Chapter Sixteen: Maenad Madness
"People are so in need, in need of help. People want so much that they do not know. - Gwendolyn Brooks
Chapter Sixteen: Maenad Madness
Andy's clothes were disheveled and he appeared almost mad; in the craziest sense of the word. He was a man possessed in that moment. His semi-automatic pistol was pointed in front of him, shaking slightly with the movements of his hand.
Voices could be heard on the porch as everyone inside the house came out to see the spectacle.
The detective yelled for everyone to stand in a group and Eric lifted Buffy easily off the car and practically carried her to the porch with Sookie and Bill following closely behind.
Swiveling the gun in Sookie's direction, Andy waved it around, telling her to come stand beside him. The two women and the two vampires put up a protest until Andy threatened to shoot her if she didn't obey him.
Slowly walking over to him while still giving him an attitude, a collie ran out of the woods. The dog rubbed against Sookie's legs and Buffy let out a small gasp, feeling Eric's large hand squeeze her shoulder.
Andy held Sookie by her neck, shaking her roughly and demanding that she read people's minds to find out who killed Lafayette. Apparently hard times had fallen on Andy since the body of the chef had appeared in the back seat of his car. He was so desperate to clear his name that he was practically holding people hostage at gun point.
Awhile after Sam had appeared in his animal form, a tall and crazy looking woman emerged from the woods. She had dark untamed hair and looked incredibly beautiful in a wild sort of way. The smile on her lips was very disturbing.
Eric pulled Buffy backward as him and Bill moved away from the humans.
The slayer did not take that as a good sign.This is not how I thought this night was going to go.
She thought as she stared at the woman, the tingle she was getting felt like something was scratching her back, little needles pricking underneath her skin constantly.
She took that as a definite bad sign.
The woman took notice of Sookie first, addressing her as a little cub and then referring to her as her messenger. Oh, just great. That must be the maenad that attacked Sookie.
Buffy thought wildly, restraining the urge to leap forward and attack the woman for her past indiscretions.
Eric's hand squeezed her shoulder hard enough to make her wince.
The maenad began talking to Andy, grabbing his attention long enough for him to let go of Sookie, who fell to her knees and began crawling toward Bill. Sam followed beside her the entire time, as though he were her furry, four-legged protector.
Buffy noticed that beside her Bill's attention was focused fully on the ground as Sookie finally reached him and gripped his legs tightly. He placed a pale hand on her head, as though reassuring her of his presence.
Sam sidled up to Buffy's legs and she started to look down at him, but Eric's hard grip prevented her from doing so. She whipped her head around to stare at him and saw that his attention was focused on his car. Using his strong grasp, he turned her slightly so that her gaze was pointed in the same direction.
She understood the hint; don't look at the maenad.
Sensing the maenad's approach, she kept her gaze pointed firmly on the car. When the maenad was directly in front of her, the feeling of needles poking her back turned to sharp stabs.
"What an interesting little treat," the woman spoke excitedly in front of Buffy, leaning forward to give her a quick sniff before smacking her tongue as if she were tasting the air. "She smells absolutely wonderful!"
Eric tightened his grip on Buffy even harder and she winced again, buckling slightly under his hold but, never once turning her head to look at the maenad.
"Eric Northman, you have found a precious delicacy, you lovely piece of dead meat," she spoke heartily and laughed.
Her breath smelled like decay and earth. Buffy wanted to gag, but closed her eyes instead, finding reassurance in Eric's strong grasp on her shoulder.
The maenad moved passed them and began talking to the other people on the deck. Addressing the ones who had been involved in Lafayette's murder. By the way she spoke of it, it sounded like he had not gone gently into the night. They had tortured him, had beaten him, had done horrible things to him before finally killing him.
Sookie slowly pulled herself to her feet, falling into Bill's tight embrace and burying her face in his chest as horrendous sounds came from where the maenad was.
It sounded as though people were choking, gurgling noises escaping their mouths as bare feet clattered against the wooden deck.
Sookie began shaking slightly, in that moment Eric turned swiftly and pressed against Buffy, pushing her toward her cousin. The vampires had pressed the women against one another and were clasping their arms around them. Sam pressed himself against their legs, offering protection from the ground as well.
The noises were steadily getting worse, gurgles turning to gasps and strangled breathing. Incoherent mumbles came from their mouths, sounding like insane gibberish. Wet, squishing sounds began filling the air.
Buffy's imagination began taking hold and she pictured skin being ripped from the bone, bodies being torn apart and shredded and innards being exposed and falling to the deck.
She closed her eyes tightly and felt Sookie practically convulsing in front of her.
Wrapping her arms tightly around Sookie, she felt the vampires move even closer together and was almost pressed cheek to cheek with her cousin. She felt Bill's cool hand lightly brush against her face as he pressed his hand to Sookie's mouth, smothering any noises she might make.
Buffy couldn't help but feel frightened. If the undead men shielding her right now were scared, than it only stood to reason that she should be also.
The noises continued to get worse and Sookie kept shaking harder, her movements were worrying Buffy even more and she clung to her fiercely.
Finally, the noises died away.
Sookie's convulsing subsided and the vampires loosened their slack, Bill carried her back to the hood of Eric's car and laid her gently on it.
Buffy felt as if she were frozen where she stood, everything that had been holding her upright was gone and her knees began to buckle. If it hadn't been for Eric's quick reflexes, she would have hit the deck; but she never did.
Somehow, she ended up being lifted off the ground instead of heading toward it. Eric had one arm wrapped around her waist, holding her firmly pressed against his chest. Her mind was so far away, that she couldn't even find the words to object and found that she didn't even want to. She was grateful to him.
The maenad walked toward Sookie and talked about never seeing someone reaching that close to others' madness, she sounded amused by what had happened.
The woman made her way back toward Buffy and Eric, Buffy's eyes were still cast downward and she could see that there was blood all over the maenad's legs. She now smelled of fresh gore, saliva and earth.
Buffy took the chance of raising her head and glaring at the monster. The maenad found it humorous.
Blood dripped down the woman's face, sticking and drying in her messy hair as she smiled sickenly at Buffy, "You are a unique one. So much courage, so much pride; I cannot wait till your wings are pulled off."
The maenad winked at her before turning around and sauntering back into the woods, leaving behind the devastating mess she had made on the deck.
Buffy took that moment to turn her head, catching a small glimpse of what was behind her; of the bodies that appeared to have melted and imploded at the same time.
A single glistening tear escaped her eye, trailing down her cheek. In all of her years as the slayer, she had seen many horrible and awful things; in fact, she was used to it.
This made her top five list of most gruesome visuals she had been a witness to. And, she hadn't done a damn thing to stop it, she thought to herself bitterly.
Eric's cool finger against her cheek stirred her attention and she turned her head to stare at him. He was gazing wonderingly at his finger, her tear was dripping down it and it fell to the deck, he watched it looking somewhat amazed.
Unsure of how to react, she reached her hand out slowly to grab his, giving it a small squeeze before letting go. His gaze returned to her face and he set her down very gently on her feet.
Buffy walked down the steps and toward Eric's car, where Sookie was sitting on the hood. She put her arms around her cousin and they held each other for what felt like a very long time. When they pulled away, they both noticed Sam standing beside them, buck naked.
From the noises that Eric and Bill were making and the conversation they were having, it was apparent that they were moving the bodies into a single pile. They talked about the maenad never cleaning her own mess and Buffy did her best to tune them out.
Eric called out that they had a live one up there and Buffy turned to see Tara Thornton crouched down and hiding underneath a small table on the deck. She was rambling about things that made no sense and it became obvious that she was in shock.
After a bit of coaxing, they got her into her car and Sam offered to drive her home after he found a pair of pants.
Somewhere in the back of her mind, Buffy knew that she should have been more grateful for Sam's presence, but she almost wondered if perhaps part of herself was also in shock. Her focus was on Sookie more than anything else.
The vampires talked about where to set the cabin on fire and Buffy had to tune them out once again, wishing desperately that she had never come to this party, that Sookie had never asked her and that her cousin had never even been invited in the first place. She felt guilty that those people had been killed in such an appalling way; but at the same time she was glad that people so appalling themselves, were gone from the world.
The things they had done to Lafayette had been unforgivable.
In that moment, she was almost scared of herself and she noticed out of the corner of her eye, that Eric was staring at her, almost studying her.
When the cabin had been set ablaze, Andy's sister, Portia had driven up. Sookie left out the details of that night, but told them that they'd find their evidence against Lafayette's killers in the trunk of Mike Spencer's vehicle. Eric had found it by peering inside the trunk and also found Lafayette's wallet.
Portia thanked them for helping Andy and the tumult of emotions from that night seemed to flood from Sookie as she snapped, "I wasn't helping Andy. I was helping Lafayette."
"Of course," the woman appeared to be cowed by Sookie's tone of voice. "He was your coworker."
"He was my friend
," she snapped angrily.
Portia took a confused Andy home after that, neither looking anyone in the eyes.
Sookie was ready to leave after that incident, exhausted from the night's events and ready for bed. Bill offered to take her home and Buffy was left to ride with Eric.
Thankfully, he drove in silence and she was able to collect her muddled thoughts.
Sookie had been given the next day of work off and she hadn't come out of her room yet, Buffy assumed she was still sleeping and didn't dare disturb her.
She got ready for work as quietly as possible and drove as slowly as she could; she hadn't been having much experience behind the wheel, since most days she had the same shifts as her cousin and they drove to work together in Sookie's car.
The Nissan appeared almost dusty, as though begging for some attention. And, Buffy noticed that she drove exceptionally well on her way to Merlotte's; the first time anyone would have actually complimented her driving. The car didn't jerk or screech to a halt as she parked it, either.
As she was putting her purse in Sam's desk, he walked in the office and closed the door behind him. He stood in front of the door, staring at her and not speaking.
Lines of concern covered his face, making him appear much older than he actually was. Uncertainty rolled through Buffy as she stared back at him, clearly dumbfounded as to what was happening between them.
"Are you alright?" he asked finally and she let out a breath she hadn't known she'd been holding.
"I'm fine. You?" she questioned quietly.
"Fine," his answer was crisp, almost business like.
They stared at one another for what seemed another long moment, Buffy shifted her weight from one leg to the other.
Finally, he said briskly, "I don't want you seeing Eric anymore."
Suddenly, Buffy's anger boiled to the surface.
There was no controlling herself at that moment, this time she exploded, "Well, I don't want somebody telling me what I can and can't do or who I can and can't see. You may be my boss here," she gestured around at the room and then continued, "But, you are not my boss in my personal life."
Sam took a step toward her, looking angrier at her outburst, "I'm just trying to protect you!"
"I don't need protection!" she yelled and then kept going as she picked up steam, "When are you going to get that? Last night was not Eric's fault or Sookie's or mine. It was just one of those bad things that happen."
She strode toward him and narrowed her eyes, "Those bad things are my life. So, if you can't handle that then I suggest you just stay out of it. I'm going to work now."
Buffy swept around him and swung the door open, it slammed against the wall from the force and the sound reverberated in the small office. She stormed down the hallway and grabbed an apron, tying it on as she grabbed her tray and went to work in a bad mood.
The rage she had been feeling lately, that she had been forced to keep bottled up had exploded on Sam and she wasn't sure why.
As the day progressed and her and Sam avoided each other, she began feeling incredibly guilty. But, something inside wouldn't let her apologize.
She went home that night ashamed and sad, she had possibly destroyed a good thing with Sam and wasn't even convinced that she wanted
to fix it. What is happening to me? I'm becoming angrier and colder.
All she wanted was to crawl in her bed and hide for the rest of the night.
She didn't get that luxury though, because Eric appeared at her bedroom window, he seemed to be floating since she was on the second story with no overhanging roof.
"You can fly?!" she asked suddenly, more amazed than mad at seeing him.
"It does not frighten you?" he asked while hovering outside the window.
"No, it's actually pretty cool," she responded as she sat at the end of her bed.
She wasn't even going to argue with him right now, she had no energy for it.
He stepped gracefully inside the window and walked toward her, standing above her and staring down at her. His face was unreadable as he studied her.
"You are very intriguing," he said after a few minutes of silence. "May I try something? I promise I will not harm you."
His voice was so purely sincere, that all she could do was nod.
Widening his eyes very slightly, he stared deeply into her own and then said in a voice as smooth as silk, "Kiss me."
She raised her eyebrows, "What are you doing?"
Remaining completely unreadable he said, "I had my suspicions that it might not work on you. Why is that?"
That was when she understood that he had tried to glamor her.
Her words came out before she had thoroughly thought them through, "Thrall stopped working on me after I drank Dracula's blood."
His expression finally became readable; he was completely stunned by her admission, "You drank from Dracula?"
Buffy pulled one of her legs up and hooked it underneath the other one, answering tartly, "It was a lot ickier than you make it sound."
A very small smirk lifted a corner of his mouth, "Dracula is a legend among our kind. The fact that he gave you his blood makes you more extraordinary than I had originally thought."
Her voice came out small and filled with wonder, "You think I'm extraordinary?"
Eric ignored the question, asking one of his own instead, "The third set of bite marks on your neck, they are his?"
"Yes," she had no idea why she was being so honest with him, but there was no point in lying or avoiding it. He'd find out one way or another.
"He glamored you?" he asked with a tilt of his head.
"Yes," she quickly replied.
"The second set, those are from the bastard kind. Did that happen in battle?" he seemed genuinely interested to know the truth.
"No, it didn't," her answers were simple.
His eyes widened and for the second time, he was shocked, "You gave your blood willingly?"
"Yes, but there were circumstances that I don't want to talk about right now," her tone implied that that specific discussion was over, but she wasn't annoyed with him.
He understood and moved on, "The first set, the oldest ones, was that willingly as well?"
"No," she said crisply.
"In battle?" he sounded so curious that she couldn't not answer him.
Her tone was grim as she responded, "Yes. He killed me."
And, for the third time, he was astonished. Strike three for Buffy.
She thought humorlessly.
He stared at her before saying, "But, you are sitting before me, alive and breathing."
"I drowned after he bit me. My friend gave me CPR and then I killed him," her answer was straight to the point and he nodded, taking that moment to appear as though he were absorbing all of the information he had just received.
Buffy took that opportunity to do her own line of questioning, "How did you know what I was feeling?"
"You have had my blood. I can feel some of your emotions, it seems to be much stronger than it would be with a normal human," he replied instantly and from his tone she could tell that he was being honest.
"Is that why you had me suck the bullet out?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Yes," he nodded, again going with blunt honesty.
She thought about that, deciding to leave the question of why for a later time, she wasn't sure she wanted the answer right now.
Suddenly, his voice pulled her from her thoughts, "Yes, I think you are extremely extraordinary."
His tone had sounded very unlike him, it had had a hint of warmth and what almost sounded like uncertainty.
He knelt down in front of Buffy, bending down on one of his knees, grabbing her hands gently. Leaning toward her very slowly, he brushed his lips against hers lightly, kissing her softly for what felt like a long time.
She knew that she was reciprocating the kiss because she was enjoying it, it was the fourth time he had kissed her and it was the first time she felt as though it were a genuine kiss. He wasn't kissing her for any reason other than to kiss her, to truly feel something with her. And, that was when he pulled away and stared at her with wide-eyes.Apparently, he just felt my feelings. Peachy.
She thought as they stared at each other, her breathing accelerated.
He gently stroked her cheek and placed an extremely light kiss on her lips; so light that she might not have felt it if it weren't for the coldness of his skin. When she opened her eyes, he was gone.
A/N: One of the maenad's lines was from the book as well as Sookie and Portia's conversation.