Doing some quick transposition in his head he swapped out the 5 for an S, the 00 for OO, left K for K, 1 to I and then last 3 for E. 500K13 was SOOKIE.
“Sookie,” he whispered, his hand coming up to cup her face. “Your name is Sookie.”
She stepped back letting his hand fall. She dropped her head, not able to find the words but her actions clearly said, don’t touch me. He frowned not understanding why she was reacting this way. To him she felt, surprised and oddly, scared. What would she be scared of in his hand on her face? He looked at her again, looking for what he had obviously missed. She was different, but she didn’t feel wrong like the wolf had on the mountain or like the men in the diner. She felt…he stopped, unable to find the word. It bothered him that she was scared of him. “So, what now?” he finally asked in a quiet voice. She kept her gaze on the floor.
“Now we have to leave here.”
“To go where? This is where my life is.”
“What do you mean?”
“They have found you now. It’s not safe here anymore.”
“Who? Who has found me?” She sighed and shook her head.
“You will see.”
“I’m not moving an inch until you tell me who the hell you are and who those men were in the diner.” Her head came up sharp.
“You must! I’m supposed to keep you safe!” He let out a rough breath and ran his hand through his hair.
“This doesn’t make any sense! What about my life? My job? What about-“
“None of that matters if you are dead.” There it was. It shouldn’t have needed saying, he had been in the diner, and he had seen the men with guns, the shells that covered the floor as they tried to hit him. End him. Finish him.
“I need to know what is going on, please.” He wanted to touch her again to make her feel what he was feeling but then he remembered that she could feel him already because he had accidentally swallowed some of her blood. He stopped trying to be calm and let his fear rise up through him. She gasped at the size of it.
“Please, Eric. You don’t have to be scared. I am here.” She stepped closer to him, her eyes locked with his.
“I don’t know what it means that you are here.” She dropped her eyes and nodded. “Can you help me understand?” She looked up and bit her lip, her brow furrowing.
“Some, I think. What you need most we will have to travel to get to.”
“Please, Sookie, just show me what you can. I need to understand.” Sookie, she thought hearing it for the second time. It was her name now because he said so. He didn’t know but he had named her before. Would it help him to see that? Would it give him what he needed so that they could move before it was too late and they were found again?
“If I show you what I can, will you let me take you away from this place?” Maybe, he thought. He nodded scared in a different way now. What would she show him? She held out her hand to him. When he took it she led him to the cot and sat down with him beside her. She reached a hand up again to touch his face.
She showed him her first memory.
“You’re going to feel things. You will feel them more deeply and more exquisitely than any being in history ever has. At first it will seem like a liability but if you can find a way to embrace it, then it will make you stronger than you can imagine. You will be able to do anything, my little 500K13.”
That voice, Eric thought. I know that voice. He let it go as he watched her training. She was amazing! Bolts of fire flew from her hands, blowing up targets in the lab where she had heard the voice. He watched her punch through thick planks of wood and concrete with her tiny hands, her expression fierce and scary as she had been when she killed the vampire in the WKDED parking lot.
He saw her face down five opponents, taking wounds that healed almost instantly before she left her adversaries like bowling pins on the floor. He saw her fangs, and still found himself enraptured in her beauty. She was other, definitely other but she belonged.
“Your mission, 500K13 is to protect Eric Northman from the moment of his birth in 1981 until you can no longer do the job. Protect him with your very life if necessary because he must survive. He must survive no matter what!” That voice again. Always just a voice coming from the very walls around her. Who was that?
He saw his face on a monitor in her lab. He was older than he was now. Silver just starting in his hair, more wrinkles around his eyes and a scar that went from his right temple to the edge of his lips. His eyes told of miles that he had yet to travel. The older Eric’s eyes told of things that this he was afraid to look at!
“Protect him. Keep him alive, and if you are forced to step from the shadows and into his life, then give him this.” The image shifted again and he saw a square crystal of the the blue so deep it was nearly purple reflecting the light. “Make sure that no one other than Eric himself ever knows of this, and that no one touches this but him. Care for this second only to the man himself. Do not fail, little one. He needs you to keep him safe.”
The images faded then and he found himself sitting on the cot with the still naked Sookie beside him. She looked at him expectantly, finally asking. “Does that help? Is it enough for you to understand and let me do what we have to do now?”
“It’s a start. But tell me, where was that? What did you show me?”
“It was the place I was made. Where I learned to be who I am and what I was made to do.” He frowned again.
“When was that?”
“2065.” He leaned back from her, his mind trying to comprehend what she had told him. It was too much. He was shaking his head back and forth struggling to breathe.
“Bend over, Eric. Put your head between your knees and take some deep breaths.” Not knowing what else to do he did as instructed. After a few minutes he started to level off and feel less like he was going to pass out.
“Who’s after me? Who was in the diner?”
“Emissaries of the Dark Fae King. His name is Warlow.”
“Uh-huh. And what’s a Dark Fae?”
“A race of supernaturals that have been here for a very long time.”
“S-supernaturals?” She nodded. “Um, are you a…uh ‘supernatural’, Sookie?”
“Yes, I am a genetically modified supernatural. I was made to have all of the strengths of several races and almost none of their weaknesses.”
“So, there’s more than one then? More than just the Dark Fae.”
“Why does Warlow want to kill me?”
“You will know that when we get the crystal.”
“Right. And where is that?”
“I hid it on the property you grew up on.”
“Back in Virginia?”
“And that’s where we are going now?”
“Yes.” There were millions of questions he wanted to ask, but his brain was slush.
“What about Lafayette?” He looked around at his still sleeping friend. She shrugged.
“I will take his memory and when the Dark Fae take him there will be no information for them to retrieve.”
“No, we take him with us.”
“Eric, you are my priority. I can’t protect you effectively if I have to take care of him, too.”
“These guys aren’t fucking around, Sookie. They nearly killed him today just because he was with me. Collateral damage they call that.” She looked at him, still not understanding. “I can’t let him die because of me. Maybe when we get this crystal it will tell me what to do. How to save him.” She shrugged. It might, but Sookie doubted it. There had been no mention of Lafayette in her training in 2065. His importance was doubtful, his survival less than likely.
“What if he doesn’t want to come with us?” Eric shrugged. Lafayette didn’t strike him as the suicidal type.
“We owe him the chance to decide.”
“We owe him nothing. I have saved his life once already.” He looked at her exasperated. Was she a supernatural or a machine? Fuck, was there any difference between the two? What was a supernatural anyway?
“Wake him up. I want to talk to him.”
An hour later the three of them were in a stolen black SUV on I-20E headed into Mississippi. Eric had stretched out in the back, purposefully separating himself from the source of all his questions to try and get his head straight. He was going home that was a big enough thought to deal with in itself. Lafayette was in the passenger seat with Sookie driving.
He hadn’t been surprised when his friend had decided a road trip was preferable to another run in with his Oreo cookie boys. Distantly, he heard Sookie and Lafayette arguing over the radio station. It was so normal that it almost made this road trip seem like it was a vacation and not a run for your very lives kind of thing. They finally settled on something and after a moment Eric heard Billie Holiday singing Ain’t Nobodies Business through the speaker behind his seat.
If I should take a notion, to jump into the ocean
Ain’t nobody’s business if I do
If I go to church on Sunday, then cabaret all day Monday
Ain’t nobody’s business if I do
The image of jumping into the ocean followed him down as he slipped into sleep and felt himself swept away into dreams brought on from the blood he had swallowed earlier. He would have slept sooner if he had realized that some answers could have been found there in the dark red cells he had swallowed while trying to save her life. The story of Sookie was engraved on every cell of her body and now it was engraved on him as well.
He saw a baby boy taking his first wobbly steps from a vantage point that was almost level with the little boy himself. “Come on, Eric! You can do it!” That was his mother’s voice he heard. Those were his first steps. Sookie had been there for that, but how?
A flash and then he saw himself on his first bike. He looked like he was six, maybe seven when his dad pushed him off and he wobbled even in his training wheels as he pedaled down the drive. The view point changed and it came closer to him, and there was barking! He saw himself turn, “Stay back, Lily!” he heard his father yell. Lily? That had been his golden retriever’s name. She had been his dog until he went to college. Sookie had been Lily? The realization would have knocked him off his bike if he had still actually been six or seven.
Lily had consoled him through his first break up with a girlfriend. She had always been there for him, just always seemed to know when he needed a friend or a game of toss the stick to make him feel better. God, he had loved that dog…that Sookie?
Another flash, and he was looking up at an eighteen year old version of himself far from home and feeling homesick. “Here, kitty,” he had called, squatting down to pet the tiny tabby he had found outside his dorm. She had wrapped around his ankles, and purred for him, making him laugh. He had taken her to his room, fed her and kept her that first year. She had been a great cat except she never liked it when he brought a girl to his room. She would hiss and scratch to be let out like her tail was on fire. She had disappeared after he had stopped being so home sick and had adjusted to life away from home. He had named her Lady Mischief, called her Mischief for short. Lady Mischief had been Sookie, still there, still looking after him.
He remembered then that his parents had called and told him that Lily had disappeared from the farm back home. Lady Mischief had helped him through his tears at losing his childhood friend, curling on his chest and making bread with her tiny delicate claws until she curled up and purred for him as he rubbed her and wiped his tears.
Another flash and he was in LA, his first shitty apartment. He looked massive here, like the giant from the beanstalk story. He saw the look on his face, a mischievous grin as he lay out a piece of cheese and stepped back. He felt himself run out on tiny feet and grab the cheese before disappearing under the cabinet. Most people would have bought a mouse trap when they found out they had mice. Eric had just bought more cheese and taken to calling the mouse Mickey. He wasn’t supposed to have pets in his apartment, but then he wasn’t supposed to have mice either, so he figured it all balanced out in the end. Mickey had been Sookie, too.
Another flash, his apartment in Shreveport, the jinxy black cat that showed up on his doorstep early one morning as he was coming home from the station. He had named her Sheba, and always made sure he picked up a can of tuna for her when she stopped by. She came around once or twice a week, wrapping herself around his ankles with such sheer delight he couldn’t help but smile. She loved him. Sheba, no Sookie, had loved him. She had been right there his whole life and he never knew.
He turned on his side in the seat of the SUV and let himself travel deeper into the blood dream. He had so many questions. Maybe there were answers here.
Then he was back in his bed, when she brought him home after Lorena attacked him. She leaned down to kiss him on the forehead, but he was full of borrowed memories and a lifetime of love now. This moment seemed so much bigger than it had the first time he had seen it from the outside. When she leaned down he caught the back of her head with one large hand and moved her to his lips.
The shock was electric. In a flash he had flipped her over him and rolled to place his body on top of hers. “You should have told me,” he said between deep hot kisses.
“I was to watch, never to touch. Never to love. Only to protect,” she moaned as she pulled his lips back to hers.
“But you did love me, I feel it,” he told her as he moved to kiss her neck.
“No, it is not what I was made for.” He pulled back to look in her eyes. So much emotion there he was again reminded of the ocean.
“You’re not made of cold, hard stone.” He whispered to her. “There is so much love in you, Sookie.” She shuddered beneath him, her hands coming up to pull him down to her lips again.
“Only for Eric.” She rolled them over then, her body atop his, her legs straddling his body. She pressed herself close to him, pulling back to look in his eyes. “Is this the beginning, finally?” she gasped, panting in her need for him. His answer was a kiss.
“Our boy’s dreamin’ something good back there,” Lafayette said, when he heard Eric’s sexy moan in the backseat. I can tell, she thought but said nothing. “Wonder what’s on his mind?” The smirk on Lafayette’s face told her that he thought he knew the answer. Given the feelings she was getting from him now through their blood tie she suspected he was right.
What woman filled his dreams, she wondered? He had not been involved for anything more than one night since they had moved to Louisiana. Was it the buxom brunette from a few weeks ago? The blond from the month before? Sookie had trained herself over the years not to care, not to feel when Eric had a woman in his life. But these weren’t her feelings she was feeling, they were his. She clenched the steering wheel cursing the stupid blood tie they had now.
How the fuck would she ever learn to deal with this bullshit? Lafayette noticed the unhappy expression on her face and her death grip on the wheel. He was good at math and figured he knew what must be bothering her. She wanted Eric to be dreaming of her. Looking at her in the dim light of passing cars he took a few minutes to really look at the woman who had saved him, bled on him and then woke him up to drive him away at high speeds into the night.
So, this is Eric’s something that goes bump in the night, he thought to himself. He covered a smile when he thought about how it was very likely he was dreaming about the woman behind the wheel. He had seen how Eric looked at her when she was looking away. His boy was a smitten kitten. Fuck, if he walked on that side of the street he would be, too. She was tough as nails and easy on the eyes, too. She had been something to see in that diner when she swept in and saved him from the Oreo gang. She had been just as matter of fact when she told him at Eric’s urging that if he didn’t come with them the gunmen would probably find him and succeed in snuffing out his short but beautiful life.
For now he would take his chances with them and look for the right chance to jump ship. He would be more valuable to the Dark Fae King if he traveled with them to their destination.