Chapter 17: Nothing Can Change This Love
With one, little, urine soaked piece of plastic, my entire existence came crashing down around me. Every shred of happiness I had managed to etch out of the darkness was ripped from my very being.
“How long?” I demanded, looking down at the only being that had ever held my still or beating heart. She was cowering on the bathroom floor, shuddering and sobbing. A part of me longed to hold and sooth her, no matter what transgression she had made, but I held my ground, needing to hear the truth from her own lips.
Her eyes darted up to mine, her face drawn in confusion. “How long have you been with child?’ I demanded again, this time with more force.
“Sev-seven weeks,” she stammered.
I took a step back, considering how long it would take me to rid the world of the mangy dog. “The shifter,” I spat, knowing that seven weeks ago had been when she left the state with him for his brother’s “wedding”.
“N-no, it ha-has t-to be you,” she stuttered and sobbed.
The words were like a thorn to my heart. The one thing I could not give her—the one thing I would give anything to be able to give her—I would never be able to. I would have given anything to father her children; I would have drained and killed thousands if it could have meant giving her this one thing. That she would even taunt me with the possibility was as though a cruel joke.
My hand slammed down on her sink, causing her to crumble into an even smaller ball. “I am vampire!” I shouted, hating my very being with a wild voracity I had never felt before, not even when I was newly turned. “I cannot father a child! If not the shifter then who? Who did you give yourself to? Some other two-natured filth!” I yelled. A part of my mind screamed that this could not be happening, that my Sookie would never betray me, that I would know it if she had, but the darker demons of my nature rose up and choked out the voice. It whispered in my mind that I couldn’t know what Sookie did during her daylight hours. It conjured in my mind images of a faceless man writhing in passion over my Sookie, a man who could share with her the things I couldn’t. A man who could share food, the sunlight, and most importantly, children with my lover. I needed to be able to put a name and image to this faceless man. My fangs had run out at some point, and I could feel the sharp points cutting into my lower lip and drawing blood as I clenched my jaw.
“It has t-to be you though. I hav-haven’t been with anyone b-but you since I b-broke up with Q-Quinn,” she attested.
The part of me that Sookie had brought from the darkness, pleaded to believe her, demanded that I gather her in my arms, but the demon of my vampire nature reminded me of my thousand years of knowledge. Knowledge that knew such a thing was impossible. “Lies!” I shouted, unsure if I was speaking to the whispering demon or to the huddled form before me. I wanted to choke out the demon’s voice, and my hands braced against the doorway, trying to shut out its dark whisperings, but they still clawed at my mind, reminding me of my impotence—my weakness. Reminding me that I could not give her the one thing, she wanted most. “I knew you desired children, but you said I was enough for you! You said I was enough!” I shouted, more to the darkness than to Sookie. It screamed back, calling me worthless and a fool. I could feel the demon gaining control. “But it was all lies! After everything I have done for you, every sacrifice I have made to keep you safe, you turn around and whore yourself at the first chance you get! Do you have any idea what you have done? You have served your enemies and mine the perfect piece of leverage on a platter!”
Sookie was suddenly on her feet in front of me. The slight sting in my cheek was the only indication that she had raised her hand to me. The pain was slight to a vampire, but I welcomed it as my punishment for failing her. “Don’t you dare talk a-about me that way! I h-haven’t lied!” she shouted.
The pain and grief she was feeling was nearly crippling, and I found myself welcoming it, wanting and needing to feel more pain from her. Before I could stop myself, I spewed more hateful words at her, wanting to inflict more pain on not her, but myself, “Go to whatever mongrel knocked you up and see if he will protect you!” The pain increased almost instantly, and I found myself wishing it could swallow me whole, that it could destroy me as my happiness had been destroyed.
Sookie pulled back from me, the fear I saw in her eyes was haunting. “I res-scind your inv-vitation to my h-home!” she shouted quickly.
The magic of my nature instantly began pulling me backwards through her house. Whatever part of me that was good—that was kind—that Sookie herself had helped me to reclaim, cried out in desperation and in grief. I had lost the only thing I had ever allowed myself to truly care for. I knew Sookie would need to raise her child with its father, that the child would need its father. A child deserved to have its father, as mine were unable to. It was something I could never be again.
But where did that leave me?
She was lost to me.
I stood in her yard for several moments when I suddenly felt a void in my chest. I reached out and realized I could no longer feel Sookie. I knew she could not be dead; I had felt no pain or severing of the bond. Just—emptiness.
I climbed the steps and stood on her porch. “Sookie! What have you done!” I shouted through the still open door. The fairy, her uncle, appeared before me. “What have you done? Where is she?” I shouted.
I could see glistening fairy tears spill down his cheeks as he kept his distance from inside the house. It mattered little; for once, even the smell of fairy tears could not entice me. “She has gone, blocked both of us from finding her,” the fairy said quietly. “We have both wronged that child terribly, and I for one shall never forgive myself.” He briefly looked up at me before he disappeared.
The realization came to me slowly that the sound I was hearing echoing throughout the night was me, roaring my hate to the heavens.
I ran into the woods and began tearing limb after limb off of trees. I wanted nothing more than for the limbs I was tearing off to be those of my maker. I had loathed him when I was turned, but I had come to accept my new reality. When I had finally admitted my love for Sookie, I had actually given thanks for him turning me, allowing me to exist long enough to find my happiness. My wife in my human life had been a good woman, but after 1000 years of lonely existence, I had finally found love.
And now, after so short a time, barely a taste of that happiness, it was gone. The macabre brutality of it threatened to bring me to my knees. I hated what I was, hated that I would be forever separated from Sookie because I couldn’t give her what she needed. What she wanted. It would have been better to never have found her, than to have tasted that love for so short a time.
Images of her, laughing and happy as she chased a small boy around, ate at my soul. If we can be said to have souls. Images of a faceless man with his arm around her as they watched their children play tormented me. I wanted her to be happy. If she could find happiness having children with another, I wanted her to have it. But that want, was my damnation.
I damned myself, and I damned the creation of our very race. And most of all—I damned that I still loved that little human. It would be easier if I could hate her. It would be better if I could hate her.
I needed to hate her.
I needed not to feel this pain. I needed not to feel anything.
A part of my brain was aware of answering my phone and telling Pam that Sookie had disappeared, but for most of my mind, there was only the need to destroy. To destroy these trees. To destroy my hurt. To destroy my love. To destroy myself.
More time passed, but in my mind, there were only the tress. The trees, and my need to destroy.
“Eric! What are you doing? I know you are angry, but let us stop wasting time and find Sookie,” my child’s voice called from behind me.
I did not want her here. I wanted to be alone. I was vaguely aware of throwing the piece of wood in my hand at her as I swung to face her. “She is dead to me! Never say that name again!” I shouted, needing to believe my words.
Pam looked at me in shock. “What has happened? What is going on, Eric?”
Sookie’s words haunted me. You’re enough for me, she had whispered. But I wasn’t. I would never be enough. How could I ever be enough for her? “I was not good enough for her! That whore has lain with another man who could give her children, and now she has left to go raise his mongrel trash!”
For the second time, a hand connected with my face. “How can you say such things of your bonded? You know she is fiercely loyal to you. She would never sleep with another!” she shouted at me.
My hands still gripped the piece of plastic tightly. As though I could change the truth of it through sheer force of will. I shoved it at my child. “This proves her disloyalty!”
As my child examined the little white stick, I looked down and saw my raw and bloody hands. It wasn’t enough. I needed more pain. I needed to spill more blood. If I could cause enough pain, maybe I could make myself hate her so I could move on.
“Surely there must be an explanation for this,” she whispered to me.
I spun away from my child as bloody tears stung at my eyes. The simple explanation was worse than a stake through the heart. At least then the pain was short lived. “Yes, that she has chosen to give a child to another man!” I growled.
Pam’s hand tentatively touched my arm as she said, “It doesn’t matter, Eric. She is ours. Whoever fathered her child doesn’t matter. She is your pledged and bonded. Whatever children come from her loins will be your children.”
I saw the face of her children bearing the resemblance of a thousand different men. “No children from her loins will ever be mine!” I said as I turned to face Pam again.
“Let us find her and discover what has happened,” she pushed.
“She somehow severed our bond when she left.”
She shook her head and continued, “It doesn’t matter. We will look for her and find her.” I could not stand my child’s pity. I could not stand that I cared for my child. I needed to tear out all of my caring. It made me weak, and I needed to be strong to hate my bonded.
This wasn’t enough. I needed more pain. I had to have more pain if I was going to force myself to hate her. “She can rot with her mongrel trash, I will not look for her.”
The pain in my child’s heart and eyes helped. “Then I will look for Sookie,” she began to say.
I didn’t want her help any more than I wanted her pity. I wanted to be alone in my misery. I lashed out and struck my child sending her sideways. “You will do no such thing and never say that name!” I yelled. “As your maker, I command you to neither look for nor speak to her.”
She took a step back from me with her head bowed in deference. “You released me many years ago, master. I came back to you willingly to help you run Fangtasia, but now I ask that you release me again,” she whispered.
My head fell backwards at the feeling of pain that poured from my child. This was it. This was the pain I need. This was the pain I deserved. “Go,” I whispered. And though the pain was welcomed, it did nothing to ease my heart.
I had pushed everything away. I truly had nothing.
She could have children—and happiness. But I was damned to darkness and solitude. I cursed the fairy that killed my maker. It should have been me to kill my maker. I had tasted heaven and knew I would never come close to that light again.
I hated my dead lifeless body with all that I was, for all that I wasn’t.
And though the darkness whispered that I should, I knew I still could not hate her.
I remained motionless in my crouch, listening to the inane, endless female chatter. Talk of meteor showers, beaches houses, and maternity leave. I thought about dropping onto the deck and glamoring the annoying human into leaving, but I remained on my perch.
I was thrilled when the chatty human finally left so I wouldn’t have to listen to her longer, and I lowered myself to the ground again. Standing at the door, I quietly knocked, hoping the vampire patrolling the house would not hear.
The door opened to reveal a shocked Sookie. “Hello, Sookie,” I said quietly.
Sookie grasped at the wall beside her. I took in the sight of her, heavy with child and glowing. She wore a yellow flowered sundress, and she looked stunning.
What are you doing here, Eric?” she asked carefully.
My eyes flickered to her belly again. I had been determined to pay my debt to Stan without letting myself become weak again. I wouldn’t allow my feelings to surface. But looking at her glowing form, I found myself again wishing I was human and could have been the one to give her happiness. I forced myself to look at the wall beside her, disgusted with my own weakness and inability.
“Obviously I am here looking for you,” I said, it coming out more sharply than I intended. I hated that this woman could reduce me to having no control over my emotions. I just needed to get her to Dallas and leave again so she could get on with her life and I could get on with whatever was left of mine.
“Why?” she asked, her voice quavering. I could smell the tears that welled in her eyes, and I hated myself all the more for causing her pain when I was the one that wanted to feel more pain.
“It is not by my choice, that I am here,” I finally settled on. Neither of us moved and I tried to keep my eyes from her magnificent form. She was like an oasis to a dying man. “Are you going to invite me in?”
I could hear her breath catch and smell her fear. I hated that I could not feel her emotions, but I remembered well the sight of her fear that night in her bathroom five months ago. I hated that she feared me now and then. “I would not hurt a woman,” I whispered, still ashamed that I had indeed struck my own child in my spiraling emotions. Pam deserved more than that. But I was too much of a coward to tell her that.
Sookie sucked in a breath and gestured inside as she said, “Please come in.” She turned and led me into her little home.
It reminded me very much of her farmhouse. It was simple and serviceable, but it felt quaint. It felt like her.
As I walked passed her to take a seat on the sofa she gestured to, I inhaled slightly, needing to smell her familiar scent again. But it was different. Very different. Oddly, she still smelled strongly of me, but there was the scent of another vampire wafting from her. It did not come from contact, it came from her. Jealous emotions pinged at my heart as I growled, “You reek of vampire.”
Her avoidance of my comment was answer enough. “Have a seat,” she told me. “Would you like a blood?” she asked.
“No,” I said, trying to regain my emotions and control my anger.
“How were you able to get near the house?”
I was surprised at her first question, but answered nevertheless. I had been surprised by the vampire patrolling her home when I first approached it. I had feared he might be an intruder, but after carefully observing, I realized he was watching for intruders. A vampire patrolling her home coupled with her having another vampire’s blood, made me question her motives here. I wondered if the vampire outside was simply a hired guard, or the one to have given her blood. Perhaps a little careful coercion on my part would convince him to tell me. “Your guard was not expecting an intruder who could fly. I landed on the roof and waited for your human visitor to leave. When she had, I was able to approach your door unseen through the shadows. Your guard should be more careful.”
“Not a lot of vampires can fly,” she defended.
I tried to keep my jaw from clenching at her defending this unknown vampire. Perhaps I should just kill him. “Indeed,” I said simply.
The quiet sound of her rocking filled the room. I could almost see her rocking in that chair with a child at her bosom. The thought struck at my heart so I quickly asked a question I had been curious of ever since I had finally found her location. “Why California?”
“I always wanted to see it. And right in Felipe’s backyard seemed like a good place to hide from him and his goons,” she said, shocking me once again with her shrewdness.
I looked at all of the little items in her home again. “You seem at home living on the coast.” I wondered what she would have thought of my homeland. I too had lived on the coast and had loved the salty sea air. I shook away the thought. I could not let myself feel emotion. I needed complete my task.
“I love living on the beach. It’s almost as nice as home,” she replied sadly.
I wondered if she thought of her farmhouse? I would always imagine her there and in the home we had shared in Shreveport for a time.
I glanced again at her left hand and asked the question that had been bothering me since I discovered she was living here alone. “You have not wed the father of your child.”
She covered her hand and replied, “Children. The father of my children wanted nothing to do with them or me.”
The man must have been a fool to turn her away. But as magnificent as she was and her children were bound to be, I knew he would come back to her. I scolded myself for my thoughts. I had to be emotionless, I could not be weak again. “So now you bed and give yourself to another vampire,” I ground out, hating that another vampire now had a connection to her, no matter how small.
“How dare you!” she shouted as she scrambled to her feet as quickly as she could. “If you don’t know me better than that, you never knew me at all.”
I too slowly stood. I allowed myself to look upon her again, my heart tearing at the sight of children that would never belong to me. “Obviously, I never did,” I said angrily. Angry that I wasn’t enough, angry that she would find happiness with another man’s children. But mostly, angry that I still wanted her.
So many questions had been left in her wake. So many questions plagued me. But one most of all. “Why?”
She understood my question. “And if I said that they were yours?” she said in a tired voice.
For the first time I did feel real anger towards her. “Do not insult my intelligence!” It mocked me, as did every waking dream I had of holding a child in my arms as I stroked her sweaty brow, fresh from labor.
But other images plagued me too. Images of the faceless man, poised over her naked body. I need a face to put with that man. “Was it a Were, shifter, or human?”
A pained look crossed her face as she asked, “Does it matter to you who the father is?”
I knew having a face to go with the image would not ease the pain. “No,” I answered. “Who is the vampire that gave you blood?” I pushed.
“Does that really matter either?”
“No,” I repeated as I sat back down. Nothing could ease my torment.
“How did you find me?” she finally asked.
“I traced your call.”
“But I made sure never to call anyone from a number that could be traced back to me. How?” she asked in confusion.
I felt a moment of smug satisfaction. I had found her even when Bill could not. Though the thought of Bill reminded me of how close I had come to completely losing control that night. He had shown up after Pam left, demanding to know where Sookie was. I told him briefly what happened, but in all honesty I could not truly recall what I said in my anger, nor what he said. All I knew was I had beaten Bill to a bloody pulp (though he landed some good blows as well) and I was moments from either tearing his head or his limbs from his body. He kept repeating over and over again, “How could you? How could you abandon her?” I had stopped and called Dr. Ludwig to heal him, telling Bill to leave my area by the following night.
“So Bill informed me when I called him. Apparently, he spent the last few months rabidly searching for you and could not find you. None of your calls to others could be traced to you, true. But then I thought to have my day man trace calls to yourself. It appears you called your own voicemail from the hotel where you now work shortly after your disappearance,” I told her.
One other question plagued me. “Why did you leave?”
She was still standing, and she gestured to her belly, “Are you saying that you would have wanted me, even like this?” I kept my eyes trained on the ocean, afraid my eye would give away my true emotion. My heart wanted nothing more than to have her, but I knew the father of her children would come back to them, and I would once again be left alone. “I guess that answers that,” she said, looking away. “At least I’m wanted here.”
I would want you anywhere, my traitorous mind thought before I shut the thought out.
“Why are you here then?” she asked.
My jaw clenched as I answered, “I owe a debt to Stan, and he has requested your assistance. To repay my debt, Stan requested that I find you and bring you to him.” Stan was an ally and had given support and continued to give support against Victor. No matter how much I wished I could remain locked away in Louisiana, I had to come here.
“What’s wrong? What happened?” she asked frantically.
“Stan’s telepath has gone missing and he wants your help finding him,” I answered, giving the barest of information that I had from Stan.
“Of course,” she agreed. “What do I need to do?” I was surprised at her swift response, but she always did seem to place others before herself. Part of me had argued that I should have refused Stan’s request, but I knew I was using it as an excuse to simply see Sookie again. No matter how much it tormented me, I needed to reassure myself she was all right.
“I have an airplane ready and waiting at the airport to take us to Dallas, then my obligation to Stan will be fulfilled,” I informed her.
“I’ll pack a bag,” she said as she stepped away.
I hated myself for being thrilled that she was coming along. “Make it quick,” I snapped.
She came back from down the hallway with a bag over her shoulder and stepped into the kitchen. She furiously scribbled out a note and left it on the counter. I wondered if it was for the human that had been here earlier, but did not ask.
“How are we going to get out of here without Stephan seeing?” she asked.
I started to ask why it would matter if she left, but decided I didn’t want to know what power the vampire who had given her blood had over her. I assumed that if she could block our bond, she could keep that vampire from finding her too. I stepped onto the deck and gestured for her to follow me. One I had secured her bag, I swung her into my arms and launched into the air.
She gave out a small cry, and buried her face in my chest. “I would not drop you,” I said softly into her hair. Foreign vampire smell or not, she still smelled heavenly and I found myself inhaling her scent too often.
Realizing I was allowing my weakness to push through again, I landed quickly at the airport and set her abruptly to her feet as I stepped away. I could not allow myself to fall prey to her again. I had to be stronger. “Come,” I told her as I boarded the plane.
I took a seat and set about writing an email to Stan, advising him that I would be bringing Sookie to Dallas and what our ETA would be. “Sit on the couch, it will likely be more comfortable for you,” I told Sookie absently as I continued my email.
I ignored the words of the pilot as he headed for the front of the plane, trying to steal my emotions. I was so focused on my task, I nearly missed the sight of Sookie grasping at the arm of the couch as we began taxiing on the runway. Her hands were grasping the arm of the couch so tightly her knuckles were turning white.
“What’s wrong?” I asked her.
“I don’t like flying,” she admitted, but I could see the terror in her eyes.
I barely hesitated before joining her on the couch and offering her hand. All it took was one look in her eyes, and I was powerless against her. “Squeeze my hand if you are afraid.”
She proceeded to close her eyes and hold tightly to my hand until we were in the air. I hated my inability to keep my distance from her, but I was determined to do so. I slowly pulled my hand away from her saying, “Lie down and sleep.”
I thought she might argue, but she merely nodded and followed my advice.
For more than an hour, I passed the time answer email and running my affairs. Without Pam in Shreveport to help me, it had become increasingly difficult to manage things, but I welcomed the distraction from my thoughts.
Suddenly, Sookie began tossing and turning. At first, her words were merely mumbled nonsense, but then she was crying out, “Please! Don’t hurt him. Leave him alone!” she tossed a few more times before she sobbed, “I’m so sorry, Eric!”
I could not stand the sight any longer, so I carefully placed her head in my lap and smoothed the hair away from her face. Her hand latched onto mine, and I let her hold it. Almost instantly, she quieted and returned to a peaceful sleep.
I continued stroking her face, unable to stop myself. My head told me to steal my emotions, that I was only setting myself up for more heartache when she eventually returned to the father of her children, but I was powerless to pull away from her.
I felt the plane touch down on the runway hours later, and I gently stroked her face one last time as I whispered, “I would have given you children if I could.” I felt a cold tear race down my cheek, and quickly dabbed at it with a handkerchief. I slid out from under Sookie as she sat up, telling her, “We’re here.” I stepped away from her, sliding the bloody handkerchief into my pocket as I got her bag and exited the plane.
I hated my weakness for her. I hated that her very presence and her state tormented me.
Most of all, I hated that I still loved her.
A/N: As always, let me know what you think!
Sorry for not responding to everyone’s reviews like I normally do, but I wanted to get this out!