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.
THE NEXT NIGHT
For the first time in a long time, I woke up with a contented sigh.
My bonded was close—separated from me by only a few yards and some metal.
With an uncontrollable—and uncontrolled—smile on my face, I relished in the feeling of my physical closeness to her.
Our bond was at peace.
Even as I enjoyed that sensation, however, I used my senses to assess our situation. I could smell salt in the air, indicating that we were close to our destination. I could sense that my body was moving at around 60 miles per hour. I could feel that the sun was still lurking in the sky—though it would be down in five minutes or so.
I could hear that a discussion was going on in the truck’s cab. I focused on the sounds, using my superior hearing to eavesdrop on Sookie and her brother once I realized that they were speaking about Bill.
“Bill’s not evil,” Sookie said. I could hear her certainty in her voice and feel it in the bond. “I know him. And starting a civil war between vampires and humans—it’s not who he really is.”
“You ever think anyone can really know anybody else?” Jason asked, sounding confused—as usual. “I mean, don’t we just see what makes us feel ?”
“I think you can know somebody else,” Sookie responded contemplatively. “It’s not easy, and it’s not always nice, but going through some life-changing experiences with that person can help you . . . .”
Jason interrupted her. “Really? It seems to me that philosophy ain’t exactly working for you. I mean, you just keep falling for boys who are dead. Ain’t that like the ultimate in being unavailable?”
Boys? Who was he calling “boys?”
I sighed. Jason didn’t know his sister at all. Sookie didn’t “fall for” dead “boys” because she was a glutton for punishment or because she craved “bad boys.” Sookie was attracted to vampires because we could—paradoxically enough—give her many of the elements of the “normal life” she craved.
The ones she needed the most.
We just couldn’t do it normally.
And that was the conflict for Sookie. She’d been raised in a culture that signaled to young women that the ideal life was one in which they found husbands, had babies, carried on traditions, and grew old gracefully and peacefully—basking in the love of a family that they’d helped to increase.
But living that life would be torture for Sookie, for she could not live in “peace” in such a situation. Her telepathy wouldn’t allow that.
I had learned enough about her to know that human men were not easy for her to be around at all, especially not when she touched them. And the two-natured—though less potentially invasive—were also problematic for her to be with, both for reasons she was aware of and for those that she wasn’t.
Alcide might be harder for her to hear, for example, but he’d obviously chosen “pack” once upon a time. And, even if he flirted with sharing his life with a human, his instincts would call for him to breed with another Were—to carry on his species. That was an inevitability for a Were who was so clearly an Alpha—as Alcide was.
And—of course—any pack that Alcide belonged to would pressure him to increase its numbers. At best, his loyalties would waver.
And shifters? Well—they were a whole other can of worms. In fact, every single one I had ever known had been a paradox in and of himself or herself. Many of them instinctively preferred to be loners, but that almost inevitably led to them experiencing discontent. They were happiest when they ran with others of their kind. Thus, they often lived in stages: first alone and then with other shifters and then alone again and then back with others of their kind.
Over and over—ad nauseam.
And, of course, Sookie would be able to hear all the regrets of any two-natured beau in her life. And she would take those “what if’s” as a sign of her own shortcomings, rather than theirs. It was just the way she was.
No—when it came to many of the elements of having a “normal” relationship, vampires were best for the telepath. She couldn’t hear our thoughts. She could relax her “shields” and simply enjoy the moment as she held a vampire’s hand or made love to him. She could let herself feel her passion without inhibition.
Without the fear of catching a stray thought that might hurt her.
I should know. I’d felt it when Sookie heard something hurtful from another. There was a twitch in her emotions, though she’d learned not to show any physical signs of her pain. On the other hand, I’d also seen—and felt—when she was truly “free.” And she’d been beautiful as feelings of wonder, gratefulness, and love had swept through her.
Of course, vampires couldn’t give her other things a “normal” life entailed. We couldn’t give her children. We couldn’t grow old with her.
Thus, it was no wonder that Sookie was confused. But she wasn’t “unavailable”—as her brother had suggested.
I was interrupted from my contemplation by Sookie’s attempt to respond to the cretin.
“I really don’t think that’s why I . . . .” she started.
“No—hey—me, too,” Jason interrupted again, clearly too selfish to actually listen to anyone but himself. “Dawn, Amy, Crystal, Jess—every last one of them unavailable in some basic unavailable way.” He sighed. “You know—the problem is us. We think we don’t deserve better than that. Maybe we don’t.”
I sighed as I felt a part of Sookie agree with the numbskull. I knew that Sookie didn’t think she deserved “everything.” Maybe—no one did. But I’d tried to go after it—with her. And I wanted for her to know that she had the right to seek her own version of “everything.” I wanted her to figure out what that version was for herself.
Of course, I was not completely unselfish. I wanted to be that “everything.”
More than anything.
“Jason, I know you’ve got a lot to deal with right now, but you can’t let it tear you down like this,” she said compassionately.
I could imagine her face in that moment—her eyes shining with concern for her unworthy brother, even as she put to the side her own worries and pain. Once upon a time, those eyes had looked at me with concern too. They had comforted me.
“Why the hell not?” Jason asked confrontationally. “You know, maybe we’d be better off going through life without thinking there’s something good waiting for us down the road. Maybe we wouldn’t keep getting hurt if we just expected the worst.” He paused for a moment. “‘Cause that’s all we’ve been getting.”
“Hope,” I whispered, holding onto that feeling in her—trying to let it ignite in me.
“Well, that’s your choice,” Jason said somewhat bitterly. “But you’ve gotta let me think that way if I want to.”
“Okay,” Sookie said tentatively, obviously confused by her brother’s behavior. In truth, it was confusing. Jason had never struck me as a pessimist.
Just a dumbass.
“How’s your head?” she asked, even as the sun dropped into the horizon. I entered the combination to the lock in my coffin and launched myself out of it, landing on the roof of the vehicle in a single, fluid movement. I looked into Jason’s window just in time to see Sookie examining the bump on her brother’s skull.
“Jason, that’s as big as a walnut!” she exclaimed.
Hell—in that case—the bump was probably bigger than his brain.
I moved my head closer to the driver’s side window. “Pull over,” I said to Jason.
“Fuck, man!” Jason exclaimed.
“Please?” I added in an exaggerated way.
Molly wasn’t the only one with some technological know-how. I wasn’t a techy myself. I did, however, have someone on my payroll who was.
“Who’s that?” Sookie asked of the attractive Were who’d met us in an abandoned parking structure about three miles from the Authority’s gates.
I could feel through our bond that Sookie was obviously appraising the Were’s good looks as he set up some equipment in his van.
I chuckled. “Oh—no you don’t.”
“What?” she asked, looking up at me.
“I have learned from the Herveaux situation. You’ll get no more help from me with finding Were lovers,” I said with a serious expression on my face.
Sookie blushed and looked horrified. “What are you—uh . . . .” She stopped midsentence, obviously flummoxed.
My serious expression dropped and I chuckled.
Realizing that I was just teasing her, she hit my arm.
“Stop it, Eric!” she whisper-yelled.
“Well—you did hook up with Herveaux,” I said using the human expression I’d heard a million times at Fangtasia.
“And you glamoured him to think that I was disgusting. Don’t think I’ve forgotten about that,” she challenged, hands on her hips.
I shrugged. “He’s not good enough for you.”
She shook her head in disbelief—either of my words or my gall for interfering in her life.
“You high-handed, meddlesome . . . .” she started.
“Sookie,” I interrupted with a wink, “this is Brady. He’s an associate of mine,” I introduced as the Were approached.
Sookie glared at me for a second longer before her manners kicked in. “Nice to meet you,” she said, sticking out her hand.
Brady took it, but his eyes quickly darted to Jason Stackhouse, who was approaching the front of the vehicle with Tara.
He’d been “helping” as Tara had been removing the coffins from the truck.
And—by helping—I mean watching her do it.
Meanwhile, Nora was scouting the area around the Authority headquarters to get an idea of the number of guards remaining in the complex.
“And you are?” Brady asked, giving Jason an appreciative look and licking his lips ever so slightly.
“Um—Jason Stackhouse,” the young man answered, obviously clueless that Brady was checking him out.
Sookie wasn’t clueless. She glared up at me.
“One cannot be too careful—with you,” I smirked.
“Huh?” Jason asked. “Careful about what?”
“Nothing,” Sookie said in a huff, even as Tara laughed. She’d obviously clued in to what I was teasing Sookie about.
“What?” Jason asked.
Sookie rolled her eyes.
Nobody responded to Jason.
“So—were you able to do it?” I asked Brady, getting down to business.
The Were nodded. “Yeah. The surveillance equipment inside of the Authority’s compound is functioning on its own server, and there are a lot of firewalls set up. More than the fucking government! So I couldn’t hack into it. However, I was able to pick up the frequency being used for their surveillance system. You can use this to deactivate the cameras,” he said, handing me a device that looked similar to the one that Molly had used.
I gave the gadget to Tara, who would be the one to set it off.
“How long will it eliminate the camera feeds?” I asked.
“Until the system gets a reboot,” he responded. “Maybe five minutes?”
I nodded in understanding. “So it would be best if we shot out the cameras too—just in case.”
“Probably,” Brady responded.
I gave Brady a nod of dismissal, and he turned to go back to his van.
“Thank you,” Sookie said loudly—with a reprimanding look in my direction—when she realized that I wasn’t going to say anything else to our helper.
Brady turned back and winked at Sookie. Or it might have been at Jason.
“You’re welcome,” he said before getting into his vehicle and taking off.
A minute later, Nora zipped into the parking garage.
“Well—they are clearly still at level one lockdown,” she apprised. “However, I heard some good news.”
“What’s that?” I asked her.
“Kibwe is dead,” she responded. “I do not know how.”
I nodded, glad that there would be one less older vampire to face once we were inside.
“Let’s get going,” Jason said, obviously anxious to kill vampires.
I wasn’t concerned about his readiness, however. I looked at my bonded. “Ready?” I asked her.
She nodded. “Yeah. Ready.”
A/N: So-for the first time in this story, I “added” a character. If you have been reading my UN-iverse stories, then you have heard of Brady before. He’s a computer techy there too. He won’t be showing up in this story again, but I felt like I needed to explain how Eric would have a device to turn off the cameras once they get in the Authority. Plus, I wanted to create this lighthearted teasing scene between Eric and Sookie before the battle begins.
I hope you liked the little “deleted” scene.
In addition, I wanted for Eric to “overhear” some of Sookie and Jason’s conversation and demonstrate a deeper understanding of her than even her brother. I think that he does “get” her. And I also think that she’s starting to “get” him. By going back for Bill, Eric is–ironically–helping Sookie see that he’s the better man/vampire. (Or–at least that’s how I viewed it. Sadly S6 had no interaction between them after the first episode–as if the show makers wanted us to “forget” the chemistry between the actors and the potential of the characters. Oh well.) Anyway-again-hope you enjoyed this chapter! Only one more chapter and then the epilogue.