A/N-Thank you all for your continued comments and support. This has been a great challenge and a lot of fun to write and your support has helped more than you could know!
The Big Bang- Chances
Death or submission were the only two possible outcomes to the command of a maker. From the second the words left Appius Eric knew that he would die here in the red room where he had met his true love for the first time.
Let it be so, he thought and fell to his knees as the pain started in his chest and radiated out through his limbs, burning. He did not bother to tell Appius that it was never going to happen. It was wasted energy that he needed to fight the command. Maybe she can still get away, he thought, as he turned everything he had into holding on, even as he felt the urge to follow the command dig deeper into his flesh and organs.
Appius, seeing his progeny go into a full fight against his command was stunned. In all the centuries, throughout all the pain he had inflicted, all the terrible things he had commanded Eric to do, he had never disobeyed, at least not after he realized the pain it would cause, the death it would bring. Eric was a survivor above all things. It was what had drawn Appius to him in the first place.
Appius moved to stand over Eric and started to reach out to him, his hand stopping an inch above his suffering head. He refused to console him in his rebellion. He kneeled down beside him, seeing the blood start to run from his ears as he struggled to disobey. “You were always so beautiful when you suffered,” he told him as he let the past thousand years wash over him, taking him back, all the way to the beginning.
Appius had roamed alone and in the dark for so long that when he first saw the man that would become Eric Northman the feeling that had started in chest had frightened him. He had come upon the raid of a small coastal town and saw Eric caught in a skirmish headed back the long boat. He had been captivated with the graceful form and perfect moves of the creature before him. His stance as he held his sword, swinging the hilt in his hand as he knocked back challenger after challenger, throwing his head back in laughter as he struck blow after blow that left his attackers on the ground. The war cry he emitted when his foes were vanquished. The camaraderie with his fellow Vikings as they boarded the boat and set sail for home, drinking and singing into the night as Appius floated above the boat in the dark night sky.
He had almost taken him then, when he stepped to the prow of the boat to relieve himself, but Appius stayed his hand, and waited and watched. Never before had he held himself back, he had never wanted to before, but this one was different.
He followed him home, watching from the shadows each night as he sat around the fire with his wife, his children, his friends and laughed. He was so alive! Alive in a way that Appius had never seen before and he was drawn to it. The light of the fire seemed to sink into his skin and shine back out again. Hiding in the shadows Appius imagined what it would be to have this man at his side through all of eternity. To feel his passion, his fire, to have that for himself! To feel that for himself, his own sun after centuries of darkness.
At night, when the fires were low and Eric would take his wife to bed, Appius would stand outside their long house and listen to their passion, stroking himself in time to the moans, imagining what it would be like to touch this golden god for himself, to be the one that pulled those sounds of pleasure from his long graceful throat, to feel his hand on his hardness, his mouth. It was too much! Night after night Appius found himself out side, unable to leave or turn away.
He came to hate Eric’s wife because she touched with free ease what he coveted above all else, and seeing her carry his child was too much to bear. It was then that he came in the night and glamoured her from the bed she shared with his beloved, taking her outside and draining her slowly, night by night until she weakened to the point that childbirth killed her. He could have ended her quickly, but he wanted her to suffer as he did, to feel the pain that tore at him each night.
What he had felt to know that she would touch him no more had sent him flying through the night skies with such joy in heart! For a moment he thought that he knew, too then, what it was to be alive.
Again, he started to take him, but held back, clinging to the shadows, delaying his pleasure. He saw the funeral, the sadness in his golden boy and he wondered at why he was so moved to see the tears move down his face as he watched his wife burn on the pyre. I did that, he had thought, hiding in the dark. I made those tears on his face! And he longed to leap from the dark and tell him, that even now, without even knowing Appius existed, he controlled his emotions, they existed because of HIM!
What Appius felt in himself as he watched Eric mourn was something so new again. Long ago he had decided that humans were beneath his contempt, but there was something about this one, this was so different! Imagining sharing the night with this beautiful Viking made everything seem new and exciting!
Appius was still clinging to the shadows when Eric’s father told him it was time to take a new wife. He felt his heart fill with rage and jealousy when Eric had agreed to visit the next village and seek a bride.
No! I won’t do that again. I won’t let that happen! The only hands that will ever touch him now are mine!
He had followed Eric to the village and listened as he spoke to her father, promising livestock and allegiance with his clan for her hand in marriage. They agreed and a date was set, and to celebrate they passed around the honey mead. Appius watched him grow intoxicated as they celebrated, but it was when he saw the moment of unguarded lust on Eric’s face as he looked at his bride to be across he fire that he decided he would wait no more.
That night he posed as a wounded man on the side of the road and waited.
The first taste of his long coveted prize was like nothing he had ever experienced. To have him there, his fangs buried in his neck as he feebly struggled for life was so arousing that as he fed him his sacred blood he had been forced to touch himself, coming to completion while Eric drank from his wrist. “Tomorrow night, you will share this pleasure with me,” he had promised as he felt Eric die in his arms. Lovingly, he had taken him to ground, curling his body against Eric so that he would feel him when he first started to move the next night.
That moment, buried with Eric, anticipating an eternity of pleasure before them was the last moment of peace he had known for the last thousand years.
When Eric had awakened the next night he had been a wild thing, unreasoning and undesirous of his touch. Eric hated him for making him night walker, and though he was aroused by feeding Appius had to use the maker’s command to force him to yield to his touch. It was too much to see all his dreams go up in flames as his willful child denied him at every side and corner unless he was forced to submit.
For so long the only thing he had wanted or needed was the feeling of Eric beneath him, feeling his pleasure as he moved in him, and while it was there, it was nothing more than the standard vampire response to sexual stimulation, and he had to command even that. He had wanted more. If he felt so much for Eric, was moved to such great lengths and changes within himself, why did the young Viking not return his passions?
The fire that he had seen in this being, the light that filled him, Appius had wanted that for himself! What he got was so dissatisfactory that Appius’ affection soon turned to rage and a desire to hurt the creature who did not return his affections. A desire to make Eric feel the pain that he himself was now filled with. That he had no doubt he would carry for all the rest of his nights.
He thought of killing Eric, of removing the reminder that his love found him lacking and unworthy, but soon realized that this would not heal the wounds his ungrateful child so thoughtlessly inflicted on his maker, and it would allow Eric to be free as well. He could not allow that. Eric’s suffering would match Appius’ own, no matter how long it took!
That had been the beginning down the road that they now found themselves at the end of here in Oklahoma.
Appius clenched his fists in rage, still denying a comforting touch to his rebellious progeny. Leaning down, he whispered to Eric, “Do you know why I gave you to her? I gave her to you because she promised you suffering and pain like you had never known before. I gave you to her so that you might finally see the cruelty of this world and come to love me better. I would not have left you here, I would have come for you, once I thought you had had enough to see the truth.”
“T-truth?” Eric managed through clenched teeth.
“Yes, the truth. That you belong to me. That you belong with me. That we are one.”
“NEVER!” came Eric’s scream of denial, strong and furious despite his pain.
“Kill her. Kill her and end this pain, child.” Eric did not answer this time, he just dug in and fought harder.
Sookie took this opportunity to slip the iron shackles from her wrists, hoping that she could recover quickly from the damage they had inflicted on her. Appius heard the shifting in the shackles and turned quickly to see what was happening. Seeing her free, he moved to her side, grabbing her by the back of her neck causing her to scream in pain. Eric was frozen and helpless. Everything in him wanted to move to her side, but his desire to help her was second to his need to kill her at his makers command. He dared not let himself move. Appius’ scream cut through the room.
“YOU WOULD DIE FOR HER?” Eric rose to his knees and looked at his maker, blood running from his eyes.
“YES!” he roared, giving himself over to it completely, his body shuddering with no small sense of relief that at long last this would be over and Appius would hurt him no more, and right behind that regret, because he knew that Appius would never let Sookie live. I am so sorry, my love, he sent to her, hoping she could hear him over the pain that Appius was inflicting on her with his grasp.
“Then I will wait for you to die and I will kill her slowly, ripping your children from her first so that may watch me tear their tender flesh apart. There will be nothing of you left when I am done. All your progeny will die at my hand, and it will be as if you have never walked this earth!”
Oh, Pam! Another regret digging into his soul. My beautiful, child!
No one heard her enter, but when her voice rang through the room all heads turned. “Appius, as your maker I command you to release the fairy and kneel before me,” the voice of the Ancient Pythoness called out, sounding strong, steady and sure.
“NO! SHE WILL DIE BY MY HAND!” Before he could finish crushing her neck, Pythia moved faster than he could have imagined.
Sookie fell to the floor and Pythia now held him by the throat. “Release your child from your command.”
“NO!” he roared, now fighting her command as Eric was fighting his. “HE WILL KILL HER! I WILL TAKE HIS JOY FROM HIM AS HE DID FROM ME! I WILL GO TO MY TRUE DEATH KNOWING THAT HE WILL EITHER JOIN ME OR KILL HER AND WALK ALONE WITH HIS PAIN FOREVER, AS I HAVE!”
Pythia looked at her child, with pity in her blind gaze. “I am so sorry, child.” Appius stopped struggling and looked at his maker, confused. “You had so many chances to turn this around, to be better than you are.”
“Better?” he spat. “What do you mean, better than I am?”
“A love like the one you bore for your child is a rare gift. Your selfishness took that gift and twisted into something dark and sharp like a petulant child when you couldn’t have what you wanted. You never saw the possibilities of the creature you made, what he could have been to the world and to you if you had been stronger.”
“I AM STRONG! NONE HAVE TAKEN HIM FROM ME. EVER!” She sighed then, her head hanging slightly down, but her grip on him never wavering.
“Strength is not in coveting a thing, nor in keeping a thing. Strength is in letting it go.”
“YOU DON’T KNOW! YOU DON’T KNOW HOW I FEEL! WHAT HAVE YOU EVER LOVED, MASTER? WHAT IN ALL THIS WORLD OR ANY OTHER HAVE YOU EVER LOVED?”
“You,” she said softly. Appius looked at her his face a rictus of pain and questions. “I love you, Appius. I made you from love, I showed you love that you could neither understand nor accept. I understand how you feel, because I have been you, child. I am still you. I just took another road. I let you go, rather than punish you for not being able to return what I felt for you. Finding you here like this, is killing me inside. I wanted you to grow and become wiser with age. I wanted you to see that you can’t force another to love you, and that punishing them for not loving you will only take you further away from your goal.”
“HE IS MINE!” Appius tried again to get her to understand.
“And you are mine.” Her other hand came up now, to gently caress his face. “What you do here tonight will change the face of the world. Can you find it in yourself to be the man I have always dreamed you to be? Can you be strong enough to let go, finally?” Her hand pressed in then and he saw for a moment the things that she saw every second of every night.
He saw this world currently filled with pollution and waste, reformed and clean, as it had been in his own human days.
He saw a sea of faces, human, Fae, Vampire, Shifter, Were, and Vae. The new race that Eric would father shining the way to this future.
He saw a glimpse of Creation itself, a web of strings that connect all things and in it he saw his beloved Eric shining brightly, healing the wounds of Creation around him, and long last, he saw Eric in the sun! His hair shining light as he ran through a field of flowers, laughing and smiling.
He is magnificent!
“You made that possible, Appius. No matter what dark turns you took after that, you made this possible because you loved this man enough to give him eternity at your side. Embrace that! Embrace that love and be free, my child. Accept the love that I offer you once again. Release your command.”
Appius sobbed as the vision passed from him, and looked at his child on the floor. More than anything in that moment he wanted Eric to know that he had loved him, truly since the beginning. He did it the only way he could.
“Eric, as your maker I release you from the command to kill the fairy.” Eric collapsed on the floor, groaning, and Sookie moved as quickly as she could to his side, kneeling , offering her wrist to him to help him heal. Appius saw then the love between them and knew that he had never had that with Eric, or with anyone in his long existence.
My fault, he thought. I was so focused on what I couldn’t have, I missed any other chance along the way. He shut his eyes then, and whispered to Pythia. “Mother, maker, sister, grant me final peace.” She cried out in pain at his words, and he remembered then that she had loved him, too. He opened his eyes and looked at her, understanding for the first time how very strong his maker had been. “Please.”
She closed her hand, and removed his head, ending his suffering with a final brutal gesture of her love. She stood there a moment, and then she moved to Eric and Sookie who were still on the floor. “I am sorry that I couldn’t come sooner. I had to wait. I had to give him every chance to make another choice.”
Neither Sookie nor Eric spoke, but they saw clearly how very old and tired Pythia was as she moved slowly from the room where she had been forced to take the life of her beloved to save the world.