Disclaimer: I don’t own the characters in True Blood or the Southern Vampire Mysteries. So neither copyright infringement nor offense is meant. I simply want to make the characters do what I wanted them to do for a while. I am especially “unownerly” when it comes to this story. You will recognize a lot of the dialogue throughout as being quoted from Season 5 of True Blood, though I’ve tried to use Eric’s thoughts to make this story “different” from its source. That said, I claim no ownership to the quoted material and have placed it in bold so that it is set apart from my own words.
I was dragged back to my uncomfortable “bed” after Salome had pumped the last of the silver into my arm. After a round of the U.V. light for no other reason than good measure, I was left alone to listen to the disturbed ramblings of Nigel. But I worked to stay both alert to and disconnected from my surroundings. It was a talent to do so, but I was good at it.
As Nigel droned on and on about the infants themselves being to blame for his attraction to their blood, I concentrated on my own blood within Sookie. She seemed more concerned than anything else—almost as if she was looking for something. I wondered—just for a moment—if it might be me. Underneath all of her other emotions, after all, I continued to feel her longing―her discontent. And I knew that was the bond pulling at her; her resistance to it would only make her more and more miserable. Hell—if it made her even half as miserable as it was making me, then she was in for a hell of a breakdown soon.
Of course, there was a part of me that welcomed that misery. Perhaps I was a masochist.
I sighed. However much I wanted to feel our bond—even if it were just to experience the ache of it—I didn’t want Sookie to feel any more pain. I wished that I could take it all away from her like a white knight in a fairy tale, but I was not her desired hero. It was, perhaps, my destiny to be the villain in her story.
Despite that, I checked our bond again. And—again—I felt Sookie’s almost desperate need to search for and to find something. I knew that, no matter what she was looking for, it wouldn’t help her find what she truly needed. Her blood called to me, as mine called to her now. Until our bond faded—if it ever did, given the fact that she was a fairy—we would both always be “missing” something. However, she had no idea what that “something” was. Of course, if I met the true death—as I could very well do soon—then she’d be off the hook after about a week of unexplained illness; she’d probably think it was the flu.
I gave my head a rueful shake and kept monitoring my bonded as Nigel continued rambling. For a moment, I contemplated trying to escape—rattling some cages—just so that the U.V. lights would be used and Nigel would shut the fuck up.
Of course, I was ready for it and had already slipped into my handy Sookie-laced distraction. If I were a lesser vampire, I might feel ashamed of using the woman who had spurned me as my go-to fantasy to overcome the pain of being tortured. But I was too practical for that. Before she’d rejected me, I’d always intended to use Sookie for all of my needs―fantasy or not. And she was definitely handy for a distraction, even if that distraction did hurt my heart just as much—no more—than the torture hurt my body.
“I truly wonder if I’m becoming masochistic,” I remarked out loud to no one in particular.
“Why?” came Bill’s voice. “Did you enjoy being tortured this evening as much as I did?”
I chuckled at the sarcasm in Bill’s voice.
“I was told you had no backbone and dripped information like a leaky faucet,” I reported.
“Yes,” Bill returned, “And apparently, you turned on me within the first five minutes of interrogation. Really, Eric, I thought so much more highly of you before I learned that.”
“Yes,” I observed. “I did rat you out rather quickly. And soon I will be living the good life—free to roam the earth for another thousand years. The Authority has also given me a harem of virgins for all the information I have given them.”
“Ah,” Bill answered sarcastically. “Only a harem? I was offered all the virgins in Louisiana.”
“Damn!” I snarked. “I should have held out for more. Then again, are we really sure how many virgins there are left in Louisiana? I will take the surer thing.”
The two of us shared a chuckle.
A few minutes later, Bill looked over at me, his expression serious, “You okay?”
“Nothing that a hundred-year vacation encased in cement wouldn’t cure,” I responded. My tone was light, but my eyes held much meaning in them.
Bill’s eyebrow rose, and I gave my ex-monarch an almost-imperceptible nod. I knew that my words might seem strange to those who were certainly listening in, but those individuals would be unable to decipher my words as anything other than sarcasm. And Bill—hopefully—would understand them.
After a moment, the Civil War veteran nodded back, and I knew that he had, indeed, apprehended what we were really talking about.
Bill spoke jokingly though his eyes held no mirth. “Do not give them any ideas, Eric. I would not want to find myself buried in cement tomorrow evening. Why the chaffing alone would be quite unpleasant.”
“You’re right, and I imagine it would be difficult to get cement out of one’s hair,” I remarked casually. “Plus, cement would not hold us for long, and then our tormentors would have to come up with another plan anyway.”
Bill’s eyes flashed with fear for a second, and I knew that the younger vampire had understood my message. Russell had escaped. I just hoped that Bill would have the presence of mind to help me to make sure that we could use that knowledge to our advantage. From the determined look in Bill’s eyes, I decided that I should trust my erstwhile monarch.
“Where’s Nora?” Bill asked a few minutes later, though his voice didn’t betray any concern.
“Well,” I said calmly, “I was told that she was killed, I was told that she was being tortured, I was told that she was being flayed alive, I was told that she’d confessed that we were all Sanguinistas and then had been let go, I was told that she was a spy sent to infiltrate our kingdom, and I was told that she was the Energizer bunny. I am not sure which one to believe.”
Bill chuckled. “I was told all that as well—except I believe it was the Easter Bunny.”
We looked at each other and said at the same time, “Bunnicula!” We both laughed.
“Very amusing,” a voice came from the intercom above us.
“Ah, Dieter Braun,” Bill said into the air, making gestures toward the intercom and then me. “Mr. Braun, I do not know if you have met my sheriff, Eric Northman of Area 5. Eric, this is Dieter Braun, my tormenter for the evening.”
“Guten Abend,” I spoke toward the intercom receiver as I bowed my head a little. “Perhaps I will have the honor of your interrogation tomorrow. Salome was a lovely companion tonight, but I like a little diversity.”
With that, another wave of U.V. light struck us.
After taking a few minutes to recover, Bill and I looked at each other and laughed again.
“Apparently we are both masochists now,” Bill remarked.
“Well, I hear it is catching.”
“And it is a convenient time for it,” I replied.
Bill lifted his eyebrow in question. “Convenient?”
“Yes—since we are in a building full of sadistic bastards with twitchy trigger fingers when it comes to U.V. light and liquid silver.”
There was another blast of the light.
After a few more minutes, Bill spoke. “Yes—very convenient.”
Again, Bill and I laughed heartily.
Nigel whimpered from the corner of his bed. “And I am called the insane one?”
Bill and I laughed harder.
Thirty minutes later, a group of storm troopers came to collect Bill and me. Black hoods were draped over our heads, and our hands were cuffed in front of us with silver chains. Luckily, those chains had been encased in rubber so that the silver did not sear our skin. Still they could not be broken through.
I knew that, as we were led down a series of corridors that could best be described as a maze, it could mean only one thing: it was time to see the Guardian. In truth, this step was happening sooner than I had thought it would, and that meant that the Authority must truly be afraid of imminent action by the Sanguinistas, which played perfectly into my plans. I just hoped that Bill would be ready to play his part.
I had never met Roman Zimojic before, but Godric had.
After the new Guardian had been named in 1506, Godric had told me all that he knew about him. Roman was powerful and ambitious—as well as egotistical. And Godric had both liked and disliked the new Guardian.
He’d liked that Roman had always had a “vision,” and that vision was to make sure that vampires could have the best lives possible. Over time, Roman had conceptualized “the mainstream movement.” Godric had been much more overtly supportive of Roman’s plan to mainstream, whereas I had been ambivalent. However, I had invested heavily in the creation of TrueBlood and had made a small fortune off of it. Of course, that was just good business.
Whether vampires came “out of the coffin” or not, I had known that I’d do fine. I had always been adaptable and ready to change when need be. I was also patient enough to let the world change around me when that was the best move.
I had made many fortunes over the years, so when mainstreaming had become inevitable, I’d prepared myself for it just like I’d prepared myself for other evolutions throughout time. I’d prepared like a businessman, but I’d kept my sword sharp just in case.
I’d had Fangtasia ready to open one night after the Great Reveal. After all, human-vampire relations ventures like my club were “new” and, therefore, interesting to me; however, I would have found other things to occupy my time if vampires had remained concealed. I always had.
Roman had been a visionary—and a practical one too. And for that, I admired him. He had understood that vampires would not be able to remain concealed due to the advances in human technology. Hell—the Guardian had foreseen those advances more than fifty years before when he’d first commissioned the development of a blood substitute.
And Roman had been crafty and patient in implementing his plan to reveal vampires to humans. Yes—I could admire the Guardian’s business acumen, just as Godric had always done. Because of Roman’s slow introduction of the concept, very few vampires had resisted mainstreaming—at least not until the rise of the Sanguinistas.
And for the few who did resist it? Well—Roman was also a ruthless dictator when he needed to be.
Despite Roman’s admirable qualities, Godric had disliked him too. He’d found the Guardian to be too arrogant and too quick to kill all of his opposition. Godric was always one to listen to his opposition and try to learn from them. He’d kill them only if necessary.
Roman, on the other hand, could not abide voices that too greatly differed from his own.
As Guardian, Roman had done much to make the lives of vampires easier, but I figured that he still hated true opposition. He might give lip-service to the notion that he would “listen” to the other Chancellors of the Authority, but there were many rumors that he always did what he wanted no matter what the others counseled. Indeed, Nora had hinted to that fact more than once.
Bill and I were led into a room that—based on the air flow—was quite large. We were both forced to our knees, and then our hoods were yanked off.
Before that had even happened, however, I had smelled Nora. She was alive, and I was glad of it. I figured that Salome would have reported to at least the Guardian that I was “susceptible” to my feelings for Nora, so once the hood came off, I made sure to look at my vampire sister and to show just enough emotion to be noticeable, but not enough to be “too” noticeable.
I could hear the sound of extremely expensive Italian leather shoes hitting the floor behind me.
Italian leather made such a distinctive sound—especially when it was expensive.
The Guardian had good taste.