I was about to ask Sookie if she was interested in flying to Shreveport with me for some clothes when I heard a knock at our door, immediately followed by a voice and words that chilled my undead heart.
“Sookie, I’ve come for you.”
Orbit/Perspective & Objective
If I had been thinking straight I probably would have telepathically scanned before I opened the door, but I was still bamboozled from Captain Kissy Pants putting me in my place. When I opened the door I was shocked to see Claudine there, and yet not at the same time.
I had told Eric they were coming for me. I had told him that he would not be safe if he kept me in his life. But I hadn’t listened, so why would he?
“Sookie, I’ve come for you.”
“I’m not goin’ back there.” The words were barely out when he was in front me, fangs flashing, cold rage radiating off him in waves. He vibrated with his anger at this intrusion in what had been our pleasant simple evening. Claudine screamed and jumped back, terrified of the tower of man that had just inserted himself between us.
“You heard her. She doesn’t want to go back there. Leave now! While you still can, fairy!” Claudine looked like she really, really wanted to get the hell out of Dodge, but instead of leaving she cast a look out into the dark, the fear on her face even greater than what Eric had put there. She turned back to me, catching my gaze as I peeked around Eric’s shoulder.
Something wasn’t right here.
“Sookie, I understand it must have been frightening what you saw in Faerie, but please…”
“Frightening? You’re stealing people!” She held her hand out then.
“We are your true family. You belong with us.”
“No, thanks. I am where I belong right here with, Eric.”
“Sookie, we can keep you safe.”
“Safe? When have you ever kept me safe?” Her eyes flicked to the dark again.
“Well, the night you met Bill Compton, for one. When that horrible little man came at you with his knife, and you wrapped that chain around his neck, I sent the energy that you sent to the chain, awakening the light inside you. I was there, helping you.”
“How come you’ve never saved me from any vampires?”
“I couldn’t risk it, being what I am. Vampires would kill me, and trust me, they will kill you. Now come with me while you still can. I must get you away from this monster!” She looked at Eric again, who had been holding his ground, waiting for some signal from me on how I wanted to proceed.
“I thought the Queen closed all the portals?” Her eyes flicked to the dark again and I realized she was talking to someone out there. Extending my reach I found a void, and managed to hear at least her side of the conversation.
She will not leave with me.
I am trying to make her.
I know what I promised you, vampire. I am here now, betraying my blood because you made me swear the oath!
“Come with me. Sookie, this is not a request.”
“Stay away from me.” Several things happened then all at once. Eric moved a step toward her, she reached out to me telepathically, and the vampire she had been talking to in the dark came forward with blurry speed.
When Bill grabbed her from behind and sank his fangs into her neck, her eyes pleaded with me, not to save her but to hear her. I grabbed Eric’s hand to keep him inside with me. Safe. I needed him safe and in the parade of tricksters and liars fretting and strutting on our old front porch there was anything but safety out there.
When Compton glutted himself on you and found his way to Fae he caught me and using ancient magic bound me to his will. He demanded I use Mab and her mad quest to collect all hybrids as a cover to get away and buy him time.
I didn’t know she would try to trap you. I thought we would have more time.
I’m so sorry.
Time to what? I demanded, but I knew it was no use, she was shriveling up before my very eyes as he once again glutted himself on Fae blood. Moments later she turned to dust, covering my porch in ash. Bill was weaving drunkenly, barely standing. Thinking quickly I stepped around Eric, motioning him behind me. I wanted all of Bill’s attention on me.
Even with everything going on it made my heart ache a little with emotion when he squeezed my hand and stepped back to let me do whatever the hell crazy thing I was going to do.
“Claudine told me that you bound her to you Bill. She told me everything before you murdered her! Did you really think you could get away with it?”
“I only wanted to save you, Sookeh!” He stepped toward the door then, forgetting in his intoxication that he was uninvited. “Please! You must believe me! I wanted to keep you safe until I could deal with Sophie Anne and Eric. I told you that night before he showed up that I would do anything to keep you safe!”
“Yes and you certainly did do anything. I could be here all night listing all the things you did to …‘protect’ me. Right up to and including killing my fairy godmother on our porch.”
“’Our porch’? What the fuck do you mean ‘our porch’?” I didn’t answer him. I froze in horrified fascination as the veneer cracked on the southern gentleman he pretended so well to be. Instinctively, I stepped back. His eyes were like Rene’s had been when I had finally seen the monster beneath his skin.
Rene had done terrible things, murder, rape, and he liked it. I saw then that Bill had, too. No, I saw that Bill did, too. I had stopped Rene, but Bill was still the Energizer Bunny of Evil.
I had been a beard that he used to hide himself, even from himself. So much time spent in correcting me, guiding me, molding me. All that attention on me left none for him.
“I bet you wish that vampire’s really couldn’t see their reflections, donthca, Bill?” Like someone rewinding film the muck of his long dead soul slid back up into him, and he looked at me with the same innocent face her had always shown me.
I had been such a fucking fool.
I turned then and walked away. Crazy screamed my name like it would make me come back. Like it would make me forget. Like it would hide the monster I would never unsee in his eyes.
He hadn’t saved me from Rene.
He had saved me for himself.
It wasn’t love that brought him out to burn on a sunny day. He just didn’t want anyone else to kill me before he could.
It felt like my lungs had collapsed in my chest.
As I started to climb down into the cubby I heard Eric tell him that the witches were disbanded, and that his assignment was done. Then I heard the door slam and he was waiting for me at the bottom of the ladder to take me in his arms as soon as I turned to him.
The look on her face told me that she was hurting. Deeply. Our new blood tie told me that she was hurting so deeply that at the moment she was numb. The feeling, the processing of that pain was still yet to come. I prepared myself to feel it with her, wishing we had a full bond so that I could take some of it from her.
I blinked at that thought as I made my slowly to the bed, holding her in my arms. I sat down and held her on my lap, tucked under my chin, arms wrapped around her
To be one with Sookie, did I want that? The quiet voice that told me to buy rocket kits seemed to know that I had always wanted that. The rest of me just wanted to be there for her right now. I was waiting for tears. I had started rocking her gently in my arms in preparation to sooth her. Instead of tears I got questions.
“How long have you known Bill?”
“Around a hundred years.”
“He’s a monster, isn’t he?”
“Monster is a broad definition defined only by perspective and objective, Sookie. What do you mean when you say it?”
“He’s a serial killer, not for blood, not for survival, but for sport, isn’t he?” I sighed.
“Yes, he kills for pleasure. Or he did, back when I saved Pam from him. After that he became Sophie Anne’s lapdog and spent his time finding lost souls, procuring them for his queen’s pleasure, and his own.”
“Pam? Hadley?” I felt her shift to look up at me and I shifted her slightly in my arms so she could see my eyes.
“Pam ran a house of ill repute when I met her. Compton and his maker were fucking and murdering their way through her staff, with an eye on her. She and I came to…an arrangement, and I sent them packing. I never liked that bitch, or her progeny.
“As for Hadley. I know that Compton found her. I know that she told the queen of you and that the queen dispatched Compton to procure you for her.”
“Because she wanted my blood?”
“So she could walk in the sun,” I confirmed. How did I say what I needed to say next? There was no easy or best way. The best way was to just say it.
“Sookie, you must understand something.” Her dazed eyes came to mine and I regretted more than anything what I had to say next. “Depending on your perspective and your objective, a case could be made that I, too, am a serial killing monster.” Her eyes blinked at me and I let myself close mine for just a moment, shutting myself away from what I was sure would be her rage and rejection. Any minute now she was going to slap me, and leap from my arms forever.
So be it. I opened my eyes and continued with the very last fucking conversation I ever wanted to have.
“In all my years I have killed many, and before I leave I expect I will kill many more. I have taken the young and the old, the beautiful and the ugly, the guilty and the innocent. I have been death to them all. It is my nature to be this. I can’t change that, Sookie.” She looked at me for a long moment and then instead of rage and rejection I felt her hand slide into mine.
“Tell me what you thought the first time you knew I existed.”
“The first I knew of you was when you came to Fangtasia to ask me of the women in the photographs, and I thought that I wanted to take you from Compton and make you mine.”
“What did that mean then, to make me yours?”
“Hours of pleasure, in every form I could manage and then some time to invent some new ones worthy of the feeling that seeing you inspired in me.”
“And when you heard me proclaim myself as Bill’s what did you think then?”
“What a pity, for me.” She smiled at the memory.
“Did you ever think of hiring someone to beat me nearly to death so you could get your blood into me?”
“I confess, I did not. I did however, force Compton to bring you back to Fangtasia under the guise of needing your talent to out Longshadow. I already knew it was him. I just wanted to see you again.”
“Why did you let him nearly kill me?”
“Well, it wasn’t as close as it might have seemed to you. I can move very, very fast. Compton and Longshadow were of comparable age. I would have intervened before I let anything happen to you, I think.”
“I wanted to see you again. You already had too much power over me. It would have been less of a risk to my own safety to let you perish before this went further.” Her eyes were forming the tears that I had been expecting for some time now, but they weren’t for Compton as I had expected. “I know this must be hard to hear, Sookie but I told you I would never lie to you. I am not human, and you must not view me as such, through the narrowness that humans use to see and measure each other.
“I have seen civilizations rise and fall. I have lived many lives and been many people. The man you can perceive before you is but a shadow of who I am, but…I want to share all that with you, if you will let me. If you can open your heart and your mind and see me.
“Can you see me, Sookie?”
“Would you save me now, if the Longshadow thing happened now, do you know if you would save me?”
“I’ve replayed that night countless times, and every time I save you. We’ve lived versions of that night over and over since, when the maenad attacked, in the bombing, from Russell, every day, every night, I save you.”
“Sometimes, I save you, too.” She said quietly, a single tear slipping down her cheek. I caught it on my thumb and brought it to my lips.
“Every day, every night, you save me, Sookie.”
“I don’t think I can really understand all the things that you said right now, maybe never, but I know the one thing that I needed to know.”
“And that would be?”
“It was a pity for me, too.”
He was so brave. I could tell that he wanted to pretend that he was what he thought I wanted him to be, rather than what he thought he was.
But we can never see ourselves, not truly.
We spend our lives turning in a circle as he had tonight, like my dog had in childhood, like I had been doing since the night I met my first vampire, but we are never truly able to see ourselves.
Our sense of self is mostly defined by the people that we let into our lives. The people who fill up the negative space, and the positive space in our hearts and souls that otherwise we might spill through.
If not for those people we might let our precious selves run across the floor into nothingness.
Sometimes the people we let in saved us.
Sometimes they destroyed us.
Either way we were forever transmogrified by the experience of letting someone in.
I was taking a chance here on the vampire who held me in this arms like I might shatter at any moment, but so was he. To compare what he had on the table to what I had on the table was a joke. Mine seemed more to risk only because it was mine.
Thinking back to the petulant child who had muttered that he couldn’t check me out like a library book whenever he wanted, and seeing Bill’s face scrunch up when he told me that yes he could I saw with crystal clarity the difference between my two lovers and how they had both fooled me at the beginning, one with his sweet lies and the other with his brutal honesty.
“I’m sorry I could not see you sooner, Eric.”
“I’m just glad you saw me at all.” He leaned down and rested his forehead against mine, the tension draining from him. I was even more impressed to realize that he had said all that to me thinking that it would mean the end of this new thing between us.
Maybe it should have been the end of it. Maybe I just needed to do the opposite of everything that felt right, because Lord knows, I can’t make a right decision until I make all the wrong ones, but no, I wasn’t going to end it.
If he was brave enough to deal with my poofing his pants off and sending them into who the hell knew where, then I was brave enough to not be a hypocrite. I pulled him down to kiss him then. Trying with all my might to convey how very much I appreciated him and cared for him, not despite everything, but because of it all.
“I know you thought I was going to send you away, and you were brave enough to tell me all that anyway. You should have known you were worried for nothing, Eric.” His eyebrow went up.
“Oh, and why is that?”
“Well, if I didn’t break up with you after seeing you in those ridiculous clothes you should know that pretty much nothing will get me to leave you.” I could barely keep the smile off my face as I teased him.
“You could poof them away again?”
“Then you would have to stay here, naked with me forever.” He paused, rolled his eyes up and around, pretending to think that over.
“Not seeing the downside of that plan,” he said, coming back in for another kiss. At the moment neither did I, because I knew that as soon as we come up from this magical hidey hole he had built for us that sooner, rather than later, we were going to have to kill Bill or he was going to kill us.