Mick kept seeing the body of his best friend Jay, mangled and torn beyond recognition, something getting torn inside him each time the gruesome image flashed in his mind’s eye. He thought of Jay’s girlfriend, six months pregnant with their first child. He thought of the ring in his locker which Jay had been hiding, to propose to Amanda, next week on her birthday. He thought of how Jay’s eyes had lit up when he told Mick he had enough savings to start a family with Amanda…
All of that gone to hell in five seconds. The plans, the ring, the light in Jay’s eyes. And for what?
He stepped on the gas and sped his motorbike.
Fuck the fucking king of Louisiana and his games.
Mick didn’t care about the treason he was going to commit, or the King he had sworn allegiance to. All he now cared for, was vengeance.
It did not take Mick long to reach the vampire hotel Freyda was staying at, or to gain an audience with the queen of Oklahoma. He was after all her spy in Louisiana’s court. A spy who had turned on his mistress and joined Eric to spy on her instead. That was until he saw his best friend’s body, decimated by the Northman.
Freyda sat pretty on an red velvet ottoman, flipping through an issue of GQ, which incidentally was that month’s issue featuring the new vampire king Eric Northman. The face of the vampire staring from the cover sent another jolt of anger through the were’s veins. He wanted to snatch the magazine from Freyda to tear it to pieces.
“My Queen.” Mick bowed low.
“Long time Micky boy…” the Queen drawled, not lifting her eyes from the magazine.
“I just didn’t have anything worthwhile to report for a while.But I have something real good right now.”
“You do?” Freyda glanced at him, eyes devoid of emotion.
“I believe the Viking has a new bonded partner. A half human telepathic fairy.”
A page of the glossy magazine slowly crumpled in her fingers, as the queen stood up.
“Bonded? How sure are you about that?”
“She claimed she was his. She reeked of him. The Northman tore apart a whole elite guard unit because she was attacked.”
Emotion flickered in the queen’s eyes.
“A vampire can own many humans.”
“But then the vampire owns them your majesty. This one is not under his control. She does not heel. At all. She would if she was just another pet. This human stepped into the prison cells that are off limits to anyone but the king and his progeny or a very select few. A vampire prisoner attacked her and Northman killed six weres, was well on his way to kill more if ‘she‘ hadn’t stopped him. I would have been the seventh if I hadn’t held back and waited for his favorite vampire guards to arrive first. He called her his. He said an attack on her was a blood crime.”
Freyda’s anger grew with each sentence from the were. She didn’t bother to conceal it. Her eyes took on a mad glint which never meant anything good. A trickle of doubt licked the were’s spine. For a moment, he wondered if coming to the crazy Queen of Oklahoma would hurl him into a bigger hole.
“You did well and you will be given a fitting reward.”
Mick exhaled in relief.
“But before that, you will do something else for me. Get me this woman who claims to be Northman’s. Bring her to me, alive, in any number of pieces you can manage. The sooner the better. By tonight if you can. Use whatever resources you want.”
The were gaurd’s heart sank. It was one thing to bring Freyda information. Kidnapping Sookie, Northman’s bonded companion from under his long nose was a whole different brand of crazy. He cursed both the monarchs to high hell. But it was this or nothing. He could not refuse a direct order. He had already taken a lot of risks in coming to Freyda. If the Northman found this out, Freyda was the best option for sanctuary.
He pasted a polite smile on his face and bowed again.
“It’ll be an honor, your majesty!” Mick gave her an exagerated bow, and left.
Freyda picked her phone and savagely punched the screen to make a call.
“And sign his death warrant?”
“It’s either him or you. Who do you chose Sookie?”
Niall’s question shut me up pretty quick. Was that even a question? I had to chose me. And now Eric too. The thing was, in the past, choosing myself hadn’t meant outright killing someone who was once more than a friend. Would my choices now come with such horrible consequences?
Would I have to do this on a daily basis now that I was with Eric, the ruthless viking vampire king of two states?
With time, would I become unapologetic about killing people too?
I turned away from Niall and blankly watched the bright street, dotted with tourists and natives alike, all having a good time.
Alive. The street was alive and thriving. Drunk on the million lights hung all over the sidings. And yet it had dark corners and alleys, like the one we stood in. Light and dark, it all came together here, made the city what it was. Much like it’s vampire king.
“What do you want to do Sookie?” Niall asked again.
“Alcide should have been more loyal.” I replied, feeling the weight of my words inside my guts, “We were friends. Lovers too at one time. If he wants to kill Eric…” I shook my head, too disturbed with the thought to complete my sentence. “I can’t lie to Eric about this. I have to tell him. He needs to know.”
Niall touched my elbow and I turned to look at him.
“I’ll tell your guards to discreetly extract the wolf from the bar.” he said, and walked off, leaving me alone in the dark alley.
For the first time, I became conscious of the true meaning of being an immortal vampire king’s partner, a being who was so old and who had seen so much, that I realized that I would always have to run double time to catch up with him, on something or the other when it came to our relationship. It would not always be candy and roses.
Eric’s savagely angry face from before kept popping in my head as I walked to his office to talk to him. Our bond was still muted, so I had no idea if my hotheaded viking had cooled down or was still mad as hell. If I gave myself time to relax and shower first, I might chicken out of the impending conversation for another couple hours. So I didn’t stop to change my clothes before seeing Eric. On my way up, people stared uncharitably at my dirty clothes and disheveled hair. Thank God for the over sized black jacket Nick loaned me before I got into Eric’s car, which hid the bloody gore on the front of my dress. I ignored the stares and kept walking. It wouldn’t do if I avoided this meeting any longer than I already had.
Reaching the office door, I took a last calming breath and knocked. Willa, acting as Eric’s secretary for the night, didn’t even bother stopping me.
“Enter.” came Eric’s muffled response from behind the heavy wooden door.
I twisted the knob and entered his office of half glass and half book shelf walls. Eric sat behind his desk, back straight, posture taught, his head bent as he looked over some papers. He knew it was me. But he didn’t raise his eyes from his work.
Hmmm. Still mad then…
I went to sit in one of the chairs arranged perfectly against his desk. Meanwhile, he picked up a pen and signed the paper he was looking over, before putting it away and picking the next file from a stack on his right. He still wasn’t looking at me. I still couldn’t get a feel of his mind. Though I didn’t take much to guess his mood. Angry. Very angry.
“Did they tell you about Alcide? Your vampires?”
“I got a call. Yes.”
“Will you…umm…what will you do?”
“Remains to be decided.” he replied in a clipped tone.
“He was working with Sarah Newlin.”
Eric said nothing and stubbornly kept his eyes on his papers.
Was this his version of a silent treatment?
“His mind was really befuddled. His thoughts were all over the place, like a crazy person. I know how his brain works. He has been angry, confused, conflicted before but he is really far gone this time.”
I paused, giving him an opening for a response. Another minute of keeping mum and not looking at me later, he abruptly shut off the file he was going through, capped his pen and shot me a cool look.
The contact of his eyes, however frigid, had the affect of bringing me on the brink of tears. But I didn’t cry.
“Are we going to have another disagreement over the wolf Sookie?”
“I was just giving you all the facts Eric. I thought you’d like to know. To make a decision.”
Eric just looked at me, his eyes an excessive gemstone blue, glittering in the bright lights of his office. Even upset, those eyes ferociously pulled at my insides. I suddenly didn’t like the desk between us. That overwhelming need of finding comfort only in his arms came back with a vengeance.
“What happened earlier-” I started-
Eric abruptly stood up and walked towards the glass wall, cutting off the connection of our eyes. And shutting me off.
“Did the distance help clear your head?” he asked.
I am sure he did not intend for me to hear the slight crack in his voice.
“No it didn’t. But the distraction of another intended homicide did. Made things clearer.”
Eric stood by the glass wall, staring outside, his back to me. Tall, back still straight as ever, hands in his trouser pockets. I stood up from the chair and walked to stand beside him, facing the glass wall as well. For a while, we stood silently, looking at the sprinklers moving in the gardens outside.
“Are you going to publicly whip and execute Bill and Jessica?”
“Bill yes, in an hour actually. Jessica, only the whipping but not publicly.”
“He’s been turned over to his packmaster. His pack will punish him as they fit for plotting to kill an ally. Afterwards, I’ll do with him as I please.”
“You could glamor him to forget his plans. Lead us to Sarah Newlin. Expose her to the world.”
“Any fairy can break the glamor, just like you have done in the past and then he would be a bigger problem to manage. Alcide is a useless but dangerous wild card right now. And he knows a lot about you. He needs to go.” he said in a tone that brokered no argument.
“Looks like it’s bad to be my ex-boyfriend at this point. They all seem to have death sentences awaiting, one way or the other.” I said trying to voice it without any affliction whatsoever.
I could feel Eric tilt his head to look at me. When I met his eyes, he raised an eyebrow in derision.
“Well then, just to be safe, I’ll try not to break up with you, at this point.” he said dryly and turned to stare out the glass again.
“Try?” I choked.
“Calm down lover. You are not the only one who had a long day. And mine’s not over yet.” He turned to walk back to his desk. “What do you want Sookie? I am busy. The state wouldn’t run itself and this is a particularly bad time.”
I followed him to the desk.
“I am not particularly proud of my actions of the evening Eric. I lied, and I mean the one of omission with you, about planning to go see Bill. I broke the rules of your home in going to a taped off area, without your knowledge. I then took an unnecessary risk and then dived headlong into shits creek in going too close to Bill even when the guard told me not to. But I didn’t mean for it to happen, ok?”
I paused for a reaction. Which I didn’t get. So I plunged ahead.
“Then you went all viking warrior on six of your people, because I acted without thinking it through.”
“So? You want me to apologize for protecting what’s mine?” he cocked an eyebrow, clearly challenging me to try an ask for an apology.
“No.” I shook my head, “But I want to know something else. I’ve seen you kill people before. But what you had going on there? For a moment Eric, I couldn’t even recognize you. Your eyes were ice cold. I mean, you were totally out of it! Was that some kind of bloodlust I don’t know about?”
My question got me some reaction. Eric seemed to be thinking over what I just said because he slightly tilted his head and looked to be calculating something.
“Are you asking me whether I was in control of myself or just lost it and killed indiscriminately without thought?”
He nodded in return.
“I am a warrior, Sookie Stackhouse, a true leader of descent. Whether it be in battle, or a sparring of minds, or the throes of passion, I am always in control.”
His words were so incredibly egotistical. So pompous. But he spoke them with a calm certainty that wouldn’t let me snort at his confidence. It reminded me of the Eric I had first met, the vampire sheriff in Fangtasia who made the throne he sat on important, a thousand year old viking vampire who played with us like pieces of chess at the time.
I saw in his eyes that he knew I was a little disturbed from the way he was looking and talking. But he didn’t wipe that look off for my benefit. Eric was consciously showing me a side of him that he knew I wouldn’t like much. He wasn’t backing off or hiding it. Hell, he was doing anything but hide.
It made my insides twist in realization that Eric wanted me to see and come to terms with the cold killer side of him. He was being ruthlessly honest.
This street would work both ways. He may not like it. But he had to hear what I felt too.
“Look. I am not a thousand years old. I have not seen wars or been a warrior or ripped people apart like you have. I have killed. In self defense. But they were murders in my eyes. Sometimes I think, really think, if there could have been some way where I wouldn’t have had to kill those people. I still see them in my nightmares y’know. Then I think what would happen if I don’t kill my attackers if I am being…” Eric flinched, the emotion rough on his otherwise blank face “But it doesn’t mean I don’t feel anything about those deaths. What I’m trying to say is, I may have been chased and beaten and roughed up and what not but, but taking lives still weighs a ton inside me. And I don’t know how to get over it. I am not even sure if I want to get over it so easily. Or even to forget about it somehow.”
I hoped I was making sense to him. Eric’s eyes took on that far away look, as if he was looking over a huge distance, seeing something I couldn’t see, with the look of a guy too old for me to understand.
“I am over a thousand years old now. Speaking from experience, killing doesn’t get easier with time.” he said, his tone hard as glass, “Only, you start looking at the bigger picture, start understanding that thing about a stitch in time, see over time how taking a few individuals out of the equation goes a long way in avoiding an all out war.”
The remoteness vanished from his eyes and I was pinned again with his piercing gaze.
“The guilt doesn’t go away easily. However, I suggest you start thinking of ways to deal. Lean on me as much as you want to. Keep talking to me. Because Sookie, our lives were bloody before this and the gore is only going to get worse. There were things I could overlook before you, but would have to address now that we are together and I am the leader of a bloodthirsty and mad set of immortals. That’s the price of being with you that I am ready to pay. Question is, will you let me pay it forward?”
“Does my wanting or not make a difference to your actions?” I asked, genuinely wanting to know and trying my best to stay strong and talk like an adult.
Eric rolled his eyes in exasperation.
“She has to ask me that.” he mumbled, and followed that up with something colorful that I didn’t understand. “Yes woman! Your thoughts do factor in my decisions. Now, how’s your shoulder?”
Ohh! Way to change the topic viking!
“It’s fine.” I tilted my head both ways as a demonstration. Truth was, it still stung like a bitch when I moved my head. But judging by what happened to those poor dead were guards, and would happen to Bill and Jess in the near future, I could live with some pain.
I didn’t even see Eric get up from his chair and he was in front of me, kneeling, my chin firmly held in his hand. He brought my face closer to his and stared in my eyes like he was trying to glamor me.
“We are going to lie to each other now? Do you forget I feel your pain too?”
I shook my head in a no, my eyes again on the brink of misting over.
“I can take this pain Eric. I’ve had worse.” I shrugged, trying to make little of it.
My effort at looking like a bad-ass seemed to make Eric angrier. He abruptly stood up and turned away to go sit in his chair behind his desk again.
“Fine then.” he opened the file he had shut off before, “I expect you to accompany me to Bill’s execution in fifty minutes. Now if I could take your leave.”
Was he dismissing me now? It sure sounded like that to me. I was still trying to come up with something worthwhile to say and smooth things over when the door opened and in walked Pam.
“The Mayor is here to see you.”
The poor ignored file was shut off again as Eric nodded and got up and walked to the door. Right before he left, Eric paused a moment and glanced at me.
“Not to give you orders or anything, but you still reek of Compton. It is making me mad. Go take a shower before I break something else.”
He left before I could manage a good comeback.