As we laid there, facing each other, not saying a word I could not really recall the last time I had felt so at peace. It wasn’t just the sex, or even sex with Sookie that did it, it was all of it. The kisses, the moans, the look on her face that soft caring look that was finally aimed at me. I longed for that look for so long from her, and to receive it now, finally felt good. She cared. I knew how I felt, I always knew, but her feelings were always murkier where I was concerned. I knew she flat out loved Compton, she adored him, and she loved him as any girl loves her first love. I longed for her to love me like that, to know what it would feel like to have that in my life, and when I lost my memories, I gained that from her, and when I gained back my memories, I lost that from her – out of fear. I didn’t want her to fear me, or fear hurting me, or Compton, or anyone. She was good and bighearted and loving, and I never wanted her to fear anything in life again. I knew that wasn’t realistic and it was perhaps my more romantic notions shining through, but I did want to protect her as best I could, but I never wanted to keep her captive within her own power to do that. She was special, not just because of her light or her blood, but she in herself she was special because she cared so much for others.
“How’s the leg now?” She asked sleepily before snuggling against me.
I lifted it from under her quits to show her.
“Good as new, thank you. The human bagged blood I had at home wasn’t doing much for it.”
“Glad my fae parts could hinder and help you then.” She smiled.
“You’re powerful, wielded right…”
“I could be a nice Tink shaped weapon for you guys?”
I kissed her head; I didn’t want her to think of it like that.
“No, not if you didn’t want to, but, there is –“
“A war and endless bad guys, and Authority people,” She sighed. “Yeah I know there’s always something here isn’t there. Murdering vamp-hating rednecks with fake accents, crazy religious groups getting their hate on, witches losing the plot… Now this.”
“It’s a lot.”
“It’s a lot in a few years; I don’t know how you still have the energy for things times a thousand.”
“I wonder sometimes too… I wonder if one day there will just be nothing left to surprise me and I’ll just give up like …”
She looked up at me then.
I nodded; I still had not spoken of his death, not really, not even to Nora. With her, we merely acknowledged it, I told her how, where, and why, and that was it, even we never spoke of it after that.
“I don’t think he gave up, Eric. I think…” she sighed. “I think he was just tired. And when you get so tired that the idea of going on… even for the ones we love… it’s sometimes not an option.”
I wondered how she knew of this, but then she had lost more in her life than most, so there was that.
I nodded again, not really sure, how to vocalise how I was feeling, even now, there was a gap inside somewhere.
“You surprise me, constantly.” I admitted making her smile.
“Me? How? You’ve seen and done it all… actually done it all.”
“It’s not often I meet a sweet, virginal woman who is so much more than she seems. You walked into my bar; it was like a breath of fresh air after so long in smog.”
She looked transfixed.
“I hated that he was the one, the one to change how you smelled that first night we met.”
With that, she blushed.
“You could tell as well? Damn that nose, y’all are worse than grizzlies!”
I smiled, touching the blushing cheek softly.
“It’s not that it really mattered, I just hated the idea of Compton being your first introduction to the world of sex, and it can’t have been all that pleasant… or time consuming.”
She giggled and then stopped herself, slapping me on the arm.
“You think it’s funny, it’s okay to laugh. It’s okay to make fun… particularly of him.”
She just rolled her eyes and then my cell rang my pants where somewhere on her stairs.
“I should get it, it’s probably Pam.”
It was Pam, I had been ignoring her bond calls for well over two hours, and she was pissed.
When I got back she was no longer laying in place like some kind of fragment of my imagination with her hair laid across my pillow, the only thing covering her were age old blankets belonging to her grandmother, no instead she was slipped into a robe. I sighed at the loss.
“I should go, the bar is busy and the customers need a distraction.”
She nodded and came close to me, I was glad there was no post-sex weirdness as I had assumed there might be. I needed to learn when it came to Sookie Stackhouse, to stop assuming.
“Alright, that makes sense.”
I took her hands in mind and was glad when she squeezed back.
“I still don’t have all the answers, Eric.”
If my heart could, I was sure it would have sunk there and then. Nevertheless, I nodded. I was not the one to give her any ultimatums on time, since I had endless amounts of it an all.
“You will, soon. I’m sure of it.”
“I wish I had your confidence in me…” She whispered looking at her toes, her cute painted pink little toes. I just leaned in and kissed her on the cheek, I might have made a dramatic entrance, but my exit would be gentle.
“You can have anything of mine in you anytime you please.”
That earned me an incredulous look, but then she smiled.
“I’ll see you soon.”
“You’re so sure of things.”
“I am, aren’t I?
This time I pulled myself away from her.
I still did not take the car.
When he left, I was, like always, alone again. The house somehow all of a sudden seemed to double in size, and it felt very lonely. I thought about buying a dog, but then I recalled Tina’s fate and thought differently. The poor thing didn’t deserve an owner like me, that and I would constantly be wondering if it was going to shift into someone. I was tired, and looking at the clock, I should have been as it was just after one am, Eric and I had been busy for a good few hours, and instead of showering, I climbed back into that big empty bed and got comfortable, one of the few nights’ sleep I would have without nightmares.
Why did that only happen when Eric happened?
The next morning I woke up early, well, for me, at nine. I did all the things I should have, like putting on clean sheets, taking a shower, even taking time to do my hair a little. It really was amazing what a little unfreaky sleep can do for a girl. I even hit Shreveport for a little Christmas shopping.
My list was getting shorter every year as far as gift shopping went. I mean my best friend was a vampire now, did vampires even celebrate Christmas? While in Wal-Mart I spotted a boxing bag on sale and decided to buy it, sure it wouldn’t help me kick a vampire’s ass, but they weren’t my only problem, as I soon found out when I noticed a guy following me around the store. By the third time of him ‘accidently’ brushing against me, I snapped. His mind was as dirty as his boots was and I just was not in the mood! It also reminded me why I stuck to smaller stores on busy days. By the time I got back to my car with everything, I was beat. I had not had to use my shields so much in a real long time. I wasn’t working, so I decided to clean, and read, and clean some more when I got home. Dust really was that sucker that got everywhere! By dusk, I had successfully set myself up a mini boxing area in my basement, and found some old photos of Gran and Grandaddy that I had forgotten about. Just when I was heading to the kitchen to fix myself something to eat, a knock came to my door, and while I had expected Eric, I got Bill.
I took note of the disappointment I felt in discovering which of my vampires had come a callin’.
“Sookie, may I come in?”
While I still wanted to make amends with Bill, for whatever reason, I had just signed my house back to myself again and realised his asking was asking to break the seal. I wasn’t going there yet, so, I made an excuse about it being a nice night and needing air. I doubted if he believe me, but then I doubted if I cared.
“I felt the need to call on you, to make sure things are alright after all that has happened. I would have done so sooner but business matters kept me away.”
“It’s fine really.”
“I must inform you for your own safety, the vampire Authority has been summoned here to deal with Eric and I. They have a base in New Orleans, we may be summoned to them there. For your own safety I ask that you recind the invite to all vampires you know.”
And why was he pushing for an invite just before?
“If we are compelled to tell them about you, that is if they do not already suspect you -“
“Why would they suspect me anything? Ya’ll killed a vamp official lady and started this mess, then with Russell…”
“That’s just it Sookie, Russell knows what you are.”
“So? He’s six feet under.”
“I am afraid he is not.”
Fear spiked through me then, what?
“How… I don’t…”
“Eric didn’t tell you? Why am I NOT surprised. He probably kept this from you to –“
“Yeah I don’t have time for the blame Eric game, Bill. Tell me.”
He seemed shocked that I would speak to him in such a way; again, I found I cared little.
“He’s out, a source inside the Authority has made it known that he is out and if allowed to grow to his former glory, we may all meet the true death before the Authority even manages to pass sentence on Eric and I.”
“Sookie, we killed one of our own, and a half a dozen others if you count her vampire bodyguards… to kill one of our own is a grave offense, in every sense of the word.”
There was that fear again.
“So you’re saying that Russell is on the loose, you and Eric could end up killed either by him or the other vampires, or what? Boxed up for a million years?”
“Something along those lines, yes.”
I was silent.
“Sookie, staying here is not the best option right now, if I had the option to cut and run I would take it, but as things stand… I cannot.”
So he just wanted to run when things got tough, that made me feel bitter and reminded me of his attitude when Godric needed someone, because it wasn’t to his benefit, he wanted us to just leave.
“I came here to strongly suggest you do the running, Sookie, not I. I can take care of myself, you cannot.”
“ I’m serious, Sookie. This is a threat that I can no longer protect you from –“
“Because we’re no longer together? Because I am no longer yours?”
That stunned me.
“You do not belong to me, and in vampire terms you know that means that anyone can claim you.”
“Excuse me Mr, but I am not some cow at auction! No one can simply claim me against my damn will.”
“Actually, they can.”
“No… No they can’t.”
“Sookie, consent can be achieved in more ways than gentle persuasion. Nan knew what you were; she knew that we knew and that we were hiding it. Russell also knows and if he confesses, who do you think the Authority will call on next?”
I felt sick to my stomach. This was not happening, not again.
“You can’t protect yourself, Eric and I cannot protect you. The best idea now is for you to go, far if you can for as long as you can.”
I looked at him then, in sheer disbelief. He really had that little faith in me that he wanted me out of the way now that I was no longer any use to him and his cause.
“I will think about it, but the idea that you don’t even believe in me enough to –“
“I am merely trying to protect you, Sookie.”
“By running away from my home, my family, my friends, my whole life? How is that an answer, you didn’t, Eric hasn’t, why should I?”
“Because you are just a girl, a girl who happens to find herself in trouble more often than not.”
I scoffed, because really, he wasn’t serious? Half the ‘trouble’ I found was because of him!
“I hope I made my intentions clear here, Sookie. I do just want to keep you safe.” His face and his tone told me he wanted to mean what he was saying, and hell, maybe he really did. I just didn’t buy it.
I stood up then, and he did the same.
“I have to say Bill you’ve made a lot of things a lot clearer, so thank you for that.”
He smiled, but I did not, this wasn’t a happy realisation – like most around him.
“You made me realise that what I felt for you… that Sookie doesn’t really exist anymore does she? That girl that took your word for what it was the word of a Southern Gentleman who loved me.”
“But I –“
“Bill, you were sent here to manipulate me, loving me may have come later, but you don’t love me enough to believe in me, to believe that I am stronger than what I appear and that hurts.”
“I just want to keep you –“
“By running, for how long? The rest of my life? Alone? No, that’s not safe that’s insanity!”
“And facing Russell or the powerful members of the Authority? How is that any less insane? Sookie they can and probably will force you to submit to them, one way or another. The idea of owning a fae woman… even part fairy as you are it is an urge … one so strong.”
“That they might even put on a big show and make me fall in love with them with lies they knew a inexperienced, virginal, backwoods girl might want to hear?”
He pouted then, and I knew I was right. The overwhelming sadness that hit me again was almost too much to stand.
“I see.” I commented, picking up the old throw blanket that sat on the porch swing where we sat. “Bill I’d like you to leave.”
I just raised my brows at him.
“Leave. I’ve heard enough.”
I walked back inside and slammed the door on Bill for the last time, or what in my mind was the last time. His Sookie really did not exist anymore, and the one that I had become she wasn’t the girl that ran and hid, she was the woman that shot a thousand year old vampire across a field and knocked his ass out with the same light.
And she was tired of running.
Fantasia was booming, not that I expected anything less, but it was also packed outside too, this time with anti-vampire groups shouting and slandering, with signs and cameras.
“FANGBANGER.” “Whore!” “Whore-Fangbanger.”
It came one right after another; I just rolled my eyes as I walked inside away from their judgemental glares and lame insults.
I got to the bar and looked around, I did not see Pam or Eric in their usual spots, so I decided he was in his office, and took the liberty to head that way when I bumped into the new server. Except it was not just the new server, it was Tara.
“Oh. Hello.” I said instantly taken aback because I really wasn’t expecting this at all.
We stood there, awkwardly looking at each other as she slid the tray across the bar.
“Are you… I mean… is… are you okay?” I stammered, this was Tara my best friend I shouldn’t be scared, but I was. After our last encounter, I was downright terrified.
“Are they taking care of you?”
She glared at me then.
“I just mean, Pam, I know y’all didn’t have the best relationship before.”
She looked behind me then, I assumed at Pam before looking right back with her bitchface on.
“Well being my maker, it changes things pretty damn fast.”
“So I’ve heard.”
“Mmmhmm. I’m sure you’ve heard, do you want a drink?”
“You…work here now?”
“Well, yeah, I have all the time in the world but a ‘lot to learn’ so here I am, even in death I’m slinging drinks.” She rolled her eyes. She looked amazing, her hair, her skin, her whole corset and skirt thing she had going on, she just looked so alive, for someone so dead. More alive than I remembered seeing her in life which was weird.
“I’ll have a vodka tonic with lime, please.”
She served it up in a second, her vamp speed impressing three girls to my left, it just terrified me.
She almost smiled as she handed it over.
“Eric is in his office with his sister, so they might be a while.”
Excuse me his what now?
She raised her brow at me, as if I didn’t know, well I didn’t know!
“He has a sister?”
“Well from what I’ve heard, vampire sister so it’s not the same thing as like you and Jason, which is a good thing too. Because if I’m right and I think I am they have definitely fucked, and they may be vampires but … no.” She shuddered.
“Oh God, is he in there right now fu-“
“No. At least not that I can tell; besides he seems pretty set on you these days according to Pam…And my new eyes and ears. And besides, she’s an uppity bitch so I would judge him if he was.”
I downed the last of my drink before sliding off the stool.
“Can we talk, really properly talk later?” I asked, as I was full of hope now that she was past slamming me up against walls and stuff.
That is all she said and I was not going to push her for anymore. I had to talk to Eric.
This time I knocked, just because I wasn’t sure I was ready to see what was on the other side of the door if Tara was wrong.
When I opened, he was sitting, she was standing, both fully clothed in front of a laptop.
I breathed a sigh of relief, my heart also sored when he smiled.
“Sookie, you’re here.”
“I need to talk to you … in private.” I stated almost side-eyeing his sister, the jealously I felt toward her suddenly was frightening.
He looked at her and it was just a look, she nodded and walked past me with a slight nod, closing the door behind her.
“Where you ever going to tell me she was your sister? Your vampire sister who you’ve probably slept with a lot… or hey how about the fact that she’s your Authority insider, or hey how about the fact that Russell fucking Edgington was on the loose and the reason for that is because you didn’t kill him and now he’s probably on his way here to kill us.”
I took a deep breath; I needed it because I felt like I was going to pass the hell out.
“Sookie, I was the one that told Bill, Nora informed me only hours ago, I told him and my next call was going to be to you but I felt this was something you needed to hear in person, clearly Bill beat me to it – again.” He sighed unnecessarily. “Nora and I are vampire blood it is true, it is also true she and I share much history, including sexually.”
I rolled my eyes; of course, they fucked, of course.
“But Sookie really, if you are going to take issue with the women I have been with in that manner I would hastened to add that it is a lot, even if you count only one a year –“
“Alright I get it, I get it!” I cringed. “I mean I know, you’re not like Prince Charming or anything, but it’s just… I don’t know…”
“How I felt when I knew Bill got to be with you.”
“Times a few hundred thousand probably.” I rolled my eyes. More at myself than anything, I knew it was a stupid thing to be worked up about; it meant nothing in the scheme of things.
“I was going to tell you about Russell but we have been busy implementing a plan, well, the start of a plan.”
“According to Bill his plan was to tuck tail and run.”
He clicked something on his laptop then, and smirked.
“I hope that didn’t come as surprise to you, it has always been in Bill’s nature to run from things that didn’t suit his agenda, being the Authorities prisoner certainly won’t suit him.”
“So you’re sure they’re going to take you both…”
“Yes. No one knows about Nora and I being related, or her loyalty to me.”
“You sure she’s loyal?”
He looked at me sharply then.
“She is Godric’s child, Sookie, she knows loyalty.”
I held my hands up in defeat.
“Alright, I’m sorry. But forgive me for questioning everyone’s alliances these days; it’s getting a little hard to tell.”
He then left behind his desk to come to where I stood, things intimately between us were on murky territory, but when he leaned in and kissed me sweetly on the lips, I didn’t question it, I kissed him back.
“Come here. We have a plan to discuss.”