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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chapter 64 ~ Daemons and Demons

Later that night, Eric returned to the sanctuary with Pam, Haldar, Han, Ivan, Ahmose, Caesar and his Were lions. The vampires Ahmose and Caesar had brought were still in Shreveport as he was not ready to allow them so close to his bonded. Haldar, Pam, Han and Ivan had managed to get detailed profiles on almost all of them, and from what they had gleaned, only a few of them had yet to be released from their masters.
Eric doubted that either Ahmose or Caesar would allow untrustworthy vampires to serve them so closely, but when it came to Sookie and his son he was taking no chances. He'd received a text from Sookie while he was at the bar telling him to bring her home more ice cream from the all-natural store and told him she wanted him to make time when he came home to speak to her. He was hoping she was ready to let go of her anger at him and come to her senses about everything.

His evening had been productive. Ahmose had helped him write up a detailed procedural list for his sheriffs to cut down on the day-to-day mundane sort of problems he'd usually have to deal with, now, instead, they'd simply email him itineraries of their daily activities for Pam to peruse to free up his time. He also had a quarterly evaluation ready for his sheriffs as soon as he decided who he would send to conduct them. He couldn't spare any of the vampires he had with him currently. Ahmose was staying for three weeks to help him get everything in order from his takeover, as well as help him lay the groundwork for his new supernatural regime, but he would need to return to New York. The Pythoness told him it was not time for him to give up the throne as Caesar and Haldar had, so he couldn't leave his kingdom for long.

All in all it had been a very good night thus far, but he was still eager to get home. Not only was he ready to finally put the issues between him and Sookie to rest so they could be one again, body and soul, but he also wanted to see what progress the witches and hackers had made. He was hoping that the fairies had already retrieved the equipment the hackers needed, and he really hoped that the witches had some clue as to how he could save Sookie's brother from Sophie-Anne. Niall had said it would take a few days for him to have the scroll Sargon had given Sookie translated, so, for now, all he had were the witches loyal to him. He needed to make progress on the Jason situation. Eric knew that the full impact of what had happened to her brother had yet to really hit Sookie. Too much had happened to her too soon and she hadn't had time to process everything and he worried about what would happen when she did. She had been holding up rather well since her initial breakdown that night, but he knew sooner or later her careful stoicism would crumble. He could only hope that he would be able to help her work through it quickly. As callous as it sounded, they didn't have the time or luxury for her to falter now. Their position was too precarious.

When he pulled up to the house he saw Cerberus laying at the foot of the porch, playing watchdog. Thor was busy pulling on one of the ears of one of the heads, growling playfully and Eric realized that Sookie must be busy inside. She only ever sent Thor outside when she was immersed in something so that he couldn't distract her. In the tree line the figures of the centaurs and the minotaurs were evident, and Eric was pleased at the alertness Sookie's guards maintained. As the caravan of SVUs came to a stop along Sookie's drive, the vampires and Were lions filed out. Eric was further pleased to note how Cerberus shot to immediate attention. One head gently nudged Thor back while the other two growled a low warning. Sookie had invited Caesar and his Weres earlier, but Cerberus had yet to meet them and therefore considered them a threat.

Looking at the massive beast, Eric ordered, “Stand down, Cerberus. This is Caesar and his pride of Were lions. They are here to swear fealty to Sookie.”

The three heads looked carefully over the newcomers before letting out identical huffs and moving aside so they could all file into the house. Thor was not so easily gulled and barked at the Were lions indignantly. Eric reached down and patted his head assuringly, the dog looking up at him with devotion. “It's okay, Thor. Save it for the real bad guys.”

Eric signaled for the pride master of the were lions and his mate to follow them inside, asking the rest to remain outside as there were too many of them for the size of Sookie's house. Heading inside himself, he found Sookie leaning over the kitchen table with Alcide, Quinn, and the hackers going over blueprints. He stopped to listen to her.

“I don't understand why we need a separate power source for it. Why can't it just be hooked up to the new generators Eric ordered?”

Samuel explained, “Your friends are right, Sookie, our systems need to be hooked up to an alternative power source. In the event Sargon takes out the city's power supply and manages to get to the generators that Eric built, we need to have auxiliary power. You yourself said that without us combating Sargon's technology we can't do much. We're going to need a secure facility to put all the terminals and cooling towers. We'll be able to handle all the hacking from the new guesthouse that your king is building for us to stay in, but the bulk of our equipment and the power running it will need to be separate. An underground facility would be best.”

Alcide pointed his finger to a spot on the blueprints and said, “We can put up wind turbines and solar panels right here and run the power line through the pasture. I suggest we build the underground facility for all their equipment right here. It's close enough that we can get to it quickly if we need to.”

The hackers agreed as well and Sookie conceded, “I guess that would be okay, I just want my home to remain looking like a home, not a military compound. It's bad enough with the perimeter fences and everything else, but now we're going to have power terminals and underground terminals.”

“Sookie,” Quinn interjected, “even if we do have to add military barracks to keep you safe it would only be until we defeat Sargon. Once he's down you can remove any of the additions we're making if you don't like them. For now, though, it is better safe than sorry.”

Eric chose that moment to jump in. “He is right, my Sookie. Once the threat has been eliminated if you wish to have your home returned to normal I shall endeavor to do so, but for now we need to fortify our defenses.”

All eyes locked on the tall Viking as he gestured to those behind him, “Caesar and his Were lions have arrived. You will need to meet with the entire pride tomorrow to get their profiles done along with the few you have left of the wolves and panthers.”

Sookie stood up from her hunched position over the table and stretched, rolling her shoulders and neck to work the kinks out. Eric frowned. She looked tired. She took in the appearance of the newcomers. Caesar looked much as she expected him to. She'd seen several busts of him while visiting Ahmose. He had an aristocratic face she decided, a long aquiline nose and intelligent brow and despite the fact he barely came up to Eric's shoulders, his presence was electric, commanding and powerful.

'Caesar. THE Julius Caesar in my tiny kitchen. In Bon Temps, Louisiana. Amazing. Oh if only Gran were still alive to see all this,' she inwardly mused. At the mention of Caesar's name, the occupants riveted their eyes to him, taking in former emperor of Rome, a man who had changed the very course of the Roman Empire more than two millennia ago. Their awe was unmistakable.

The Were lions had eyes only for Sookie and she took in their dark tan skin against the bright yellow hair. They were magnificent shifters with piercing black eyes that seemed to miss nothing. Their coloring was fascinating and they were so still, their gazes so focused on her, she understood what prey must feel like in the sight of such hunters. They were tall with broad chests and shoulders, long torsos tapering to legs roped in muscle visible even with the dark slacks they each wore. Even the woman had huge hands that clearly spoke of power and menace.

Shaking off her surprise, Sookie moved forward and introduced herself. “I'm Sookie Stackhouse, and I'm so pleased to meet all of you. Thank you so much for coming to help us, we really appreciate it.”

Caesar smiled benevolently and looked to his left at his Maker as he remarked, “She is just as you have said. I've never heard of a ruler that gives thanks to their servants. Remarkable.”

Moving from Eric's side to stand before Sookie, Caesar bowed lightly and greeted, “The pleasure is all ours, my queen. I hope I and mine are able to protect and aid you as is necessary. I look forward to serving you and seeing how you and your king will change the world. Not to mention your children, who I must admit I'm most anxious to meet in the future.”

Sookie's smile was bright as she offered, “Please just call me Sookie. Titles make me uncomfortable. I'm sorry you had to step down from your throne to come here and help us. Hopefully you haven't been too put out and aren't too upset with that.”

Waving his hand dismissively, Caesar assured, “It is nothing. I did not rule for the sake of power, I did it because it was necessary to bring order to the vampires in Italy and keep them in line. I left the throne to my oldest child, and should I survive this war, and more importantly should I desire to rule again, he will return Italy to me. For now I look forward to making a place for myself here. I haven't been to the new world since before electricity was invented. I think it is time for a change.”

Cocking his head curiously, Caesar asked, “You truly do not wish to be addressed formally? You wish to be called by your name?” His accent was clearly Italian but his English was perfect.

Nodding briskly, Sookie answered, “Definitely. That whole 'your majesty' or 'my lady' or anything like that totally creeps me out. I'm Sookie. Just Sookie.”

“Very well—Sookie.” He said her name almost experimentally, allowing it to roll around in his mouth. A quick gesture brought his Were lions to come stand beside him, and he continued, “This is Dominic Rizzo and his mate Giovanna. Dominic is the pride master for my Were lions. He has served me faithfully for many years. Just as his father did and his father before him and down the line. My lions are ready to swear fealty to you, as am I. We are in your service, my la—Sookie.”

Sookie looked at the lions and smiled. “Thank you all for dropping everything and coming here. It means a lot to me. I hope you'll be comfortable here and if you'll give me a list of whatever you will need I'll get right on that. Alcide and his construction company are working as fast as they can to get housing up for everyone, but until that's done I'm afraid we're roughing it a bit.”

Dominic offered, “Many of my pack are skilled craftsmen and construction workers. We handle most of our Lord Caesar's homes as he trusts so few others. We can lend a hand with the building.”

“Oh that would be wonderful!” Looking hopefully over her shoulder at Alcide, Sookie asked, “Would you mind that?”

Shaking his head, Alcide agreed, “It sure would be helpful. My guys are good, and we're working as hard and fast as we can, but we're starting to stretch ourselves pretty thin. Especially with all the new buildings we need up, the fencing, and not to mention our protection duties.” Looking at the were lion he said, “Any help would be appreciated. We've got a lot to do to fortify the area and not much time to do it. The barrier protects Sookie's home, but the king wants a wide perimeter.”

Drawing the attention back to him, Eric ordered, “Alcide, take Dominic and his mate outside and meet with the other lions. Divide the work between his pride and your people and show them where to start. Also, get the list for Sookie as to what the pride needs in supplies so she can get started on it.”

Once the Weres had filed out, Eric asked, “What progress have you made?”

Understanding that Eric was in full king mode, Sookie explained, “The fairies collected all the equipment from the homes of the hackers, but ….”

When Sookie trailed off, Eric pressed, “But what?”

Samuel decided to help Sookie and jumped in, “But it's not enough.”

Arching his brow Eric asked, “Meaning?”

“We're going to need very specialized equipment. One of a kind prototypes, custom built. Equipment we could never have before because even trying to acquire it would draw the wrong kind of attention and is actually illegal. The equipment we have allows us to hack one government or network at a time, maybe two or three, but to access numerous high level systems all at once we need more powerful equipment. Equipment that costs millions.”

“Money is no object,” Eric assured.

“Eric, we're talking hundreds of millions. Billions. And it's the least of our problems,” Samuel announced. “Getting it at all is the problem. You can't get this stuff off the shelves at Best Buy or online. This is the kind of equipment that governments use to protect countries. It has to be ordered directly from manufacturers, built to our specifications, and we would need to be approved before purchase as if we were a government entity. Therein lies our problem. If Sargon is as connected as you say, if he's watching as you say he is, he either owns these companies, or can directly affect them.”

Recognizing he was out of his depth, Eric asked, “So what do you suggest?”

Samuel shared a look with Sookie and she offered, “We steal it.” When Eric's eyes widened, she explained, “After they finished with the witches, learning about the bonding spell and all, Samuel, Brianna, Sarah, and Boris came to speak with me and we discussed it. We can't chance Sargon finding out about them or what we're doing with them. Their equipment we retrieved from their homes is good enough to do what needs done to get us the new equipment we actually need.”

“And what do we need to do to steal this equipment?” Eric pressed.

“We hit each supplier at the same time and take everything we need all at once.  At a conference. Wait, hold off and let me explain,” Sookie said as she saw Eric about to interrupt.

“Where do you think governments get their look at new technologies? Trade shows. The Department of Defense Intelligence Information System Worldwide Conference is an annual event sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense. The conference attracts worldwide attendees and new products get rolled out for it. The only attendees are government military and contractor personnel. Lots of IT professionals from the Department of Defense intelligence community around the world. I'm saying we find a way to attend, posing as buyers, and we steal the prototypes for stuff being shown off. We'd net the absolutely latest version of computer muscle. And we do it during the day when security will be minimal.”

“Not an option,” Eric denied. “Vampires cannot move about during the day and the hackers are not leaving the barrier until Sargon is dealt with. We need them far too much. Without vampire bodyguards it is too dangerous.”

Sookie's smile lit the room as she explained, “Which is why vampires are going with them. Each hacker will go with their bonded and one of my fairy guards will teleport them in and then teleport them and the equipment out.”

“How are you planning to make that work?” Pam asked as she stepped up beside Eric. “Not all of us are immune to sunlight like Eric.”

Looking at Pam, Sookie explained, “You will be once we pump you full of fairy blood.” When all the fangs in the room dropped at the mention of fairy blood save Eric's, Sookie continued, “Starting tonight I'm ordering my fairy guards and Niall to supply all of you with enough blood on a nightly basis to make you immune to sunlight until this fight is done.”

Eric stared at Sookie in shock. The long standing feud between vampires and fairies was well known, as was the law in fae that it was forbidden for fairies to share their blood with vampires, so the idea to order them to donate blood to make his vampires stronger had never crossed his mind. He once again marveled at Sookie's cunning. His grin was broad as he complimented, “Sookie, your genius never ceases to astound me!”

As one, Pam and Haldar pushed past Eric as Pam exclaimed, “Sookie, I take back every nasty thing I've ever said about you! You are my new favorite breather … besides Amelia. Now when do we start?”

Nodding his head enthusiastically, Haldar quickly agreed, “Pam's right, my queen, we should get started immediately! I volunteer to go first, for quality purposes of course. I would hate for Pam to get a bad batch.”

“Shove it up your ass, Haldar! Sookie is my mistress and the mother of my brother. As a true member of the family I go first,” Pam hissed.

“I'm older!”

“I'm prettier!”

“I'm smarter!”

“Ha!” Throwing her head back and laughing, Pam countered, “I've seen cockroaches with bigger brains!”

Before an all out war broke out, Sookie announced, “Can you two get past your little lover's spat long enough to hear the rest or not?”

“Sookie!” Pam gasped. “We are family now, it is mandatory that you take my side in everything. I'm sure there's also some kind of code about women sticking together against men. I know I read that in Dear Abby somewhere. You must tell Haldar he gets absolutely no fairy blood and gives me his share.”

Taking in Haldar's mutinous expression, Eric decided to aid Sookie in maintaining order. “Pam, that is enough. Everyone will get an equal share.” Focusing on Sookie he asked, “The fairies will agree to this?” Eric knew he was High King and he knew for now the fairies were taking orders from him, but just as with vampire blood, fairies did not give theirs up. Some things went beyond loyalty. The giving of magical blood, vampire or fairy, was not something any ruler had ever been able to order.

Nodding, Sookie assured, “I spoke with my fairy guards and they assured they would donate as much as they can without hindering their ability to fight and protect me, which means we'll need the blood of many more fairies to give to the vampires Ahmose and Caesar brought. For tonight, though, we'll have enough blood to inoculate all of you. Samuel and the others believe that the conference is our best opportunity to bring back the fastest and best technology we need to create a-” she faltered and looked toward Samuel.

He obligingly jumped in. “A Botnet. We need to create a Botnet.” He nodded with self-satisfaction until he caught the looks of confusion on everybody's face. He continued.

“Think robotic network. Like Google uses spiders to comb the web and retrieve data. A Botnet is a string of computers all doing the same thing. It can be done maliciously, all churning out viruses or spam; or creatively, like what we want to do.  We'd create a Botnet that would look for information via keywords and see when they show up. We'd program our own algorhythms to make sense of the keywords collected. We also had an idea of going to Cupertino, California and then on to China where all Apple products are made and first preloading Botnet subroutines into the Unix kernel and then into all the iPhones, iPads and Macs throughout the world. It'd be simple enough to do. Without anyone knowing, we would have every Apple product interconnected by the internet running this subroutine controlled by us.”

People were nodding in understanding now. He grinned at his crew who were all smiling knowingly. He finished, “We'd be widespread via the internet and impossible to shut down. Sargon can't shut down the internet. With nodes everywhere, we could monitor anything Sargon is doing and use technology against him.

Sookie added, “Our hackers don't want Sargon to have time to figure out who they are and why we brought them here. They set up the equipment they have in the guesthouse and started obtaining blueprints to each government facility we needed to infiltrate and that's when I walked in and commented that it was too bad it all wasn't under one roof. Brianna suddenly whooped and scared us all,” she turned to Brianna who was broadly grinning.

“Yeah, well, it IS all under one roof. For one week only,” the girl supplied, “the DARPA/MILspec Conference in Las Vegas.”

Eric cocked his eyebrow. Sookie explained, “A trade show, Eric. Is that serendipity or what? So all we need do is divide into groups so we can hit the place simultaneously tomorrow. We do a little shopping, decide what we can use and grab it. We'll be in and out before Sargon knows what we're doing and we'll have all the equipment we need to begin not only fighting him but building our own technological base. Then we watch the internet for signs of his activity. We're the bot-herder and just sit back and harvest data and mine what's useful for our defenses and counter-strategies.”

Caesar drew everyone's attention when he asked Eric, “My king, you said she had not experience with war and tactics, were you wrong about that?”

“She's just an incredibly fast learner,” Eric answered, grinning approvingly. He was thoroughly pleased with his mate. “We need to decide who is going to bond with each hacker so we can divide into groups. I need four volunteers from among you willing to do this.”

Ahmose stepped forward first. “I offer myself.”

“As do I,” Caesar added.

“I'm willing,” Haldar announced.

“As are we,” Han declared as he and Ivan moved to stand behind Ahmose and Caesar.

“Da,” Ivan agreed in his thick brogue.

When everyone looked at Pam she shook her head and said, “I'm going to be raising a newborn soon. I can't be distracted by being bonded to a human, even temporarily.”

“Pam,” Eric warned. He had no clue how he was going to solve this issue with his child and the witch girl, but now was not the time to bring the problem up. Certainly not with such mixed company. When she simply held his gaze with her own defiant one he decided to move along. Looking at all the volunteers he said, “We only need four. Ahmose, as you are still King of New York I'm going to let Caesar, Haldar, Han, and Ivan form the bonds. They will be here full time and will have a better chance of protecting their charges.”

Nodding his head, Ahmose amicably agreed, “A sound plan.”

Focusing on everyone in the room, Eric declared, “Let the hackers meet with each of you so that they can decide for themselves who will bond with whom. Sookie reminded me last night that it will be easier for all of you to form this bond if you have a degree of familiarity between you. Go to the guesthouse and get to know one another. While you're doing that Sookie and I will meet with the witches to see what progress they have made on freeing her brother.”

Looking down at Sookie he asked, “When is Niall going to be here?”

“Just before dawn supposedly. I think the Pythoness is going to be with him as well,” Sookie replied.

“And you are sure he will agree to having more fairies donating blood?” Eric pressed.

Setting her hand atop her stomach, Sookie replied, “Seeing as how I'm the mother of the only hope he and his people have, yes. He'll agree because he'll have no choice. We need the fairy blood to make our vampires stronger so we can fight Sargon. We were going to question him on his loyalty tonight to find out just how far we can trust him, well here's his chance to prove it.”

“I'm loving the way she thinks,” Haldar purred. He was almost sorry he hadn't found the girl before his blood brother. 'Of course if I had and he ever caught sight of her he'd have taken her from me to be sure.'

Eric, noticing the appreciative gleam in Haldar's eye, took hold of Sookie's wrist and pulled her to his side as he told his friend, “Just remember who she belongs to, Haldar.”

“But of course, my king. I might admire your mate, but I'd never be stupid enough to try and take her from you,” Haldar assured.

Sookie was getting tired of the possessive macho shit. Elbowing Eric she hissed, “She is standing right here, and she belongs to herself!”

Each of the vampires had enough sense not to laugh outright at Sookie's declaration. Instead, Eric ordered the hackers to meet with the four vampires who had volunteered to bond to them. Taking Sookie's hand, he began to lead her out of the house when Pam moved in front of him.

“I'm coming with you,” Pam announced.

“No. I don't need you causing a problem. I told you I'd think on the matter with the witch girl later. Right now we have work to do,” Eric replied.

Pam turned her eyes to Sookie. No matter what Eric said Sookie carried far more influence than her Maker let on. She was sure if she got the girl on her side Eric would let her come. “Sookie, tell Eric to let me come.”

“She does not command me, Pamela,” Eric insisted.

With a roll of her eyes Pam countered, “Of course she doesn't.” Catching Sookie's gaze she pressed, “Sookie?”

Sookie looked back and forth between Pam's imploring gaze and Eric's tense features. His hand was tight around hers and she could tell he was furious Pam was challenging his authority like this. On one hand she didn't want Pam causing problems while she was learning about what the witches could do to save her brother. On the other she not only felt bad about Pam feeling the pull to a witch, but she wanted to build a rapport with the older woman. They were both a part of Eric's life now and they needed to have a good relationship.

However, she knew Eric was in his king mode and to challenge him in front of everyone could cause him to react as he had the other night, and she certainly didn't want that. 'Of course if he punishes me that will let me know for sure that Eric can't be changed, that he has no true respect for me and we can never be equals. I planted the seeds of doubt the other night by pointing out how wrong his actions were, and now it's time to see if he's grown any.'

Not to mention she still had things to discuss with him tonight. She needed to talk to him about where they stood in their relationship and what she thought they should do to fix what was wrong between them, and she needed to tell him about Frannie. The girl was off with some of the teenage girls in Alcide's pack, but she would be back before dawn so Eric would need to know she was coming.

Coming to a decision she suggested, “As long as Pam doesn't interfere in our talk with the witches about Jason I don't see why she can't come, Eric.”

Eric's jaw clenched. His authority was being challenged in front of his new hacker team and some of the strongest most important vampires in the world. Challenged by his mate and his child … and yet there was nothing he could do about it. He could not risk punishing Sookie. Not again. The consequences were too great, and with the feelings of empathy he was picking up from his mate for his child he knew trying to force Pam to back down would only piss them both off more. In the end he decided the best and only option that wouldn't leave him with the women in his life more pissed at him than they were was to allow it.

His voice was hard as he ordered, “You may accompany us, but you will not interfere in any way. I need to know what the witches have discovered about Jason's predicament and you will not impede my pursuit because of your fascination with that girl. Is that understood, child?”

“Perfectly, Master.” Pam knew she'd gotten as much out of Eric as she was going to get. Bowing her head slightly she stepped back and waited for Eric to lead Sookie from the house before falling in step behind them.

The walk to the guesthouse was made in silence. Neither Sookie nor Pam wanted to push Eric any farther. They were both surprised he'd given the ground he had and didn't want to chance provoking him while he was still in his king mode. Walking into the guesthouse they found Lafayette serving snacks and drinks to the large number of witches that had squeezed themselves into the tiny living room.

When the three newcomers entered Lafayette straightened up and asked, “Something wrong, Sook?”

Shaking her head, Sookie offered a smile. “No. We just need to talk to these witches about Jason.”

“Leave while we do so,” Eric commanded as he pulled Sookie into the room and began staring down several witches taking up the sofa he intended to sit on with Sookie.

At Eric's rude tone and command Sookie kicked him in the leg and hissed, “For all intents and purposes this is Lafayette's home now! Don't talk to him like that!” Looking towards her long time friend she begged, “I hate to ask this, but would you mind giving us a few minutes?”

Nodding and offering Sookie a smile, Lafayette assured her, “No problem, Sook. You take all the time you need and I'll just go see if Liam or any of your other fairy guards need me for anything.”

As Lafayette sashayed past them Sookie shook her head at his antics. He would never change. The world could be falling down around him and still he'd chase any guy with a nice ass. She found she loved that about him. Once he was gone she allowed Eric to pull her to the newly vacated couch. Eric waited for Pam to take a seat on the other side of Sookie, ignoring how his child focused solely on the witch girl, and asked, “Who is the most powerful witch here?”

Octavia inclined her head and announced, “We have decided I shall lead our newly formed coven. Most of us are mentors and apprentices, but until the issue with Sargon is dealt with we shall operate as one coven.”

“Very well, tell me what you have found on the problem of my mate's brother,” Eric demanded.

“There is not much,” Octavia answered. “As you know vampires have always been very secretive about their connections. However, bonded children are well known, as is the power of the connection between them and their Makers. Vampire blood was never meant to be overpowered, and we are most doubtful that any magic we can conjure will be able to sever the boy from his Maker.”

Eric felt the sharp jolt of pain and despair that tore through Sookie at the news. He was proud of her outward reaction however. She did not shout or cry, but instead her jaw clenched and she reached for his hand. When she remained silent he gave her hand a small squeeze and ordered, “I refuse to accept that. You will work harder and find a way to free him from Sophie-Anne's control.”

Amelia, feeling the heavy weight of the vampire woman on her, was reluctant to draw attention to herself, but believed she had an idea that might work. During the conference with the other witches only the mentors had spoken, and the apprentices had been expected to sit quietly and observe. None of the mentors, her own included, thought they could do anything to help their new queen's brother, but Amelia had an idea. So despite the nervousness she felt at the female vampire's steady attention she raised a shaky hand in the air and squeaked, “I have an idea.”

All eyes in the room snapped to her as Eric barked, “Well speak, girl!”

Really shaking now, Amelia muttered, “We might not be able to sever the tie, but perhaps we can do something to stop Sophie-Anne from influencing him.”

“And how would we do that?” Eric asked.

Amelia began wringing her hands as she explained, “I'm not sure that it would work, but perhaps if we could incapacitate the queen in some way we could then perform a memory spell on Jason. If Sophie-Anne is unable to give a command to Jason through their bond, and he doesn't remember her maybe he would be ok.”

The room went quiet as Eric thought over the witch's words. After some time passed Sookie looked up at him and asked, “Would that work, Eric? Could we just wipe Jason's memories?”

Looking down at his bonded, Eric answered, “Sookie, performing such magic on vampires is tricky. As we are creatures of magic it affects us differently.”

“He's right,” Octavia interjected. She was stunned at her apprentice's idea and wondered why Amelia hadn't mentioned it before. It was risky, and definitely not guaranteed to work, but it was worth consideration. “We could cast it and he might forget the queen and what was done to him. We could cast it and he might forget everything he'd ever known. You, your family, his name, even how to walk and talk. Or we could cast it and it might not work at all. Spells and vampires don't generally mix.”

“But it's worth a shot, right? It's something that might free him?” Sookie was desperate for some sliver of hope that she might be able to save her brother.

Understanding that Sookie needed to have this idea to hang onto, Eric faced her and vowed, “We will research this avenue, Sookie. As the witch said, vampires and spells don't mix, but there has been some success with them in the past. Personally, I don't think casting the spell to erase certain memories on Jason will be the problem. More likely finding a way to incapacitate the queen without killing her, because memories or no if she dies Jason will go completely mad, and keep her from issuing commands through their bond will be the most problematic.”

Running his thumb along the back of Sookie's knuckles, Eric added, “We will look into this option and see what spells the witches can come up. My hope is that the scroll Niall is translating will hold answers to our questions, but this could serve as a back up plan. I admit the idea has merit.”

Focusing back on the witches, Eric asked, “What is your progress on the charm for Sookie? When she leaves this barrier I don't want humans aware she is pregnant.”

Octavia was pleased she had much better progress to report on that front. “We have the basics for the charm now, all we need is a strand of her hair to complete the spell. Also, it would be best if we cast the spell into a piece of jewelry she wears often so as not to draw unwanted attention. We could actually cast several concealment spells into different pieces of jewelry she wears commonly.”

“I have two necklaces I wear most days. A star pendant and a necklace with Eric's initials on it. Would those work?” Sookie liked the idea of the charms being her own things. That way it wouldn't be an inconvenience to wear them.

“They'll work just fine. Sookie will give them to you tomorrow and you will cast the concealment spells upon them,” Eric responded. Having all of his questions answered, Eric ordered, “For now I have arranged that you will all be staying at a hotel in Monroe until suitable housing can be provided for you. You will each report to Sookie when she is next available to assemble detailed profiles on each of you. I expect nightly reports prepared illustrating your progress on Sookie's brother, which is your priority after you make Sookie's concealment charms. Afterwards I have additional tasks for you.”

“Which are?” Octavia inquired.

“I want you to assemble a registry of all the witches and covens you know of, and who might be trustworthy enough and able to join us in our fight against Sargon. By the end of the week I want a battle plan from you all. The skills you bring to the table, and what your magic can do to aid in the battle. You will report to me at the end of the week and I'll decide how best to utilize you,” Eric explained.

Octavia assured the king they would get started on it as soon as possible, but reminded Eric that they did not know all the witches and covens in the world. Eric made a note to talk to Caesar and Ahmose and see if he could offer some insight into how best to catalogue all the witches and covens that Octavia and the other witches here couldn't account for. Having done all he could do here tonight, Eric stood and pulled Sookie to her feet. Since the other vampires were still involved in the meet-and-greet the hackers, he decided now was the perfect time to talk to Sookie. “That is all for now. Meet with Sookie tomorrow and form the charms.”

As Eric began to pull Sookie along after him Sookie tossed over her shoulder, “Thank you so much for all your help! I'll get with you tomorrow about when to do the charms and when I can start on your profiles.”

Noticing that Pam was not following, Eric stopped at the door and focused on his child as he called, “Pamela?”

Not taking her eyes off of Amelia, who was shifting around in her seat nervously from the intense scrutiny, Pam replied, “I'll be along later. Amelia and I are going to talk.”

“Pamela, now is not the time,” Eric cautioned.

Still focusing solely on Amelia, Pam countered, “It is the perfect time. The others are busy and you obviously want to be alone with Sookie. Amelia and I can have our own discussion.”

“Pam, I don't-“

“We're just going to talk, Eric.” Pam wanted him gone. In fact she wanted everyone but Amelia gone.

Eric looked between his child and the witch girl before deciding trying to force the issue would only exacerbate matters. He had enough trouble with Sookie currently, and he didn't want to incur Pam's wrath as well. Turning back towards the door he kept a firm hold on Sookie's wrist and pulled her along after him.

When they were gone Pam ordered, “Everyone but Amelia get out.”

Octavia and Amelia shared a worried look, before Octavia asked, “And where are we supposed to go?”

“I don't know and I don't care. I wouldn't suggest going into the main house or interrupting the King and his mate, but you will all leave now.” Pam let her eyes trail over Amelia's features carefully, taking in every nuance. The girl was slight, with very delicate features and big doe eyes. 'She looks like a pixie,' Pam thought with satisfaction. She would hate to have an ugly child.

Seeing Amelia's fearful expression as well as Octavia's hesitant one, Pam assured, “The girl is in no danger. I simply wish to speak privately with her.”

When Octavia glanced at her, clearly waiting to hear her verdict, Amelia swallowed thickly and whispered, “It's alright, Octavia. I'll just see what she wants and catch up with you guys later.”

There was a lot of shuffling as all the witches gathered their things and left the house, and once they were gone Amelia found the silence surrounding her and Pam oppressing. When she could stand it no longer she asked, “So-uh, you wanted to speak with me?”

Pam didn't beat around the bush. “What are your thoughts on vampires?”

Eyebrows raising, Amelia parroted, “Vampires?”

“Yes, what are your thoughts on my kind.”

“Scary as shit.”

Pam smiled. Her future child was not only attractive, but feisty. “Indeed, but I'd like a more thorough analysis if you can provide one.”

“Well, you guys are really fast, and strong, and some of you have special talents when you rise, and you-“

“No, no. Not that kind of analysis. I know you know about our physical abilities. I want your personal opinion on my kind.”

Wringing her hands, Amelia replied, “Well that would be hard to do.”

Cocking her head to the side, Pam asked, “And why is that?”

“Well I have an opinion of vampires in general, and I have an opinion of the few vampires I've interacted with on a personal level.”

“Tell me both.”

“And you won't hurt me for my opinion?”

“Not in the least.”

Amelia didn't give herself time to think. She simply answered Pam's question before her fear could talk her out of it. “Well as a whole I think vampires are arrogant, untrustworthy, greedy, and damn near evil. They only think about themselves and will hurt anyone or anything to further their own goals.”

When Pam remained silent, Amelia finished, “On a personal level I've met three vampire's that weren't all that bad. They treated me with as much respect as a vampire is capable of towards a human, I guess, and they made good on their promises to me.”

“Who were these vampires?” Pam asked.

“They were vampires that hired Octavia and me to do spells for them. They didn't call us 'humans' and again, treated us with as much respect as I think vampires are capable of. They didn't threaten or demean us, and one of them actually got in the face of another vampire that was being hostile with me.”

“So you liked these vampires?”

“I wouldn't say that. I'd say I was less offended by them than most vampires. I have no illusions that each of them would have killed me if it had suited their needs.”

“So you don't like vampires?”

Amelia eyed Pam and asked again, “You want the full truth, even if it will tick you off?”

Nodding, Pam assured, “I will not hurt you for anything you say to me.”

“I think vampires are hypocrites. They look down on humans and conveniently forget they were once human. They forget that they need humans to survive and treat everyone like dirt. I think most vampires need a good kick in the ass.”

“You are so much like Sookie,” Pam laughed.

“The queen?” Amelia was literally in awe of the new queen and had so many questions she wanted to ask the woman that was going to help them change the world.

Seeing Amelia's excited expression, Pam offered, “If you want to meet her I can arrange it.”


“Yes, but first we must finish our discussion.” Holding the younger girl's gaze, Pam asked, “Have you ever thought about being a vampire?”

“Not really. I took up witchcraft when I was really young, before I really ever even knew about vampires. My friends and I watched 'The Craft' when we were young and we started playing around. They all grew out of it but I managed to float a pencil on my own one night so I knew magic was real. I started researching it and was able to do simple spells on my own. I ran into Octavia when I was 17 and found out about the supernatural world. By then even though I was a witch with little power and a long way to go to get any I was still a witch and couldn't be turned according to Octavia. So I've never really thought about it.”

“Think about it now.”

Not understanding, Amelia asked, “Why?”

“Because I want you to.”

“But why?”

Pam thought about telling her, but was unsure if she should. There were still so many problems between her and this girl and their inevitable future together, not to mention the situation with Sargon. Also, she wanted to get to know the girl on a personal level before turning her. She wanted to be “friends” with her first. She wanted Amelia to trust and care for her before she brought up turning her. The girl obviously didn't have a high opinion of vampires and Pam wanted a chance to change her perspective before revealing her intents.

Finally, Pam responded, “I'd like you to answer the question, Amelia.”

Curious but confused why Pam wanted her to contemplate the impossible, Amelia grimaced, “I don't think I'd like it. The whole never growing old thing would be pretty nice, but the rest of it would probably make me miserable. Watching everyone I know and care about grow old and die? Never seeing the sun again? Never getting to eat chocolate again? Turning into a gigantic bitch? I don't think any of that would make me happy.”

'So there are the problems I must address to help transition her into her vampire life. With Sookie around and her power over the fairies, sunlight will no longer be a problem. We might not get enough fairy blood after the war to be immune to sunlight every night, but we can certainly get enough to walk in the sun from time to time. As for the family and friend thing, I guess once I secure her affections and loyalties it will be easier for her to watch them all pass away. And as for being a bitch? She is just unaware of how closely vampires guard their emotions. Once she comes to truly know me and Eric she'll see that we aren't so bad … except to our enemies.'

Pam was pleased that the issues concerning her future child were so few and easily dealt with. If the girl had harbored a fundamental problem with vampires due to past experiences it might have made things difficult. Having a rough game plan in mind, Pam said, “I would like us to spend time together when we are both not working.”

“Like a date?” Amelia found this whole conversation weird.

“No.” While Pam was sure that she and Amelia would be intimate often once she was turned, as most Makers and children were, she wanted the foundation of their relationship to be built on trust and friendship. Just as Eric had done with her. “I would like us to be friends. I'm going shopping tomorrow, would you like to come with me?”

She had officially entered the twilight zone! “Shopping? You want to take me shopping? You want to be my friend?”


Casting her eyes about the room, Amelia asked, “Am I being Punk'd? Is Ashton Kutcher hiding somewhere?”

“I do not understand,” Pam frowned, unsure what her future child was talking about.

“Never mind, it's a pop reference.”

“Well then would you like to go shopping with me tomorrow or not? Eric cut me off from his credit cards so I'll have to use my own money, but since I never use my own money I have plenty. I'll buy you whatever you want. You missed the La Perla sale last week, but several of my favorite shoe stores are having sales. We could get manis and pedis too!”

As Pam's excitement grew Amelia started to get more and more freaked out. This whole situation was bizarre. “I don't know what to say.”

“Say yes.”

“Okay, let me clarify. I don't understand why you want to be friends or why you want to take me shopping.”

“I like you.”

“As in dinner? Or entertainment?”

“Neither. I want to be your friend and you mine. My offer to go shopping and spend time together is genuine.” When Amelia hesitated, Pam offered, “If you agree to spend time with me and get to know me as a friend I will arrange for you to meet Sookie one-on-one.” Pam was not above such tactics. Eric had taught her well.

Amelia thought about it for a moment and finally replied, “I guess that when we get some free time we can hang out. As long as you promise not to bite me or make me do anything I don't want to.”

“I give you my word. Now, why don't you tell me about yourself? What is your favorite designer? I prefer Valentino myself but Chanel is always good.”

Outside, Eric pulled Sookie into the barn. She seemed the most relaxed when with her animals doing everyday tasks. He figured they could groom Freya and Balder while discussing whatever it was that Sookie wanted to talk about. Hopefully it involved his return to her bed, and her smiling and reaching for him once again. After collecting two brushes he asked, “Who would you like to start with?”

“Freya.” Sookie smiled at the sight of Thor running around their feet. He loved playing in the barn. Once they were in Freya's stall and both standing on either side of her to begin grooming her, Sookie said, “I need to tell you something.”

“You can tell me anything, Sookie.”

“It's going to make you mad.”

Smirking at her, Eric offered, “A kiss would lighten my mood.”

“Not happening. I need you to promise to hear me out.”

“I give you my word.”

“I had Quinn move his little sister into one of the guest rooms upstairs. She's going to be living here with us until the whole Sargon mess is cleared up.”

The only indication that Eric had heard was the very slight stiffening of his body and tiny hesitation his hand had made while brushing. Both were gone almost as soon as they happened. When Eric remained silent, Sookie explained, “She's just a kid, Eric, and she needs looking after. Also, I don't think Quinn would be able to focus completely when he's here if he's worried about his sister.”

Continuing to brush Freya, Sookie continued, “You wanted me to do detailed profiles and find my Weres' weaknesses, well Frannie is a big one for Quinn. You know how deep he got in with vamps for his family, and we should try to head problems off at the pass. Frannie will be safe here and Quinn won't have to worry about her. If she's here Sargon can't get to her and use her against Quinn to get to us. Since he's an integral part of my daytime security I thought it was a pretty good idea.”

When Sookie fell silent, Eric commented, “If you thought her safest here, why is she not? Where is she?”

“She's out with some of the kids in Alcide's pack. I told her to go because I wanted a chance to talk to you about her staying here without her around in the event you had some less than favorable opinions about it I didn't want her around to hear it. She's got tender feelings and I didn't want you stomping all over them. She'll be back before dawn.”

They continued to brush the horse in silence while Eric digested the news. 'She should not have made a decision like this without consulting me. While her reasoning for letting the girl come live here is sound, the fact is it is a security issue and the decision should have been mine. She should have asked me first.'

“Why did you not ask me beforehand?” A muscle ticked in Eric's jaw. He worked his jaw a bit, not liking that he was being overlooked for an important decision such as this.

“Because I didn't want to give you the chance to say no. I figured it was better to ask for your forgiveness than permission.”

Chancing a look at her, Eric took in the grim expression Sookie was sporting and decided he didn't want to do what she obviously expected of him. His smile faded. Sookie was evidently waiting for him to lay into her over this. 'She thinks this will cause another rift between us. While I do not like that she did this without my permission, I do not want to fight with her over it. The girl will be a nuisance, to be sure, but as long as Sookie keeps her out from underfoot it shouldn't be too much of a problem. Of course, I can use this situation to my advantage.'

Making his decision, Eric announced, “She may stay. I ask only that from now you ask me before making such decisions that directly affect your security. You must think of Egil now.”

“I'm always thinking of Peanut. I know Frannie and she's not a danger to me.”

“Everyone that is not me is a danger to you, and I'm not done with my conditions.”

“By all means.”

“Secondly, she is to know nothing of what we are doing to fight Sargon. When not in her room she will be escorted around the property by one of your fairy guards. She will bring no one back here, speak to no one of what is going on here, and from now on she will not come and go from this compound so easily. This is for security purposes.”

After considering it for a minute Sookie decided those stipulations were probably a good thing. “I see no problem with that.”

“Good, and finally, in exchange for me not deliberately being mean to the girl just because I can, you must agree to one date with me a week.”

Arching a brow, Sookie asked, “And how would we do that? You don't want me leaving the barrier.”

“We will have our dates here. Movie nights and things like that. Nights where things are good between us again.”

Releasing a sigh, Sookie said, “Eric, things would be better between us if you'd apologize and partake in a little personal growth. Don't you think I want things back to the way they were?”

“Then forgive me and move past this fool-“ at Sookie's hardened expression he quickly amended, “dilemma.”

She was pleased he'd stopped himself from belittling her feelings or what he'd done. It was a tiny step in the right direction. Now she just needed to get him to believe that what he did was wrong on his own. “I can't forgive you, Eric, because you don't think you've done anything wrong. Until you can look at what happened, realize how badly you treated me, how badly you hurt me and our relationship, I can't move past it.”

“But you want to?”

“Desperately. Eric, I need you more than I've ever needed you right now. I love you with everything I am. You're my mate and the father of my son. Our life together is my whole world, but I can't settle for less than what I deserve and need.”

“Which is?”

Brushing Freya's flank, Sookie explained, “I need a partner, Eric. I need another half to make me whole. I need a man that respects me as much as I respect him. I need a man that doesn't want to control me, but wants to work with me. I want someone to share my problems with, not someone that tries to take them and solve them on their own because he thinks I'm too weak or stupid to help. I want someone I can trust to have my back, trust to treat me right, and trust will never try to make be less than what I am.”

Not looking at Eric, Sookie continued, “I love you, Eric, and I trust you with my safety, but I no longer trust you with my heart.”

Eric actually flinched. “Sookie ….” His jaw was clenched, his body taut as if he were bracing for a blow.

As an uncomfortable silence grew between them, Sookie rushed to fill it. “Eric, as much as you may hate to hear it, or refuse to admit it, what you did to me the other night was the same kind of attack Sophie-Anne did, and it hurt me almost as much as losing Jason. You forced me to my knees in front of everyone, in front of the people that mean the most to me, and you treated me like an object. Like a pet. You kicked me while I was down, and what's worse, you couldn't even look me in the eye when you did it. You didn't look at me at all, like I wasn't important. All you cared about was watching Tara and driving home what kind of power you had. You didn't care about how much your actions were hurting me, because in that moment your pride was more important than my feelings and well being. I gave you my heart in Sweden and you broke it and spit on it. Tossed it at your feet in order to show someone you don't care about at all how great and powerful you are. Until you can see that it was wrong, that you were wrong and that part of you has to change if you want to be with me, there will be no forgiveness.”

From the corner of her eye she saw his hand holding the brush stop before dropping completely as she finished, “I gave you my heart and you broke it and shoved it back to me as I knelt at your feet by your command. I'm going to put it back together and hold onto it until I decide you're worthy of it again. You need to work towards being worthy, because from here on out pretty words and grand gestures of affection aren't going to get you anything. If you want things to be as they were you need to change. It's as simple as that.”

Eric looked at Sookie with horrified eyes. Each and every word that had poured out of her mouth had been like a knife to his heart. He felt like he was bleeding. He should be bleeding after an attack like that. Stepping back from Freya he asked, “Your heart is no longer mine? You don't love me?”

Shaking her head, Sookie explained, “Eric, you once told me that my heart is who I am, and you were right. My heart is what drives me, rules me. My love is all I truly have; it's my gift to others. Do I love you? Yes, but my heart isn't entrusted to you. I don't trust you with anything other than my safety. You've proven that, for now at least, you're incapable of protecting the most important part of me.”

“Sookie, I don't—“

“Eric, I don't think we should talk about this any more. You need to reevaluate how you feel about me, how you feel about us, and what you want for our future. I see a long and happy life with you; filled with love and children, but only if you're willing to be equals. If you can't learn to see and think of me as your partner, as your other half and not just as an accessory in your life that makes you happy, then this isn't going to work.”

When it looked like he was going to say more, Sookie held her hand up and said, “Eric, don't. We're just going to go 'round and 'round. You still think I'm wrong, and I know you're wrong. So I don't want to talk about it any more. You need to think about everything and figure it out for yourself. As for these 'dates'? I don't think they're a good idea. One, the whole thing reminds me of when you manipulated me by using Jessica, and I don't want any part of that. I shouldn't have to worry that my mate is manipulating me. I get that you've survived this long by being that way, and I understand you're always going to have to work to maintain the upper hand with supes, but it shouldn't be that way between us. There shouldn't be subterfuge and power plays between us. I want trust and love. Not deals and exchanges.”

Eric watched Sookie as she continued to brush Freya. This talk had not gone as he had planned, and he was upset. He was upset that Sookie had painted their relationship in such a negative light, likened their relationship to those he held with other supes, and negated his feelings for her … and yet he couldn't think of how to refute her claims. He couldn't stand moments like this where she made him stumble, made him question everything, made him feel less than. He hated it when Sookie gained the upper hand and had him feeling like an adolescent boy. He decided retreat was in order, as it seemed to be much of the time these days when dealing with his mate.

Stepping back from the horse he said, “I'm going to brush Balder and when we're done we'll go inside and see what the others have decided as to who will bond with whom. The girl may stay, just keep her out from underfoot.”

“Alright.” She watched beneath lowered lashes as Eric stalked from Freya's stall and wondered if anything she'd said would truly sink into that thick head of his. She had ordered several relationship books online yesterday and had Bobby pick them up at the nearest Barnes & Noble today. She intended for Eric to read them so he'd have a better understanding of how she felt about this, and what she needed from him, but decided now wasn't the time to tell him that he was going to be given homework. She needed to explain her reasoning with “feeling” words and couching those in terms he wouldn't find dictatorial or threatening.

Eric entered Balder's stall and while the gelding looked up from his feed box to glance at him, he had apparently decided Eric wasn't worth his attention and went right back to eating. Eric didn't mind. He needed time to think, and had sought the distance he'd need to do so. He had such hopes for his talk with Sookie tonight, and yet she'd destroyed those hopes and eviscerated him with her harsh words. He rubbed his forehead with the heel of his hands before dropping them to pat the horse soundly.

Sookie's words had jarred him far more than he would have believed. She was the most important thing in his life. His need for her was all consuming, and he cherished her love. Held it close and guarded it fiercely. While he didn't love her, he did need her in order to survive. If she were to die he would not be able to go on without her. He'd have to meet the sun. And her love? He wasn't sure he could live without it either. He needed her to look at him as though he was her world as she had at the cabin. He needed her to seek shelter in his arms, to smile and laugh and play with him. He needed her to be his own personal sun, and now she was making it clear he was dangerously close to losing her. He growled a curse.

'I was not wrong that night. Sookie does not understand how the supernatural world works. She does not understand than any perceived weakness is an invitation to others to attack. She does not understand that if other vampires think I cannot control her, do not control her, am not strong enough to control her, that they will try to take her from me. Once I am High King, once Sargon is dealt with, the truth of what Sookie is will be out. Every vampire in the world will want her, will want to see if she can do for them what she's done for me. They will hope she can give them the sun and telekinesis. That is why I cannot allow others to challenge my authority. All must know that if they threaten my relationship with Sookie, threaten my power or authority in any way I will destroy them. My position must be without question.'

Running the brush along Balder's foreleg to remove the dirt that had accumulated there during the day, Eric pondered, 'But what is the point of maintaining my power and position if it costs me Sookie? How do I find a middle ground? Sookie will not back down from this. I am beginning to see that, and if I try and force her it could truly cost me her heart. I can't allow that to happen. I've come too far to risk such a thing. I've worked so hard to win Sookie's love for myself, I cannot lose it now. But how do I fix this? How do I get her to see that my actions did not mean I do not value her, respect her, care for her?'

In Texas, Tara dropped her bag on the bed of the room they'd been provided. As promised, Eggs had taken her to meet Reverend Newlin at a neutral place. She'd been skeptical, leery of what the fanatical man might do, but the meeting had gone much better than she'd expected. Newlin had actually appeared quite concerned about Sookie, assuring Tara that he'd had no idea that her friend had been forced to go to his church as a favor to a vampire in order to save Lafayette from said vampire's dungeon. He'd been shocked and outraged on Sookie's behalf, repeating much of what Eggs had said; the vampires were using Sookie for their own gain and that they had to do whatever was necessary to save her.

Newlin had told her the only reason he'd locked Sookie up was because he thought she was another fangbanger that wanted to leave God's graceful light and had agreed to rescue the other vampire in exchange for being turned. Tara had assured him that Sookie hated the idea of being vampire and had only come because she'd had no other choice. When Newlin asked if Sookie really was telepathic Tara had been hesitant to answer, but decided if they were going to help her rescue her friend she had to trust them. She'd told Newlin that Sookie was telepathic and that was why Eric and the others wanted her so much. That was when Eggs had suggested that once they succeeded in rescuing Sookie from the vampires she would want to help other humans like her, humans enslaved to vampire will, to escape that world. Newlin had leapt at the idea. Newlin had told them that as they were known friends of Sookie it was not safe for them to wander around unprotected, even offering up the idea that Eric would probably be sending vampires after them to deal with them permanently so they couldn't interfere with his treatment of Sookie in the future. He'd invited them to come stay at the Fellowship of the Sun until they could figure out what to do about rescuing Sookie. After thinking it over Tara had agreed.

So here they were. They'd arrived just before sunset and been given the tour of the facility. Tara had to admit it appeared the Fellowship was well organized and she hoped they'd be able to help her rescue Sookie, Lafayette, and Sam. When the tour was over Newlin suggested that she go get their stuff settled in their room while he spoke with Eggs about what jobs they perform around here. Newlin made it clear that as they were a nonprofit organization everyone had to pull their own weight. So she was unpacking their bags while Eggs met with Newlin in his office.

On the other side of the compound Steve Newlin took a seat at his desk while Eggs sat down in one of the chairs opposite it. They had spoken briefly to each other on the phone earlier today before the initial meet so that Newlin would know how to act around Tara, but now was the important conversation both men needed to have with the other.

When Eggs was seated, Newlin said, “I have no intention of rescuing that whore of Satan, Mr. Benedict. I hope you realize that. While her freakish ability would be useful to us, she is a traitor to her race and must burn.”

“I don't care what you do to Sookie as long as you make it appear like an accident. Tara is messed up when it comes to that girl. Sookie has done some nice things for me since I've known her, but she's also dragged me and Tara into some major shit. Sookie is so obsessed with vampires it got her brother murdered and turned into one! I'm not going to let me and Tara be next,” Eggs replied with absolutely no sympathy.

Brows raising, Steve gasped, “Jason Stackhouse is a vampire?”

“Yep. The Queen of Louisiana wanted to turn Sookie or make her a pet or whatever, and, when Eric took Sookie instead, the queen killed Jason and turned him to hurt Sookie.” In Eggs' mind what had happened to Jason was all Sookie's fault. The girl should have had the common sense to stay the hell away from vampires. His relationship with Maryann Forrester was different. He hadn't known she was a supe so it wasn't his fault. Sookie knew damn good and well what Eric was.

“I knew that boy was nothing but trouble,” Steve remarked. When Eggs made no response, he asked, “So what exactly is your plan here?”

“I don't have the details worked out or anything, but I'm hoping that staying here with normal folk, good God fearing folk, will wake Tara up. Make her see that Sookie and all the freaky fucked up shit that comes with her isn't for us. I just want to make a good life with Tara. Get married and have some kids. Have a nice normal life. We can't have that if Sookie is a part of it. So I was hoping that we could just lay low for awhile, let Tara get used to not always being in danger, not always have monsters chasing us, death hovering over us.”

“And after that?”

“Well, that's pretty much up to you. Tara won't directly do anything she thinks might jeopardize Sookie, so you'll have to play her real careful like. I was thinking that once Tara settles in here, gets used to you guys and makes some normal friends, you guys could probably convince her to contact Sookie, maybe get Sookie to meet her somewhere.”

Seeing where Eggs was going with his thinking, Steve smiled, nodding vigorously as he finished, “And Tara will think we will be meeting her to rescue her from her vampire captors while in fact we use the opening as a chance to take her out.”

“Making it look like an accident,” Eggs insisted. He knew that if anything overt happened to Sookie because of the Fellowship she would blame him and he'd lose her. He didn't want that to happen. The whole point of this was to cut Sookie out of Tara's life permanently while not endangering his relationship with Tara.

“Of course, we can do that.” Steve affirmed, having no real intention of doing that. He planned to make sure the girl's death was gruesome, and it would be a message to not only the vampires, but to the wicked and sinful humans that attached themselves to such unnatural creatures. Sookie Stackhouse would pay for her transgressions against God's chosen warriors. “Now, tell me all you know about Sookie and the foul creatures she associates with. Leave nothing out. Any information is useful.”

Outside of Louisiana, Sophie-Anne tapped her lacquered nails impatiently against the armrest of the chair she was sitting in. She and her children had once again taken refuge in the home of humans. They'd burned the last home and moved half a state over to find another sanctuary. Most of the human family was still alive as Sophie-Anne planned to stay in this home for a little while and the family would make sufficient snacks for the time being. Last night she'd made a call to one of her few remaining resources to try and find out where the girl Tara was and had come up with zilch. Jason, in a rare moment of intelligence, had suggested he call one of his friends in Bon Temps tonight before anyone found out he was a vampire and see if he could find anything. Luckily enough, the plan had worked.

Upon rising, Jason had called his lifelong friend Hoyt and asked if he'd heard anything about Tara. If Hoyt thought the question odd or Jason's attitude cold and brusque he hadn't said so according to Jason, and had, in fact, provided some valuable information. Many people in Bon Temps had noticed the missing members of the Merlotte's staff as Sookie, Tara, Lafayette, and Eggs had made up a good portion of those that worked there. When Sam had returned to work today and announced that none of them were coming back there had been many questions. Sam had been pretty tight lipped with the townsfolk but they had been able to weasel a few things out of him according to Hoyt. One being that Sookie and Lafayette were no longer working there because they worked for Eric now, and that Tara and Eggs had skipped town. Jason had hung up on his former friend as soon as he'd had the information and reported everything to his queen.

Sophie-Anne had been pleased to learn that the girl had left Sookie's side. Tara Thornton would be much easier to get to since she was no longer under Eric Northman's watchful eye. Now the primary problem was to find where the girl had gone. She'd sent out her children to see if they could ferret out any information. She was too widely known, her fall from grace and Eric's dislike of her were fresh in much of the supe community's mind. Hopefully her children weren't as easily recognized. The twins probably would be, and Waldo most certainly, but hopefully Jason would be able to move about unnoticed. She'd ordered Sigebert and Wybert to give Jason a rundown on vampire etiquette and politics so he wouldn't get into trouble the night before.

So now she was waiting for them to return. Without the resources she had as a queen she knew it was going to be hard to find the girl, but she was hoping her children would have some luck. She had no money to bribe anyone, and no longer was in the position of queen to threaten them. She hated not having power. She hated not having power when she owed pain and devastation so much to others.

'I wish Andre was here,' she thought with sadness. 'He always makes everything better for me. He always got me everything I wanted and I never had to do anything but issue the orders. Why did Eric have to kill him? Why not any of my other children? Or all of them! I wouldn't have cared as long as he spared Andre! And for what? To avenge the turning of a human? To make that stupid little slut Sookie feel better? How dare he kill my child for that whore!'

The gaping hole that was once her connection to Andre ached inside her. She missed her first and most beloved child keenly. She missed his strength, his intelligence, his unwavering calm. His only emotions were for her so he'd always been able to carry out each and every one of her wishes without fail because he cared only for keeping her happy. She missed him. She missed him more than she ever thought she'd be capable of missing anyone. Rage filled her the memory of his loss, the knowledge he was lost to her because of that fairy cunt Sookie.

'When I get my hands on that girl there aren't words for how I'm going to hurt her. She will beg me for death. I will violate her in every conceivable way.' An idea popping into her head she thought, 'I will have Jason rape her repeatedly! That will definitely break that girl's soul. To have her own brother rape, beat and feed from her? Oh yes, she will beg and plead for mercy, beg for my forgiveness, but I will have none. I will watch the light die in that girl's eyes as Jason tortures her, stripping her of every shred of innocence she has. And I will film it all and deliver the recording to Eric. He will watch as I destroy his love, he will feel her die as I felt Andre ripped from me. That is the punishment he deserves for taking my child from me.'

Feeling her bond with Jason sing with his presence, Sophie-Anne turned her eyes towards the door and watched as her newest child strode into the house. When he came to kneel at her feet she asked, “What have you found?”

Bowing his head, Jason replied, “I did as you asked and tried to find out if there was a way for me to track Tara when I visited the vampire hang out you assigned me, but I couldn't get much information without arousing suspicion, but ….”

“But what?!” She had no patience. None.

“I had another idea.” Glancing up at his maker, Jason quickly finished, “I went to a computer café and started glamouring the humans there until I found one that was pretty good with computers and asked her how to find a human off the grid.”

Stunned by her child's display of cunning, Sophie-Anne pressed, “And what did she say?”

“Under my influence she suggested that we find a tech analyst in the FBI and try to pick up a location using satellite monitoring systems. Tara will have to use a phone at some point, or someone will talk about her. I think we should go to the FBI office in Dallas and see if we can find an analyst and take it from there. We might even be able to get the analyst to funnel some money into an account for us since Northman took all of yours,” Jason explained.

Sitting back in her chair Sophie-Anne regarded Jason coolly. He was proving to be a better asset and child than she could have imagined. He was no Andre, and was still totally expendable, but he was coming through for her once again. Thinking over his words she decided his idea was a good one. Without the reach a monarch had she was out of options. She had no money and no authority so this was the only possible plan she had. “We will see what your siblings find when they return. If they have no better news we'll stay in the area for a while collecting money from humans through glamour to support us so we can go to Dallas. You have done well, Jason.”

Pleased that his maker was happy with him, Jason asked, “Can I take the daughter upstairs for a while?”

Waving her hand dismissively, Sophie-Anne stated, “Do as you wish, just make sure to save some for your brothers.”

As Jason darted away to collect his meal and entertainment for the evening, Sophie-Anne thought, 'I'm going to find this fucking human and use her to draw Sookie to me, and then I'm going to make that girl pay for all the crimes she's committed against me.'

Back at Sookie's, the hackers and vampires had finally come to an agreement and left the house to find the king; Pam having heard them leaving told Amelia to find her witch friends while she darted out of the house to join the others. They found Eric and Sookie in the barn in different stalls grooming Sookie's horses. There was a tension in the air that everyone picked up on, but no one remarked on it. Haldar was the first to speak as he told his blood brother, “We've made our decision.”

Eric and Sookie left their respective stalls and came to face the others. Eric took Sookie's brush and zipped into the tack room to return both of them to their proper places before coming back to stand at her side. They might be upset with each other, but they still stood together at times like these. “What have you decided?”

Placing his hand on Samuel's shoulder, Haldar said, “I'm going to bond to Samuel.”

Ivan took Boris's shoulder and pushed the boy gently forward as he added, “Ivan bond to Boris.”

Before anyone else could talk Sookie asked, “What about Boris's desire to be turned?”

Boris and Ivan shared a look before Boris answered, as Ivan's English still wasn't the best, “We talked about it. He doesn't really want to turn me as he doesn't feel any kind of pull to me, but he will if I agree to help you build your empire after Sargon is taken care of. He'll release me as soon as he turns me if you'd like, or maintain control of me while I work for you. We talked and he seems like a good guy.”

Han, obviously not pleased with this development, looked at Ivan. Ivan had no children and Han didn't like the idea that his first child would be one he would turn only because of extenuating circumstances. He didn't mind the boy so much, but he wanted more for his lover than a business deal for his first child. In any case it was Ivan's decision and he would support him. Before Sookie could say more, Han announced, “I have agreed to bond with Sarah. She wishes to help but has no desire to have much to do with any of us after this problem is solved. She has been planning her exit from the group and her retirement for some time. This is her last fight, as she put it. I believe we will work well together.”

As Caesar was the last he stated the obvious. “And that leaves me with this lovely creature.” Smiling at the sassy Irish girl standing next to him he added, “I believe I too will work well with Brianna.”

Nodding her head, Brianna agreed, “While the fact this guy is the actual Julius Caesar from history kind of unsettles me, he has been very courteous and assured me that no one is going to make me do anything I don't want to. Apparently he has respect for humans like Ahmose does. He told me he was bonded to a woman named Cara once before and that this whole endeavor is a bit difficult for him to swallow as well.”

Pleased with the progress, Eric turned his eyes to Ahmose and asked, “What do you think of the pairings?”

“I think they will work quite well, especially since these bondings will only last for as long as it takes us to defeat Sargon.” Ahmose had been surprised at how well the hackers and vampires had divided themselves up. While he, too, was skeptical about Boris's determination to be turned and Ivan's agreement to do so, he still thought the pairing would work out well.

Before Eric could say anything more one of the fairy guards came running in and announced, “My king, your day man is at the entrance near the road and says he needs to speak with you urgently. He says he's got Sargon on his cell.”

Everyone froze. After the call the other night Eric had ordered that all cell phones and transmitting electronics be removed until the hackers could set up a proper defense system. Supposedly the statues would prevent Sargon's surveillance, but Eric wasn't taking any chances. Until he could combat Sargon's technology with his own he was playing it safe.

Processing the information quickly, Eric turned to Han and ordered, “Go get the phone.” Focusing on the hackers Eric asked, “Can you track his location with this call?”

“We might be able to,” Samuel replied. “But I wouldn't advise we try. With his connections and the equipment we have currently, to try would tip our hand. He'd probably catch on that we're trying to track him and know you have hackers working for you now. Until we have our new equipment we shouldn't try it.”

Eric nodded his head, understanding the advantage of waiting. It took Han only a moment to do so and when he returned he handed the phone over to Eric without a word. Everyone waited in tense silence to see what would happen.

Placing the phone at his ear, Eric growled, “Northman.”

Sargon wasted no time and launched into the problem. “Tara Thornton has joined the Fellowship of the Sun. Her boyfriend, Eggs Benedict, has convinced her you have brainwashed Sookie and that she is, in essence, your hostage. Eggs is using this to his advantage. He is working with Newlin to convince Tara they want to rescue Sookie from you when in reality they want to use Tara to draw Sookie out to assassinate her. Eggs wants Sookie out of Tara's life permanently. Sophie-Anne and her children are also looking for Tara. They too want to use her to draw Sookie out. You must speak with Sookie and make it clear she can have no contact with her friend. The girl is lost.”

“How do you know this?” Eric asked.

“I've been monitoring both Tara and Sophie-Anne ever since they left. I don't want Sookie to lose any more friends, and I didn't want to risk Sophie-Anne would do anything more to hurt Sookie. Why you let that woman go at all is beyond me.”

Eric had his reasons, but wasn't about to divulge them. Instead he gritted, “Why are you telling me any of this?”

“You are not the only one concerned with Sookie's safety, Northman.”

All the vampires could hear the conversation, but Sookie was in the dark and asked, “What's going on?”

Eric glanced down at Sookie and answered, “Eggs has manipulated Tara into going to the Fellowship of the Sun so that they can rescue you from my clutches.”

Eric heard Sookie gasp as her hand went to her mouth while he continued, “Miss Thornton was told she was on her own once she left and Sookie knows the situation concerning her.”

There was a brief pause before Sargon asked, “May I speak with her?”

Eric wanted to snarl in denial. He wanted to crush the phone in his hand and scatter the pieces on the wind. He wanted to hurt something fiercely, and most of all he didn't want there to be any contact between his mate and Sargon … but he reined in his frustration. He remembered his conversation in his office with Ahmose about using Sookie to ferret out information concerning Sargon, using his supposed affection for his mate to try and get some kind of leverage. As much as he hated to do it Eric held the phone out to Sookie as he mouthed silently, “Find out as much as you can, give as little away as possible.”

Sookie, understanding how much it must pain Eric to do this, and how much they needed information, took the phone gingerly and asked, “Hello?”

“Sookie,” Sargon's tone was reverent. “How are you?”

“Fine, considering.”

“Yes, you do have much to worry about these days do you not?”

“You should know. You're at the root of all my problems, aren't you?”

Sargon's voice was apologetic but gentle as he replied, “It pains me to admit that is so. I do not wish to cause you undue stress. It is not good for you or our son.”

At those words Eric cursed and strode fiercely out from the barn, putting his fist through part of the wall as he went. He knew they had to utilize moments like this as much as they could, but his tolerance only went so far. He would meet with Sookie and find out the rest of what was said when the conversation was over. He was too unstable at the moment.

Sookie winced as she watched Eric stalk out and when he was no longer in earshot she turned back furiously into the phone and hissed, “He's not your son! He's mine and Eric's!”

Sargon conceded, “I will not say as much to you again while this fight takes place.” He was not going to argue because he valued this moment with her and knew Eric might not grant him another. He fell silent in contemplation. How to make her understand the rightness of this? The destiny of this?

With his silence Sookie decided to press her luck and asked, “Are you still supplying those pills to the Fellowship?”

“No, they have the means to manufacture them on their own now. Once I pointed them in the right direction they organized quickly. I was actually surprised.”

When he offered no more on the subject Sookie said, “I have a lot of vampire friends, and I don't want any of them to be infected by those pills. Them or their children.”

Again there was only silence as a response and Sookie wondered if she was overplaying her hand. Finally Sargon sighed, “You and Eric have decided to use my feelings for you against me. You want to protect the army of vampires Eric is building to fight me from my own offensive endeavors.”

Sookie flinched. He hadn't sounded angry, but he hadn't sounded pleased. Looking at the vampires around her and seeing no indication as to what she should do, she finally answered, “Like you, we're willing to do anything we have to in order to protect our son.”

“Spoken like a true mother,” Sargon chuckled softly. He remained silent for a moment longer before adding, “Ask me.”

“Ask you what?”

“Ask me for my help.”

Sookie's hand tightened on the phone as she forced herself to ask, “Can you help us combat those pills?”

“My name, Sookie, use my name.” He needed to hear her say his name. She'd only said it once when he'd met her before. Only once. He needed to hear it again.

Understanding heated her belly uncomfortably, though she was willing to give it to him if it aided their cause. Sookie begged, “Sargon, can you please tell me how to protect my vampires from that pill?”

“Yes, and I'll do you one better. I'll tell you how to combat the effect of the pills and I'll tell you where half of the Fellowship cells are.”

Sookie's silence prodded him to continue, “Believe it or not, I had the pill designed to be easily detectable. Any human that has consumed it becomes immediately and highly allergic to lemon juice, much like fairies. Temporarily at least. Have your vampires carry lemon juice with them and have their meals ingest a small portion before feeding from them.”

“Won't that hurt the human if they're that affected by the pill?”

“No, the allergy presents with a full body rash that appears within minutes. The rash, much as the allergy, will fade as soon as the effects of the pill wear off.”

“And how long does the pill last in a person?”

“One pill will infect a single person for roughly 36 hours. I will also tell you that the older the vampire the stronger the pill will affect them. I designed them that way. Newborns would be made weak, but older vampires like Eric and your guards would be completely incapacitated for days.”

“What is the pill made of?”

“I'm not going to answer that one.”

She was hoping she would get a bit further with him, but she was still doing good. “The cells?”

“My name. Again. Say my name again.”

Closing her eyes, Sookie forced herself to say, “Where are those cells, Sargon?”

“I will email the location to your Viking.” There was a muffled noise in the background and Sargon sighed, “I'm sorry, Sookie, but I must go. I hope to speak to you again.” There was a slight pause before he added, “I love you, Sookie.”


Looking down at the phone, Sookie took a moment to replay everything that had just happened. When she looked up she could feel the heavy stares of the vampires around her, but it was the humans that spoke first.

Brianna drew attention to her as she asked, “So that was him, eh?”

Nodding grimly, Sookie agreed, “Yeah.” Looking at Pam she asked, “Do you know Eric's email?” When Pam nodded she said, “Go get my laptop out of the house. It's upstairs on my dresser. Go outside of the barrier and get the email and bring it to Eric.”

When Pam darted out to follow her order Sookie headed after Eric. As she passed, Boris called out, “Where are you going?”

“After my mate.” No matter how upset she was with Eric, she knew he needed her right now. He'd need her immensely.

Running out of the barn Sookie knew immediately where Eric was going to go, and, as expected, she found him standing stiffly in the center of their circle. He was facing the woods with his arms crossed angrily over his chest. She came up behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist as she pressed fully up against him. “We're going to beat him, Eric. He's not going to take our son from us.”

Eric didn't turn around and continued to stare into the night tensely as he said, “I cannot stand him speaking with you. I cannot stand the thought of you hearing his voice or him hearing yours. I cannot stand the thought of him ever seeing you, let alone touching you. And the idea that he believes Egil is his son? That he has a right to my son? Drives me insane!”

“He's not going to get me or Peanut, Eric, and he's delusional. Remember that. His obviously altered mental state can help us.”

“Or it can prove more dangerous. A rabid animal is far more dangerous than a hungry one.” When Sookie remained silent he pressed, “What did you learn?”

“I learned how to prevent infection from the pills, and he's emailing you the location of half the Fellowship cells. Pam's getting my computer and leaving the barrier to retrieve the email.”

Still staring into the darkness, Eric remarked, “Well at least my sacrifice was rewarded.”

Pressing her cheek against his back as her arms tightened around him, Sookie insisted, “This isn't easy for me either, Eric. I don't want to talk to him. I did it because it gives us an advantage to use against him.”

“I know this, but it doesn't make it any easier. I want him dead. I want him dead and gone, never to threaten you again.”

“And he will be. We're getting stronger by the night. We have the hackers now and now we know how to protect our vampires from that stupid pill. You can begin building your army now.”

“It is not enough, Sookie. Sargon could be gone and I could have command of every creature in this world and I would still not feel you and my son are safe enough.”

“Worry wart.”

Eric snorted and she felt some of the tension drain from his rigid back. He finally turned into Sookie's embrace. Linking his own arms around her he stared down into her glimmering eyes for a moment, trying to let his own intense feelings for her shine through before he leaned down and kissed her brow. “I will let no one take you from me. Especially not Sargon.”

Smiling up at her Viking, Sookie said, “There's my Viking! Thought I might have lost you there for a moment, wallowing in your doubts as you were instead of being all arrogant and domineering.”

“I am not arrogant or domineering. I'm very self aware and confident,” he remarked, his tone playfully aware of her teasing.

“Of course you are.” Holding Eric's gaze Sookie insisted, “We're going to be okay, Eric. We're going to beat Sargon and we're going to raise our son together.”

Eric leaned back a bit so he could smooth his hands over Sookie's abdomen as he growled, “Egil will call no one father but me.”

Setting her hands over his, Sookie agreed, “No he won't. Eric Northman will be the only father Peanut will ever know.”

They simply stared into one another's eyes for a moment before Eric vowed, “I will raise our son well, Sookie. I will keep our family safe.”

“I know you will, Eric. I know.”

They lapsed into silence again before Eric said, “I'm sorry about your friend. I had not anticipated that her Egg would lead her into such an action.”

She sighed tremulously. Taking Eric's hand, she pulled him into a sitting position in their circle down with her. “Neither had I. I want you to know that while I'm really worried about Tara, and I hope we can find a way to warn her about what Eggs is doing, I'm not going to run off to try and save her. I know my priorities, Eric.”

“And I want you to know I'll do my best to get word to your friend that she is being set up. I do not like the fact that she abandoned you for her Egg, especially after everything you've done for her, but I will do my best to prevent her demise to spare your heart another blow.”

“And I thank you for that.”

They sat side by side in the circle in quiet for a moment before Eric shook his head and whispered, his voice tinged in pain, “I don't know how to fix things between us, Sookie. I cannot lose you. I cannot bear the distance and hostility between us, but I can't agree with your viewpoint. Showing the slightest bit of weakness in my world could cost me everything. Other vampires are going to want you for themselves once they realize what you are, what you've given me. I can't chance they'll think I'm not strong enough to keep you.”

“And I love you enough to give you the time you need to figure this all out. I think part of the reason you're refusing to reevaluate what's wrong between us is because of everything that has hit us since we got back from Sweden. I know you think you're right, Eric, and if it wasn't time for the world to change, human and supe, then maybe I'd have more leeway for you, but the fact it is the time for change. You know that. Supes can't keep doing things the way they always have. You have to take part of that change.”

“And you cannot forgive me if I can't change my viewpoint on this?”

“No, Eric, I can't. As much as I love you, as much as I need you, I'm not going to be with a man that abuses me and sees me as less than what I am.”

Eric again flinched at her words. He wanted to argue with her that he had not abused her, but he knew she wouldn't listen to him. In her mind he had abused her, emotionally abused her as she put it. Mentally he stormed his long centuries of experience looking to find a logical way to convince her that he was right and she was wrong. His normal argument of “I know how to handle supe matters and you don't” wasn't working any more. Damn it! Even his own child was siding with Sookie on the matter!

She reached out to take his hand, her eyes locking with his before she looked away quickly and resumed her attention to the tree line. When he spoke, Eric's voice was soft and almost pleading.

“You are everything to me, Sookie. I need you more than anything I've needed before. My connection to Godric was not half of what I have with you, does that not count for anything?”

Squeezing his hand lightly, Sookie replied, “It counts for a lot, but not everything. Need is all well and good, Eric, but it's not respect. Healthy relationships consist of love and respect, Eric. Not one or the other. You demand everything from me, and I expect the same from you. Two halves of the same whole. I refuse to be a small piece of your world. You're either in this with me or you're not.”

Eric had nothing to say to her. He couldn't think of a response that would put him back in her good graces, or at the very least make her less angry with him. So instead he simply asked, “Will you just sit here with me for a bit? I need it to be just me and you for a little while.”

Sookie didn't think it was the best idea to be getting all snuggly with Eric at the moment, but she also know that her talking to Sargon had really shaken him. A part of her wanted to get up before anything more could be said. Before he could touch her and his physical presence work to sway her from what she knew to be right. Yet the other part of her wanted to hang onto him for comfort and the safety being in his arms had always provided. She needed to trust him and allow his journey to find its path and take him where she needed him to be taken. United, strong and single-minded was their strongest advantage in defeating Sargon.

She could feel Eric's torment rolling off him in waves. She didn't need to feel him through their bond to know he was hurting. Sargon had referred to Peanut as his son instead of Eric's and her Viking was struggling with angry frustration. She crawled into Eric's lap and leaned back against his chest as she kissed his chin over her shoulder. “We'll sit here as long as you need, Eric.”

His response was to wrap his arms around her and hold her tight as his hands settled atop her stomach to hold his unborn son. They remained quiet for what felt like an eternity, her offering silent and physical comfort in spite of the fact there was a great divide between them right now.

He'd worry about everything else later. Right now he needed his mate and son to calm the storm raging inside him. He just needed them. Only them. He'd figure everything else out later.


  1. soooooooo excited!!!!! up to date now. Can't wait for the new chapters. thank you both so much for not giving up on all the stories you've been writing. they're so original and different yo most i read!

    *gazes intently at inbox in excitement*

  2. "She needs to come to her senses? HA. Boy has no idea. At least he remembers his promise to help Jason. It is callous but expect nothing else; although I think its a lost cause.. Wonder if Eric is going to rag on her about the title/name thing. She is such a gracious hostess and Queen. Wow stealing and blood. She is a genius. Pam and Haldar need to be put onto leashes. I'm with sookie. Hackers are genious. I like Samuel. Sookie is proving her worth/equality in strategy and will. Quit talking about her like shes not in the room. Idiot men.
    lol for Pam. Eric better be careful since he is trying to get out of the doghouse. Glad Sookie is standing firm. LOL for Lala sashaying. not good news for Sookie about Jason. Jeez Eric. Bite off Amelia's head why don't ya? At least Sookie knows how to be grateful. Jeez Pam is a bad a grouch as her maker. Amelia's description is spot on. You have a rough road ahead of you Pammy. Not sure she is mature enough to be a maker. ah the francine convo. Almost forgot about it. Oh Eric. trying to use a date to get over your issues? naughty boy. Stay strong Sookie. Glad she stayed calm and discussed it rationally too. Glad he is finally getting a clue how much he hurt her. Glad she is staying strong and calm. Hell yeah. You are finally getting it. Love that he can't refute what she says. Homework? This ought to be good. Her words may have been harsh, but they were totally true. Ugh, the me me me speech in his head again? middle ground, now you are thinking. But idiot still thinks he is right. Ugh Tara, you are such a gullible sheep. You really think Steve gives a crap? that he doesnt want to use her? Idiot. Oh Eggs, you will pay for this traitorous action. Ugh Jason the idiot giving intel. Poor Hoyt suckered into telling Jason. Awww poor suffering SA....NOT. ewww for her Sookie torture plans. Ugh Jason seems to be so much smarter now....too bad he is stuck on the wrong side. Tension indeed. Think Han and Ivan are going to need to talk. At least he listened to what Han had to say. Wow Glad Sargon called, although sounds like Eric doesnt like it. Wonder how much of the info is true (the stuff not told to use like the fellowship lemon juice stuff). Does he really think that her saying his name will make her more sympathetic to him? Or does he just want to hear her voice? Egil...does he really think she is going to allow that name? sorry eric what it is/was abuse. Argue all you want. Glad she stayed to comfort him, esp after the Sargon thing. Comfort is not giving in. Just like he comforted her after the inital Sargon incident and the Bartlett reveal.

    More More More soon please!!!!!

  3. love the new site, only thing that would make it better would be having links at the bottom to go to the next chapter :) and ch 41 being ch 041 to be in numerical order with the rest :)

    ilm aka fanfic marie (FF,FB,WP,LJ)

    1. This is the um-teenth time I've read this and I love it more than ever. I'm dying for an update and am so ecited that you've intimated that one is soon to come.

      There is so much going on right now in thier lives that terrifies me and I need to know what's going on, lol! The fact that all of Ahmose and Caesar's vampires are in Shreveport near some of Sargon's forces has me nervous. I'm so sad that little Frannie is a spy. I really hope that Sookie finds out before she can do any dammage, and I really need to know who the other spy is! I can't figure it out for the life of me! And now we have Amelia's idea for Jason to worry about. To me it sounds like, if it doesn't work, that it will play right into Jason and SA's plan to make Sookie believe that Jason still exists as she once knew him. I find myself wishing that Sookie ends up killing Jason to protect thier home, family and legacy...especially given that finding a way to un-bind Jason would would give Sargon a way to un-bind Sookie from Eric...right?

      Gah! I'm itching and twitching here! Please put me out of my misery soon!

  4. I'm so glad I found your blog! I've finally finished this story and it only took me four days!

    You haven't updated in a while but I hope it's only because you post long chapters...

  5. So glad I found your blog! It only took me four days to read this story, lol!

    Hope the reason you haven't updated lately is because you write long chapters... :(

  6. making me twitchy! when r we gonna hear something new? it has been ages.

  7. I love both this story and negotiations when are you going to add new chapters I check here every day hoping for a new chapter please please please update soon

  8. Love love love love both this story and negotiations will there be any more chapters because I just want to read more more and more you guys are great writers

  9. First I'd like to say that I love this story very much. I have followed it from the beginning when it was first posted, and I think it is one of the best written stories I have ever read.

    But, having said that, sadly, considering that in less than a week it will have been a year since this last chapter was originally posted on LJ, I am pretty much giving up on this story ever being finished, and even if it was I would have to read it over and over again to remember what has happened by the time a new chapter is posted.

    As much as I love this and all your stories, and as patient as I have tried to be considering all the turmoil in both your lives the last couple of years, I probably won't be checking up on them anymore. It just seems that your focus has shifted to other projects and this one has been left to die. Truly very sad as it is such a fabulous and well written story. Maybe someday if it is actually completed I will read it all over again. But waiting a year or more for something to be posted... my interest has just waned.

    Luck to you both and best wishes.

  10. I hope you haven't given up on the story!

  11. First of all: I absolutely love this story! It's better than the show or even the books. But I just noticed that it has been a year since you updated it.. so i just wanted to ask if you are continuing it or not? :)

  12. OMG, Sargon is a pip.... Eric needs to man up and connect with his feelings soon, i figure the books may help..... Stupid Tara and she thinks Sookie is gullible, HA.... Sargon is going to do something about Tara and Jason before Eric does....brownie points.... until the next post

    as i said before you can use the oops or not it is up to you... you can post the comment or not it is up to you my best Kristie

    1-"Ahmose, Caesar and his were lions" either hypanate(were-lions), merge(werelions) or Capitalize (Were lions)
    2- " the vampires and were lions filed out" same as before for werelions merge, cap it or hypanate it
    3-"Sookie had invited Caesar and his weres earlier" "his Weres earlier"
    4-"This is Caesar and his pride of were lions. They are here to swear fealty to Sookie.”
    again on the WL
    5-again "and barked at the were lions indignantly"
    6-again "Eric signaled for the pride master of the were lions and his mate to follow"
    7- again "Caesar and his were lions have arrived."
    8- again "The were lions had eyes only for Sookie and she took in their dark tan skin"
    9- again "A quick gesture brought his were lions to come stand beside him, and he continued, “This is Dominic Rizzo and his mate Giovanna. Dominic is the pride master for my were lions. 2x
    10-again plus King "Looking at the were lion he said, “Any help would be appreciated. We've got a lot to do to fortify the area and not much time to do it. The barrier protects Sookie's home, but the king wants a wide perimeter.”
    11-"Once the weres had filed out, Eric asked, “What progress have you made?”
    "Once the Weres had"
    12-"he asked Eric, “My king, you said she had not experience with war and tactics, were you wrong about that?” cap "My King, " and take the T out "she had no experience"
    13-"The queen?” Amelia was literally in awe of" "The Queen?"
    14-caps "You wanted me to do detailed profiles and find my weres'" "find my Were's"

  13. WOW! Things get so intense when Sargon gets on the phone... I am glad they know about Tara being used as a pawn though in fairness she has decided to believe her own friend is brainwashed by Eric which just goes to show Tara doesn't think much of Sookie's strength or intelligence in spite of their long friendship or how articulate Sookie was when she spent hours explaining things to Tara... Loved Eric and Sookie trying to patch things up but also how they support each other even while they are still 'apart'. This Sookie is amazing!

  14. Ugh, I LOVE THIS STORY SO MUCH!!! Thus far it's the best one I've ever read. And I know my way well around the Sookiverse 😊