His blood soaks up the stake, the stain spreading upwards as if it's crawling of its own volition. Isabel's fingers curl around it in the aftermath of her scream and Stan stands back, a stupidly shocked expression on his face.
His latest power-play had been borne of blood-drunk recklessness, but it seemed even he hadn't expected it to succeed because deep down he knew it was just a stunt to get some goddamn attention, to alleviate at least one afternoon's boredom.
"Why?" Isabel asks, her hands red to the wrists and spreading. "You could have stopped him. You could have," and now it's an accusation, the wood splintering beneath her angry grip.
"I could have," Godric agrees. His slight smile is reminiscent of a shrug. "But why would I want to?"
And then he is dust, two millennia reduced to a handful of ash.
The trees of Yding Skovhøj are frosted with the promise of snow. Dawn is still many hours away; the winter nights in Shreveport still seem short to Eric, like a pale imitation of a season. He remembers winters that had teeth, that seemed endless and unforgiving.
"Why have you brought me here?" Being here he falls back to his true tongue, to the accent so archaic that Pam wouldn't understand it.
"It seemed appropriate." Godric's voice is even gentler than normal and Eric turns to him, lips thinning, not asking. He doesn't want to hear what comes next, he won't. He can't.
"This is where I was made." Godric's hand raises, resting on Eric's cheek. "I wanted you to see."
"Don't." Eric grinds out, begging, imploring.
"I must." He smiles sadly. "The time has come."
"Godric," and he's lost all semblance of control, blood dripping down his face.
"Stay," Godric commands, thumb skimming over Eric's lips to still any further protests. "And perhaps when your time comes, we will meet again."
And then he is gone into the darkness, leaving behind only a faint trace of cold and half of an aching, unwillingly severed bond.
"Your theories... intrigue me."
"They aren't theories, darling." Sophie-Anne's queen takes Godric's rook. "And you wouldn't be here if you thought they were."
Godric inclines his head, moving forward another white pawn. He appears particularly pallid in the overly bright veneer of the sun room, a contrast to Sophie-Anne's perfectly form-fitted scarlet dress.
She laughs. "Your enigmaticer-than-thou tricks won't work on me. Those weary old eyes of yours are sharper than ever. You can see for yourself that nothing is what it seems, now is it? We're all just atoms willed into a shape, honed to a purpose." She languidly takes down his remaining bishop. "Check."
"By whose will are we shaped?"
She raises an eyebrow. "By the same will that we are unshaped."
He moves another pawn. He hasn't taken a single one of Sophie-Anne's pieces.
"Look at it this way. Do you even remember the last time you fed? You waste my perfectly delectable vintages every time you stop by. The further you step outside the silly notion of time, honey, the less you will subsist on, until you will subsist on nothing at all. So what is it, precisely, that will be animating those sumptuous little limbs of yours? How is it that you will continue to persist? If you think the only thing that's changed in two thousand years is that you crave less blood, you are much less observant than I've given you credit for. And I will have you know that I am an impeccable judge of character." She slides her black queen confidently across the board. "Checkmate."
"I thank you for your time." He hands her his king, not even looking at the board to see if there was a way out. Her nails graze the inside of his wrist as she accepts his surrender.
"Do remember to write, now," she waves after him as he's walking himself out. She laughs riotously. "I want to hear all about it."
"...Northman got sloppy, thinking he was invincible."
"...believe a human got him. Fucking vermin, is what..."
"...he always was Godric's favorite, maybe now he'll finally act like a real sheriff..."
"Silence!" Isabel shouts; Godric would have been able to hear them coming from a block away, but to speak ill this close is purely insulting. She wanted to come alone but vampires, in the end, are not that different than humans: everyone stops to look at a train wreck.
She knocks on his door once, twice, thrice, and receives no answer. She isn't surprised to find the room empty when she enters. She suspects he won't be back.
"You once asked if I could be a companion of death."
Godric's smile reminds Eric of those first decades they spent in the woods, learning each other. "I remember." Godric's features are soft in the moonlight; the reflective blanket of fresh snow around them gives the mountaintop a dispersed glow.
He turns to Godric on one knee, taking Godric's ice cold hand and bowing his head. "I have served as faithfully as I have known how."
"You have shaped my life for the better." Godric raises his free hand, fingertips leaving icy trails down Eric's still slightly blood-warmed cheek. "There has never been any doubt."
Eric is nervous as he hasn't been in a thousand years. He's a young boy holding a sword for the first time, a young man going off to his first war.
"I ask only one thing in return."
Godric simply waits, thumb tracing along Eric's jaw.
"Eric." Godric imbues the two syllables with regret; he radiates such overwhelming compassion that Eric almost has to look away.
"I have been your companion for as long as you would have me. I now ask that you do the same for me." He leans into Godric's hand. "Stay. Fight with me."
Godric's smile widens, sparking life and memories in his eyes. "It is beautiful to watch you fight."
"There are many battles ahead." Eric smirks. "We can even employ a few of your ridiculous pacifist ideas, if that's what it'll take." Godric laughs and this, too, is familiar: Eric knowing exactly when and where to push his master's buttons. Sensing the thaw, Eric stands, resting his hands on Godric's waist, pressing their foreheads together. They fit. "I will need you."
"Then let me follow you into the darkness." Godric's hands slide up Eric's back, and Eric feels alive, alive, alive as he hasn't in a thousand years. "Perhaps someday, we will find our way out together."