Sookie was looking out her frost covered window as the sun set on December 30th. She felt like crying but if someone had asked her she would not have been able to tell them why. If anyone had been there to ask her she might has smiled and tried to dismiss their concern, because that is what she had done in the past. “I’m fine,” she would say and smile her Crazy Sookie smile. “It’s nothing,” she would say and then ask a question about them and just like that the topic was changed. For just a moment anger bubbled up in her throat, burning like indigestion.
“It’s nothing,” she whispered to her reflection in the frost covered window. It was supposed to snow tonight. “I’m fine,” she told her reflection ignoring the tears in her eyes that were threatening to spill just any second. I will not cry over William Compton! She swore to herself. I will not give him the satisfaction of knowing how much I have missed him since he left me for his maker. She would not because she was not sure it was true.
She missed having someone to care for, and aside from her Gran and Jason there had only been Bill. Gran was gone, and Jason was off being Jason and Bill was…not here. She turned from the window and looked at her empty house, a reflection of her empty heart. Who would she love now?
Is having Bill better than having no one? She fell on the sofa and wrapped herself in Gran’s quilt as she thought that over. It was a distraction. Bill was a distraction from her loneliness. He had been since the night of her Gran’s funeral when she had run to him thinking that he could fix it somehow. That she could shove him into the hole in heart that was all she had left.
“I’m fine,” she whispered to herself again, not even realizing she was speaking out loud to her empty house, her empty heart. Unexpectedly Eric Northman’s voice whispered in her mind.
“What you need, Miss Stackhouse, is a little excitement in your life.”
“Pfft,” she answered him out loud. “I’ve had too much excitement!” Catching herself she covered her mouth and wondered if she was losing it. Glancing around she realized that even if she was there was no one here to notice. Which, of course was the problem.
You couldn’t be more wrong, Eric, she thought this time, taking a deep breath and reaching for her tea that was steaming on the table. The problem is that I have had too much excitement! As she sipped her mind played back over how much her life had changed in the past year since she had met Vampire Bill at Merlotte’s.
Beaten up, nearly killed, she had killed. She had killed.
I told you fangers were nothing but trouble, Sook! Jason intoned in her head. She grimaced as the burning sensation of anger flooded her chest again.
“You don’t get to tell me squat, Jason Stackhouse!” she shouted to her empty living room, the crackling fire her only answer. She half expected to hear Gran chastise her for the outburst, but there was nothing. She was relieved and disappointed. After a moment she continued her musings.
Even if Bill were here, he would want her to do something or be something that she didn’t want to or couldn’t be. She wasn’t a perfect Southern lady! Something that he couldn’t manage to appreciate despite her nature having saved him more than once. He was ungrateful and that was the kindest way to put it!
“He is unworthy of you, Sookie.” Eric again. Argh! Why was she thinking of the Viking tonight? She had not heard a peep from him since they had gotten back from Jackson.
“Well, you did rescind their invitation to your home,” she whispered into the quilt. You did this, Sookie, there is no one to blame but you! And there comes the tears again. They were both right here and you threw them out! She covered her face thinking of the look on Eric’s face as the magic swept him out her door for what could be the last time.
“What if Eric never comes back?” The first tear slipped down her cheek, and she wondered if perhaps that was what was really bothering her. Not Bill, not Gran, not Jason, Eric. What if Eric never came back? Her chest seized. “I’m fine,” she said and then felt the Crazy Sookie smile spread over her face, the surest indicator that she was anything but fine.
What if Eric never comes back?
She saw him then, in the convenience store proclaiming her as his future lover. He had to come back to make that prophecy true, didn’t he? Her mind turned to what had happened at Russell’s when he gave her his blood and had been overcome with his passion for her, spilling against her back as he held her close to him. He hadn’t asked her what she was feeling, but since she had just taking a heaping helping of him, he could tell right? He could feel that she was…that she…he knew that she wanted him in that moment, didn’t he? Sure she had run away, but he knew….Oh, God, he had to know, right?
Sitting up now, a look of fear and understanding dawning on her face. He had to know that was why she had rescinded his invitation, right? Because her head was stuffed with cotton and her heart was confused and broken and despite that she still wanted to make his prophecy come true.
He knew that part of her had always wanted him, didn’t he? That was why he was so insistent that someday she would yield to him, as he called it.
“Well, how the heck could he know when I just figured it out?” Her chest was burning again, and the tears were slipping down her burning cheeks. She had been so foolish…so childish. She covered her face with her hands and let the tears come. She cried for her infantile behavior, for being a coward and hiding behind the vampire that clearly no longer wanted her from the one that clearly did.
“I’m fine!” she said to no one. “I’m fine!” Except that she wasn’t and now it might be too late to ever be fine again. He had taken care of her when everyone else had fled and left her to bleed to death from being staked. He had taken care of her in Dallas, cleaning her wounds and calming her when she made it back to the hotel.
He had taken care of her.
And she had pushed him away again and again.
“Because I take care of people. I don’t know how to let people take care of me!” I don’t even know what that would be like! She thought furiously now rising to pace, running away from the only person left, herself.
“I know how to love. I don’t know how to be loved,” she whispered the fire, stopping in front of it as if it could burn away her faults and foibles. “Who I am I kidding?” she asked the fire. “Someone like Eric could never love someone like me.”
Someone like me…who am I? She asked herself. I am strong. I am brave. I am fair, even if people are not fair to me. I am…Sookie…and he proclaimed me as his future lover. He wants me, does that mean he could love me? Before she could answer she heard him again.
“You don’t get to decide what intimacy is for someone else.” Her knees gave way and she sat down staring into the fire letting herself see what it could be like to be Eric Northman’s lover. His kindness and gentle touch as he cared for her. The warmth of his smile when she said something unexpected and pleasing, his solid and dependable form and presence in her life.
Oh, Sookie. You fucked up. You ran away from something before you even bothered to find out what it could be. You made all his decisions for him! What was the worst that could have happened? That you wind up alone? Isn’t that what happened anyway? Only when you ran away you created a circumstance where that could be only outcome.
She felt sick now. Confronted by her own cowardice on a cold winter night between Christmas and New Year’s, she was overcome by her disappointment in herself. Her hands come up and she wrapped her arms around herself, imagining for just a second what it would be like to have Eric here, sitting behind her. How he would pull her back against his chest and whisper something provocative in her ear before he turned out the lights and took her to bed to bring his prophecy to life.
Maybe it’s not too late, she thought as the images faded from her mind. Maybe he will come back. Maybe we still have a shot at that kind of time together.
After a few moments she rose from the floor and picked up her cup taking it slowly to the sink turning off lights as she went. The cold wind was blowing outside and it made her shiver. She stopped at the window one last time, looking out into the night and wondering what he was doing right at that moment.
I will tell him, she thought, the next time I see him I will tell him that I am sorry for everything. I will ask him for another chance. I will not be afraid.
“I’m not fine,” she said to no one before she turned off the last light and climbed into bed. Her last thought before she drifted to sleep was that her chest no longer burned with anger, instead she felt the butterfly wings of hope spread in her belly as she thought of what might happen the next time she saw the Viking.