Chapter 22 – What Lies Beneath

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author.  The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise.  No copyright infringement is intended.

turnings-story-banner3

Eric had gone quiet behind him in that creepy way Rick noticed with vampires. They became so still you almost felt as if you were standing all alone in a forest. It was during these times Rick felt the difference between what he was and other vampires. He was finding that in other ways it was easier to forget. Well, except for the blood thing. And the violence thing.

And the calling thing. Rick almost jumped out of his skin when Pam was suddenly beside them. He even felt the breeze of her coming. “Jeez!” he exclaimed, but Pam wasn’t looking at him. She was staring at Eric.

Rick couldn’t help it. He had to give them both a once over. Their hair and clothes were crusted with blood and clots of something he didn’t even want to guess at. They looked as if they’d both walked out of the worst horror movie he’d ever seen but, at the same time, it just wasn’t bothering him the way it had before. Rick figured Mr. Hermosa must have been right. Maybe you just got over noticing it after awhile.

“I will need transport,” Eric was telling Pam. Pam was staring at his Father’s face like he was the only thing in the world, and Rick realized there was something more going on than what he could see with his eyes. Rick had already figured out that Eric could call Pam without using words or texting. What was going on now was something extra. It wasn’t telepathy, but it seemed kind of close.

“For one?” Pam asked.

“Two,” Eric replied.

“Is someone going to tell me what’s going on?” Rick interrupted.

“It may be hard to find that out here,” Pam continued, ignoring Rick’s question.

“Ask Amy,” Eric also ignored Rick. “She will have access to something that will work. She must have it for her hospital.”

While it pissed Rick off, being treated this way wasn’t unusual. These were adults. They ignored kids like him all the time. When his Mother kept talking as if he wasn’t standing right there, he knew it meant she was having a conversation and he was going to have to wait until she was done before she’d acknowledge him, so Rick settled back on his heels, crossed his arms, and grit his teeth.

“Will you stay here?” Pam was asking.

“No,” and Eric looked away into the darkness, “Call Anubis. Tell them I want an emergency flight. It shouldn’t be a problem. We will return to New Orleans tonight. I can best do what is needed there.”

The longer they spoke, the more Rick felt as if they were speaking in some code. Pam glanced in his direction a couple of times. She looked sympathetic and the fear Rick felt earlier returned. He was sure that whatever they were discussing, it had to do with his Mother.

Eric laid his hand on Rick’s shoulder and Rick was so tense, he jumped at the contact. “Go with Pam,” Eric told him.

“I’m not going anywhere until someone tells me what’s going on.” Rick knew it was a false threat. He’d seen how these vampires moved and as strong as he was, he was pretty sure he’d be no match against either Pam or Eric, but he had to try. “I can tell something’s happened. Is this about my Mom?” and Rick stomped his foot. He drew a shaky breath and fisted his hands. “Look! I’ve been really patient and I’ve seen shit tonight I… I just want to know.”

“We are all too upset to discuss this any further at the moment,” Eric said tightly. “Return to the house with Pam. I need to do something here, but when I’m finished, I will come to the house and I will explain.”

“Can’t I stay and help?” Rick didn’t know why he asked, but he didn’t want to leave this place. He couldn’t explain it, but walking away seemed hard.

“Not this time,” and Eric’s hand tightened on his shoulder. It was the kind of thing Rick had always imagined a Father would do, not a full-out hug like his Mom gave, but a kind of man-to-man thing.

“Come with me, Baby Fang,” Pam still had that look on her face, the one that said something really bad had happened. Still, Rick allowed her to take his arm and walk him back toward the house. As they came to the fence that surrounded the cemetery, Rick turned. He could see Eric’s glow between the trees. It looked like he was digging.

There was a van in the driveway when they got back. It was one of those tall, commercial truck-type vans. There weren’t any lights or anything, but Rick knew this was the vampire version of an ambulance. “Is that for Mr. Hermosa?” Rick asked Pam.

She hadn’t said anything during the short walk. Pam swiped at her face and Rick realized she was crying. “Yes,” she nodded, and seemed to gather herself. “Come on. I need to talk with Amy before she leaves.”

Pam rushed toward the house, leaving Rick standing there. It wasn’t far, just a short jog, but he still smarted at her just leaving him. As Rick jogged to the driveway, he saw the other vampires clustered around his sister. Heidi was hugging Pam. Rick wasn’t sure why Pam was so upset, and then they all turned to look at him. “What?” he asked again.

Amy Ludwig walked out from the group, “Why don’t you come with me?” she said. “They are getting Rubio ready for transport inside. I think he’d like to speak with you.”

“Are you going to tell me what’s going on?” Rick asked the Doctor.

“Nope,” Amy shook her head. “Not my place.”

“This sucks!” Rick growled.

“So does a lot of stuff, Kid. Get used to it!” The doctor didn’t say it meanly, but Rick could see he wasn’t going to get any further with her.

Rubio was still inside, but he’d been moved to the hallway near the front door. He was strapped to a gurney and sitting up. He looked much better and he was talking on a cell phone. He glanced at the Doctor and Rick, then held up a finger, letting them know it would only be a minute. “I love you, too,” he said into the phone. “You’re sure? I can go to the hospital here.” There was a pause and Rick could hear the faint whine of the voice on the other end. “I’m sure it will be okay. Doctor Ludwig can walk us through anything we need to know, but… No, I’m sure. I’m fine. It was just… Silver can take awhile, and they got to it in plenty of time.”

Rick knew that it was Mrs. Hermosa on the other end of the line. He felt embarrassed listening, but then, Mr. Hermosa said, “Look, I’ve got to go. If you and George start driving now, you’ll be there by the time the transport pulls up.” Mr. Hermosa turned away as if it would give him a little more privacy as he said, “I promise you, Lily. I love you,” and then he said, “I’ll see you soon.”

“So, she’s returning to your home?” The doctor’s eyebrow raised.

“She knew what she was getting into when she married me,” Mr. Hermosa’s voice was quiet. “I haven’t had to test her patience often,” and then he looked at Rick. “But what’s going on, Rick? You don’t look like you’re doing too well.”

“The Viking is in the cemetery,” Doctor Ludwig said, and Rick could see that meant something to Mr. Hermosa, too.

Rick felt his throat closing. His mouth worked and he could feel his anger starting to boil over. At least his Mother told him things. These adults…

“You don’t know what it means, do you?” Mr. Hermosa was looking straight at him.

“No one’s telling me anything!” Rick half-yelled.

“The North Man said he’d explain to the boy,” Doctor Ludwig said it like a warning.

Rick shot her a look, but, thankfully, Mr. Hermosa said, “Why don’t you go get a chair, Rick? I’ll tell you what I can. Part of the reason everyone’s being so cagey is that they don’t know exactly how things are going to turn out.” When Rick’s mouth opened, Mr. Hermosa held up his hand, “Go get that chair. It will be easier for me to tell you what I do know if I can stop looking up at you.”

Amy rolled her eyes, but she walked back out the door and signaled the assistant who’d been collecting and cleaning up supplies to come with her. Rick almost didn’t want to hear any more. He dawdled, watching Ludwig’s people leave, but when he turned back he saw Mr. Hermosa’s raised eyebrows and realized he was keeping him waiting, too, so Rick sprinted to the living room and grabbed a chair. It wasn’t too big, but it was still upholstered and awkward, and Rick bumped a couple things as he hefted it into the hall. He dropped it with a thump on the floor and then shoved it closer to the gurney.

“This is about your Mom,” Rubio confirmed. He looked at the face of his son’s friend, and suddenly wasn’t sure how to start. Then Rubio thought about George and how hard it was for his son to wait for anything. He thought of how, when left to his own imagination, George always assumed things were worse than they were. “The reason they aren’t saying anything is because they are still hoping they aren’t right.”

“About what?” Rick asked.

“They think your Mom has been turned,” and Mr. Hermosa stopped talking. He wasn’t sure what reaction to expect, and, as the silence stretched, Rubio thought back to what he remembered.

For two nights, Rubio was sure he heard Sookie screaming but, after that, he lost the ability to distinguish between what was real and what was hallucination. The sun had streamed in through the windows of the office every day. While it hadn’t quite reached him, even the reflected light had been enough to burn and torment. He believed Bill Compton turned Sookie, but he also knew, based on what he’d heard, that it was just as possible that Bill had accidentally killed her.

“Turned?” Rick said at last, his eyes narrowing, “Like…she’s a vampire?” Rubio nodded, and then waited some more. Rubio anticipated anguish and disgust, but instead, Rick almost shrugged, “So, she’ll be like me?”

It wasn’t at all what Rubio expected. Rick didn’t look distressed, instead he looked curious. “Probably,” Rubio nodded. “They won’t know for sure until they…” and Rubio braced again, “dig her up.”

“So, that was her? In the cemetery?” and now Rick did look concerned. Rubio could see the boy was struggling a little, “She was that light I saw? The dim one? That was my Mom?”

“You found her?” Now it was Rubio’s turn to be curious. He thought he’d heard Pam call Rick a vampire hunter.

Rick nodded, “Eric told me to look for another vampire. He said the light wouldn’t be like the rest of you, it would be different.” What Rick said made sense. If Sookie was turning, she would be changing by degrees. “I saw something, and we ended up in the cemetery.”

Something struck Rubio about what Rick said. “Why do you call him ‘Eric’? Shouldn’t you call him Father, or Dad?”

“Have you seen that guy?” Rick huffed. “I mean, he’s been pretty nice to me and all, but he’s…well, he’s not like you.” Rick looked away, then said, “Is that what he’s doing? Eric, I mean. Digging her up?”

“Yes,” Rubio nodded. “It’s the only way he can confirm it’s her. He could wait until she emerges, but that could take days.”

“What, you mean like she would dig herself up out of the ground? I thought that was just an Internet thing!” and Rick took a deep breath to steady himself. “So…he’s digging her up…”

“The King will confirm it’s Sookie, your Mom, and that she’s transforming. Rick, you need to know that sometimes turnings don’t work. No one knows why. It’s a magic thing, and magic is not an exact science.” When Rick pulled at his lip, Rubio added, “Although, in this case, I don’t think I’d worry too much. After all, you were able to see a vampire glow, right? That would mean if it’s her, things are moving along.”

“So, she’s not dead,” and Rick blushed as his voice cracked and quick tears started spilling over his cheeks. Until that moment, the boy had refused to admit how frightened he really was.

“If it is your Mom, then she is dead,” Rubio corrected, “just not finally dead.”

“Well, then!” Rick nodded, looking better, “That’s still better than dead, right?”

“I guess it depends on how you look at it, but, yes,” Rubio nodded, “it is good news.”

Rick started to smile and he stood up. “Do you think I could go and see her?” he asked.

Rubio hesitated. He could see how relieved Rick was, but there were some realities about turning that made it a process best done in the dirt. If Sookie was two or more nights into her transformation, she would not be fit for her son to view. There was a sloughing off of organic tissues and fluids. It was a messy, unpleasant process, which was why most Makers left the newly-turned alone in the ground until they completed their metamorphoses. He thought about George or Maddie, and how they’d react. “I don’t know if that would be a good idea,” he said carefully. “Your Father will be able to tell you if it’s a good time or not. As a vampire transforms, their human body literally falls away and it’s replaced by their new, vampire body.”

“Oh,” Rick stilled and Rubio could see him puzzling over that news. “Does that mean she won’t remember anything?”

Rubio smiled, “No. Your Mother will remember everything. She’ll remember everything from her human life. She’ll remember you. She’ll even remember transforming, but, from now on, she’ll remember everything perfectly. Vampires have complete recall. We literally can’t forget anything. It’s both a gift and a curse.”

“I don’t know,” Rick shrugged. “Sounds like a pretty good thing to me. I know I don’t have it, not really. I listen to those German tapes and I think I’m saying the words the right way, but my teacher tells me my accent is terrible.”

“You may develop that gift as you grow,” Rubio assured him. “If you do, you’ll never struggle with languages again. Most of us speak many languages. It’s simply impossible for us to forget any word or its meaning.”

“So, how is any of that a bad thing?” Rick asked.

“Well, you also remember all the not so great things. For example, one time when we were first dating, Mrs. Hermosa ate garlic pizza. Not only did she smell terrible, her stomach did bad things afterward. I love my wife very much, but I will remember with perfect clarity for the rest of my existence the bad smells she made that night.”

Mr. Hermosa pinched his nose and pulled a face, making Rick chuckle. “I guess you must really love her, then.”

“I do,” Mr. Hermosa agreed. “Enough to never mention that to her again, and I’m trusting you to do the same.”

“Cross my heart,” Rick smiled, and made the sign with his fingers. He looked toward the door, “But, she will be different, my Mom, I mean.”

‘Yes,” and Rubio watched him. Rick looked away, then toward the door. Rubio didn’t think the boy had more questions, but Rubio was wrong. It turned out Rick’s silence was just him figuring out what to ask next.

“Does everyone think that my Mom won’t want to be around me? Is that why they won’t talk to me about her?” Rick looked worried. George had described to his Father how Rick regularly pushed the envelope with his Mother. He tested her patience and did things that he should have known would worry her. Rubio had talked with George about Rick’s risk-taking, worried that Rick would pull George into some activity that would get them both hurt or worse. After they talked, Rubio felt a little better about the adventures.

Lily didn’t. Her theory about Rick’s dare-devil antics was that being the child of a single parent, he was subconsciously worried about abandonment. Lily thought Rick took risks that made his Mother ‘prove’ over and over again his place in her life.

“It’s not her reaction to you that’s worrying them,” Rubio explained. The vampire knew that he was treading into personal space, but he could see that holding back would not help the boy in front of him. He wondered why Eric Northman hadn’t said more to comfort his son, but then he stopped blaming. It had not been easy for Rubio to earn his way into the trust of his adopted children. It had taken years, and Rubio knew about them from the beginning. The Viking had less than a week of knowing about his son, and, if Rubio were to guess, the same amount of time interacting with children of any kind.

“Have you and your Mother ever talked about how she feels about becoming a vampire?” Rubio asked.

Rick didn’t get a chance to answer. Instead, Pam walked into the hallway. She looked haggard and her voice was strained. “We have another transport coming,” she announced. “I’m heading into town with Amy to get clothes for all of us.” She looked at Rick, “Do you need anything? Food?”

Rick’s stomach growled, “Yes!” he said. “That would be great.”

“It will be another half hour or so,” she told Rubio. “I hear you’re going to your home on the other side of Minden.”

“Lily is headed there now,” Rubio nodded. “She’ll take care of me.”

“What about your progeny?” Pam asked. “This one’s accomplice?” and she looked at Rick.

“George will be there, too,” Rubio confirmed.

Pam was squinting a little, and Rick wasn’t sure he liked it. Thinking to head off whatever his sister was cooking up, Rick asked, “Well, where are we going?”

“New Orleans,” Pam answered, but she sounded distracted. The horn honked outside and she said, “We’ll talk some more when I get back,” and then, she ran like her pants were on fire.

 

“They’ll want to clean up now,” Rubio told Rick. “While vampires are comfortable living in a world of violence, we prefer to be physically clean.”

“I guess that makes sense, what with how you smell everything and how sensitive you are,” and Rick felt that familiar tension start.

“When’s the last time you fed on blood?” Rubio asked him.

“When we started out tonight,” Rick answered, and then he yawned. “What time is it, anyway?”

“There are only a few more hours until dawn,” Rubio replied. “You should go outside and tell Doctor Ludwig you need to feed. She can provide you with bagged blood.”

“Yeah,” Rick nodded, “Okay.”

He stood up and as he turned, Rubio said, “If you see Thalia outside, can you tell her I’d like a word?”

“I can tell her,” Rick rolled his eyes, “but she’ll probably just hiss at me.”

“She can seem rude,” Rubio smiled.

“Yeah!” Rick growled as he walked through the doorway, “There’s a word!” He could hear Mr. Hermosa laughing behind him, but he knew that if you pretended like you weren’t really talking to anyone in particular, adults would usually pretend they didn’t hear what you said.

Rick walked outside. Pam was getting into a car. Almost as soon as the door closed, the wheels were turning, spitting gravel, and the car almost fish-tailed as they left.

“What the hell!” Rick exclaimed.

Thalia was standing near the doctor and she gave him that ‘I’m superior’ look that he was starting to become familiar with. “Mr. Hermosa asked if you could go see him,” Rick told her, jerking his thumb toward the house. He didn’t wait for Thalia’s reply. Instead, he turned on his brightest smile and asked the Doctor, “Would you happen to have any extra blood? I’m pretty hungry, and I’d sure appreciate it.”

“You got his charm!” Amy laughed. “Could have been the Viking himself sweet talking me. You are going to be one lady killer when you grow up.” She asked the attendant in the van to pull a bag out of the cooler. “Come on, I’ll walk you inside. Compton has a microwave and I’m sure he has a glass or mug around here somewhere.” She tossed Rick one bag, then carried a second as she started walking toward the house.

“So,” she said, as they climbed the porch stairs, “How are you holding up?”

“Better now,” Rick nodded, “Mr. Hermosa explained what’s going on.” They passed Thalia and Rubio. Thalia was staring at them, so Rick deliberately looked away. Doctor Ludwig seemed to know where she was going and Rick followed her. The kitchen wasn’t large and it wasn’t especially clean, but there was a microwave. Doctor Ludwig waved toward the cabinets, and Rick understood she was too short to reach, so he opened them until he found some water glasses. Rick carefully twisted the top off the tube that secured the first bag and poured it into the glass.

While the microwave carousel turned, Amy asked, “Well, what did Mr. Hermosa tell you?”

“He said my Mom is probably a vampire now.” Rick could see that Amy Ludwig looked upset. “What?” he asked. “Hey, at least she’s not dead. I thought she was gone! I thought any minute someone was going to tell me I was never going to see her again. Vampire? That’s not such a big deal,” but when the Doctor didn’t say anything, Rick started to worry. “Is it? I mean, I’m a vampire, and that’s okay, right?”

“Right,” Doctor Ludwig nodded. “You’re right. Being a vampire isn’t such a big deal,” but she didn’t say it like she really believed it, and that worried Rick some more. He knew George trusted his Dad. His friend told Rick that it was one of the things he really liked about his Dad, that whatever Mr. Hermosa said was the truth, even when it wasn’t easy to hear.

Rick looked down at his shoes, “So, what’s going to happen now? Pam said we’re going to New Orleans tonight.”

“That is the plan,” Doctor Ludwig pulled the blood out of the microwave, poured, and put her hand over the glass and shook it a couple times before handing it to Rick. “As soon as the second transport and the coffin arrive…”

“Coffin?” and Rick’s eyes widened. “Why do you need a coffin? I mean, Mr. Hermosa said Mom isn’t finally dead, so why…”

“It’s how vampires prefer to travel,” Doctor Ludwig laid her hand on Rick’s arm. Rick found the contact kept him from going into full-blown panic. “These are special travel coffins. They are constructed to be opened from the inside. It’s so if the vampire is caught in daylight, they’re still safe. It’s a very practical solution for vampires, especially when they can’t be sure they’ll make it where they’re going before sunrise.” Amy wasn’t being totally honest. The reason for using this coffin had little to do with sunrise, but seeing how stressed Rick was, she didn’t think telling him his Mother wasn’t totally solid would help the situation.

“Oh,” Rick was swallowing hard. He looked at the night sky outside the kitchen window. “Yeah, I guess that makes sense.” Rick had been holding his own with all this, he really had, but the thought that his Mother was going to be placed in a coffin made it all too real. “Do you really have to do that? I mean, can’t she just be wrapped in a blanket or something? Why does she have to be put in a box?” and that was it. He was crying.

Amy looked at Rick as if he was some deranged psychiatric patient. She cleared her throat twice, and then she said, “About time you got in here!”

Rick was trying to brush the tears away, but it was no good. His nose was starting to run. His chest ached with the effort to suppress the sounds coming out of him and his throat felt tight. He didn’t want to sob, but he could feel a full-on meltdown coming. He looked to where Doctor Ludwig was staring to see Eric standing near him. The vampire was covered in dirt and grime, but Rick didn’t care. He walked into the vampire and wrapped his arms around him. “Please tell me my Mom’s okay,” he gasped. “It was her, right? In the cemetery?”

It was a long moment, but then Rick felt the vampire’s arms wrap awkwardly around him. “Yes,” Eric said. “It was her.” His voice was raspy.

“And she’s turning okay? I mean, she’s going to wake up and everything?” Rick asked.

“You know your Mother is becoming a vampire?” Eric asked.

Rick nodded, “Mr. Hermosa told me. So, everything’s going to be all right, right?” The vampire didn’t say anything, but his arms loosened. Rick looked up into Eric’s face, “Right? It’s going to be okay?”

Eric pushed Rick away a little, so he could look at him more fully, “She is turning,” he confirmed. “You are not upset about your Mother becoming a vampire?”

“No,” the boy sniffed. “Not really. I wish she didn’t have to change,” Rick’s voice was too loud and he knew he was on the edge of breaking down, but Eric talking helped him to pull together his control. “But it’s better than her being dead. I thought for sure she was gone… I mean really gone,” and Rick snuffled again. “I got that text, and the whole way down here, I didn’t know what I’d find. I just knew she wasn’t gone; I don’t think I could have kept going if I believed that, but I knew something bad happened.”

“You’re not upset? You aren’t…angry that your mother is becoming a vampire?” Eric asked it again. The way he said it was like he was stuck.

“No,” Rick shook his head. Eric’s reaction was puzzling. “Why would I be upset? I’m a vampire, right? Why would Mom have a problem being like me?”

Eric stepped back, but he left his hand on Rick’s shoulder. “Yes,” he said, and his face seemed to lift a little, “Sookie could not object to being like her own child.” He raised his other hand and cupped Rick’s face, “My son,” he said, but Rick had the impression he was really talking himself and not to Rick at all.

Then it was as if Eric shook himself and woke up. “Come!” he said, “Pam is bringing clothing for us. There is a bathroom upstairs. We will be traveling and we shouldn’t be seen on public ways as we are.” Rick glanced down at himself. He hadn’t exactly been clean and tidy before, but, after hugging Eric, his clothes were streaked with fluids and dirt. He made a face and the vampire actually smiled before pushing Rick toward the stairs. “There are some clothes upstairs. The vampire who owned them was about your size. We should find something that will fit you.”

The bathroom was just at the top of the stairs. There was a large walk-in shower that could have fit a couple people and it was surrounded by heavy glass. There was also a toilet, which Rick eyed longingly.

“I will find you clothes,” Eric told him, and then left, shutting the door behind him.

“You can just leave them outside the door!” Rick shouted, hoping the vampire would catch his meaning and not open the door again. Rick turned on the shower and took care of other needs. He caught sight of his face in the mirror. His cheeks were smudged with dirt and there was something sticky on the collar of his shirt and part of his neck. He tried not to think about it too much. The shower water was hot and it beat down on him. ‘Mom will wake up and be able to talk with me like before,’ he thought to himself. ‘She’ll be different, but she’ll still be my Mom.’ After a minute, he even said it out loud, “She’ll still be my Mom!” and it steadied him.

After a few minutes, there was a knock at the door. “I’m getting out!” Rick automatically called out. He turned off the water and then he remembered he hadn’t seen any towels. When he swung the shower door open, though, there was a towel folded on the sink and a stack of clothes on the closed toilet seat. “Never going to get used to that sneaking around!” he groused, grabbing the towel.

It didn’t take long to dress. The jeans were a little short and he had to tighten the belt to the last hole to hold them up, otherwise, the clothes fit okay. They were definitely better than trying to put the other clothes back on. Rick pulled his wallet out of the pocket of his dirty pants. He figured it was the last time he’d see this particular outfit, which was fine by him. He wasn’t fond of the collared shirt, but it was one his Mom insisted was appropriate for company, which was why Rick had chosen it for tonight.

Rick opened the door to find a very naked Eric standing in the hall. He was talking with Pam and when Rick made a startled sound, the Viking looked at him with that up-lifted eyebrow that made Rick feel like a two-year-old. Rick wasn’t quite sure what to do. Eric didn’t look uncomfortable in the least. He was standing tall, his arms crossed, and balanced back on his heels. Eric was saying, “I’ll consider it,” and Rick had the impression they were discussing him.

“He’s embarrassed!” Pam drawled, which was all Rick needed for his blush to burn through him.

“By what?” and Eric looked puzzled, then annoyed. “You must learn not to be so human!” he hissed at Rick, then made a motion, indicating that Rick should step out of the bathroom door so Eric could pass.

“Sorry,” Rick stammered, but he was having a hard time knowing where to put his eyes. If he looked down, all he could see were Eric’s parts. If he looked up, he was looking at a broad, muscled chest that really did look like it came from another age. He could hear Eric huff, but then the door was pulled closed, and the water started to run again.

“So,” Pam walked a little closer. She’d changed her shirt, but there was still dried blood in her hair. “You really think your Mom is going to be okay with being turned?”

Rick shrugged, then nodded, “Sure. I even asked her about it once. She said when she was here before she wasn’t so sure, but she changed her mind once I came along.”

“You’re all right!” Pam smiled. She glanced at the bathroom door, then leaned past Rick to pull it completely closed. “Come on, let’s head downstairs. I brought you a hamburger from one of those fast food places you humans seem to like.”

“I don’t, generally,” Rick told her as they walked downstairs. “Grilled chicken works for me. Or salad.” When Pam threw him a look, he said, “Hey, we’re related! I thought you’d want to know!”

Pam walked through to the front hall. Thalia was standing beside Rubio. Rick was surprised Mr. Hermosa was still here. Thalia walked in back of the chair that was still sitting in the hallway and put her hands on the back of it, telling him without words she expected him to sit down. As he did, Pam handed him a bag with a familiar logo on it. Even though Rick could tell the food was cold, his stomach growled, so he grabbed a couple French fries. “You mind if I eat?” he asked.

“It’s fine,” Rubio told him.

“I am grateful,” Pam told him. “Whatever you told Eric, it calmed him down.”

“What?” Rick kept looking from one vampire to the other. “About my Mom? I guess she had a weird reputation when it came to vampires when she lived here before.” He looked down at the floor as he said, “Mustapha told me that, that she really wasn’t great when it came down to it.” Rick looked at Rubio as he said, “But she’s okay with it now. She helped me get set up to drink blood. She tells me stuff about vampires.” Rick glanced at the stairs, “She told me a bunch of stories about…well, you know…about Eric,” and Rick felt his cheeks pink up. Thalia laughed and Rick smiled in spite of himself. “Look, my Mom told me how lucky I am to be this way, and how I’ll be getting all kinds of special gifts and we talk about stuff. She even told me she wished she could see in the dark like me. I’m not saying it won’t be weird for her, but I don’t think she’s going to freak out about it, either.”

“So, we will find out how far along she is,” Pam turned to Thalia, suddenly all business. “She will complete her transformation in New Orleans. Eric is committed to moving her there.”

“It would be better if he just left her in the ground here,” Thalia growled. “If he’s worried about her being alone, he could just as easily join her. Moving her is foolish and inconvenient for everyone!”

“You tell him that!” Pam snorted. “Nothing is too good for the Princess!”

“What’s the big deal?” Rick asked, and as soon as he did, the vampires went silent around him. After a minute, Rick turned to Mr. Hermosa, who at least looked embarrassed, “What?” Rick huffed. “You, too?”

“This is something that would be best coming from your Father, Rick,” Mr. Hermosa told him.

“Well, that’s great!” Rick exclaimed, “Because Eric,” and he emphasized his use of his Father’s name, “doesn’t tell me anything!”

“Perhaps that should change,” said the deep voice behind him, and Rick knew that the Viking was standing just behind his chair.

Rick swallowed, but then he squared his shoulders, turned, and faced the vampire. He jutted his chin forward and, in that moment, it was perfectly clear to everyone that the two were closely related. “Yeah,” Rick said with more confidence than he felt, “it should!”

“Come with me,” Eric told him, and then turned and walked outside without waiting.

“He’s got to stick around,” Pam sighed. “We are going to have all kinds of fun watching Eric figure this one out!”

 

xxxXXXxxx

 

Eric walked across the porch and then down into the yard. He walked until he was on the other side of the large tree that marked the halfway point between the house and the cemetery. A coffin was sitting at the fence. It was where Eric had placed his Sookie while her boy showered in Compton’s house. Once the coffin was secured, Eric planned to climb into the coffin so they could complete their journey together. He would wrap himself around her, cushioning her, letting her know through his presence that she was cherished and safe.

He glanced over his shoulder to see Sookie’s son following him. ‘Our son,’ he reminded himself.

His eyes rested back on the coffin. He was certain he knew how Sookie had been turned, and he wished it did not remind him of his own. His turning was so long ago, but still Eric remembered.

His Maker, Appius, had thrown him into a hole he made Eric dig, but only after days of torment. Appius told Eric that he was being transformed into a higher form of life, one that would feed on those around him. Because of this, Eric was told he owed Appius a great debt, and his Maker intended to collect in many ways. It was the first time Eric had ever been used by a man, and the pain had been memorable. However, it was nothing compared to the pain Eric felt when Appius used his knife to carve out the Viking’s battle scars and the clan markings from his body. While his Maker used his glamour to subdue Eric, he did nothing to mask the pain he inflicted. Eric came to understand over the years he was held by his Maker that Appius enjoyed hurting others, a true sadist. Appius whispered to Eric as he drew his knife through the Viking’s flesh that he was making him ‘perfect.’ Only after Eric’s skin began to heal, aided by his Maker’s blood, did Appius drain him.

Eric remembered his slow awakening in the cold ground, the twilight that was bad dreams and fear. He remembered feeling alone, and yet relieved to be so. He remembered his anger, and then the great weight of his despair until Appius used his Maker’s command to force Eric’s compliance.

When he first dug her from the ground and saw her pale face and hair, he considered ending her, and then waiting beside her for the sun to take him, too. When Eric lifted Sookie from the ground, he noticed the scars on her belly were gone. It made him look closer. The scars on her legs from her time with the fairies were gone, too. His stomach churned and he wished Bill Compton was still with him, so he could pound him into a boneless rag doll all over again.

Without the power of a Maker’s command, he knew that his Sookie would be disoriented when she rose and realized what she’d become. She had told him so many times in the past that she never wanted to be made a vampire. She told him she needed the sun, and Eric was sure that without a way to compel her, his Sookie would find a way to end what she would have to consider a hateful existence. It would be like his own rising when he yearned for his final death every minute he was awake.

As he brushed his fingers across her still face, Eric also knew that having found her, he wouldn’t be able to lose her again. It seemed fitting, somehow, that if they couldn’t find peace together in this life, that they would be united in final death. He thought about carrying her to her house and stretching out on the bed they had once shared, holding her as the sun came for them.

But he couldn’t bring himself to end her. Eric knew there would be that moment when she would open her eyes, and he could speak with her one more time. It was weak and selfish, but he wished it and it stayed his hand.

It was then that Thalia appeared, standing at the edge of the grave above him. “Stop it!” she hissed. “You are forcing Pam to live through your grief. She has done nothing to deserve it.”

Eric brushed the dirt from his Sookie’s still face as he closed down the bond between his child and himself. “I will apologize,” he told Thalia.

“What do you intend to do? You are King now! There are many who depend on you,” and Thalia crossed her arms, making her disdain clear. Eric was certain Thalia had guessed his intent and she was using her words to remind him of his duties. It worked.

“I’ve asked Pam for a coffin and transport,” Eric conceded. “I will take Sookie to New Orleans. There is a large tub there. I will care for her until she rises, and I have made my arrangements.”

“Arrangements?” Thalia persisted. “She may have the privilege of being selfish,” and Thalia jerked her chin at Sookie, “but you do not! What about your progeny? What about her son? Your son? What do you intend to do with him? Would you leave him alone with no Mother or Father?”

“I can’t lose her again,” Eric whispered. It wasn’t a good answer and he knew it, but he felt powerless in this thing. He could tell by Sookie’s smell that she had been drained only last night. It meant that while he wandered, Bill Compton had stolen the warmth from her. Eric felt his failure choking him. Always a step too late. Always missing her by so little.

“You need to speak with the boy,” Thalia persisted. “Pamela is leaving. She needs to get some distance from you before you harm her.”

“I have been selfish,” Eric nodded.

“Far be it for me to correct you, but you have done what you could here. Now, go speak with the boy, your boy, and help him prepare.” Eric nodded. Thalia could be harsh, but he knew her words sprang from her love of him.

Eric thought about lifting his Sookie from the ground but, without a coffin, he couldn’t be certain she would remain intact. He stared at her face. She looked dead, but that was as it should be. Even now, more dead than vampire, Eric could feel the faint vibration that flowed through her. She was turning and in three nights, she would rise.

Eric lifted himself from the grave and returned to Compton’s house. As he walked up the broad porch stairs, he saw the second transport with a coffin large enough to hold both of them arriving from Shreveport. The attendants jumped from the truck and then opened the back doors. They pulled the coffin out on its wheeled base.

“Take it there,” Eric indicated the fence that separated Compton’s property from the wood line. He would place his Lover into their coffin under the cover of trees, not in the house where Compton had stolen her.

When the coffin was where he wanted it, Eric walked into Bill Compton’s house again. He found Rubio still resting in the hallway. “You need to speak with your son,” his friend told him. There was something in the way Rubio said ‘son’ that sounded like an accusation, but Eric couldn’t concern himself with demanding respect. He followed Rubio’s direction to the kitchen and there he found Amy Ludwig and Rick. The boy was crying. Eric could smell it and then, in a move that was unexpected, the boy flung his arms around him.

Eric wasn’t surprised when the boy asked if his mother would be all right, but he stunned Eric with what he said next. It hadn’t occurred to Eric that Sookie’s attitude about becoming a vampire might have changed, but with each word Rick said, Eric realized that her boy believed it.

The boy pointed out that he was a vampire and his Mother couldn’t object to being like her own son. It was hearing Rick’s words that made Eric realize there wasn’t any world in which his Sookie would reject her own child. It just wasn’t possible, and that possibility opened the door for other possibilities. For instance, his Sookie might embrace being a vampire, she might decide that forever with him and her child was an acceptable future, and that thought brought hope to Eric in a way he hadn’t dared to dream.

Eric took the boy upstairs and found him clothes. The prospect of the trip to New Orleans felt different now. Eric rushed back to the cemetery. He jumped into the grave where his Sookie gleamed in the moonlight, and he lifted her gently in his arms. Cradling her against him, he flew her the short distance to where the coffin waited. The lid was open and he arranged her, taking care to brush the dirt from her eyes and lips. He lifted her hair from her face and pulled a single strand over her shoulder to lay on her breast. “Soon,” he whispered and he kissed her still lips.

For the first time, Eric considered the possibility that Sookie might open her eyes and take his hand. He felt hope that she might wish to join him in this world as their forever. Suddenly, Eric could see an existence where Sookie stood at his side and their son and his daughters stood with them.

My son,’ the phrase ran through his head and he felt the kind of tightening in his chest he’d only felt before when Sookie smiled at him. Eric headed back to the house and when the boy headed downstairs, Eric showered. He would be clean when he went to her. He would smell like himself and not Bill Compton as they started their lives together.

It was with a light heart that Eric walked down the stairs and into the hallway, which was why his son calling him out and accusing him of not communicating stung. “Come with me,” he ordered the boy.

Eric could see Rick was embarrassed at having been caught out. His face was ruddy and he hung his head. Once they were outside, Eric crossed his arms and looked down at Rick. “I warned you before about being disrespectful to me in front of others,” Eric told him.

“So, what? Are you planning on punishing me? For what? For wanting to know what’s going on? For wanting to know the plan? She’s my Mom!” he said and then, in a voice that broke, he added, “She’s all I’ve got.”

“No,” Eric told him, and then he paused, surprised at what he had been about to say and how much he meant the words. Eric leaned toward Rick and laid his hand on the boy’s shoulder. “No, she is not all you have. You have me, now. I have claimed you.” He waited until Rick looked at him before tightening his grasp a little and saying, “You are my son. You are Sookie’s son. You have us both.”

Eric could tell that Rick didn’t accept his words. Perhaps he couldn’t. Looking around, Eric motioned them toward a stone wall. He lowered himself and indicated that Rick should also sit. “You have questions,” he told the boy. “I will try to answer them.”

 

eric_northman_by_pamaingel-d5zxero

Eric_Northman_5x04

Advertisements

90 thoughts on “Chapter 22 – What Lies Beneath

  1. Great chapter. I understand how Eric felt such despair at thinking that Sookie would hate being a vampire. I am glad that he really got a chance to think thing through. How could Sookie hate being like her son. It is really the only way for Sookie to stay with her child and Eric. She had to become vampire. I always thought that as Sookie got some age on her and some wisdom that she would come around to the idea of becoming a vampire. She was never fae enough for a much longer life span. If she would have continued her relationship with Eric without interference from Ocella I think that she would have naturally come to that place. I love this story.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. In some ways, it seemed natural that hope should come from Rick. He is their son, and in so many ways, his just being there signaled hope. For me, it is an exploration of saying a thing and doing a thing. Sookie says she loves Eric. She says she loves her son. She told Rick she didn’t have any problem with him being vampire. Soon she’ll be facing the reality, and again, thank goodness she has a child who believes in her. Eric is right. Sookie would never let her son down.

      Like

    1. It was an important ‘turning,’ the changing of assumptions by most of the vampires that not only would Sookie hate being vampire, she’d end herself rather than continue that way, to her wanted to stay and adopt. As so many readers have commented, Sookie’s reluctance, her rejection of being a vampire was central to what happened in the books, so finding a way (or in this case a person) to change that was essential. It is what allows Eric to hope, that certainty that Sookie would not abandon her own child – their child, and with that Rick becomes a bridge between them. Not exactly a son yet, in Eric’s eyes, but one big step closer.

      Like

    1. Bear with me. There’s a peek at turning Sookie in the next chapter, but there is still some bridge building that needs to happen between Eric and Rick. One step forward… as the old saying goes, and it’s accurate in this case. There are two more chapters and then an epilogue. I hope it satisfies.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This was a big chapter and I love how brave Rick is and I was very happy to see him break down. This kid has been through so much, thank goodness he is part vampire. It was interesting to see Eric’s reaction to Sookie transforming and how he thought about both of them meeting the sun, he loves her very much. Right now I feel for Rick, he really is the only one who doesn’t have anyone, Eric is cold but he is coming around. How will Sookie transform? Rick will not have parents during the day, how tragic, unless she will rise as a day walker? You have the makings for a sequel with this family and the take over!!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Rick is holding it together, but as you point out, he’s still a kid. He has both their strength and their courage. He is holding up well, but the reality of all of this is starting to crash down. It’s one thing to believe you’ll find your Mom. It’s another to have to confront her laying in a box.
      Eric has come full circle, and he’s stopped denying his emotions, even if it is only to himself. But then again, not much of a talker, is he?
      The points you bring up: Rick’s isolation, losing daylight with his parent, losing touch with people who have a history of caring and supporting him, are all topics I cover in the next chapters, and I hope the outcomes satisfy.

      Like

  3. I got teary at the end. Poor Rick, left out of the loop, worrying for his mother. Adults always tend to underestimate children’s understanding of situations and their imaginations. Obviously her being turned is preferable to Rick, but the adults stress wasn’t lost on him and he had good reason to think the worst. Eric’s devotion to his mother will help break down some barriers and now I can’t wait for their conversation.
    I think now that Eric has hope, he can relax a little and have a real conversation with Rick. His fear and worry has had everyone on edge, but now he can take a moment with his son. I’m sure he’s going to let that go to his ego, soon.
    Have I mentioned how much i love your stories? I get so wrapt in them, and like everyone, even the comments are fascinating. Looking forward to next chapter. Argh, a whole week away.
    Blessings

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Boy, don’t hold your breath too long on hoping for that heart to heart between Eric and Rick. There’s still some assumptions that will serve to derail those efforts. What is important is that Rick has returned hope to his father and to all the vampires. They assumed that Sookie would still feel as she did, and they don’t doubt she has the strength to take action on her beliefs. Sookie may not have seen herself as a strong woman, but the vampires believe she does. I’d argue they see this aspect of herself more clearly than Sookie does herself, and they would! Sookie has a history of scheming and killing strong vampires and even the Fae. Sookie may not see it, but she’s a bad ass, and Rick is slowly learning that about her.

      Like

  4. What a fascinating description of the process of turning. I don’t think I’ve ever read a story where it was explained this way. So creative. It was moving to hear Eric’s thoughts including his idea of meeting the sun with her if she truly hated being turned as he fears. Rick’s comments about how her thoughts about this subject have changed as a result of his transformation has to be balm to Eric’s soul. And of course we can depend on Thalia to cut to the chase with Eric and remind him he has a child to consider now, not just his feelings for Sookie. It’s going to be a long week waiting for the next chapter.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Thalia does cut to the chase, doesn’t she? She throws his kingdom at him. She throws his son at him. In the end, she gets him to agree to at least wait until he gets to New Orleans before making arrangement, which one might presume include meeting the sun. And then Rick gets to him. Rick gives him that shot of hope. Eric may not totally believe Rick, but it is better than the certainty he had before. This Eric has come full circle. He’s not denying his emotions any more. He’s all in, and Freyda hasn’t been mentioned in chapters!

      Like

  5. I cried when Eric was thinking about meeting the sun together with his Sookie!!!
    Thank goodness what Rick said about Sookie’s change of mind of her being a vampire gave Eric hope….
    Another long week ahead.
    Jackie69

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Eric isn’t denying his emotions any more. He loves her, and that is all now that matters to him. Doesn’t make him a strong vampire in the eyes of other vampires, though.
      Agree – thank goodness there’s Sookie’s son who can suggest a different outcome, and it makes Eric hesitate.

      Like

  6. “He’s got to stick around,” Pam sighed. “We are going to have all kinds of fun watching Eric figure this one out!” I actually laughed out loud at this! With all the TB Pam around in stories now, I forget how much I enjoyed SVM Pam and her snark, mixed in with the compassion she so rarely showed. She’s right though, it will be fun to see him figure out how to be a Father to a part human, part fairy, part vampire child, and learn how to correct Rick without losing the respect I’m sure he’s slowly garnering from his son.
    Rick has a lot to learn too, though.
    I can see a who lotta hoopla when/if Sookie doesn’t take to Eric right away (I really shouldn’t have read your final comment in the post *sigh*).
    I REALLY want to take Bill out to the north 40 and give him his own come to Jesus, and make him face the reckoning he so richly deserves!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I did not catch that Sookie would not take to Eric right away….jeepers. I have been sad for her for about 20 chapters that she threw her happiness away. Is this what Thalia means when she says “Arrangements?” Thalia persisted. “She may have the privilege of being selfish,” and Thalia jerked her chin at Sookie, “but you do not!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It may not have been phrased that way, but if you read the final paragraph in Natsgirl’s post, you’ll get the sense that she will have a love interest who is not Eric.
        Then again, I could be wrong, but Natsgirl does love her angst :D.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh! Now how do think Sookie will react when she awakens and there’s no Bill, but Eric is there? Sookie’s always been so different, so unique. Somehow I doubt even her turning will change that! 🙂

        Like

    2. Wouldn’t it be fun to have that virtual dunking booth where Bill can get dropped into the shark pool on a continuous basis? I agree. He’s the vampire you just love to hate, and I do have a tendency to kill him off regularly as a result.
      I loved Pam’s snark too. She was the touch of humor who allowed her Maker to maintain his hope. It’s her sense of play, albeit at times inappropriate play, that keeps things light in a world that’s dominated by politics and violence. In so many ways, Eric couldn’t have found a better candidate for turning than Pam!
      Of course, Eric does still have some ways to go, and don’t look for that talk to go well. Emotional, egotistical vampire and hormonal, stressed teen?? Recipe for disaster.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When it comes to men, be it vampire or human, I never look for that talk to go well! lmao
        They don’t know HOW to discuss feelings, even when they admit to having them. They can talk a mile a minute about cars, women and sports, but ask them to talk about their feelings and they turn into a clam and shut up tight to keep hold of that pearl that wants to come out into the open *sigh*
        Killing Bill is everyone’s favorite pass time! *snicker*
        I think that eventually Eric will learn how to deal with Rick, just like Rick will learn how to deal with his father, but it will be a very long row to hoe! With frequent spats and different corners to cool off before all is said and done.
        As for Sookie, she will be the best of what Ric remembers, and the best of what Eric remembers.

        Like

  7. Amazing chapter as always. Like that Rubio spoke and explained some things to Rick. He’s going to need a lot of explanations as he goes forward in this new world.
    I’m happy that Rick was able to relieve some of the tension and despair that Eric was feeling over Sookie’s turning and give him some hope. Thalia is right, he might not be able to lose Sookie again but what would that do to Rick if he lost both at the same time.
    I cracked up with Pam wanting to keep Rick around just to watch Eric learn how to deal with him, lol.
    Wonderful characters beautifully written!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Of all of them, Rubio is in best position to speak to Rick. You have to figure that introducing a vampire father to a human family, including kids, couldn’t have been easy. Rubio is at least a hundred years old, and with vampire culture, probably didn’t ever interact with kids either. We know he was successful because his adopted children love him. Like every vampire, he remembers everything, so he would remember how he built the bridges that allowed his blended group to become a family, and that’s the insight he’ll offer. The fly in the ointment? Eric Northman is still his King, so what Eric says, goes.
      Thalia did run through the guilt list, didn’t she? She reminded Eric of this progeny. She reminded him of his kingdom, and finally, she tried throwing guilt about abandoning his son at him. I don’t get specific about which of those worked, but I wouldn’t bet on Rick being at the top of the list. In the end, though, Eric abandons his idea of meeting the sun at once to meeting the sun once Sookie awakes in New Orleans. My bet for what triggered the stand-down? Duty to kingdom.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Awesome chapter! I can’t wait for Rick and Eric to talk! They have some major talking to do! Loving this story! Well at least we know the change seems to be working! Poor Eric and Rick! I can’t wait for more! I am happy that Rubio is ok and will get to go back to his family! I am also glad to know that Bill is dead! I hope that will not cause Sookie any pain upon waking. I hope she does not freak out on Eric thinking he is Bill at first! So loving this!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ll explain why Sookie won’t be confused about Bill and Eric. It’s a turning thing.
      As for Eric and Rick talking? Don’t look for it to go well in a conventional sense. In fact, on the surface it breaks down, as you’re probably reading already, but there are things said that allow for a shift in Eric’s perspective. It’s Rick who opens Eric’s eyes and it’s that new awareness that will allow Eric and Sookie to forge a better relationship on the other side.

      Like

  9. Rick has had to grow up way too fast in the last few days.. But Sookie’s turning has finally done one good thing. Eric has realized that his son needs his support desperately. He may smell and feel like a vampire, and he may have the family strength and tenacity… but he’s still just a kid. He’s handling it pretty well so far. I just pray he’s right about his Mom!!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Kids know things about their parents. I’m not sure why, but those things tend to be the things you wish they didn’t! Rick has had to grow up too fast, and he’ll realize that too. He is still a kid, even if growing up with a single mom surrounded by adults gives him a better ability to express himself with adults. Rick is, in so many ways, the blend of both of them. He’s strong and courageous, but he’s also got a temper and tells things like it is.

      Like

  10. I’m so sad for her that her turning was so much like Eric’s. I know her attitude will be different and Eric expects but I’m sure she will still have lots of reservations. Rick is looking through some very rose coloured glasses right now. So looking forward to their talk.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Regardless of whether the violence that accompanied her turning was usual for vampires (I’m going to suggest it is), this is still Sookie’s individual journey. She has a history of torture, and there will be talk about the struggles she will face in coming to grips with this. Rick is being optimistic, but in one aspect he is right. She is his Mother. She has a strong tie with him and she will face anything – her worst fears – to not let her own child down.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. The “next” button is broken! 😜

    This was a fabulous chapter. I was saddened that Rubio had to explain to Rick, but it was probably for the best. I’m not sure Eric would have done a good job. Especially, since he’s so emotional about the topic himself. I loved reading his thoughts about Sookie’s turning. Thank goodness Thalia knocked some sense into him and he didn’t make any rash decisions, like meeting the sun.

    Thankfully, by the end, Eric seems to be pulling his head out of his ass, and is starting to accept Rick more and is going to actually *talk* to him instead of just barking orders at him like an underling.

    Now, what the heck was that at the end your post about “introducing Sookie’s love interest”?!?! WTH? You mean Eric, right? RIGHT!?!?! You’re freaking me out a little here…..

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Relax! LOL! That’s a note to me about a new story we’re working on! It has nothing to do with this one! Eric is and remains Sookie’s only love interest! 🙂

      Liked by 5 people

    2. Thanks for letting me know about the button. Fixed it.
      Let me address the love interest comment. It’s about a new story I’m writing. Sookie falls for a dark, Irish student and she follows him to Ireland. Of course, he’s not her true love. There’s supernatural elements and I’m hoping aspects of the characters leave readers guessing about their true nature. I try to write well ahead so that once I start posting, I don’t have to miss a week. It used to drive me crazy to get so involved in a story only to have the writer get spotty about updating or dash off to another project, or abandon the piece altogether!
      Rubio is the perfect person to explain things to Rick at this stage. He’s the only one with any experience around children, and from the interactions he has with those children, he’s been successful in learning parenting.
      As for Eric? He’s not lying to himself anymore. His emotions are on full display and he’s stopped pretending that Sookie isn’t his top priority, and that’s progress.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! MSBuffy had already explained. I look forward to the new story.

        Definitely progress! He’s still got a ways to go, especially with Rick, it he’s headed in the right direction.

        Thanks for fixing that next button, I’ll get right to reading!

        Like

  12. At least Sookie will have someone who understands what she went through. I hadn’t thought of Eric experiencing the same thing. I would think she would be angry, frightened, and disoriented, but I hope she will quickly remember how much she and Eric love each other, and how much Rick needs her. She will also have Pam, who cares for her, and Thalia, who is good at saying what needs to be said. Seeing Eric when she rises will be much better than having Bill in her face. I think she and Eric will be much stronger together than they were apart. I wonder how many others were turned in such a horrible way.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I will introduce the concept that how Sookie was turned has been standard practice with vampires. As I thought about it, it explained the tendency to violence and the outbursts. There were vampires in the books that were not so easily cruel, but they were few and far between. It’s often remarked that Eric and Pam are different. I’ll suggest that age helped Eric. As for Pam and Karin? He won’t have carved them up, but it’s no secret in the book that they had sex early in both of their vampire lives.
      Now, that doesn’t mean that this would be easy for Sookie, and she doesn’t have a Maker to command her acceptance, so you can expect a more predictable reaction to what happened to her. You are right, though. She has vampires and others who care for her, and most importantly , a child she was willing to give everything to protect. She won’t let Rick down.

      Like

  13. What an emotional chapter! So much emotion in different forms coming from Pam, Thalia, Rubio, Dr. Ludwig, and of course, Eric and Rick. I cried at Pam’s pain (I know she was reacting to Eric’s emotions, but I’d love to think that part of it was fear for her friend and possibly her brother), Thalia’s tough love for Eric, Rubio’s attempt to inform Rick and soothe his fears, Dr Ludwig’s gentleness with Rick (well for her it was gentle!), Eric’s pain and anguish over what Sookie had gone through and possibly not accepting her fate and his thoughts on ending her and his own existance, and finally Rick’s fear of what happened to his mom. Soooo many feelings!!! 😩😭

    I can’t help but think that Sookie’s acceptance of her new existance won’t go as easily as Rick thinks. I sure hope I’m wrong!

    Thank you for sharing this amazing story and thank you Ms. Buffy!! ❤

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You are too sweet! 🙂 Thank you for reading! Every time I’ve read this chapter, my take on Pam’s pain is that it was out of fear for Sookie, whether she would make it through her turning or fail to rise. Pam came to love Sookie as more than a friend after all those years, and still loved her, even after she disappeared. I like to think she missed her ‘breathing friend,’ no matter how angry or hurt she was over her disappearance. Now that she has Rick who’s really Sookie 2.0, but a male and part vampire, imagine Pam’s delight! He’s her little brother, too! So many possibilities for Pam! Shopping, jokes, shopping, teasing, more shopping! I loved that she & Rick traveled mostly together, so they had time to get to know one another better than the others, and Pam saw to it that Rick was protected and well taken care of when she couldn’t be there for it. He has many people whom you mentioned in your comments already caring for and accepting him simply because he’s Sookie’s son. Oh yeah, what they were all emoting throughout the chapter was tough! I cry every time I edit/read this one. It’s a hard one to get through, but it’s a good one…

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Of course, you have the insider’s track to these things, but agree. When Pam tells Rick on their trip to Shreveport that she has every cause to be hurt because she was Sookie’s friend and she realizes Sookie didn’t care enough about that friendship to tell her own son about Pam, there is something there that rings true. Pam may cover it with a smile, but Sookie’s disappearance did hurt.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you. I did want to give that 360 view of how people are seeing this. Pam is worried about her friend. She may play it down, but as she told Rick earlier, she always felt warmly toward Sookie, and her off hand remark earlier that Sookie not telling her son about her earlier life in Louisiana was hurtful is close to the mark for Pam. Now, there is an aspect of Eric’s escalating Pam’s reactions, and Pam is clear she needs distance away from Eric and takes the first opportunity.
      Thalia throws everything she can think at Eric to slow his roll, and it works in the sense that Eric is willing to delay meeting the sun until he reaches New Orleans and she rises.
      I’d agree. Nothing is ever easy, but never underestimate the strength of a Mother when it comes to comforting her child.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Amazing chapter –you have that endearing quality –that rare quality –of an author that can bring a reader to tears or laughter. This was one of those teary chapters. Seems like Rick and Eric have one common goal right now –greeting a new Sookie and doing their damnest to keep her on this plane of existence. Hopefully that will be so…. And who thought Turning would be so…..messy?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I thought about the whole ‘in the dirt’ thing. Why? Why not close them up in a coffin and be done with it. After all, that’s what the movies do! Instead we have this idea that they are buried, with or without their Makers, and left to cook for three days. And so, the transform idea of dead to undead got started.
      Thank you – it was an emotional chapter, but how could it be other? They all have their assumptions about what will happen and how Sookie will react, and then there’s Rick who sets all those assumptions on their ear. It’s what they wanted to hear, and it’s hopeful, but it’s a lot to accept.

      Like

  15. ‘You are my son, you are Sookie’s son, you have both of us ‘. Best lines !!! Those were one of the highlights for me. I think Eric truly embraced his son and Sookie. I’m so glad Rick told him about Sookie’s feelings. I like the idea of Eric caring for her while she turns. Such an amazing chapter!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Eric is coming around. He’s not at all equipped for being a father, but he has the tools to make it happen. He’s a quick learner, and he’s pragmatic. There will be aspects of this that will frustrate him, but what parent isn’t frustrated by teenage children? The difference is that Eric has no context, so will stumble about as badly as his son.
      Rick is that beacon of hope. He knows in his heart that his Mother will be there for him, and in that, he is right.

      Like

  16. Thank you for a wonderful chapter- your writing takes me on such a delightful rollercoaster ride. I appreciate the quality writing. 🙂 Poor Eric- thinking this is the end- and of course he does, based on what he knows about Sookie’s feelings. This was such emotional turmoil for him- I didn’t even realize the effect it was having on poor Pam, I was so wrapped up in Eric. I feel for him- of course he would have just stayed with her and met the sun- it’s the romantic in him, not wanting to live without her, yet not being “strong” enough to end her. Thank God that’s not going to happen- but I can understand his thinking. So glad for everyone’s else part- Thalia, Rubio, Amy, Pam and Rick. We don’t know what Sookie is going to think when she rises- or even how she’ll rise- I keep wondering if something will be different for her. If it’s just night one, then how long was she tortured? Evil fucking Bill! During her torturous ordeal, what thoughts ran through her head? Did she wish for survival? Yearn for it or scream for it? Was she thinking of reuniting with her son or leading Bill far away to try to keep him safe? Was she planning for revenge on her maker or did she wish to give up and die? Did she think of Eric? Until you tell me differently, I’d like to think she was choosing to survive any way she could, even as that fucking asshole pig drained her. Can NOT wait for more. Peace and Love.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I won’t go into what thoughts ran through Sookie’s mind as she went through a process that most vampires experience. I’ll suggest that it’s a practice that is changing and I’ll address Sookie’s personal journey and the reaction of those around her. There will be those who understand better, and those who will do what is needed.
      Eric is a romantic, and he’s come full circle. He’s not trying to hide his emotions anymore. He’s back to where he was – vulnerable and loving a human, although she won’t be a human anymore.
      Thalia is a good one. She hit point after point, reminding him of progeny, kingdom, and finally son, until Eric pulled back and agreed to delay his decision. Good thing, indeed! It got him back to the house and gave Rick a chance to suggest there was still hope for a future.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. At least Rubio has some experience with barely teenage boys and can help Rick. I am sure that when Sookie wakes up it will not be a lot of fun for anyone but I hope that she will learn quick. And a new love interest just huh — love the story and if you don’t write some good angst it will end too soon 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. No, no, no. That was just a little note for me about a new story we’re working on. Eric is the main love interest in this story, other than Sookie’s son! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    2. The ‘new love interest’ refers to the new story I’m writing. Bill Compton is traditionally Sookie’s first mistake. I’m bringing in a different character who is a little more in line with where the story heads (Ireland). Of course, Sookie will meet Eric. The story is mostly human, but with elements of supernatural that I hope will tease in terms of wondering if the people you meet are everything they say they are, or something a little more.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I’m really hoping Sookie reacts as Rick thinks she will. I’m truly hoping she’s glad and appreciative that Eric is there for her, although the trauma of what Bill did to her before her turning will obviously have an affect on her. Asshole…is too nice a word for him!
    Can’t wait to hear/read Eric and Ricks talk. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It won’t be/can’t be all happiness when Sookie rises. Even if her experience is common for turnings (it is), she wasn’t in any way prepared. Sookie has history with being tortured. She has no Maker to force an acceptance or compliance. She will have her demons to fight, but the saving grace is she has this wonderful son who she was willing to give everything to have and protect. That is one powerful motivation, and you can look for that to continue.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. What an emotional chapter! It took me a while to realise that Pam’s tears were actually likely to be Eric’s… although I feel Pam would also have some sorrow at Sookie losing her humanity. Amazing that Rick is the one who is most ok with this, but then he never knew the old Sookie, and also has that absolute belief in the unconditional love of his mother. Of course she would be OK in being like him!!

    I feel a little uneasy with the idea of Sookie being dug up mid-transformation! I think I am with Thalia on this one. There seems to be risk in moving her and it just seems all sorts of wrong!!! But Eric surely knows what he is doing.

    Waiting with baited breathe for the next update as usual!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I don’t think I understood that Pam’s tears were actually Eric’s. thank you. Makes this even more emotional. Of course a child would have absolute faith in his mother’s love and regard. Rick is such a great character in this story.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I did intend that some part of Pam’s tears were the spillover of Eric’s emotions, but I wanted the largest part to be her own. She and Sookie were friends. Pam would know, as well as Eric, what Sookie said about becoming vampire.

        Like

    2. As many times as I’ve read & edited this, it never occurred to me that Pam’s tears and emotions were anything more than her own, simply because she has her own feelings for Sookie… I suppose Eric’s deep feelings would compound hers. I expect both of them would feel sorrow at Sookie losing her humanity, especially if they are afraid that she won’t rise. It’s not like they could expect Bill to do things properly… Rick has lived with his mother longer than she knew Pam or Eric, so he just might know her better than anyone. We shall see!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I did mean for there to be some spillover from Eric, but, as you say, mostly on her own account. Pam and Sookie were close. Sookie was as close to a friend as Pam ever had, and that’s saying something.

        Like

    3. When Pam remarks to Rick that her feelings are hurt that Sookie never mentioned her, it wasn’t just a joke. Pam tells Rick she regards Sookie as a friend, and that hasn’t changed. Yes, Eric’s grief is escalating her feelings, but there is a good part of those feelings that are her own.
      Thalia tells you that the whole moving thing is inconvenient and there’s a sense that at some point, the stability of Sookie’s body will be compromised. It’s one of the reasons he digs her up – to verify that she’s turning and at what stage. One assumes Eric would never do anything to intentionally harm her, but the idea of him taking her back to where he feels protected, his ‘lair’, seemed in keeping too. He won’t leave her where he can’t feel that he is all around her.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Hopefully things will turn out the way Rick thinks. If not I don’t think Eric will be able to take it. Glad to see the relationship developing between Eric and Rick. Though it seemed to us that Eric was just being distant, its obvious now that he was just suffering greatly and couldn’t think about anyone else but Sookie.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Eric is making baby steps. He is startled by Rick’s belief in Sookie, and her willingness to be like her own son. It shakes Eric and makes him actually willing to talk with the boy. (Of course, that won’t turn out great, but it’s a start). Rick has the insight a child has about its Mother. He knows she was willing to do anything for him, and in his heart he knows this will be no different.
      Were Rick an adult, there would be doubt, but Rick isn’t. He’s a smart-mouthed, thinks he’s too grown up, teenage kid, and Sookie would never abandon him.

      Like

  21. That was a roller coaster of a chapter, lady. I love Rick. He’s so much like the kids in my daughter’s 8th grade class, lol; wise and goofy at the same time. I believe Sookie will be surprised to be a vampire, but more relieved to still be “alive” and thus able to be with her son and of course, with Eric. (that was a crap sentence, lol sorry) Rick has such a rich family group in Chester and with Pam, Thalia, Karin and Eric, its gotten even larger.
    I am curious about Fran. I love her and hope she pulls through from her stroke. I imagine her dishing out some sage advice to Sookie if she somehow gets her blond head stuck up her ass again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fran is in a good position to hand out that advice, and you will see her again soon. Glad to hear that Rick’s mouthiness and brass ring true with his age group. I figured he’d act a little more adult than some because he’s the only kid of a single mom and he had frequent interactions with adults. Emotionally? Still a kid!
      Sookie? Count on her being relieved to still be there for her son! Being a vampire? That will be an evolution.

      Like

  22. I don’t even know where to start. I have so many things running through my mind! At first I thought everyone was worried about Sookie’s turning going wrong, but then I realized that Eric and Pam were worried about Sookie wanting to end her life when she woke as a vampire. Of course they would still believe that she wouldn’t want to have been turned. Neither of them really know her in that way anymore. I’m glad Rick was the one to ease their minds and give Eric hope that maybe when she rises she will accept this new life happily. It’s ironic that by turning Sookie, Bill unknowingly gave her and Eric a second chance at their HEA. It’s the only good thing Bill ever did in his miserable, pathetic little existence!
    Even though the circumstances surrounding Sookie’s turning were horrific, I can’t help but be grateful because it has allowed Eric to start to feel and think of Rick as his son as well and not just Sookie’s. I think if they had met under different circumstances it would have taken a lot longer for Eric to get to know and emotionally accept Rick as his son. It’s still a work in progress and they have a long ways to go but they’ll get there in the end, you’ll make sure of that😃
    I am looking forward (as always!) to next week to see what Eric is going to tell Rick. I wonder if he’ll tell Rick the story of him and Sookie from the beginning from his perspective. It would be nice for Rick to know both sides to his parents story.
    I can’t wait until Sookie rises and sees Eric for the first time. I loved how he kept referring to her as his Sookie. Gave me little warm and fuzzies just reading it. And that he thought to meet the sun with her because he knew that before she never wanted this life, now that’s love, in a morbidly beautiful kind of way! Lol Glad Thalia was there to talk him down from that one!
    Seven more sleeps until Sunday!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. Bill’s act is the one that allows for the happily ever after, and I agree – supreme irony! By trying to take her all for himself, he seals the deal for allowing her to be with Eric forever… as long as she chooses that.
      Rick has the faith of a child, and he’s got every reason to believe as he does. His Mother literally gave up everything to have him, and to keep him safe. She only came back into this world to protect him, and somehow, fate has worked to keep her in this world now.
      It is in these times of stress and worry that old habits break down enough to allow new things and ideas to creep in. Sookie might accept this. I have a son. All new concepts, and Rick is going to shoot a few more Eric’s way – things that will shake how the old vampire sees himself and his interactions with Sookie. Nothing like a kid to open your eyes about yourself!
      Eric has stopped denying his emotions. This experience has stripped any pretense from him and he speaks the truth that’s in his heart. She is his Sookie, and he has ever been hers.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Great chapter. Thank goodness for Rubio — at least Rick can get answers from someone who isn’t as emotionally attached to Sookie as Eric and Pam (yes, he likes her, but her relationship with P & E is at an entirely different level). I’m wondering where Fran’s protection spell figures into all of this…it was either completely useless, given Bill’s successful assault on and turning of Sookie — or, it will factor into what she turns into. Perhaps a Damphir like her son, still able to enjoy the sun while being able to live forever, which would be the perfect mix for her.

    Glad that Eric realizes what Bill did to Sookie prior to turning her, so that he’s prepared for whatever emotional meltdown she might have upon rising, beyond just being turned, but also being tortured. He can probably guess that Bill raped her as well. Could you bring him back so Eric can kill him again, more slowly this time?

    The depth of Eric’s feelings fo Sookie have finally risen to the surface. He’s gone from “I’m not ever thinking about her again,” to “I’m going to keep her undies in my pocket and discreetly sniff them every day” to “I’ll will meet the sun with her if that is her choice.” Very touching that he wants to be in a coffin with her to ease her turning.

    Only a few chapters to go…and so much left to cover! Thank you again for this amazing fic.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You took the words right out of mouth. I agree with you whole heartily, my thoughts exactly. I hope it turns out exactly as you stated. Thank you.

      Like

    2. Rick did need to hear it from someone who has a clue about children, and Rubio is it! I agree. Pam has a different perspective, and as much as she’s enjoying interacting with Rick, she is still not equipped to talk with him in a way that is helpful.
      Fran will be given an opportunity to explain what happened with the spell, and whether it failed or not.
      Regardless of vampire practice, and whether Bill’s handling of Sookie was common (it was), Sookie will suffer the fall-out. There will be no Maker’s command to dampen the blow, or years and years of existence to distance the pain. She will be faced with a new reality and the fall-out, but at the same time, her son will be there, and you can count on a Mother’s instincts to take the place of a Maker’s command.
      Eric has gone through is own awakening. There’s no more hiding for him. Even though his emotions figured into the fall that led to Oklahoma, he is powerless before them, and so he’s back to where he started – he loves her.

      Like

  24. I’m so glad that I listen to your advise at Chapter 15 and waited for future chapters to be posted before reading further. Because these chapters would have killed me to wait for them one at a time, as it is now I just have to wait for her to rise. I hope Eric plans on talking to her while waiting for her to rise, so she will know it is him who is with her and not Compton. I also hope he can give her some of his blood either during her transformation or immediately after she rises. Eric needs to talk to Rick at least a little before he locks himself away with Sookie so Rick knows Eric loves his mom, and Eric needs to talk to Karin too before getting with Sookie so she doesn’t terrorize Rick while he is with her. Love how Pam is being and so glad Rubio is still alive. Can’t wait for the next chapter loving the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All good points. Eric does seem set on bringing Sookie back to his lair, doesn’t he? He will wrap himself around her and you can bet that there will be some talking done. As for giving her blood? He had an opportunity to give Rick blood, but didn’t. I figure that blood exchange between vampires requires some consent, and I’m not sure if Sookie, newly rising, will want to jump into blood exchange too quickly, regardless of the fact that it would help her. I agree with you on that point!
      Eric and Rick do need to talk, but don’t look for it to go well at first. It will be circumstances and the intervention of others that will help Rick make that final journey to accepting who and what Eric is in his Mother’s life.

      Like

  25. I’d been saving this story till I’d finished reading something else and I’m just blow away by it now I’ve had the chance to read. I must confess I binge read at work today, not a lot of work being done but I devowered chapter after chapter. (Hope my boss didn’t notice)
    Can’t wait for the next instalment.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I also said that I w,uld not read this before you ended it , but I couldn’t cuz you are so amazing. Duh, the story was of Sookie’s turning and how she should have been, before the Cluviol Dor. But, I hope she realized that she loved and needed a vampire to help her son. Hopefully you’ll get them back together, I feel for Rick, he is so scared for his mother and doesn’t know what to think about his father. Rick needs sssome strong support since his mom won’t rise for 2 more days. Can’t wait til Sunday, Love this. In another more annoying note, I just buried my father of 54 years, and while many would think I was lucky to have him so long, this story started while I watched over him in hospice and it kept sane and full of pe. Thank you Natsgirl.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so sorry to read of your loss. 54 is too young, and the mention of hospice suggests a difficult time for everyone concerned. I can’t say enough nice things about the hospice program and those who work and volunteer there. They are truly angels. I have lost both of my parents, one suddenly and another through illness. There is no easy way, and one can only hope that they are now at peace.
      If the story brought you some distraction, then I’m happy for it. My sympathies to you and your family.

      Like

  27. This story helped keep me sane and ground me to life’s pleasures namely, books, thank you, Natsgirl for taking me away from my mind and my dad’s very peaceful and quick death, hospice is wonderful, but I’m a reader. You are great and I can’t wait for Sunday, Love❤❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s