As they stepped out of Josephine’s (or Club Dead as the Weres so eloquently called it), Eric marveled at how small Buffy was, tucked up against his side with his hand spanning one entire side of her ribcage. How was it that someone that size held so much power? Her hands, ridiculously small next to his own, had managed to knock him out and take on Victor Madden. He would never believed it if he hadn’t witnessed it with his own eyes.
She stepped out of his hold almost as soon as they got to the sidewalk. He let her go without a word, satisfied in knowing her heart rate had picked up when he touched her. Well, satisfied would be pushing it, it would take much more than that to satisfy him. But it was enough for now.
“How far is it to Edgington’s? My car’s a few streets over.”
“Not far. We can walk,” he answered. He supposed he could fly with her, or they could drive, but that would shorten the time they spent together and that was the last thing he wanted. He was just starting to get her to trust him, to get inside her guards, he needed more time to cement that.
“What do you plan to do with Bill once you find him?” He asked. “It will be dangerous trying to move him in the daylight.”
“My rental car has a pretty big trunk, I’ll just stuff him in there.”
“How will you get the car to where he’s being held?”
“I’ll just park it outside the grounds and cover him with a blanket or something. Make him run for it,” she said with a shrug.
“He won’t be able to,” Eric said, eyebrows raised. “Even if he hadn’t been tortured and starved for this long, he still wouldn’t be able to get around like that in the daytime. He may be able to stumble a bit if he knows he’s in danger, but that would probably only be for a short distance.”
“What? I’m not following. Why wouldn’t he be able to move? If the sun’s not hitting him and making him all crispy, he’d be fine, right?”
“Wrong,” he answered slowly. She seemed knowledgeable about vampires, and her fighting skills led him to believe she’d faced them before… Was it possible she didn’t know what happened to them during the day? He decided to explain, just in case. “The compulsion for a vampire to sleep during the day is extremely strong. It leaves us completely helpless during the hours the sun is up.”
“That’s why you guys’ sleeping place is so important….” she muttered, brow furrowed. “So you’re just basically dead during the day?”
“For all intents and purposes, yes, pretty much.”
“Seriously? That’s… really creepy…”
He gave a head tilt of concession, “It’s simply the way it is.”
“That would be horrible… To not be able to stop yourself from falling asleep, knowing that anything could happen to you and you’d be helpless to stop it. Very Freddy Krueger-esque.”
Once again unfamiliar with the terms she used (had she called him some kind of pirate earlier?), he just nodded and ignored it. “We are very careful to pick secure sleeping spots. And since most of our enemies tend to also be vampires, it’s not usually a problem. But when humans such as the ones in the Fellowship of the Sun get involved…”
He left the statement hanging, sure she’d understand the problems of having humans hunting them during the day.
“You think I should’ve let Newlin and that other guy get killed,” she said, her shoulders stiffening.
“I was simply answering your question honestly, with no thought to the Fellowship men you let go. But if they had died there, it wouldn’t have bothered me at all.”
He knew that wasn’t the answer she wanted to hear. She had a deep sense of righteousness and would want the same values in a companion. Plus she wanted validation, to feel more secure in her decision. But he also knew lying to her would get him nowhere - she’d appreciate the fact that he told her the truth more in the long run.
Just as he suspected, she cast him a shuttered sideways glance at his statement.
“You wouldn’t care if those two people died there in that bar.”
The answer was simple - no, he didn’t. Even if they hadn’t been part of the loathed Fellowship, their fate still didn’t concern him. But that would be unwise to say aloud. He felt it was important to be truthful with her, to gain her trust, but that didn’t mean he had to tell her absolutely everything he was thinking.
“In my opinion, if you are willing to kill someone, you should also be prepared to die,” he answered simply. A true statement, he did feel that way. It just wasn’t his whole
thoughts on the subject.
The corner of her mouth curled down slightly but her eyes were thoughtful as they continued down the dark sidewalk. He let her be and took the moment to observe her in silence. She was a tasty vision in her simple black dress - the way it stopped mid-thigh left a large stretch of tan leg exposed. They seemed far longer than possible given her short stature… Her heeled shoes certainly helped with that though.
A small tremor worked its way through her and he had a brief moment of dread where he wondered if she’d put together how old he was with how many people he must have killed - a little fact that he was sure her virtuous spirit wouldn’t appreciate at all. But then he noticed the tiny little goose bumps that accompanied the shiver and the way her breath was visibly fanning out in front of her. Not used to taking notice of the weather or the discomfort of a human, it was somewhat of a surprise to realize she was probably cold. After a second’s mental debate, he deftly unbuttoned his suit jacket and slid it off, handing it to her without a word.
She stared at the item for a moment before a small smile replaced her thoughtful look, telling him he’d made the right choice. Another point earned. As she reached her hand out to take it, he noticed the sharp tang of magic he’d sensed earlier that night. He’d been searching for her since he came into town yesterday and had been starting to think he’d miscalculated, that he’d riled up Sophie-Anne by spreading numerous rumors about Edgington for nothing, that Buffy wasn’t going to show. Then he’d finally caught her scent as he’d approached the club, only to almost be thrown off of her trail by the sudden scent of magic. It was coming from the ring on her finger. A wide silver band with a little wooden inset, his sharp eyes could make out unfamiliar sigils curling around it.
“That’s an interesting ring,” he said as she pulled her hand back and slipped into his coat.
His curiosity was thwarted for a moment when he took in the sight of her in his jacket though. It was longer than her dress and billowed out around her, making her appear somewhat like an ostrich with her long thin legs and round body. He let out a loud bark of laughter at the sight, causing her to scowl at him slightly as she fought to roll the sleeves up.
Finally freeing her fingers, she sighed in relief and wiggled them around, making him smile again. She really was endlessly entertaining.
“How much further until Edgington’s?”
And mysterious. He knew she’d heard his comment about her ring and was purposely acting like she hadn’t. He considered calling her on it, but just as quickly dismissed the idea. It wouldn’t do to push her now. If things went well, he’d have plenty of time to find out her secrets.
“About a mile more,” he said, answering her question about Edgington’s and letting the topic of the ring drop.
He was sure he saw her relax slightly before she turned to him with an expression discontent.
“Another mile?” She almost whined. “I thought you said it was close? We could’ve been there by now if we drove.”
“Are you tired? Do your feet hurt? Would you like me to carry you?” He asked with mock sincerity.
“Psh, no. I could run around this whole town in these heels. They’re my favorites. It just seems like a waste of time.”
“Not a waste at all. Sharing your company is a perfectly reasonable use of time, in my opinion.”
“You’re really laying it on thick tonight,” she said with a good natured smirk.
“I’m hoping if I flatter you endlessly you might not disappear on me again.”
She opened her mouth to answer, but stopped before the words came out. Her jaw snapped closed with a click and her eyes darted past him down an alley, body tensing as her steps halted. It was maybe two seconds later that her heard it - something was coming toward them and coming fast. Could she have heard it before him? How was that possible?
Eric had a moment to wonder if it was one of Edgington’s men, coming after him because he’d been identified by someone. Then Bubba landed with a light thud right in front of them.
“Hey there, Mister Eric.”
“Bubba. I thought you were supposed to be watching over Sookie?” He asked, a brow raised. Usually Bubba, although a little slow, still followed simple orders very well. And he was particularly fond of Sookie, so it seemed odd for him to be here instead of watching her.
“I am. Her and that Were just left the club. This here’s a shortcut to that apartment building she’s staying in,” he said proudly.
“Ah, that’s good then. Let me introduce you to…” He stopped when he turned to Buffy, finding her stock still and wide eyed. “…Buffy…”
“Don’t I know you, miss?” Bubba asked, his brow furrowing up in thought.
“Me? Nope, never met before in my life. I’ve never even seen you before. You know, from, like, across a room or anything. Perfect strangers, that’s what we are. You ever see that show? The one with the guy that talked funny? No? Wasn’t that good anyway…”
Silence fell over them as Buffy ended her rambling, her eyes looking a little wild. Then Bubba gave her his famous, most dashing smile.
“You’re kinda strange, Miss Buffy. I think I like you.”
“That’s good,” she answered weakly.
“Good meetin’ you, Miss Buffy,” he said with a smile, then turned to Eric and nodded. “Mr. Eric. Gotta get on over to guard Miss Sookie now.”
And with a wave he was off again.
“What was that
?” Eric asked Buffy, completely thrown by the odd display.
“Nothing,” she answered a little too quickly before turning away from him and continuing down the sidewalk.
“Oh, that was definitely not ‘nothing’,” he said, catching up with her in two long strides. “What set off that stream of babble?”
She shrugged, not looking at him. “I just do that sometimes. Nothing out of the ordinary.”
Well, that much he could believe. But there was more to it in this case, he was sure.
“So your over-the-top insistence that you didn’t know him and had never seen him before was because…”
“I’d just never seen him before, that’s all.”
“Let’s see… Maybe you’re a shy fan and got flustered. All that pelvic thrusting does seem to get the women worked up,” he said, fighting off a smile at her grimace. “Or maybe-”
“You’re not going to let this go, are you?” She asked with a withering glare.
“No, no I’m not.”
“Okay, so, I might’ve met him once before. And I might’ve been taken a little by surprise and… said his real name.”
He was rendered speechless for a moment, realizing how lucky they’d been that Bubba hadn’t remembered her. Then it came to him…
were the human girl that sent him into a rage at The Dead Gator?” He asked, trying unsuccessfully not to laugh. He and Pam had gotten a kick out of that story when a New Orleans’ vamp had come through town last month and told them about it. The amusement suddenly faded as he remembered another piece of that story. “You were there with one of the Queen’s guards, Rasul…”
“Oh man, he told me he’d never live that down,” she said, laughing slightly and shaking her head. “I didn’t really believe him, but I guess if you heard about it…”
Eric had lost all good humor though. “Why were you with him?”
“We were out vampire bar hopping that night. The Dead Gator was the first stop, and I have to say, the most exciting.”
“You were out ‘bar hopping’ with Rasul.”
She cast him a look, her nose scrunching slightly. “Is it me or did your accent just get accentier?”
“Why were you with him?”
Logically, he knew he shouldn’t be acting like this. He was supposed to be earning her trust. Learning about her and how best to insinuate his way into her life. But something dark and bitter curled in him at the thought of her with Rasul. He’d met the guard once, and seen him in passing a few times since then when he visited New Orleans. His mind reached for anything he’d heard about him. From Israel, he believed, Rasul was fairly young - not even Compton’s age if he was remembering correctly. He supposed he was good looking in a dark sort of way. Shorter hair and the sandy complexion of someone darker skinned turned vampire, a slightly hooked nose… Definitely not competition for himself. He shouldn’t be a problem. Nothing to worry about. Definitely not…
“You okay? You’re looking a little constipated.”
His eyes snapped back to her green questioning ones.
“Why were you with him?” He asked again, his voice a little sharper than he’d intended.
“With Rasul? Well, we’d been planning a vampy bar night for a while, but I’d been busy. What’s with the- Wait, are you jealous
She stopped and faced him, her surprise fading into amusement and then irritation. It would’ve been fascinating in any other circumstances. As it was he found himself tensing in defense while his own annoyance teetered on the edge of anger.
“Okay, seems like we need to get some things straight real quick,” she said, looking slightly ridiculous as she craned her neck to look up at him, hands barely peeking out of the sleeves and on her hips. “This weird possessive jealousy vibe you’re giving out? Not gonna fly. We barely know each other, so back off. And if we’re going to get to know each other, you need to know right off that I choose who my friends are. So if your panties are gonna get all twisted about me hanging out with Rasul, too damn bad.”
Her standing there, thinking to order him about anything, looking so small yet defiant… it chased away the acrid taste of jealousy and replaced it with a kind of hot anticipation, a syrupy sensual feeling. It exploded in him so suddenly, that he didn’t even realize he’d moved until he had her pressed to the window the shop on sidewalk next to them - hands on her shoulders and face inches from hers. Wide green eyes blinked up at him, even more surprised than he was, then her brows drew down, anger washing over her features.
“What the hell-”
Then he was kissing her. His control was frayed to a thin thread and he wasn’t even sure why. Something about her made him lose all reason. Soft lips were unmoving under his, her small body radiated a delicious heat but was stiff and unyielding as he pressed against her. The unfamiliar feeling of failure (and maybe a dash of shame) reared up in him. What was he doing? Was this
how he was going to win her attentions? Make her his? Actually, it occurred to him then that it might have been the realization that she couldn’t
his that spurred him into such an action. The thought that she couldn’t be controlled was more of an aphrodisiac than a deterrent.
When her hands came up and gripped fistfuls of the front of his shirt, he was already pulling back, ready to get punched again and willing to admit he deserved it. But that wasn’t quite what happened. Instead of pushing him back, she pulled him more tightly against her, lips parting under his with a soft sigh. And just like that, what little control he’d gained back started slipping away again.
His tongue swept against hers. She tasted like she smelled - sweet with a hint of darkness. The sensation of moist heat combined with the taste of her blasted across his senses, tempting him in deeper. One of her hands crept up to his hair, loosening the short braid and tangling her fingers in the strands. Her other hand released the material near his collarbone to slide down his chest and over his stomach in a way that made him groan into her mouth, before coming to rest at his side above his hip. Once again gripping the material tightly and pulling him closer.
And closer is just where he wanted to be. But being that he had to stoop slightly to reach her mouth made it difficult. Prying his hands from the grip he had on her shoulders, he moved in closer and wrapped one arm around her waist, hoisting her higher against the window so he could press himself fully against her. Her teeth nipped at his lip as she settled her legs around his hips, seemingly fine with her change in altitude.
The pounding of her pulse, her panting breaths, the frantic push and pull between their mouths, the feeling of finally being so intimately pressed against her - it all combined to a fever pitch in him, making colors sharper, senses stronger, but with a slow haze settling over everything. Part of him knew he needed to get control of himself, a small quickly ignored voice in the back of his mind.
One hand slid up to her hair, tangling in it much as hers was tangling in his, and tugging her head back as he kissed her deeper and harder. His other hand slipped from around her waist, no longer needed to hold her up since her legs were locked tightly around him. His hand found its way between them, cupping a breast and squeezing slightly before continuing down and stopping at her hip. Fingers nimbly gathering material and revealing more and more leg. A low throaty groan was met with a growl as his hand slid under the newly bared thigh and his mouth moved down the smooth column of her throat. The sound of something cracking barely brushed his awareness.
The gasp that met his ears and the way her hips pressed forward against his when his fingers slipped under the edge of her underwear were what undid him. His own hips bucked forward at the same time his fangs brushed the juncture of her neck and shoulder. A much louder cracking sound marked a sudden flurry of movement he didn’t have the wits to follow and the next thing he knew he was laying on his back, blinking up at the sky - still painfully hard and hungry.
The “tap tap tap” of heeled steps had him turning his head to find Buffy pacing in front of the store window, now with an oval of spider-webbed glass where he’d had her pressed. Her hair was wild from his fingers and her face was flushed. He sat up, watching her and wanting to continue where they left off but knowing that wasn’t going to be happening from the dark look she shot at him.
“You- I just- what was- Ugh! Idiot!”
She seemed to direct the last part at herself, her pacing picking up speed. He got to his feet, a little uncomfortably, and took a step toward her.
“Oh no, no, no,” she said, whirling around to face him and shaking a finger in front of her. “You just stay right over there. This doesn’t change anything. Just because I was weak and gave into some kissage and a little petting doesn’t change anything I said before. And the whole caveman thing where you try to kiss me into submission- I know it seems like it worked really well, but that’s just because I haven’t been with anybody in a long time. I was caught off guard, okay. And you kiss really well. And smell good. But you try and manhandle me like that again and I’ll kick your ass. And you try and bite
me again, I’ll stake you where you stand. Got it?”
He tried to look contrite but was sure he failed miserably because she just kind of huffed at him and spun away.
“And look! We vandalized someone’s window,” she said, waving a hand at the damaged store front. “Oh god, what if they had a security camera! My ass was pressed up against that window!”
“And what an ass it is,” he said, using his vampire speed to step up behind her and whisper in her ear.
She whipped around and shoved him in the chest, making him take a couple steps back.
“You just stay in your personal little bubble and stay out of mine. I don’t make out with vampires I barely know on public streets in the middle of the night. I mean, other than just now. But it won’t be happening again! So… you just stay over on your side of the sidewalk and I’ll stay on mine. Now let’s get to Edgington’s.”
She looked adorably flustered and embarrassed, and more than a little tense.
“I could help with all that pent up frustration,” he said with fangy smirk, falling in step beside her as they continued on their way.
“You- you just shut up.”
They walked two more blocks in silence. Buffy looking like she was having some kind of internal self-deprecating argument while Eric firmly reestablished his control. On one hand, he couldn’t believe he’d been so reckless. He could’ve ruined everything with that move. But on the other, now he knew she was just as attracted to him as he was to her.
Tired of the silence and wanting to regain some of the ground he might’ve lost, he spoke up as they neared Edgington’s.
“The estate is just ahead. We’ll have to be careful approaching. He’ll have vampire sentries on duty right now, and maybe some Weres. Tomorrow when you come, obviously the vampires will be sleeping but there’ll be a new shift of Weres and maybe some human guards as well. Don’t underestimate the shifters just because tonight’s a full moon.”
“I’d like to get a layout of the place,” she said, casting her eyes up at the tops of the buildings. “Let’s get to a rooftop.”
He nodded, impressed with her foresight and moved toward her.
“Hey, hey,” she said, holding her hands up in front of her. “What are you doing?”
“I was going to fly us to the top of that building,” he said, irritation warring with amusement at her panicky look.
“Uh-uh. Personal bubble, remember. I’ll find a fire escape.”
Sighing, he waved a hand for her to lead the way like she was inconveniencing him. But truthfully, although he’d love nothing more than to get her that close to him again, he conceded that it wasn’t the best idea if he wanted to keep his control and earn back the trust he’d lost.
Around the back of an apartment building they found an old fire escape. Buffy reached for the ladder, her fingers coming nowhere near the lowest rung. He smirked at her disgruntled look and he could see her contemplate jumping for it. Seeing her jumping around probably wouldn’t be good for his control either… He stepped past her and pulled down the ladder in one quick movement, glad when a squeal of metal didn’t accompany it. He’d like to keep this little reconnoitering session as quiet as possible. If Edgington even caught a hint of someone sneaking around he’d slam up so much security that it would be impossible to get in without a small army.
Stepping by him quickly, Buffy started climbing, silent except for the tiniest dinging of her shoes on the metal rungs. He hoped the thing wasn’t rusted out anywhere. Glancing up to follow her progress he was presented with a perfect view up her dress. He closed his eyes and muttered an ancient curse. It seemed like the fates were just fucking with him now.
Deciding she could fend for herself against any rust, he flew up to the top to wait on her. She vaulted up onto the edge of the roof moments after him, her grace and speed once again straining his curiosity about her secrets.
“Wow, that place is… Wow,” she said, coming to a stop next to him and taking in the view of Edgington’s estate. While not nearly as grand as Threadgill’s, it was still impressive. A large white mansion with massive columns sat in the middle of the walled grounds. There was only one entrance, a gate that was manned 24 hours a day.
Glancing over at Buffy, he was taken aback by the strict focus she was showing. Gone was any embarrassment or rambling. She was still as a vampire except for her breathing as her eyes took in every detail of the grounds. He followed as she walked to the west, looking for a better view.
“Not counting the house, I see one more medium sized building and two small ones. You agree?”
“Yes," he said, tearing his gaze from her. “The two small ones look to be a pool house and a tool shed. The larger perhaps a garage or guest house.”
“He could be in any of those,” she mumbled. “I suppose I should just hope he’s not in the main house…”
This time she walked to the east side of the rooftop, eyes tracing the surrounding streets, the gate and the winding drive.
“You’re right, it’s way to far to try and get him out on foot. I’ll have to get my car in there.”
“And how will you do that?”
“I’ll work something out,” she said with a dismissive wave. “I’ll have to come early, too. Right after the vampires go to bed and while the Weres are still hopefully groggy from tonight’s festivities.”
“I agree. You’ll have to be careful of new arrivals though. Some might come in late.”
“Good point,” she said, mouth curling downward unhappily. “What should I do with Bill when I get him out of there?”
Her study of the estate apparently complete, she turned back to Eric, meeting his eyes unflinchingly. This was someone used to snapping into soldier mode at a moments notice. Another puzzle piece, but no place to put it…
“Somewhere dark would be best, even if he is already in a trunk,” he answered. “Perhaps somewhere underground? Does the hotel you’re staying in have a parking garage?”
“Yes, but it’s the only vampire hotel in town. They’ll be likely to search for him there when they realize he’s missing,” he said, turning over options and discarding them just as quickly. “Sookie is staying with Alcide in an building with underground parking, you could take him there. We’ll have to get a key card though.”
He glanced at his watch and almost grimaced. It was late. Or more accurately, it was early. Sookie wouldn’t appreciate being woken by him tapping on her window again. He wasn’t really in the mood to find her irritation and scolding amusing. And the sun would be up soon…
“No, we can’t ask her. Then she’ll know I’m going in by myself and I have a feeling she wouldn’t go for that. I don’t really want to deal with her insisting on going along or something. It’ll be hard enough without having to watch out for her too. Just show me where the building is, I’ll worry about getting the car in there tomorrow.”
“I’m a little concerned about all this improvising you’ll be doing…”
“It’s how I work best,” she answered with a little smile as she turned back toward the fire escape.
Shaking his head a little, he followed her down. His life depended on this girl getting Bill out of Edgington’s estate. Her plan had holes all through it. She was tiny and she’d be outnumbered greatly. But for some reason he couldn’t find it in himself to doubt her. Maybe it was her own confidence. Maybe it was because he’d seen her in action, seen her determination become a force to be reckoned with.
Or maybe in his goal to get her to trust him, he’d started trusting her instead.