The last five minutes had been a blur for Alcide Herveaux. One moment, he’d been showing Colonel Flood some sketches for a new outbuilding and kennel, and the next he was in the powerful grasp of Eric Northman—a grasp which he’d been unable to get out of.
Eric had sped him to the colonel’s barn, where he’d tied him to a chair with silver chains. The most surreal part had been how the colonel had helped with the chains, even as Sookie and the Colonel’s wife, Maggie, had looked on almost indifferently!
“Comfy?” Northman asked as he leaned casually against one of the barn’s thick beams.
“Fuck you!” Alcide growled out. “Colonel, what the fuck is goin’ on here?”
“Debbie Pelt,” Colonel Flood answered simply.
Alcide felt his stomach drop, and he tensed against his chains. “What about her?” he asked, trying to infuse his voice with innocence.
“Don’t!” Sookie ordered, stepping toward him. “Don’t you dare lie, Alcide Herveaux! If you do, there will be no way you live through this night, and—despite the fact that I’m still angry at you for even suggesting that you could arrange for my bond with Eric to be broken—I truly don’t want you to commit suicide by lying to us!”
“Sookie, please. Just look at what he’s doing!” Alcide yelled out, offering the vampire a raging glare.
“He is currently refraining from killin’ you, Son,” Colonel Flood warned.
“I knew you were too tied to your allegiance with him and the other blood suckers!” Alcide charged. “I shoulda gone with Furnan!”
Sookie scoffed. “I said don’t lie, Alcide. You hate Patrick Furnan, and you know it. Don’t forget that I can read your mind.”
“Alcide, you need to calm down and stop making the situation worse for yourself,” Maggie cautioned.
“I can’t believe that you’re condoning this, Mrs. Flood! Taking a vamp’s side over mine!” Alcide accused, shaking his head at both the packmaster and his wife.
“You’re the one who’s dug your hole,” Colonel Flood reminded.
“You sure you want to witness this?” Eric intoned, directing his question toward everyone in the barn—except for Alcide. Nonetheless, the chained-up Were growled in response.
Colonel Flood sighed. “Maybe Alcide’s a fool, but he’s one of mine. And me and Maggie would both like to see Miss Stackhouse work—if that’s agreeable, ma’am.”
“Of course,” Sookie said kindly, even as she took another step toward Alcide. “Eric and I are gonna question you, and you need to tell us the whole truth—with nothing extra, like attacks against Eric’s character, thrown in.”
“And if I don’t?” Alcide asked belligerently.
“If you try to pull your usual crap about Eric being so bad for me or me not knowin’ how to make my own choices, then I’m gonna have to hit you again. This is your only warning, Alcide: If you lie, I’m gonna leave this barn, have Thalia come in and glamour you, and then enjoy some tea with Maggie while you’re questioned and then executed right here and now.”
“You listening to this?” Alcide asked his packmaster.
“And endorsing it,” the colonel said stiffly, his chin pushed forward.
“Well—now that everyone understands what’s going to happen, let’s begin,” Eric said, addressing Alcide again. He pulled up a chair and set it in front of Alcide’s.
“Sookie?” he offered the seat.
“I’ll stand,” the telepath said, her voice confident.
“All right, then,” Eric said spinning the chair around and sitting down in front of Alcide. He leaned forward against the back of the chair and tilted his head a bit to the side—studying the Were for a moment. “Tell me why Debbie Pelt has been in your home—as recently as this morning.”
Alcide growled, wanting to defy the vampire. But he wasn’t completely without self-preservation.
“She came to me—not long after I got back to Shreveport from Jackson. She’d just been expelled from Mississippi and told me that her life would be forfeit in Area 5 if she was found.”
“And yet she came straight to you—in my area,” the vampire observed, his voice icy.
“She was looking for a safe place to lie low, and to,” Alcide paused, “detox.”
“And she succeeded,” Sookie half-asked and half-informed, having followed the Were’s thoughts as Eric had been questioning him.
“Yes,” Alcide confirmed.
“Would it surprise you, then, to know that her scent was discovered in the office building across from Bob’s Diner? Would it surprise you to know that the scent of V was also found there? That she’d clearly taken a vial of it?” Eric asked, resting his chin on the back of the chair.
“What?” Alcide returned, his voice stormy.
“He had no idea that she was there, and he really did think she was done with V. He opened up his home to her because he wanted to,” Sookie paused, closing her eyes for a moment to concentrate harder on his thoughts, “save her from herself.”
“You fashion yourself as quite the savior of women,” Eric observed coolly.
“If you’re talkin’ about the fact that I want to save Sookie from you, then you’ve hit the fuckin’ bullseye!” Alcide spit out.
“I would tell you that Sookie needs no saving from me, but I should not have to—considering that she told you that herself,” Eric commented, looked up at the telepath with affection. He reached out one of his hands, which she quickly took. “She clearly doesn’t need me to speak her thoughts on the matter, though you seem unable to respect her words and wishes.”
“She doesn’t know what you are,” Alcide growled.
“I do know,” Sookie said firmly. “You’re the only one confused here, Alcide. And you’re makin’ a heck of a lot of assumptions about me, given that we haven’t spent a whole lot of time together.”
“I didn’t need a lot—to know how special you are. Sook, you deserve so much more than a blood sucker!” Alcide pleaded.
Sookie shook her head, unwilling to listen to the stubborn Were’s attacks upon her bonded. She knew that the only way to save his life would be to get him to focus. “Did you know that Eric had issued an edict that anyone who aided or abetted Debbie in Area 5 would be killed?” she asked.
“Yes,” Alcide said defiantly.
“Did you know that she’s one of the reasons I have had to live with a constant guard presence in my life since I got back from Jackson?”
Alcide looked momentarily guilty. “I’m sorry, Sookie. But Debbie wanted to change, and—with our history—I had to give her that chance. But she was gonna leave today. She had a pack that was gonna take her in up north.”
“What pack?” Colonel Flood asked.
“I don’t know exactly, but it’s in Idaho,” Alcide informed.
“He knew he’d be screwed if Debbie was found at his house, but he let her stay regardless—and for a lot longer than he’d initially intended. He was happy that she was getting clean. But he was also happy to see her go this morning,” Sookie informed. “He isn’t lying.”
“You are the one that’s lied! You once told me that you could barely hear me!” Alcide accused the telepath.
“I’ve grown a lot—in both my ability and my attitude—since I first met you,” Sookie shared.
“And it doesn’t have to do with the vamp blood you reek of?”
“Oh—it likely has to do with that too,” Sookie said, winking at Eric and squeezing his hand. “But—mainly—I’ve been gettin’ better because I’ve been practicing. In fact, I’m practicing right now—on you!” Sookie said somewhat defiantly.
“You’re gonna get yourself killed by foolin’ around with creatures that are stronger than you,” Alcide warned.
“Who defines strength anyway?” Maggie scoffed. “From where I’m standin’, Sookie looks pretty damned strong. And, if the people she works for are smart, they’ll want her as a long-term ally, and that will mean that the strongest of those she works with—and the most honorable—will also offer her a layer of protection,” she added sagely.
“Thank you, Ma’am. And that’s the plan,” Sookie confirmed, looking back to smile at the woman.
“Is there anything else you can think of about your behavior recently that we need to know?” Eric asked.
“Fuck you!” Alcide growled. “You’re just gonna kill me anyway. Isn’t that what you want? To make sure Sookie doesn’t wake up and come to me for protection from you?!”
Sookie quickly removed her hand from Eric’s. In the next second, a loud punch was heard in the room, and Alcide’s chair toppled over.
Eric smirked up at Sookie as she cradled her hand. “Am I going to need to heal that again, Dearest One?”
“Maybe,” Sookie half-chuckled and half-cringed in pain.
“Well—what’s the damage. Other than Sookie’s hand and Alcide’s eye?” the colonel asked as he roughly righted Alcide’s chair.
Eric sighed and looked at Sookie. “Abjuring him would hurt Jackson Herveaux, and I’ve come to appreciate him. But an example needs to be made of him.” The vampire rose from his chair and went over to check his mate’s hand. Tenderly, he brought it to his lips. “It’s not broken, and the blood I gave you earlier is already healing it.”
“What if I want more anyway?” Sookie asked coyly and quietly, though all the Were ears could certainly hear her.
“Greedy,” Eric observed with a purr. “I love it.”
Sookie giggled as Eric gently brought her hand up to kiss it once more. Unfortunately, the intimacy of the moment was broken as Alcide growled.
The vampire turned his attention to the chained Were with the blackening eye. “You can live or die, Herveaux. Tonight, I’m putting that choice into your hands.”
“What’s the catch?” Alcide asked.
“If you choose death, I will kill you quickly, and not a goddamned thing will happen to me because you broke a known edict that I issued and your own packmaster endorsed. And you knew that you were doing it! Still—I’ll kill you quickly for the sake of my bonded. On the other hand, if you choose life, I intend to keep you in silver chains for a month. You will drink what limited meals Pam decides to allow you through a straw. You will shit and piss on yourself because you won’t be afforded the dignity of being unchained for bathroom breaks. You will sleep in your filth. You will endure being chained when your body craves to shift at the full moon. Your muscles will atrophy because you will not be able to move much. You will develop sores all over your body, and they will become infected by the end of your month in my care. You will likely have moments—long ones—when you doubt your sanity. You will not be allowed daylight—or even a sense of the time or the days, for Pam will likely send a human in to feed and water you through your straw. That human will not speak with you, even if you beg to hear another voice other than your own. You will growl and weep in turns. You will hallucinate. After a while, the stress upon your body will make it difficult for you to hold down even your meagre rations, and you will eventually vomit most of what you choke down. And you will live in that filth, too. However, you will not be beaten or killed—not this time. After that, you will again hold your fate in your hands, for if you ever have any sort of contact with Sookie after you are released at the end of your miserable month, you will be killed. And I will be the one to do it. And—by the time I am done with you—you will crave the kind of month you are about to endure, for it will seem like paradise compared to the torture I will do to your body.”
“I can’t believe you can just listen to this? That you could let this happen?” Alcide accused first Sookie and then the others watching.
“The sheriff is being generous; no other vampire I know would let you live. And he’s right that I wouldn’t make any waves if he killed you right now; I told him as much earlier. He’s offering you another chance, Alcide,” Colonel Flood stated. “If you think you can survive that chance, you should take it with a ‘thank you,’ not scorn and disrespect. And—if you hold any bitterness once you’re released—if you undermine me or Northman in any way—you will be abjured. If he doesn’t kill you first.”
Alcide shook his head in disbelief.
“Take the month and learn from it,” Maggie entreated.
“Please,” Sookie followed up.
“Surely, you can see what a monster he is now—based on what he wants to do to me,” Alcide implored.
“He’s no monster, Alcide,” Sookie stated firmly. “He pulled me from a trunk with a rabid vampire that would have turned me. Be grateful for your month; Bill would have given me lifetimes of emotional torture. And the woman you’ve been helping shoved me into that trunk!”
“But she was on V—vampire blood,” he emphasized.
“She chose her path, Alcide. And, by stalking me today, she’s tempted fate for the last time. If she had simply left the state—as she’d told you she was going to do—neither you nor she would have been in any trouble. I’m sorry that you chose to help her, though I can understand that you did it because a part of you still loves her, but Eric can’t simply let this slide. And you know that! You’re thinkin’ that even now, so stop bein’ a damned fool! Despite your protests and your prejudices, you know that he should kill you tonight. But he’s not going to have to.”
“So he’s decided?” Eric asked.
“Yes,” Sookie sighed. “But he’s too damned stubborn to ask you for his life.” She turned to her vampire. “Make sure he does—ask you—before you give it to him,” she added forcefully.
“One last thing,” Sookie said, turning back to Alcide. “You mentioned that you could have a witch break my bond with Eric at lunch,” she said, spitting out the words as if they were foul. “What witch?”
“I—uh—I heard about a powerful one in New Orleans.”
“Did you contact her?” Sookie asked.
“No,” Alcide admitted. “But her name is Octavia Fant, and if you ever need to . . . .”
Sookie used the grace granted to her by Eric’s blood—as well as the stomping techniques she’d witnessed many times at Merlotte’s—to stamp Alcide in the nuts.
As the Were yelped in pain, the telepath looked back at her smirking mate.
“Remind me never to piss you off,” the vampire said, his eyebrow raised.
“Just never threaten our bond, and you’ll be alright.”
His face became serious, and he leaned down to kiss her. “I will only ever protect something so precious to me, Dearest One.”
“So will I,” the telepath promised softly.
“How’s your foot?” Eric asked, touching her cheek lightly. Both were ignoring the whimpering Were.
“I might need more blood after all,” Sookie cringed.
“Looking forward to it,” the vampire flirted.
His whimpering turning to a coughing fit, Alcide regained the couple’s attention.
“I’m gonna go have some of that tea with Maggie and call Maria-Star to see how things went with Amelia at the office building,” Sookie said with a sigh of regret as she looked at the man she’d hoped—just that morning—could be a friend to her.
Feeling her sadness, but also her resolution and her love for him, the vampire nodded.
Sookie leaned up and kissed Eric softly. “Thank you. What you’re gonna do to him is horrible, and it’s gonna take him a long time to get over it—if he ever does—but I can sense that you would prefer killing him. So—thank you.”
Limping slightly, Sookie went over to where the Were matriarch stood.
“You did all you can for him,” Maggie assured the telepath comfortingly. She looked at Alcide. “Now, do what you can for yourself, Alcide. James and I will be waiting with Dr. Ludwig for you when you are freed, and I’ll make sure you get the treatment that you need to get back on your feet.”
With one last pitying look in Alcide’s direction, Sookie left with Maggie.
“My dad,” Alcide grunted, finally capable of speaking again and finally finding a thought that went beyond his perceived unfairness of his situation.
“I won’t let him put himself back into a bottle,” the packmaster declared. “And I’ll make sure he has help with Herveaux and Son. Your company won’t go under while you’re away. I promise you that.”
“I still can’t believe you’re goin’ along with him,” Alcide said, shaking his head.
“What you need to start believing is your blame in this matter,” Colonel Flood warned. “If you don’t, you’ll come out of your chains with revenge on your mind. And if you do that, Son, you won’t last long past the healing Maggie makes sure you get.”
“And we wouldn’t want to waste her time—now would we?” Eric asked sarcastically.
Alcide looked at the vampire with hatred in his eyes.
“You don’t have to beg for your life,” Eric said coldly, “but you are going to have to ask me for it.”
Alcide looked—for a moment—as if he might try to spit into the vampire’s face and, therefore, seal his own doom.
But, instead, he swallowed hard, though he stubbornly didn’t swallow his pride. “I’ll take life, vampire,” he snarled.
“Ask me,” Eric said, sitting back into his chair as if he had all night.
“I did,” Alcide returned.
“No. You told me,” Eric smirked. “There’s a difference. Now ask—before I change my mind about making you beg!”
“Will you let me live?” Alcide managed to get out, though it seemed like the words pained him both physically and mentally.
“I will,” Eric said, standing up. “Tray!” he yelled out.
The Were hurried into the barn. “Yes?”
“Pam will be expecting you at Fangtasia. And make sure his chains stay tight; after all, he needs to get used to them being that way.”
“Packmaster,” Tray nodded at Colonel Flood respectfully before hauling Alcide to his feet. Although Alcide was taller than Tray, the latter had no trouble dragging Alcide out of the barn—though it was clear that Sookie’s kick had given Alcide some trouble walking.
“If he gives you any shit, feel free to deliver him worse for wear,” Eric said loudly—knowing that the Weres could still hear him.
Once Colonel Flood knew that they were out of range, he looked at Eric. “You didn’t have to let him live. Even Sookie seemed to understand.”
Eric shrugged. “In the end, Herveaux showed himself to be foolish, but not necessarily irredeemable. And you’re a good packmaster. If there’s a way to get him to get out of his own way so that he doesn’t get himself killed, you’re the one to help him find it.”
“A seemingly endless time to think might be the making of him,” Colonel Flood suggested.
“Or it could drive him to ideas of vengeance or complete insanity,” Eric responded, shaking his head. “For my bonded’s sake, I hope he’s correctable. Will you have blowback for this?”
“Honestly? Probably not, but I’ll keep my ear to the ground. And I’ll make sure that Jackson understands. He’ll be hard hit, but he’ll know that you’re doin’ him a favor.”
“Sookie likes him,” Eric commented. “And he does good work. Do you think you’ll be able to keep him from destroying himself with liquor?”
Colonel Flood shrugged. “I’ll do my best, and—truth be told—Jackson’s in a pretty strong place right now. But the men in that family seem to have a fair dose of self-destructiveness, though I’d thought that trait had skipped Alcide until tonight.” He sighed. “I’ll let you know if I think Jackson’s gonna be a problem though—especially since he’s slated to do more work for you.”
“The ill-intent spell the witch put on the property will keep him off of it if he decides that his son’s punishment is worth doing something stupid for,” the vampire said.
“Speaking of witches, I know of Octavia. Even if she could break a blood bond, she’s not the kind that would do it—unless she had Sookie’s permission.”
“I know her too,” the vampire shared. “And I certainly know enough to recognize that Herveaux was all talk when it came to her.”
Colonel Flood nodded. “Shall we go join the women and figure out what needs to be done about the Debbie situation? I might also have an email from my brother waiting—regarding Hallow. When I called Dale, he said he’d get right on it.”
Eric nodded in agreement and fell into step next to the Were packmaster.
A/N: Well—there you have Alcide’s comeuppance. In this scene, I really wanted to show that Eric is being very straightforward about what he’s planning for punishment—as well as Sookie’s growth in accepting the practices of the Supernatural world. I also wanted to show Sookie’s growth in her telepathic practice. Now that she sees it as a profession, she is no longer stifling that aspect of herself, and others are recognizing her worth (Maggie and Flood).
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it. Until next week,