Eric allowed himself only one-quarter of a second to enjoy the cracking noise of Bill Compton’s bones as they broke against the concrete wall into which he’d been propelled.
And the cracking was significant; at least nine of the sideburn-wearing shithead’s bones had broken if Eric’s ears were accurate (and they always were). The Viking just hoped that one of those “bones” was Compton’s sorry excuse for a cock!
But Eric didn’t check on his “supposed” subject; he had more important things to worry about than Bill fucking Compton!
During the minutes before he’d gotten to Sookie, her fear had become a living—and impossibly breathing—thing within him, causing his whole both to vibrate as he’d drawn nearer to the parking garage.
Despite the thick clouds, it had taken him 1 minute and 4 seconds past the “official” sunset time to reach Sookie because he’d been unable to travel at his full speed before the deadly orb had disappeared to the other half of the globe.
Still—he’d never been more thankful for a storm.
Indeed, Ran, the Norse goddess of storms, was due a kick-ass tribute from him; that much was for certain! Ran’s thunderstorm’s clouds had protected him and allowed him to get to Sookie while she still drew breath.
Once in the parking garage, it had taken the Viking less than a second to determine the situation.
He had not hesitated to rip off the trunk lid and to rip Bill out of Sookie’s radius—after he’d ascertained that the younger vampire had released his fangs from Sookie’s neck in order to confront his interrupter.
But the thousand-year-old vampire did hesitate—now—as he took in Sookie Stackhouse’s condition.
Her borrowed clothing was shredded from the waist up, exposing much of her flesh. Her sweatpants, though stretched, were still intact.
From the pallor of her skin, Eric knew that she had lost at least two pints of blood. From her wheezy breaths, he could tell that her windpipe was heavily damaged and at least two ribs were cracked.
Bruises—some several hours old and some freshly made—peppered her body everywhere the Viking could see.
Her arms were bound behind her.
Her mouth was gagged with a filthy and garishly designed piece of cloth.
Bill had left a large gash near her jugular—but his aim hadn’t been true enough to give her a fatal wound.
Relief flooded the Viking; Sookie’s condition could have been so much worse.
One more minute, and she would have been raped.
One more after that, and she would have been drained.
The Viking closed and then opened his eyes, dueling with the emotions within him that were compelling him to succumb to his “vampire” instincts and rip Compton to shreds.
But Eric pushed those instincts aside, focusing on a deeper drive—a more primal urge.
More than the beast of him wanted to kill, the best of him wanted to protect.
Sookie—the woman he desired to make his own—needed him.
Compton would wait.
Indeed—even if Eric had to delay his wrath until after Sookie had died (whether of natural fucking causes or because she chose to be turned), he would take Compton’s head—but only after he took all the other parts of him.
But—for the moment—the Viking continued his quick assessment of the telepath, for he did not want to do more harm than good by moving her.
When he found Sookie’s eyes with his gaze, her blue orbs captivated him as he took off his shirt and used it to staunch the flow of her blood from her neck wound.
He saw relief in those eyes.
He saw hope.
And—most significantly—he saw trust.
“Jesus fuckin’ Christ!” came the voice of Alcide Herveaux from behind him.
Inept though the Were had been the night before, Eric had texted Herveaux right after he’d woken up and sensed Sookie’s agitation. The tardy two-natured twit had been too late to save Sookie, but perhaps he’d shown up in time to do some good.
For a change.
For what little it was now worth.
“Is your apartment unlocked?” Eric asked gruffly.
“Uh—no,” Alcide answered, “but I have the key.”
“Give it to me,” Eric insisted, even as the vampire blocked the Were’s view of Sookie’s bare chest.
“Uh—okay, but—uh . . . .”
“Secure Compton,” Eric ordered.
Alcide seemed ready to argue as he tried to move around Eric to get to Sookie.
“Do as I say, or I will end you now! Don’t doubt it!” Eric growled.
Alcide returned the aggressive noise, but then nodded before shoving his keys into Eric’s palm.
Moments later, Alcide turned toward Bill’s still crumpled body, and Eric turned back to Sookie, gently tearing through first the gag and then the wrist restraints.
“I’m going to pick you up now,” the Viking spoke with a gentleness that seemed foreign to him, even as he continued to hold his shirt over her neck wound. The tear to her flesh was jagged because of Bill’s rabid bite; however, the blood flow from Sookie’s body was already mostly stopped because of the pressure of the fabric and the residual vampire blood in her body.
Yes—her condition could have been much, much worse.
“Okay,” Sookie said, her voice raw.
Eric couldn’t help but to notice all the destroyed fabric around Sookie—fabric that was undoubtedly from the comforter that had been on her bed in Russell’s mansion. Having been so distended by Bill’s violent attack, Sookie’s sweatpants barely stayed up as he pulled her to him, cradling her so that her bare chest would not be visible to the other Supernaturals in the parking garage. He moved quickly toward the elevator.
“Not that way,” Sookie croaked out, her eyes pleading as she glanced toward the conveyance.
Eric nodded, even as he tilted his head down to brush a kiss onto her forehead. “Not that way,” he assured as he went to the stairs. It would be faster for him to fly up the stairs anyway.
Indeed, within a minute, he had Sookie in Alcide’s apartment; he carefully laid her onto the bed in the room where her scent was strongest.
Within another minute, he had covered her with a blanket and had her drinking from a bottle of water as he took a closer look at her neck wound. From her rasping breaths and bruise patterns, he also confirmed that she had two cracked ribs, though her lung was not punctured. Based upon the bruising around Sookie’s collarbone, the Viking also posited that it was fractured as well—likely by Bill’s “amorous” grip.
Eric strove to keep himself calm. “Sookie, your wounds are not life-threatening, for Compton did not hit any major arteries or veins when he bit into your neck; you are,” the vampire paused, “lucky. But the neck wound will need stitches, and you have some broken bones. I could take you to a doctor or call Ludwig. Or I could heal you.”
“You do it—as long as it won’t make me a vampire,” Sookie managed to whisper, remembering the choices she’d made in the trunk.
By some miracle, she had been given a second chance; actually, it seemed to be a third chance. Or a fourth. Or a fifth.
She couldn’t be sure, for she was currently too tired to count all of her brushes with death. However, she wasn’t too tired to feel intense gratitude toward the vampire who’d saved her from the latest of them.
Saved her from quite a few of them, actually.
Of course, in truth, Eric Northman wasn’t a miracle; a miracle—as Sookie had been taught—wasn’t explainable. Though deeper than she’d ever given him credit for being, Eric was the very real and very physical “explanation” behind why she still had a beating heart.
Just as he’d been the night he’d staked Longshadow.
Just as he’d been the night they’d confronted the Maenad.
Just as he’d been in Dallas.
Just as he’d been the night before when she’d been staked inside of a Supe bar with vampires all around.
Indeed, he’d made a habit of being near whenever she needed him most.
And she wasn’t about to insult him by turning down his offer of healing.
Though clearly surprised by her decision, Eric spoke, “You don’t require enough blood to turn you, but—even if I heal you—you need to decide how far you want me to go.”
“What do you mean?” Sookie asked after taking another soothing drink of water.
“There are more conservative options. For one, I could merely rub blood onto your neck wound and then bind your bone breaks. They are minor and would heal in a week or two because of the remaining vampire blood in your system. Ludwig could come to your home and follow up with this.
“A slightly less conservative option is that you could ingest my blood so that your internal wounds—including your broken bones and the interior trauma to your throat—would heal quickly. However, your neck wound would heal only from the inside—even if I also rubbed blood or saliva onto it, rather than licking it. The bruising on your body would fade, but the gashes where Bill bit would leave a scar.”
Sookie frowned. “Why not just lick my wound? Like the vampire last night did?”
“Two potential reasons,” he responded somewhat cautiously. “The first is that you just underwent a trauma, and my getting close enough to properly salve the wound might be uncomfortable for you.”
She started to shake her head, but the pain prevented her. The vampire quickly gave her another drink and then checked her wound to make sure it was not bleeding more (due to her movement) than it had been.
“I trust you, Eric. I don’t think it would bother me if you healed me like that,” she said softly, so as not to tax her throat.
Eric bent down and placed a soft, careful kiss on her temple. “I thank you for that trust, Sookie. But you have shown reticence in taking or receiving vampire blood in the past, and I don’t want to push you when your body could heal itself—given time. Also, you must keep in mind that my licking your wounds—thereby ingesting your blood—in such quick succession to your taking my blood would almost certainly count as an exchange of blood, and that would take us one step closer to a blood bond.”
“A blood bond? How’s that different from what we have now?” she asked, her voice still incredibly raw, despite the water she’d been drinking.
Eric frowned in surprise and then growled. “One day, I will kill Bill Compton,” he muttered to himself, causing Sookie to cringe.
“Please,” she whimpered, “I don’t want his blood on my hands—no matter what he did.”
“I won’t kill him tonight. I promise,” the vampire assured as he kissed her forehead again and rechecked to make sure that the bleeding from her neck wound was still curbed. He took an unneeded breath. “But if he hurts you again . . . .”
He didn’t complete his sentence; he didn’t need to. His meaning was perfectly clear.
“What’s a blood bond?” Sookie asked again, focusing on his eyes and trying to draw him past the murderous rage that was in them.
In truth, part of her wanted Bill Compton dead because of how he’d hurt her—how he’d intended to hurt her far more. But she refused to give in to that base part.
At least not until she’d healed.
And had some coffee!
“A bond is a permanent blood connection,” Eric informed. “It is similar to a blood tie, but will not fade over time. A bond is formed if enough of your blood is in my body while enough of mine is in yours. It generally takes about three exchanges—give or take—to create a bond. And these must be made within a certain period of time—usually within a few weeks or months, depending on the strength of the vampire. I thought you knew this; I thought Compton would have told you.”
Sookie didn’t dare shake her head, for fear of aggravating the wound that Eric was still pressing his shirt against. So she simply frowned in response to his comment. “He didn’t. Do I have a bond? With him?”
“No,” the Viking responded. “You currently have blood ties with both Bill and with me, but no bond. I took your blood following the Maenad attack, and you took mine in Dallas. That exchange was close enough—and of sufficient quantity—to create a blood tie between us. You had my blood in quantity last night, but I didn’t have yours, so we are only one-third of the way toward making a bond. You are closer with Compton. If he gave you his blood now, you would, perhaps, form one—though the presence of my blood could have muddled the process. Bill would be able to tell, however.”
Sookie shuddered. “But he didn’t tell me—any of this.”
“I’m sorry,” Eric said sincerely.
“I don’t want a blood bond with him,” she half-whispered and half-whimpered.
“Then it won’t happen,” Eric said with certainty. “I’ll make sure of it.”
“Thanks,” she said with a cough, spurring the vampire to encourage her to drink more water.
“Our blood tie? That’s how you knew I was in trouble?” she asked once her throat seemed to be slightly less on fire.
He nodded in confirmation.
“What would change about our tie now if we exchanged—so that you can heal me better? So that I won’t scar,” she asked, as Eric once again checked the wound to make sure Sookie and he had time for the rest of the current discussion. The last thing he wanted was for her to go into shock due to blood loss! Luckily the wound looked a lot worse than it actually was since Bill had not connected with her major blood vessels.
That fact could be explained in one of only three ways as far Eric was concerned. First, Compton might have recognized that it was Sookie in the trunk on an instinctual level, causing him to “take it easy” on her, even as he was compelled to feed because of his injuries. Second, in his frenzy, Bill might have simply “missed” hitting a prime target. Third, the younger vampire might have been aware enough to want to “prolong” the experience in the trunk—to have time to rape and cause maximum harm to his victim before ending her and, perhaps, turning her. If Eric ever confirmed that the third possibility was the truth, Bill would learn whole new definitions for the phrase “maximum harm.”
Needless to say, the Viking was willing to use all of his many years and experiences to hone those new definitions.
Eric refocused on Sookie. “Sookie, if you just took my blood, nothing would change as far as our blood tie went—unless I had your blood in the near future. Your wound would close, your broken bones would heal, and you’d feel stronger, but here . . . ,” he trailed off in a whisper, motioning toward her neck. Clearly the thought of her carrying a scar bothered Eric very much.
“On the other hand,” he continued after a moment, “if I just licked your wound, there would be no scar, but you’d be weak for a while because your blood loss would still be a factor.”
“Like last night? After Ray Don healed me?”
“Okay,” Sookie said in understanding. “And if you did lick the wound—even if I didn’t take your blood too—the blood tie would get stronger?”
“Yes. For you took in my blood last night,” he clarified. “But the tie wouldn’t be made permanent—not unless we exchanged for a third time.”
She thought over his words for a moment. “What time period are we lookin’ at? Before any tie we created would fade?” she squeaked out, recalling that the Maenad attack was only a few days before she took Eric’s blood in Dallas.
Eric encouraged her to drink more water, as he continued to press his soiled shirt against her neck to ensure that the wound stayed stable.
He shrugged. “I am not certain, for I’ve never created a bond with anyone other than my vampire children. My blood is strong though, and I took much of yours to help remove the poison of the Maenad. Your blood was still within me when you took mine in Dallas, but if a week or so more had passed between the Maenad attack and the attack on Stan’s nest, then the first tie between us would likely not have formed.”
Sookie nodded. “I’m glad it did.”
“I am very glad as well,” he responded with a soft smile, even as he tried to categorize the feelings that were currently coming from her—as well as those that he was experiencing.
“What do you think will change if we complete a second exchange—if you fully heal me now? And would you even want any changes?” Sookie asked, keeping her voice low because of her sore throat. She was clearly determined to make an informed decision, something that Bill hadn’t prepared her to do when she’d been his.
Again, Eric had the urge to kill the younger vampire—both for what he’d done and what he’d not done regarding Sookie.
Another night—he promised himself.
No matter how long he had to wait, he would have that night.
And—oh would he enjoy it!
“If you are hesitant, you could simply take my blood now; that would not increase our tie. I would simply not lick your wounds,” Eric reminded, his voice somewhat gruff with an emotion he couldn’t name. “A full exchange would make our tie stronger, and—yes—I would like that.”
Sookie’s eyes widened. “You would? Really? Why!?” she exclaimed, despite the soreness it caused to her larynx.
Immediately, he was tipping the water to her lips.
“I wouldn’t even consider it with anyone else,” he said, his eyes intense. “As for ‘why,’ it’s difficult to explain. But I want to protect you—for your life, Sookie. All of it.”
“Oh!” she said with surprise—as if realizing for the first time that the vampire in front of her had a depth of thousands of fathoms. “Eric, I . . . ,” she began.
“This is a longer discussion for another time,” he said when her words stalled. “You are not bleeding much right now, but it would be best to get you healed immediately—in whatever way you choose. Plus, I can feel your physical discomfort. And I can only speculate that some of your wounds relate to how you got in to the trunk to start with.”
Sookie barely tilted her head in a nod of confirmation. “Debbie Pelt—but that’s a story for another time too.”
Eric nodded—mentally adding another person to his “to kill” list. “Soon. We will discuss her soon.”
“Okay. So—uh—I might be missing something, but it doesn’t seem like much would change about our blood connection if we did the whole shebang—if we exchanged,” she commented after taking in more water.
“On the surface, it would not. You would be fully healed: both the inside parts of you—including your throat, fractures, and capillaries—and the outside parts of you—notably where Bill bit. As for our blood tie, I would have a better sense of your emotions and location than I did before. And our mutual attraction would likely increase. Nothing more.”
“Mutual? Uh—increase?” she asked a slight blush making its way to her cheeks.
“I believe it is mutual,” Eric smirked (though he tried to keep that expression somewhat in check). “I am not, however, certain that my attraction for you could increase beyond what it currently is. But finding out might be,” he paused, “pleasurable.”
Sookie swallowed hard and coughed. Eric was waiting to offer her more water.
“What would you do if you were me? Would you do the whole exchange?” Sookie asked him.
Eric looked somewhat surprised that she was seeking his advice on the matter—that she would trust him not to mislead her. “I cannot make your decision for you, Sookie. My own opinion is biased by my own desires. I do want you to—at least—take my blood. You’ll feel better and stronger, and—though there will be a scar—it will not be too noticeable. But as I suggested before, I find myself feeling almost compelled to heal you for reasons I cannot fully name—reasons that I do not,” he paused, “fully comprehend myself. But I do know this: I don’t want you to have to carry a scar from this night, and I do like the idea of a stronger connection with you. Of course—that connection would fade in time—which would basically restart the blood-tie process. Meanwhile, I swear that I would not force a bond upon you. If it influences you at all, I vow here and now that I will not take your blood again—until our current tie fades; however, I will leave open the option of giving you my blood if the need arises.”
A few moments of silence passed between them as Sookie contemplated Eric’s words and his vow.
“And if I offered my blood?” Sookie asked in a whisper.
Eric seemed dazed by her words for a moment before he responded. “I’d refuse your offer until I knew you were certain. I’d never want to take away your choice, Sookie.”
“I know,” the telepath smiled, a look of certainty in her eyes. “And thank you. I want to heal. I don’t want a scar—not from tonight. Not from Bill. And I don’t want the pain of cracked bones.” She coughed. “I want the exchange.”
Eric smiled softly and nodded, even as he smoothed her hair behind her ears with a gentle touch.
“I don’t think I could take the kind of sexy stuff that happened last night though,” Sookie trembled, her voice sounding small. “Bill was tryin’ to . . . .” She stopped midsentence.
“I know what he was attempting,” Eric said in a quiet, though steely tone. “And—I swear—your healing tonight will be just that: a healing. Nothing more.”
Sookie nodded as Eric positioned himself over her neck and took off the cloth covering her wound. To keep his promise to the telepath, the vampire concentrated upon the anger he felt over Compton attacking Sookie as he licked her wound and took in her delicious blood. He hated that both times he had tasted her had been after she’d been injured.
He also hated that she had needed two major healings in as many nights. He cursed himself for his part in putting her into a dangerous situation and swore to find a way to keep her safe.
After he was satisfied that the exterior portion of her throat wound was closed completely and would not scar, Eric brought his own wrist to his mouth and bit before offering the wound to Sookie. Looking him in the eye, she drank as he caressed her cheek with the slightest of touches.
Her expression was one of gratefulness and—strangely enough—comfort as their blood tie strengthened. As he’d promised, the tie wasn’t made permanent, but the vampire could instinctively tell that it would take only one more exchange for it to be so. In that moment, he could not stop himself from yearning for that—from desiring that she would one day “feel” his emotions as he could experience hers.
The ancient ached to connect with the singular woman in front of him in a way that was—for lack of a better word—more “equal” than he’d ever connected with anyone before.
And still her eyes were on his; he wanted to drown into the sea of them. The previous night, he’d had his fingers inside of her body as she’d writhed in passion against him. But that moment had not been half as intimate as the one they were currently experiencing.
So—of course—there had to be an interruption. And—since Elvis wasn’t “in the building,” a “hound dog” filled in.
A/N: As I understand and am portraying blood ties/bonds in this piece (based on the “book universe”), exchanges don’t have to be simultaneous, and three equals permanence. But—at the same time—a blood tie can fade over time. So—for my purposes—three in relatively close succession (within weeks or months) creates a bond. Also, in Club Dead, Sookie’s stake wound leaves behind a scar, despite the healing she receives. I’ve determined that Bill’s bite is not as severe of a wound as the stake wound; thus, saliva would keep it from scarring. However, blood alone would not stop the scar from forming. Anyway, the whole blood tie/bond thing is a bit muddled in the books (not to mention the differences in the show). I hope readers will give me a bit of license in my interpretation and forgiveness for any inconsistencies.
One reason why I kept Sookie’s wounds more minimal was to enable this conversation to occur. Following a scene where Bill wanted to take all choice from her, I felt the need to show a contrast in Eric’s behavior. If anything-he is too cautious in making sure that she understands all her choices-even after she gives her permission for him to heal her. I thought that needed to happen in this piece. Another reason why she’s not “near death” here is because I am working from one of the prompts that inspired this story-specifically valady’s request that Eric get to the trunk “in time.”
I hope that you will have the time and inclination to leave a comment. I always love to know what you think.
As always, many thanks to Kleannhouse and Seph!