A/N: Again, I was listening to my “battle-song” mix when I edited this. Click below to hear it.
Chapter 193: . . . A Plan Comes Together
Sookie’s plan was brilliant. Its aim was simple: Eric and she had to defeat Russell together.
Accomplishing that aim, however, would require a set of steps that had to be perfectly orchestrated.
Eric—even at his healthiest—wouldn’t be able to defeat Russell. The ex-king of Mississippi was thrice his age, which made him exponentially more powerful. Eric had needed all his guile and a lot of luck to entrap Russell the first time, and Russell’s own overconfidence in his invincibility hadn’t hurt either. But Eric and Sookie both knew that Eric could never best Russell in a physical duel of vampire versus vampire. Eric would be easily killed.
And Sookie—because of the talisman—could not defeat Russell either.
It seemed to be a no-win situation―a problem with no solution.
However, the answer was simple. The plan was simple.
Step one was to make it a fair fight. And that meant destroying Russell’s Were army and any vampire help that he had. This also included making sure that no additional reinforcements could be called in. However, for this step to succeed without raising Russell’s suspicions, the fighting needed to take place outside of the hearing and scenting range of a three-thousand-year-old vampire.
Claude and Russell himself had been the keys to step one. Claude could approximate some elements of Sookie’s scent. But the blood that Russell had given Mab—the same blood that he’d hoped would sound a death knell for Eric and Sookie’s bond—had been their most effective tool. Once Claude had drunk Russell’s blood, any differences in scent between him and Sookie would be explained away by Russell’s ego. The ex-king would think that Sookie’s scent had so altered because of his own blood.
And then Claude would “pop in” and lead the Weres out of the warehouse—straight into a trap. And safely out of Russell’s range.
Step one: Make the fight fair. Check.
Step two was to heal Eric—finally and completely—of every physical mark that Russell Edgington had put upon the Viking’s beautiful body. And just as Sookie had done on that Dallas rooftop, she endeavored to ease—though she knew that she couldn’t heal outright—the mental suffering he’d had to go through as well.
Step two: Heal her vampire. Check.
Step three was to free Eric from his silver chains, and this step was―perhaps―the biggest wildcard in the plan. However, Sookie had felt confident that Eric could break through his silver bonds as long as he was using her magic to do it.
Every time they needed to share a gift with each other—needed to do it to survive—that sharing had occurred automatically. Sookie was counting on that happening again for step three of the plan. Along with the magic that Sookie sent into Eric through her blasts, she hoped that she was also transmitting the skill to do what she had done the night that she’d been held captive by Debbie Pelt: she’d been able to use her magic to free herself from the ropes keeping her from Eric.
That night, her magic—aided by her and Eric’s bonds—enabled Sookie to literally burn through the ropes that held her down. As soon as Debbie had hurt Eric, those ropes just melted. If Eric could marshal that same ability and use fairy magic to break through the silver chains, then he’d free himself from Russell’s torture table.
Earlier that evening during their short dream, Sookie had told Eric that burning through those ropes after Debbie had shot him had been like cutting butter with a hot knife.
Now, as Sookie kept Russell distracted by weeping as if in sorrow, Eric concentrated on allowing Sookie’s magic to build up within him, just as it had risen up the day he shot it at Hallow.
The fairy bond seemed to almost whisper to him when it was ready, and he sent Sookie’s Fae magic to every place where his body was held down by chains. He felt a heat rising in his skin until it began to cut through the chains that held him to the table. The silver burned his flesh as he rose against it; however, his Sookie sent him a quick healing burst through their bonds, and those burns disappeared even as the chains fell away. In the next instant, Eric had yanked the gag from his mouth and was on his feet—ready to face his enemy.
Step Three: Get Eric free of Russell’s torture table. Check.
Hearing the noise of the chains breaking and clattering to the floor, Russell quickly turned. The ex-king, of course, was shocked when he saw the Viking free instead of dying on his table. But Russell did not let his surprise paralyze him. Quicker than the blink of an eye, he took a stake that was in his jacket and hurled himself at Eric, the point poised to crash into the Viking’s heart.
Russell was fast—so fucking fast, in fact, that Eric hardly saw him coming.
Still, for Sookie, the world seemed to be in slow-motion as Russell thrust his arm forward. She was holding her breath—holding her nerve—as she saw the tip of the stake move within mere inches of her mate’s beautiful heart.
And then suddenly—even faster than Russell had been moving forward—the maniacal vampire was flying backwards as if his own momentum had been doubled against him. With a heavy crash, he landed on his ass on the other side of the room.
Step four of Sookie’s plan was to take advantage of one of her newly developed fairy gifts—one that Russell didn’t know about—in order to guarantee that the three-thousand-year-old would no longer be a threat to her mate.
As soon as she’d walked into the basement room, she’d wanted to set up one of her force fields in order to protect her husband’s body from Russell’s continued attacks. She’d wanted to, but she hadn’t done it.
Both she and Eric had known that Russell would hurt him―but not slay him―since the ex-king wanted to be able to torture Sookie with the knowledge that she had killed her own husband. And in their short, shared dream, Eric had warned her that Russell would most definitely injure him again in her presence. Sookie had surprised Eric by saying that she’d already guessed that would happen, and though the thought of it pained her greatly, she agreed that those injuries needed to happen in order to keep Russell from being suspicious.
Plus, if she had set up protective barriers around Eric too early, then her bursts of magic would have bounced off of him as well.
So she’d held back and not placed a shield around her husband’s beautiful body—until, that is, after Russell saw that Eric was free. Both Eric and Sookie knew that as soon as Eric was off of the table, Russell would attack him. And they also knew that Eric would not be fast enough to dodge Russell’s strike.
Sookie felt pride surging through the bond, and she took a moment to look at her mate. Standing so tall and looking at her with intensity in his blue eyes, he was a marvel. She knew that his nudity was a sign of Russell’s abuse, but she focused on the fact that he looked like some kind of angel to her. No―she corrected herself quickly; he was no angel. He was better. He was her husband. Hers.
Sookie turned back to Russell, who was once more on his feet and looking at the completely smashed piece of wood in his hands like a child trying to figure out his first puzzle. The stake had met the force field Sookie had placed over Eric’s body with all the might of Russell’s three thousand years, and now it was in splinters, which had cut through the ex-king’s hands. Those wounds were healing quickly, but Sookie enjoyed seeing his blood for a change. And if that made her a bad Christian, then so be it.
Step four: Protect Eric from Russell’s inevitable attempt on his life. Check.
The next step of the plan included a calculated risk, but one that Eric insisted was worth taking. Eric would need one more blast of Sookie’s magic, but to give it to him, Sookie would have to lower the shield around her husband. Eric figured that once Russell had failed to get to him the first time, the elder vampire would not make a second attempt; Sookie feared that Russell was just crazy—or wise—enough to try again.
In the end, they’d decided the risk was worth taking because of the depths of Russell’s ego. Russell simply wouldn’t put himself into a position to fail a second time, so he would not try another direct assault at Eric. Of course, Sookie would be ready to transform the power she would send into her husband into a shield at a moment’s notice, but because of Russell’s speed, lowering the shield at all was still a risk.
All pretenses aside, Sookie took down the shield around her mate and shot her magic directly into him.
The Viking felt her power coursing through him and through their bonds in a deluge, and he may have fallen down if she were not also holding him up.
Magnificent. She was mag-fucking-nificent.
Her plan was so simple, but Eric Northman knew that only his wife—his goddammit!—could have come up with it. Her mind combined the best elements of creativity and logic, and her growing confidence added to what was innate within her.
Step one—make the fight fair. Step two—heal him. Step three—get him free. Step four—protect him from Russell’s attack.
Step five was to call upon another of their assets than Russell had no true conception of: their bonds, particularly the powers that they could share because of the fairy bond. The truth of the matter was that Eric could never defeat Russell because of his inferior strength; there was no way for him to make up the two-thousand-year difference between them. And Sookie could not defeat Russell because of the talisman. However, something that the A.P. had made clear all along was that they could defeat Russell—together.
Then the answer had become apparent to Sookie. Only her magic—Fae magic—could stop Russell, and only Eric could wield it.
Eric felt Sookie’s power proliferating within him, and he let that power pool. He let his wife’s magic amplify inside both the vampire and the fairy bonds, just as his wife had asked him to do. But he did not fire—nor would he—until it was the right time.
He felt his hand tingling and looked down to see a soft reddish light beginning to form in his palm. He made a fist and let the force continue to gather, even as he exerted effort to keep it in.
In contrast to the morning that he’d used fairy magic to defeat Hallow, this time, the magic available to him was not limited. It seemed perpetual and self-sustaining. He felt Sookie’s light throbbing within their bonds―active and alive―even as Sookie continued to add to it. He swayed on his bare feet.
He nodded to his wife when he felt that he could contain no more of her light—when he knew that the blast he could generate would be more than enough to rip Russell Edgington into a million pieces.
Step five: Give Eric enough fairy juice so that he could kill Russell. Check.
Russell looked back and forth between Eric and Sookie and began to catch on to what was happening. His failed attempt to kill Eric remembered, the ancient vampire grabbed Eric’s sword and then rushed at Sookie.
Eric’s eyes flashed with anger! He wanted to shoot the magic within him at Russell as soon as he saw him moving toward his mate with his father’s sword, but Sookie had made him promise to wait for the right time, and he trusted his wife.
After all, her plan was fucking brilliant.
Just as the sword was about to sink into Sookie’s flesh, Russell was repelled. Again, the elder vampire’s momentum threw him backwards. And―again―he landed on his ass with a loud thud.
Eric wanted to lead a fucking parade, buy cigars for everyone in the fucking state of Louisiana, and whistle a fucking tune! Hell—he was even of a mind to send Pam to Paris fashion week with his American Express black card for a moment!
Russell dropped the sword, and his mouth gaped open in astonishment. For the first time in more than two millennia, Russell Edgington was stunned into silence.
Step six was the only step that Eric had insisted be added to Sookie’s plan, and it was the most important part of that plan as far as he was fucking concerned. It was for Sookie to put up a defensive shield around herself as soon as she stepped foot into the basement.
Sookie had tried to argue with Eric, telling him that each thing she did―whether it was placing a shield or covering her scent or sending her healing―would take away from the energy she could devote to empowering him, but he’d stopped her protests with a kiss and a plea in his eyes, knowing that if something happened to her, then that would mean the end for him too.
He’d also pointed out—accurately—that there was no longer any need for her to worry that the use of one of her gifts would limit the others. After all, the ritual she’d told him about would safeguard against that.
He’d watched her processing what he’d said. He’d watched her “remember” herself. He’d watched her move beyond the Sookie that had always had doubts in herself and her abilities. And through their bonds, he’d felt her—finally—overcome those self-doubts. It had been beautiful, and he’d been so fucking proud of her!
Once she’d finished her self-reflection, she’d added step six without further argument. That had earned her a big kiss from him.
Step six: Protect herself from Russell’s inevitable attempt on her life. Check.
At a loss for what to do, Russell rose to his feet once again—this time tentatively. He looked at Eric and then at Sookie. And in that moment he knew that he could not win a fight against them—at least not on this night.
Eric sent confidence to his wife through the vampire bond and got the same feeling back. They both knew that it was almost time; there was only one more hurdle left to face.
Within Eric, Sookie’s Fae magic continued to churn inside of the fairy bond. And the magic of thousand-year-old Viking was added to that Fae magic, making it even more potent.
Eric raised his hands in threat, allowing Russell to see the reddish light now dancing above his palms.
Openmouthed, Russell looked at Eric with the eyes of a wild animal―eyes that bespoke of his insanity, but also showed his cunning. They were the eyes of a vampire who had managed to survive in the world three times longer than Eric had—a vampire who knew when to fight and when to run.
It had taken Russell less than a millisecond to realize that it would be fruitless to attack Eric or Sookie again. But he was still faster than they were, and he used the speed of his age to move quickly out of the room. Sookie didn’t try to stop him with one of her shields either.
No. They wanted Russell to leave the basement.
Eric zipped after the ancient vampire, with Sookie following as fast as she could.
Step seven was the hardest one because it involved waiting—waiting until it might be too late to stop Russell. However, everything about Eric and Sookie had always been a calculated risk with a big reward waiting at the end. They were the casino game with the worst odds but with the biggest payout.
In the last minute of their dream earlier, they had decided together that they wanted no doubts—no errors. And that meant that Russell needed to be out of the basement before Eric attacked him with Sookie’s magic. They wanted no iron walls or unforeseen magic spells to limit the blast from Eric’s hands.
“It is always good to err on the side of caution,” the Ancient Pythoness had said right before Sookie met with Eric in her dream.
And—with those words—Sookie’s back-up plan had suddenly become part of THE PLAN. And Henry had become even more integral to the whole thing. Perhaps, that was why Sookie had felt the need to help him to heal from the mental and physical wounds that had made the honorable Were consider V as a viable treatment option. She’d also influenced him to leave Russell’s group behind—no matter the outcome of Sookie and Eric’s battle against Russell.
As Sookie raced after her husband and Russell, she prayed that step seven would work.
Russell Edgington was furious over what had happened after Sookie arrived in the basement.
How could have everything that seemed to be going so right suddenly turn into such a disaster?
Somehow the fairy had known about the talisman, somehow Eric had gotten free of his chains, and somehow the Viking looked like he was getting ready to use fairy magic against him. Russell quickly went down the corridor in the basement, knowing that his superior speed would still save him. In a flash, he punched in the code to unlock the iron door mechanism, and then locked it again behind him in order to slow the bloodthirsty Viking down. He rushed to the basement door to make his escape.
He’d have his revenge on Eric Northman and Sookie Stackhouse, but it would have to be on a different night.
Russell celebrated the idea that the maddening couple would always be looking over their shoulders, and he would find a way to counteract the connection they seemed to share. He could wait a while longer to get his fairy; after all, he’d have an eternity with her once he did.
The iron slab hurled down in front of Eric, but it didn’t hold him for long. Knowing that fairy magic would not be able to break through the iron, he damned up the flow of Sookie’s magic in his hands and used his own strength to break down the door.
To a vampire―especially a thousand-year-old Viking warrior who had just seen his great enemy try to kill his bonded and pledged soul mate―the iron was as cardboard, and Eric ripped through it as such.
Since he was momentarily stopped by the barrier, Sookie caught up to him, and she watched with pride as Eric made short work of the iron that would have held her trapped.
Finally, Eric literally ripped the hinges off the basement door, and there before him was what he had hoped he would find.
Step seven: Trap Russell Edgington. Check.
Sookie’s plan was logical and thoughtful in its simplicity. Everything was to be accomplished in stages. Every contingency was thought out, and everything that could be done to ensure that Russell Edgington would not escape the night had been worked through by his beautiful, cunning, and fucking amazing wife. Step one—make the fight fair. Step two—heal him. Step three—free him. Step four—protect him. Step five—give him the power of her magic since she couldn’t use it. Step six—protect herself. Step seven—detain Russell outside of the basement long enough for Eric to use that magic.
Russell was before him―on his knees and struggling to get out from underneath a web of silver chains―a web that Henry had meticulously put into place at Sookie’s direction.
There was only one step left uncompleted—just one step.
Killing Russell Edgington. Finally.
A/N: I have to say that I am so nervous about this section b/c I want it to be good for y’all. My poor fingernails have not thanked me for it. But I hope you liked hearing about Sookie’s plan. You may have caught that Ch. 189 and this chapter are named after a quote from the A-Team: “I love it when a plan comes together!” That show and movie may be cheesy, but they’re kickass too! Don’t worry―Mr. T won’t come barging in to finish Russell off. 😉