“Jessica!” he screamed into the dimly lit room, the volume deafening with its sudden presence.
Startled by his outburst Sookie woke, her arms immediately surrounding her vampire boyfriend in worry. His supernatural strength fended her off, forcefully landing her in the pillow defences of the headboard. She tried to shush him while he continued to double over in agony and pain to little avail.
“Bill,” she pleaded. “What’s wrong? Tell me please.” The rush of fear was engulfing her senses once again. For the short time that she had known him Sookie had suffered the experience of his possible true death one too many times. Their turbulent beginnings had only just started to ease into some semblance of normalcy.
The vampire was shaking in agony with pain, so much so that Sookie feared touching him. Her inability to anticipate his needs was wracking her into a bundle of nerves, feeling utterly useless and desperately hoping for some resolution. Rather than the situation alleviating itself the pain only seemed to be getting worse as he continued to scream, the only audible word being the name of another woman who she didn’t know. Who was this Jessica?
“Well isn’t that sweet?” a poorly concocted Southern accent drawled from the door. “Didn’t take you for a BDSM partaker Bill. Though I really should, you’ve dealt out enough pain to be able enjoy the other side of it.”
“Pam what the hell are you talking about,” Sookie fumed. “What’s wrong with him and who is Jessica? Is she his Maker?”
“He really doesn’t tell you much does he sugar lumps,” she mocked. “Jessica is his Childe. He made her a couple of weeks ago and then dropped her into Eric’s and my lap for safekeeping. By the looks of it she’s being subjected to torture right now. She’s not handling it well.”
It was all too much for Sookie to take in, instead she focused on Bill’s wellbeing, demanding that Pam make him better.
“You’re quite the darling Sookie,” she replied with amusement. “The only one who can stop that is Jessica. Now I’m here to collect Bill so step aside little human.”
Sookie jumped in front of her projected trajectory, arms crossed across her chest, screaming ‘no’ at the top of her lungs.
“Really?” Pam said unimpressed, a slight lift of her brow was the only indication she even registered the telepath in front of her. “What? Do you think you could do to stop me?”
She let out an annoyed huff, voicing a stray thought instead, “Wait, if you and Eric are supposed to be keeping Jessica safe why isn’t she?”
“Things have changed,” Pam sighed, her bored tone unrelenting. Offering with false saccharine, “She’s as safe as could be.”
“Not if she’s being tortured,” Sookie exclaimed incensed. “Oh my God! Is Eric torturing her?”
“No,” she replied with narrowed eyes, patience was never Pam’s virtue, the insult to her beloved Maker eroding any left. The situation she and Eric found themselves in was precarious enough without the nuisance of the telepath. An expectant tap of Sookie’s foot made her answer, “Eric’s doing the rounds just as I am. My best guess, she’s joined the self-flagellation crowd.”
“Step aside, or I’ll make you,” Pam warned, fangs out in warning. “I have more than one vampire to pick up tonight.”
Finally coming to understand the serious threat of the blonde vampiress, Sookie reluctantly stepped aside. With ease Pam flipped the flailing vampire over her shoulder and carried him out of the house. Sookie trailed after them in her white cotton nightgown her bare feet sinking into the wet ground. Tears stained her face while she desperately tried to swallow the sobs escaping her.
“I’ll come get you out,” Sookie called after a gagged Bill. Pam unceremoniously dumped him in the back of her box truck and secured him with silver cuffs causing him to cry out.
“Is that really necessary?” Sookie demanded.
“It’s for his safety as well as the others,” Pam informed gesturing at her collection of detained passengers. She pulled down the roll up door ignoring the crying telepath.
“What’s going on Pam?” Sookie pleaded, failing to understand what was happening.
“Not for human ears,” Pam replied with a faint hint of melancholy. “It was nice knowing you Sookie Stackhouse,” she greeted before disappearing into the driver’s cab and speeding off. Sookie watched the truck disappear into the dark night. She continued to sob in the faint light of the front porch till she found some semblance of her inner strength, cursing the fact that she had been forced to gather so much of it since meeting Bill Compton.
With resolve Sookie ran into the old Compton home, not caring that her muddied feet left their mark. Clothing was pulled over her nightgown and her dirtied feet were shoved in her sneakers. Running at high speeds over the grounds of the familiar cemetery she arrived at her car and took off to the only person she knew who could know anything.
She pounced incessantly on the door of the trailer until the sleepy form of her friend opened it. He rubbed at his eyes, still bloodshot. “Sookie,” he spoke seeing the urgency across her features. “What’s wrong?”
Sookie rambled a quick succession of the evening’s events while he prepared them two cups of tea. Still running on adrenaline, she crashed at the same moment her story ended. Her shoulders slunk in as she tried desperately not to burst into tears once more.
“Listen Cher,” Sam started while he ran a hand through his tangled hair. “I’ve only heard rumours so far. The last week has been tumultuous in vampire politics. How much do you know from Bill?”
Sookie sat quiet for a while. It dawned on her that as much as she shared about herself and her past with Bill, he had yet to tell her anything. A little about his human life but she didn’t even know about this Jessica. Aside from meeting Eric and Pam once, she knew not a thing about him or vampire politics. Had Bill not been in the grasp of a certain blonde vampire he’d surely be receiving an earful about keeping her in the dark.
“I know Eric Northman is the Sheriff of this area,” she replied. “I know there’s a thing called the Magister. Although I have no idea what he does. That’s about it.”
“I think we better switch to coffee,” Sam sighed.
Diligently Sam proceeded to explain the hierarchy vampires upheld with a king or queen and their sheriffs well into the early morning hours. With all the information divulged he hoped Sookie would come to realise she needed to give up on the first man she loved. He was a lost cause now, a casualty of the regime change, there was no chance that he would be returning.
He didn’t tell her this in the hopes that she would love him instead. He knew their chance of being something more than friends had long passed. There weren’t many people Sam Merlotte would afford this to, Sookie Stackhouse, however, was one of the few.
With a heavy heart Sookie thanked him for all he knew and returned home deflated and empty after having felt everything in quick succession.
Once home, a bath of hot water was drawn and after rinsing her feet in the shower, she sunk into the tub contemplating the vampires in her life. Bill held her heart and she feared for the loss of it again. Somewhere along the way the odd twosome that were Eric and Pam had won a soft spot into her erratically beating organ too, only now did she contemplate what their fate would be. Pam’s words about that it was nice knowing her, worrying her.
In the short period of time since the first vampire she had ever met many had followed soon after. When her eyes first locked with Eric’s it had been difficult to hide the pull even from Bill. She couldn’t even take in his face properly as it hung in shadows of his long straight hair. It had been a sensation that had been foreign to her until that moment, perhaps only read about it in books. Bill’s words of warning had her wary at their second meeting. Eric had surprised her in his willingness to meet her demands. She was well aware she had little say in the matter but he had given her an allowance in trade for her co-operation. It was a sign of respect, since not many afforded her that she knew the value of that.
Pam had been surprisingly normal, almost considerate, despite the sexual advances in the aftermath of Long Shadow’s demise. Initially the projected ice queen demeanour had instilled the appropriate fear in Sookie, but after seeing Pam in her soft pink clothing, looking as if she were about to attend a PTA rather than run a vampire bar meant little threat was left.
There was also something between Eric and Pam that had intrigued Sookie. Their relationship fluctuated back and forth between the different parts they played in each other’s life. They allowed each other to lean and support on one another. It was a quality she recognised from her grandparents’ relationship, the only happy marriage Sookie had stood witness to in her life. Sookie had hoped that she and Bill would find such an equilibrium, but his reluctance to let her in had stunted that from developing so far.
She ran Pam’s farewell through her mind over and over again. A tear fell into the steaming water that Bill’s parting words to her would be the name of another woman. She couldn’t even remember the last words she spoke to Eric. No doubt they were laced with hostility, he had been taking Bill away from her then too.
The tears continued to fall over the lives that would be lost. Sam had been quite clear that those in power before would be no more; they were marching to their own death. Bill had never told her what he did for work but his arrest attested to some attachment to the regime according to Sam.
She cried till there was nothing left in her tear-ducts. Of all the veins to be drained by vampires she never thought it would be this one. Their presence, albeit a dangerous one, had given her a connection. Something that the people she loved, her friends and her family, had never been able to give her. Among the supernatural she was not crazy, nor was she abnormal. Around them she was gifted.
Exhaustion lulled her to a deep sleep and she woke several hours later in a cool bath. To her grief it only made her remember the temperature of her lover’s touch, finally she forced herself from the tub to regard the mess she had become in the bathroom mirror.
She made up her mind as she confronted her own reflection. After working the lunch shift she would go to Fangtasia. Even if she failed to speak to Bill, she could rest assured that she tried. She splashed cold water on her face and retreated to her bed to wallow till she had to get ready to leave again.
Fangtasia looked nothing like the first time she visited it, gone were the long lines of eager fangbangers. The only sign of them was a small vigil by a charred cross in the parking lot.
Human armed guards carrying the emblem of the sun surrounded the building, stating proudly, Soldiers of the Sun. Sookie had heard of them, they belonged to the Fellowship of the Sun church. She didn’t quite understand what the anti-vampire organisation was doing guarding a vampire club, it couldn’t be anything good. She feared that it was already too late but from the mental signatures inside there did not seem to be a conflict among the natural enemies.
She gathered her courage and approached the entrance. A large elderly man looked her up and down with distaste.
“The place is closed indefinitely,” he said in a clipped tone, though it was almost friendly in comparison of his projected thoughts. ”Best find yourself something alive from now on.”
“I’m not a fangbanger,” she seethed. “I work for Eric Northman and I would like to see him.”
“The waitresses have all been released,” he replied. “Call Ginger for your final pay check.”
“I’m not one of his waitresses,” she exhaled in exasperation. “He’ll be expecting me. Call him if you must.”
The guard spoke into an earpiece and after some back and forth he reluctantly opened the door for her. “Paul will escort you to Mr Northman’s office.”
She muttered an insincere thanks and followed the man into the office. When she was seated Paul left the room and locked the door on her, unsettling her only further. Not that Fangtasia had been the image of charm before but in its current forsaken state it was downright creepy.
While she was kept waiting her eyes travelled across the office at her leisure, taking in all of Eric’s things. She noted it was rather messy and disorganised compared to the last time she was there.
Her boredom was getting to her, despite the severity of the situation. Sookie sat on Eric’s oversized chair pretending to be the big bad sheriff of area five with her feet on his desk. She considered finding something to stand in as a mock cigar to add to the look but her exploration of his desk was coming up short. Spotting something out of her grasp, she leaned her body towards it at which point the door flung open.
“Ms Stackhouse,” Eric bellowed out just as her fingertip was reaching the object, her tongue darting to the corner of her mouth in deep concentration. She yelped out in surprise, falling painfully to the floor with a thud. He sped over to help her up, only to be startled by her appearance. The innate light that seemed to resign everyone around her to shadows was missing. In its place sat the grief and worry of one much older than she.
“I see you made yourself comfortable,” he smirked trying to make light of the situation. Humour had always been essential to his skills of survival and Pam had proven to be a worthy companion in such folly. Sookie was about to let his sarcastic ass have it, until she realised that was probably not the best course of action considering the circumstances at hand.
“Thank you,” she returned despite his lack of chivalry. When she stood he pushed his index finger to his lip indicating she better not speak. He wrote on a pad.
Room is bugged. It is not safe for you to be here. What are you doing here?
She took the offered pen and started scribbling away.
I wish to say goodbye. Help if I can.
Bill is already shipped off to New Orleans. It’s too late for him.
A tear slipped down her cheek when confronted with the words. Messier than before, Eric scrawled on the pad and put a considerable amount of distance between them. Curiously she glanced at him, then the words he’d written.
Please keep distance. I have not been allowed to feed for days.
She looked at him with glistening eyes. She offered her wrist up to him but he vehemently shook his head.
E: I can’t he will know. Thank you for the offer.
S: Let me help. You can use my skill against the FOTS.
E: They are the least of my worries.
S: Who then?
E: Vampires. Cannot fight it. Too late for Pam and myself. Our deaths are already decided.
S: Please let me help. Even if it’s too late for Bill I will continue to help.
He regarded the object of his obsession. Eric wondered if she would grant a dying man a final wish, maybe just the touch of her lips. It’s all he would ask of her but he refocused to the direr situation at hand wondering if he could make us of her.
E: Can you stay here beyond dawn? Till after sunset.
Sookie nodded in affirmation. He wrote down his plan and she followed him out after handing him her car keys. She was shoved into the supply closet while he glamoured the guards sparingly to make them believe Sookie had left.
Fifteen minutes before dawn Eric walked the inside premises with Paul, locking out all the indoor guards. It was the only concession he had been able to negotiate with their presence. If their lives were to be sacrificed he needed assurance they would not be ended prematurely during the day. He told Pam to check on their remaining wards and head down to her coffin where he would join her later.
He waited in the darkened hallway outside the supply room till the sun rose and he could feel his progeny settle into her day death.
Eric opened the supply closet door and carefully slipped in. Sookie had fallen asleep in between packages of toilet paper, snoring softly. Briefly he considered leaving her, snuggling up to her warmth. He tested out the bond to his Maker and found him equally unresponsive. A sigh of relief escaped his lips and carefully he nudged Sookie awake.
Sleepily she gazed up at him, unable to read him or the situation, she didn’t dare speak. Seeing her apprehension he informed, “It’s safe to talk now.”
“Eric please tell me what’s going on,” she whispered. ”I promise to help however I can.”
He nodded while he settled himself beside her on the cement floor. “Spare me a moment,” he said with a creak to his voice. “Not having fed for so long has made it difficult to fight the pull of the sun. It will pass soon enough.”
Sookie observed yet another vampire in pain. She wished she could comfort him, but she remained mindful of his earlier warning to him at a distance.
He grunted in more pain while he struggled to stay awake, finding it harder to sustain, never having to do so before while malnourished. Fearing he wouldn’t be able to fight it much longer, through slit lids he glanced at the anxiously waiting tiny blonde. “Sookie,” he croaked out weakly. “Does your offer of blood still stand?”
*Revised December 2015