The Big Bang- Aftermath
They had been in Fae for a week now and Eric could still sense nothing from Sookie in the bond. She did all the right things, said all the right things, arranged for the handling of her grandparents remains and the whole time she didn’t feel anything at all. Whenever he tried to touch her she would not pull away, but even his touch evoked no emotion of any kind inside her, not even when she fed him.
It’s as though he was not there. It was as though she was not there.
He had expected the palace guards to put up a fight about him coming there, but apparently, all the years of seeing Pythia come and go had conditioned them to the presence of a vampire. He could still sense their caution though, despite his magical ring.
That had been his first surprise. His second had come when he realized that in Fae he could walk in the sun and he didn’t need Fae blood to do it. It was never truly dark in Fae, its large pink grapefruit like sun never set, the best they got was a dusk like period where the light dimmed for a few hours and then came back full force. It gave the light a pleasant visual warmth that Eric enjoyed immensely. Each rosy dusk reminded him for some reason of his early evenings in the north when he had been a child. After he finished his chores for the day, he was usually left with a few hours to himself to run through the fields and woods near his village. Those times were his happiest human memories and despite the aftermath of the tragedy around him he found some solace in remembering those feelings and having them again. They gave him hope.
That was something he wanted desperately to give to Sookie, to spark some emotion in her, but he was at a loss as to how to do that.
It was dusk when he found Sookie on the balcony to her room. She was resting against the railing of stone and looking down into the palace gardens, the scent of flowers filled the air making it sweet. He came up behind her and put his arms around her pulling her back against him and leaning down to kiss her neck. She did not resist him, but the bond was still a flat line and his mind cast back to her words right after the explosion, which was the last time he had felt her.
I think my grandfather was right.
Not thinking about it he held her closer and started to rise from the balcony and into the rose colored evening. Once they were airborne he wrapped his legs around her too, and started to fly in the direction the nearby forest, flying slowly, skimming over the tops of the trees and looking down at the ground beneath them as it peeked through the trees. Then suddenly he rose straight up, headed for some fluffy clouds that were drifting over their heads. She gasped as they slide through the first one, feeling it’s moisture caress her skin softly and he immediately turned them to fly through more., feeling the caress himself, letting his mind go back to the night they met and their tumultuous ride through the clouds and the oncoming storm. She had been so amazing that night. She had been so amazing every night since. Not caring that she was not broadcasting he sent her all his love and support through the bond and he felt a flicker of pain from her in return.
“What’s wrong?” he whispered in ear softly as they flew.
“How can you feel that way about me, Eric? After everything that has happened?” her tone was still cold and detached.
“I don’t understand. Explain, please.”
“ALL THOSE FUCKING PEOPLE DIED BECAUSE OF ME! HOW CAN YOU LOVE ME AFTER WHAT I DID?”
“I was with you, I know you didn’t put that bomb in Le Monde, Sookie.”
“Don’t be an ass, Eric. Of course I didn’t put that bomb in the hotel.” He felt a trickle of anger from her now. Good, he thought, that isn’t what I want, but maybe I can get to it if we can get that out of the way.
“Then how exactly is all this your fault?”
“The Iron Fist exists because I opposed The Ciar agenda. If I had just gone along they would be alive now!”
“What?” he asked, feeling the dam inside her starting to crack. “You’re saying that if you had turned a blind eye to the extinction of all races but the Fae that Niall would never had fed information to The Iron Fist that led to his own death?”
“Stop trying to be fucking reasonable, Eric! I don’t want reasonable right now!” She started struggling against him then, and he felt the dam give a little more.
“What do you want, Sookie?” he asked in her ear again. She pushed away again and he let her go, allowing her to take flight under her own power. She torpedoed right at the ground and he thought for a moment that she was going to deliberately crash herself. Immediately, he flew after her picking up speed until he broke the sound barrier, and caught her just as thunder rolled through the skies of Aeon. She was fighting now with her whole body, clawing and scratching to get away from him, and that was when he felt the dam inside her burst and her tears began to flow.
Slowly, he lowered them to the ground, her still fighting him, but not really hurting him. Once her feet touched ground she turned back toward the palace, which was about a mile away, and started to run. She ran like she thought she could go back in time and change what had already happened, sobbing and crying all the way. Eric followed at a distance, watching over her, but letting her run. About a thousand yards from the palace she took a ninety degree turn and headed toward the cliffs in the distance. He followed, wondering where she was going, more than a little concerned that she was going to throw herself over the edge and onto the rocks several hundred feet below.
He was surprised when he saw her duck into a cave and disappear. He sped up, not wanting her out his sight until she had calmed down. He could feel her now, and she was a careening mess of guilt, anger and remorse. It was so strong he felt tears rising to his own eyes as her emotions swept through him. Entering the cave he saw it went on for some distance and he could hear her still running telling him that she was all right for now. He sped up, not trusting what she might do.
He heard her stop and a moment later he was beside her. She was looking down at a pool of water that cast a glow on the walls of the cave around them. He saw that it ran through the stone walls and in the direction of the palace. She stood there a moment, catching her breath, her tears still flowing down her cheeks. After a few minutes she took his hand and pulled him to sit on the ground with her, next to the pool.
“I used to hide here when I was child and the world got to be too much for me,” she said softly, staring into the pool, her eyes distant as the was lost in the past. “Grandfather was always the one who would come and find me. He always knew where to find me, when I ran away.” She sobbed then, squeezing his hand as she struggled to find her voice to go on. “He would tell me that there was nothing for me to run away from, that I was the strongest and bravest fairy who had ever been…and…and…there was nothing I couldn’t handle.” She gave into it then and scooted across the ground and into his arms, burying her face there as she finally let out everything she had been holding in for days.
He kissed the top of head and rocked her slowly back and forth as she cried, humming a gentle tune to her as he rocked her. He didn’t even realize he was doing it until she asked him through her tears what he was singing to her. “Something my mother used to calm me when I was a babe,” he told her softly. He was surprised when he felt her shift in the bond again and he heard her laughter peal out of her and echo on the walls of the cave around them. He leaned back to look at her, his eyebrow going up. She continued to giggle, but it was hysteria, not humor, she was in a complete emotional tailspin, crashing and clashing in his veins as she worked through her grief.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she finally got out, curling back into his chest and pulling him close. “It’s just that when I would come here, until my Grandfather showed up to take me back to the real world, I would imagine you here with me. It was never like this,” she got out before her hysteria took over again. Rubbing her back gently he whispered to her.
“What was it like, dearest?”
“Oh, little girl fantasies, me your lady faire, and you my knight in shining armor. I would pretend that you had come to rescue me, take me away from all this to fly through the night at your side on one of your adventures that Pythia and Grandmother told me about.” She shifted again, tears beginning anew. He imagined her here, pretending that he was with her, and wondered just how she had imagined his two hundred year old self to be. Right behind that realizing that at that point he had still been with Appius and likely little of what was really happening would be something such an innocent young mind could or should imagine. He buried his face in her hair then and tried to close the door on the memories her innocent comments had freed inside him.
She must have felt his efforts to contain his own emotions in their bond because she pulled back then, wiping her face and then placing a kiss on his forehead, her hands on either side of his face. She looked into his eyes then and despite her red eyes and puffy nose, he thought he had never seen her look more beautiful.
“My sweet, sweet liar,” she smiled at him then, a glimmer of her sassy go to hell self, but still the first glimmer he had seen since the bombing. “This pool feeds the sacred springs that run under the palace,” she told him, confirming his earlier thoughts. “We use this water to replenish ourselves, to heal, to charge our magical batteries, so to speak.” She stopped then and looked around sadly. “Niall and I had a tradition, a ritual. Every time he found me here and told me that I could handle anything, before we would leave we would drink from the spring together. It was a symbol of strength, unification and healing for us.”
She moved then, scooting to the edge of the water and cupping her hand, reaching down and coming back with a precious few drops in the palm of her hand. She drank them down, and Eric saw her faintly glow for a moment. Then she reached down and repeated her action, this time bringing her hand to his lips.
“Sookie, I can’t drink that,” he told her gently, not wanting to hurt her feelings but he knew that blood was the only substance he could consume and keep down.
“Trust me,” she told him, looking him in the eye and holding her hand out. Quite sure this would end badly, but unable to deny her, he cupped her hand in his and brought it to his lips, taking a cautious sip. His eyes opened wide in surprise and he went back for the rest.
“It tastes like blood to me!” his voice filled with surprise and awe. She nodded, smiling at his reaction.
“I noticed when I wound up back her after Niall-” she stopped, and shook her head sadly. She took a deep breath and pushed on, “I noticed that it tasted like you to me and realized that there must be some connection between the magic that is in your blood and what is in the water.” She reached back down then and got another handful for herself, and after she drank another for him. When he drank this time, he saw himself glow faintly and he felt overcome with a sensation of peace and well being. He felt warm all over!
“Gods, that is amazing!” he said, he eyes large as he looked at her unable to contain his joy at the feelings sweeping through him.
“Grandfather said that if I ever felt like the world was crashing down on me, that this would be all I needed to get through, but he was wrong. ” Eric looked at her, concern in his eyes. “This,” she said gesturing at the pool,” is all well and good and I am grateful for it, but it’s not all I need to get through this.” She looked at him then, and moved closer, wrapping her arms around him. “I need you, too, Eric,” she whispered in his neck. His arms came around her holding her, supporting her.
“I am yours. Take whatever you need from me,” he told her, kissing the top of her head again.
“There is so much waiting for us back at the palace. Can we just stay here for a little while longer like this? This is what I need right now,” she said, hugging him tighter as she spoke.
“Anything,” he told her, hugging her back just as tightly. They sat that way for a long time, just holding each other. Eventually, she kissed him, and he kissed her back letting her set the pace, keeping his word that she could take whatever she needed. Their kiss intensified, and they made love beside the sacred spring, another act of healing before they left the safe womb of the cave and faced the outside world again.
As they walked hand in hand back to the palace he asked the question he had wanted to ask her for some time now. “You don’t really believe Niall was right do you?” She didn’t answer him right away, but he felt her rage in the bond as she chose her words.
“I think he might have had a point,” she said sadly as they walked. “They were laughing, Eric. They killed all the family that I have except for you and Pythia and they thought it was funny!” She stopped there, and he sensed her trying to calm herself and step back from her pain to see the bigger picture. “Still, Niall had a hand in what happened, he told them how to hurt us and they in their fear and ignorance only took what would be the next logical step once they had that information.”
“Do you think that Niall’s demise will be the end of The Ciar?” She shook her head.
“I am sure that is what he thought, when he chose to end himself at Le Monde, but I think he was wrong. He did a good job of convincing the monarchs that aligned with him that this was the only way to save our realm. It may take them some time to reorganize, but I don’t think they are just going to roll over and let their agenda go.” As if the fates had been listening a palace guard approached them then, bowing deeply to Sookie before speaking.
“Majesty, Gavin James is here and waiting to speak with you about an urgent matter.” She nodded and dismissed the guard. Eric bristled at her side.
“What do you suppose Niall’s second in command wants?” he asked her.
“I guess we are going to find out sooner than expected,” she told him, but he sensed something else in the bond, something that had her very uncomfortable.
“Aside from Niall’s second and the King of New York, who is Gavin James, Sookie?” He watched her pack her grief away and put on her queen face before she answered him.
“He also is one of the suitors who offered marriage,” she told him. “He was Niall’s favorite in the contest to win my hand.”
“Three reasons for me to kill him and I have never even met him. That must be some kind of record,” Eric growled sarcastically.
“Come on,” she said taking his hand. “Let’s go see what he has to say.”
“And if we don’t like it, then I can kill him?”
“If we don’t like what he has to say, I’ll flip you for it.” He chuckled.
“I just happen have a quarter in my pocket,” he told her as they entered the palace.
“Of course you do. You’re always prepared. It’s just one of the many reasons I love you.” She looked back at him then, smiling her wicked smile and winked at him. “I call heads.”