*A/N: Ok, so as I was working on the rest of this story it dawned on me that I should notify y’all that we’re heading toward that final concourse – this story is winding down. At best guestimate (depending entirely upon how mouthy the FLM gets) there are approximately six-ish more chapters left…more or less (probably more…she knows a lot of words). After this is finished I’ll be working to wrap up some of my other fics and then I’ll start working on Andre’s sequel which will continue both Andre and Anticipating (the first fanfic I ever posted which I’m tempted daily to delete from all sites in a mortified pique of “OMGODRIC IT SUCKS SO BAD! Those sentences! That structure! How could I ever post something as un-pro as that??” but I can’t since I’ve been threatened with violence and forced caffeine withdrawals – HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO ME??? – by normally-lovely readers who can become quite “threaten-y” when they want to be. It’s not that I’m all that wonderful a writer now – it’s that I really do cringe at the thought of having to reread that hot mess to work on the sequel.). Andre and Anticipating are both “prequels” to what will be the final story, Attaining.*
The headache was still thumping away when Emma came to a bit later, and her body was starting to stiffen from contact with the hard, cool floor. After a check proving that everything was as dark and virtually silent as before, she had just started to wonder what had roused her when the reason for her waking insistently pinged at the bond again, and she sent a weak blast of love tinged with fear to her Andre.
Almost immediately she was deluged with relief, love, worry, and somehow a ton of strength. Just before he ended the connection, he also sent a burst of caution…and then another hit of love. The strength and combination of the emotions he sent would have floored her had she not already been on the floor.
Her Andre did nothing by halves, she thought wryly.
With a grimace she began moving as best she could to increase circulation and hopefully alleviate some of the accumulating soreness. She didn’t know exactly what was going on, but common sense said that being as prepared as possible was her better bet. As she flexed her muscles, she searched the pitch-black room for Sookie, and sure enough found her comforting glow in the same place as before. As far as she could tell the blonde was still breathing but hadn’t moved at all.
Suddenly Emma felt something small wriggling against her back, and with her hands bound in the front of her body, there was no way she could shoo whatever it was away.
She was in southern Louisiana…there was no telling what kind of creature it was.
No, she thought with a cringe, there really wasn’t…
Fueled by anger tinged with a very healthy distaste for bugs, she searched her memory for anything that might help in this situation, then set her jaw.
Never before had she been so glad to have wasted yet another afternoon strolling through the internet as when she recalled the technique shown by the guy in a video instructing viewers on how to pop a zip tie when used as a handcuff. She wasn’t sure it was going to work but damn if she wasn’t going to try.
The first attempt failed painfully.
The second attempt failed even more painfully.
Wrists and head now throbbing in synch, Emma leaned forward to rest her head on her raised knees and resisted the strong temptation to throw the kind of fit a frustrated toddler would enjoy.
That asshole in the video made it look so simple!
The bond then flared to life as Andre sent her a hard burst of concerned curiosity, and in reply she sent him the emotional equivalent of a grumph. She wasn’t in immediate danger of anything other than throwing a hissy fit and didn’t want to add to his worry, so she followed it with frustration and a small, very small, hint of humor.
Very quickly thereafter she was flooded with a surge of soothing strength which she absorbed gratefully. She shot him a burst of gratitude, grit her teeth, and tried again.
Enough was enough.
To her complete and utter amazement, that time it worked.
After swiping her back then violently flapping the back of her shirt, she rubbed her wrists for a moment before bending down to check the zip tie around her ankles. There was nothing she could do about that one, but she sent Andre a small ping of victory anyway.
Undaunted, she patted the blackness of the floor beside her and upon finding it clear – filthy, but clear of potentially harmful debris – she slowly began edging her way over to Sookie. She paused halfway to her objective and listened closely into the darkness, then continued when she heard nothing new.
When she finally reached Sookie’s side, she touched her arm and was glad to feel warm skin beneath her palm. A closer look still didn’t reveal any evidence of injury, so Emma figured Sookie had been hit over the head, too.
She paused again to listen for anything different and found the continuing silence oddly comforting. The only thing she wanted to hear was her vampires coming to rescue them, and by her best guess it was still several hours until dark.
Now that her wrists were free and she could twist the face of her watch up, Emma pressed the little button on the side that shed barely enough light to check the time, and then sighed.
The internal debate over whether or not to wake Sookie was fierce. If her friend’s head hurt as badly as her own did, waking her up would do her no kindness. However, if she could break her own zip tie and move around to help get rid of that building soreness, then that would be a far better option for whatever might happen next. Hell, she might even have an idea about how to break the ankle tie.
A few gentle pats on her friend’s arm proved useless, so she scooted up and felt under Sookie’s head to see if maybe she was hurt worse than she appeared to be, and was very glad to find no evidence of sticky blood or injury.
So, she thought, Sookie’s out cold. Hell, I was, too, again, until Andre roused me with the bond-thing. Maybe…maybe Eric… But how in the hell can I get Andre to get Eric to nudge Sookie? It’s not as though bonds can talk.
She rubbed her wrists as she considered the situation. The tie might be gone but the pain wasn’t. She was sure that the big, tall blond had already tried to contact Sookie through their bond, unless maybe he was still in his dayrest?
Considering the time, Eric really could still be asleep. Andre was up but didn’t mean any of the other vampires were.
Her thoughts then went back to what had happened moments before she’d passed out. Just before the world faded out she was sure she’d somehow reached out not just to Andre but to Eric, too, only the memory of how she did it was vague at best. Hell, for all she knew she had only imagined it.
What the fuck, she thought with no small amount of frustration. Just because I can call Andre doesn’t mean I actually did the same with Eric, but…but what if I could? It sure as hell wouldn’t hurt to try, right?
Emma tried once again to rouse Sookie, going as far as to lightly pat her cheeks, but still with no results.
Fear steadily rising, she collected her thoughts and took the plunge she wasn’t sure she knew how to make.
Come on, Eric, she thought strongly to herself and, she hoped, the Northman, too, while she kept shaking Sookie’s upper arm. Wake up Sookie the way Andre did me. Come on, Eric, nudge her…nudge her…wake her up…come on, Eric, help me wake her up…
She made sure to send a burst of slight worry followed by what she hoped was a burst of curiosity but was sure that mainly worried frustration seeped through.
A low groan eventually interrupted her concentration, and she immediately placed the cleaner back of her hand across Sookie’s mouth. She leaned low to the glow that indicated her ear and whispered urgently for her to be quiet before removing her hand.
“Shhh, quiet, Sook. We’ve been kidnapped. Nod if you’re ok?”
A moment later she saw her friend nod then open her eyes when she tried to move her hands but couldn’t separate them. At Sookie’s sharp intake of breath, Emma leaned back down to whisper very quietly into her ear.
“Yeah, it’s pitch black in here but you’re an interesting shade of glow in the dark, aren’t cha,” she commented in an attempt to keep her friend from freaking out. “They must have hit us over the head because, I don’t know about you, but when I woke up my head was throbbing. Damn thing still is, too.”
Her friend’s small grunt seemed to signify agreement.
“I’m whispering because I’m not sure if there’s any sort of audio surveillance set up in here, and no, I have no idea where we are other than that time-wise they couldn’t have taken us very far. I highly suggest you start moving around what little you can or you’re going to get sore as shit from being on this damn filthy nasty cold-ass floor.”
“What time is it,” Sookie mumbled quietly as she slowly started flexing her muscles.
A few minutes later Sookie tried to sit up but fell back to the floor, and thanked Emma when she helped her up.
“Why aren’t your hands bound,” she asked in a voice so low Emma almost didn’t hear her.
“They were. A while back I was bored and ended up getting lost in Youtubelandia and came across one of those “how to escape” vids. It worked, believe it or not. Here, I’ll show ya,” she said as she stuck her hands inches away from Sookie’s face in hopes the glow would reflect off her hands enough that she could see.
Within seconds of the demonstration, Sookie had her hands free. Emma decided she would be miffed about that later.
“Close your eyes,” the telepath ordered almost silently after rubbing her wrists and flexing her muscles for a few minutes. A second after Emma complied, a bright yellow light flashed behind her eyelids and she was glad she’d listened. A second later another bright flash followed and she felt her feet fall to each side.
“How the hell did you do that,” she hissed as she began rubbing her stiff ankles.
“Magic,” came her droll reply as she did the same. “I’ll tell you lat…” Her whisper stopped as they both heard what sounded like metal grinding against metal followed by a shuffling noise some distance away.
A few frightening minutes later they heard a door slam and the screech of something metal being dragged across concrete.
Low rumbling male voices echoed from the direction of the other noises and both ladies barely breathed as they listened.
Emma sent a burst of fear to Andre. She wasn’t sure what he was planning or what he could do considering it was still daylight, but she was certain he wasn’t sitting on his ass watching soaps.
The voices rose and fell in an irritating fashion, sometimes almost loud and clear enough to discern words before abruptly lowering once again. From what Emma and Sookie could decipher, they were waiting on someone to “show up” so they could “get busy”.
Emma leaned over at one and whispered, “Can you read them?”
“Yes and no,” Sookie growled quietly. “There are three Dae, who I can’t read, and two Weres who I can somewhat, and no, you don’t want to know what the Weres are thinking or what they have planned for us.”
Emma gulped. “That bad?”
Andre tossed down the com headset and resumed pacing. He had just ordered a troop of the Palace’s security Weres to assemble in vehicles at the gate ready to leave immediately in case Emma and Sookie were, indeed, in that old brewery. Some part of his brain knew he and Eric, not to mention his Maker and his broders, were taking highly unnecessary risks by going after the women themselves, but he couldn’t give a fuck.
These were their women and it was their right to avenge this insult, but mostly it was their right to bring them home safely.
And to make these fuckers pay.
A snarl escaped at the thought of feeling the bones of their kidnappers crumbling in his hands, and that snarl was echoed by four other pissed off vampires.
He wasn’t surprised that Sigebert and Wybert wanted in on this action, and not just because both thick-muscled twins were warriors at heart; he knew Emma meant something more to them than simply their sibling vampire’s beloved possession to be protected.
What surprised him was his own Maker’s willingness to get her delicate yet deadly little hands dirty. He knew she had more than the average vampire’s lust for blood and violence, but for the longest time now she hadn’t bothered herself with such things – that’s what he was for, she would quip with a dash of false arrogance. He knew that Emma meant something more to her, too, but he didn’t think that was the whole story. Maybe she missed getting those delicately deadly little hands bloody? Her ass had been on that throne for quite a while.
Mentally shrugging, Andre turned his attention to the huge screen.
He and Eric, along with Sophie-Anne, Sigebert, and Wybert, kept their focus trained on the sat feed and drained their warmed blood bags as Rupert parked and Tracy exited the vehicle. As she waited for the light to change at the street crossing, the ringing of Eric’s phone jarred the already tense vampires’ nerves.
Eric took his eyes from the wide screen only long enough to verify the caller, then watched the action unfold as he spoke with his concerned Maker in North Carolina. Godric, he realized, would have been easily pulled from his daysleep by the fear and fury bombarding him through the bond with his Child.
As Eric spoke quickly with his Maker, Andre watched as Tracy approached the building where he had indicated, and instructed the Security Chief to call up the camera she carried around her neck. Once up on the neighboring screen, all noted when the camera’s height lowered, and ignored the slight bouncing as the were-lynx traveled.
The vampires barely noticed when several of the kitchen staff replaced emptied blood bags with new ones so they could drink as they watched the screen. They could hear Tracy snuffling, the camera sometimes swaying and bumping her chin when she would lower her head to sniff, and followed her progress toward the back of the site as she made her way down a darkened narrow trash-filled alleyway – so narrow that sunlight didn’t filter to the ground – between the old brewery and another large brick building. The camera, bobbling when she had to jump over a couple of larger piles of garbage, proved that there were no entries on that side of the building.
Tracy sounded two distinct attention-grabbing chuffs and slowly turned left then right when she reached the back of the building – one of the parts hidden from the sat feed because of the building’s angle. There was a narrow street, empty but made of old broken asphalt with grass and weeds growing through the broken clumps of paving, running directly behind the row of old brick buildings…and there was a large old metal door in the back of the brewery.
She quickly approached what appeared to have at one time been the brewery’s primary loading area, only it was level with the surrounding ground instead of being a raised platform. She leaned forward and sniffed in several places, low rumbling growls escaping several times confirming everyone’s suspicions. After apparently satisfying her nose, she looked up then raised up slightly so that the vampires could get a clear view of the door, then slowly looked left and right again before heading to the unexplored other side of the building.
That tiny access road would soon be in afternoon shadow.
Andre swiftly ordered the sets of that protective clothing be placed near the “parking box” exit. Once a plan was made, they would be acting on it immediately. He sent another burst of strength to his Emma.
A moment later they saw a close-up view of dirty brick and the side of a rusted metal Dempster Dumpster. They then watched as white furry front paws shifted into hands on the ground, and heard Tracy whisper urgently that Emma and Sookie were definitely inside the building, and that she smelled at least three Dae and two Weres.
Andre ordered the Security Chief to send the assembled Weres on to the convenience store parking lot. He wasn’t taking any chances with this situation.
The camera bobbled as the hands transformed back into furry paws, and she turned and quickly rose on her hind legs so that they could clearly see the side of the building that had been partially visible on the sat feed.
She gave everyone one last good look at the narrow back street and the large metal door as she retraced her steps to the cluttered ally, and Andre kept his concentration split between watching the screen and sending Emma encouragement and strength.
Earlier, when in the midst of a storm of frustration she had sent him that tiny burst of humor, he could have wept with relief. This situation was wearing on him far more strongly than he would admit, but the knowledge that his Emma was able to both feel and send humor, no matter how small the sending, provided him with just enough relief to keep his head on straight. He had no idea that he had been growling low and harsh the entire time.
Once near the front of the ally Tracy stopped by her shed clothing and huffed what was clearly a question at which point Andre ordered her to shift back and return to the vehicle to await further instructions.
Meanwhile the Security Chief had brought a general map of that area up on another screen and had plotted the shortest route from the Palace to the nearest viable entrance to that old access road behind the brewery. Andre donned a headset and ordered Tony to familiarize himself with the directions that were right then being downloaded to the navigation system in the SUV.
Before Andre could break off the conversation, the were-tiger surprised him by stating that he had taken Tracy’s suggestion, routed through Rupert during their drive to the building, of covering all sides of the interior with light-blocking material since the window tinting wasn’t 100% light-proof nor ray-proof no matter how dark it was.
“I know you’ve got guard back-up en route to the site, but I wish you would just let us Weres deal with this shit since it’s fucking daylight, man, but I get it. I do. I’ve taken the liberty of removing all the back seating in this SUV so that you guys can jump in the vehicle without having to deal with an obstacle course, so that should help. I’m waiting for y’all in the girls’ parking box with the back passenger door open and waiting. Now get your asses down here and lets go get our girls back.”
Andre heartily agreed and judging by the pacing and the chorus of snarls and growls from everyone else, they were, too.
Earlier Eric had very quickly gotten off the phone with his Maker after explaining the situation at vamp speed and asking him to notify Pam not to call. As with Andre, he had watched the screen with frighteningly intense focus while unknowingly issuing his own low, rumbling growls. He had forced himself to quickly drain three bags of warmed blood but after ending the call with his Maker, his attention had been solely focused on the screen.
When Andre had finished the conversation with the Were, Eric had stopped pacing and headed toward the open entryway to leave, but he suddenly stopped and all eyes focused on him as he turned to stare intently at Andre.
“Emma,” he mouthed silently to the astonishment of the other vampires, then closed his eyes and concentrated. He could sense that he was being called, that Andre’s woman was somehow urging him to do something, but he had no idea what. Logic dictated that if the woman needed to communicate something she would be sending whatever this was to Andre through their bond…but since she wasn’t, this obviously had something to do with him.
But what could she be wanting him to do that Andre couldn’t?
It must have to do with Sookie, only she wasn’t responding to his attempts to contact her through their own bond. Once he had disconnected with his Maker earlier he had resumed trying to contact her off and on but to his extreme frustration and worry he had yet to receive a reply. She was out cold.
According to the were-lynx, both Sookie and Emma were in that building, and he theorized that they were most likely being held in the same area. If that were the case then unless they were blindfolded or somehow otherwise unable to see each other, Emma should be able to see and contact Sookie for herself…or not…maybe she couldn’t see her? Maybe they were…or it could be… The windows in the old building were boarded up, and he wasn’t sure if it even had electricity now, so unless Emma was some sort of supe she wouldn’t be able to see Sookie’s fairy glow if they were in full dark.
Maybe that was it? Maybe she was just scared for her friend because she couldn’t find her or see her?
The way Sookie felt through the bond suggested she remained firmly unconscious…maybe Emma wasn’t able reach Sookie to wake her up? Fuck, for all he knew Emma could be right beside Sookie and unable wake her up. He knew that Emma did care greatly for his Bonded and if she were unable to wake Sookie, she would be extremely concerned…and she was sending an uncomfortable amount of fearful urgency and…and frustration?
While keeping his eyes closed in concentration, Eric asked Andre, “What do you sense from Emma?”
A second later Andre replied, “Frustration…fear…worry…urgency. What do you sense?”
“The same. And nothing from Sookie,” he snarled with worry. “Nothing.”
At the speed of one pissed off Viking vampire and with an extremely loud roar he rammed his fist through the wall again.
No one batted an eye. Wybert considered doing the same thing himself and knew his twin felt the same. This waiting was killing them both; he could only imagine how it was affecting Andre and the Viking.
Sophie-Anne wasn’t unaffected either. Her normally ordered and contained thoughts were now swirling with the desire for vengeance and retribution, the need to retrieve what was hers while feeling the blood of her enemies dripping from her elbows. She tried to mute the bonds with her Children to little avail.
Excess energy spent, Eric composed himself into utter stillness once again and sent an extraordinarily strong mental roar to Sookie. He kept calling her, over and over again, until he finally, finally felt her muddled, weak response, at which time the weird connection with Andre’s Emma abruptly ended.
Once the connection with his Bonded was reestablished, he quickly ascertained that while she was in some pain, Sookie was in otherwise good health.
He then deluged her with as much love, strength, comfort, courage, and assurance as he could possibly send.
Noting the unusually evident relief on Eric’s normally stoic face, Andre asked, “She is well?”
At Eric’s nod, Andre gave up all pretense of patience.
It was damn well fucking time and past to go get his woman back.
—> Since WordPress has decided to fuck with the ability to leave comments/reviews (the comment box comes and goes, and hell, WP is even having problems ensuring that post notification emails make it out…*eyeroll*), please feel free to visit my loathed fanfiction.asshole site, my AO3 site, or my TWCS site for this and all fics until they can figure out how to get their collective heads out of their collective asses. So, if you see that glorious Comment box, feel free to comment away. If it has chosen to hide itself, well, I’m on 3 other sites… (*evil laugh*) Comment away! WE WILL NOT LET THEM WIN!! **glare*** <—
**A/N: I was planning on having the rescue during this chapter but since this is already almost 4,000 words, I decided to cut it here. I don’t know about y’all but I really hate super-long chapters…yeah, I’m too much of a commitment-phobe for that kind of time investment, lol. (Unless I’m sucked in by a Dyson of a story, I tend to wander off after about 2,000 words or so and sometimes I don’t remember to go back. Same thing happens with most tv shows and movies, too – who can sit still or stare straight ahead for THAT long?) Anyway, there shall be rescuage in the next chapter. I don’t think the FLM will be able to talk herself out of it now! I hope you liked this lead-up, that I didn’t rush it or over-complicate the issue (writing action sequences is not my strong suit…), so let me know what you thought of it. Thanks for reading!**