Chapter 3 of Absolution this Easter
Zombie Jesus Sunday! Hopefully you guys will like it and hit the little button of love if you do 😉
“And that, that little sour-faced girl, that was The Sookie?” Nora said, an air of disgust to her voice.
“Yes, that’s Sookie, sour-faced and Fae, and the reason for his utter distraction. I can’t say I like her much -”
“Because she’s a distraction to the otherwise focused?”
“In a way…”
“Ah, you’re jealous…” Nora added, this time I could hear the smile, smug as it was, I was sure.
“No. I’m not jealous of her, she’s just a girl, I don’t care how good she smells…”
“Yes, but she’s a girl who Eric…you say he loves this girl? Is it for her Fae taste alone?”
“I thought it might be, but no, it seems she’s special in other ways, though, I can’t think what. Before Bill Compton she was pure, and let’s be honest her skills in that department – should she have any, couldn’t have come from wet noodle William.” Pam chortled, as did Nora, those two really were becoming two peas in a rather bitchy pod.
“Still, it doesn’t sit well with you. You think what? He’s going to ignore you in favor of her?”
“He could never ignore me, but I do…wonder if she’ll become his….priority… now that he feels for her in a way I’ve never seen him before.”
I’d had about enough of their gossip, eavesdropping as I was, I went back to the basement where Tara was situated still, a welcome distraction from my ‘sister’s’ and my child’s opinions of my love life, I sighed unnecessarily, a Love Life, how ridiculous for a vampire to have such a thing. I did not love, it was never that I could not love, I simply chose not to. I chose not to get too intimate with humans, no matter how beautiful, or how good their blood may have tasted, I stayed detached and I liked it that way. Until her of course, she was the one to flip my world upside down, she was the one the witch’s spell led me too. Or maybe I led me to her, maybe it was instinct… I still wasn’t sure. And just that alone, the uncertainty of it all, I’d never had that in my mind before. Pre-Sookie Stackhouse I knew who I was, who I wanted the world to see and know, and I knew my place. Now, everything felt different and I wasn’t so sure I liked how it felt. I loved that woman, loved. That in itself should have warned me off, but then, the spell broke and I recalled it all. The good, the bad, and the ugly way I allowed myself to appear weak and subservient to Bill fucking Compton of all vampires in all the world. I fully believed in the old adage, to keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer. He was not strong enough, nor smart enough to even earn the title of enemy, but it was not someone I trusted in the slightest either. I was torn, I knew I couldn’t kill him, well, rather I shouldn’t kill him, I could kill him very easily. But, I shouldn’t for a number of reasons, the first being the effect his death at my hand would have on Sookie, and my relationship with her – even though its status was very much up in the air; I knew if I ended Compton, she’d never forgive it. The second was our dealings with the Authority, his place as King – though now defunct, not officially, but since a death threat was issued on us both, it stood to reason his reign as Puppet King was over. I had called Nora in for that very reason, I needed as much internal information on the Authority as I could get, all for backup. They’d scheduled a meeting for both Compton and I. We had two weeks to get our affairs in order, and then we were to stand before a hearing, all the eight founding member of the Authority would be present, and our fates would be sealed. I had faced certain death before, I did not fear the true death, though what I did fear came back around to Sookie again, and a life, without her by my side, now that I did fear.
I took the stairs to the bottom of the basement, where Tara laid, staring at the same spot on the ceiling that she’d been staring at since she awoke.
“You know you can’t keep this up forever, and I do mean forever.” I said as I moved with the bags of blood I’d collected from the fridge in my office, before Pam and Nora’s conversation had kept me back. I poured them into a mug for her, and provided a straw, who said I wasn’t helpful.
“Yes I can.”
“Well, I guess you could, but you’ll slowly drive yourself mad, trust me I’ve known my fair share of mad vampires, it’s not something to emulate.”
“Good to know.” she responded, droll and still her stare was fixed.
“Tara, I don’t necessarily like you. You’re bitter, and frustrated, you hate our kind, your kind, all kinds, as far as I can tell.” I shifted on the bed beside her, as I handed her the mug. I was surprised when she actually took this one, the last one ended up splattered over the walls.
“No, I won’t fuck off, you know why? Because I don’t like you, not as a human anyway, as a human you were a bitter bigot, but, as a vampire you have a chance to redeem yourself.”
“Fuck you, you don’ know anything about me, or my life.”
“No, and I don’t really care either. We’ve all had our crosses to bare, Tara, some of us literally. This is a new chance at life for you, if you’d only see it that way. As a human, what good were you to anyone?” I said, conviction in my voice.“You lived a poor life, with poor choices, falling victim to the circumstance both society and your family dealt you. Now, you have new page, a new book even, to start over.” I smiled, I too remembered when I was first turned, I was rebellious too for I loved being a human man. Being a vampire seemed – at first like a fate worse than death, but over time I grew to accept and embrace my new nature, something I hoped that Tara would do also..
“I’m dead, what’s to start!”
“No, you’re not, if you were you’d be unknowing and six feet under dirt right now. You awoke, Tara, with Pam’s blood in your veins, my blood. Godric’s blood. You have no idea how privileged you are, you’re strong and fast, you’re unstoppable now. You get to be that strong woman you always only pretended to be. No one can hurt you now.” I reassured, though why I was reassuring her, I had no idea.
“I don’t want this. I just want it to stop. All of it, to stop. The pain…”
“As a newborn, it’s a transition, in time -”
“If she had just left me there, let God or whoever take me when I was dyin’ none of this would be happening.”
“Whoever…WE were whoever, Tara, and your fate was to survive. Most humans who ended up the way you did? They’d be worm food right about now, but you survived, and something tells me that that instinct was in you as a human and it’ll be in you as vampire.”
She looked at me then, as she gingerly took a sip of her blood, “and what are you to me now, some all knowing Granddaddy?”
I balked at that, “Perhaps. Though, call me that again and I won’t be so forgiving.” I smiled.
“I still hate you, you’re the son of a bitch who tortured my cousin in here, for weeks!”
“That is true, though very little torture was had, he was fed, he was watered, he just wasn’t bathed or allowed other human facilities. He was selling our blood, Tara, and soon you’ll be begin to realize what a precious thing that is.”
“Fuck the blood.”
“Yes, fuck the blood.” I sighed, standing up, I’d tried with her, but I had other things to do that night rather than babysit the newbie.
“Fuck the blood, for now, but soon, it’ll settle in.”
“Stop tellin’ me what I will and won’t feel, you don’ know me!” she spat, throwing the mug against the way.
“That will coagulate, and start to stink, this time you’re cleaning it up.”
I laughed she really was a bitter little thing, wasn’t she.
“Many have, and all have enjoyed it.” I said still smiling as I brought the mop and bucket from the far corner, she really was going to clean her own shit up this time.
“Including Sookie I’m sure.” She rolled her eyes.
“Of course, Sookie. And can you blame her? After Bill she was in need of finding out what a real vampire could do for her. Now, clean that up.”
That got her back in her corner of the bed, her knees to her chest, defiant.
“Or don’t, but once it goes off the smell will repulse you, good luck with that.” I said taking the steps two at a time, I sensed I had company.
I had showered and dressed, and gone about my day as if things were normal. But they weren’t, and even my short shift at Merlotte’s reminded me of that yet again. All the waitresses looked at me as if I had two heads, I was messing up more orders than I could count, and I just wasn’t in the headspace to be dealin’ with ignorant rednecks who just wanted everything dipped in various flavors of grease. It had been a long time coming, but I knew I’d have to find a new job, sooner rather than later. There was just too much bad joojoo as Lafayette would say, surrounding my job working for Sam. I just had to consider long and hard exactly what my other options were. It was just after eight pm when I made my way home, alone of course, and into my cold, empty farmhouse where I was thankful I’d decided on takeout for dinner as I couldn’t face another night of cooking for one. I watched some TV, I cleaned a little, okay, a lot. It was my thing now, cleaning, compulsively. It helped distract my thoughts, my anger, my confusion, it just distracted me in general. My thoughts would float to Tara, and how I wondered if what I did, what I asked the vampires to do, was the right or wrong thing. In the moment, it was right, it was the only way I knew to save her from death, but with hindsight, I realized that perhaps that was the entirely wrong decision. I wasn’t God, I had no right to do what I’d done, not for Tara, nor too Debbie. The all consuming guilt came back, and it came back in droves. I needed to get out of the house, as it felt like the walls were closing in around me, smothering me with bad memory after bad memory, no matter how much I wanted to lose myself in the good times. The good times with Gran and Jason, Tara and I, even Eric and I during his time here. So, I decided to take a walk, it led me to Grans grave where I sat, bundled up in my fraying red duffle coat to keep out the early Winter chill.
“Gran, I’m not so sure what I’m meant to say here now. I don’t know that when you left that night, with the spirits If that was even really all of you, I don’t know if where you went you can even hear me… or if you even care. I hope you still care, because I miss you so much. I love you so much and I want to trust your words SO much,” I wiped away my tears, as I knelt beside her gravestone, in search of answers I didn’t even really know the questions to.
“I don’t wanna end up alone, Gran. I never wanted that. I mean, I always thought I would, with my… disability, I figured there’d be no one I could stand to be around longer than five minutes without me losin’ my mind completely. But then things changed. I changed, and I changed a lot…” I sighed, thinking back, “and not all for the good either. In fact, if I’m honest, I figure you’d be right ashamed of some of the things I’ve said and done, Gran. I know I am. I am so ashamed of the people I’ve hurt, the lies I’ve told, the people I’ve used…and the choices I’ve made. And is this what you meant? Is this what leaves us with nothin’ but ourselves in the end? I don’t want that.” I didn’t want it, but then, how else were things going to go for me, I had just broken up with Eric, and in a way finally broken up with Bill at the same time. I knew it was for the best, but that didn’t mean that it felt wonderful. I knew Bill and I were never going to get back what we had, or if we even really had what I assumed we did in the beginning. I’d been so naive to so many things, and perhaps in a lot of ways I still was, but my time with Eric, even though he wasn’t his whole self, it taught me that loving someone shouldn’t be difficult, it shouldn’t be full of doubt and fear and mistrust… and while I loved Bill, being with him was all the things it shouldn’t have been. Eric on the other hand, well, I ran from him, admittedly, out of fear, but it was a different kind of fear. I never feared that he’d hurt me, even in the times when Bill would assure me that Eric was just waiting for the moment to use and abuse me, I felt in my bones that that moment would never really come. Of course I thought I was wrong a time or two, but ultimately, it didn’t, even when he pretended it did. No, the fear I ran from was the fear that what we had when he wasn’t his complete self would be tarnished somehow, that it would all come to nothing and we’d be right back where we started, him throwing around rights of ownership like an asshole and me being the helpless woman unable to protect myself. I didn’t want to be with him just because he could protect me, or ‘own’ me. The reason I fell in love with Eric was because of who he was inside, underneath all that macho bullshit. He had a kind heart and a sweet soul and I knew as his full self, he’d never let me see that. I wanted… No, I needed to stand on my own two feet, for the first time in my life, if I was being honest. I had no one now, not even Jason, not really. Gran was gone, and Bill was no longer my beau, and the complicated feelings I had for Eric needed to take a back burner too. I didn’t want to be anyone else’s, until I could prove to myself that I could manage my life on my own, first.
Of course the second I resolve to stick to my plan, is as soon as the universe goes ‘nope, not today!’ for as soon as near my house, I found two voids by my back door, and neither of them ones I recognized.
I walked back to the house, but I liked to think I knew better than to go any closer than my car. Thankfully I had my keys in my pocket, and I used them getting in and driving out of dodge as quickly as I could. I didn’t recognize the voids, and I wasn’t going to stick around to greet sneaky-ass vampires that, given my track record probably meant me more harm. I decided to be smart about it, for once, and just get as far away from the possible danger. Of course ‘far away’ for me meant Fangtasia. And it was debateable if I was as free from danger there, or if I was just walking into more. I didn’t want to go there, or so I told myself, but in reality, I didn’t have a whole lot more options, and in truth, I wanted in a way I almost needed to see him – even if he didn’t want to see me. I wasn’t a fool- most of the time anyway, and I knew that I ‘dumped’ Eric, and though I’d never really broken up with a man before I knew to expect a certain amount of contempt. But, we weren’t just some boy, and some girl, he was over a thousand years old and I… well I was changing by the second it seemed just what I was changing into – I had no idea.
I walked into the club, I knew it was still early by vampire standards, and I had no idea if Fantasia was even open for business as things stood, or if it was just a slow night. I was sure I really cared. What I cared about was what Eric possibly knew, where those voids from him? Or where they from elsewhere, and if so, where? I also cared about Tara, all things considered I knew she’d never take a breath again, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t live. That she couldn’t be a strong vampire, a good vampire. I wanted her to be okay, whatever okay meant for a vampire I also didn’t know. But I hoped for some small mercy that she’d find better life as an undead vampire than she had as a living person.
I sighed as I entered the bar, not seeing a soul, not even a screaming Ginger.
I looked around his strangely decorated club, a thing I’d done when I was tasked with watching over the three thousand year old psycho vamp that wanted to kill us all, and I admired Eric’s choice in decor again. It was odd for sure, and it seemingly had no real rhyme or reason, but, if you looked closely, it had all the parts of Eric that mattered. You had vampire nonsense – strange pop culture references adorning the walls, it also had artifacts of the past – like the throne he sat on nightly, so intricate and terrifying, the smaller one next to it, less so, but still as interesting with all its nooks and crannies. And then there was the furs that adorned the thrones, a throwback to his time as a human, I imagined. I smiled at the imagining of Eric as a fully fledged Viking man, how he would have stood, proud and strong in the sunlight adorned in such furs to keep him warm and living. How he had most likely killed and skinned the things he wore and ate them to stay breathing. In a way I thought, it wasn’t unlike being a vampire. He still had to kill to survive, only now there were all manner of things that fell under the heading of ‘beasts’ and not just the things with four legs and a tail.
I didn’t hear him, or see him, but somehow I could feel him closing in on me. I listened and sure enough his void was one I recognized.
“You really like red, huh?” I questioned him before I turned around.
“I do. It’s the color of… life… in a way.” He mused.
“Yes, and Death. Why are you here, Sookie? Bill busy?”
I rolled my eyes and faced him, “I don’t know if he’s busy or not.”
“Oh, I assumed he’d-”
“Well if you’d like to stop assuming and listen to me, maybe we might get somewhere.” I snapped.
He steeled his eyes, and crossed his arms.
“There were two vampires outside my house tonight, did you send them?” I asked getting straight to the point.
“No. I had matters to deal with here, preparations to make for the Authority, baby vampires to feed. You know, little worries.” He snapped.
“If you didn’t send them, who did? Would Bill? Without telling me?”
He chortled, “Would Bill ever anything behind your back, without telling you? Loveable vamp that he is?”
I sighed again, I didn’t have the energy for this, not tonight.
“Eric can we please stop this game?”
“Game?” he asked, coy.
“You know what I’m talking about, don’t act as if you don’t.”
He ignored me, sauntering behind his bar and popping himself a True Blood into the microwave.
“Sookie you and I have been dancing this dance, playing this game, from the minute we met, don’t act as if it’s something new to you now.”
“No, we have, haven’t we?” He raised his perfect brow in question, and I hated that he already knew the answer.
I shrugged, I didn’t want to bait him tonight, thought it seemed he wanted a bantering battle whether I wanted it or not.
“I suppose we have, in a way.”
“In every way.” He nodded to himself, as the microwave pinged. “From the minute I saw you, I wanted you and if what you say is true, you wanted me too, and yet, we danced.”
I sensed he was going somewhere with his little analogy, so I listened.
“Sookie, things are in motion once more, things that I cannot control – at least not completely. Everything that has passed between you and me, everything, means something to me whether we are to be…more… or not. Whether I survive, or not. I want only one thing.”
Please don’t say my blood, please don’t say my blood, I thought, though then chastised myself for I knew deep down he wanted all of me for himself, not just the blood.
“I want you to be protected, and yet I find there are little people, Vampire or Supe that I trust to do the job – other than myself, of course.” His words were serious, grave even, and yet he smiled, that same boyish twinkle in his eyes.
“Of course.” I mocked.
“And so I think it only right that you, finally, learn.”
Okay, so I was lost. He’d moved beside me, his moments as smooth as his words, his eyes still fixed on me, and only me.
“To protect yourself.” he said, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. It stunned me that once again we were on the same train of thought, as this was a topic I was internally debating just before I arrived at the club.
“Eric I’m not sure I unders-”
He leaned in close, dropped his blood on the table, grabbed my hand and dragged me toward the exit to the left. We walked out into the chill, the dark night greeting us both, though I knew only I could really feel it. We walked, well, he walked I was trailing him – his long legs even at human speed were a little much to keep up with. Until he finally stopped we were about a half a mile from the club, and he still looked around to see if anyone was close. I guess he’d earned the right to be a little paranoid, we all had in truth.
“Eric I need to know where you buried Debbie.”
“I just need to know.”
“No, you don’t need it, you want it, there’s a difference.”
“Fine then, I want to know.”
“No.” He said seriously.
“Why the hell not?”
“Why not? Because Sookie, you have this habit of running your mouth and getting yourself into even deeper trouble than usual, that’s why.”
“Are you saying I’m a big mouth?”
He shrugged, “if that’s the expression you’re choosing…”
“Eric!” I was getting mad, and I knew he could sense it – blood or no blood.
“Sookie, I tell you, chances are you’ll tell Alcide – you remember the dog don’t you? Tall fellow, unbalanced amount of body hair, temper of the wolf? Likes to pee on trees in his spare time?”
“You’re not funny.”
The smile left his face, and he was very serious once more.
“No, this isn’t funny, it isn’t funny at all. I tell you, you tell him and the wolf bites. If I’m not around to put him on a leash, you could get very hurt, not just by him but my the girl’s family too. You think they’d let this lie? I do not.”
“Alcide is not a dog -”
“Looks like one, barks like one, is one.”
“And what are you?” I asked, defiant, if this was the mood he was in, I’d be damned if I was going to tiptoe around him.
“I’m vampire, just like you… are Fae.”
“I am not a Fairy.”
“Looks like one, tastes like one… even if it’s just a little bit. Lover, it’s in your blood it’s who you are. Just like Vampire blood runs through my veins and it makes me what I am, just like Ware blood runs through his, blood is what matters.”
I ignored the butterfly feeling I got in my stomach when he addressed me as his Lover, no man, or Vampire had ever done that before. I found I liked it, a little, but I’d keep that to myself.
“Always thinking of your stomach then.” I pouted and he simply shrugged off my jibe.
“Always thinking of survival, without it… we all cease.” He said, as pragmatic as always.
I hated that he was right, and I hated that the more time I spent with these people, the more I saw it for myself. Ignorance truly was bliss, at least for me.
“What did you mean back there, that I had to protect myself?” I asked after a few awkward seconds of silence, I swear it was like he was reading my mind.
He sighed, running his hands through his hair, pacing where we stood.
“Sookie, there is a power inside you -”
“The Fae part…”
“Not just the Fae part, but it is the part of yourself that you keep running from. Ever since I’ve found out what you are, it pains me to see you cower like a mere human when you…are better than that.” He stepped closer to me, and it was as if he was reining himself in, he lifted his hand, as if to touch me, but stepped back. I missed his touch, so different from what you’d expect it to be, but so wonderful at the same time. I also remembered the words he’d said those words to me before, before everything changed between us. I still wasn’t so sure having microwaves fingers made me any ‘better’ than everyone else, but it certainly made me different.
“There’s nothing wrong with being human, Eric.”
“No, nothing wrong but there is a weakness, one that you don’t have to embrace anymore. If you’d stop running from who you really are, what you really want…” With that he turned away from me, and I knew he was referring to him, to us. I couldn’t go there though, not now, I still needed time to process everything. My life had been turned upside down so quickly, in a matter of weeks, short months even, my life was now unrecognizable from what it had been before. But then again, I was beginning to accept that I was as recognizable as my life. It was frightening to say the least.
“Who’s to say what I really want though? I don’t even know what I want!”
He chortled, bitterly.
“And in there lies the damn problem.”
“Nothing.” He said seriously as he began pacing again.
“Really? Bullshit, Eric. Say what you were going to say, you always do.”
“I offered you…everything…Everything I had and you just…” His eyes cut away from mine, as if he were attempting to stop himself.
“It doesn’t matter, not now. I offered you protection once…” He shook his head.
I so wasn’t ready for this conversation, not yet.
“I’m not offering that to you, not anymore. It would be pointless to even try, and I won’t force something on you that you don’t want. I would never have, and never would force you… you understand?”
I nodded his words are harsh and clipped, but there was that look in his eyes, the look that reminded me of ‘my’ Eric so much. Earnest and true, I knew he would never force me into anything bad, even if he pretended to do so for the benefit of others. I knew better, now.
“But I will offer you something else.”
“The ability, Sookie, to protect yourself.”
I had no idea what he meant, or what he had in-store for me, but I weighed up the options that I had – they weren’t many, and they weren’t fun. I knew and he knew that there was just no way I could be protected from everything out there, it was something Bill had often ignored getting us into worse trouble than before in his attempts at ‘saving’ me. Maybe Eric was right, if we all stopped running from who we really were inside, things would run a lot smoothly. I’d give it a shot at least, what else did I have to lose? Except my life of course, but that had been on the line more times than I could even count and I still came out the other side in one piece thanks to the Vampire in front of me. Maybe there was method to his madness after all.