to my side throughout eternity, and we can’t have that.”
Russell stood and bent down; he whispered excitedly into Eric’s ear. “It’s only ninety minutes until dawn. I suppose that your fairy will try her rescue then.” He clapped his hands gleefully. “I will have to stay up for a while after that. It’s a pity you will not be able to see it. You’ll, of course, be too weak to stay awake once the sun rises.”
Russell mused, “Perhaps, if I give you enough blood, you could stay up for a half hour or so after dawn.” He looked down at Eric’s bare torso, where the Viking had left several cuts open and oozing blood. Russell sighed, looking at the condition of Eric’s chest wounds. “Sadly—there’s only TruBlood left since you were such a greedy eater last night, and that just won’t do it.” He brightened, “Still—it is worth a try!”
Russell went to the corner of the room and grabbed a four-pack of TruBlood. He popped the lid off the first one and put it to Eric’s lips. “Drink up. Even if you miss the show, you could at least help me pass the time until then if you could speak. I am so sorry about those vocal cords.”
Russell looked down at the large gape in Eric’s neck. “Do us both a favor and fix those first if you can. I know, given what you did to Yvetta, that you are capable of compelling your magic to heal your wounds in the order you wish. It would be nice having someone to converse with while I wait for my sweet fairy.”
Eric drank down the liquid with difficulty. Russell had done a lot of damage to his neck—though it was not as bad as it had been the night before—and though Eric had used Sookie’s healing magic to take care of the worst of the interior damage, it was still difficult to swallow. Eric would do as Russell requested, however. He’d use the TruBlood to slowly heal his throat wounds, while continuing to use Sookie’s magic to heal the rest of his body that Russell could not see. Eric would, however, keep several of his deeper chest wounds open so that the illusion he was creating would stay intact.
Anticipating another attack from the manic Russell sooner rather than later, Eric was also “stock-piling” some of Sookie’s healing magic now. If that attack didn’t come, Eric intended to wait for an opportune moment and then use all the magic he’d accumulated at once. Meanwhile, he was going to “play opossum” and be ready to help Sookie in any way that he could when she came.
Russell watched Eric’s neck expectantly, but the Viking slowed down the healing effects of the blood. Still, Russell seemed pleased when he saw a particularly deep gash begin to close. “Good boy!” Russell said, petting Eric’s hair. The Viking automatically recoiled from Russell’s seemingly tender touch.
Russell chuckled and pet Eric’s hair again. “I think that you deserve a little treat,” the ex-king said. “How about I regale you with the tale of how I intend to entrap and restrain your lovely fairy while you work on this,” Russell motioned toward Eric’s throat. “Then you can give me your opinion.”
Russell continued feeding Eric. “It really is quite a clever plan―if I do say so myself,” Russell bragged. “And I do. Now—the question I had to ask myself after being shot across the parking lot by your little fairy was this: ‘How does one combat fairy magic?’” The elder vampire paused dramatically and looked at Eric expectantly—though the Viking still couldn’t speak.
Finally Russell answered his own question. “Well—the answer was to find a fairy ally of my own, of course! And as fate would have it, a fairy actually came to me for help. Apparently,” Russell winked at Eric, “there is a fairy out there that hates both you and your dear Miss Stackhouse—to the extent that she was willing to join forces with a vampire. It seems your Sookie made some enemies in the fairy world, but it is to you that I owe most of my thanks—ironically. It seems Queen Mab hates you most of all.” Russell leaned down conspiratorially. “That is what happens when you kill someone’s family. People tend to,” he paused dramatically and winked at Eric again, “overreact. They might even hold a grudge for a thousand years!” he chortled.
This time Eric couldn’t hold in his growl.