When I landed on the porch I pulled the boards off the door and found that she had not rescinded my invitation after that night. For some reason that eased the ache in me a little. For as long as she had been here she had still be hoping that I would come back. She had still wanted me to come back. The cubby was musty but it would do for the day. I lay down on the bed, the lights were not working because the power was off but I didn’t need them.
I could bleed in the dark.
Come With Me Now- Shackles & Chains
I had thought that at least when I died for the day I would be free for at a brief respite. It was not to be so. As soon as I felt the day take me I closed my eyes and then opened them again in the basement of Fangtasia. This time, Sookie was the one chained before me on the ground in her old grey t-shirt and short denim cutoffs. She was pulling at the shackle around her neck and screaming at me.
“You were right,” I say to her, and turn to walk away.
“Let me go!” she screams at me, crawling toward me, begging and furious. “Eric! Eric!”
“You were right,” I say to her again, staying rather than leaving this time as I had before.
“And it still hurts like a mutherfucker, every time.” She stopped screaming then and sat back, no longer pulling at the iron shackle around her neck. I moved toward her to release her but she stops me.
“No, I can’t stand to see you like this!”
“Too fucking bad. You put me here. Deal with it! I had to.” I closed my eyes, shutting this and her out. Then, sighing I sat down across from her, as close as I dared to get. In her eyes I saw a curious mix of rage and pain and I felt just as helpless as I had in the grave yard when she had left me there.
“Is this a dream?” I finally ask.
“Perhaps,” she said, still sitting there staring at me with reproachfully. “Perhaps it’s another summoning.”
“I didn’t summon you, Sookie. I am dead in the cubby for the day.”
“I never said you summoned me.” I looked at her sharply. If I didn’t summon her then that meant… “In the cubby? At my house?” She was scrunching her face again, tilting her head, trying to figure something out. I nodded. “Why would you go there?”
“The last time I saw you there you said I could come in if I wanted.” She snorted then, a hateful sound.
“And as usual, you did not want to.”
“The goddamned phone was ringing. Bill was calling.”
“Yes, he sure the fuck was, wasn’t he?” More an accusation than a question.
“Yes, and you couldn’t wait to get to him!”
“WAIT TO GET TO HIM? NOW HOLD ON A MINUTE!” she rose to her knees screaming at me, the chain rattling behind her. How did so many of our critical moments happen in this fucking basement? “You TOLD me to go to him! You SENT ME TO HIM! AND NOW IT’S MY FAULT THAT I HAD A RINGING PHONE AND YOU HAD TO FUCKING FLY AWAY? HOW THE HELL DOES THAT WORK?”
“I SENT YOU TO HIM BECAUSE IT’S WHERE YOU WANTED TO BE. IT’S WHERE YOU ALWAYS FUCKING WANTED TO BE!”
“I WANTED TO BE WITH YOU!”
“STOP SAYING THAT! YOU DON’T MEAN IT!”
“DON’T YOU TELL ME WHAT I MEAN!” I had to appreciate the irony. All this time I wanted her to want me, and now I was telling her not to say it. How did this get so fucked up? Rather than continue this pointless screaming match I sat back and forced myself to calm down. I asked the first question that came to mind.
“What do you want from me, Sookie?”
“Oh, suddenly, that matters?”
“It’s always mattered to me.” I expected more anger and sarcasm, but she didn’t respond right away.
“I want to know when it mattered to you. I told you that for me it was from the moment I saw you. Was it when you saw me here that night fucking Yvetta? Is that when I mattered to you?” I shook my head.
“No, that was when my heart knew, but it started before I think.”
“I asked Bill if he was attached to you and you said that you were his. I said that was a pity, for me.”
“I said I was his because I was scared. I had met some other vampires who thought they could just bite and fuck me against my will because they were stronger than I was. I was very attracted to you, but I was scared that you would take me away.” She stopped then a minute before going on. “Of course, I was also afraid that I wanted this total stranger, and that you would not want to take me away. It was easier to not give you the chance to reject me.”
“I used to wonder what would have happened if you had not allowed Compton to claim you that night.”
“You don’t know?”
“Oh, I ran all the possibilities, but no, in truth I do not know. Not for sure.”
“You ran the possibilities. I assume that is your romantic way of saying you fantasized about it?”
“Tell me your favorite fantasy of that night.”
“It has changed several times over the years.”
“Because what I wanted has changed several times over the years.”
“Tell me all of them. Start with the first and end with what you want to have happened that night now.”
“At first, you did not declare yourself as Bill’s and you left with me when we escaped the raid. I took you home with me and pleasured you all night long, tasting you slowly, showing you all the ways that I could delight a marvelous creature such as you.” She swallowed and looked at me waiting for me to go on.
“After Dallas, I added to that idea, imagining that and then that you came to care for me and would have been with me in Dallas. I dreamed that you would have consoled me and shared my grief at Godric’s passing. That your time with him at the end would have brought us closer and I would have been able to open up and share more than just my body with you.” She bit her lip then but still did not speak.
“And now when I think of the first night I met you, I wish I had just taken you from Bill before anything horrible could have happened and I had been strong and brave enough to have met you on equal ground.”
“What do you mean?”
“You were so brave that night. So bright and inquisitive. You asked your questions and pushed back when I pushed you. You were scared but putting up and good poker face. You warned me of the raid, and I imagine that while I wanted your body I would have been smart enough then to know that there is so much more to you, and that I could have taken you aside, and shown you that you could trust me, and that I was a better match for you than Compton would ever be. Because I was his Sheriff, and because of my age I could have commanded him to give you to me. But I was afraid of what you made me feel that night. I was afraid that you made me feel at all.
“I would do it all different if I could go back. I would offer myself to you and not worry of your rejection or fear that you inspired me to feel again. I would have offered you the world, Sookie Stackhouse and believed that you would have accepted it and me right then and there.
“I would give anything to go back and do that night over. To go back and do that night right.” I stopped then because there was nothing more to say. I could not go back in time and I could not save her from all the things that had befallen her from her time with Compton.
“What would you have done when you found out the Queen wanted me?”
“Whatever needed to be done.”
“Bill told me before he died that she sent him for me because she wanted to breed me.”
“You didn’t know?”
“No! I knew that she wanted you to walk in the sun after drinking your blood, but I didn’t know that she planned to breed you for more of it!”
“I didn’t think that you did. I thought about it a lot, if you had known and I couldn’t believe you had. No matter what else had happened.”
“I would never have told you that, even if I did know.”
“He told me because I asked.”
“I would have protected you from that knowledge. She was dead and you were safe, knowing such a horrible thing does no one any good. Gods! The fact that he went along with it makes me more glad than ever that he is dead!” I was furious. Fucking Compton, his dumbassery was a gift that just kept on giving, even from the grave.
“You knew what I was though. You told Russell about me. If it wasn’t the Queen how did you know?”
“Hadley? How does that work?”
“So much was happening at the time. Russell was forcing Sophie Anne to marry him, and I was plotting ways to kill Russell and save Pam from the Magister and still, I had a chance to figure out why she was so fucking interested in you, and I took it.”
“And then you sent Hadley to warn me to run?”
“And you ignored me, as always.”
“Yes, I did.”
“Well, I told everyone that there was no point in me running away, but the truth was I couldn’t leave you.”
“What do you mean?”
“You always thought I was stupid didn’t you?”
“I knew that Bill was in trouble, and I needed to help him. That was more about me and the kind of person I want to be than it was about him, but I know that no one ever saw that.” I didn’t argue. I had certainly never seen it that way. “And when I got to Russell’s place and heard him tell Bill he was three thousand years old I realized that you were in trouble, too. I had been paying enough attention by then to know the signs. The cool face, the tight voice, the pacing.” My eyebrow went up at her spot on observations. “See, you thought I was stupid, just like everyone else.” She hesitated then looking down at her hands before taking a deep breath.
“I probably could have articulated it better, but I thought we could make a plan together to get Bill out, and that would get you out, too. I could do both and not have to let you know how worried I was for you. I could do both and not lose face to you. But then you told me that I-” her breath hitched here and I felt the pain in my chest again.
“I said that you meant nothing to me,” I finished for her quietly. She nodded and wiped her cheeks angrily with the back of her hand.
“I had always known it of course, but to hear you just come right out with it, screaming it in my face. That was….umm, tough to hear.”
“You said you hated my fucking guts.”
“What was I supposed to do? Knit you a sweater? It wasn’t mature, but I had to say something. So, that day I was the liar.”
“We both were.” She nodded, still looking down, but at least this time she did not scream denial at me when I declared my feelings for her. “You broke my heart that day, Sookie. When I looked in your eyes hearing you scream that you hated me, it was as you say, tough to hear.”
“But you knew how I really felt, Eric. You had to feel how happy I was to see you. You had to know I felt something for you!”
“I felt it, but I thought it was for Bill.” She was silent for a long time. Perhaps regretting the deceiving blood tie as much as I was in those moments. I had thought I was so fucking clever. I had been so fucking wrong.
“Well,” she said finally, looking at me again. “If it makes you feel better, I staked him. Bill I mean. I was the one who sent him to his true death.”
“How would knowing you went through that make me feel better, Sookie?”
“Revenge? Justice? Irony? Damned if I know. I just thought it might help.”
“No, I know how much that must have hurt you. I am sorry that you had to go through all that alone.” She shrugged a shoulder and grew quiet again.
“You’re not listening to me, AGAIN!” Her eyes, round with surprise came up to meet mine. ” Just like that night on porch. I wanted so much to explain. You know that Bill tried to kill me?” She nodded.
“Yes, when he told me that he had ended you, I felt like someone had kicked me in the chest. He said he did it to protect me, but I tried to tell him that you would never-” she stopped then. Her hand came up to her shackle around her throat and she smiled a tight angry little smile. “I tried to tell him that you would never hurt me.”
“You were right, Sookie.”
“Yeah. Sure. I wanted so fucking much for that to be true, but now sitting here shackled again, knowing that where this scene goes next is you telling Russell that he could walk in the sun if he drained me, I have to think that perhaps everyone was right. I was stupid. I am stupid. Only it wasn’t for Bill like everyone thought.” She sounded so hurt and angry that it was cutting me again inside. These shards though were mine, and not hers. Were they all mine?
“You remember that I kissed you, Sookie?”
“It was the most amazing moment of my life, how could I forget?” Amazing moment of her…?
“I lost myself in that kiss, Eric. All my protection, all my denial, all my security as soon as you pulled me close. I never wanted to stop kissing you.”
“But you did.” Now I sounded as sad and angry as she did.
“You told me not to pretend like I cared about you. You didn’t want me to care, Eric. You didn’t want me.”
“No, I meant what I said, and somehow it got twisted in your mind. I didn’t want you PRETENDING! I wanted it to be real, Sookie.” She sniffed now, wiping another tear.
“It was real, Eric. It was so fucking real that I still get lost in that memory where I thought for a moment you might really care.”
“Me, too.” I wanted to reach out to her so badly. If I did would she disappear again? I decided to risk it and reach for her hand, placing it between both of mine. She dropped her head, not looking at me, and let me hold her hand for a moment before gently pulling it back.
“Why did you come to my house that night, after you escaped Bill’s trap?”
“I wanted to explain why I had told Russell. It was a shitty plan, but it was the best one I had. I knew that eventually Sophie Anne would tell him of your blood and what it could do. I wanted to avenge my family and I thought I could save you, too.”
“Yes, Russell killed my human family with his fucking wolves before I was made vampire.”
“So, you tried to burn yourself to avenge them?”
“And you.” I stopped now. There was something I needed to know, too. “Why did you come for me that morning? You called me a piece of shit on your porch but you had pulled from the sun and healed me. Why?”
“When you bit me, you stroked my hair. That was what I remembered when I woke up. It was something that you probably did on reflex, not even thinking but it was a…comfort. In all of that bloody mess, my stupid brain only felt your hand in my hair, like it had been when you kissed me. I woke up and all I could think of was you.”
“Then why did you send me away that night?” She laughed again.
“I was so ashamed. I had tried to save Bill, to be a better person than I was and all the time he had been playing me for the fool. I was humiliated! But the worst part was that I had been humiliated in front of you, Eric!” She rose to her knees again. “I had nothing left to hide behind, and realized that there never had been anything there for me in the first place. He had never wanted ME either.” She was sobbing now and I was hurting right along with her. “No one had ever wanted ME, only what I could do for them, only my blood!”
“That’s not true, Sookie! I wanted you. I came that night to give you what you asked for! I came to show you why you couldn’t trust Bill! I came to show you who was really wearing the black hat in this little drama of ours and you SENT ME AWAY! YOU PUNISHED ME FOR WHAT HE HAD DONE!” I was up on my knees now, too, screaming at her as she had done me, begging her with everything I was to see the fucking truth in my eyes.
“When I left that night I promised myself that I would come to you, when you had calmed down and make you see that everything I had done, I had done to save you!” She screamed then, a pain so primal in her voice that I felt my knees give way and I fell toward her needing to make it stop before I died from the pain she was feeling, the pain that I was feeling.
I meant to take her in my arms. I meant to hold her, hold her together until she had recovered enough to be able to do it for herself, but I fell forward into nothing but air. She had left me again, as she had that night. Once again she disappeared and for a moment I let myself think it might be for the best. After all, I had done nothing but hurt her again and again. Perhaps she was better off away from me after all. I had failed her so completely that I could barely fathom the depths of it. Worst of all, I had not even been able to see it, I had blinded myself to it because of my own arrogance, fear and pride.
I had been chipping away at who she was, what made me love her since the night we met, and I never even knew.