**A/N: Beware a slight suspension of disbelief toward the end (I only mention it because I truly detest the little suspension bastards but sometimes they come in just way too handy) but other than that, enjoy a look into mostly Eric’s current state of life and mind. This is Part 1 of The Third Night, and at least two more Parts are scheduled…ending with – yeah – meeting Godric!! (Remember? Sookie’s supposed to be meeting Godric at the end of the Third Night?) Dig in, and lemme know what you think!**
For no good reason that he could think of, Eric rose much too early the next afternoon. Sure, his night before had ended far before he had wanted or planned for it to end, but that didn’t mean he had to rise at 4:42 in the purgatorial afternoon, did it?
The sun won’t be setting for hours yet! Hours! Is this part of Contract Hell, maybe a sequel directed by some third-rate ex-HBO tv-show director?
Still in bed, he flopped over onto his other side in a bout of not-quite-pouting exasperation.
But if I have to pace the time away after while at least I can do it in my own home this time around. And there are no spiders here…always a plus…wonder if that little bugger in Sookie’s grandmother’s kitchen is awake…
Although it had never worked before, he stilled himself in an attempt to return to the vampire version of sleep and, naturally, failed miserably.
His mind simply wouldn’t shut up so he couldn’t even pull a decent fake downtime to while away the minutes.
Though the night before had ended unexpectedly, he wasn’t concerned. He and Sookie could deal with the issue at Fangtasia in a few hours and with any luck she would be able to provide him with the proof he needed to catch the thief hilariously known as Long Shadow.
That name… With a Maker who called himself Hot Rain, though, what could anyone expect…
He couldn’t wait to see how the evening’s events actually went.
Fantastic opportunity to watch Sookie in action…need to see if she has any tells…
And when it came to Fangtasia, even with the servers and bar staff one never knew how things were going to go from night to night.
Though Ginger will probably find at least one appallingly vague reason to scream because of course my eardrums need a good final splitting before leaving that damn bar for good… At least I hope it’s for good. I should consider leaving the newest victim a detailed list of Things To Do While Wasting Your Life In This Fake Fucking Throne…could drop it in the seat…not like anyone would notice until they…wonder if Lucretia or whatever the hell she’s calling herself this week will drop a final tray of drinks? There won’t be any customers tonight but that wouldn’t stop her. Thalia should make an appearance, though, so her scent at the bar would be excusable…
Eric made a mental note to text Thalia to make an appearance at the upcoming staff meeting.
Upon deciding to finally rise and waste some time showering then packing his toiletry kit, he tossed aside the covers and strode naked to the adjoining bathroom. While waiting for the water temperature to adjust then while automatically going through the motions of washing hair and body then shaving his annoying beard growth, he considered how the previous night had actually gone.
After forcing himself to exit her kitchen door then waiting until he heard her lock the flimsy thing, he had blurred to the tree-line and called for Dawson. The lone wolf had been both pleased and disconcerted to find himself suddenly in charge of the Stackhouse security detail with full authority to hire and dismiss crewmembers as he saw fit. The Were had competent staff at his “bike shop” therefore his physical presence there wasn’t strictly necessary, and the pay offered to him by “the Sheriff” was more than fair, so the deal had been quickly sealed.
During this time the now former crew leader had wisely stayed away. Eric still hadn’t been in the mood to deal with Alcide’s stupidity.
Then the Viking had flown toward Shreveport and, as the night was still young to a vampire, had stopped by Fangtasia to check on Pam and lightly…moderately torture the mewling prisoner.
Knowledge of exactly the kind of life Sookie would have led had Compton been successful in his scurrilous mission had encouraged him to rather enjoy the hour or so he’d spent perfecting his various torture techniques.
With a smirk he remembered how he had clumsily faltered a time or twenty…he simply wasn’t all that experience with torture…quite understandable. Taunting and purposefully harming people bound in such a way that they couldn’t escape or retaliate had never appealed to him in any way – unless being done to extract information from a truly dickheaded vampire or a Were who failed to properly succumb to glamour, he considered those the contemptible acts of a cheap, common bully.
In every possible situation he vastly preferred a fair fight that ended with the sorry bastard’s death…too bad his history with Compton and knowledge of how he had already abused Sookie with his secretive blood tie made the male’s pained cries all the more…precious.
Unfortunately it seemed unlikely that he would have another chance to spend such quality time with the prisoner and he was much less likely be around to enjoy Compton’s slow descent into insanity – a curious byproduct of extended time spent bleeding in silver chains, but what truly stuck in his craw, whatever the hell that was, was having to leave his eventual death to another.
I prefer taking out my own damn trash…ah, but at least Thalia will enjoy the treat…
The bastard’s screams and moans had been deeply gratifying – so much so that Eric had been tempted to share that deep satisfaction with Sookie at a later date, but knew she might not understand the context.
In the vampire sense, the title of “procurer” was held only by the foulest, most loathsome filth a monarch could find. Only the lowest of the low would have the true lack of compassion or morality necessary to procure by any means necessary the items or people their owners wanted. It wasn’t as though monarchs would employ a procurer for legally obtainable goods or services…
Only the worst of the lot would be stupid enough to brag about holding such a title, so Eric had considered his time alone in that cell with “the procurer” not only well spent, but as at least partial retribution on behalf of all supe-kind.
The Viking had, however, tried to be impressed by how quickly the bastard’s overly-Southern accent had fallen by the wayside but…he hadn’t cared enough to bother.
To kindly ensure that Compton remained more cognizant of his excruciating situation later in the week, afterward and with supreme benevolence he had allowed the filth to drink…force-fed the filth…several badly expired bottles of Red Stuff kept on hand solely for the worst of prisoners held in the cells below Fangtasia.
The recipient’s gratitude for such kindness had not been forthcoming.
Following a necessary shower and change of clothing then the incineration of the former clothing badly tainted with Compton-blood, a check-in with Pam had revealed that Sookie would, indeed, be receiving a mountain of new attire and accessories. He could have sworn he’d heard his credit cards weeping – it wasn’t as though Pam would have been funding this spree with her own finances…
To his mild surprise he found that he hadn’t truly minded the unexpected expenditure for Sookie’s clothing. It had never truly bothered him when the sprees had been for Pam, so… And he had especially appreciated several pieces that were apparently available in cranberry red…and brick red… and several shades of both deep and frosty blue.
Pam’s dream of foisting five-inch heels on the poor girl was quickly nixed, however, as was the idea of saddling the poor girl with some sort of tiny dog-like purse creature.
Ah, Pam…what an imagination…
With little else to do at Fangtasia – Pam had already more than capably secured all the private items on his list and had taken care of enough current and future paperwork, reports, and Area business to give the impression that their leaving was in no way planned – he’d decided that he might as well return to his house to finish packing the things he wouldn’t want movers handling.
Vast experience with packing at vamp speed had ensured that his task was completed far too quickly…which had left him with more time than he cared for to wander around his empty home before he could gladly succumb to the sun’s call.
Evidently sensing his supreme boredom – even his complicated investment portfolios hadn’t needed his attention – a surprise volley of texts from and to Godric had served to brighten his otherwise deathly dull very early morning.
Hmmm…I sense that the old man’s bored, too. Wonder if boredom is part of that odd problem I…would make sense…has lived for so long…seen so much…known so many people throughout his lifetimes… Is there anything new left in the world for him? What a dreary thought… Maybe I’ll get him a Wii…oh, Cards Against Humanity…some decks support STEM education…he would appreciate that. OH…oh – Adult coloring books! I have to acquire for him some adult coloring books…and a cat… The books he would throw at me…but probably not the cat. Hopefully.
Eric suddenly wished his Maker had called instead of texting. Exponentially more could be detected via voice than text.
After confirming their tentative arrival plans, Eric had been pleased – by sending and thus receiving an unnecessarily but purposefully large number of texts meant to spend more time actively engaged – to discover that the old man was at that very moment having a supe crew ready his personal residence for invasion by a mortal and her cat. Food, one text revealed, was even being hauled in by the home’s newly acquired Were staff.
“Don’t forget milk, cat food, coffee, and sweet baked goods,” he had sent, and when promptly asked if these things had “titles”, he had laughed while sending the brand names he remembered Sookie using.
“And that paper for the bathrooms,” he had hurriedly added knowing the old man wouldn’t remember about such things and feeling rather proud of himself for doing so.
Further texts eventually revealed that Godric had been busy in other areas, too.
Far better versed in the ways and traditions of the vampire world and the politics therein than even Eric was, the ancient being had taken it upon himself to help lay the groundwork necessary to keep both Eric and Sookie safe…politically as well as physically.
Eric would need political protection from the potential fallout of leaving his Sheriff’s position so unexpectedly and from Compton’s soon-to-come unfortunate incident.
The Viking had snickered at that.
He’d known that Godric would agree with him on the necessity of ending Compton – the filth’s casual abuse of his eternal blood alone would have warranted a painfully strong reaction from the ancient being, plus the elder had always held a very strong dislike of the kind of individual who would qualify as a “procurer” anyway.
That the bastard had in some way caused harm to someone now closely associated with his beloved child, well, that had ultimately sealed the deal.
“Answering a call from his Maker” would be the one excuse no vampire could fault him for and would legally entitle him to break any contract or agreement with any other supe, but there were always subtle ways that Sophie-Anne could cause trouble, not to mention the outright illegal options that would easily fall in with her reputation.
While there had been subtle rumors of discord between the queen and her royal progeny for the past several years, most notably the mountainous Twin Broders Sigebert and Wybert although the known torture fanatic Andre’s name had even been mentioned a time or two, she was still a force to be reckoned with regardless of who stood by her side.
Although known for being even-tempered and remarkably intelligent, King Texas would also need appropriate handling. He and Godric dealt quite well together given their centuries-old history, but as with any properly cautious monarch, accepting yet another old, powerful vampire into his kingdom would require serious consideration, and the fact that Eric was Godric’s beloved child could add certain risky nuances to such a move.
And then there were the combined benefits and liabilities inherent in the acceptance of a mortal telepath.
Two political refugees for the price of one, as it were. King Texas is not a sure bet…he could welcome us with open arms, could allow for one but not the other, or reject the both of us as permanent residents. And then there’s Pam… I wonder if he’ll flip a coin? I hear that’s how he came by the State in the first place…
Godric’s work on the telepath’s behalf would require further finessing in time, but for the moment his Maker was doing everything he could to see to her safety and comfort by opening his own residence for her. Being located on the outskirts of Dallas in the middle of a former ranch, the place was easily contained and defendable.
His Maker’s word would go far with the king, which of course would be useful, however the king naturally had final say, and Godric didn’t know her well enough yet to have words about her yet.
And then there were the potential contracts…
In the meantime, however, she would need protection from a greedy, temperamental queen who had already shown her inability to employ legal means by opting to use a procurer instead of doing something requiring common sense like picking up a damn phone, from others in the supe community who might think to secure her services through fair means or foul for their own questionable purposes, and from thirsty younger vampires incapable of keeping their damn fangs to themselves.
He’d appreciated even more the old guy’s dedication toward protecting someone he had never met but whose safety and comfort he would see to simply because of her link to his child.
And then there was Tina.
I can not wait for him to meet Tina! That cat has no fear even of dae-kind…he’ll get a kick out of that…can just see him curling up with the little furball on the floor before the fire…well, unless he has suddenly decided to prefer sofas over the floor after well over two thousand years of habit…he’s getting on in years, though…may prefer softness by now…doubt it, though…
Most vampires saw no point in keeping literal pets – the emotional investment simply wasn’t worth it considering how long vampires could live and how short the furry little mortals’ lives tended to be. Even now that vampires were out of that mythical closet and veterinary and dog-walking services could easily be obtained with a dayworker’s help, there were other nuisances to be considered.
He had laughed loudly when he’d read the text stating that Godric had ordered the new staff to purchase seven deep litter boxes and double that of the best cat litter known to mankind.
Lots of toys.
Ah, the old man always did have a tender spot for the little mousers…and lizards. Never did find much use for horses though he could ride quite well…
He’d grinned as fleeting memories of times past began racing through his mind, and the knowledge that he would likely be going to his dayrest in his Maker’s home the next night had made the wait even harder.
Hey! It’s me! I guess I’m bein’ In’ermission? So, uh, how y’all been doing? How’s your mama an’em been? Good? Good.
Gran an’ Sook been doin’ ’bout tha same, you know, ain’t nothin’ changes I reckon. I hear’d Sook done met ‘nother one’a them vamps but this’sen here seems like a right nice’en. He ain’t nothin’ like’at other’n what used to come sniffin’ ’round her all tha time. He done up an’ disappeared but I gotta say, ain’t nobody lookin’ real hard for’im, neither.
Well, it sure has been hot here lately, I tell ya. They said on th’news ‘at fall’s scheduled to start up here real soon but I don’t think it’s ever gonna get around ta showin’ up. Dang ‘skeeters been ’bout to chew me up!
So…y’all been enjoyin’ this here story? I like how that lady-writer made me sound all smart and stuff, like I got some common sense or som’ma that intuitioning hid up in my brain sommers. You see, sometimes I just get these ideas in my head and they just go ’round and ’round until…hey, was ‘at Hoyt’s truck goin’ down th’road?
Ah, listen, I’ll catch up with all y’all later…gotta go, um, yeah, see ya later!
(And that apparently concludes this Intermission. Jason will, also apparently, “get back to all y’all later”. Or…something. Don’t hold your breath.)
After completing his shower and dressing that early afternoon, as per usual he checked for messages as he sipped on his heated blood. Nothing new had come over the burner phone so all seemed quiet, at least temporarily, in the queen’s court.
He knew said peace and quiet wouldn’t last too much longer and he only wished he could offer the loyal Rasul a safe place to ride out the tempest. Both had made sure that absolutely nothing could ever lead back to the younger vampire but nothing was certain in life. The queen didn’t need a valid reason to take a sudden dislike to anyone.
The list of waiting messages on his regular phone held quite a nice surprise, well, after his initial burst of concern at spotting Sookie’s name in the line-up had been soothed by her message.
So she’d gotten her luggage just after two and she loves it, eh? Go Pam, knew I could count on you in a shopping emergency… Glad she had the clothing sent to Godric’s private home rather than his Sheriff’s res…saves a fuck-ton of questions even if he’d wanted us to stay there. Glad too that Sookie didn’t let pride get in the way of the avalanche of clothing Pam undoubtedly has en route for her… Pam handled what could have turned into a sticky pride-bound situation quite well, too. Smooth of her to remind the chit that as a vampire familiar with “how vampires do things”, she would know what Sookie would need to present herself well to not just the monarch but to my Maker, too. Good Pam.. Smart Pam… New fall line, Pam?
He knew his progeny wasn’t especially enthralled with his telepathic new partner – she didn’t know her well enough to have an opinion either way yet. She did, however, want to ensure that “the partner” presented herself well enough that nothing would reflect badly on him. One of the ways that she could help with that was to clue Sookie in on how very much appearances mattered in the vampire world. The telepath’s cooperation, albeit quite hesitant at first, had helped seal the deal on gaining Pam’s initial approval.
Plus she loved to shop. Whether Sookie realized it or not, unless she tried to stake one of them in their sleep, she was well on the way to having a Personal Shopper for life.
As he had eavesdropped on the conversation between his ladies the night before, his sensitive hearing had detected Pam’s surprise at how well the two had gotten along at least in matters of taste – well, his hearing combined with the burst of surprised pleasure through the Maker/child bond they would always share.
So…score one for Pam in getting Sookie to accept what I’m positive will be more ‘shopping’ than the poor girl had ever seen outside of a store in her life…hope I’m there to see her expression when she comes face to face with Pam’s addiction…she’ll need a trunk for the shoes alone!
And the bags…at least the girl is already accustomed to carrying bags or purses or whatever the hell they called them now. That would make her life with Pam considerably easier.
As he drained his final glass of warmed blood, he considered how very fluidly it seemed the Stackhouse girl was easing into their lives – to the point that unless she did something to really piss Pam off, she…if she wasn’t careful she truly would have a Personal Shopper for life now whether she wanted it or not.
And I have more closets and more crap in storage than I care to count to prove how often the brat finds “just the thing” that I apparently “can’t live without”…should consider going ahead and buying storage units beside mine for the girl…she’s going to need them for what she can’t slip and donate behind Pam’s ever-watchful back…brat has eyes in the back of her head…
The old man will get a kick out of this latest development!
He couldn’t wait for Sookie to meet his Maker.
That thought simply would not leave his mind. Godric would take one look at that bright, intelligent curiosity in her eyes and fall right in…
The idea caused a harsh, clenching backlash of…something to burn up his spine.
What if…No…no no no…but…it would…damn…
That he could so easily see it happening did not help.
How could Godric not fall for that oddly direct look in her eyes? Honesty, bravery, courage of the spirit…those are all things he values deeply… Her laugh, her smile, her blush? Her scent? The way she moves and her naive yet too-wise view of the world? The lush sway and bounce of her breasts as she walks across the room?
She was an innocent, true, but she had a way of moving, of cutting her eyes just so…
It took a long, long minute, but he finally managed to unclench the fist he hadn’t realized he’d made.
It doesn’t matter. If that’s how things are meant to go, I’ll deal with it then. Surely this unaccountable dread means nothing…surely I would be able to squelch it with little effort. It doesn’t matter. I could never deny him anything and not just because he’s my Maker.
Everything that was his to give – skills, loyalty, money, power, even women if they were willing – he would gladly give a thousand times over without reservation to the being who was his Father, Brother…Son.
In the deepest part of his being he also knew that Godric would never purposefully allow harm of any kind to befall his cherished child, so if the old man became ensnared in Sookie’s unconscious web, it would simply be the work of Odin’s hand bringing about what must be.
Surely if that happened, those strange twinges wouldn’t last too long anyway. It didn’t matter.
And I would remove myself from their path as smoothly as possible if that came to pass. She could ask for no better partner than my Maker and I would not stand in their way nor would I cheapen the…the emotional aspects by suggesting anything tawdry. In her innocence, Sookie deserves better than that.
Have I become…emotional in my old age? Is that what’s happening to me? Two nights ago I gladly kicked a disgusting, generic sycophant from my loathed stage…I bloodied him without a thought… and yet here I am now considering such stupidity? It’s not like I’m in love with the girl or anything…so why does the thought…the mere thought…cause such…I guess these are emotions?
I would honestly consider asking the even older man about this odd state but he would simply laugh at me then, should she strike him in that particular way, he would deny himself for me. And that…that would not do.
He stared out at the unlit fireplace for a very long time before shrugging his broad shoulders and glancing at his watch as he wondered about the time.
While not truly noticing much of anything, he took his glass back to the mostly bare kitchen and heated one of the two remaining bags of fresh donor blood before moving to his office.
As he sat in his comfortable chair in the comfortable office of his comfortable home, he could not believe that he had allowed so very much time to pass since being in his Maker’s presence.
Time had simply done as it had always done – passed fluidly from day to night, into weeks then months, until soon entire decades would pass.
It was natural, he knew, for “children” to leave their “parents'” nest and fly off to build their own sphere, but… The notion that something had been wrong with Godric and that he didn’t know of it because of his selfishness gutted him. That the old man could have contacted him at any time in any number of ways up to and including calling him to his side was irrelevant.
If it was his Maker’s responsibility to call upon him when needed, it was his own responsibility to know, to be around to sense, when he was needed.
It worked both ways.
Eric exhaled heavily and the glass in his hand trembled minutely as a fission of doom being barely escaped chilled his blood and wondered if he were suddenly becoming a touch psychic.
The inescapable notion struck him that Sookie’s decision to come into his all-you-can-eat buffet that night, and his subsequent decision to rouse himself to go and see her afterward, had somehow changed what would become history.
Worry for his Maker still nudged at the back of his mind but, ever the optimist, he knew he would achieve far better clarity once he saw the eternal teenager with his own eyes, which, if all went as planned, would happen later that night.
I really should pull a Jason and take my laundry.. Hi, dad, I’m home! Any pie in the refrigerator? Eh, the movers can deal with it later. Have a bag packed…enough to do me…plus there are the Pam-stocked storage facilities in Dallas…and all the stores she will undoubtedly frequent once she arrives. Knowing her, she probably snuck some changes for me in with Sookie’s oncoming deluge anyway.
He glanced at his watch again and finally noticed the time it told.
In a blur he withdrew his regular phone from his pocket and texted Thalia and hoped she would read the words rather than just squeezing her phone into ashes.
Considering the plans in mind for accidents immediately following Compton’s release, it would behoove the ancient warrior to be “seen and smelled” in Fangtasia that night.
Afterward a look around his living room revealed that nothing of value or interest remained unpacked. Sturdy boxes that Pam had had delivered from a third-party packing company were filled with smaller items of value and piled along the edges of the room. Everything else in the house would be packed and moved on the as-yet-undeclared day of transport.
Eric viewed the night’s journey to Dallas as his complete break with the Shreveport Area and so had planned, and packed, accordingly. Unfortunately he couldn’t be seen hauling a large amount of baggage out of the Area that night, not without raising suspicions, and he knew Sookie would need room for her bags and the cat.
The backseat and trunk of his beloved ‘vette would not hold much and he was torn between driving it anyway and the more logical option of loading up and taking the massive SUV in his garage.
Why not both?
The thought snuck up on him and made him look toward the lightproof garage area as if he could see through walls.
The sad state of some of Louisiana’s roads, especially the back roads where he had found himself driving in the course of carrying out his Sheriff duties, had impressed upon him the need for owning his own tow equipment and the all-purpose SUV, so it would be just a matter of minutes to hook up the ‘vette. It wasn’t as though he hadn’t had practice.
That’s…actually feasible. I could easily tow the ‘vette behind the…could load it up as well as the…and the cat… Between the two vehicles, all the more valuable boxes would fit with spare room for her bags and whatever she’s brining for Tina…
In moments he had the night’s plans revamped. He would drive the ‘vette to pick up Sookie and take her to Fangtasia as her set of luggage would surely fit in the smaller vehicle. Once finished, he would drive her to his house, hook up the car to the already-packed SUV, and then they would be off to Dallas.
But that would put the cat having to wait in the car while Sookie…it’s still cool at night…cat should be fine…shouldn’t she? If all goes well, we won’t be in Fang-fucking-tasia all that long… Wonder if the cage is large enough to hold food and water? A shit-box? A laptop for tv? Do cats even watch tv? It would help pass the time…will have to see. Could…no, that would mean driving to and from a dozen times… We’ll figure it out.
Unfortunately he would have to drive a bit slower with that hook-up, but then given Sookie’s complaints about the Were’s driving, that might not be a bad thing.
No sense unduly freaking the mortal out about my driving at this stage of the game. Let’s let her meet Godric and King Texas first…
Then he growled and his face hardened. For the first time since dealing with the useless shifter, he truly resembled the vampire on that throne.
Thoughts of the incompetent wolf made his fangs itch. He had been more than willing to allow the pup to work off his father’s debt slowly so as not to cause undue stress. The boy had willingly assumed his father’s debt, which was a credit to his loyalty, and working off that debt was much easier for the cash-strapped Were than coughing up a large payment every month, but he’d blown that consideration all to hell and back while chatting on the phone in the restroom instead of doing his fucking duty.
If I hadn’t just so happened to have been on hand when fucking Compton came slinking into that grease pit… The brother would have likely tried to intervene but only if he’d noticed something amiss in the first place. Merlotte would have wet himself while whimpering behind the bar but would have talked a great game later… Fucking useless Werepup had best be glad that I was there…
Memory of Compton grabbing at Sookie’s arm had him up and pacing the confines of the room.
Finally, after what seemed like hours of that pacing accompanied by mini-rants about Weres, Compton, the state of the highway between Shreveport and Dallas, and the probable antecedents of every newscaster on the local stations while packing the trunk and most of the back seat areas of the SUV in the lightproof garage, only half an hour of daylight remained.
With far more eagerness than he’d want to admit, Eric grabbed his phone and dialed Sookie’s number at vamp speed.
“Sookie,” he barked when she answered, then after a brief pause he modulated his tone. “Sookie, I have a question about Tina. How long can she comfortably remain in her cage or travel carrier? And do cats watch tv?”
“Eric, hello,” she answered with a warm laugh in her voice, “it’s nice talkin’ to you, too. I’m fine, how are you? Cats don’t generally watch too much tv although something might snag their attention from time to time. Mighty fine weather we’re having today, isn’t it? How are things on your end?”
He could sense her smug grin across the airwaves…and unaccountably relaxed. Suddenly it seemed as though all the stress of the past several hours simply melted away.
“I’m fine, brat,” he replied in a deeper, calmer voice. “Are you well? Are you packed?” Small talk had never been his strong point and he grasped for something to say.
She laughed softly again and he seriously doubted his ability to stop a grin from flooding his usually more serious features. He impatiently flicked his hair out of his eyes and wondered why he hadn’t had Pam trim the mess the night before.
“I’m really fine, and yes, I’m all packed up and waiting to go. As for Tina, she’s locked in the bathroom with the litter box that’s stayin’ here. I’ll dose her up and put her in the travel carrier when you get here.”
What? Why would the cat be in the bathroom? Is she…showering? But cats don’t care for water…at least they didn’t when I knew them in the past. What kind of cat *is* Tina?
“Tina does not travel well so the vet prescribes a strong sedative for when I have to take her into town for a visit. Basically she should sleep for at least three, maybe four hours and be noticeably groggy an’ dopey for an hour or two after that. So if I pill her right before we leave for your club, she should be out by the time we hit the main road then sleep most of the way to Dallas and never realize how long she’s been in that cage. But to do all that, I’ve had to keep her in the house since this afternoon so she wouldn’t run off an’ hide when she saw the carrier.”
“Ahh…is it safe to medicate her to that extent?”
It wasn’t that he thought Sookie would do anything to harm the little tigress but that seemed to be a long-acting medicine…wasn’t it? He wasn’t sure – it wasn’t as though he kept up with the latest in animal husbandry. That was for the Were and troll-doctor segments of the population.
“It’s safe for a healthy cat but I never give her those pills unless I have to, and she really, really hates riding in the car. It’s to the point that I worry she’ll hurt herself trying to anger her way out of her carrier and it’s just not safe to have her loose in the car.”
“Well, then, ok… I’ll be leaving in about 20 minutes…”
“But the sun will barely be set by then, right,” Sookie interrupted, an unusual event for her.
What…oh, she must have caught the local sun-set times. Well…
The thought warmed what he was now fully realizing was his heart. The warmth…didn’t hurt.
“Do not worry, it will be fine.”
“That excited to get to Fangtasia, are ya?”
Eric released what could only be described as an inelegant snort.
“No, never. The place could rot for all I care. It has been beneficial, and it has had its uses,” he stated, instantly deciding to begin tackling some of the things the telepath might need to be warned about before reading any of the staff later…and about vampire nature in general.
This was knowledge she needed, and even if some of the subject matter might not be to her liking, knowing was far better than not.
“Some humans tend to view places like Fangtasia as either a theoretically safe way to walk on the wild side, or, for a certain segment of the population, as a way to flirt with death in any number of ways. Vampires know this and, in general, treat each accordingly.”
He paused to rub at an invisible speck on his car.
“From the vampire perspective, however, in places like Fangtasia that other human group provides a handy ‘all you can eat’ buffet of pathetic donors willing to provide anything to sate a vampire’s needs. They are called “fangbangers” for a reason. Unless other arrangements are made and in lieu of paying taxes many could not yet afford, vampires in my Area are required to show up and do what we call “floor time” for entertainment value to the tourists and so that I can monitor their behavior and ensure that they’re playing well with the humans.”
Sookie made a noise that he couldn’t decipher.
“As for me…,” he started but then exhaled deeply.
This is not going to be pleasant.
“Imagine having to remain present and available for endless hours at an annoyingly loud, low quality buffet where the barely palatable food items never vary, where the stale stench of chemical desperation never eases, where bad lighting and tacky decor are required for so-called atmosphere, and especially where the food constantly comes on to you no matter what you do to discourage it. Yet, because you’re considered the main attraction in more ways than one, you keep having to put yourself on display even though you know what that will bring. When it’s your business and the base of your Area’s operations, you will suffer through it, but you will not enjoy it. Numbing, brain-rotting boredom becomes the norm.”
He shuddered at some of the more disgusting memories all while noticing Sookie’s long silence.
“But…for the sake of time, location, and convenience, every night you will most likely choose to partake of at least one if not several of those so willing to be used. I have done that not only because I am a vampire who must feed but also because a satisfied customer’s word-of-mouth serves to bring in more customers…who buy more drinks and add to the ambience…and some of those customers will be all too willing to feed thirsty Area vampires although officially no feedings or other relevant activities are ever allowed on the premises.”
Silently he shrugged. Just because it wasn’t allowed didn’t mean it didn’t happen. The trick was in not getting caught by the Sheriff, his Second or mouthy bystanders…
“The revenue serves mainly to satisfy a greedy queen’s insatiable demand for ever-increasing tax payments and the club serves as a base for me to keep an eye on the local vampire population and tend to their needs while at the same time allowing me to oversee their behavior in a safe, controllable environment. Now imagine having to deal with this type of situation almost every night of the week…for years.”
He let the conversation stall to give the girl time to process what he was revealing to her and waited with growing unease for her reply.
Giving voice to the feelings and impressions that had accumulated over time further encouraged him to heartily embrace his new life…a new life that was beginning that very night.
…if she would only say something…
To help curb his impatience as he waited, he took a few seconds to blur once again through every room in his house before locking everything up that one last time before returning to the garage to lean against the side of his precious ‘vette.
The items he would need to connect the car to the SUV were already prepared, so when they returned from Fangtasia, he would only need to hook the car to the packed SUV, install Sookie in the front seat and the cat in the back, then they could leave the Area.
And still he waited.
Perhaps I’ve been too blunt? Maybe I should have eased her along a bit more gently, but I’d thought she could handle at least a softened version of the truth about that damn bar…no telling what she’s going to read from the human staff’s minds tonight. Damn…really should have had Pam glamour the worst from them but too late now…wonder if she’d be able to tell the difference between those who have been glamoured and those who haven’t? Ginger may present her with a …challenge…wonder if her brain has her screams catalogued by volume, intensity, cause, or duration…sub-filed by the amount of ear damage each is likely to cause, of course… Maybe she can tell me…
He heard a few more soft noises in the background at Sookie’s house but couldn’t identify them, and chose to take it as a good sign that she was at least still on the line with him.
Surely I haven’t blown it? Surely not… Fuck…
She exhaled softly in the background.
He fiddled with the perfectly fine windshield wiper.
“Tell me what you’re thinking.”
After some shuffling noises and what could have been a swallow, she slowly replied, “I…I don’t know what to say, just that it sounds awful and that it sounds, well, awful, all of it. I don’t know. I guess I’m having a hard time knowing that you were using people, human people, like that, but at the same time I remember what they were like in there, too. In some ways it makes sense but in other ways it’s horrible. Maybe it’s kind of like a kid at a Halloween parade taking the candy that’s bein’ thrown at them or something. I…,” she trailed off, but he understood that she might need time to collect more of her thoughts on the subject.
The vampire world was a tricky matter for even vampires to understand and he did have to credit Sookie for at least trying to come to terms with the bits and pieces as he basically spoon-fed them to her.
His patience was rewarded quickly thereafter.
“It’s a lot to think about,” she finally pronounced before surprising him considering their current discussion. “Just come on and get me, ok? I’ll go ahead and give Tina her pill.”
With a relieved exhale he replied, “I’m on my way.”
**A/N: (The feline sedative mentioned above, Ace as it’s called by my vet, *does* exist – I have to use it on one of my cats else she brings about WW3 in her carrier and bites 90% of the vet staff because TRAVELING AND CARRIERS ARE EVIL AND MUST BE ANNIHILATED IMMEDIATELY AND LOUDLY AND AT ALL COSTS!!! – really, her chart carries a BIG RED WARNING – but it does NOT keep her asleep, or even sedated, for THAT long hence the “belief suspension” warning in the prime A/N.)
Ah, the developments continue. Poor Eric…he took a giant chance in doing the right thing but it had to be done. Poor Sookie…her view of Eric is suffering a few growing pains, isn’t it… Next stop? Fangtasia! *evil, evil grin* So – what did you guys think?**