So, Pam was supposed to get her say. But Pam had absolutely nothing constructive to say and I firmly believe that even pointless rambles should have something resembling a plot line. So there. And then I watched a bit of season two True Blood. I don’t like True Blood. But Godric makes me swoon. And I like him as Eric’s maker a lot better than I like that funny Roman guy from the last book. So there. I’ll shut up now.
You are old.
You say that, fully aware of all implications of the world ‘old’. Weary. Wary. Tired. Numb. Exhausted. Wise. Bored. Finished.
That is perhaps the most prevalent of all those nuances. Finished. Two thousand years you have walked this Earth, from pole to pole and around in a thousand circles. The world is round, so no matter where you go, you always walk in circles. That, at least, is how it feels.
When you were born, the world was still flat.
When you were born, ‘Jesus’ was simply a name, and gods came cheaper by the dozen, easy to find in every nook and cranny of the world. There were gods in the water, in the fire, in the trees, in the people.
Sometimes, people call you a god. You never deny it, even if you do not enforce it. What makes a god a god? Power? Immortality? You have both. That makes it even easier. Nothing stands against you. Nothing challenges you.
So you walk, round and round, as the world spins beneath your feet and the moon dances its endless dance of come and go and come again.
Sometimes you walk with humans. Sometimes you walk with others of your kind. Oftentimes you walk alone. Sometimes you help, but are no saint. Sometimes you are a monster, but not cruel.
The gods grow less, eventually, and the people more. Feeding becomes easier because a single sheep is not missed as much. Feeding becomes harder because the awareness of what you are, the reverie and fear, is starting to fade.
Sometimes, you are the hunter. Sometimes, you are hunted.
As time passes, you stop being a man and become a boy. You do not know how old you were when you died, but you do know that you were a man then. In this age, you are not.
You go to Rome, one day, to see the glorious city for yourself. You steal clothes and cut your hair, so as not to be noticed. You cover your tattoos. You walk the streets at night, smelling the filth and the waste, the living and the dying and the dead. You close your eyes and hold very still and the pulse of this amazing place almost becomes you own. Almost.
A few streets away a woman screams and you move because there is no reason not to. You pull the would-be rapists off her and help her to her feet, fixing her dress for her, with a gentleness you did not know you possess. Even as a human, a warrior, you never understood rape. What challenge is there, in forcefully taking from someone who cannot fight back? What joy? You love the thrill of the hunt, the blood of the battle. That, too, has a pulse that feels almost like life.
You guide her to a well lit street corner and turn to take your leave, when her hand shoots out, catching your sleeve with speed that almost rivals your own. She looks at you, wide-eyed but strong again. “Boy,” she says. “Where do you live?”
You smile and tug your arm free. “Nowhere,” you tell her.
“Then come with me. Let me repay you.”
You follow. She lives in a villa and claps upon entering, sending slaves scurrying through the house in a flurry. To bring you food you will not eat. You prepare you a bed you will not sleep in. She leads you to a bathroom and watches you undress.
Your tattoos startle her, you can tell. Her heart beats faster and, for the first time, she wonders who she offered her hospitality to. What. You smile at her and tell her not to fear you as you slide into the warm water, unashamed.
“You are no boy,” she says.
You shake your head. “No.”
“What are you?”
“Tonight, I am your guest.”
She hesitates, then nods. You visit her once a decade for the rest of your life. She never knows you are there and when she dies, you turn your back on the heart of the Roman Empire and go to find amusement elsewhere.
Eventually, your endless, circular walk leads you into the cold lands, the North of everything. There, you find a warrior fiercer and more brutal than any you have ever met. He and his men are ambushed at night and they fight, outnumbered and surprised. He swings his sword in wide arcs, laughing as he kills, dancing. He glows in the dark, shines like a star.
You follow him and the last of his men until fever takes him and his wounds render him unable to take another step. Still he directs his men with authority, getting them to build him a pyre. They make it high and big, as befits a warrior of his status, and they lay him on it still breathing.
You would like to say killing the men and making your offer is a spur of the moment thing, but you cannot. You planned it from the moment you saw the tall man with a sword in his hand.
The word for you is monster now, nightmare, not god. You try not to live up to the name most of the time, but tonight you fail and you know it. It is greed that drives you, the desire to possess this beautiful, fierce man. To own him.
You wonder, much later, what you would have done if he had turned you down. But you knew, always, that he would not. He loves life with every fibre of his being, your Eric, and he will not give it up for anything.
You hope that he can teach you that love and for a while, he does and all the circles seem new through his eyes, until he, too, grows old.
Centuries pass and you still walk, with Eric coming and going from your nights. The moon still dances, come and go and come again.
America becomes the new center of the world and your race, like all others, jumps on the bandwagon of seeming democracy and somehow, you find yourself as Sheriff of Area Nine. It’s ridiculous, really. Sheriff. You.
It’s only a few decades later that the synthetic blood is invented and suddenly, light. Light again for the first time in two thousand years and you are a monster now, as well as a god, worshipped and hated in equal measures on the television and the radio, the internet and in the newspapers.
The Fellowship of the Sun is the logical consequence of the Great Revelation. Humans are nothing if not scared and fear breeds hate. You understand. You do.
That is how you land in the basement of Steve Newlin’s so called church, waiting for your last dawn, thinking about all that you are, all that you were.
You are old. And now, you are finished.
You have done it all, seen it all, felt it all.
You are old. Dying at dawn is an acceptable end for an existence that seemed entirely endless.
That’s when you hear a gunshot.
There is silence in the aftermath and then the basement door opens and you hear someone being dragged down the stairs, a female panting and cursing. “Do you have any idea,” she wheezes, obviously in pain, “What I’m going to do to you fuckers?”
The smell of sweet blood wafts through the closed door of your resting place.
Someone laughs and you recognize Gabe. He laughs, a brute and simple man. A smack is followed by a grunt of pain and then Newlin’s voice joins the fray. “Now, Gabe, there is no reason to be cruel.”
You almost smile. Cruel? As far as you can tell, they have just shot a human girl and are now planning to lock her up down here with you. And Gabe obviously just hit her again. You are the monster here, but you do not think those two men are far behind you.
Doors slam, another cry of pain and then silence. Until, “Go into the church, Josie,” the female snaps, obviously imitating someone, and badly at that. “You’re much better suited for the job than poor Sookie, Josie. Find Godric, Josie. It’ll be a piece of cake, Josie. I’ll show you a piece of cake, Eric Goddamn Northman. Nobody said those nuts had guns
Eric sent the girl? To look for you? You feel a stab of something that might be excitement. Eric. It’s been so long since you’ve seen your child.
“Would you shut up?!” A new voice. A fellow prisoner? You listen hard and yes, there are two heartbeats only a few feet from the chamber you rest in, hidden from the light.
“Hugo?” the female asks, sweetly. Ah, Isobel’s human.
Hugo answers, “Yes?”
“Do you remember what I am?” The sugar is gone from her voice.
“I’m a telepath, Hugo. Stop pretending you care. It’s your damn fault that they knew to shoot me in the first place, traitor.” Surprisingly, she’s not screaming, not cursing. Her voice is even, aside from the slight tremor of pain. She isn’t scared. And a telepath? Oh, Eric, you think, how do you find these gems?
“Well,” the girl says, “I don’t know about anyone else, but he found me in the Three Gates Hotel in Boise.”You are reading my mind?
“Who’re you talking to?”
A heavy sigh and then a harsh sound and a body falling. One of the heartbeats races and then settles into the soft rhythm of unconsciousness. One less problem. Now, how the hell did you land yourself down here, Sheriff?The same way you did, I imagine. May I know your name?Josephine Northman, at your service. Well, close to it. Shit, you don’t happen to have a free hand, do you? I need to bind my shoulder before I bleed out.
There is more incoherent muttering and cursing and you chuckle quietly, amused. The tirade cuts off abruptly. Sorry,
Josephine tells you, You just... you feel a lot like Eric and he’s long since gotten used to me inside his head.
Eric letting someone into his head? Eric giving a girl his name? That sounds so unlike Eric that it sounds exactly like Eric, your wild child who has never once in a thousand years acted as you expected him to.
A hiss off pain rips you from your musings. Why did they shoot you?
Steve Newlin is many things, but he believes in keeping his crusade as clean as possible. Shooting a human girl in his church in broad daylight does not qualify as clean business.I’m not all that human,
Josie interrupts and you find yourself mildly annoyed at the invasion of privacy. It’s a curious feeling. And our friend Hugo here told them. I guess they wanted to play it safe. So they shot me. I’m fast, but not that fast. And the bullshit Newlin was spewing kinda distracted me. Been a while since I heard a fanatic have a go at it like that.
She chuckles depreciatingly and you can’t help but think she has faced fanatics before and, perhaps, risen from their hatred a stronger person.Colder, at any rate,
she confirms before hissing again. She forgets to get out of your mind and you catch a split second glimpse of her right shoulder, bleeding profusely. You do not know much about firearms, but you know that they usually leave smaller holes than that. She is trying to bandage the wound with her blouse, but failing with only one hand.
You stand and break the lock on your door with barely any notice. Newlin thought it would keep you in, this lock and a few chains. It might have held a newborn, might even have held one of your underlings, but not you. Not even Eric. Not even Stan.
You step out into the basement and find her immediately, sitting on a box inside the storage cage, face scrunched up in pain. You break the lock to the cage and step inside too fast for a human to see.
She tracks you easily and looks up at you with wide, green eyes. She looks almost as young as you do, but much more delicate, blonde and fine boned. The set of her mouth and the steel in her eyes tell you she is not delicate. You kneel and gently peel the shirt from her wound, checking her front and back. The bullet went through, at least.
You fold the garment, twist it, and then bandage her arm as well as you can under her watchful gaze.
“Thank you,” she whispers as you finish and sit back on your haunches, looking up into her youthful face. You wonder about her age, but not enough to ask. In this age now, you are not even a half grown man, anymore, not even a boy. Here, you are a child. You do not ask her age. Slowly she raises her left hand, as if asking for permission, and puts it on your cheek. Her hand is warm, alive against you cold skin.
You almost close your eyes and she jerks back, blushing too faint for a human to see. “Sorry. It’s just... I’ve been seeing you in Eric’s mind for so long and now...”
You tilt your head and attempt a smile. You might be a bit out of practice. “I apologize for not living up to what you saw.”
She shakes her head wildly, wincing immediately. “No. The opposite really. There’s just... more of you. And your mind...” There’s so much to see
.I am old.
She laughs. “You sound like Eric whenever I try to get him to dance with me.”
This time you think your smile works. She looks at you, head cocked to one side. “So. I found you. Do you think we can blow this popsicle stand now? Cuz I gotta say, the service sucks.”
You hesitate, torn between bringing his human back to your child and staying here. Dawn is waiting. It is a split second thought, but she catches it. “You let them take you!” she exclaims and for the first time since this strange girl cussed out Gabe and Newlin on the stairs, she sounds surprised.
A shrug. “I could have fought and killed them all. What would that have proven?”
She snorts. “Great. A pacifist vampire.”
Not pacifist, you think, and to your surprise you find yourself hoping she will catch the thought and understand. Not pacifist. Just tired. Tired of this struggle, this endless hunt. Sometimes you hunt, sometimes you are hunted. The game stays the same and the circles never end. You think that no sentient creature should live to be as old as you. It’s too much.
And you are so old.
But Josie is not and sitting on the cold ground at her feet, you study her face and see her fire. The same fire that drew you to a death-bound Viking warrior over a thousand years ago. The same fire that made a mortal man worthy of being your companion.
“Brother, father, son,” Josie whispers and you do not need to ask to know she watches your memories of Eric with you. You do not mind as much as you should. She is... interesting. You can see why Eric keeps her, beyond the obvious use a telepath would have.
“Yes,” you return quietly.
You are old but Josie is not and she still burns. Just like Eric. You will bring her back to him. One last gift, you think, and then swallow the thought with all speed you can muster. This time, it goes unnoticed. She need not know your plans.
“We will have to wait for sunset, though,” you muse, pulling you knees to your chest, resting your forearms on them.
She nods and sinks to the floor next to you, casual and graceless. To an outsider you look like children, simple teenagers, except for the blood and tattoos. Somehow, things always come back to those two things. The blood you are made of and the tattoos you carry as a last reminder of what it was to be human.
As the hours pass, you chat lightly. She’ll catch what’s on your mind and sometimes ask you about it. At other times, she repays a memory with a memory and you catch up with the past twenty years of your child’s life through her eyes. The bars. The ‘vermin’. Pam. You think you would like Pam. Fire from Eric’s fire, blood from his blood.
You watch through Josie as Eric struggles with her humanity, her habits, her abilities, watch as he caves and lets her in, lets her close. You watch them at his bars, the king and his princess sister, watch them fight and yell and fuck. You would like to use another word but that is what they do, both all claws and teeth and passion. You know how Eric is, remember all too well, and you laugh quietly when you realize he has found his match in stubbornness and ire in this part-demon girl.
Woman. You should call her a woman, really. Like you, her body is that of a teenager, but her true age is far beyond that. She tells you she is in her forties. Getting on in age, she says. You try to remember what you did when you were forty and draw only a vast blank space. Too far gone.
You laugh with her and smile and argue a bit. Hugo wakes once and freezes in terror when he sees you. Josie simply reaches over to the human and punches him in the face, knocking him out again.
You send her a reprimanding look, but she just shrugs. “There was no need to be violent.”
She repeats her earlier observation of the ‘pacifist vampire’ and tells you, “There was also no need to listen to him whine until sunset.”
She has Eric’s pragmatism, too. If you had not been there for Eric’s last glimpse of his human family, you would have sworn they are, in fact, siblings.
Speaking of sunset and violence. “I want no blood spilled.”
She huffs, tries to cross her arms and winces, but not as badly as before. Already healing. “I owe someone a hole in the shoulder.”
“No blood,” you repeat, your voice gentle as always, but commanding.
“I’m not your underling.”
“No,” you acknowledge and find yourself smiling again, “But you are Eric’s and he is my child. No blood.”
She pouts like the child she isn’t, slumping against the shelves behind you. “Not even a little?”
“Maybe a little,” you allow with a raised eyebrow.
She sits up again, all smiles. “Define ‘little’.”
You shake your head. “You are incorrigible.”
She nods, chuckles and then straightens, turning serious. “Small bloodbaths aside, Eric was ready to rip this place apart when he figured out you’re here. He’s gonna do worse than that when he sees my new peek-hole.”
“He is coming here?” Of course he is. But to hear her so sure of his actions, so sure of what her spilled blood will make him do, it seems strange. Love is not something Eric has ever claimed before and yet he obviously loves Josie.
She nods, smiles crookedly. “Sunset. I called him the minute those assholes plugged me.”
You consider her, her power, her range and her words. Eric will come and she is right, Eric will want blood. For you, for her. It is the Viking in him, the warrior. Revenge and loyalty are a volatile mixture inside of Eric Northman. “He will obey me,” you inform Josie. “We cannot give this church the massacre it wants.”
She seems to accept your words and you are left to frown at yourself. Giving Newlin and his zealots a massacre would be to give them martyrs. In greeting the sun, would you give them a saint?
Before you find your answer, Eric comes. He rants, rages, picks up Josie like a precious, fragile thing, and obeys. No blood is spilled on the human side, though your child leaves some blood and skin when the chains bite him. You get out. Stan stands down and Josie’s wound is cleaned and properly bandaged before the gathering at your house.
There are cheers and congratulations that you accept with indifference. You let Hugo go. No martyrs tonight.
Except one. The human boy that comes into your home, armed with fire and silver, the one that dies for a cause not his own. Josie yells the warning a second before he pulls the trigger. Not enough time for a human, but enough time for a vampire. You wrap yourself around her semi-fragile, bandaged body and throw both of you around a corner.
She remains unharmed and you heal in the few minutes it takes you to find Eric and assure yourself of his safety. You lose some of the human companions, but only three vampires. Because of Eric’s telepath.
You are in the process of thanking her when Nan comes marching in, relieving your of your duties. It was expected, after all that has happened, but it annoys you still, that such a rude youngling gets to tell you what to do.
Not that it matters.
You are still waiting for dawn.
You manage to slip past Josie’s ever vigilant mind, or so you think until she and Eric follow you onto the roof. Dawn is minutes away and you stand, your shirt already stripped, lost somewhere on the stairs, as they join you. The tattoos are bare, dark reminders on white skin. Blood and tattoos again. Josie hangs behind while Eric comes to plead with you.
You want to explain to him why you are doing this, but there are no words except those: You are old. Eric, for all that he is a thousand years old himself, will not understand how bone tired and worn you are.
Instead you tell him that your kind is not meant to be here, in this world. You were gods once, but those times are long gone. The world was tamed and there is no room anymore for savage gods. You have been made the monsters in the closet and you cannot blame the humans.
Blood was a way of life when you were young, when Eric was young, but it has since changed. Blood scares humans now. They have forgotten how to fight but you have not, reptilian and ancient, stuck in your ways.
You are sharks, never changing, never evolving.
“But we are here!” Eric shouts and breaks. He cries and it hurts you to see it because Eric of the North should never cry, should never sink so low.
You run a hand through his hair the way you did an age ago and find yourself smiling at the memory. It’s strange, you think. You have smiled more, worried more, felt
more today than in the past decade.
Your gaze flits to Josie, who caused most of those emotions. She is watching you, face inscrutable. You feel another of these long forgotten emotions: Regret. You would have liked to know this woman.
You turn back to your child and gently but urgently send him away. You have to order him in the end, stubborn man. It is not his time to burn and you won’t let him waste himself. You take one last look at him, drinking him in from his toes to his blonde hair, the long muscles of his legs, the grace of his movement, the set of his shoulders.
Then you turn towards the dawn and wait. Josie promises to stay with you and you take comfort in that. You won’t die alone. After living alone for so long, it is a blessing.
Footfalls, heavy ones going and soft ones coming closer. Josie stops beside you , speaks you name.
You do not react.
She tries again but there is nothing left to say now.Godric!
You flinch with the volume and fury of her voice in your head, shaking your skull and spine and you obey.
You turn to face her and instead of pleading like you expect her to, she draws back her good arm and punches you square in the face with enough force to crack your jaw. You stumble, catch yourself and stare, feeling nothing but surprise.
“You listen to me,” she snarls, stepping closer, chest heaving, hair blowing in the breeze. She looks like a Valkyrie, come to take you away. “You are a fucking coward!”
You stand there, tasting blood, too stunned to move. She keeps yelling. “I spent all day today with you in that rotten church and I know
you see what this world is like. You see how scared the humans are, how stuck the vampires are. You see the hate and the fear and the dying. And what do you do? Nothing. You have two thousand years of knowledge and forfuckingever to try and change things and instead you give up? Take the easy way out? You fucking coward!” She takes a deep breath but doesn’t stop.
“I’ve been seeing you in Eric’s mind for so long and you have no idea what he thinks of you. He practically worships you! And when I met you today, I thought that I might just understand why. Turns out I was wrong. You’re nothing like the man Eric remembers. You’re a scared, pathetic child!”
Her words hurt. You thought you were beyond such petty things, but hearing what she has to say, it hurts. Are you a coward? Is this the easy way? You thought by going with the Fellowship you might change something, sooth the ravaged feelings of all involved. You thought you were doing the right thing, making your death count for something. One sunrise and a better world. That is all you wanted. That, and peace.
You’re so old, so tired, always walking and never getting anywhere.
“Newsflash, idiot,” Josie snarls, stepping closer still; you can almost feel her racing heart against your chest and her hot breath fans your face. “We’re all tired. This world is fast and it’s ugly and it makes
you tired. But we’re not giving in. You think you’re not getting anywhere? You’re right. You were born and you were turned and if you die now, that’ll be all she wrote!”
She doesn’t understand. How could she? She’s so young. So full of fire. You can’t remember ever having had any fire to begin with. You must have, but time suffocated the last ember of it. You borrowed Eric’s fire for a while, warmed yourself on it, but those days are past, too. And this girl...
“Don’t you fucking dare tell me I don’t understand. I’m a damn telepath. I understand you better than you understand yourself. If you want to be a coward, whatever. Do what you want. But don’t try to turn it into some great tragedy. I understand alright, Godric. You’re scared. That’s all. You’re just scared.” She shrugs, as if there is nothing more to it. Is there? “Now excuse me, I have to go and put what’s left of Eric back together.”
You didn’t think you remembered how to have all those emotions swirling in your chest. Surprise. Shock. Anger. Pain. Sorrow. Grief. You’re hurting Eric. And Isobel and Stan and the rest of your nest. You’re hurting this bright girl. Abandoning them. But they’re just as well off alone, are they not? You lived your days, walked all the roads there are to walk. You have seen it, done it, all. Isn’t that enough?
Josie obviously reads your mind because she sighs and for the first time you notice tears on her face. All through her tirade, all through her rage, she was crying. For you.
She turns slowly, leaving you to die alone after all. As you wished. For a moment, you almost call her back. She catches the thought and stops, waiting. Hoping so hard you can feel it. She wants you to live.
Why in the gods’ names would she want you to live? Why would she care?
“I hope the sun is fire enough for you,” she suddenly whispers. The wind carries her words to you, barely, and then she’s gone.
Fire. Sunlight. Dawn. Yes. You hope the sun will warm you.
You want to burn.
But. You look from the lightening skyline to the stairwell, look down at your hand, stained red by Eric’s tears and at your chest, inked in faded black.
Blood and tattoos.
Who you are and who you were. Chieftain’s son, warrior, killer. In both lives, you have brought death. But you tried not to be cruel, tried to be honourable. You tried not to be a monster, even though it would have been so easy.
Stan, with his hatred and hunger, lives an easier life than Isobel, with her caring and emotions. It’s easier to be a monster than a god.
It’s easier still not to be at all.
What did Josie call it? The easy way out? Yes. Yes, it is.
The first rays of dawn prickle against your skin and you know you have only seconds before you catch on fire. Before you burn. The stairs or the dawn?
Absently you rub Eric’s blood between your fingers before licking them clean. Are you a coward? Are you scared?
The stairs or the dawn?
You close your eyes and concentrate hard. What do I do?
Josie, long gone from the roof but still inside your head, laughs. Get off the roof, Godric.
Now with added coda here