**A/N: This chapter is in Eric’s POV**
Eric had never actually seen Andre “in action,” and so was oddly anticipating the upcoming torturing session. In fact, as much as he had enjoyed the evening – a surprise in its own right – he was getting a tad impatient. But it wouldn’t be much longer, he thought happily as the vehicles pulled out outside his residence.
He escorted his Sookie into their home and expertly kissed her senseless for a full five minutes, since kissing her was much more fun than even torturing rat bastards would be, before returning to the specially modified SUV waiting at the curb.
Sitting across the interior of the limo from Andre and Emma as they rode down darkened streets, he gazed unseeing at the passing scenery as he thought ahead to the upcoming inquisition in the palace dungeon. It rankled a bit that they hadn’t settled on any sort of plan for extracting information from the prisoners, but Eric had sensed early on that Andre hadn’t wanted to discuss such unsavory subjects in front of Emma, and he fully approved of that stance.
Understandably, Andre was trying to shelter his human mate from the darker, harsher side of the vampire universe…just as he had tried, and ultimately failed, to protect his Sookie. Granted Andre himself was to blame for part of that failure, but, to his immense frustration, Eric could no longer even hold that against him, especially as things had turned out so well.
Fucking Andre just had to let him settle the damn score, Eric silently groused to himself. Since their Andre-induced altercation, things between the two tall, blond males had changed, subtly at any rate. He had tried considering the asshole a frenemy, as Sookie had once suggested with a snicker, but even that felt off. Eric hrumphed to himself. So did “acquaintance,” for that matter. Things between him and the Queen’s highly-touted Second were both more and less than any of those terms.
Apparently sensing the frustration and aggravation in Eric’s rapidly shifting moods, he felt Sookie send him some calm and affection, and, oddly, a burst of humor through their bond. He reciprocated with approval and, just to be himself, a nice shot of lust, too. He could almost hear her laughing in response.
Although Andre and his human mate didn’t say much during the ride back to the palace, there was no questioning the male’s obvious care and concern for his female, and his protective stance never once faltered. The other guards in the vehicle never wavered in their vigilance either.
At first Eric would admit that he just might have sneered a bit at the unnecessary “need” for what could only be described as a motorcade to transport one human female out to eat, and the extreme measures taken to secure the restaurant. But, when he considered the lengths he would go to in protecting his own Sookie, he understood and even…approved. Throughout the long dinner, he had discretely watched not only Andre’s interactions with this human, but the human herself. Sookie seemed to be growing quickly fond of her, and he could see why.
Initially the brunette had seemed shy, which he thought was hilarious considering the mattress incident, but that didn’t last long. With a snort, he realized the small lady was quite vocal with her rather strong opinions, but expressed them in such a way that even if you didn’t agree with her, you at least had to give her ideas merit. She was also quite amusing and had managed to even make the usually impassive Andre laugh out loud several times.
Of course, he would return to his normally implacable facade as quickly as possible, he thought with a mental eye-roll, but there was no doubt as to the male’s affection for the girl.
As they entered the palace grounds, Eric turned his thoughts back to the evening’s upcoming events. His own Maker had made sure that he knew exactly how best to torture the deserving to extract information, but he knew watching Andre would be quite an education. This could get good…
Andre waited until the primary guards were in place before exiting the vehicle, and even then he surveyed the area intently before helping his Emma descend from the SUV. Not wishing to expose her to any more risks that evening, he scooped her up into his arms and, along with their guards and the Northman, vamp-sped them to their quarters.
Smothering the slight smile incurred by her giggling at their speedy arrival, he simply shook his head as he lowered her to her feet so he could open their door. Leaving everyone else in the hall, he escorted her inside to take his own leaving of her in private.
After relieving her of her wrap, he pulled her close to loosely wrap his arms around her smaller frame.
“Will you need the were this evening,” he asked as he softly stroked his cheek along her forehead.
Answering with a quiet laugh, Emma replied, “Nope, and anyway she’s not home, so to speak. I think she’s visiting with a certain vampire recovering from BeauChamps’ tender mercies.”
Eyebrows raised in surprise, the tall blond vampire leaned back enough to meet her eyes. “Really?” He had not suspected anything along those lines. While ‘interactions’ between weres and vampires were becoming slightly more common than in the past, such relationships still something of a novelty, and even when they did occur it was mostly among the younger set. Of course, such social strictures wouldn’t even begin to phase the shameless Rasul.
Emma nodded with a pleased grin. “I can’t say for sure, but, yeah, I think so. He’s a flirt, and she’s not, so I don’t know how this is going to go, but…” She trailed off as she shrugged her shoulders.
“He hasn’t tried anything with you, has he, ma chérie,” Andre demanded as his fangs partially snicked down. He knew that the darker male had a certain reputation, but had thought he’d warned him off his mate. Did he need to have an extremely painful conversation with Rasul?
Raising her arms to circle his neck, she soothed her vampire, “Oh, no, of course not. He’s nothing more than a bright, shining bit of friendship, honey. You know that, and he knows that. He does have beautiful eyes,” she said with a flash of her dimples, “but he flashes them at Tracy, not me.”
Still not completely soothed, Andre growled, “He’d better not.”
Emma shook her head at her jealous mate then drew him in for what she’d thought would be a brief kiss. Long minutes and a stuttering heartbeat later, he released her, thoroughly pleased with her slightly swollen lips and blushing arousal.
It always amazed him how very quickly she could draw his possessive inner demon out to play, but since one glimpse of a dimple could interrupt his thought processes, he shouldn’t be at all surprised by how fast his demon would rear his possessive head to even the thought of another male… He hurriedly quelled that thought. He had to keep a level head for the rest of the evening no matter how badly he wanted to re-stake his claim on his woman.
Even though the two vampires had carefully abstained from any mention of prisoners or plans for the evening during dinner, Emma knew exactly what they were going to be doing. And, although she appreciated that Andre seemed to want to protect her from the less pleasant aspects of vampire life, she wanted no secrets or uncomfortable subjects between them.
“So, you’re off to play with prisoners now, huh?” She quirked her own brow at the tall blond.
Momentarily surprised at her willingness to discuss such unpleasantness yet knowing he shouldn’t be surprised at all, he simply nodded.
“Well, don’t take all night with the torturing and the bleeding and the maiming, ok? We do have a new mattress to break in, ya know,” she teased.
A brief laugh escaped from his firm lips at the absurdity of the situation.
“Yes, ma’am,” he dutifully replied before claiming her still-swollen lips once more before reminding her that the door would be guarded as usual and to call him if anything at all seemed off.
About time, Eric thought to himself when Andre finally exited his quarters. The Viking smirked a bit – apparently Andre had taken the same sort of leave of Emma as he’d taken of his own mate. But he dropped all levity at the immediate change in the other vampire’s persona.
Once outside the door, his entire demeanor changed as the male’s cold, ruthless inner beast came to the forefront. Evidence gathered during Rasul’s rescue had indicated that at least one were and one vampire – the ones with the taint of the drug on their skin – were a direct threat to his Emma, and it appeared to Eric that they were in for a very bad evening.
He fell into stride alongside Andre as they quickly made their way to the dungeon beneath the palace. He noticed that with each step toward the prisoners Andre’s expression hardened just that much more. By the time they reached the interior cells, he in no way resembled the coolly genial male courting his mate from earlier that evening.
Stormy blue eyes now hard as diamonds, lips drawn tight over fully extended fangs, he was now a male protecting and exacting revenge on behalf of said mate, and there was no more fearsome beast in the world than a vampire protecting his female.
At first the Viking was slightly taken aback by how Andre seemed a bit detached during the dinner, but had initially blamed it on his and Sookie’s presence. But when Emma seemed to take it all in stride, he surreptitiously looked deeper, and realized that the slightly younger vampire remained somewhat detached because he was entirely on guard. He did, in fact, care as deeply for his mate as Eric did for his own, but “displayed” his love and affection by guarding her, keeping her safe and secure and as far from harm as possible instead of indulging in obvious displays of affection or flirtation. Of course, Eric also remembered the removal of a certain destroyed mattress, so Andre certainly wasn’t aloof all the time…
One brief glance around the palace’s dungeon instantly brought him back into focus. The vampire on duty, Hollander, he guessed, was on point and immediate tossed them both pairs of leather gloves. Upon closer inspection, Eric realized they were crafted more like gauntlets than plain leather gloves, with thick palms and a pronounced cuff that was most likely intended to prevent accidental contact with silver.
Eric regarded the other vampire with rising fascination. Of course he was very aware of his reputation, but it was fascinating seeing him in action without having to keep his guard up just in case.
Curious as to how the torturer would go about the evening’s tasks, he watched as, with barely a nod toward the curious Hollander and without speaking a word, Andre strode purposefully over to what Eric recognized with a barely suppressed gasp as a set of Maidens. He hadn’t seen the like in many centuries, but realized that their presence in this particular vampire’s dungeon should come as no surprise.
With what the Viking realized as barely-suppressed fury fairly vibrating throughout his body, Andre approached the enclosures. He grinned an intensely satisfied, frightening grin when he looked down at the floor around the Maidens. Blood, both fresh and dried, on the floor proved the now-silent prisoners hadn’t remained quite as still as they should have. Andre perfunctorily unlocked and opened both enclosures.
Eric raised a brow when he noticed that the were had been ball gagged, but then nodded. Noises from prisoners could be so annoying. He’d have to remember to tell Pam about that trick. It would combine two of her favorite pastimes: kink and torture.
He watched as Andre checked the restraints and found that they would continue to hold the now weakened prisoners, and walked away having left the doors to both devices open. The vampire and the were, now silent and bloody, watched him with glazed, apprehensive eyes.
Eric watched with understanding as Andre fought to keep his stony face from betraying his innermost rage. These fuckers had thought to harm the blond’s mate, had planned to put their filthy claws and paws upon her person, and the Viking, considering his own mate, felt his blood heat and his own fangs erupt in shared wrath.
He understood at a soul-deep level that it took every bit of Andre’s considerable control to keep from rending their muscles from their bones and painting the walls of the dungeon with blood from their still-beating hearts.
The sound of his fangs erupting in rapport drew Andre’s cold gaze, and Eric shuddered internally at the controlled savagery in the male’s face. When he met his eyes, however, a connection was unknowingly forged between the two as each instinctively understood the other.
Mates come first at any cost. Period.
What followed would provide Eric with more ideas for torturing and extracting information than he ever though he would need.
Still eerily not uttering a word, with a series of gestures Andre instructed his assistant to rig up some chains in the center of the large room directly above a small grated drain. With a nod toward the Viking, Eric followed him over to the were and, in unison, they freed him from the restraints and drug him to the center of the room, then hung him by his neck from the silver-coated chain. His hands swung free, and his feet barely touched the concrete floor.
Eric remembered dealing with that were during the night of the raid, and how it appeared the reeking, formerly surly beast was glamoured to prevent him from spilling any information, so he was very curious to see what Andre would do with him.
The were’s hands still smelled of the drugs intended to taint food meant for Emma and her maid. He shook his head…this would not bode well for his treatment at the torturer’s hands.
Once the were was situated properly, and in the direct line of sight of the vampire still restrained in the silver-lined device, Andre walked over to one of the tables and picked up a respectably-sized silver-coated sword. Eric promptly took a couple of steps away from the were at Andre’s signal.
“These feet brought you to the palace with the intent of causing damage to my mate,” were the first words spoken, and Andre snarled them just before he severed both the were’s feet off in one swift strike.
He stood back, sword at the ready, and regarded the were’s howls and cries of pain with feral delight.
When the were finally stopped trying to scream through the ball gag, Andre removed it and demanded coldly, “Is there anything you would like to tell me?”
Foolishly the were cursed, spat and struggled uselessly to shift.
Shrugging, Andre stepped to the side and succinctly relieved the man of his right hand, his strike sure even through the man’s flailing. “That hand came to the palace with the intent of causing damage to my mate.”
After again waiting for the were to run low on curses and screams, Andre again calmly asked, “Is there anything you would like to tell me?”
When the filthy beast only moaned and writhed in pain, Andre simply placed his sword back on the table and motioned for Hollander, who Eric noticed had been standing nearby wide-eyed with rapt attention, to ready another set of chains, this set stronger and thicker than the other, and placed over another conveniently-placed drainage hole in the floor. After they were readied, Eric once again helped Andre release and drag the other prisoner over, this time they securing him by chaining his hands spread above his head.
When the vampire instinctively hissed and bared his fangs, Eric couldn’t help but smirk when Andre produced from his pocket a set of pliers and casually removed first one fang then the other with a well-practiced flick of his leather-covered hand. When he turned and tossed them with precision into a handy three-gallon glass jar already two-thirds filled with other fangs, he couldn’t help but snicker.
“Now that that’s covered,” Andre sneered, “why don’t you save yourself some pain and just answer the damn question. Is there anything that you would like to tell me?”
He could tell Andre’s patience wasn’t going to last too much longer. He knew they needed to extract what information they could from the prisoners, but so far the chances were looking slim. Oh, well, at least there was another were and another vampire left, which was a good thing because this idiot didn’t act like he wanted to remain undead much longer.
“I was just doing what I was told,” he spat, instinctively trying to drop fangs that were no longer available.
“Then perhaps you need to learn to listen to someone else.” With that, the vampire’s ears fell, one after the other, from Andre’s gloved hand and landed on the concrete floor.
“You would harm one of your own over a blood bag,” hissed the vampire, blood dripping off his chin and down the sides of his neck. The vampire’s foolishness surprised even Eric.
Faster than lightening, Andre ripped out the tongue and throat of the still-nameless vampire.
“I’m not done with him yet, so bind the wounds with silver-shot bandages but leave him hanging,” he instructed Hollander.
Andre walked over to one of the tables and motioned Eric forward. As he shucked off his blood-soaked gloves, Eric did the same.
“Time to visit the one vampire I suspect may not be as guilty as those fools,” he said coldly.
Eric nodded, then watched with surprise as the other vampire grabbed a six-pack of synthetic blood from a small refrigerator nearby.
The other vampire was sitting in his chair in the center of the bare room, and came out of downtime as the two approached. With angry, jerky movements, Andre grabbed a set of keys, unlocked the door, and motioned for Eric to enter the cell with him.
The vampire inside started to rise, but a stern command kept him in his seat.
“Is there anything that you would like to tell me?”
“I had no desire to become involved in BeauChamps’ foul schemes, but he holds my mate hostage. He thought I would be useful because a brother by turning of mine works at the palace.”
Satisfied that his hunch was right, Andre further surprised Eric by handing the much younger vampire the entire six-pack of blood substitute.
“And? What do you know of BeauChamps’ plans?” Eric thought ice would be warm compared to the blond vampire’s voice.
The prisoner paused from opening a bottle. “All I know is that there was another vampire involved, that he and a were had some sort of drug they were going to mix in with the food that would be taken up to your quarters. It was supposed to knock both her and the were-girl out. Then that other were,” he said distastefully as he nodded his head toward the Silver Cell, “was supposed to break into the door. He’s a locksmith who’s supposedly really good at breaking and entering. He and that other one were supposed to kill the were-girl and grab the human and…” his voice trailed off in the face of Andre’s suddenly visible anger, but he cleared his throat, calmed himself, and, with a trembling voice, resumed his tale, “and take her somewhere so BeauChamps could pick her up. I don’t know where they were supposed to take her.”
Eric admired the immense restraint it obviously took for Andre to keep from destroying everything on the lowest known floor of the palace. He exited the cell in a flash and paced the hall at vamp speed for a few minutes, then paused and looked to the side for a moment. At that point, Eric concluded that he must be in silent communication with his Maker, who must have become concerned about the emotions she felt in their Maker/progeny bond. A few minutes later, Andre returned.
“Name,” Andre immediately growled.
“Silas,” the male replied after quickly draining the first cold bottle.
“Exactly what have you told or done for BeauChamps,” he demanded angrily. Although he now knew that Silas was an unwilling participant in fucking BeauChamps schemes, the vampire was in no way forgiven for being involved at all. The fucking bastard should have come to him for help, and had not. His punishment would depend on his continued cooperation.
“He wanted me to tell him about palace schedules. I don’t know much about the goings-on here at the palace, so I couldn’t tell him much, just what Benjamin’s schedule was. He wanted to know when he feeds, but hell, I have no idea when he feeds!”
Eric raised a brow as Andre’s expression suddenly became even more livid.
A growl escaped when Andre told him, “Fuck, Eric. This man’s ‘brother’ is the night overseer of the kitchen! He was somehow involved in food before he was turned.”
Silas helpfully supplied, “He used to be a chef.” He sat the second empty bottle down near the first and grabbed a third.
Andre stalked over to a house phone. Eric listened as he ordered Wybert to secure the night kitchen manager and bring him down for interrogation. This Benjamin may or may not know anything useful, but now was not the time to take chances.
“Do you know where your mate is being held,” the tall Viking suddenly demanded.
Andre pivoted on his heels to view the prisoner.
Silas nodded and hurriedly answered, “BeauChamps’ Maker has a property somewhere just before you reach the Texas line. I’m not exactly sure where it is, but that’s where he told me that he’s holding her.”
“Do you have a strong bond with her,” Andre asked with curious intensity.
Both blond vampires’ faces lit up with unholy glee when Silas nodded. If the prisoner could lead them to BeauChamps’ Makers place…
Andre addressed Silas, “You will remain our guest until we need you.”
They left, and Eric was vaguely surprised when Andre ordered Hollander to move Silas to a better “guest room” and to procure the male a change of clothing. Then they donned another pair of gloves and Eric got his first look at the damage a Heretic’s Fork could do to a burly, smelly were who didn’t follow instructions.
Staring disdainfully at the bloody mess on the floor, Andre prodded the urine-scented man sitting uncomfortably on the floor, who promptly growled and, just like his counterpart in the main dungeon area, pathetically attempted to shift.
“Do these fools not know that they can’t shift when bound in silver?” Eric’s incredulous disgust was obvious.
Andre snorted. “Apparently not.” He nodded to the junior guard who had followed them to the cell.
“Note the benefits of the fruits of your labor,” he nodded toward the bloody floor and pathetic were, “and remove the device.” Hollander’s face lit up and he hurriedly complied after bowing to his Master.
Face impassive, Eric nevertheless approved of not only the younger vampire’s desire to please, but also of Andre’s evident willingness to share his knowledge. He would not have expected “the torturer” to concern himself with such things.
All three vampires ignored the sound of Wybert bringing his confused charge down to the basement and escorting him into one of the nicer “accomodations”.
Once the device was removed, the were, growling, blubbering, and trying to snarl, collapsed sideways into his own blood. All three vampires could tell the were would be of no further use.
Andre toed the were with distaste. “Fucking useless piece of shit.” He glanced over to Eric and shrugged. “Thirsty?”
Eric smirked, then shrugged back. “I could drink,” he replied nonchalantly.
After the were’s final use was served, both vampires returned to the main dungeon chamber to deal with the remaining vampire and were. Reluctantly concluding that the glamoured were was also unfortunately beyond use, Andre started to put him through his paces until he sensed something from his mate through their bond.
Apparently she was bored and while he sensed no distress, it seemed she was…worried? He concentrated harder on the bond. About him? Huh.
So, while maintaining eye contact with the very slowly healing vampire still dangling in their midst, Andre drained the were, then instructed Hollander to “feed the fucker one bottle of expired Red Stuff”, then to “store the traitorous bastard in the Silver Cell” for the time being.
Eric waited while Andre changed from his bloodied clothes, then they headed back up together.
“So, working on the vampires tomorrow evening,” Eric stated more than asked as they reached the main floor of the palace.
“Yep,” replied Andre, who paused before heading on up to his quarters. “Mission the next night if you’re in.”
Eric nodded, hiding well his surprise at being included. “I’ll make my plans.”
With a nod, the two parted ways, each going to the home that was their mate.
**A/N: Remember, I try to avoid canon when I can, and I don’t use a beta, so…**