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’d always appreciated a well-fitting suit. I liked the way it would conceal most of my body even as it revealed it to its best effect. Thankfully, I always kept several suits on hand in my safe-room at Fangtasia. I picked up the Authority-issued sweat suit that I’d haphazardly tossed onto the floor before I took my shower. I wadded it up and threw it into the trashcan, feeling quite satisfied as I did so. I was goddamned tired of being dressed like Bill. It made me feel somewhat “lame,” given the way Bill usually dressed.
One word: khakis!
I grabbed my favorite outfit—a black on black suit that I had used to intimidate many a being in my time. It fit my mood as well as it fit my body.
It also fit my purpose.
I looked in the mirror.
I couldn’t help but to smile a little as I recalled Johnny Cash commenting on a very similar suit that I’d been wearing when I met him in 1954. I’d been in Memphis and had run across the struggling singer at a little club where he was singing rock’a’billy. He’d liked my look, and I’d liked his music. I wasn’t surprised when he became famous soon after that. I also wasn’t surprised when I saw him wearing all black years later. It was a good look, after all.
As I brushed a piece of lint from my suit jacket, I tried to mentally prepare for what was to come.
I took air into my lungs, enjoying the feeling of them filling. And, then, I let that air out, enjoying that sensation as well.
Before my shower, I had quickly checked the feed from the surveillance system which had been monitoring Russell’s concrete prison. Sure enough, the equipment had been triggered by Russell’s “liberation.”
From the footage, I had learned three things. First, Russell had been broken out on Halloween night, at roughly the same time Bill and I had been tied to a stake by Marnie/Lafayette. Second, that fact proved that Bill hadn’t done it—at least not personally. Third, it had taken two hours for the “liberator” to get to Russell, which meant that I would have had plenty of time to stop it—had I not been tied to a fucking stake at the time!
Not for the first time, I wished that I had been the one who had gotten to kill Marnie. Of course, paradoxically, I owed her too. Without her, there would have been no Sookie and me. There would have been no bond. And, though a part of me knew that my life would be much less complicated without Sookie and our bond in it, I couldn’t fathom going back to the way I was.
“No,” I shook my head and spoke the denial out loud. There was no fucking way I would trade the bond for anything—except for Sookie’s continued life. I would trade it so that she could live on—and be safe.
I shook my head again and considered the fourth and most important clue I’d gotten from the surveillance video. The vampire that had freed Russell from the cement had been clever enough to obscure his or her appearance. However, despite that, my instincts told me that the vampire was a “she,” based upon both the figure’s size and movements. I had fucked many, many vampiresses during my long life—and fucked them well. I knew how they moved, and I could identify the supple sway of a feminine hip when I saw one.
I sighed. For now, I was going to keep my hypothesis close to the vest. But I had several prime suspects for whom the vampiress in the video might be, but I didn’t really want it to be any of them.
Suspect number one was Pam. Did she hate Sookie enough to break Russell out in the hope that he would kill her supposed “rival”? Was she angry enough at me to betray me in that way? Or had she viewed it as a warped attempt at protecting me? I had felt bitterness and guilt from her during the last several days. I sighed, knowing that I would have to go forward with my plans to test Pam’s loyalty.
Though I didn’t fucking want to!
Suspect number two was Jessica. Bill may have been tied to me with silver chains when Russell was freed, but Jessica had not been. I couldn’t help but to wonder why Bill hadn’t called his child to him that night. At the time, he’d said that he’d wanted to keep her safe from Marnie/Lafayette. However, I couldn’t be certain of that.
I chuckled. Bill was likely just as suspicious of me for not calling Pam. My own reasoning had been twofold. Yes. I’d wanted to keep my child safe, and—frankly—given the way that Marnie/Lafayette had controlled our bodies and easily put us onto that stake, I didn’t think that Pam could do any good anyway. But most of all, I’d not called her because of what was coming from her end of the bond that night. I feared that if she saw Sookie, she would harm her. Pam had been furious with me at the time, and though her bitterness had turned to sadness by the end of the night, I hadn’t wanted to risk calling her during the Marnie situation.
Suspect number three was Salome. If the beautiful seductress were a Sanguinista, then she would be an excellent candidate for freeing Russell. However, how could she have known about Russell’s whereabouts? Could she be Russell’s child—a child he’d kept secret all this time? Or could the Authority have been watching me during the days leading up to or following Russell’s entombment? I tried to remember my movements around that time. Had I gotten sloppy? Certainly, I’d been distracted by my thirst to fulfill my thousand-year-old pledge to my human father to avenge my parents’ deaths. And I’d been expecting to die right alongside Russell. Added to those things, Godric’s “appearance” into the situation had shaken me to the core. I still wasn’t sure if my visions of Godric were “real” somehow or just in my head, but either way, each one had seemed to affect me more than the last. And then there was Sookie. She had suddenly disappeared the very night that I’d put Russell into the cement.
And—for lack of a better word—I had felt “empty” during that time: empty because vengeance had done nothing to make me feel better—empty because I missed the feeling of the new tie that drinking Sookie’s blood had created between us. I’d felt my own blood in her before, but having hers inside of me had completed the circuit.
I sighed. Yes, I had been distracted during those days. But was it possible that I was preoccupied to the point that I’d missed someone following me? The answer to that question was an unfortunate, “maybe.”
And that “maybe” meant that “I” was likely the answer to the riddle: Who had been the leak.
Nora was my fourth suspect for freeing Russell. The evidence mounting that my sister was a Sanguinista seemed to support this theory. Could Nora have been influenced by Salome to join the radical group? Salome had reported that she’d been the one to recruit Nora to the Authority, so it made sense that she still had great influence over her. Nora had always been a passionate follower of her beliefs. So if her mind had been twisted, she may have followed the one who twisted it with as much fervor as she’d always followed Godric’s teachings or her own ethics before.
I sighed as I smoothed down my lapel. If Salome were a Sanguinista, my chances of survival were not that good, especially if she could put her thumb onto Molly’s “app,” but I’d prefer Salome being the one who had let out Russell over any of my other suspects.
The problem was that my preferences didn’t account for jack-shit right now.
Sure, it would be nice if the vampiress in the surveillance footage were a random, nameless Sanguinista—or maybe even “Bad-suit/worse-pearls” from the Authority—but my gut was telling me that someone I knew—maybe even someone I loved—had dug up my greatest enemy.
And—for better or worse—my gut was an accurate son of a bitch where things like this were concerned.
I took one last look in the mirror and then left my safe-room. Pam had not been at Fangtasia when Bill and I arrived earlier, so I had quickly closed the club down and sent everyone home. Bill had been using the computer in my office to try to find out any relevant information on the Sanguinistas, but I doubted there was anything to find on the Internet that I had not already seen.
My excuse for “disappearing” downstairs for a while had been to shower away the stench of the Authority. I’d given Bill a similar opportunity in the employee break room, which also had a shower. Ginger had procured him some clothing.
Thankfully, I had been more or less successful at eradicating the stink of bleach and Salome’s perfume—the two scents that seemed to permeate the Authority headquarters. However, I knew that I’d be unable to remove the stench of what I was about to do to my progeny.
Some things—once done—could never be undone.
For the moment, I let my mind move fully to my bond with Sookie as I climbed the basement stairs—stairs that I wished still held the scent of my bonded from when she’d burst in to find me balls deep in the Estonian dancer. I had used Yvetta for a while to numb my grief for my maker and to cover up my desire for Sookie. Yvetta had had an extremely pleasing mouth when she’d been using it on my cock, but when she’d used it to spout ridiculous ideas about what she thought she meant to me, her usefulness had been outlived.
In fact, I hadn’t fucked Yvetta again after that night. How could I go back to Yvetta when I’d just seen the vision in lavender that Sookie had been? How could I return to the cheap perfume clinging to Yvetta’s body when I’d just smelled the sunlight on Sookie’s skin?
In my thousand years, Sookie was the only lover that I had craved—the only one that I could imagine myself craving for years to come. By nature, vampires were not faithful creatures. Sex—like blood—was used to feed our immediate hungers. And being with the same partner got boring after a while. Even Pam—who I had desired quite a bit—had begun to bore me after a while. There was something about Sookie, however, that felt different. I wondered if it could be the fact that she was part fairy that drew me to her and made me want to stay by her side. Frankly, “what it was” didn’t much matter to me. “That it was” was what mattered.
I lingered on the staircase for a moment, closed my eyes, and remembered the way that Sookie’s scent had cut through the smells of sex and blood that had collected in the basement. Like everything else about her, her scent had been a breath of life into my undeath.
Through the bond, I could feel that Sookie was teetering. During the last twenty minutes, there had been moments when she had felt a glimmer of hope inside of her sorrow. There had been moments when she no longer felt so alone. I wondered who she had gone to. Lafayette? Tara? Her brother? The shifter? The Were? My mind seethed at the last two possibilities.
I exited the basement and slammed the door behind me, imagining that I was smashing both Herveaux’s and Merlotte’s heads between my palms. I felt slightly better at that thought.
Bill was now sitting in the main club and had helped himself to a TruBlood. He had, of course, heard the door slamming.
“Okay?” he asked.
I shrugged. “Just missing the good old days when I was able to carry my sword all the time.”
“Probably best that you cannot,” Bill smirked.
“Probably,” I relented. Decapitating Sookie’s potential paramours—though personally satisfying—would get me nowhere closer to being with her myself. “Find anything?” I asked.
He shook his head. “Nothing we can use.” He took in my suit. “You look like an undertaker—Ike.”
I chuckled, even though the sound was hollow. “I feel like one too.”
Bill nodded in understanding. To the younger vampire’s credit, he seemed to intuit the kind of damage I aimed to inflict upon my progeny.
Without another word, I went to my throne.
I was hoping to create a strong, menacing effect—just from my appearance. I had to play a role. And it didn’t matter that I wanted to play it even less than the one I’d had to play with Salome earlier that night. This time, I wouldn’t have to fuck, but I would be fucking over my progeny—my beautiful child. Most vampires swore that they were incapable of love, and I had been no different before Sookie had come into my life. But just because I was quick to deny love didn’t mean that I couldn’t feel it.
When Sookie had dared to “accuse” me of loving Godric while we were in the Fellowship church, I had denied it by instinct. I could tell by her eyes that she had known that I was lying. However, she’d let it go. I wondered if those sharp eyes of hers had seen the irony of the moment as much as I’d been able to feel it at the time. I’d denied my ability to love to the very person that I was—even then—falling for.
I sighed. Of course, I loved my progeny, though I’d never said those exact words out loud to her. But Pam had made it clear that she hated Sookie. And therein lay my only doubt in my child. Did she hate Sookie so much and hate the fact that I loved her so much that she would release my greatest enemy?
The truth was that Pam could be manipulative. After all, she was a vampire because she had manipulated me. And Pam was spoiled. And she liked things her way—exactly her way. Still—I didn’t want to think that she could be that vindictive. Not with me, at least.
I sighed. Because of the newness of my bond with Sookie, my lingering grief over my maker, and the rejection that I felt from my bonded one—in addition to the clusterfuck I was in the middle of—my emotions were so fucking twisted that I hardly knew up from down anymore. Thus, I couldn’t fully trust what I felt through my bond with Pam. However, I knew that I could trust my eyes when it came to Pam. She would be unable to hide her guilt from me if she were guilty.
But to see what I needed to see, I would have to break her. She would have to think that I was turning my back on her just as Sookie had turned hers on me. It was the only way that I could know for sure. I just hoped that she would forgive me when it was all done.
I had shut down my bond with Pam in order to protect her from my pain as I’d been tortured. I also hadn’t wanted her to be able to track me. Knowing that a “surprise attack” would be best, I’d kept it closed as Bill and I had approached Shreveport. I planned to reopen the bond fully at an opportune moment—to hit her with a blow more damaging that anything I could do with my fists or fangs.
From my bond with my child, I stripped away all pity and remorse. I hid all affection and love. I let the bond chill like a bitter winter night in the land where I grew up.
I leaned back in my throne—a throne that had been Pam’s marketing ploy—and as I waited for my progeny, I thought about how she had come to be my child.
Flashback: San Francisco 1905
San Francisco had become one of my favorite cities. Its proximity to the Pacific kept the weather mild—not that I was affected much by the weather. But humans tended to be out more when it was warmer, and—though it was often overcast—San Francisco’s worst weather was nothing compared to the harsh winters of my homeland.
More than half a century before, gold had drawn many humans and Supernaturals to this part of the world, and the city by the bay had grown exponentially, its valleys and hills doing nothing to stop the humans from building outward from the city center.
Other than the hunting, which was superb due to the multiplicity of cultures represented within the city, my favorite part of San Francisco was its scent. The sea perfumed the air with salt, reminding me of my human days. It was a good life—or un-death—that I’d found.
The King of California, Ferdinand—who had, up until ten years before, been the King of Spain—ruled the new state like only a “new” immigrant could. In short, he didn’t give a fuck what the vampires in his kingdom did—as long as they didn’t jeopardize the secrecy of our kind.
That was where I came in.
I walked the streets of the city, the fog obscuring even my large frame. I was wearing black, and I looked damned good, though the fog obscured my form—which was quite sad if I did say so myself.
And I did.