“What is his gift exactly?” Eric’s mind is still reeling with the images he saw. It had been so vivid; the emotions had been so clear. He had felt the fear and desperation as the child hurried to find safety; he’d felt the worry for his mother and a faint echo of something else in his mind, something he couldn’t put his finger on.
“Sookie’s son can project his thoughts and emotions to others when he touches them,” James explains. “He can project his thoughts to all species, but he has to be touching them. He’s had this ability since he was a baby; it definitely made things easier for Sookie while he was an infant. Even now, this is Eric’s preferred method of communication.”
The vampire continues to stare at the child bearing his name without blinking. The younger Eric tries to match the stare but ends up yawning loudly. Willa smiles lovingly at the boy in her arms. “Come on little guy; let’s get you back to bed. You’re gonna be cranky in the morning and you don’t wanna miss the breakfast Lafayette is making. I heard a rumor it might be your favorite,” Willa ends in a sing-song voice.
The child nods his little head reluctantly. “Will you come with me?” A pouty lip from the boy accompanies his question and he blinks hopefully at the new vampire in front of him. Eric sees so much of Sookie in that expression that he feels crippled with pain. The child’s face reminds the vampire of the Sookie he first saw in Fangtasia more than a decade ago; beautiful, innocent, and he feels the need to protect this boy just as he felt the need to protect Sookie. Eric is powerless to deny this tiny human anything he wants. Yes, he is drawn to the boy because he shares Sookie’s DNA, but it is more than that. Eric feels responsible for his namesake. Eric gestures for his reluctant progeny to lead the way. He follows behind Willa, his eyes locked with the eyes of the boy the entire way upstairs to his room. Willa carries young Eric to a bedroom at the end of the hallway where another boy is sleeping soundly. She sets the child on his bed, but he scrambles down, reaching for his bag. The two vampires watch with fascination as the small boy empties everything out of his bag. Finally, the boy pulls a crumpled envelope from the bag and turns to give it to the male vampire.
“Mama told me to give that to you if she was ever in trouble. She said you would know what to do,” he said with absolute trust in the older vampire. Before the elder Eric can say anything in response, Sookie’s son has his arms wrapped around his legs in a tight hug. Eric places a hand against the boy’s head, not knowing what to say. How could Sookie still have faith in him after ten years of no communication? How could she still trust him?
Eric leaves the room as Willa gets the child settled in bed. He needs somewhere private to read Sookie’s letter and he needs to investigate her home. He doubts the others knew what to look for if they had found anything. Eric can only hope that the others haven’t destroyed any evidence he might have found. Moving swiftly down the stairs, he pauses at the office door to let the others know he is going to Sookie’s.
“Wait! We’ll come with you,” Jessica says as she moves towards the door.
“No. Stay here,” Eric commands. “Guard the boy. If I find anything I will let you know.”
“Are you sure it’s safe?” James remains seated but he glances worriedly at the Viking vampire.
Eric nods his head. “If the kidnappers wanted her son, they would have come here or her brother’s looking for him. Where is Jason by the way?” The elder Stackhouse sibling was not without his flaws, but his concern and his protectiveness of his sister were among his more admirable traits. Eric cannot believe the male Stackhouse is not pulling a Rambo looking for his sister.
“He’s not in the state,” Jessica offers. “He took Bridget and the girls to visit her parents. We called him earlier. Jason’s going to leave Bridget and the girls with her parents. He couldn’t get any flights yesterday; he’ll begin the trip home today. Jason said he’s gonna try to contact Niall, their great-grandfather, to see if he can help.”
Eric looks confused. “I thought Sookie and her brother were the only ones left.”
Willa returns in time to answer her maker’s unspoken question. “Niall Brigant is Sookie’s Fae great-grandfather. Jason and Sookie both have a way to contact him in case of emergency, but I don’t know how quickly he will respond. He doesn’t spend all of his time in this realm.”
And the hits just keep coming for Eric. He closes his eyes and pinches the bridge of his nose as if in pain. “Niall Brigant, Prince of the Sky Fae, ruler of the Fae realm, is Sookie’s great-grandfather? So that means Sookie and her son are Fae royalty? Fuck,” he mutters emphatically. As if the situation wasn’t already dire, now it’s a hundred times worse. Sookie might not even be in this realm; she could have been taken by some Fae asshole again! Without further ado, Eric vamps out of the Compton house, making his way towards the Stackhouse home.
He pauses by the cemetery, searching for any fresh Fae scents lingering since the graveyard has acted as a portal in the past. Eric detects nothing out of the ordinary, only the faded essences of human mourners. It does not escape his notice that there is a new plant on the grave of William Compton: forget-me nots. Eric is left to ponder if it was Sookie or Compton’s progeny that did that. Knowing Sookie, he would put his money on her. Then again, does he really know Sookie anymore? Much has changed in ten years; things he thought to be true turned out to be lies. How many lies are actually truths? Eric had thought Sookie had settled down with some random human to have a pack of brats and live a boring, normal human life. Look how wrong he turned out to be! His beautiful Sookie was a single mother of a little boy that bears his name. Eric had thought Sookie had rejected him for good; instead she seemed to love him still.
Still in the graveyard, Eric pulls the crumpled envelope out of his inner jacket pocket with a heavy sigh. His fingers trace over Sookie’s looping style of writing. Her handwriting fits her personality; big, bubbly, and beautiful. He brings the envelope to his nose, inhaling deeply. Sookie’s scent clings to the material and Eric releases a shuddering breath. Swallowing painfully, Eric carefully opens the envelope to read whatever message Sookie had left him. He does not know what to expect as he unfolds the pages gingerly.
My Dearest Eric,
If you are reading this letter, then it means something has happened to me and the others have gone to you for help. I’m sorry to involve you in my troubles yet again. I had hoped that our first encounter after years apart would be due to a more joyous occasion, but I expect given our history that would be too much to ask for.
I am sure you have many questions and even fewer answers. Again, I am sorry I’m not there to explain everything myself, but perhaps this is for the best. You and I were never very good at communicating with one another. Too often we left things remain unsaid when we should have talked things over. I’ll take full responsibility for that one. I was always too scared to tell you the truth, too afraid to let you know the most intimate of details of what I was feeling. Well here goes . . .
I love you Eric Northman; I think I began to love you on that rooftop in Dallas when you begged for Godric to stay with us. Why else would I have been so hurt to see you in that basement with Yvetta? Why else would I have felt so betrayed in Jackson and again in Fangtasia? You broke my heart when you made Bill tell me of his lies and betrayal. Not because you forced Bill to tell me the truth, but because I thought you had betrayed me too. When I left for the Fae realm, I was running from all the pain and sorrow I felt. I thought you had known all along what Bill was sent to do and you had let him. Couple with that your actions in regards to me with Russell Edgington . . . what would you have done if you were me Eric?
When I returned from the Fae realm, do you know what I saw the night of my return? I saw a man in love, overjoyed to know the woman he loved was safe and had returned home. I saw a man who never gave up on me, a man who bought my home so I would have a home to come back to. I saw you Eric, and it scared me. You said you wanted everything and I wanted to give it to you; I really did. But what if my everything wasn’t enough? What if I weren’t enough for you? So I ran from you, and I broke both of us in the process.
I want you to know that everyone since you has been a poor substitution for you. No one has been able to fill the void in my heart left by you, not even Bill. He may have been my first love, and I may have let my guilt make me believe Bill and I were meant to be together, but deep down I knew it was always you. I am drawn to you whether I want to or not. Even after all this time, I’m still drawn to you; I still love you.
By now, I know you want answers; you want to know why I haven’t come to you in the last ten years. The answer is I have, many times, but I was never given access to you. I think you know why. But if you need to know more than that, then I ask you to go to the place where we became one; you shall have your answers if you know where to look. Be careful to keep the sun at your back; the item I’ve left you will help protect you.
My fervent wish is that I will get to see you again. But if I do not, please know that I bear you no ill will because of your absence. I know you had your reasons. I can only hope that if I do get to see you again, I will get the chance to tell you what’s in my heart.
I will love you forever.
Tears of joy and pain fall from Eric’s eyes as he cries out in anguish. He places his lips against his lover’s name before carefully folding the letter and returning it to its home inside his jacket. With renewed determination, he speeds to the home of his beloved. He will find her; he will be reunited with her. Failure is not an option. And this time, he is not letting her go!
Eric approaches the farmhouse cautiously, using all of his senses to find if there is danger present. He can detect nothing outside the home, so he climbs the steps leading to the front door. Eric is not normally one to indulge in remembering the past, but he cannot help but be flooded with all the memories, good and bad, he has of spending time with Sookie on these steps. The first time he had come to visit her at her home . . . the night she returned from the Fae realm and he admitted that he loved her . . . the night they finally became lovers . . . the night he’d given her home back to her and she’d rescinded his invitation. . . and the night he’d told her good-bye for good. Everything comes rushing back to him and he staggers under the mountain of emotion he feels. For too long, he has not allowed himself to feel anything; now that he is allowing his emotions free rein, he is powerless against the onslaught.
The front door opens for him and Eric notes the lack of barrier that allows him to move in the house unimpeded. If he had known sooner that he had an open invitation to the house, would he have come in? Or would he allow his pride to get in the way? When he gets Sookie back, he will never take things for granted again. She may become irritated with him, but he is going to be like a dog with a bone when it comes to them being open and honest with each other. They have wasted too much time with misunderstandings and dishonesty.
The signs of a struggle are present in both the kitchen and the living room as is the smell of blood. Upon closer inspection, Eric determines the blood is not Sookie’s; it does belong to a Were though. It has a slight wild flavor to it that characterizes the blood of the two-natured. The scent of the two-natured also hangs heavy in the air, but it does not go beyond the first level of the home. He had expected nothing less, but Eric is frustrated by the lack of clues about who took Sookie. His eyes settle on the armoire that sits in the corner of the living room, the faux cabinet that signifies the entrance to what used to be his cubby.
Go to the place where we became one; you shall have your answers if you know where to look.
Sookie’s letter directed him to the cubby. Moving slowly towards the cabinet, Eric looks for any indication the cabinet has been tampered with. It would be easy for someone to rig a stake or gun to shoot out when the doors are opened. Using his speed, Eric flings the doors open and uses the open door as a shield. However no booby traps are waiting for him. He descends down the ladder and looks around with interest. The room is still as sparsely decorated as it had been the last time he was here. He searches the table and underneath the bed, but can find nothing.
Be careful to keep the sun at your back; the item I’ve left you will help protect you.
This is the part of the letter that made no sense to him. Why would he keep the sun at his back? He cannot go out in the sun. His eyes are drawn to a red blanket folded in the far corner of the room next to the table. Why would Sookie leave a blanket lying on the ground? Eric looks at the blanket more closely. His eyes widen and he chuckles with humor. His Sookie is a clever girl; she chose something that only the two of them would know the meaning behind. The blanket is the one she used to cover him when he started to burn in the sun after draining the fairy. The wolf had been the one to tell him to keep the sun at his back. Spreading the blanket wide, Eric expected something to be hidden in the folds, but there is nothing. But his keen eyesight detected a tiny lock in the floor that had been covered by the blanket. Eric inspects the lock closely; it is in a stainless steel reinforced floor. No one can easily break into whatever is hidden behind the lock. Sookie wouldn’t have left him the blanket if it did not have more importance. Upon careful inspection, Eric finds a key sewn in the padding of the blanket. Placing the key in the lock, Eric turns it slowly until it clicks. The floor rises to reveal a hidden chamber containing stacks of letters and several leather-bound journals. Pulling the items out of the floor, Eric glances at the postmarks on the envelopes; they go back ten years. Glancing through the journals, Eric finds the first entry is from the night Compton met his True Death; the most recent entry is from the previous evening. Eric skims the most recent journal entry and ends up punching his fist repeatedly against the stainless steel wall of the cubby, denting the wall, as he roars in anger.
Pamela has a lot of explaining to do before he sends her to her True Death.