“Too many things and people tell us what to think. It’s a touchy subject because how can I talk about it without crossing that line, too?” Eric took a sip of his coffee and then rubbed his stubbly face as he thought about what he wanted to share in tonight’s podcast. “I want you, dear listeners, to think of me as someone sharing their thoughts and experiences, not because I think that you need me to tell you what to think but rather in the hope that I could offer an unusual perspective. A perspective that might add dimension and color to your own.” He chuckled, “Which of course means that before you get to have an opinion I think you have to do your own leg work.
“Yes, that means you have to get up off your sofa, or use your computers for something other than porn. Before you panic now, I don’t mean all the time, just sometimes.” He smiled at the thought of all the shocked little faces who had calmed down at the sometimes instead of the all the time.
“Maybe there was once a time when we could trust the information that gets shoved down our throats 24/7 on news networks, maybe there wasn’t. I do know that I believe we can’t now. There is no journalistic perspective anymore, there are only agendas and the information that you get is only information that someone else has decided that it’s ok for you to have.”
He sipped his coffee again and shifted in his chair, putting his feet up on the desk where he recorded his nightly messages. His wireless headset mic allowed him more freedom of movement than any set up he ever had in the studio. Aside from missing the paycheck and the direct audience interaction this was really a much sweeter setup. He did still have email from his listeners and he took that responsibility every bit as seriously as he had when he was working at WKDED. If what was on their minds was important enough to take the time to reach out then it was important enough for him to respond. He felt his heart squeeze a little in his chest when he thought of how he owed this podcast dynasty to Sookie.
He had been broadcasting like this now for months and he had over several thousand subscribers with more coming every day. Even in the backwoods of Virginia on the run it still seemed that he had something to say that people wanted to hear.
“It’s easy to let the one side of something that you are being shown be the only side you look at it, but we all know in our hearts that there is always more than one side to anything. We also know from looking at our own lives that nothing is ever simple. Sure, we want it to be. Sometimes we need it to be because we just feel like we can’t take another single fucking thing. I get that. I get like that. I also think that is the trouble spot for us as a society. When you feel busted and broken down it becomes so much easier to just accept the things you are told as truth. It becomes easier to pretend that there is only one side. That is until you find yourself in that same spotlight. Until you become the one who is only seen in single dimension with a story that no one wants to take the time to hear. Then my friends, you can see that everyone who came before you in this singular spotlight was a multi-dimensional feeling and caring individual.” He stood then, and started to pace as he spoke, coffee still in hand.
“When I was growing up my parents used to tell me that things had been different in their day. They told me things like a man was innocent until proven guilty and that he was tried before a jury of his peers in court, not in the press. Think about that for a moment. If, and I say if because I believe but I don’t know, if the press is deliberately only showing you one side of an event, a side that was chosen for you to know, how can we as citizens in a supposedly free country think for a moment that we know anything of the truth around that event?
“Don’t we have an obligation to make sure that we do know the truth? The whole truth? The absolute truth before we form an opinion about anything? We live in a glorious age of technology where we can meet and speak to people around the world in minutes! We should be the best informed generations that have ever walked this third rock from the sun, but are we? Or are we just regurgitating someone else’s uninformed opinions on topics that we are only allowed to see from the side, if at all?
“And for those of us who are looking, what are we looking at? Are our lives enriched and made better by Keeping up the Kardashians? We have this incredible tool of connectivity and awareness and we use it to star stalk and make snarky comments about what some starlet wore on the red carpet. Does this make us better or more informed to know that so and so was wearing a certain designer label or that they hated themselves so much that they had plastic surgery or Botox?
“Are we allowing ourselves to be manipulated and anesthetized to the truth? Do we do it willingly and perhaps even gratefully because again, we can’t stand another single second of our own existence and responsibilities for that existence?” He paused, looking out the window and seeing Sookie coming across the yard from doing one of her constant perimeter checks.
“We are, each of us entitled to our opinions and we have both the right and the means to share them. But don’t we have the obligation to make them meaningful and thoughtful, if not downright thought provoking? Shouldn’t we be inspiring each other to grow and be open to truly knowing the world around us and what is happening in it? Shouldn’t the people we call heroes be worthy of that title? Shouldn’t we strive to emulate those who embody in their everyday lives the traits that we now only expect from fictional characters?
“Who are we that we can walk out of a movie theatre pumped on watching Captain America stand for truth and justice and turn a blind eye to the person being mugged in front of the theatre as we come out? Who are we that in order for us to rise up we have to knock someone else down?” He ran his hand through his hair in frustration and turned back to his laptop and his chair, sitting back down as he continued to speak.
“We cry out to be recognized as the same, as equal, but yet special and unique each in our own way, and sometimes we spend so much time thinking of all the wrong that was done to us along the way that it becomes easy to let that wrong be done to someone else. For some of us we stand by and think, that happened to me and so it should happen to them. We miss the point that it was wrong when it happened to us and we struggle to find the strength to stop allowing the repetition of those wrongs, to sometimes stop perpetrating them ourselves.
“We have to be better than that. I have to be better than that. Each of you out there in the dark has to be better than that. It was wrong when it happened to you, it will be wrong when it happens to someone else and only each of us deciding to make a change can stop it from happening again and again.
“We all must open our eyes and use our voices wisely when we speak. We must seek the truth ruthlessly, without compromise and we must decide for ourselves how we want this world to be.”
Eric was moving the food around on his plate lost in thoughts of what he had said tonight. When he read the newspapers or watched the news he saw so many things sliding at such an incredible rate he feared how far it might go before it stopped. He also feared what it would take to set it all right again. There as a Wrong there. He couldn’t pinpoint it but he could feel it. The whole world outside was starting to conjure that same feeling in his gut that he got when he saw the werewolf that night.
“It’s Warlow!” he blurted out suddenly, dropping his fork on the table and grabbing for Sookie’s hand. She squeezed it gently looking at him. “This feeling I get from the things I see and read this Wrong, it is Warlow’s influence on the world, isn’t it? This is part of his long game?” He looked at her, his eyes pleading with her to help him figure this out. “Tell me what you know about Warlow, Sookie.”
“They didn’t tell me much.” She said, putting down her fork. “Their instruction to me was simple. Keep him away from you and keep you alive. I know that he came here in retaliation for the way his emissary was treated in Area 51, but he was coming here anyway. He had destroyed Fae with his armies and his wars. The Light Fae had left centuries before, escaping here, but by then the damage had been too great to save their realm. He was left with nothing but a fist full of dust for all his troubles.”
“But why did he make war on the Light Fae, Sookie? What started all this in the first place? What made Warlow into a monster?” She smiled and squeezed his hand again.
“You have a master’s degree in Communications, surely from all that you can deduce an answer without knowing the specific events?” He laughed bitterly.
“You and Older Eric expect me to stop the Dark Fae King with the things I learned in school?” his tone was incredulous.
“As I recall part of your studies were psychology, political science and philosophy and how to use those tools to craft your words in such a way to have great impact. To do that, to get people to hear you, you had to learn how to reach them first on their level and then bring them to yours.” There was a lot in that sentence, not the least of which was a clear indication that she had attended those classes with him. But of course she had. How could she protect him if she was hanging out back in his dorm as a cat? Hearing his thoughts she laughed.
“Yes, I did attend those classes with you, every day.”
“I don’t remember ever seeing you before that night with Lorena.” His thumb caressed her hand and he felt himself calm a little as he tugged at this latest string of their past.
“Some days I was the girl a row back, head down doodling on her paper. Some days I was the boy in front who had a casual indifference to the class and the people around him. Sometimes I was literally the fly on the wall, but I was always there with you.” Her soft intimate tone made his middle tighten.
“And the professors never noticed the stranger in their classes?”
“I glamoured them to not be able to see me. By the time you left Northwestern to head to UC I had complete run of the campus.” He sat back absorbing that. His thoughts led him back to Warlow.
“But Warlow has done the same thing, moving between the raindrops never getting wet as he claimed his run of this entire world.” She nodded.
“I have found him to be very goal oriented and focused in my dealings with him.” His eyes grew round with surprise.
“What do you mean your dealings with him?”
“Over the years he has made several attempts on your life. If I were less prepared he would have been successful.” She was so calm. Sometimes he still found that difficult to process and accept. She was so ‘Dinner at 6, and oh by the way I killed some Dark Fae today.’
But that was before he changed his end game, she thought, and as had been happening since their second bonding Eric heard her thoughts. He pursed his lips and let out a breath, pulling his hand back from hers, crossing his arms over his chest. He already knew he wasn’t going to like this, not even one little bit.
“This is hard, isn’t it?” he asked her, trying to smile and failing utterly.
“Yes. You being able to hear my thoughts can be as dangerous as it is potentially beneficial. To get through this effectively there must be trust and respect.”
“I don’t mean to hear you, Sookie. I just can’t help it sometimes. When I touch you especially.” He paused, taking a drink of his wine and placing the glass carefully back on the table before looking at her again. “I promised you that this would be all right, that I would make it all right, remember?” She nodded. “So I need you to remember something, ok?” She nodded again looking into his eyes. “I need you to remember that this is my war. That I am supposed to be fighting it, that you are here to protect me, yes, but in order for me to be effective, you can’t hide things from me.” She hesitated and then nodded again. “I know you were alone for a long time, but you are not alone anymore. We can figure things out together now, and I need to know the things that you know. Promise me, Sookie. I need you to promise me that you will always tell me when something happens.”
“I promise,” she said.
“You thought that Warlow changed his end game. What does that mean?”
“He no longer just wants to kill you that is secondary now, though I am certain that he would still like to eliminate you very much.”
“What is his primary goal now?”
“He wants me.” Pushing up from the back of the chair he pinned her with his stormy gaze.
“I was unable to determine that from Lafayette’s mind.” Eric’s vision went wobbly and he felt like someone had kicked him in the gut.
“Tell me. From the beginning.” When she was done describing what had happened at the Sunshine Bar and Grille where they had the best burger in Tennessee, he was silent for a long time. Lafayette had been working for Warlow. She had left him there for Warlow because of his betrayal. All this time he had thought Lafayette was dead, had felt deep pangs of cutting guilt about it and he had been alive the last time Sookie had seen him. He had been alive when she left him there.
He had been working for Warlow.
She hadn’t told him that.
She wouldn’t have told him that except that in order to understand how she now knew that Warlow was after her he had to know of Lafayette’s betrayal.
“Why didn’t you kill Lafayette like you did the others?”
“I thought you wouldn’t like it if I did.” His hand came up to the back of his neck rubbing his skin as though he could wipe these terrible truths from his flesh and his mind. “Also, I thought that what Warlow would likely do to him for failing in his mission to capture you would be a far worse punishment than even death would be.” Eric let out a mad little chuckle. He had asked for honesty. Now he had to be strong enough to take that honesty.
This was all part of her. This vicious protective killing machine that had let him wrap her in aluminum foil armor and seek imaginary princesses. His brain couldn’t reconcile the two different aspects of her into the woman who sat before him.
That was bad, but what was worse was knowing that she was only what he had made her. He had made her this in a distant future, on the other side of a war that he still couldn’t stop but had to survive to win. He felt sick to his stomach when he realized that if there was a monster in this room it wasn’t the woman across the table from him.
“I know this hard for you, Eric. I can feel it, and I can hear it,” she said as gently as she could not moving though she wanted very badly to touch him in that moment. “But you have to move past the emotion and see the bigger picture. I have spent much time thinking on it these past months and I have arrived at a conclusion that I…” she trailed off.
“That you what?” he prompted.
“There are only two ways that Warlow can know about me. Either I was careless and he discovered me through watching you, or someone from 2065 betrayed me.” Eric blinked. “I don’t think I was careless enough for him to figure out that I was here, and even if I were he would only want to kill me, get me out of the way. He seems to actually want to capture me. This indicates that he values me, and the only reason he would value me”-
“Is if he knew what you were,” Eric finished for her. Something like a thunderclap went off in his mind. Sookie had been right. He had been a good student. He had studied hard and learned many things about what motivates individuals to do the things they do. Sookie was a weapon unlike anything this world had ever seen. Of course a power mad Dark Fae King would want her, so he could dissect her and see how she worked. So he could make more of her. So he could make an army of warriors just like her.
Time splinters, Older Eric had told him. He was changed because Sookie was here, and so was Warlow. Learning everything he could about his adversary was now more important than ever.