Rising the next evening, Eric finds Thalia already dressed and waiting for him in the den area of his underground living quarters in a safe house not too far from the bar. She’s quietly sharpening the blade of her katana, an act that is a comforting ritual. It is something that has not changed in the centuries she has had the blade. In a world that always forces them to adapt to the times, it is a small relief to still engage in the same process to sharpen and clean the blade of her trusted weapon. Eric can remember when he taught Thalia the ritual, just as his father had taught him. His father had said when he was a boy that he could not have a sword of his own until he proved he was capable of caring for the sword. Eric’s father taught him that the relationship between a man and his sword was one of the most vital in his life. If a man cares for his sword, then the sword will never let the man down in battle. But if a man is careless with his blade, then it will not be as strong as needed in battle. Eric had thought his father’s words foolish, but he had been too superstitious not to follow them. His sword has been by his side since he was a mortal; the blade as strong now as it ever was. The ancient Viking sword has never failed him in battle. Why begin to tempt fate?
“You will torture Pamela again this evening,” Thalia states quietly as she continues to work the blade against the stone. One hundred strokes of the blade against the stone before she flips the blade to give the other side the same treatment. “She will not tell you anything; she believes she has done nothing wrong. Her obsession with you has always bordered on the fanatical. You punishing her now will not change it. End her quickly and be done with this madness,” Thalia advises sagely.
“Do you know why I am punishing Pam? It is for more than keeping Sookie and me apart. It is because she has violated the sanctity of the maker/child bond. She has done things to hurt me that no child would ever consider doing,” Eric says with fire. “She has manipulated me from the beginning. Because of her, I have lost Sylvie and now Sookie. She celebrates my pain because it means I am alone. Pam thinks she is the only being in my life I should care about.” Eric’s voice cracks as he continues. “Knowing Godric was my maker and that I suffered greatly . . . still suffer . . .” he takes a deep breath to regain his composure. “Pam would use Godric against me, saying as his child, I would have been willing to do anything for him, sacrifice anything for him; that is how she has always justified her behavior.”
Thalia continues sharpening the blade of her cherished weapon. She has several bowls of water with different sized stones soaking in them; the different sizes of stone represent the different coarseness levels that are required to properly sharpen the katana. No further conversation occurs between the two vampires as Thalia works the blade. After she has finished caring for her katana, she returns it lovingly to its home. The straps of her scabbard slide in place over her arms, looking at home on her tiny body. Thalia places a hand on Eric’s shoulder. “There is one fatal flow in her rationalization. You were willing to do anything for Godric to make him happy. And even though you knew it would hurt, you did not prevent him from achieving his lasting peace and happiness. You loved him enough to let him go. Pam has never been willing to make the same sacrifice for you.” The ancient Greek vampire squeezes Eric’s shoulder before leaving him alone with his thoughts.
With slow, measured steps, Eric walks down the stairs to the basement of Fangtasia. The club is closed indefinitely until everything is sorted out. It was also a necessary measure to keep others away from Pamela. Eric’s own security people watched the building today, making certain that no one during the day comes to her aid. Who knows the extent of her manipulations and lies?
Not surprising, Pam is hanging exactly where he left her. Blood continues to trickle down her body due to most of her injuries not having the chance to heal. It is an hour past sunset, but Pam has not risen for the evening. There is nothing Eric can do but wait for her to rise. Millions of thoughts continue to plague him, equal parts of despair because he has no idea who may have Sookie and grief because of his progeny’s betrayal. Thalia’s words from earlier continue to haunt him as well. Yes, he has threatened to end Pamela, but can he actually bring himself to do it? Even if he feels no affection for her now, the magic that connects a maker and child is still present. If he had been devastated by the loss of his maker, what additional pain will the loss of his child cause him? Eric has already lost too much; how much more can he be expected to stand? Even Atlas was forced to his knee because of the weight of the world on his shoulders…
Pam says nothing when she rises for the evening, wanting to delay any further punishment her maker feels the need to dole out. She is furious with Eric; how dare he punish her for doing what’s best for him? All she has ever done has been to look after him, to protect him from those that are unworthy of his time and attention. So what if the fucking fairy had been taken? She was like a cancer; you could treat the disease, beat it so that it went away, but after a few years it would pop up again far worse than it ever was before. Pam had done what was necessary; in the few years Sookie Stackhouse had been in their lives, Eric had almost met the True Death more than any time during the hundred years Pam had been by his side. If anyone should be punished in all of this, it should be Sookie. Pam hopes whoever took the troublesome bitch finally kills her.
“What a pair we make,” Eric finally says softly to fill the silence. “I know I could continue torturing you for hours, days even, and still you will tell me nothing. You are steadfast in your belief that the only person in my life I need is you. For years, I catered to your every wish, because I thought you deserved to be rewarded for your loyalty to me and because I wanted to make up for the less than perfect life you had as a human. I was wrong to do that, because you weren’t loyal to me. The only one you have ever been loyal to is yourself. I should never have turned you,” Eric says bitterly.
“You don’t mean that,” Pam says as blood tears fall from her eyes. Her face contorts as she cries brokenly at her beloved maker’s harsh words. “You are my maker; I love you. Everything I have ever done has been for you!”
“SILENCE!” Eric roars as his anger, frustration, and heartbreak overtake him. He topples the table holding all of his instruments of torture, sending items flying through the air and scattering along the cement floor. “You forced my hand that night in San Francisco; I never would have turned you. I was intrigued by you, but nothing more; I did not feel the pull to make you my child. Once my lust and thirst had been slacked, I would have moved on. To be a maker is the greatest responsibility one could ever undertake. It is an obligation for eternity; something you seem to have forgotten when you became a maker,” Eric says coldly as he turns his back on Pam.
“And what of you my darling maker,” Pam says with all the sarcasm she can muster. How dare Eric bring up Tara? Pam regrets the loss of her progeny, not because she had genuine feelings for her, but because someone took away what was hers. “You made another child and left her to fend for herself the moment she rose a vampire. What the fuck makes you any better than me?”
“You’re right,” Eric says as he slowly turns to face her. “Both of my progeny were made for the wrong reasons, but at least Willa didn’t manipulate me as you did. I will spend the rest of my existence trying to atone for my mistake when it comes to Willa,” Eric says with absolute sincerity. For too long, the shame he has felt in regards to Willa has been a festering wound, becoming an infection that has spread throughout his psyche. He hopes in the time he has left, Willa may forgive him.
“Fuck you,” Pam spits out. “Why is she more important to you then me? You are supposed to love me always! You betrayed me years ago with Sylvie, then Sookie, and finally Willa. You fucking owe me!” Pam struggles against her chains as she lashes out at Eric.
“Is that how you saw my relationship with Sylvie? A betrayal?” Eric vamps to Pam and grips her hair in his hand, forcing her head up so he can see the truth in her eyes. “It was you that called The Authority and the Yakuza. You wanted me all to yourself and thought Sylvie was taking me away from you.” Pam says nothing, her eyes burning with hatred. But there had been a flicker of recognition in her eyes as Eric spoke, letting him know his words were true. “You knew I wanted to make Sylvie a vampire. She was the first, and only, human I have ever been drawn to in that way. You made me chose between the child I already had and the one I hoped to make. Why would you be so selfish as to deny me what makes me happy?”
“You didn’t need her! You had me! I’m the only one that will ever love you completely. Don’t you understand that?” Pam wails pitifully. She is so far gone in her delusions that she cannot understand the harm she has done.
Eric releases Pam’s head with a disgusted expression on his face. He walks away from her, trying to control the rage and hurt he has inside. When he speaks again, his voice is quiet and small, yet full of pain. “Do you know I still feel a phantom pain where the bond with her would have resided inside me? It aches just as the severed bond with Godric still aches. Pam scoffs, denying the truth of Eric’s words. Her belittling his emotions infuriates him, and he lashes out by backhanding her across her face. The force of his blow is so great that the cheek bone and jaw shatter, causing her face to sink in unnaturally.
“But you don’t fucking care about me, you never have,” he spits out. “If you had, you never would have kept Sookie and me apart. You know I stayed in Shreveport to be near her; to be there if she ever needed me. Did you ever stop and think about what will happen when she dies? Do you honestly believe I would want to continue this existence of mine without the woman I love? Because I can promise you this Pamela,” Eric vows and roughly grabs her by her broken jaw, digging his fingers in so that the bone is pulverized. “I will follow her to the afterlife. If she dies an unnatural death, I will remain long enough to see her avenged, but then I will follow her. I am nothing without her,” he says wearily as he releases her jaw. He moves over to one of the walls, sliding down it until he sits on the cold, damp floor. His head rests between his hands in utter defeat.
Eric’s words about ending his existence when Sookie dies startles Pam. “Eric, you don’t know what you’re saying! You’ve lived over a thousand years. How can you give all that up because of a human woman?”
Eric lifts his head to look at Pam. “If you truly loved me as much as you claim, you wouldn’t have to ask me that question. You would know that when you find the one that is your other half, there is nothing you wouldn’t do for them; their happiness is your own. I have been miserable these past ten years, growing more and more despondent. I have finally begun to understand how Godric felt at the end. I am so tired; there is no joy left in this world.”
Silence engulfs them. Pam looks at Eric for a long time, seeing the truth of his words for the first time in a long time. He is still the same handsome, dashing vampire she met on the streets of the Barbary Coast, but his lust for life is gone. His eyes no longer sparkle as if he knows a secret that no one else does. He looks beaten and broken, barely hanging on by a thread. All of this because Sookie is missing? There has to be more to it than that. Of course, Pam being the selfish cunt she is thinks most of Eric’s pain comes from having to punish her. Perhaps if she plays nice, Eric will forgive her.
“I’m sorry Eric,” Pam mumbles humbly. “I never meant to hurt you; I was only trying to protect you. You lose your head when Sookie is involved. I didn’t want you to end up meeting your True Death because of all the danger that surrounds her. I know I messed up, but I want to make it up to you both. Let me go so I can help you find her. You need someone to watch your back.” Pam’s impassioned speech is worthy of an Academy Award; she uses every inch of her acting ability to inject sincerity, concern, and humility in her speech. Inside she is already plotting ways to make the telepath have an “accident” once she is rescued. Pam doesn’t believe for a second that Eric will end his existence. Vampires grow more protective of their existence the longer they are around; the feeling is based on both fear and arrogance.
Eric rises gracefully to his feet and glides to Pam. She lowers her head as a sign of deference, but really it is to hide the gleam of triumph in her eye. She knew Eric would forgive her! She knew he couldn’t stand the idea of hurting her.
“You are right Pam. I need a vampire I can trust beside me,” he says tonelessly.
Pam nods to show her agreement. “You taught me the only vampire you can trust is the one you make,” she says with her head still bowed. Her hair has fallen around her face, acting as a curtain so Eric is unable to see the manic smile on her face as she thinks she has won.
“Yes,” Eric says simply. With a heavy sigh, he leans down to brush his lips against her head, a sign of affection that he has always bestowed on her. Pam’s joy spreads to every inch of her body as she feels her maker’s lips on her skin. When Eric pulls back from Pam, she raises her head to smile beautifully at him.
And that is how she misses the stake that Eric shoves through her heart.
In a broken whisper, he tells her. “Unfortunately, I can no longer trust you.”
Pam’s expression becomes a combination of horror and betrayal as she realizes what her maker has done. She tries to scream Eric’s name but her body explodes, sending blood, entrails, and slop all over Eric, the walls, and the floor.
Eric stares at the mess on the floor for a long time. He had felt when the magic of his bond with Pam had been violently yanked out of him, and the pain was so great that it nearly brought him to his knees. But he refused to give in to the pain; he refused to allow Pam to hurt him anymore.
His feet automatically carry him up the stairs to the main part of the bar. Thalia and Freyda are waiting at a table; both vampires in downtime. One vampire he wasn’t expecting paces frantically in front of the stage.
“Willa? What are you doing here? Has something happened to Sookie’s son?” Eric vamps to Willa’s side, worried that something else has happened.
“Jesus, what the fuck happened to you?” Willa stares in horror at her maker, worry for him seeping through even though she tries so hard to keep her indifference to him. She can tell he is hurting deeply and wants nothing more than to comfort him.
“I staked Pam,” Eric utters quietly.
Willa’s eyes widen at the enormity of his words and she stares with an open mouth. Eric remains rigid and stoic. “I am so sorry Eric,” Willa finally offers compassionately. “I don’t know the words to say in a situation like this.”
“There is nothing to say; it’s over.” Eric brushes aside the death of his eldest progeny. Talking about it will only distract him. Eric needs to focus on getting Sookie back. “Why are you here Willa?”
“Jason finally got in touch with Niall,” Willa says with a touch of excitement. “He said Niall already knew of Sookie’s disappearance and that he has been working to trace her. Niall cannot pinpoint Sookie’s location, but he knows she is still alive. He has some way of tracking his family members,” Willa says with relief. She has been so worried for her friend and has tried so hard to keep it together for the sake of Sookie’s son. To Willa, Sookie is a mother, sister, and friend all rolled in one. Sookie and her son Eric are the two most important people in Willa’s existence; she will do anything for them.
Relief sweeps through Eric’s body and he sinks down in a chair because the feeling leaves him unsteady. “What do we need to do?”
Before Willa can answer, Eric’s phone rings. His moment of relief is gone as he sees that it is a blocked number again. He fears the voice on the other end may be the same one to taunt him the other morning. He indicates the others are to stay quiet as he puts the phone on speaker. “Northman,” he snarls.
“Eric, we’ve found something.” Vivienne’s soothing French tone eases the tension that had risen in Eric’s body.
“What is it Vivi?”
“I had the team look into all the names you sent me that could be linked to you and Sookie. The Newlins’ were a dead-end; there are no surviving family members for either of them. Same goes for the necromancer.”
“You said you had something for me? So far, all I’m hearing are dead ends,” Eric says curtly.
“There are only two possibilities out of everyone on the list that still have ties on this Earth. Both of them are in Nevada. One is Long Shadow’s maker, Hot Rain; the other is Felipe de Castro, Russell Edgington’s progeny.”