It was all Bill could think as Eric strolled towards him lazily, his muscles moving with a predatory grace while the much older vampire eyed him with murderous intent. Bill had done his best to make peace with the fact he would not be around much longer. He knew he had no hope of escaping Eric, and he'd lamented that he wouldn't be here to help Sookie escape the coldhearted Viking. But facts were facts and he knew the fact was Eric Northman meant to kill him, and there was jack for all he could do about it. During his time shackled to the wall of the abandoned warehouse Haldar had left him at Bill had thought over his life. Besides his human family, Sookie was the only good thing he'd ever had. The brief time she'd been his had been the happiest of his undead existence and he wished he hadn't screwed it all up. He couldn't help but wonder if he had done things differently if she would still be his.
'Of course it won't matter since I'm about to meet the true death,' he thought to himself before finally greeting, “I wondered when you'd get around to me.”
Moving to stand directly in front of the vampire he loathed so much, Eric drawled, “Well, I did have better things to do, but I find I have some anger to burn off, and you're the perfect outlet for it.”
“Things not going well between you and Sookie?” Bill asked hopefully, wanting to provoke the Viking as much as he could in an effort to die quickly. He knew just how proficient Eric was at torture and he didn't want to spend his last moments in such agony. If he was going to die tonight, he wanted it to be quick.
Eric, while angered by the barb, could see it for exactly what it was, and laughed, “Tsk tsk, Billy boy, you don't think you'll actually be able to push my buttons to the point I rip your head off, do you? I've been planning your death for a very long time now, and I have no intention of being cheated. You will die slowly, Compton, very slowly and very painfully. Of that I assure you.”
“Sookie will never forgive you for this.”
“Sookie will never know.”
It was Bill's turn to laugh as he taunted, “You actually think you can keep something from her? Trust me, Eric, Sookie finds out the truth sooner or later. She'll find out what you've done here, and it will cost you her. She'll never forgive you or trust you again.”
Refusing to acknowledge the niggling of doubt in his own mind, the small voice that said Bill's words carried merit, Eric barked, “Enough! Do not speak to me of my mate and queen! You know nothing of what is between us, and Sookie has nothing to do with this. This, Bill, is between us. You owe me blood and pain!”
Bill's expression was all shock as he asked, “You made her your queen?”
It took a moment for Eric to realize he'd had Bill escorted from the building before the younger vampire had witnessed his wedding. He answered, “Indeed. We performed the pledging ceremony soon after Haldar took you away and Sookie is now the Queen of Louisiana and my mate.”
“Are you a fool? Do you have any idea of the danger you've just put her in?! Vampires across the world will rebel! Those that do not will want to know why she is so special! Once they find out what she is, and what she can do, she'll be a target for every vampire out there!”
Eric stood silently as he considered Bill before him and then folded his arms across his chest and said, “I'm going to tell you the truth, Bill. I wasn't going to tell you about Sookie and my path in life with her, our destiny together, but I want you to hear it. I want you to know of the happiness I will share with my mate, I want you to know that you were never an important part of her life, and how insignificant you really are to her and to me.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
“Have you ever heard of Sargon, Bill?”
Bill blinked in surprise. “Of course. Everyone has heard of his story. He's why magic is forbidden to vampires.”
Eric nodded. “Indeed, but did you know he is not dead?”
Bill couldn't hide his shock as he asked, “What? Of course he is.”
“No, he is not. He's lain in wait for six thousand years for Sookie to be born.”
“Sookie? What could such an ancient vampire want with Sookie? What the hell are you talking about?” he scoffed.
“I'm going to tell you about a prophecy, Compton. Sookie is the key to the future. Sargon knows this, and it all started six thousand years ago.”
Bill listened with both horror and awe as Eric told him something too incredible to be true. It simply couldn't be true, and yet it would explain so much. When Eric had finally finished telling him of the destiny he and Sookie were supposed to have, Bill could only mumble, “It can't be true.”
“It is true.”
“So she's …”
“Yes,” Eric confirmed with apparent glee. “Sookie is pregnant with my son. My first son, but there will be many more. And daughters. I will have a family with Sookie, Billy boy, and you will not even be a memory to her. You are so insignificant in the grand scheme of our lives that you won't even cross her mind. She'll be too busy caring for my child while pregnant with another.”
Bloody tears filled Bill's eyes as he clung desperately to the belief that Eric had to be lying. “It's not true!”
Knowing Bill couldn't face the truth, Eric delighted in forcing it upon him. “Come now, Compton, deep down you know I'm telling the truth. You just don't want to admit it. It kills you, doesn't it? It kills you to know that she is mine in such a fundamental way. It tears at you to know her womb accepted my seed, that her body is growing heavy and ripe with my child. Every pathetic hope and dream you ever harbored for her is now mine.”
Eric approached Bill, coming to within inches of his face as he leaned down to taunt, “It's all mine, Compton. All of it. Everything Sookie is belongs to me now. I will rule this world. I will make it safe for my woman and children, and every time I come home I'll come home to Sookie and the family she will give me. I will spend night after night in her arms, burying myself in her warmth as her body gives life to my seed over and over. Time and again I will see her grow heavy with my children. I will watch her nurse my sons and daughters at her breast. I will hold her as she holds them, but most importantly, Billy boy, there will never be a day from here to eternity when Sookie is not mine!”
Eric stepped back and chuckled as he watched Bill thrash against his chains, trying futilely to get at him. It was humorous, to say the least, and when Bill finally fell still, glaring at him with hate filled eyes, Eric jeered, “Is that all you've got? I steal the love of your life from you, build a life with her you could only ever dream of, and that is all the fight you have in you to try and take it from me? Pitiful. Even for you.”
Jerking against his bonds one last time, Bill sneered, “It doesn't matter if she's pregnant with your son, because even if you do manage to defeat Sargon, you'll never keep her.”
The smile dropped from Eric's face as he demanded, “What does that mean?”
Pleased his words had found their mark and startled him, if only a little, Bill continued, “She'll leave you.”
“I would never allow that.”
“Then she'll grow to hate you.”
“Sookie could never hate me. She loves me.” Eric refused to acknowledge the twinge of fear he felt at Bill's words. Memories of the last few weeks with Sookie, the distance she'd forced between them, her own declaration that he had to change in order for her to stay with him, forced their way to the forefront of his mind, but he pushed them aside. Sookie would always love him. He would not allow anything else. Sookie's love belonged to him. She had been born to love him. She was his reward. That was the deal. He saved the world from Sargon and united it before one day taking on the universe at large, and in return he got Sookie.
Grinning cruelly, Bill replied, “But you don't love her, and that is what will cost you Sookie.”
“You know nothing!”
Laughing now, Bill sneered, “Don't I? I know Sookie well enough to know she'll never stay with you if you can't love her the way she deserves to be loved. I know her well enough to know she won't live under the yoke of your rule for long, and I know her well enough to know she won't want her son to grow up to be like you.”
Quickly becoming enraged, Eric growled, “Enough!”
“It's not nearly enough!” Bill decided if he was going to die tonight, he was at least going to do his best to drive a wedge between Sookie and Eric on his way out. He would have his say. No matter what pain it brought him.
“Sookie will leave you, Eric, and if you try to stop her, if you chain her to your side, she will grow to hate you. No matter what happens you'll never keep her. You will lose her. To Sargon or to your own stupidity, but in the end she will not be yours!”
Eric's hand shot out to grab hold of Bill's left hand chained to the wall above his head. With a quick tug the hand was bent back at an unnatural angle causing Bill to howl in pain while Eric leaned close and growled, “You will pay for your words! Sookie will always be mine, and she will always love me!”
Spinning away from Compton, Eric moved to the side of the room where a black sheet covered a long metal table. Yanking the sheet off to reveal the array of tools Haldar had provided, Eric's eyes traveled the weapons of torture, his mind resolved to find one for delivering the most sublime pain. Arm extended, his fingers played merrily over the items as he considered the efficacy of each. Gingerly, he picked up a pair of pliers and turned back to face Compton.
“I'm tired of talking to you. I don't have as much time as I'd like to torture you, things to do and all, but I promise to do my absolute best to ensure you're last few hours on this Earth are the epitome of torment.”
Bill watched Eric step towards him with the pliers and tried to prepare himself for whatever the night held him. He'd known he would die screaming the moment Haldar chained him to the wall, but with the actual moment upon him he was filled with fear. He desperately wanted a quick death, but he knew he would not be so lucky. With his last ounce of courage, Bill stated, “I may die tonight, Eric, but I'll die knowing that you will lose Sookie. I'll die knowing one day soon she'll either be taken from you, or better yet, she'll walk away herself. You're not good enough for her. You're not good enough to be her mate, and you're certainly not good enough to be the father of her child. She'll see it. She probably sees it now, and it will drive her away from you.”
Eric snarled, his fangs gleaming, as he darted forward and quickly ripped Bill's pants open. With the pliers, he grabbed hold of Compton's pathetic cock and began twisting it slowly. He grinned when Bill cried out in pain, his body jerking and thrashing against the wall as he attempted to escape the searing pain. Continuing to turn the pliers, causing Bill's dick to twist further and further, Eric hissed, “Sookie will always be mine!”
Eric stepped back as he used the pliers to twist Bill's cock right off his body. Holding up the bleeding and limp penis, he laughed. It was incredibly tiny in comparison to his own impressive length, he noted with sadistic glee. “What a pitiful specimen. I'm doing you a favor by taking away this tiny little thing.”
Focusing through the pain, Bill laughed bitterly, “It was certainly enough to please Sookie. More than once. Shall I tell you about how much she loved my cock the night I took her virginity?”
Eric let out a vicious roar and reached forward to grab hold of Bill's balls with his free hand. Another quick tug and he'd separated Compton's testicles from his body with ease. He quickly tossed them over his shoulder along with the pliers still gripping Bill's dick before reaching forward to crush Bill's windpipe as he leaned close and snarled, “I will break you with pain, Compton! I will destroy you and bathe in your blood before returning home to my family! You will pay in pain and blood tonight for what you did to Sookie, for what you took from us both! She was born for me! Her body was always mine! Her virginity was supposed to be mine! Everything Sookie is belongs to me and tonight you pay for the pathetic delusion you had that she could be yours!”
Eric spun back around to consider all the tools Haldar had made sure would be available to him. He saw the bottles of liquid silver that were generally used when torturing vampires to keep them from regenerating, but he decided not to use it on Compton's severed groin. He wanted the younger vampires dick and balls to grow back so that he could hurt them all over again. Next time he'd slice that tiny little prick off him millimeter by millimeter, but for now? For now he'd start with the hands and work his way down.
Grabbing the items he'd need, Eric turned back around to face Bill and sauntered toward him as he asked, “Did you know that a person's hands are one of the most vulnerable points during interrogation?”
Bill watched Eric making his way toward him with a bag of silver screws. He'd hoped that the jab about taking Sookie's virginity would be enough to send Eric over the edge and finish him off quickly. Apparently his hope had been in vain and he did his best to ready himself for whatever was about to happen.
Coming to stand directly in front of Bill, Eric continued, “The same nerves that allow us to experience so much pleasurable sensation in our hands makes them a powerful weapon to be used against us. Any amount of pain to our hands is amplified because of how sensitive they are. Just as your hands can feel the faintest touch of a lover, they can also feel incredible pain. How about a demonstration?”
Eye's darting nervously to the bag of silver screws Eric was holding, Bill tried one last time, “You know when Sookie finds out about this she'll be disgusted. Every method of torture you use on me right now will come back to haunt you. Sookie will hold each and every one against you.”
“Sookie will know nothing of this, and even if she does find out she will understand. Sookie accepts my darkness.”
He shook his head, the corner of his mouth hitched up. “Sometimes it's like you don't know her at all.”
“You're only earning yourself more pain, Compton. Not very smart of you.”
Bill didn't get a chance to say anything more as Eric took hold of one of his right hand and held it in place against the wall as he began slowly and tortuously twisting the silver screw into the top of his index finger, slowly, bit by bit, driving it into his sensitive flesh.
Eric grinned and watched Bill's face intently as he slowly turned the silver screw until it was deeply imbedded into Compton's index finger. The younger vampire was shaking and thrashing against the wall, crying out from the pain, and Eric gloried in every second of it.
Grinning into the frightened vampire's face, Eric teased darkly, “One down, nine to go. I think after that you're cock should have regrown and I'll take it right back off in a whole new way. Aren't you excited?”
Bill could only cry out again as Eric began to screw in another of the silver screws into his right hand. The pain was immense, and he knew by the time Eric was done with him he'd be a broken shell of a man.
Eight and a half hours later, Eric sat in a chair in front of Bill's mangled body. Bill was unrecognizable from all the ways Eric had hurt him. His left arm and hand were flayed open, the skin peeled back and nailed to the wall to leave his muscles and tendons exposed. A light dusting of liquid silver kept his body from healing. The right arm was a mismatch of silver nails and screws that had been driven into the flesh. Bill's eyelids had been removed, and vicious burns marred his face. His chest and abdomen had been cut open and part of his ribcage ripped off to leave the hollow opening of his abdomen exposed. His legs were in much the same condition as his arms, and attached to his 27th regrown cock of the night were the jumper cables connected to the battery Eric had been using to electrocute the younger vampire whenever the mood struck him.
In fact, the younger vampire was in so much pain he was barely coherent, and hadn't released more than a weak whimper in the past hour. Bill had screamed himself out around hour five of their session, and from that point on Eric had made a sort of game out of trying to get him to scream again. He'd gotten some good ones, but for the most part Bill had simply cried helplessly for the rest of the torture session. Still, Eric had enjoyed that as well. However, dawn was fast approaching and Eric wanted to make it back home to speak with Sookie about her calling Sargon, and their upcoming shopping trip in LA. He knew she'd be lying down for one of her naps soon, and that meant it was time to finish up with Compton.
Standing from his chair while attempting to wipe the blood spatter off his face, Eric announced, “Well, that's time, Billy boy.”
Bill's head lolled to the side as he whimpered, “P—please—please end it! I—I can't …”
When Bill's words died away Eric moved to grip his chin and bring Compton's gaze to his, and said, “Yes, I know you can't take the pain anymore. You couldn't from the beginning. I must say I'm even more disgusted with you than before. I haven't done anything to you that was never done to me. I've experienced torture before, and I've never succumbed to pain the way you have. You are a weak and pitiful man, Bill Compton, a disgrace to the vampire race.”
“Please! Please kill me!”
Rolling his eyes, Eric replied, “Of course I'm going to kill you. I have no more time to play with you, and I really must get home to my pregnant mate, but before I finish you off I want to leave you with these parting words.”
When it looked like Bill was fading out on him again, Eric slapped him across the face causing Compton to cry out. “Do I have your attention, Billy boy?”
“Please! Please, Eric! Kill me!”
“Soon, but first I need you to focus. Are you focused?”
He nodded and in a voice that was barely a whisper, he begged, “Please! Please, Eric!”
Patting Bill's charred cheek, Eric soothed condescendingly, “In a moment, but for right now I need you to focus on what I'm saying.”
With his last remaining strength Bill forced his eyes to focus on Eric's blood spattered face. Seeing the cold unrelenting stare of the vampire he'd pissed off for the last time, he begged, “Please!”
Eric leaned impossibly close as he saw he had Bill's full attention until there were barely a few inches between them, and hissed, “Sookie is mine!”
Eric's words had been punctuated with him reaching into the gaping hole that was Bill's chest to take hold of the younger vampire's heart. Staring straight into Bill's eyes, he wrapped his hand around the vital organ and squeezed. He felt it liquefy in his hand as he crushed it, and it was with a whole new kind of satisfaction that he watched Bill's body jerk in agony before his mouth went wide with a silent scream a moment before he exploded to shower Eric with the remains that were once Bill Compton.
Stepping back as he and the area around him were showered with the little silver nails and screws he'd used to torture Bill, Eric grinned darkly. He could feel Bill's blood coating his body and felt invigorated. He swore he'd do the same thing to Sargon. The thrill of his kill was heavy upon him and he wanted nothing more than to fly back to Sookie covered in Compton's blood and whisk her away to their bedroom so he could lay claim to her pregnant body, but he knew that couldn't and wouldn't happen.
Instead he vamped out of the building and flew quickly to one of his old houses to take a thorough shower. He watched as the remnants of Bill Compton sloughed from his body and washed away. His toe loosened the larger clots of blood from the drain cover to facilitate their disposal. He scrubbed his scalp vigorously and applied shampoo twice. Life was good and getting better. Bill was finally out of the picture and he'd never see the morose ass again. Never have to see his puppy dog eyes as he stole glances at Sookie. Compton was spelled with 'Feeble' before it. He made sure to clean the tub thoroughly of any remaining residue before stepping out of it, then ran hot water down the drain to insure nothing might be clinging to the piping. Satisfied, he was whistling as he approached his wardrobe and threw open the closet. His eyes landed on suitable new clothes he quickly donned and then he was headed back to Bon Temps. His mood was definitely improved and it was time to sit down with Sookie and discuss what she'd done with Sargon. While he could admit what Sookie had done had a certain strategic brilliance to it, that didn't mean there weren't safety concerns. Still, he was more of a mind to discuss it rationally.
It didn't take him long to make it home and he strode in the front door with the air of a king to take in the sight of his mate curled up on one end of the grass covered couch reading a baby book with her feet in Lafayette's lap while the flamboyant man painted her toenails. Eric wanted to growl and hurl the man across the room. If anyone should be painting Sookie's toenails it should be him! Instead, he forced his tone to be cordial and greeted, “Sookie and Lafayette, I hope your evening has been pleasant.”
Looking up from What to Expect When You're Expecting, Sookie took in Eric's easy expression and was glad wherever he'd gone and whatever he'd been doing had lightened his mood, but she knew they still needed to talk. With that in mind, she replied evenly, “It's been good.”
Looking at Lafayette, Sookie asked, “Can we have a minute?”
Finished with her toenails, Lafayette agreed, “Sure thing, Sook. I'm finished anyways. You just keep still and don't mess up my handiwork. I should be turning in, anyhow. Them guards of yours don't like breakfast being late.”
“Thank you Lafayette and have a good night.”
Eric watched Lafayette sashay past him, the human giving him a pointed look on the way out, clearing telling him silently not to upset his friend, before focusing on Sookie and moving towards the couch. Indicating her feet, he asked, “May I?”
Sookie nodded, “Sure.”
Eric gently picked up Sookie's feet and slid smoothly into the place Lafayette had been seated. He was mindful of her wet toenails as he settled her feet in his lap, before looking at her and saying, “We need to discuss it, Sookie.”
“I am not just upset that you called Sargon. You realize this, don't you?”
“Yes. You're also upset that I didn't talk with you about it first.”
“Indeed, but there is more.”
Her eyes narrowed. “What more?”
“At any point in time did you think that Sargon might use the altercation to land more trouble at our door? That he might simply apprehend Tara and use her against us? That he might use her and her connection to you to do us harm? Either with magic or through his human resources? Did you ever think at all the he might ignore your demands and instead create a slaughter at the Fellowship and find some way to blame vampires? Or me specifically?”
Sookie paled considerably. “I—I—he promised …”
When her words trailed off, Eric began gently, “Sookie, I know you're smart, and I will admit that having Sargon do our work for us is a tactic we need to employ, and I'm sure had you woken me and discussed the situation with me I would have concurred that he was the best means of getting Tara out of there.”
Confused now, Sookie asked, “Wait, if you had all those concerns about Sargon using the situation against us why would you have agreed with me to ask for his help?”
He needed her to understand. “Sookie, it's not that I believed Sargon would do those things. The point here is that I thought of the ways he could hurt us in that situation, and you did not. You told me before that you considered all the possible ramifications before calling him, but the truth of the matter is you didn't. You couldn't see all the problems I just pointed out, and you didn't see them because you don't know war. You don't think the way I do, and because of that you do not see danger where I do. I love that about you. I want you to always have happy thoughts, but the fact remains we are in the middle of a war. Sargon is our enemy. His love for you aside, we cannot forget that his goals are the opposite of ours. It is because of this that you need to always include me in any matter pertaining to him, and certainly any matter pertaining to our safety.”
As her eyes filled with tears, he continued softly, “I do not want to upset you, but what happened today can never happen again. I'm glad it has worked out in our favor, but it could have just as easily not, and the fact you didn't see how it could not is the reason I'm in charge of our protection.”
Looking down at her lap, Sookie thought, 'He's right. I didn't think of any of those problems. How could I have been so stupid?! I put us all at risk! I put Peanut at risk! I'm a horrible mother and queen!'
When she suddenly burst into tears Eric's eyes went wide with alarm and he quickly reached forward to gather her into his arms as he soothed, “Please, min älskade, please do not cry. I do not tell you this now to make you cry!”
“I'm a horrible mother! I put Peanut in danger!” she wailed.
“No, Sookie, you did not, because as I've said, Sargon would never have done those things. His love for you is genuine and he would not want to betray you in such a way.”
“But you said—”
Eric put his finger over her lips and looked into her tear filled eyes. “I did not point out all the ways Sargon could have turned the situation to his benefit to make you feel bad. I told you so you could understand that I see things differently than you, just as you see things differently than me. The way you see things is what had us asking Niall point blank how he could harm us if he went to Sargon's side, it's what got us loyal hackers rather than using ones I was familiar with in the past but couldn't prove the mettle of, and it is an invaluable tool I intend to make use of many times in the future. However, you must bow to my superior knowledge of war and tactics. You cannot make such monumental decisions as you did today without my input. Do you understand?”
He stroked her back soothingly, as she nodded, mumbling through her tears, “O—okay.”
Eric let her cry for a moment longer, feeling her emotions through their bond and knowing part of the reason she was so emotional was because of the pregnancy, before begging, “Sookie, please stop crying. You know I cannot take your tears.”
The problem was Sookie was feeling overwhelmed. She'd been doing such a good job of holding it all together lately, but the fact remained she was a 25 year old waitress turned queen carrying a vampire god baby. Sometimes it was just too much, and now with Eric pointing out how she was so ill equipped to be a queen she just wanted to crawl into bed and hide from the world that was suddenly too big for her.
She tried to explain. “I'm trying so hard, Eric! I really am, but I don't know how to do any of this! Everyone keeps looking at me like they expect me to know what to do, and they all expect me to be okay with everything, but I'm scared! I want my Gran!”
Her overwrought state was rushing at him through their bond making him feel uncomfortable and queasy. Eric hurried, “Sookie, no one expects you to be without fault. No one expects you to know exactly what to do all the time, or for you to never falter. No one is perfect, and you are doing an admirable job of keeping it all together, not to mention you are learning very quickly. Few would have even thought to call Sargon in the first place, but you did.”
“But it was a mistake!”
“No, it was not a mistake. He did our work for us and cost us nothing, just as you said. Your mistake was in not discussing it with me first. You did not see all the ways Sargon could have hurt us as I did, but the fact remains he wouldn't have used any of those ways to hurt us and he was the best option. I just need you to make sure you're discussing issues with me first and to let me handle the war side of things. I will discuss much with you, because as I've said you have brilliant ideas, but you do not see danger and betrayal where I do, and that is why I must make the final decision in matters such as this. In this case, once my initial dislike of the situation had passed, I would have agreed that using Sargon was best, but I would have done so only after I considered all that could go wrong, after I had considered all the things you simply do not think of because you have not been a warrior for over a thousand years.”
Sookie could see the logic in his words and finally agreed, “You're right. You do think differently and I was foolish to take on a situation like this without consulting you. I promise I won't do it again.”
“Good, and Sookie?”
As she looked up at him with those hesitant tear filled eyes, Eric couldn't help but praise gently, “I am so proud of you for coming up with that idea and having the balls to go through with it. You telling Newlin to go fuck himself before calling up Sargon and telling him what he was going to do? You are truly my Valkyrie mate.”
Grinning through her tears, Sookie laughed, “It was pretty badass, wasn't it?”
“Very badass,” he confirmed with a grin.
“And you're not mad at me anymore?”
Wiping her tears away, he replied, “I was never angry with you, I was angry at the situation in general. I was angry that you were put into that position in the first place. I was angry that Sargon could do something for you that I could not, and I can admit that the stress of our circumstances weighs on me just as heavily as it does on you, and because of that, sometimes I will react or overreact to certain things, but I want you to know no matter what you and I are a team. We are in this together, my fierce little fairy, and that will never change.”
Sookie cuddled herself into Eric's chest and allowed him to hold her while stroking her back. She was still determined to keep distance between them until Eric recognized her as his equal, but she also knew she needed connective moments like this. She needed to allow herself moments with Eric like this so that she could remember all the reasons he was it for her. Eric Northman was her forever, she just needed to dig his over-sized head out of his ass long enough to see reason.
When Sookie had finally calmed down a bit she pulled back from Eric's chest and groaned, “Damn! I messed up my toenails! Lafayette is going to be so upset.”
Reaching forward to grab the bottle of nail polish remover off the moss covered coffee table, Eric replied, “I can fix them.”
Sookie settled back on her end of the couch with her feet in Eric's lap. He used one of the cotton balls and a bit of the remover to clean up her toes before reaching forward to grab the light pink polish. As he started painting, she asked, “So what did you do tonight? Where did you go?”
Eric had been prepared for this and as such he didn't even hesitate as he replied, “I went looking for someone to take my aggression out on.”
“Eric! You didn't hurt some poor innocent person did you?”
“Of course not. You know I do not believe in hurting innocents.”
“You didn't kill anyone, right?”
“I swear to you I left no bodies behind.”
“Good, now we need to have a little talk about this containment facility you wish to build.”
Fully expecting Sookie to be pleased with him, Eric asked, “Are you impressed? I admit I was hoping you would be.”
“No, I most certainly am not impressed!”
Shock clear on his face, Eric asked, “But why? I did a good thing! I outlawed the taking and keeping of forced human pets, and I made sure no innocent humans will be killed during feeding in Louisiana anymore. Only those deserving to die will be. When I take over the rest of the supernatural world I will instate these policies all over the world. I thought you would be pleased.”
She needed to make him understand. “Eric, I am pleased that you are making it clear the killing of innocent humans for sport is not going to be allowed under your rule, that doesn't mean I'm ok with you likening poor treatment of them with the abuse of animals. People aren't animals. We're human beings, and whether you want to admit it or not, so are vampires.”
“We most certainly are not!”
“Oh yes you are! You were born a human, Eric, and no amount of vampire blood or age is going to change the fact you got here the exact same way I did, the same way Lafayette and Tara did, the same way every human did. Humanity is inside you, and it is time for vampires to stop thinking so high and mighty of themselves. We are not beneath you.”
“Sookie, we've been over this before. Humans are not equal to vampires. They are shorter lived, shorter sighted, weaker, slower, and they smell.”
“Well, they do!”
“Stop being so mean.”
Finished painting one foot, Eric began the other as he asked, “Since when is telling the truth mean?”
Trying a different approach, Sookie asked, “Eric, if a vampire wanted to treat your human family the way you wish to treat humans, how would you feel?”
Eric stiffened before mumbling, “It is not the same, besides, the humans I'm talking about killing deserve to die. Or do you think rapists and pedophiles should be given a cushy prison sentence?”
“I'm not saying I don't agree with the death sentence, because I do, but I don't believe in killing anyone for sport. Death should be a last resort, and when we have no other choice we have to be civilized about it.”
“Killing is never civilized.”
“But it can be lawful.”
“I am the law.”
Getting upset now, Sookie hissed, “Dammit, Eric! Stop being so stubborn about this! You know what I mean!”
Rolling his eyes as he continued to brush the light pink polish on her toe nails, Eric replied, “Sookie, your country has been trying to civilize the death penalty for centuries, do you think your manner of execution is any better today than it was a hundred years ago?”
When she remained silent, Eric continued, “Of course it isn't. If anything it is worse because now you take so much longer to carry out your death sentences. Not to mention your court system and appeals process has your judicial system so bogged down most inmates on death row have a better chance of dying from old age or boredom before they actually get the needle. It is a foolish system, and I have no patience for it. My way is better.”
“Eric, I'll be the first to admit that things need to change, but not the kind of change you're talking about. Murder for sport is not okay.”
“Vampires are hunters, Sookie; you cannot expect us to be something we are not.”
“Ok Eric, let's just pretend that you're already high king and this facility actually exists, how often will you be visiting it?”
Shaking his head, Eric replied, “I have no reason to go there. I've long outgrown my newborn days where the need to hunt and kill drives me. I will kill anyone that crosses us, or anyone that looks at you in a way I find offensive, but I don't need to go looking to kill someone I don't know for fun.”
“So why can't all vampires control themselves? Why do you need a place like that at all?”
“Because newborns need to hunt and kill. Most vampires do.”
“Jessica didn't, and it doesn't look like any of the vampires around here are chomping at the bit to torture and murder someone for the fun of it.”
He sensed she was gearing up for a whole new fight, one he wished to avoid, especially since she was letting him paint her toenails. Sitting next to him looking all sweet and sexy in her little blue sundress that outlined the bulge of his growing son so perfectly, Eric struggled to find the right words.
“Sookie, could we please not fight now? Today has been a trial, and I'd like what little of the day we have left to be somewhat peaceable. We can discuss these things later and you can tell me all you take issue with.”
Sookie regarded him silently as she took measure of his fatigue. She nodded. “Okay, but don't think we're done with this conversation.”
“I wouldn't dream of it.”
There was another moment of silence before Sookie asked, “So when do I get to see my brother?”
Eric hesitated. “The witches assure me the silencing spell will be ready tomorrow. Tomorrow night I'll take you to see him after we get back from our shopping trip, if you're feeling up to it.”
Eyes lighting up with pleasure, Sookie replied, “Of course I'll feel up to it! Though I don't understand why we couldn't have gone sooner. It's not like I don't know he's going to say mean and hurtful things like last time. I know that's not really my brother. I just want to see him with my own eyes to know he's safe until we can figure out how to free him from Sophie-Anne.”
“And so you shall.”
“Good, and I made a list of everything we need to get for Peanut today so we'll be ready for tomorrow.”
“Very good. What all are you wanting to get?”
“Well first, obviously, we'll get the crib, and then—”
“No. You will not need to buy a crib.”
Shocked, Sookie asked, “Why? What else is the baby going to sleep in?”
Looking up from her toes, Eric explained, “I will build the bed our son will sleep in. Just as I will build the bed we shall use in our new home Tara once it is built. We will not buy these things. You and Egil will sleep in beds I've built you with my own two hands.”
When Sookie leaned forward to kiss his cheek, Eric asked, “If I build you a matching dresser and nightstand will you kiss me lower?”
“For you? Always. Now tell me everything else you wish to get for Egil.”
As Sookie launched into her tale of everything she'd researched on babies, as well as the things she discussed with Ludwig about what Egil might need, Eric though to himself, 'I will never let Sookie learn of what her brother did. Never. It would break her heart and I will not witness her in such pain again. The secret of what Sophie-Anne compelled Jason to do will die with her. Min älskade will suffer no more.'
Several states away Sargon softly landed outside a nondescript house in a small suburb. He let himself in easily since the house belonged to vampire. He followed the sounds of a girl crying and quickly knelt in front of her as he greeted, “Good evening, child.”
Jessica's bloody eyes darted up to the vampire she hadn't heard enter. Truthfully, since feeling her bond with her Maker severed she hadn't noticed much of anything. She'd felt the chord connecting her and Bill severed an hour and a half ago and she'd immediately dropped to her knees as a pain filled cry erupted from her throat. She hadn't seen Bill since he'd ordered her to come here and wait for him once he'd learned that Eric had seized control of Louisiana. Bill had told her it wouldn't be safe for her with him, but that he couldn't come with her until he saw whether or not there was a way for him to help Sookie.
Now, though, she couldn't help but wonder who the vampire in front of her was, and asked, “Who are you?”
“My name is Sargon, young one.”
“And you know me?”
“You are Jessica, the only child of the now truly dead William Compton.”
Backing up, becoming frightened now, Jessica asked, “How do you know me?”
“I know you because I've been watching you.”
“Because you are going to help me destroy Eric Northman.”
Jessica's scooted further back against the wall, eyes widening, and stammered, “N—no way! That guy's super dangerous!”
Sargon's fangs snapped down as he growled, “I assure you, not more dangerous than me, and I assumed you would want revenge on the vampire that killed your Maker.”
Jessica stiffened before demanding, “What? How do you know that?”
“I know a great many things, and how I know them is none of your concern. All you need to know now is that Eric killed your Maker, and I can prove it.”
“I have video of it.”
“How could you possibly have that?”
Sargon grinned at Jessica, shaking his head. “Again, that is my concern, not yours. My question to you now is whether or not you wish to help me destroy Eric Northman.”
She cocked her head to the side, bloody tears still dripping down her cheeks. “You want to avenge my Maker?”
“Of course not. I don't care that Eric killed your Maker. Frankly I detested Bill Compton, but the fact remains that making Eric pay for it will benefit me greatly.”
“I don't understand.”
Standing, Sargon held his hand out to Jessica who was still sitting at his feet and stated, “The only question now is whether or not you will help me.”
Jessica looked from Sargon's eyes to his hand and back again before wiping the bloody tears off her face and setting her hand in his. When he pulled her to her feet, she let her own fangs snap down and asked, “What do I need to do?”