It hadn’t taken Eric long to get in touch with Dr. Ludwig and once he did, he realized it was just as he suspected. Pam had tried to attack the good doctor when she had shown up at the bar and taken Sarah. Eric was furious with Pam when he found out. Ludwig was deemed untouchable in the Supernatural world. The miniature Doctor curried great favor with many influential Supes. Most considered attacking her in any way a form of suicide. Pam was extremely fortunate she was only just restrained and not ended for her attack. As it was, she had lost the use of Ludwig’s services if they were ever required. Dr. Ludwig had informed Eric over the phone that Pam had been blacklisted. Neither the spoiled vampire nor any future pet she might take, or even a child she might make would ever be treated by the doctor…
Pam had been unrepentant when confronted, claiming that Ludwig shouldn’t have interfered in their affairs and that she was lucky she didn’t kill her. It was only when Eric informed her that if she had killed her she would have met the True Death afterward that Pam began to see how badly she had fucked up. Yet, even then she still hadn’t understood the full ramifications of her actions. Her proposed solution of ’Throw some money at her!’ was met with an eye roll as well as an order to ‘Get the fuck out of my sight!’
If Pam had been angry when Dr. Ludwig had taken her cash cow, she was downright furious when Eric informed her he was staying in Shreveport. He had told her she was free to leave whenever she wished, but he was staying put. It didn’t take a genius to realize Eric was remaining so he could be close to Sookie, even if she herself wasn’t there. Pam hadn’t been happy in the slightest at the news, and she had ranted and raved at Eric for hours. In the end, Eric had simply walked away from her leaving her in the middle of the bar dumbfounded.
If the news that they were staying enraged her, the news that Sookie was gone and the reason why made her happier than she had been in years. The knowledge that Sookie had left after reading Mr. Gus, believing Eric didn’t care and wanted her dead brought Pam more joy than a dozen new wardrobes. She was practically giddy when she found out, and she scared more than one person with the wide smile on her face. Eric had been disgusted at her delight. He was hurting and she was happy.
Pam’s glee was short-lived though when she realized she wouldn’t be getting her Maker all to herself. The re-emergence of Willa in their lives was like silver to her skin and she hated it whenever she saw Eric on his phone, knowing it was Willa with whom he was in contact. She had deliberately programmed Willa’s number incorrectly into his phone before they departed on their hunt for Sarah. She knew Eric well enough to know he would want to have some sort of contact with Willa, so she reversed the last two digits so Eric would believe his attempts at contact were being ignored.
While Pam hated it, Eric took great comfort in his growing relationship with his youngest child. It wasn’t easy, and it was obvious that Willa didn’t trust him in the beginning; his continued attempts to reach out to her did start to slowly pay off. They suffered many setbacks, but they did manage to find some common ground. That common ground, much to Pam’s chagrin, was Sookie Stackhouse. The two of them bonded over the telepathic blonde. It took nearly five months for Eric to finally find out what had really happened that night, and just how badly he had fucked up.
Three years and six months earlier
Everything about Eric screamed frustration as he tapped on his phone screen. It had been nearly a week since he last spoke to his youngest child and the wait was starting to unnerve him. He had gone months without talking to Pam, years without talking to Godric, and yet seven little days without contact from Willa was pushing him to the brink of his patience. He recognized a larger part of that frustration was because after five long months Jason had finally agreed to talk to Willa and hear her out on behalf of him, but a small part was also down to him missing his child.
In the five months since he had violently forced his way back into Willa’s life, Eric had come to realize just how special she was. She had a compassion that had at times humbled him. Much like his missing love, Willa never judged someone for what they were. She didn’t discriminate against Weres just because they were Weres; she didn’t think vampires were better than everyone just because she was a vampire, and she didn’t look down on humans because they were merely normal. She wasn’t so blinded by the good that she didn’t see the bad. She just took the world as it was, and lived her life accordingly. Willa wasn’t jaded and bitter like Pam. She was as the humans say, “a breath of fresh air.”
Pam was less than thrilled at their growing closeness and, on more than one occasion, had tried to sabotage it by neglecting to pass on messages and implying to Willa that Eric was only using her to get information on Sookie. Pam wanted Eric to herself. In her eyes, he should have never turned Willa. She was unworthy of the gift of being Eric’s child. That role was supposed to be Pam’s and Pam’s alone. He waited nine hundred years to make a child; that should have been all the proof he needed that he was just waiting for her.
Eric huffed out a breath of exasperation as the fourth message he sent that night went unanswered. He had a feeling Willa was deliberately ignoring him and he was unsure why. Since the night in the woods outside of Bellefleurs, Willa had been more open at his attempts to reconnect with her. He knew she still didn’t trust him, but he sensed that she no longer hated him. Now she only strongly disliked him.
A flash of black in front of him caught his attention and Eric looked up from his phone. He barely kept from rolling his eyes when he saw a sickly thin woman dressed in the usual fangbanger garb crawling toward him. He sneered at the woman as she presented her neck to him. He had no interest in her or any other woman in the bar, and dismissed her with a flick of his finger.
Eric shook his head as he cast his eyes over the full bar. The events of the last year had no effect on the desperation of the fangbangers, and once he had opened the doors to Fangtasia again, they had all come running back begging to be bitten. Even the threat of Hep V had not kept them away, and Eric was suddenly grateful that Dr. Ludwig had taken Sarah Newlin when she had. Once he had time to think about it, Eric had realized the plan of the Yakuza was poorly thought out and dangerous to all vampires. Hep V was deadly and needed to be wiped out. Slapping a Band-Aid on it and calling it a cure was idiotic and could have done more harm than the original virus. The virus had mutated once and there was no reason not to believe it couldn’t happen again. Given time, Hep V could have become deadly to vampires once more and the cure would then be ineffective. All that would have been necessary was one more doctor like Overlark getting their hands on a sample and a new epidemic would have spread through the vampire world. Instead of that happening, Ludwig had managed to create a cure from Sarah Newlin’s blood, cured the vampires infected, and inoculated the rest.
Once she had developed the cure, Ludwig had handed Sarah over to the human authorities and, in a move that had surprised many, the former reverend’s wife had been charged with murder, attempted murder, hate crimes against vampires, and a slew of other offenses. Her trial had been a public spectacle but in the end she had been found guilty on all charges and sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. With Sarah’s imprisonment, a new era was ushered in. No longer were attacks against vampires ignored or considered non-crimes.
As he stared across the bar Eric wondered why he didn’t just burn the whole place down. He hated Fangtasia. He hated the sea of black and scent of desperation. He hated the show he had to put on for his adoring public. He hated… He hated that Sookie wasn’t there with him. Everything came back to his spitfire in a sundress. Eric hadn’t realized how much he loved her until he had truly lost her. It wasn’t until she was gone from his life with no knowing if she would ever return that he realized he always held onto the belief they would one day be together again. Despite what he may have told himself and others, he had never really let her go. He always believed, no; he always knew they would one day find their way back to one other. A love like theirs didn’t die; it endured.
As always the thought of Sookie caused a pang in his heart and he rose from his throne, stalked off the stage, and headed back to his office. He ignored the look Pam sent him. She didn’t have to say anything for him to know she was unhappy with him, but Eric was beyond caring what she thought. He wouldn’t smile and pretend everything was fine just because she didn’t like it. It was his life and if she didn’t like it she was more than welcome to leave.
Checking his phone again, Eric let out a sound of annoyance when he noticed he still didn’t have a message from Willa. He was tempted to fly over to Bon Temps and find out what was going on, but the thought that she might still be talking to Jason stayed his hand. He didn’t want to interrupt that conversation and risk losing any information on Sookie. So with nothing to do but wait that was just what Eric did. He decided to use the time to go over the Area reports. Much to his displeasure, he had been put in charge of Louisiana on a temporary basis while a new vampire power structure was developed. Being the oldest vampire in the State, the Council that had taken over from the now destroyed Authority had awarded him a temporary Stewardship of Louisiana.
It was nearly an hour later when noise from the bar caught his attention. He looked up from the report he was composing when he heard the raised voice of Pam. Eric groaned as he realized she was shouting at someone and he wondered who she was bossing around now.
“You can’t go in there. Eric is… indisposed,” Pam snarled. “Why don’t you come back when he actually wants you…”
“Get out of my way, Pam!”
Eric’s head shot up as he recognized Willa’s voice and he was up out of his chair in the blink of an eye. He was halfway to the door when the sound of fighting reached his ears. Eric swore if Pam had hurt Willa she would suffer greatly. His hand had just closed on the handle of his office door when what sounded like a loud explosion resonated throughout the club. Eric’s eyes widened in surprise when the front wall of his office that included the door caved in, and then a body flew through it. Disbelief spread across his face when he saw Pam lying on the floor in a bloody heap as a furious looking Willa stood in the hallway. His eyes flicked between his two children and it took Eric a minute to actually realize that Willa had put Pam through the wall.
Pride swept through him as he stared at Willa. His little Willa was definitely not weak; in fact, it appeared as if she was much stronger than a baby vampire should be. Sweeping his eyes over Pam, Eric construed Willa was a great deal stronger than her older sister as well. Pam definitely wouldn’t like that. Little sister was all grown up.
Willa glared at her sister, disgust clear to see on her face. Anger coursed through her body and, at that moment, she wanted nothing more than to put Pam through a few more walls. The selfish bitch was still trying to interfere in matters that didn’t concern her. Eric had been blowing her phone up since she rose that night; it was clear he wanted to speak to her and Pam had still tried to stop her from seeing their Maker claiming Eric was too busy to see her and that she should make an appointment.
Flicking her eyes over Eric’s now destroyed office, Willa let out a snort when she saw just how busy he was. “Yeah, Pam, he looks real indisposed!” she spat as she stepped over the debris of the broken wall and into the office. Turning her gaze to Eric Willa eyed him with contempt, her anger at him almost as fierce as her anger at Pam. After finally speaking with Jason, she had come to understand what had caused Sookie to leave like she had and she was disgusted by her Maker. “You should really find yourself a better secretary if you’re going to run this State,” she said. “Having your darling Pamela turning those she doesn’t like away is not good for business or your image.”
Eric was taken aback by the harshness of her tone and look of disgust on her face and he wondered what had caused them. They had been doing so well of late. They managed to get through a conversation without Willa telling him she hated him. “The job is yours if you want it,” Eric replied sincerely, ignoring the cry of displeasure from Pam. “Get up and get back to the door, Pam,” he ordered dropping his gaze to her. Seeing her open her mouth to reply, he growled, “Now!” He hadn’t missed the fact that Pam had tried to interfere and turn Willa away and he would deal with her later. Right then he wanted to know why Willa was so angry with him and what Jason had said.
Pam let out a string of curses, pulled herself to her feet, and stormed out, pushing past Willa. She couldn’t believe the baby vampire had overpowered her and put her through a wall, and she also couldn’t believe Eric hadn’t done anything about it. Willa should have been punished for attacking her elder and superior. She was Eric’s second and as he was now the Steward of Louisiana that meant she was the second most important vampire in the State.
Willa rolled her eyes as Pam pushed past her and stormed out of the destroyed office. “One of these days she’s going to pick a fight with someone stronger than her…”
“It looks like she already did,” Eric remarked with a raised brow as he flicked a finger to the destroyed wall.
“Someday she will pick a fight with somebody older than her and you and she will get you both killed,” Willa amended.
“It sounds like you care,” Eric replied. He grinned at the thought she cared whether he lived or died.
“I might not like you, but I don’t want to see you dead… finally dead,” Willa admitted with a shrug. “Pam can go fall on a stake whenever she likes. I will even hold the stake for her, but I didn’t come here to tell you I hate Pam, you already know that. I’m here because…”
“You spoke with Jason,” Eric said interrupting her. The happiness he felt seconds before at knowing Willa cared about him even a little was replaced with an unsettled feeling and he knew things were about to become difficult. “What did he say?” He asked desperately needing to know. He knew it would probably be painful to hear, but he needed to know.
“You want to talk about it here?” Willa questioned waving a hand around, indicating the wrecked office. “I’d say walls have ears, but…” She trailed off as her gaze moved to the giant hole in the wall. “Plus I‘m sure Pam is trying to eavesdrop. She’s just dying for news on Sookie…” Sarcasm was just dripping off her tongue.
Casting his eyes over his office, Eric nodded in understanding. Fangtasia wouldn’t have been the best place to discuss Sookie on the best of nights, but with a giant hole in his wall it was impossible. They wouldn’t be able to talk freely and Eric feared someone would overhear and attempt to use the information against him. “No,” he answered finally. “Here is not the place to have this conversation.” Staring at Willa, Eric decided to give her his full trust and show her where he lived. So far only Pam knew where his house was, something he was regretful of as he had wished he had shown Sookie as well. “I know a place we can talk in private if you’re willing.”
“I didn’t come all this way to put Pam through a wall,” Willa snorted. “Let’s get this over with.”
Eric frowned at her words not liking the sound of them, but chose to put them aside until they had reached his house. “Wait here,” he said, walking out the office before Willa had a chance to reply. He headed back into the bar and informed Maxwell Lee that he was leaving for the night before informing Pam that if she knew what was good for her she would stay away from his house for the considerable future. He was fed up with her continued attempts to undermine the relationship he was trying to repair with Willa.
He made sure Pam knew he was being serious before returning to his office and asking Willa to follow him. He was certain the conversation they were about to have wouldn’t be pleasant, but it was necessary.
Eric’s house was only a short distance away and before long he and Willa were sitting in his living room staring at one another. A desperate tension settled over them and they were both hesitant to speak as though voicing things would just make them worse. Willa knew what she had to tell him wouldn’t go over well and would ultimately hurt him. A part of her believed he deserved the pain. After talking with Jason and discovering what Sookie had seen had Willa beginning to comprehend exactly why the telepath ran and she couldn’t blame her. She would have done the same thing. Nevertheless, another part of her couldn’t help but feel sorry for Eric. He was clearly hurting and she didn’t want to add to that. She did feel for him even if she didn’t want to, and truthfully, she didn’t. She tried to quash it, however; try as she might she couldn’t quite get rid herself of their connection. This didn’t mean she was no less infuriated with him though. She was livid with him, and she had been sorely tempted to slap him when she arrived at Fangtasia. It was only Pam’s usual attempt to block her from seeing Eric that had stopped her. Willa had instead projected her anger toward her vampire sister.
“You spoke with Jason,” Eric said breaking the silence. He already knew she had; she had told him previously, but he couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“I did,” Willa replied with a nod. “He agreed to hear me out, and he told me what happened, and…” Willa blew out a breath, a habit leftover from her college days, one she had yet to overcome.
“And?” Eric asked, waiting on tenterhooks for her response.
“And… And, you’re a bastard!” Willa spat unable to hold back her anger. “I spoke to Jason and he told me everything unlike you. You only told me what you wanted me to know; not what really happened. You should…”
“I told you what happened,” Eric growled not appreciating her insinuations that he was lying or concealing something. “I tried to contact you to…”
“Yeah, you told me about that,” Willa interrupted as she rose from her seat and began to pace. “You told me about the Yakuza, the threat, how you tried to contact me, but the number was wrong… But, you didn’t tell me what happened next. I had to hear that from Jason who heard it from Sookie.” A look of disillusionment filled Willa’s eyes as she shook her head before meeting Eric’s gaze. “How could you? How could you do that?!”
“Do what?” Eric replied as he stood up. He had no idea what she was talking about. He had told her everything that occurred leading up to the Yakuza going after Sookie. “What am I alleged to have done that was so terrible?”
“You fucked Pam!” Willa shouted clenching her fists at her side. She recklessly wanted to lash out and hit him for Sookie.
Eric blanched at her accusation and he swore if he had any color it would have drained out of his face right then. He prayed he had heard Willa wrong; that Sookie didn’t believe that. Yet one look at Willa told him he had not. She had said exactly what he heard, and suddenly it all made sense; Sookie’s sudden and abrupt departure and Jason’s refusal to speak with him and refusal to reveal where she had gone. He knew it was not possible but right then Eric could swear he felt sick. For Sookie to believe he told the Yakuza where she was, knowing they were going to kill her, and then… “No,” Eric groaned, sinking to his knees in the middle of his living room. He did not care if Willa was seeing him as weak. He did not care about anything but… “Please, no. She cannot…”
“She can’t what? Know?” Willa sneered, trying to hold onto her contempt though it wasn’t easy. Try as she might she couldn’t stop herself from feeling grief for him. She only had to look at him to see his genuine heartbreak. She had seen him after Nora had been infected, and then again briefly after she had died, and after he rescued them all from Vamp Camp. None of that came close to the pain and anguish that was rolling off of him right then. He was broken…
Broken. That’s the word Jason used to describe Sookie after she read the mind of the man who tried to kill her, Willa remembered sadly. Why the hell do they have to do everything the hard way? Why couldn’t they just admit they loved one another and be done with it?
“… She does know,” Willa continued, her tone softening slightly in the face of Eric’s misery. “Jason said she witnessed it all in the head of one of the men who tried to kill her. He said she saw you tell him that she knew about the cure, where to find her, and then you fucked Pam! According to Sookie you were all over each other… naked on your torture table in front of Sarah Newlin…”
Blood tears streamed down Eric’s face and at that moment he had never felt more disgusted with himself or broken. He never really thought about what Sookie might have seen in Mr. Gus’ and his henchmen’s minds. He knew she had seen him telling them where she lived, but he had not realized what else she may have witnessed or the conclusions she might have drawn. He was a fool; a heartbroken fool who may have really lost the one person he loved more than anyone. He needed to see her, to talk to her, but he knew that was not a possibility. She was gone… She was gone and she hated him. And all because…
“I did not fuck Pam,” he said, his voice scarcely above a whisper. “I fucked up but I swear I did not fuck Pam.”
“Sookie saw it… She saw you,” Willa replied repeating what she had been told. Jason had been adamant about what Sookie had seen. Willa hadn’t wanted to believe it when Jason told her. She didn’t want to believe that Eric could be so heartless as to fuck someone just minutes after telling the Yakuza where Sookie lived, knowing they planned to kill her. She also hadn’t wanted to believe it was Pam he had fucked. That had only added fuel to her ire.
“I swear on my Maker’s memory I did not fuck Pam,” Eric said, lifting his head and staring up at his youngest child. “I will not lie and say nothing happened, but I did not fuck Pam.”
Willa eyed Eric carefully trying to determine if he was telling the truth. She knew what Jason said about what Sookie said she saw but as she gazed at her Maker, she couldn’t help but think he was telling the truth. He had no reason to lie to her. He wasn’t saying nothing happened, just that he didn’t fuck Pam. “Tell me what happened,” she said after a few minute of silence.
Eric took a few minutes to compose himself before pushing up to stand on his feet and moving to sit on the couch again. “The Yakuza…”