Chapter 11 – The Future was a Dark Corridor

October 25, 2003

Shreveport, LA

Several nights had passed and Eric had adjusted his schedule to give Sookie as much space as she needed. After the past few days, however, he wasn’t sure giving her space was the right decision. Tonight, as like the past week, he checked the bond with Sookie and felt sorrow and at the same time numbness. Sookie had fallen into what he gathered was depression. The two days right after they spent time together in the kitchen seemed good for Sookie. As she planned, she sunbathed or just spent time wandering the gardens and Eric kept his distance. Eric certainly enjoyed the footage of Sookie in her tiny bikini from his security cameras but a few rainy days seemed to have stopped her enjoyment of being outside. Now she was only up and out of bed for a few hours each day. The bags of Barnes and Noble books went unsorted, she rarely ate and he knew from Potts that she sometimes didn’t leave her bedroom even when she was sure Sookie was up. Not even Pam was able to break her out of her funk, and she had tried several times – with pastries. Eric was in over his head so he called his maker.

“Master.”

“Eric, how is Sookie?”

“Not well.”

“What’s the problem Eric?”

He summarized his concerns, emphasizing that he felt giving her space was the right thing, and admitting now that it seemed like a mistake.

“I disagree Eric.”

“She’s is a shell of a woman right now, how can this have been right? I need to send her home and end this.”

As soon as Godric heard those words, he was thrilled. ‘He cares very much for her, or he wouldn’t be so concerned about making her better by letting her go. Even more proof that he needs to work on building a relationship.’ He kept a lid on his happiness over Eric’s growing emotions and instead offered, “She needed to process everything. You had her kidnapped and missing according to the news. Her brother has returned home and reunited with his pregnant girlfriend. Her Gran now lives alone.”

“Yes. But that happened when she first moved in, why did this not happen right when I took her in?”

“That could be due to several reasons. First she was angry, as you have mentioned before. Maybe it’s similar to the Kübler-Ross’ stages of grief and she needs to work through it. It also could have been triggered by her hearing the news of her kidnapping and Jason’s return.”

“Yes, you mentioned the news, what news? What do you mean?”

“I have been tracking your local news. … Eric, you are aware that the Stackhouse family has been on the news, right? She probably saw or read about them.”

“Sookie doesn’t really watch TV. I doubt she is aware.”

“The local paper perhaps?”

“Shit. I focus on the business sections in the newspaper. I never considered her family would be written up in one of the other news sections.”

“You better follow-up. As for your mention about sending her home, I insist you continue to try building a relationship. You care for her, I can tell. It’s something worth exploring.”

“It’s going to get me killed. I am distracted, like forgetting that her family’s news would be in the paper. You must permit me to let her go.”

“No.”

Eric ended the call and got online to review the articles for the Shreveport Times. He found coverage of Sookie’s kidnapping and Jason’s return from the 19th, the day things really started to go downhill for Sookie. He cursed himself for blaming the rain. Now that he had a potential cause of the spiral he was no closer to knowing what to do. Frozen without an action plan, he waited for Pam to rise for the night.

Finally, about a half hour before sunset, Pam rose to Eric’s expectant face. He was literally sitting next to her, watching her face until she rose. “What happened?”

“It appears that Sookie read a newspaper article about her kidnapping and Jason.”

“Shit.”

“Yes, that about covers it. It was the 19th.”

“The day it all went downhill, and we blamed it on the rain.”

“What do we do?”

“We talk to her. YOU talk to her.”

“She won’t accept a talk with me.”

“ERIC. You think you’ve been giving her space, when in reality you’ve been hiding.”

“PAMELA! I don’t hide!”

“Let me finish. You had one decent evening, you played house for a short while being all domestic in the kitchen and you liked it. Now you’re afraid to talk to her about anything confrontational because you don’t want to fight. Get over yourself. Have a knockdown, drag out fight and move past this shit.”

“I can’t. I don’t deserve her. She’ll never accept me.”

“You’re right – you don’t deserve her. As to whether she’ll ever accept you – how the fuck will you know if you just walk on eggshells around her?” He sat quietly, mad that she was yelling at him and even madder that she was right. “Get up there, and DO something. You’re obsessed with Sookie Stackhouse, and if I know you, you don’t like it. Guess what Eric? The ship sailed, you can’t change how you feel and you need to move forward with her. Now, I’m going to take a shower while you figure out how to get her to talk.”

OOOoooOOOooo

“Sookie” Eric said as he tapped on her bedroom door. He got no response. “Sookie, I know you’re in there and I know you’re up. I need to talk to you.”

After a heavy sigh, she told him to come in. Eric was shocked when he took in her appearance. Potts said she hadn’t seen her at all the last two days and now he believed she hadn’t even gotten out of bed. The fact that she wasn’t eating OR showering was obvious in her weight loss and well, her smell. He looked around the room, hoping to see some water or anything to drink or eat. What he found was a stack of newspapers. Godric had been right. “Sookie, do you want to talk about the newspapers?”

“No master. Actually, I’m pretty tired, did you need something specific?”

“I’m worried about you. You aren’t eating or showering….”

“Well, I’m sorry I’m probably not up to par with the way you want me to taste and smell.”

He was upset she thought that was the only reason he cared, but part of him was overjoyed she still had the energy for her snarky comebacks. “Sookie, that’s not my concern and I think you know that.”

“I’m tired, can you please leave?”

“No Sookie, I can’t leave you like this.”

“Suit yourself.” She said and rolled over in the bed pulling the covers up to her face.

An idea came to Eric, he knew she would throw a fit but he needed to get her attention, and frankly, get her clean. He went into the bathroom and started filling the tub with slightly cool water. Once it was about 2/3rds full, he went back into the bedroom. Sookie was still awake, but had her eyes closed. He threw the sheets off, picked her up bridal style and made his way to the bathroom. She started squirming and fighting in earnest when she saw the full tub. “You are not!”

“Oh I am.”

SPLASH! “ARGH! That’s cold.”

“It’s lukewarm, I didn’t use all cold. Are you awake enough for a shower?”

“Got to hell!”

“I believe vampires are already damned to hell, according to some fanatical church groups, so that’s already done.”

“Piss off.”

“I don’t piss.”

“Get bent.”

“I’ll heal automatically, and I’m standing here while you stay in that tub until you decide to take a shower and talk to me.”

“Bite my ass.”

“THAT I really want to do, will you show it to me?”

“Fuck you!”

“I’ll stay here all night if needed; I can just pour in some bath soap and throw a sponge at you if you want to remain in the tub.”

“ARGH! I hate you. Why can’t you leave me alone?”

“Because you’re depression is starting to scare me.”

Sookie stilled for a moment and stared at Eric. “What do you mean?”

“Sookie, I don’t like seeing you sick, I don’t like seeing you sad.”

“Then send me home.”

“Even if I could find a way around the vampire issues, I can’t stand the thought of not seeing you at all; which is what will happen if I send you home. You agreed to stay with me forever, are you trying to kill yourself by starving to death?” He also sniped in his head ‘If only I could tell you that my maker won’t allow me to send you home and why he wants you to stay. This would be so much easier if I could just tell you everything, but no, Godric wants me to do this the hard way.

“What’s so special about me?”

“I’m drawn to you.”

“You only fed from me once.”

“I’m not drawn to you for your blood, though it was delicious. I’m drawn to the spitfire who didn’t back down from me; the hero who found my resting place and bested a Were guard to save her idiot brother. I want to get to know the southern belle who charmed my child AND called Bobby a fucktard all in the same day. Your interest in books and gardening matches my own and I want to share those interests with you.”

“You like the way I smell.”

“I do, but ask any of the whores I’ve been with if their smell or their blood made me want to get to know them. Ask them if I even bother with conversation.”

“You’re not exactly endearing me to you, using women like that.”

“I can assure you, I’m not using THEM. I never need to glamour them, they approach me. In my thousand years, I’ve fucked plenty of women.” He paused when her face grew angry. “I didn’t tell you that to brag; I wanted you to understand that I can get blood and occasionally enjoy a scent anywhere, but not companionship. You’re the whole package.”

She didn’t say anything for a few minutes and he said nothing else while she processed his words. Finally she asked to get out of the tub. Since they started talking, Eric had forgotten she was sitting in the cold water and he started the shower for her. “You don’t need to stay here, I’ll shower.”

“I’m just starting it for you. I’ll wait for you in the kitchen.”

“Ok.”

OOOoooOOOooo

“What’s this?” Sookie asked as she sat at the kitchen counter.

“Chicken soup. I had Bobby get it from a local specialty food market, it’s not canned; it’s freshly made. You haven’t eaten so I thought something light would be good.”

“When did you think of this?”

“I asked him to get it today when Potts told me you never came down at all yesterday. I wanted to be prepared.”

“I, um, well….Thank you; it’s just the right thing.”

He straightened up the kitchen from prepping her soup, fussed with something in the microwave and joined her at the counter, a metal goblet in his hands.

“You’re eating with me?”

“Sure.”

She shifted her focus on her soup. “I guess I was pretty hungry, this was really good.”

After Sookie cleared the counter and took care of loading the dishwasher, they moved to the den. Eric sat down and started the conversation that frankly, he was afraid to have. “Sookie, can we talk about the newspaper articles?”

She didn’t say no, but she did put her head in her hands and wept. Eric moved to sit closer and he rubbed a hand down her back. After a few minutes, she finally spoke. “I’m missing and my family is going through same pain from when Jason was missing.”

Eric hadn’t thought of that angle. She’s upset because her FAMILY and FRIENDS are upset. Her empathy had no bounds, something that he still struggled to understand. He was unsure how to deal with that. He could try to make HER feel better, but not her Gran and others. Suddenly, he had an idea and decided to run it by Pam. For now, he was struggling with a distraction. Of course, sex came to mind, but that wouldn’t work for Sookie. Shopping was another thought, which would distract Pam, not Sookie. What would work for Sookie he wondered? He decided he’d try something that he’d barely done in his death as a vampire, and now with Sookie, he’d done it several times already – he apologized, and meant it. “I’m sorry that your family is hurting and worried. I have a few ideas I want to run by Pam that can help. Is there anything else about the article that’s bothering you?”

“The baby.”

He groaned inwardly, he knew this would come up – and damn Godric for requesting he love a human. He can’t give a human a baby himself. At her young age, Sookie would surely want children, so he thought. Her next statement surprised him. “It’s not like I was ever gonna have children myself, but I always thought I’d be the best Aunt in the world. Now I won’t get to do that.”

“What do you mean it’s never like you were going to have children yourself?”

“I’ve never really dated or had a boyfriend. It’s not hard to make the leap that that means I won’t have children.”

“Why don’t you date?”

“I don’t want to talk about it. Maybe we can watch a movie?”

He felt something like embarrassment; no it was shame and sadness from her right now. ‘What could cause shame from dating? She was a virgin so she hasn’t been raped. I’m going to do more investigating, there is something to this. For now, I’ll just enjoy a movie with her, since she opened the door.‘ He smiled and said, “What would you like to watch, I just got the Matrix Reloaded about a week ago – but haven’t seen it yet.”

“That sounds good, I loved the Matrix.”

OOOoooOOOooo

When the movie was over, Eric suggested a drive. “Master.” He grimaced at her use of the term. “I appreciate what you did tonight, but honestly, whatever it is you think is going to happen between us, well, it just isn’t. I’m your captive.”

“Actually, you’re not my captive, you’re my companion.”

“WHAT?!”

“Vampires have different government hierarchy than humans, we have different rules and we have different ways to define our relationships. Well, I guess it’s not so much different as it is in addition to the human bureaucracy we have to deal with now as well.”

“Keep talking vampire, I have no idea what that has to do with you calling me a companion.”

“To ensure your protection, I filed paperwork claiming you as my human.”

“WHAT. THE FU…”

“Let me finish?” When she continued to stare at him angrily, he added, “Please?”

She nodded and he started explaining the labels used for humans. While Sookie glared, he explained donors, pets, slaves, and companions and the vampire hierarchy.

“Donors mean nothing. In fact, until the reveal, most donors didn’t even know they were donors; they were glamoured after they were used for feeding. Having a pet designation constitutes an ongoing relationship between the pet and the vampire while the pet is a source of blood and sex. A pet is a slave to their vampire owner, or master. Before you flip out, because I can see the words forming behind those beautiful lips, get what you know of the concept of slavery out of your head. It’s a designation, not a job description. In human terms the difference is the donor is a one-night stand, a pet is a girlfriend, perhaps a bit of a mistress since the vampire is responsible for the care – and often extravagant care – of the human. This is why many of the donors at Fangtasia strive to become pets now that the term is getting around. Some vampires keep several pets. I had planned to make you my pet at first.”

“What changed?”

“You are so much more than a pet so I knew I needed to file you as a companion. It provides the protection and ownership like a pet. No vampire can touch you or feed from you, ever.”

“Isn’t that the same as the pet?”

“It is a designation with more respect. I cannot nor do I want to file anyone else as a companion or pet.” He kept the parts about being blood bonded or having the intention to bond to himself for now. The human designations were already a huge amount of information to absorb. She did ask the question he had prepared himself for.

“Monogamy? You’re saying that even though I have repeated told you I want nothing to do with you, you set yourself up for monogamy.” She didn’t believe it for a second. When she was scanning Fangtasia, she found many women that Eric had slept with. No, he was not a monogamy type of guy. Still she listened for the answer.

“I’ll be honest. The contract specifies that I won’t have another pet or companion contract, not that I can’t fuck anyone I want, well, except another vampires pet or companion, unless the vampire has given permission.” He could see the blow-up brewing, so he kept going. “I want a relationship with you and while I have never been monogamous as a vampire; if, rather, when we finally are in a relationship I will remain faithful to you. Until then, I will be with other women, other donors.”

“I don’t know where to start. I don’t want a relationship with you, so even though I asked about it, your words of monogamy mean nothing. For now, you certainly can go fuck whatever you want. What you said about the vampire gives permission; that scares me? You can give me to another vampire?”

“That’s another reason for you being a companion and not a pet. Pets are frequently shared, and other vampires will boldly ask to taste or try another vampire’s pet. Companions are rarely shared, and it’s a dishonor for a vampire to request a taste or try of a vampire owned companion. I will never allow anyone to touch or taste you.”

“But I have to trust that you aren’t lying or that you won’t change your mind. Who created these designations? Who the hell gave vampires the right to have such control over humans?”

“Sookie, trusting me, well, someday I hope you will. As far as the right to control humans – whether you and I agree with these conventions is a mute point. They exist, and if I wanted to protect you, I needed to file the paperwork.”

“But I’ve never needed protection.”

“Yes, but you are with a vampire sheriff. You will be exposed to more vampires.”

“Your entire fucking fault – I might add.”

“I didn’t break into a vampire’s warehouse.”

“To rescue my brother who shouldn’t have been there.” She stood, as she got more worked up.

“Sookie, we have been through this, Jason did not personally kill Eddie, but he did conspire to kidnap and he helped restrain and drain Eddie – for about a week. For draining, according to vampire law, he should have been executed. If I fail to dispense punishment, and I must report my actions, I could lose my territory, be severely punished or even staked. Even then, Jason wouldn’t be free. Another vampire would just take my place and kill your brother.”

“So my swap was reported as part of justice for Eddie?

“Yes.” He tugged on her hands to guide her back to the couch. “This is the root of our current situation. I can’t let Eddie’s kidnapping and death go unpunished. A human has been incarcerated and that satisfies my superiors.”

“How do they know you aren’t lying?”

“I don’t lie, but I have recordings of the warehouse and my basement at Fangtasia.”

“You have another place for punishment? Cause just one isn’t enough?”

“I dispense vampire punishment at Fangtasia while there are vampires in the building. Hearing it can be an effective deterrent. Sookie, I punish humans for crimes against vampires, but I also punish vampires for crimes against humans or other vampires. In addition to the designations we have for humans, we have other rules for how we live amongst humans. Parole, or talk therapy or even a stay in a luxurious jail cell would not be a disincentive for vampires.”

“That makes sense. What constitutes a crime against a human?”

“Well, you know how I said before the reveal, donors were glamoured?”

“Yes.”

“That is not the case now. Donors must be willing. Sexual partners must be willing too.”

“That’s good to know. But these are you own rules, as vampires. It’s not like there’s been a public service announcement to look out for a friend being glamoured.”

“You’re right – it’s laws we have given to ourselves. I was actually part of the committee that planned for the reveal and wrote these laws.”

“Oh, so you believe in these laws.”

He paused a moment before answering her question with a question. “Do you remember when I said I wouldn’t lie to you?”

“Yes. I guess I’m not going to like the answer, huh?”

“I’m going to give you the whole answer, and I’m asking to you to hear me out. Can you do that?”

“O – Ok, I will.”

“In 1975, I went to my first meeting for the Reveal Committee in New York. Plans for the Great Reveal had been started just a few years before that. Sookie, I’m not fond of pomp and circumstance, but this was over the top. There were four representatives, one from each of the vampire regions in the US, the Chancellor, and a stenographer. The Chancellor hired a trumpet player to announce his arrival; then he had official attendance taken – for FOUR of us!” He paused to laugh at the memory and Sookie couldn’t help herself, she laughed too. “I had trouble keeping the laughter in. It was even worse since Godric was sitting next to me, and I could feel his amusement too.”

“Wait, who is Godric, why do you feel him?”

“Oh, he’s my maker, but I’ll get to that after this story.”

“Ok, sorry for interrupting.”

“Not a problem. Well, anyway, we started the meeting and many topics were about vampire and human relations. I will admit that in 1975, I had some views of humans that you would not like.” He paused, and she made a motion indicating that he should continue. “I used to think of all humans as simply cattle, here for vampire purposes only.” She flinched at the word cattle, but remained quiet. “I also thought vampires should just take over and rule. Godric was very disappointed in my attitudes. He challenged me to get to know humans more personally, and his plan worked.” Eric’s focus drifted from Sookie for a moment as he realized what Godric had done. He hadn’t compared himself to his 1975 attitudes and now he realized the difference was significant. Even though Godric called his prior attempts at relationships failures, they were not. They all lead him to his revised appreciation for humans as more than just food. Well, he appreciated some very notable humans before, but now he had a broader appreciation for the entire race. Godric, as always, knew what he was doing. The question that Eric had now was, why? Why was Godric so insistent that he change?

Sookie’s question brought him back to the conversation. “Did you hear me master?”

“No, I was thinking about something, what did you say?”

“I asked if Godric challenged or commanded you.”

“In this case it was a challenge. There are some parts of that challenge that I cannot share with you, but just know that it worked. I have come to appreciate the creativity of humans, the struggles you have for survival, and all that you have accomplished without magic or superior strength.”

“Glad to hear it, so we aren’t all worthless?”

“Far from it. Some humans,” he ran his hand down her cheek, “are extraordinary.”

“I can’t….”

He moved his hand away noting her discomfort and decided on a new track for the conversation. “Sookie, let me ask you something.” She nodded. “When you went to the warehouse, you made a quick decision to swap yourself for Jason. Now that you’ve had time to think about it, do you regret that decision?”

“No, not at all. He needs to be with Dawn and the baby.”

“And right now, you blame me for all this.”

“Yes.” The response sounded confident, but Eric could feel some conflict.

“Would you blame the human police if Jason had been arrested and put in prison?”

“No, they’re just doing…” She stopped mid sentence and waited a moment before continuing. “It’s not the same.”

“I’m not going to dissect the differences between my position as a vampire sheriff and your human police. I’ll leave you to think just how different the root of the situation is – or perhaps that it is NOT so different.”

They were silent for a moment until Sookie remembered something. “So you were going to tell me about Godric?”

“Yes, my Maker, Godric is the Sheriff of Area 9 in Texas. He made me over a thousand years ago. We have not lived together for centuries, but we remain close. Just as I have with Pam, we have a blood connection. I can feel his emotions and he can feel mine. We can also send emotions.”

“Can you send emotions to me?”

“Not with just the small amount of blood you’ve had, but I can feel that you are tired.”

“I am. Apparently getting out of bed for the first time in days can be exhausting.”

“You know, it’s supposed to be sunny tomorrow. I know it’s getting cooler, but you seem to enjoy being outside. You should make a point to get out.”

“I will, and what do you mean I seem to enjoy being outside? Did Potts tell you?”

He looked like a boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar – it was really the only way Sookie could describe that face. “What did you do?”

“Nothing.”

“Liar. Did the guards spy on me while I was outside and report back?” She looked to his face for clues while he shook his head NO. She thought some more. ‘He likes security. SHIT, cameras!’ She smacked his arm as it occurred to her. “Cameras? Have you watched my time in the sun like a pervert?”

“You are a beautiful woman, that tiny bikini was wasted on just being seen by the birds in my yard. You’re also quite clever to have thought that through.” He tried to make a serious face at his response, but his smirk couldn’t help appearing.

“I’m going to bed before I say anything else on this topic that will just get me in trouble.” She added to herself, ‘and I’m going back on my – fatten Sookie up so he doesn’t want me mission tomorrow.’

“Goodnight Sookie.”

“Goodnight you dirty old man.” Before she left, she offered one final comment. “Thanks for waking me up … Eric.”

He smiled at the use of his name. “You’re welcome.”

Chapter Title Credit: The future was a dark corridor, and at the far end the door was bolted.”
― Gustave Flaubert,
Madame Bovary

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