The Authority was a series of catacombs that were difficult to navigate if one was unfamiliar with the layout. As one would expect, it was mostly underground. There were above ground meeting rooms and even a large reception area for AVL functions. The Great Revelation had been broadcast from that room.
V-TV was housed in the Authority’s headquarters where Nan Flannigan duked it out via satellite, more often than not, with Steve Newlin. There was the I.T. department where vampires were constantly upgrading current technology and modifying human items to make them more vampire friendly. All of the chancellors had private rooms, and as an ‘ambassador,’ Sookie had a room there as well.
Security was blood controlled, so a finger had to be pricked prior to getting clearance to enter a room. It was because of that particular security measure that Sookie had been flagged in their system. Even vampires that were thousands of years old had a blood type. They had been born with one as a human and that carried over into their undead life.
Sookie Stackhouse didn’t have a blood type.
Immediately that raised some eyebrows. What human didn’t have a blood type? The properties in her blood were looked over by the same scientists that had developed TruBlood, and it was ultimately discovered that what was different about Sookie’s blood was the fairy in her family tree. The news had come as quite a shock to both Sookie and the Authority members that were made aware of her lineage.
The conversation with Gran in the aftermath had been a tense one, but there was no way of knowing for sure where the otherness entered the Stackhouse DNA. Sookie’s grandfather had her same ability, but he had disappeared mysteriously before her parents died. Having her grandfather around would have been helpful, but Gran was as helpful as could be. She knew what her husband had been through, and used what information he had passed on to help Sookie cope with what she had once seen as an affliction.
What was even more interesting was Sookie’s first meeting with someone from the Fairy Realm. Claudine Crane had been sent as Sookie’s special advisor, and a meeting had been called with the upper echelon of the Authority to stress the point that the fae would be watching. Vampires and fairies didn’t get along very well for obvious reasons. Fairies basked in light; it energized them and helped replenish their magic the same way blood fed a vampire. Not enough blood would wither a vampire away, just like a lack of sunlight would dim a fairy.
The two were yin and yang, and yet when they were put together the results were usually deadly.
Claudine had helped Sookie manage her telepathy, and also taught her how to use her Light. Sookie could use her Light to help or heal, depending on what the situation called for. It was her ultimate defense mechanism, and one that was best kept secret until she had to reveal it. Claudine checked in with her from time to time to make sure she was doing okay, and the fae were always watching to make sure that the vampires didn’t get out of line with her.
Nora pricked her finger to summon the elevator to take her downstairs.
“Chancellor Gainsborough, welcome back,” the elevator greeted in its robotic voice as the doors parted.
“Sub level one,” Nora said as she stepped into the car.
The doors closed and the elevator started down. When it stopped, the doors opened again. The receptionist was on the phone, but waved at Nora as she went to the set of doors on the right. Cameras watched Nora’s every move as she passed the Sanctum and ignored the sounds coming from Roman’s chambers. No doubt Salome was inside with him.
Nora fought back her jealousy and moved on to her own chambers a few doors further down the hall. It wasn’t mandatory that chancellors live at headquarters, but their involvement with the Authority was to remain secret. Nora had taken a huge risk by going with Sookie to see Eric, but she was tired of being in the shadows.
She loved her work and was proud of all she had accomplished, but it was also lonely. Nora stepped into her room and closed the door behind her, making sure to throw the lock on it so there wouldn’t be any intruders. She went to her laptop and called up the tracking device on Sookie’s phone to make sure she had gotten back to Bon Temps safely. Only the address she was seeing was in Shreveport.
108 Ironwood Drive, to be exact, but what was Sookie doing there? It was possible she was visiting a friend but Nora doubted it. She opened another program on her computer. It was a database, of sorts, that the AVL had been working on. It contained the pertinent information for every vampire registered in North America. Without hesitating, Nora searched for Eric, but not by the name Eric Northman. She searched his human name.
Eric used that name because it was a modern adaptation of the name he’d been given as a human, but she knew it wasn’t the name he had registered under. She typed in his name and waited. Eric Northman was just one of several aliases that popped up for Eiríkr Nygård. He registered multiple businesses and four addresses in the country, only one of them being in Louisiana.
Bingo. The Ironwood address was his. Nora switched over to the internet and searched the address. It was in a subdivision on the west side of the city. The exterior was brick with black shutters and a charcoal gray roof. There was nothing spectacular about the house, but that wasn’t a surprise. Eric, true to his Scandinavian roots, was a minimalist. He wouldn’t own a house with a big gate that looked like Dracula’s castle.
The house was perfect.
But what was Sookie doing at his house? What had they gotten into after Nora left? She knew the two of them were attracted to each other. Eric had always had a thing for blondes with big eyes which, Nora supposed, was how he’d gotten stuck with Pam. But Pam was another issue altogether, and not one that she was concerned about at the moment.
She was tempted to call Sookie and find out if everything was going okay, but then the GPS program pinged. Nora switched back to that program. The signal from Sookie’s phone was gone.
Since Sookie had planned on going home to Bon Temps she didn’t have any clothing with her. She would remedy that the next day. Not only did she need regular clothing to wear during the day, but she also needed things befitting for a vampire’s pet. On her own, Sookie was a simple girl with simple tastes. She preferred comfort to style, and that wouldn’t do in Eric’s world.
But that’s what the black Amex was for.
Sookie tucked her Authority issued cell phone back in her purse and debated over what to do with herself. She was tired but thought going to sleep so early would be rude. Then again, Eric probably had better things to do than entertain her until sunrise. She was scanned into Eric’s security system and had put everything away in the kitchen.
“So, how should we tell people we met?” Sookie asked Eric as they headed back downstairs.
“At my bar. You came to read my employees for me,” he said simply.
That was reasonable enough.
“Okay,” she nodded.
“It would also be wise if you didn’t wear your necklace. The fewer reminders that you work for the Authority the better.”
Another good idea.
“I’ll take it off tonight,” Sookie agreed.
“Now about your blood…” Eric trailed off.
“Have you ever had fairy blood before?” Sookie asked him. There was something about fae blood that had the ability to make vampires go a little mad, and it could potentially be very dangerous for them if they weren’t careful.
“Once,” Eric said. “My maker caught one once way back during the Crusades. We were in Istanbul at the time. It was the most delicious thing I’d tasted since I was human.”
“So then you’re aware of the affect it has on vampires.”
“I imagine it’s something like the equivalent of a human dropping too much acid. The sixties were fun,” Eric said with a wistful smile. “I drank from someone that was high on psychedelics a few times. It was quite the experience.”
“Yeah, I bet it was,” Sookie laughed. It was hard to imagine Eric stumbling around, trying to figure out if he really had four hands on one arm, or if the sky was really dripping on his head.
“The last time I was high for two days. But the psychedelics were preferable to someone on cocaine in the seventies.”
“Huh. A vampire with a cocaine addiction. I wonder how common that was.”
“Not as common as vampires trying heroin in the nineties. It’s all Cobain’s fault.” Eric sat down on the couch and put his feet up on the coffee table.
“Are you telling me Kurt Cobain is a vampire?” Sookie’s eyes went wide.
“No. The attempt failed.”
Sookie shook her head in disbelief and sat down at the other end of the couch with her body angled toward Eric’s. “Are there any other famous people that have been turned?”
“Many,” Eric nodded. “But many of them prefer to remain in the shadows. Their very public human lives were enough. A lot of them have fled to Chernobyl, since no one really wants to go there unless a documentary is being filmed.”
“Yes. Chernobyl, New Taipei in Taiwan, Basilicata in Italy, Hashima Island in Japan, Limousin in France, Centralia in Pennsylvania and even Bodies in California are all densely inhabited by vampires. All of those places are either abandoned, or not fit for human habitation. They’re perfect hiding places for vampires, since virtually no humans visit those places.”
That also made sense. Paparazzi weren’t going to go to Chernobyl to get pictures of frolicking vampires. Did vampires even frolic? No matter. Any photographer fool enough to follow a vampire to a condemned, nuclear reactive city deserved whatever deformities they got from the experience.
Sookie knew there was a database the AVL had built that would tell her who was a registered vampire in America, but she didn’t have the security clearance to access that information. It didn’t really matter anyway, she was just curious. The desire to be left in peace was understandable, and Sookie was going to respect those wishes. She knew a little bit about what it was like to be stared at and whispered about. Granted no one wanted her autograph while she was out to lunch with Gran, or asked her for pictures or to record the outgoing message for their voicemail, but people – both human and vampire – knew who she was. She had a reputation.
“I get it,” Sookie said. “I would probably want to be alone too. It’s not like plastic surgery is an option if you get sick of yourself after two hundred years.”
“The downside to immortality. So many rush into it without realizing just how long forever really is,” Eric said with wisdom in his voice and something in his eyes that Sookie couldn’t put a name to.
“How about for you? A thousand years is a long time. Do you… have you ever thought about meeting the sun?” Sookie asked him.
“Not once,” Eric said, but not too quickly. “I’ve gotten bored at times, and I’ve certainly been frustrated but I like living too much to meet the true death because I got too impatient.”
“I have a hard enough time remembering my freshman year of high school. I can’t imagine trying to filter through all of the memories you must have,” Sookie shook her head.
“That’s one of the perks of being a vampire–total recall,” he smiled a little.
After a minute of quiet Sookie asked, “Do you want to be present for my meeting with the king tomorrow?”
“I do,” he said. “Unfortunately His Majesty and I don’t have a very good history, and my presence might do more harm than good. I’ll be close by, though.”
“You’re going to have to meet my grandmother, and I’m going to tell her that we’re involved so that if someone tries to glamour the truth out of her she won’t blow my cover. She’ll probably grill you about a lot of things and if she finds out you were a Viking she’s going to ask a million historical questions,” Sookie warned.
Gran was also more than likely going to be upset that Sookie lied to her, but it was for her own good. It was also better than having Eric glamour her. In the end Sookie hoped that Gran would understand that it was a necessity.
Or maybe Eric was right and you’ll end up his pet for real, that little voice in her head said. Sookie yawned and rubbed her eyes in the hopes of throwing Eric off if he was somehow aware of what she was thinking.
He’s not the telepath, dum-dum, the voice berated her.
Where was a roll of duct tape when she needed it?
“I think I can handle it,” Eric said, and Sookie smirked. If he thought she was a handful… well, after meeting Gran she would seem much easier to get along with.
“Well, I probably won’t be here when you rise tomorrow. I’m meeting Mr. Compton just after sundown since his house is across the cemetery from mine, but I suspect I won’t need more than an hour of his time.”
“Call me when you’re finished and I’ll head your way. I need to be at the bar tomorrow night,” Eric said.
Sookie nodded and then got up off the couch. “I hope you don’t mind me turning in already. It’s been a long day and using my Light always drains me a little quicker.”
“It’s alright. I have some work to do anyway.”
“Okay. Then goodnight, Eric. Thank you for agreeing to do this,” Sookie said sincerely. He really didn’t have to help her. The Authority could try to force it, but ultimately if he didn’t want to help her he would only do a half passed job.
“If you really want to thank me…” Eric’s eyes moved to her neck.
Sookie inhaled deeply. She was supposed to meet with the king in less than twenty-four hours. When she met with him she was going to say that she was the newly acquired pet of the sheriff of Area 5. If, by some chance, Eric crossed paths with the king, he was going to be suspicious if he didn’t scent Sookie on Eric, even faintly. She would be lying if she said she wasn’t nervous, but she might as well get it over with.
“Alright,” Sookie conceded, and stepped closer to him. She pulled her hair away from her neck, exposing her golden brown skin to him. “But no marks. I don’t want Gran thinking I got attacked.”
“Deal,” Eric said, and before Sookie knew it she was straddling Eric’s lap in the easy chair. He held her hips and leaned in to sniff her again.
Sookie heard the clicking of his fangs dropping down into place just before his nose rubbed against her skin. Her heartbeat sped up since she was unsure of what to expect. No two vampires fed exactly the same way, so Eric’s process was anyone’s guess. Her hands landed on his shoulders to steady herself. One of his hands moved up her back and stroked her hair a little.
It was surprisingly soothing and Sookie forgot all about the fangs… until they slid into her neck.