When Eric slipped into her mind he felt the usual tingle of energy. When he opened his eyes he saw an unusual sight. Sookie surrounded him. To his left stood The Cast Iron Bitch, easily identified by her cold eyes and feral smile. To his right was Tea Cup Sookie, clutching her stuffed turtle, and in front of him was what must be The Pixie. He looked at her closely and saw in her eyes the warmth, love and laughter that he had come to count on from his Sookie.
Perhaps the CIB was right, Pixie did run this three ring horseshow.
Pixie and Tea Cup Sookie rushed him then, one attaching herself to his leg and the other leaping into his arms, kissing him soundly before mock biting his nose and jumping from his arms, to somersault back, landing several feet away from him, giggling, a look of devil may care in her eyes.
From his left Eric heard, “Oh, fuck me, really? It’s a goddamned fanger, what’s the big fucking deal?”
Tea Cup Sookie pulled his sleeve, bringing his face down to her level, where she planted one on his cheek and hugged his neck. She looked at the CIB frowning and said very clearly, “Dis is MY, Ewic! Don’t you be mean to him!” He glanced at the CIB and saw her look at Tea Cup Sookie in much the way a stern mother would when she thought her child had done something wrong.
“See,” Pixie began, as she walked toward him again, some playful sway in her hips and a smile hiding and seeking on her lips, “We don’t play well, together.” She stopped in front of him, looking up into his eyes. He knew her, but she was not his Sookie. She was only a part of her. As he looked around the circle of Sookie he saw part of her in all of them, but his Sookie, she was all of them. Trying to imagine the ebb and flow of how a woman in pieces could shift and move between forms, and thoughts, reflecting and deflecting like jewel facets in sunlight, he wondered again how this had happened to her?
“You don’t really give a shit, fanger. I know it, and soon enough they will, too. You don’t fucking fool me.”
“I mean it!” Tea Cup said, stamping her foot and glaring at the CIB. “Don’t you be mean ta him!”
“Yes,” Pixie chimed in, bringing his gaze back to her, “Do be civil.”
“What. The. Fuck. Ever!”
Tea Cup pulled his sleeve again, and lifted her arms up to him indicating that she wanted to be picked up. He obliged, planting a big kiss on her tiny cheek, initiating a wave of giggles from her. After settling her on his hip, he looked at all three faces before him and for just a moment he thought of the ancient tale of Perseus, as he stood before the Stygian Witches. He felt Sookie’s love, in the bond and in her mind, but there was something else, too. Something that was just beneath the surface of her mind that made him think that one wrong step and he might fall off the edge of her.
“Ewic, you weally want us to take you to De Library?” She asked from his arms, as she played with his hair and smiled at him adoringly. He nodded.
“Why, Fanger? I ain’t sold on the why, yet.”
“Because, The Baroness said there was hope there.”
“Hope for what, fanger?” Eric, hesitated.
“For me to remember,” he answered, not sure even himself what that meant. The CIB, scoffed at him.
“As usual not a fucking clue. I ain’t going unless this dipshit can figure out why,” she proclaimed looking at Pixie and Tea Cup, crossing her arms in front of her.
“I’m goin’!” Tea Cup declared, glaring at the CIB and then turning to look at Pixie expectantly. Pixie stepped closer and took his hand.
“Eric, are you sure you understand what you are asking? Passage to The Library is difficult even at the best of times, and we would not be alone. We would likely not be safe.” She stopped and looked at him.
Eric, listened to her, feeling her anxiety mount with each word, but having no way to understand anything other than that she was scared, it impacted his need to GO to MOVE to KNOW very little. People were often scared of the unknown, simply because it was UNKNOWN.
He was intrigued. Squeezing Pixie’s hand gently, he asked her and Tea Cup why they were so scared. Tea Cup hugged him, and Pixie looked at him like she was starting to think the CIB was right, he was dumb. “We worry for you, Viking. This road we have traveled, long ago, many times, and we know all the secret doors, but we doubt that you are prepared.”
“Prepared how?” He felt her hesitate, uncertain.
“You have not reconciled yourself to yourself, Viking. This weakens you. Also, with so many Masks that look like you, there is a chance that one might fall into the wrong hands and trick us. In these places, there are things with no face, or many faces and they seek one such as yourself to add to their collection. Where you go, your Masks go, too. We could lose you, and now know until it was too late.
“You have yet to show us your True Face.
“Reconsider, this trip now, Eric. Let us remain at Uppsala and be with you. Our love for you and yours for us is a great healing boon. Given time, we would all be stronger for this journey, and be at less risk.” When he didn’t speak right away, she continued. “Is the need to go so urgent, Eric, that thoughts for safety must take a back seat?”
“Can you tell me anything about The Dwarf, the Baroness or the Master?”
“Yes,” was the answer from all three in unison.
“What do you know?” he finally prompted them when they didn’t’ speak again right away.
“One is a Liar, one is a Fool, and one you will face before your journey ends.”
“And what is it that I need to remember?”
“Which one is which, Viking.”
“So, once I knew this?” The three nodded in unison. “And if I do not remember?”
“Then you will be deceived, fooled, and this existence will end.”
“What are my options at this point?”
“Go now. Go later.”
“So, I go and my only real choice is when?” They nodded in unison again.
“Pixie will cast the deciding vote for us, based on your wishes. Choose.” As before they all spoke in unison.
“What of you, Sookie? If something happens to me, what of you, all of you?” Continuing in unison, all of her answered.
“The answer to that is in flux. The only certainty is what I have told before. ‘All that I have and everything that I am is yours. I will not leave until you tell me to go.’” He felt her love for him flood through the bond then and swept him away and anchored him at the same time.
“Pixie, do you not wish to go now?” he asked her softly. The others had voted already and she was explaining things to him, but he didn’t know if that was because she wanted him to stay here or to be fully aware of what they were getting into before he decided. “Would you rather wait, Pixie?” She sighed and smiled sadly at him.
“Yes, but I would wait forever, and spend each day with you, Eric. These things that move around us now, they will follow us. They know where we are now. In time, we will see and know that everything we have ever done has been leading us first to each other and then to this, and further yet still.
“So many set themselves against us. We were never supposed to get this far, Viking. I am so grateful that we have, and that it was you to stand beside me.” She smiled then, radiant and perfect before him. He felt her words more than heard them. They resonated with truth.
“Who has set themselves against us, Sookie? What do you mean?” She looked at him now, thoughtfully.
“You were born a thousand years before me, still we found each other, but to make that happen, you had to become Vampire.
“I met someone who would from the beginning fill me with distrust of you. Did you miss the irony that he took me to you so that he could point at you directly and tell me that you were untrustworthy?
“Oh, but once I saw you my love, there was nothing else. I wanted you and no voice in my ear could override what my heart and very being told me to be true.
“Then you Vampire and me Fairy, enemies of old, time immemorial, still we love. Still there is only us.
“They aren’t done yet, Eric. For all that trouble, surely your mind can see that as well.”
He stood there before her beautiful splintered soul and realized that in the patterns around them, while randomness seemed to drive all of it, that actually it was an intricately woven pattern of planning and execution that started when…had always been? Another realization came to him, and it was almost more than he could ask.
“Is this why you are broken into pieces, Sookie? Was something done to you that resulted in this fracturing of yourself to keep us apart?”
“Holy fuck! It’s like he finally got his head in the goddamned game! If you keep swinging vamper you might just get one out of the fucking park before I die of boredom over here!” Ignoring the CIB completely, Eric looked at Pixie, begging her with his eyes to tell him what happened.
“We are not ready, yet, Eric. Take comfort in knowing that your love has gotten us closer than we ever thought we would be to facing this, to healing from this.
“Understand that some do not wish us healed. I suspect they attempt to lure us out before we consolidate our power, and become a more formidable adversary.
“While we wait, though now that we have been found, they too grow in power. Either choice is not without risk.
“Choose now, Eric, wait or go?”
“Go.” His answer echoed around them, and he felt Tea Cup jerk in his arms, as he saw Pixie jerk as well. The CIB filled the room with maniacal cold laughter.
“Brilliant, fanger. Fucking brilliant!” He said nothing to any of them, waiting to see what came next.
Pixie stepped back and held out each of her hands. Tea Cup kissed his cheek one last time and wiggled indicated she wanted down. When her feet touched the floor she ran to Pixie and took her right hand. They both turned to the CIB and looked at her expectantly.
“You have GOT to be fucking kiddin’ me! We know what happened the last time we tried this, we wound up like this! What THE fuck is gonna happen to us if we do this again? Are ya’ll outta yer fuckin’ minds or what?” The whole time she was bitching the CIB was moving toward Pixie, slowly, reluctantly, but still moving. “Let me kill him now and save us this trouble! Come the fuck on, ya’ll!”
Eric felt rage spike through the bond at the suggestion to kill him and she saw Pixie and Tea Cup glare at the CIB. In unison the two of them told her, “You will protect him, as you protect us on this journey. You will ensure no harm comes to him. We will die for him if needed, do you understand?” Their united voices were very loud, and when he looked at the CIB he saw tears in her eyes, and felt the rage in her heart, aimed at him.
“Understood,” through a clenched jaw was all she said.
As soon as she took Pixie’s hand a lavender glow began to grow around them, blinding Eric. It passed quickly and in place of three there was one. Unsure what came next, Eric stood there a moment and looked at The Morrighan in front of him. Three goddesses in one, like the legend of old. He was in awe.
Before he realized what was happening he felt her push him out of her mind, and when he opened his eyes he saw her, still in his arms, looking at him, smiling slightly, a little sadly. He looked deep into her eyes and pressed the bond for answers.
“Are you all right? Are all of you all right?” he asked softly. She scoffed, and then her expression changed quickly from contempt to calm.
“There will be some adjustment, we are not used to this state, and we are not ready for it. We will try and keep ourselves together long enough to get you to there and back.”
“Do you remember the way now, Sookie? Do you know how to get us there?” She nodded.
“As you said when all this started, finding advantage in disadvantage is key to survival. When it came to be that I would be born in the race of your mortal enemy the advantage was that the Fae can walk between the worlds. It was a greater advantage than they realized, and I was caught out as a child, before I understood even what I was doing.” A shadow crossed her face now, and she stopped. “Let’s talk about it later, ok? If you are set to go, we need to move quickly. I don’t know how long we can do this.” As she spoke a pained expression passed over her face.
“What’s wrong, Beloved?”
“She hates you, Eric.”
“Why?” he asked incredulous, he had never hurt her.
“She Protects, Eric. Her function is to remind us of the threats to kill your accountant if he had taken the money that you tortured Lafayette that you lied in Dallas to get us to drink your blood, and that you told us we meant nothing to you in Jackson. That you fed us to Russell and offered us as his slave in return for your life.” Sookie’s voice got quieter and quieter as she listed all his sleights and betrayals that fed the anger of the CIB.
“But you know, Sookie- “ she cut him off.
“Yes, parts of me know and parts of me have accepted, Eric, but it is not her function to know and accept. It is her function to Protect, above all things. Two to one we can direct and control her, to some degree, but our hold is fragile, and her anger is great.”
“What can I do, Sookie?” he took her arms in his hands, ready to offer anything and everything she needed.
“Be you, Eric, like I told you. Hide nothing from us. Let us see you all, and when we know the truth of you, totally, completely, then she will see that there is no need of Protection from you.”
“This is why you have all asked me to take off my Mask?” he confirmed, realizing at last why this request was indeed important to all of them. Should he change his plan to go now and spend more time taking his Masks off, and reassuring her?
She nodded, “Yes, to trust you, to know you, all of you would help us to trust each other inside.”
“An important step in coming together, right, Sookie?” She nodded again. Eric needed to think, he had learned so much in a short while that he needed time to process and figure out what actually happening. He had to factor in though that the main reason he had learned so much was that she was together now, and if he delayed the trip to The Library she might not see the need to stay that way any longer.
She had said this was coming to them, no matter what they did. Facing it now could be too soon. Years of battle strategy had taught him that while you should never run from an enemy, you should also not pick fights that weren’t necessary.
If what he was being told was true then this one was necessary, but no one had thrown a punch at him yet, so if he charged into The Library now would he be opening the fight and showing his strengths and weaknesses, too soon?
“Sookie, you have been to this place before, yes?” She nodded. “Can you show me what you remember of the journey and the place itself? It might be safer than going there right now, but it could also yield some important information.”
“Yes, now we remember.” He took her hand, slipped back into her mind, and commanded her to show him. He wanted to smell her memories.