It was obvious the spell had been broken when terrified humans came running out the front door of the emporium with Jessica chasing after them. Pam was waiting; grenade launcher perched on her shoulder and ready to fire. A step out of the shadows was all it took for the humans to stop where they stood, all except for the shaggy haired one that had been with Marnie at the hotel.
“We can stop them if we join hands!” he shouted, extending his hand in Jesus’ direction.
“It’s over, man,” Jesus shook his head.
“It isn’t over! Not until every fucking fanger is dead!” he shouted, staring at one face after another in search of an ally.
That is until Jessica got him by the hair and he yelped like a little bitch. “What’s your name?” she demanded, bending the fanatic back at an unnatural angle.
“None of your fucking business, fanger!” he shouted into her face and made the mistake of looking into Jessica’s eyes.
Jessica looked at Jesus and asked, “What’s his name?”
“Roy,” Jesus answered, feeling no need to get a taste of whatever Jessica was about to do.
“Traitor!” Roy shouted, his eyes searching for Jesus.
“Listen to me, Roy,” Jessica’s voice was calm—too calm. “I’m going to give you a thirty second head start and then I’m going to come after you. I hope you run as fast as you talk.”
Jessica let go of Roy’s hair and he hesitated for a good five seconds before he took off running. She shook her head and then went over to Bill to check on him while Pam moved in on the group of scared humans. With fangs down and ready to attack, she charged Tara, slamming her up against a wall by her throat.
“Tonight is my lucky night. All humans have been declared hostile,” Pam practically purred.
“Fuck you,” Tara answered in a choked voice.
“Tara would shut your goddamn mouth?” Lafayette looked over at his cousin. “Shit.”
“I ain’t fuckin’ around with this bitch no more. If you’re gonna kill me, then fuckin’ do it already. I’m sick of waitin’ on your ass,” Tara glared at Pam.
“Tara!” Sookie shouted as Eric brought her down from the roof. “Pam, don’t shoot her!”
“Wasn’t planning on it,” Pam flashed her fangs at Tara.
“So far you’re all bark and no bite,” Tara challenged and when she looked Pam in the eyes, she immediately relaxed her defensive posture.
“Aww hell nah,” Lafayette muttered under his breath.
“Don’t worry, princess, there’s plenty of me to go around,” Pam said without taking her eyes off of Tara.
“Pam, let her go,” Eric said from behind her.
“You have got to be fucking kidding me,” Pam snarled. Was this really happening to her twice? “Since when are you interested in protecting people who helped curse you?”
“Since we got what we came here for. Antonia needed a medium to communicate through and the necromancer is dead. So I will say it again. Let. Her. Go.” Eric ordered and Pam dropped Tara from her glamour.
“It’s your lucky night,” Pam sneered and turned away.
Bill was still on the ground waiting for his leg to heal and Sookie felt a bit of worry ball in her stomach that he had been shot with silver. One by one, Eric began to glamour the humans into forgetting all about this and wiping their memories of any vampire hatred they may have had. God only knew what was going to become of Roy since Jessica was long gone in attempts to track him down.
When all the humans but Jesus, Lafayette and Tara had been glamoured they were sent on their way. Sookie stood near Tara’s side. The two of them hadn’t spoken since the night Tara showed up at Sookie’s place and she discovered Eric was staying in the house. At the time, Tara had assumed that Eric was nothing more than a ruthless killer and that he put nothing above himself. Now she wasn’t so sure of what to make of him.
“I’m so sorry, Sook,” Tara apologized. “I don’t know how I keep getting sucked into all this fucked up shit. For a whole year I was clean. I had a nice, normal life. Then I come back here and I’m right back where I started.”
“Why were you antagonizing Pam?” Sookie asked her. “You know the only reason she didn’t kill you is because Eric ordered her not to.”
“Because I’m sick to fuckin’ death of bein’ kicked around by anything that thinks it’s bigger than me.” Tara’s voice was laced with hatred, although whether it was for vampires or herself, it was hard to say.
“I know you’ve been through a lot but gettin’ involved with Marnie wasn’t the answer. You gotta stop lookin’ for someone to save you, Tara, and start savin’ yourself,” Sookie advised.
Tara laughed and said, “That’s funny comin’ from the girl who keeps gettin’ sucked into all this vampire shit.”
Sookie took a step back and shook her head. “When did you become so hateful? This isn’t the girl I used to think of as my sister and no matter how bad things got; you never used to lash out at me. What did I do to you that was so wrong, Tara?”
“Just fuckin’ forget it. You wouldn’t understand,” Tara shook her head. “If y’all don’t need me for nothin’ else, I’m goin’ home.”
“Tara…” Sookie pleaded but Lafayette put his hand on Sookie’s shoulder to keep hr from going after her friend.
“It ain’t worth it, baby girl. You know how she git when she in a mood,” Lafayette reminded her.
“She pushes everyone away and then wonders why she ends up alone,” Sookie sighed and turned toward Lafayette. “How’d you end up mixed up in all this again?”
“It’s a long ass story but mostly I came here to get Tara out of this mess. I guess I shouldn’t wait on a thank you note,” Lafayette pulled a cigarillo from behind his ear and reached into his pocket for a lighter. “You remember Jesus, don’tcha?”
“Nice to see you again, Sookie,” Jesus extended a hand. “Sorry it’s not under better circumstances.”
“Just another day in Bon Temps, right?” Sookie joked and then leaned against Eric when he came to stand beside her, his arm around her shoulders. “Eric, have you met Jesus?”
“Not formally,” Eric stared Jesus down and remembered seeing him the night he was cursed.
If he remembered correctly, Jesus was one of the stronger witches in the group that had been present. Even more important, the magic coming from Jesus was innate to him. Eric’s eyes moved over to Lafayette, who still looked like he wanted to piss himself for being so close to Eric. Eric had no plans to hurt either of them but it was better if they thought he might. They would be less inclined to do something stupid if they thought they were being watched.
“Since Eric seems to have forgotten his manners, Jesus this is Eric Northman. Eric this is Jesus,” Sookie introduced them.
“Nice to meet you,” Jesus said quietly but wisely skipped the handshake. Eric merely nodded his head just a fraction of an inch in acknowledgment.
Sookie rolled her eyes and looked over to where Bill was still on the ground. She wanted to help but knew that offering her blood to Bill was a bad idea. She didn’t know what the rules were now that she was bonded to Eric but she was sure offering her blood willy nilly to vampires was frowned upon, but it would sure as fuck be off limits to Bill from now on. They had a lot to discuss.
“I’m going to go talk to Bill. Wait here,” Eric kissed the top of Sookie’s head and went over to where Bill was.
“You two are lookin’ mighty cozy,” Lafayette said with that devilish twinkle in his eyes.
Sookie exhaled slowly and said, “I didn’t forget what he did to you, Lafayette. It’s just that… well I…”
“You don’t need to explain it to me, Sookie. I ain’t seein’ this as a betrayal. Just watch your back. Vampires are sneaky, slithery mothafuckas who sneak up on yo ass when you ain’t lookin’.” Lafayette warned, as if she didn’t know that already.
Sookie didn’t really want to get into explaining away her decision to give Eric a chance. Frankly, it wasn’t anyone else’s business. Everyone was standing around all peaceful, for the most part, just waiting on Jessica to return so they could all go home. There was no fighting, no trying to kill one another… it was about as normal as you could get for three vampires, a witch, a medium and a telepath with a little bit of fairy in her blood. Sookie sort of kept to herself while Lafayette smoked his cigarillo and talked quietly with Jesus. Eric appeared to be trying to do some sort of first aid on Bill’s wounded leg and like it or not, it did worry Sookie that it wasn’t healing on its own like it should.
She turned to see Eric crouched down, inspecting the wound in Bill’s leg. Without needing to be told, Bill was going to need a donor to help force the bullet out if it wasn’t healing on its own. But then air that had been calm became charged with energy and Sookie heard the sound of Antonia chanting. She turned in time to see Lafayette inhale deeply and his body shook.
“What the fuck?” Sookie muttered and tried to back away but Lafayette caught her before she could get very far.
“Stick around,” Lafayette said in a voice that was decidedly more feminine with a Spanish accent.
“Antonia, what are you doing?” Jesus spoke up and Sookie tensed in panic.
Eric whipped around as Lafayette began to chant in Antonia’s voice. He had just raised the gun in his hands to take a shot when the spell hit and Eric turned the gun on Pam, who lunged at him. In a matter of seconds all hell broke loose and the three vampires standing just a few yards away were all fighting with one another. Eric and Pam turned on Bill, since he was the weakest of the bunch.
“Stop it! Eric, Pam, stop!” Sookie shouted at them but it was useless.
“They are violent killers,” Antonia hissed in Sookie’s ear.
“They weren’t hurting anyone!” Sookie argued. “Bill came here to give you a chance to surrender and let the humans go.”
“They killed Marnie,” Antonia seethed.
“Can you blame them?” Sookie fired back. “Listen, lady, I don’t know who you are, but you don’t want to mess with me.”
“Sookie don’t-” Jesus started but Sookie cut him off.
“I can send you somewhere that you’ll never get back from. I broke your spell once. Don’t think I can’t do it again,” Sookie threatened, even though she had no way of knowing if she really could do it again.
“You don’t scare me, little girl. You have no idea the kinds of things I have survived. You think the blond one cares for you? All he wants is to drink your blood and treat you like his little pet. It’s all an illusion.” Antonia told her but Sookie shook her head.
“He loves me. What you’re doing is wrong. There are vampires who want to hurt people, I won’t argue with that, but Eric isn’t one of those vampires and neither is Bill. He wants peace just as much as you.” Sookie insisted.
“Vampires want to dominate and control. They want to possess humans; feed on them, rape them and torture them. You are a fool if you don’t see that,” Antonia argued in return.
Sook, you can get her out, Lafayette’s voice broke into Sookie’s mind. You remember the movie Speed? You remember how Jack saved his partner in the beginning? Think about it, Sook, I know you remember.
Sookie thought for a moment. Lafayette had gone through a pretty big phase where he was in love with Keanu Reeves and as a result, they’d watched Speed at least two dozen times. It had been at least a decade since she’d seen the movie, however, and the hint wasn’t coming to her right away.
Shoot the hostage, Lafayette told her.
“Shoot the hostage,” Sookie whispered and Jesus heard her, his eyes widening.
“You want me to shoot you?” Jesus asked and looked over to where the vampires were still brawling with each other.
Bill was down on the ground and not getting up. Pam and Eric were throwing punches and wrestling with one another. Eric had Pam by her hair and was using it to yank her in one direction or another. But then Jessica returned—covered in blood- presumably from attacking Roy. Eric and Pam stopped when they smelled the fresh blood.
“Jessica, run!” Sookie shouted but Eric and Pam moved too quickly.
The distraction was enough to get Antonia’s attention and Jesus picked up one of the guns that Bill had been carrying before he fell. He aimed the gun in Sookie’s direction and she jerked her head at Antonia, who was too busy watching the vampires try to tear one another apart to pay much attention to what Jesus was doing.
“Antonia!” Jesus shouted, getting the witch’s attention. Lafayette’s head whipped around and stared at Jesus. “You’re right. The sympathizer is the problem. It’s humans like her who let the vampires think they can abuse humans the way they do.”
“Jesus, think about what you’re saying!” Sookie struggled against Antonia’s hold.
“He’s right, little girl. You endanger us all,” Antonia hissed at her.
Jessica screamed in agony when Eric viciously bit her neck. Sookie gasped and Lafayette’s head whipped around to see the violence unfold. Sookie looked to Jesus who adjusted his aim so he would hit Lafayette in the leg. Sookie inched out of the way as much as she could and Jesus fired.
The gun going off stopped the fighting for just a moment. Eric and Pam turned to see Lafayette fall to the ground with his arm still around Sookie’s neck, taking her down with him. He howled in pain and Sookie struggled to get free. The vampire blood in her system made her stronger than usual and she was able to elbow Lafayette in the ribs hard enough that at least one of them cracked.
Bitch, I’mma get you for that later, Lafayette thought at her but she just smiled.
“Enough! The fighting stops now!” Sookie’s hands began to glow and she aimed the light at Lafayette.
The force of two strong magics colliding knocked her back on her ass, but Antonia’s spirit lifted out of Lafayette’s body. Sookie watched as Antonia took form beside Lafayette. She was sort of like a hologram and she shimmered slightly in her spirit form. Sookie lifted her hands again and sent another blast of light Antonia’s way and the spirit disappeared. The spell broke along with it and just as suddenly as the fight had started, it stopped.
Jesus crouched down beside Lafayette and yanked off his belt to form a tourniquet around the man’s leg. Sookie felt a bit faint and was glad she was already on her ass or she would have fallen. Further down the street Eric, Pam and Jessica were all bleeding and hurt. Bill didn’t move from the heap he was in where Pam and Eric had left him before attacking Jessica.
“Antonia’s gone,” Sookie spoke softly and then everything went black.
oOo ~ oOo ~ oOo
Sookie woke in an unfamiliar room, her head throbbing and her throat feeling like sandpaper had been used on it. Her eyes searched the room for something remotely familiar and she was just about to sit up when Eric appeared. His hair was wet and he wasn’t covered in blood anymore, suggesting he’d been in the shower. His large hand gently touched her cheek.
“Where am I?” Sookie whispered since it was all she could get out.
“My house. It was closer. I hope you don’t mind,” Eric leaned down and kissed her forehead. “You passed out. Are you hurt anywhere?”
“My head and throat hurt,” Sookie closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “I think maybe I overdid it with the magic.”
“You’ll stay with me tonight,” Eric told her and she nodded, to tired to argue with him. “You need to eat. I had Pam bring you clothes and food.”
Sookie’s eyes opened and she looked down to see she wasn’t dressed in her stealth gear anymore. “Where did she get this?” she looked up at Eric while her hand ran over the smooth silk of the nightgown she was wearing.
“Pam keeps a closet here,” Eric sighed. “She insists that everything she owns will become fashionable again at some point.”
“She’s probably right,” Sookie smiled. “Is she still here?”
“No, she’s gone home to clean up. Daylight will be here soon,” Eric helped Sookie sit up and adjusted the pillows on the bed behind her.
“What about Bill and Jessica? Are they okay? What about Lafayette? I can’t believe I blacked out,” Sookie sighed and reached up to touch her head. She had a small bump where her head had whacked the pavement when she passed out.
“Bill and Jessica returned to his home. Jessica has promised to keep us updated on Bill’s condition. I’m not sure why he isn’t healing. He wasn’t struck with a silver bullet. Lafayette lost consciousness shortly after you did. I think an artery might have been nicked when he was shot. I gave him some of my blood to tide him over until an ambulance could arrive.”
“Why didn’t you heal him?” Sookie asked, careful not to sound like she was accusing him of something.
“He didn’t want it,” Eric said, which Sookie would have found hard to believe if she didn’t feel the truth in Eric’s blood.
While she was sure there would be downsides to the bond they shared, the one good thing that would come from it was that it would be much harder for Eric to deceive her from now on. Then again, she had to let go of that version of Eric. If she had truly forgiven him for his sins, then that meant she couldn’t keep punishing him for them.
“His hospital bill will be taken care of,” Eric told her. He would pay it himself if Bill refused to do it.
“Good.” Her stomach growled then and she said, “I guess I need to eat something.”
“Let me help you,” Eric said when Sookie’s balance faltered a bit.
“Must have bumped my head pretty good,” Sookie stood on shaky legs and Eric slipped an arm around her so she could lean on him.
“Here,” Eric slid a pair of slippers closer to her feet. “Pam thought you might want those as well.”
Sookie smiled at Pam’s unexpected thoughtfulness and slid her feet into the slippers. The nightgown Pam had selected from her personal collection was a bit long on Sookie, but it was beautiful and definitely unlike anything Sookie would have in her own closet at home. Eric walked with her down the hallway, stopping at each door to show her the second floor of the house. She was surprised to find it wasn’t terribly big.
There were four bedrooms but one had been turned into an office and one was Pam’s room in case she needed somewhere to stay. There was a guest bath up there as well. Eric offered to carry Sookie down the stairs but she refused. One step at a time, she made her way down to the first floor. The décor of the house was cozier than she would have expected it to be. She would have figured Eric for a lot of black leather and clean lines.
Instead she was surprised to see plush carpet, chocolate suede upholstery on the oversized couch and heavy wooden tables with ornate carvings on them. The floor in the kitchen and dining room was a dark stained hardwood and the walls throughout the first floor were painted a creamy, ivory color that looked clean without being sterile. The kitchen was beautiful. The glossy wooden cabinets had to be cherry and there was a pretty marble backsplash that Gran would have loved to have in her own kitchen.
“This house is beautiful,” Sookie said once they reached the kitchen. “I’m surprised you bothered with a kitchen at all.”
“It came with the house,” Eric smirked at her and helped her ease onto one of the padded pub stools at the breakfast bar.
“Obviously,” Sookie rolled her eyes. “I just mean that it looks like you remodeled it. I wouldn’t think you’d put that much care into a room you can’t really use.”
“It would look a bit ridiculous if I upgraded the rest of the house and left this room sitting in the 70’s, wouldn’t it?” Eric pointed out and opened the doors of the stainless steel refrigerator so she could see what was inside.
The top two shelves were filled with various synthetic bloods and she wondered if there was really that big of a difference in taste. Then again, it was probably like choosing a favorite beer. There’s a comparison she thought she would never make. Bill had always been pretty faithful when it came to blood. He either drank hers, or True Blood type A negative. He wasn’t really one for variety.
“While Pam was at the market she picked up a pizza for you so you wouldn’t have to cook. It’s still in the oven on low heat if that’s what you want,” Eric offered.
“That’s fine,” Sookie nodded and started to get up.
“Stay there. I’ll get it for you,” Eric said and opened the oven. Without thinking twice he lifted the box with his bare hands and set it down on the built-in cook top on the counter.
“Your hands!” Sookie jumped up.
“It’s just cardboard, Sookie,” Eric smiled over his shoulder at her and then reached into one of the cabinets for a plate.
“Doesn’t it burn?” she asked him, sitting down again slowly when she started to feel a little dizzy.
“It’ll go away.” Eric pulled two slices of pizza from the box and put them on the plate for her. “Do you need a fork?”
“No, I should be okay without one. A napkin would be nice though,” she said as he put the plate down in front of her.
Eric ripped a paper towel from the roll beside the sink and handed her that as well. “How about something to drink?”
“Water is fine,” Sookie was a bit thrown off by how helpful and attentive he was being. She wasn’t used to this side of him just yet. He’d always been either callous, scheming or lost. This in between Eric was new to her. “Aren’t you going to eat?” she asked when Eric leaned against the other side of the counter to watch her.
“I had a True Blood while you were out,” he informed her. He reached over to a little shelf beside the sink and grabbed a small bottle. “I asked Pam to pick these up for you as well.”
“Iron supplements,” Sookie smiled when he handed her the bottle. “Presumptuous of you, don’t you think?”
“Does that mean I need to be injured before you’ll let me taste you?” Eric asked her, lust starting to work its way into their bond and he knew she felt it when she squirmed a little. “I will gladly burn myself right now if that’s the case.”
“Don’t you dare!” Sookie glared at him and set down the bottle of pills. “I guess we should talk about the feeding thing.” Sookie wiped her mouth with the paper towel and took a drink of water.
“I won’t be feeding on other humans,” Eric said, taking the wind from her sails. Sookie had been sure this was going to be an argument. Eric felt her surprise at his promise to her.
“Are you sure that’s a promise you can keep?” Sookie asked him. “Don’t say it if you don’t mean it.”
“You taste better than anything I’ve had in centuries,” Eric told her and she felt heat rise up her neck. “It will be you or True Blood for me; that’s it.”
“You’re sure?” she asked in a small voice.
“You would let me feed from other humans?” Eric raised an eyebrow.
“No,” Sookie said forcefully. “I’m just surprised that you’re willing to give that up for me.”
“When I think of what I would be gaining, it isn’t much of a sacrifice. But I will ask that you do something in return for me.” Eric told her.
“What’s that?” Sookie asked, a bit nervous to hear what he would be expecting of her in return.
“I would prefer that you didn’t give your blood to other vampires,” Eric requested, which caught her off guard.
“Why would I do that?” Sookie leaned back in her chair.
“I felt your urge to help Bill earlier. I know you have a problem with sitting back and doing nothing when you can do something to help but I don’t have to tell you how closely vampires relate blood and sex.” Eric stood a little straighter, prepared for a shitstorm of angry Sookie to rain down on him.
“No, you definitely don’t. Although… you have yet to bite me during sex,” Sookie pointed out.
“And I plan to rectify that as soon as your headache is gone,” Eric stared at her hungrily. Sookie fought the smile that wanted to overtake her face.
“A little aspirin might help with that,” she told him and he was gone before she could blink. She’d barely turned around in her seat when he was back, aspirin bottle in hand.
“How many?” he asked while fighting with the childproof cap.
“Just two should do it,” she took the bottle from him and popped the top expertly. She shook a couple of pills into her hand and then opened the bottle of iron supplements and removed one of those as well. She chased the pills with the rest of her water. Eric refilled her glass and Sookie went back to eating her pizza.
“So whose idea was it to shoot Lafayette?” Eric asked with amusement while watching Sookie eat.
“His, actually. Antonia had jumped into his body and he thought at me. I feel bad for Jesus, though. It couldn’t have been easy for him to shoot Lafayette like he did.”
“He’ll recover. The bleeding had ceased after I gave him some of my blood. He’ll probably need surgery but he’ll be fine,” Eric told her. Sookie nodded but he knew she was still worried about something. “What’s bothering you?”
Sookie sighed, swallowed what was in her mouth and said, “I’m worried about Tara. I didn’t realize she had such a death wish. I don’t know what she was thinking getting in Pam’s face like that.”
“You can’t save everyone, Sookie. I can appreciate that she’s your friend but eventually you’re going to get yourself killed trying to help her. Is her life worth losing your own?” Eric asked his concern for her obvious to her in their bond. “It’s selfish of her to make you feel at all responsible for her choices.”
“That’s not what she-” Sookie stopped and thought about it for a moment.
Tara hadn’t exactly blamed Sookie for the clusterfuck her life had become but Sookie was very well aware that Tara didn’t approve of the choices she’d made since returning from her trip to Fairy Land. Sookie hadn’t exactly approved of Tara’s choices either but she hadn’t tried to make Tara feel bad about them. But then Tara had always been judgmental and Sookie knew that. Once upon a time they had been like sisters but it hadn’t been like that for a long time.
Sookie remembered her Gran telling her that misery loved company and Tara seemed to be proof of that. It always seemed like Tara couldn’t handle it when Sookie was happy. Tara might smile and play along like the supportive best friend but she seemed to forget that Sookie could hear what she was really thinking. It was an unfair advantage and Sookie knew that as well, but that wasn’t really the point. And while it wasn’t her place to judge, it was Sookie’s opinion that Tara had made some really bad choices in the last couple of years.
But wasn’t the whole point of friendship to be there for someone you cared about when the chips were down? It wasn’t fair to ditch Tara when times got rough. Relationships meant taking the good with the bad and sticking it out when things got hard. Maybe Tara needed a little space and time to exorcise her demons but that didn’t mean their friendship had to be over.
“If I didn’t know that it would hurt you so badly, I would have let Pam kill her.” Eric revealed after a moment of silence.
“I know,” Sookie didn’t like it but she knew it.
“But if she puts you in another situation like you were in tonight, I’m going to repeal my order,” Eric warned her and it was hard to say what her emotions were after that.
Sookie finished eating a short time later and got up to wash her plate. Eric sat on the marble counter top just watching her work and monitoring her emotions. She was surprisingly calm considering the slight threat he’d made toward her friend. He wanted to ask her how she felt about it but figured it was best not to poke a sleeping bear. When she was finished cleaning up the small mess in the kitchen, Sookie turned and leaned against the counter across from where Eric was sitting.
“Thank you for dinner,” she smiled at him and he nodded.
“How’s your head?” he asked with dancing eyebrows.
“Better,” Sookie admitted and braced herself to be attacked by him.
“Good,” Eric hopped off the counter and approached her slowly, his hand extended toward her. “There’s something else I want to show you.”