Being in Eric’s arms and even with my shields still flimsy at best, I didn’t need to understand the foreign language violently streaming through his mind to know he was upset by my admission.
Both enraged and devastated by our Maker’s actions, I understood him a way I wouldn’t have been able to had I not been Godric’s child.
But I also understood the level of my feelings in no way compared to Eric’s, having spent a thousand years with Godric versus my paltry couple of months. We both loved him, but I was still too new to this life to have forged the kind of tie they had.
Logically – and even emotionally – I knew I was tied to Godric, but in my mind, I was also still a Stackhouse.
I was Gran’s granddaughter. Jason’s sister.
Godric had been the only father Eric had known for longer than I could imagine being alive.
So rather than saying anything, knowing any words I could muster wouldn’t even begin to take his pain away, I offered the only comfort I knew I could give him.
Hugging his body to mine, I just held him hoping he would be able to feel my compassion for everything he was feeling right then.
Sympathy and empathy had been the only things I had been sure I would be able to feel for Eric before laying eyes on him again.
No matter what our past interactions had been like, even I hadn’t been able to believe he would be able to feel nothing but horror learning what Godric had almost done.
But that was the key word.
I’d never met Nora and knew hardly anything about her, but I had no doubt between Eric and I, together we could make sure Godric would never reach that point of despair again.
At least I hoped.
So maybe I had a little bit of doubt.
My only saving grace was the knowledge it had taken him two thousand years to reach that point.
Surely the kind of trouble I seemed to attract would keep him busy for another two thousand years.
“Did he say why?”
Eric’s hoarsely whispered question was barely loud enough for me to hear, but I did. So I thought back on that night, knowing I had asked that very question.
But he hadn’t really answered it, not with anything concrete anyway, so I answered Eric as best as I could by saying, “I think he’d just lost his way. I can’t imagine what it’s been like for him to walk this earth for two thousand years, but he seemed to have reached the point where he, well…didn’t see the point anymore. He was questioning his existence – his purpose for being here at all – and wasn’t able to see what’s plain as day to us.”
“And what is that?” he asked, pulling back enough to look into my eyes and letting me see the bloody tears pooled in the corners of his. But seeing the evidence of his distress was both vindicating and shocking.
Eric Northman was nothing like the vampire I thought I knew and yet somehow, he was exactly what I imagined.
My lips turned up in a small smile, feeling clear down to my bones it was the truth, when I answered, “That he is as miraculous as the sun itself, meant to be treasured by anyone who’s fortunate enough to be in his presence.”
He continued to stare back at me for only a brief moment, as though he was searching for the truth – mine, his, or ours – when he surprised me yet again by gently pressing his lips to my forehead and whispering, “Thank you.”
The firestorm that had been raging through his mind settled into a kind of warmth I wouldn’t have once thought he would be capable of. But even not understanding the stray thoughts ghosting through him now, I understood the meaning behind them.
He was grateful he hadn’t lost his Maker and he believed it was me he had to thank for that.
I couldn’t say he was wrong to feel that way and while I liked to believe when it came down to it, Godric wouldn’t have gone through with it, there was no way of knowing that for sure now.
And for that I was thankful too.
That there was a now where he still existed.
Any other world where he didn’t seemed wrong.
Arriving at Eric’s house a few minutes later was a blessing because I didn’t know what to do with the feelings I was beginning to have for him and being locked in his embrace was doing nothing to help me avoid them.
Like everything else I’d been avoiding ever since pulling up my driveway, but all of that slammed back into me the moment my feet touched the ground.
I guess there really was something to the saying about keeping your head in the clouds because I’d been able to steer clear of my present reality.
The one where my home was destroyed and my brother was a Fellowship soldier.
I could sense that Godric wasn’t close by, so I assumed the minor distance between us meant he was still at Eric’s bar. So I made another assumption that meant Pam was still with him too, but I couldn’t decide if that was a good or bad thing.
I was worried for Godric, still being in the presence of the Magister and I was both anxious and dreading to hear about everything that had happened while we’d been gone.
But at the same time I was relieved I could put it off for a little while longer.
However, silently following Eric into his house, I was anxious for an entirely different reason.
I didn’t know how to act around him now.
My feelings about him had changed, even if I couldn’t exactly define what those changes were.
I had changed – both physically and psychologically – and no longer feeling that rage, spite, or even snark when I looked at him, I didn’t know what to do.
How to be.
Human Sookie would’ve likely stomped her foot and demanded answers, undoubtedly finding a way to twist and turn everything he said in a way to make Eric at fault for everything that ailed me.
Vampire Sookie – while prone to emotional outbursts – had more patience.
It made me wonder if Eric had inherited his seemingly endless supply of it from Godric too.
While I still didn’t know Eric all that well either, it seemed to me he was still coming to terms with everything I’d told him, so I didn’t try to engage him in idle chit chat and instead let him be. Having spotted a bathroom just off of the foyer, I used it to clean the bloody tear tracks from my face and took another moment to try and mentally prepare myself for whatever Eric would eventually have to tell us.
But nothing could be worse than learning my brother – my goofy but kindhearted brother – was a soldier for the Fellowship.
Our ancestral home had been all but destroyed, but it could be fixed or razed to the ground and neither would affect me as much as the thought of Jason championing the cause of the hatemongers who’d essentially killed me, while spouting off about the evils of vampires.
If that wasn’t hypocritical, I didn’t know what was.
I could only hope if there was a way for me to find him – to tell him what had really happened to me – that he would see he was on the wrong side of what was right. But I also remembered how much he had disliked Bill.
He hadn’t been exactly hateful, but he’d disapproved nonetheless.
Now I could kick myself for having kept out of his thoughts because I couldn’t know for sure if it was because Bill was a vampire or if Jason just didn’t like the thought of his baby sister with anyone.
But my heart sunk remembering something else.
Jason had blamed me for Gran’s murder even though I hadn’t been the one to kill her.
It was my association with vampires that had led Rene to our door and Jason’s hand slapping across my face, but we’d gotten past it in the only way two Stackhouse siblings could.
By ignoring it altogether in favor of pretending everything was fine.
It was the same way we’d dealt with my telepathy all my life, so it was the only way we knew how to act. Now though, I was a vampire.
There was no way either one of us could ignore that.
But knowing I still had a little while longer that I could avoid the fallout that came with my turning, I turned left out of the bathroom and found Eric sitting on a long couch in his living room.
Jutting his chin at the goblets of blood on the coffee table, he said, “Help yourself.”
I didn’t like not seeing that familiar spark behind his eyes – nor was I willing to question why that was – so I avoided that too.
Taking a seat on the couch beside him – but not close enough to touch – I picked up a goblet and took a sip before deciding on a topic of conversation that usually got a reaction out of him, hoping to put some of that fire back into him.
“What’s Bill been up to?”
I couldn’t help returning his smirk and found myself softly chuckling when he shook his head and replied, “That has to be a record. I expected hearing his name coming from you the moment I laid eyes on you.”
“I’m different now,” I shrugged, stating the obvious.
I noticed there was something obvious about his statement too.
His approval, like he liked what he saw.
So I ignored that too.
Because while I was undeniably different in some ways, in other ways I decidedly the same.
And pretending he didn’t see me as an ice cream sundae was one of them, so I asked again with my expression alone.
What I didn’t expect was for his eyes to harden and then soften before asking, “Are you sure you want to know?”
I didn’t know what to make of his question. What I did know was that he suspected I wouldn’t like whatever it was he knew about Bill.
So the question was…did I want to know?
While I still cared about Bill in a friendly sort of way, everything else I had once felt about him no longer existed. I didn’t love him like a lover.
I couldn’t even say that I loved him like a friend.
My feelings for him now were like the ghosts of a distant dream.
As intimate as we’d once been, from where I sat now Bill rated as nothing more than acquaintance to me.
It only further reiterated to me anything I did once feel for him had been because of the blood he’d given me.
Logically, I suspected the worst thing he could tell me was that Bill had somehow met his true death in the time I’d been away and while I felt a pang of sadness at the thought, I knew I could accept it, so I easily replied, “Yes.”
Eric didn’t say anything right away and stared at me instead, but there was something about the way his eyes dropped away from mine that put me on edge.
An edge that became razor thin when he refused to meet my gaze and only offered, “Perhaps it would be better to wait for Godric.”
“Did he die?” I asked, while I unabashedly dove into his mind, wondering if I could find the truth there.
But his thoughts were in that foreign language of his again – almost like he was doing it on purpose – so I wasn’t put at ease at all to hear him reply, “Not that I’m aware of.”
Annoyed at his cryptic demeanor, I tried to worm it out of him by saying, “I don’t love him anymore, if that’s what you’re worried about. I don’t care about him any more than I would about hearing something awful happened to my mailman. If anything, I’m more worried about why Sam’s gone than I am Bill, so if you’re worried about telling me he’s run off with another woman, it won’t bother me.”
If anything I would be relieved.
Then I wouldn’t have to hear that whole ‘Sookie is mine!’ crap anymore.
“Bill is with his Maker,” he replied, still looking at me like I was a bomb about to explode.
So I diffused the situation by shrugging with my all too truthful response of, “So. Why would I care about that?”
Having a Maker of my own, I could see what the draw would be to return to his side if I was upset.
Bill had probably been devastated thinking I’d died.
But I was only technically dead, so he’d be fine once he found out. And hopefully he would understand that with my change, my feelings for him had changed.
I still had enough grace that I would probably leave out the part where I compared him to old Mr. Wilson who delivered my mail.
I’d heard the stories from Bill about how he hadn’t wanted to become a vampire and hadn’t been given the choice, like Godric had given me. But now that I was one, I couldn’t imagine not seeing the gift that it truly was.
I felt more alive now than I ever had when my heart was still beating in my chest.
But that could be because I was given the choice – or maybe because my Maker was so awesome and his was…well, I’d never met her but no one could compare to Godric.
Like I suspected parents felt about their children, mine was the best there ever was.
I was just about to try and get Eric to promise to leave out my comparing the man who’d taken my virginity to the man who delivered my electric bill, when he knocked me for a loop by adding, “Because he was handed over to his Maker to be punished for failing in his mission to acquire a telepath for the Queen of Louisiana.”
Forgetting all about not caring about Bill, I suddenly cared about him very much.
I cared so much I might very well kill him the next time I saw him.
My fangs snapped down as I stood up and glared down at him asking accusatorily, “What?”
I was pissed I’d been duped by an asshole pretending he cared about me.
I was pissed I’d believed every lie he ever whispered into my ear, rejoicing over the fact that was all I could hear coming from him.
I was pissed a lifetime of hearing other people’s thoughts hadn’t been enough for me to learn what people said didn’t often match what they actually thought.
Because I’d been naïve and lonely and stupidly only heard what I’d wanted to hear.
And for some strange reason I felt betrayed by Eric himself, when he’d owed me absolutely no loyalty whatsoever at the time.
Even now his loyalty to me was only through the connection we had with our shared Maker.
So I didn’t know what to make of his reply – knowing I was the only telepath in the room – when his only response to my one word question was, “I didn’t know about his mission until after the events in Dallas.”
Having just been reminded I couldn’t trust my ears, I reached out and grabbed his hand in my own, while I made no effort to conceal the fact I was rooting through his thoughts to verify his claim.
I might not be able to trust him fully, but I trusted in his devotion to Godric enough to know that he wouldn’t physically hurt me.
Emotionally though, all bets were off.
But rather than sifting through the tenor behind his unfamiliar language, Eric showed me – purposely or not, I didn’t know – in pictures what he’d both seen and felt from his viewpoint.
The unbelievable amount of worry he felt at not finding Godric in the church basement that night.
The undeniable amount of sorrow he felt finding the pool of my blood and believing I was dead.
The overwhelming amount of rage he felt when – after hearing Bill confirm my death, thanks to the blood he’d gotten into me – the only remorse he showed was in the form of disappointment before he took off for New Orleans.
It hadn’t been until the queen called him the next night to give him a what-for over losing ‘her asset’ that Eric learned the truth behind Bill’s arrival in Area 5.
Rage didn’t quite cover what he felt then.
But maybe it explained why Bill’s house looked like a wrecking ball had gone through it.
I’d wondered if Bon Temps had experienced a hurricane while I’d been away after seeing the wreckage.
And I couldn’t help the small upturn of my lips when Eric showed me that’s exactly what happened to it.
Hurricane Eric had taken his frustrations out on the old Compton homestead since the owner wasn’t available to face his wrath.
Flopping down at his side, I tipped my head back and closed my eyes, asking more rhetorically than anything, “So it was all a lie. I was a mission.”
I was still more pissed than hurt by it all.
How could I have been so blind to it all?
The fact he’d been ‘overpowered’ by the Rattray’s of all people.
The fact he’d been too weak to defend himself when he’d been held down by a silver chain so thin it probably wouldn’t withstand the weight of a simple cross pendant.
The fact Mr. Timely had been late to our agreed upon meeting time and just so happened to show up in enough time to give me his blood when they’d nearly beaten me to death in retribution.
Or the fact he’d seen to doing his own hurricane-like effect to their trailer, silencing them in a way I would have never been able to see any evidence about his complicity in it all from their thoughts.
“Apparently,” Eric answered and retook my hand in his own, since I’d let go of it.
Gently lacing his finger through mine made me open my eyes and look over at him – because a tender Eric was still akin to seeing a unicorn in my mind – and he smiled softly, with a bit of that fire back in his eyes when he said, “I am glad he failed.”
Once upon a time I knew my immediate response would’ve been a hateful accusation aimed his way.
Full of righteous indignation and pretentiously pointed fingers jabbing into his chest, with my mouth spouting off in condemnation that Bill might have failed, but he couldn’t own me either.
But that was before.
This was now.
And here and now I knew Eric had no such motives behind his words. Not just from the tidbits I was still getting from his thoughts, but from everything else I had come to learn about him in the short time I had been able to see him through new eyes.
He was simply glad Bill had failed to hurt me even more by all but making me a slave to a queen.
He was glad I was there to save Godric from ending his long life.
He was glad Godric had been there to save me from my own life ending all too soon.
I didn’t know what to make of it all.
So I had nothing to explain why, only a moment later, I leaned over and kissed him.
Nor could I explain why he let me.