Eric Northman touched down on the outskirts of Bon Temps about a quarter of a mile from where he really wanted to be: at Sookie Stackhouse’s home where his blood told him the object of his desire—and his affection—was safe, sound, and happy. Despite his enhanced hearing, however, he couldn’t make out any noises from her home until an especially loud laugh was heard. Eric couldn’t help but to smile as well, even as his quick vampire mind reviewed his evening thus far.
He’d woken up at his normal time that evening—not earlier.
As usual, he’d reached out into his bonds to find that Appius and Karin still lived, but were too far away to feel emotions from; that Pam lived and was still resting for the day; and that Sookie was perfectly fine—not afraid for her life.
Needless to say, that evening’s beginnings had been preferable to those of the night before.
After allowing himself a few quiet minutes to enjoy the peace with which he had awoken, Eric checked his messages to find that Bill Compton had arrived in Bon Temps about twenty minutes before dawn. True to form, the Civil War shithead had immediately attempted to contact Sookie. Of course, Thalia had put a stop to that and had informed Compton that if he tried to approach Sookie again—without the telepath’s permission—he would be hung up with silver.
By his balls.
Bill had stood down—for the moment.
Eric sort of hoped Compton would try to push Thalia, but figured that the younger vampire was too chicken shit to do so—at least not by himself. Still—Eric planned to have some additional words with Sookie’s would-be rapist and murderer.
Eric growled. Clearly, Bill already needed a reminder of the boundaries Eric had set down for him the night before.
Satisfied that Sookie was safe and content in her home, Eric nodded toward Thalia as she approached him in the woods. She was not trying to sneak up on him, but Eric found himself wondering if she could. Indeed, he speculated that it might be great fun to test her stealth one evening. Of course, such a “hunt” often culminated in sex between the vampire participants, and—before Sookie came into his life—Eric would not have shied away from “testing” Thalia in that way too.
But now things were very different.
“What has you so deep in thought, Viking?” Thalia asked as she drew near.
“I am considering something,” he paused, “—something singular.”
“Do tell,” Thalia demanded curiously. Of course, all of her requests tended to sound like commands. “Little is deserving of the label, singular.”
“Sookie is. The way I feel about her is. What I wish to pursue with her is,” Eric responded honestly.
Thalia shrugged. “She is unusual—to be sure. A hybrid of some kind?”
Eric indicated his concurrence by nodding.
“I had not considered the latter,” Eric indicated. “I’ve never tasted one.”
Thalia grinned almost evilly. “Tremendous stamina as lovers. Enticingly rich in flavor.”
“Sweet?” Eric asked, taking a moment to wonder if he’d been wrong in his hypothesis that Sookie was Fae. In many ways, it would be better—much better—if she were a Britlingen, for their politics were uncomplicated. They were not known to breed often with humans, but a hybrid child was not completely unheard of. Indeed, Dr. Ludwig had a part-Britlingen apprentice, who went by the name of Aphra Smith (though Smith certainly wasn’t her real surname); Aphra specialized in mental medicine. The Viking couldn’t help but to wonder if it might be a good idea to ask Sookie if she wanted the part-Britlingen’s phone number.
“Savory, not really sweet,” Thalia answered his question, her eyes flashing with lust in a way that didn’t entice the Viking at all, although it could not be denied that the vampiress in front of him was beautiful in her way. In that moment, Eric realized that he’d been on his way to monogamy—at least, in his thoughts—well before Sookie had asked for the same of his body.
Eric shrugged. “Sookie’s blood is sweet in a way that I believe is Fae.”
“You tell me this freely?” Thalia asked with surprise.
The Viking nodded. “As you already indicated, you can sense a difference about her too, and I know that your senses are well-honed. To guard her well, you must know the things that make her up—her biology and her character. Moreover, I trust you; if I did not, I would not have employed you to see to her safety. Most importantly, however, you have honor. You would not take blood from a creature I have claimed. Thus, there is no need for me to try to hide such things from you.”
Thalia looked ambivalent to Eric’s strong praise and trust, though the Viking knew that she took neither lightly. A sour temperament was simply the vampiress’s “default setting.” And she certainly felt no need to acknowledge the praise verbally; instead, she began her report.
“This evening—so far—Compton has stayed in his home as instructed,” she stated with some disappointment. “This afternoon, Sookie went out with her brother to secure a Pagan ritual accompaniment. The siblings have had dinner and are now taking small trinkets from boxes that smell of dust.”
“Pagan?” Eric asked.
“A dying tree,” Thalia shrugged. “Humans, I believe, now associate the decorating of such a tree with a religion, but I do not care to keep up with their fads anymore.”
Eric chuckled and shook his head. Leave it to Thalia to label Christianity as a “fad”—with the same tone that she might have commented on leg warmers in the 1980s.
“Was Sookie’s day security up to your standards?” Eric asked.
“The telepath is alive and there was apparently no danger to her today,” Thalia indicated matter-of-factly. “From Dawson’s report, it is clear that the team you hired will be sufficient for the foreseeable future. Onawa, the shifter, prefers a bear as her familiar, but she indicated that she can shift into a cougar or a wolf without the need of an image to contemplate. The bird of prey, Willow, seems competent enough. Maria-Star is quite strong—as you know. Indeed, I would suggest she be given leadership of the two-natured group—at least, when I am in the ground.”
Eric contemplated for a moment. He’d thought to put Mustapha in charge, but Thalia’s suggestion was a good one. “I will check with her godfather tonight to confirm that she is ready for such a responsibility. If she is, she’ll be given the reigns. If not, Mustapha will take charge from Tray tomorrow.”
Thalia nodded and finished her report. “Dawson has already agreed to take two to three shifts per week so that the other members can rotate in a schedule that will not be over-taxing for them. Mustapha and Warren were delayed, but will arrive tomorrow morning. In the meantime, Flood has committed a few extras to patrol the border of the property. It was seeing how Maria-Star organized and deployed them that gave me the feeling that she would be a good leader.”
“Her lead was followed?” Eric asked.
The vampiress nodded. “One Long Tooth male tried to challenge her, but got a broken nose for his trouble. Once she established dominance, he and the others have followed without question. In addition, she improved upon the patrol pattern that I had left with Dawson.”
“Improved upon your work?” the Viking asked, his eyebrow rising.
“My work was perfect—for the number of guards expected,” Thalia emphasized. “When two additional guards were offered by Colonel Flood, Maria-Star took the initiative to adapt the plan for more efficiency.”
“That is good,” Eric commented.
Thalia nodded in agreement. “I know Mustapha. There is nothing incompetent about him, but he—like Dawson—is a better soldier than general.”
Eric contemplated for a moment. “I have heard that Maria-Starr is a born leader, but she is young. Once I speak with Flood, we will discuss this again.”
“In the meantime, ensure that no fewer than two guards are assigned to Sookie when she is home and three—two with her and one here—when she is not,” Eric ordered. “Also make sure that one of the guards traveling with her is always a woman so that public restrooms will not be an issue.”
Thalia nodded in agreement. “I will ensure the orders are understood.”
“Bubba will be making his way back here soon,” Eric commented. “He is already fond of Sookie and can keep an eye on her during times when you cannot.”
Thalia contemplated for a moment. “Bubba will do if there are no imminent threats; however, I’d prefer to pair him with a partner when I am not with Sookie at night.”
“Do you have anyone in mind?” Eric asked, knowing that the fierce warrior in front of him would already have a suggestion.
“Padma has expressed an interest in staying in Area 5,” she commented.
Eric nodded. “A good thought,” he said of Indira’s vampire “sister.” Indira was a trusted subject of his, and Eric knew that Padma was only a decade or so “younger” than her “sister.” Padma had asked for permission to visit Area 5 a few months before, and Eric would be pleased if she stayed indefinitely. She was stronger than her sister, despite her slightly younger age, and her vampire gift related to diplomacy; she would be a good complement to Thalia, given the elder’s gruffness.
“Ask Padma, and—at any time—let me know if there is anything or anyone you require so that you can better perform your duty,” he stated.
“Fine then. I need to kill Compton,” she requested hopefully. “He annoys me.”
Eric chuckled. “Me too. But that is currently not an option,” he added darkly as he thought about finding Bill attacking Sookie in the trunk the night before. “And when it is, I will be the one to do it.”
Seeing the rancor in his eyes, Thalia nodded, effectively deferring the potential future kill to her sheriff.
“Why not kill him now?” she asked.
“Two reasons. Sookie needs to understand the necessity of the act before I progress—if I am to keep her affection.”
“That is important to you?” Thalia asked.
“Essential,” Eric emphasized.
The vampiress nodded, despite her surprise at his zeal. “Your second reason?”
“Compton still has information that is required.”
“Surely, torture would be an effective—not to mention enjoyable—method of learning anything he had to tell,” Thalia commented, her eyes sparkling with anticipation.
Eric chuckled. “I agree; however, he’ll really have to have fucked up for Sookie to give me carte blanche to do my worst.”
“Pity,” Thalia said almost wistfully.
“Speaking of that waste of fucking space,” Eric said, looking toward Bill’s ramshackle home, “apparently, I need to set some firmer ground rules for Mr. Compton.”
“Have fun,” Thalia grinned fangily before disappearing into the woods.
Anxious to complete his interactions with the muck that was Bill Compton as quickly as possible, Eric sped to the younger vampire’s home. He didn’t bother to knock.
“Eric,” Bill greeted with a clear lack of respect for his elder.
“Watch your tone,” Eric warned.
Bill fumed like a child, but wisely kept his mouth shut.
“Good. It is best that you simply listen for a change. If you want to stay in my area, you will need to follow several rules for the foreseeable future.”
“It is the queen’s area!” Compton unwisely piped up. “You serve her! And do not forget that she appointed me to be Area 5 Investigator!”
For Bill’s insolence, Eric backhanded him into the closest wall, causing a Bill-shaped hole in the plaster.
He was beginning to enjoy causing such shapes.
He’d never had an inclination towards being an artist before, but there was something quite promising in the idea of using Compton as his “chisel.”
“I thought that you understood that I did not want to hear your annoying voice,” Eric sighed dramatically as Bill righted himself.
The younger vampire seemed tempted for a moment to charge at Eric, but stayed where he was.
“As I was saying,” Eric indicated in a bored tone, “you have rules to follow—some of which I made clear last night. But you have seemingly forgotten our conversation. Tell me—do I need to wait while you find a pen to write them down?” he asked sarcastically.
Bill glared, but said nothing.
The “artist” in Eric lamented.
“If you enjoy having fangs, you’ll adhere to the rules carefully from now on, Billy boy. Number one: you are not to try to speak to or otherwise contact Sookie in any way. Number two: you are not to step one toe onto her property—or any Stackhouse property, for that matter. Number three: you are not to attempt to use Sookie’s brother or any of her friends to make contact with her. Number four: you are to stay away from Merlotte’s on any night when Sookie is working there.”
“You cannot keep her from me! Sookie is mine!” Bill yelled, earning himself another blow from the “master sculptor” and losing a significant part of another wall in the process.
The Viking took a moment to admire his work. “Sookie has renounced your claim and accepted mine,” he announced, taking pleasure in seeing the younger vampire’s confused and angry—almost constipated-looking—expression. “That being said, she does wish to speak with you—but on her terms and on her timeline,” he continued, ignoring the fact that Bill was actively growling at him. Indeed, Eric would welcome a reason to do more “art work” in Bill’s ancestral home.
The mural he was working on seemed to be missing more Bill-shapes, after all.
“Sookie would never agree to be yours,” Bill seethed.
“Yet another thing you are mistaken about,” Eric said evenly.
“The queen will hear of this,” the younger vampire muttered.
“Be sure to tell Sophie-Anne how you personally asked me to oversee Sookie’s care when you went to Lorena,” Eric reminded. “And—if you’ve conveniently forgotten that little tidbit—I’m sure that the recording of our conversation regarding Sookie would be a revelation to Sophie-Anne.”
Bill’s eyes widened. “You recorded that?”
Eric chuckled. “You have so much to learn about politics. Of course, unlike Nixon, I destroy any tapes that could incriminate me, but I keep everything that could damage an enemy—even one as ultimately ineffectual as you.”
“Fuck you, Eric!” Bill snarled.
The Viking ignored the younger vampire’s words. “So—to reiterate—since you never did get that pen—stay away from Sookie and anyone or anything that is important to her. Her preliminary plan is to speak with you on Friday night. Unless you hear otherwise, you will present yourself at her home exactly one hour after sundown. At that point, you will cooperate fully as Sookie gets what she has labeled ‘closure.’ And—just so that you are aware—Thalia and I will be nearby during your talk with Sookie. If I feel anything amiss from her—you will suffer for it. If you try to give her blood, any increased tie or bond made will die within moments because you will die within moments,” he added coldly.
“Sookie is mine,” Bill snarled, apparently willing to live his “un-death” quite dangerously.
“She belongs to whomever she wishes; that is now me,” Eric announced assuredly—no doubt whatsoever in his voice. There had been a time when he would have questioned whether such a declaration would have been possible, but that time had passed. Though Sookie still harbored some positive feelings for Bill, those were fading more and more each day—each minute, in fact. And the Viking was confident that Bill would further ruin Sookie’s previous affection for him when they spoke on Friday night. But—even if Sookie could somehow forgive Bill for what happened in the trunk—there had already been enough nails in the coffin of their relationship to keep it closed. About that, Eric had no concerns. That Bill might say something or try to do something that hurt Sookie physically or emotionally was the only thing he feared regarding the younger vampire. But—given Sookie’s obvious need to confront Bill—Eric was realistic enough to know that sometimes pain was a necessary part of healing.
“She will choose me again. She will be mine again,” Bill opined.
“She will not,” Eric stated flatly.
“It might take time, but she will,” Bill insisted.
“After Friday night, I’d be surprised if she ever wanted to see you again, and I will be taking her wishes into account—very strongly.”
“You cannot harm me,” Bill said arrogantly. “The queen would . . . .”
“Suspect me of removing you from this world. Yes! She certainly would!” Eric chuckled. “However, I have acquired much experience masking my involvement in certain,” he paused, “deeds over the years. And I’m willing to go the extra mile in order to do things that I enjoy,” the Viking added threateningly. It was crystal clear to Bill that his elder would very much enjoy dragging him that extra mile.
Before Eric could say any more, his phone rang; it was the ringtone he’d programmed for Sookie.
The Viking smiled, but then looked at Bill warningly. “One sound from you, and you will learn how painful it is to regrow a tongue.”
“And a cock!” came Thalia’s yell from outside.
Eric chuckled as he went to answer the phone. “It figured she’d be listening,” he mumbled with amusement.
“Sookie,” he greeted, even as Bill looked ready to burst. “What are you so amused about?” he asked, feeling her pleasure flowing through the blood tie he shared with her. He was beginning to understand just how satisfying it was to feel her positive emotions as they floated through him like a leaf on water.
“Jason and I were just putting up a Christmas tree. It’s been fun—going through the old ornaments. Sharin’ stories,” she responded.
“And yet you just felt sad,” Eric commented, his own lips curling downward into a frown.
“It’s just that this is our first Christmas without Gran,” she said in a hushed voice. “She would have liked this—Jason and me getting along and decorating the house together. We’ve had a patchy relationship for a while, but today things seem better between us—like we can actually stay close even though Gran’s gone.”
“That is good, Sookie,” Eric said sincerely. Unlike others—namely Bill—Eric hoped that Sookie would maintain robust relationships with those whom she cared about—as long as those individuals were good to her in return.
“Yeah—but it’s hard too,” she commented.
Eric was glad that Bill was overhearing their intimate conversation and hoped that the younger vampire was beginning to understand the level to which Sookie’s affections and trust had shifted; however, if Sookie opened up any more, Eric determined that he would leave. Bill didn’t need to know one more detail about Sookie’s private life than he already did.
“Perhaps you will want to speak more about this on Sunday?” Eric asked.
“Oh—are you busy now? Too busy to talk?” Sookie asked with clear disappointment in her tone.
“I am not too busy, and rarely will I be too busy to make time for you. But I am nearby right now,” he responded significantly.
There was a pause as she interpreted what he’d said. “You’re with Bill,” she stated, even as her emotions changed to a swirl of feelings, none of them very positive.
“Yes. I am making sure that he understands that you want to be left alone for the next few nights and informing him of your request that he come to see you on Friday night.”
Sookie took a loud breath. “Okay. Thanks. Any problems?” she asked.
“Nothing of consequence,” Eric responded, looking pointedly at Bill. “He has been made aware of your wishes. Thalia has been given leave to make sure he adheres to those wishes if he does not have the discipline to do so himself.”
“Maybe that shouldn’t make me feel better, but it does,” Sookie sighed.
“It is understandable that it does,” Eric responded, even as Bill looked like he might be trying to bite through an invisible gag. Indeed, a drop of blood escaped his mouth, indicating that he had—quite literally—needed to bite his tongue to keep from wagging it.
“Yeah. Thank you, Eric,” she said in a soft voice.
“You’re welcome. I am sorry that my gift wouldn’t fit under your Christmas tree,” he smirked, shifting the subject a bit.
“Oh—right! That’s why I’m callin’, mister!” she chastised loudly. It was clear that she was trying to sound annoyed. It was even clearer that she was failing at it. “A driveway, Eric!” she demanded. “You got me a driveway! Really!”
“It’s just gravel,” he offered.
“Just?” she gasped. “You think I should be glad you didn’t do a gold-plated driveway or somethin’?”
“You would have preferred that?” Eric asked with a smile.
“No! Don’t go gettin’ any fresh ideas! God knows you have enough of those in your head already!” she said with a little snort in order to hide her laugh.
“What? Are you upset that I did not wait for the 25th to give you the gift? I must admit that I’m not completely aware of all the protocols of the holiday. But now that I know there is a tree, I will rectify that by getting you a present for under it—one that you cannot have until Christmas Day.”
“Wait! No! I’m not upset about the fact that it’s early!” Sookie insisted.
“You do not like the type of gravel I chose?”
“It’s not that either. The gravel’s really—uh—pretty, if gravel can be described that way.”
“The workers bothered you?” he asked.
“No—they were here and gone while Jason and I picked out the tree and went to the bank and grocery store.” She exhaled. “Thanks for the check—by the way. You were right. I almost didn’t accept it, but then I remembered that I had earned it.”
“That you did; you went above and beyond in Dallas,” the Viking said, glaring at Bill, whose eyes had widened as he realized that Sookie had discovered that he’d withheld her original pay from her.
Sookie was silent for a moment. “Thank you, Eric—really. For everything—even the driveway. You know that you don’t need to buy me gifts though. I—uh—feel weird accepting them. I’m not one used to bein’ spoiled.”
“I know,” Eric said, turning his back on Bill and smiling softly. “I’m not one used to spoiling.”
“Pam?” Sookie asked with challenge in her tone.
“As if my spoiling of her were a choice on my part?” He chuckled. “Anyway, we’ll learn to compromise in that regard too.”
“The spoiling regard?” she asked with a little giggle.
“And what will that look like?”
“Me learning just how much I can spoil you before you want to stake me,” he grinned widely.
He heard a little displacement of air and could imagine Sookie shaking her head at him. “Better not play too close to the fire, Mr. Northman,” she said flirtatiously.
He chuckled again. “Good advice for a vampire.”
Again, she was silent for a moment or two. “So—uh—I guess I’ll say goodbye for tonight.”
“Goodbye, Sookie,” he said earnestly, even as he resisted the urge to suggest that he come over for a quick visit—or a long kiss goodnight. He held his tongue, however, as he wanted to respect Sookie’s desire to have the privacy to contemplate her situation on her own. Plus, Sookie knew that he would be there immediately if she asked him to be.
But, despite the fact that Eric could feel longing from her in the blood tie, Sookie did not ask. “Goodnight,” she said, before ending the call.
Eric put the phone back into his pocket and slowly turned around.
“You did well, Bill,” Eric said to the younger vampire. “Not a peep! Honestly, I didn’t think you had it in you.”
“You are manipulating her—playing upon the things she’s gone through,” Bill seethed.
The Civil War veteran had very little grasp of space or time for the next minute as Eric flung him around, making the entirety of the old house his “canvas.”
They ended up in a bathroom—Bill’s face pressed up against a mirror.
“Open your fucking eyes!” Eric ordered.
Shaking with fear, Bill complied; he couldn’t help but to stare into his own eyes. “That asshole is the manipulator. You, Bill! You! And—as I learn the full extent of your misdeeds—you can be assured that Sookie will learn of them too.”
“You’ll hurt her,” Bill squeaked out.
“Never like you have, Bill,” Eric growled with barely controlled rage. “No one will hurt her like that again,” he added, pressing Bill against the mirror until it cracked, pieces lodging into Bill’s flesh.
“Pity it’s not silver,” Eric seethed before thrusting Bill’s head against the porcelain toilet and then into the bowl. “You need to consider your health, Bill. If you continue to try to claim Sookie—to insert yourself into her life in any way—you will learn the true meaning of regret.” The Viking pulled Bill’s face out of the bowl and slammed him against the toilet again, this time shattering the stool.
So as not to get his feet wet, Eric hovered and then dropped Bill, who took several moments floundering to his feet.
“You cannot threaten me,” the younger vampire said, despite the evidence to the contrary that was shattered around him—not to mention the glass and flaked porcelain which were lodged in his face.
A mosaic of masonry, glass, and blood.
“It’s not a threat,” Eric returned evenly—coldly. “It is a warning. And—now that Sookie has agreed to be mine officially, you can consider it to be your only warning. For now, you live because she wishes it. However, she has also freed me to do what is necessary if you do not respect her wishes.”
Still hovering about an inch off the ground, the Viking bent down to look Bill in the eyes. “I really hope you misbehave so that I can as well,” he said with a wink before leaving the whimpering, weak vampire behind.
A/N: Happy New Year! I hope that you all have a healthy, happy 2018! I hope to be with you every week, posting this or another story. Thanks so much for sticking with me and my stories!
As for this chapter, I have to admit that it was fun to write. This Eric might be embracing his feelings for Sookie in many ways, but he still enjoys kicking an ass now and then. And what better target than Billy Boy? I can’t think of one. 😉
Please comment if you have the time and inclination.
And, again, thank you for reading my work. I stay motivated and excited about Eric/Sookie stories (and writing them) because of your support.
With much affection,