I once accused Bill Compton he didn’t know what love was. As far as I was concerned he didn’t even get to carry that word in his mouth so great was his misunderstanding of it. Now I wondered if the accusation had been, like most directed out in anger, speaking as much truth about myself as of the other.
I had told the man who had stood by my side for six months that I loved him. As his body was laid to rest my thoughts were that it was just another coffin in the ground. I wondered if I had spoken those words to him in truth. Had I ever told the truth when I spoke those words.
I now know I had lied to Alcide. I had returned the words out of obligation, not because I actually felt them. I was no better than Bill but at least my deception wasn’t an orchestrated one. The word ‘too’ had been added whenever I spoke them, usually absently over the phone or in passing. Never with reverence. His mind told me he would leave me if I didn’t reciprocate the words he spoke to me. That scared me more than telling than telling him a lie. I alleviated my guilt by telling myself I would feel it soon enough.
‘I never did.’
Those other three words were ones that haunted my mind often enough. My indulgence into romance novels always had me believe ‘I love you’ was the statement that had you falling forward. Falling deep.
‘I never did.’
‘I trust you.’
I never knew the significance of those other sets of words would have in my life. The one who had enunciated those words to me had once told me he loved me too. Without the word too. Love had lost meaning to me then. I could no longer understand it. Was it me or another? Blood or sensation?
He had never given up on me. Alcide did. He had continued a relationship that was never to be a successful one. They both tried too hard to make it work, instead they ended up strangling the connection that had once initiated it. My relationship with Alcide was not dissimilar, where Debbie ran to drugs from insecurity and jealousy I retreated emotionally and dug myself into my work. Arlene was happy to have me for the extra shifts. Especially since I didn’t take a full wage for it.
We had some good times but mostly unmemorable. We went on dates did mundane things that didn’t involve being a werewolf and a telepathic fairy. The escape was nice whilst it lasted but as Alcide always tried to deny what he truly was, I never could. I was a fairy and the more I let her speak for me the better of I would be. He had given me that sage advice once only now did I listen.
I had been denying my instincts, shrouding myself with the illusion that being human was within my reach. I didn’t fully understand that till I recognised it in Alcide. I never had a full moon taunting me to shift. My debut into fairyness was with an igniting injection of vampire blood. Of an ancient variety.
I knew Alcide detested that magical elixir. It had eviscerated the young were woman that held his heart. His declaration of love had been as much as a lie as mine. At least I saw it for what it was. He initiated a relationship with me because he wanted to know who killed Debbie. I had confessed to him that her blood lay upon my hands but he never took that as truth. He never thought me capable of such a destructive act. Though the evidence of that was firmly etched in my guilty mind.
Many people and creatures had come and gone in my life. No one had put much stock in me before, so Alcide’s assumptions weren’t surprising to me. Only Eric had ever persisted his faith in my abilities valiantly. It was how I came to meet Alcide, Eric had sent him to me because he thought me capable of retrieving a kidnapped vampire from a pack of wolves in Mississippi. He thought me foolish in my attempt but he assured that I was the safest I could possibly be. Despite his words of warning he knew me well enough, I would not relent on my path of destruction for a man who supposedly loved me.
As Eric had always protected me in the shade of night, Alcide was there for me in the day. I was all but ready to shoot his head off when we first met. Then he dropped Eric’s name after tackling me to the ground as I tried to unsuccessfully outrun a werewolf as a human. I even boasted about my enhanced strength thanks to an infusion of vampire blood. I don’t know what possessed me to think I could best a werewolf when one had nearly overpowered the undefeatable Vampire Sheriff of Area Five the night before. V or no V. Naïve human; thy name is Sookie Stackhouse.
‘Eric Northman’s the one who sent me.’
I felt safe instantly. I had accredited it to Alcide’s giant muscular stature at the time. I should have known it was in response to the name of the vampire who delighted in taunting me. As much as I hated him sometimes, he always kept me safe. Or in my absence, my home.
I didn’t hesitate to invite Alcide into said home. He seemed more interested in my telepathy than who I was. Alcide made it pretty clear I was just a nuisance to babysit. Where I was raised to fight back when someone took what was yours he preferred to step aside. He had done so with his love of his life, he let her be with Cooter. He let me be with Eric. Alcide never fought for himself. Only for others.
I won’t deny there was an attraction between Alcide and I from the moment we properly met. It had little to do with our physiques, his was impressive and mine was enhanced by a rare vintage of the Viking variety. We were both hurting, marred by sudden loss. I shouldn’t have been indulging it whilst wearing the ring gifted to me by another man. I did regardless, Eric interrupted our near communion.
It had left us both wondering what could be.
He had always been cast as the good guy in the epic known as my life. He was for the most part but I knew one thing for certain after a lifetime of reading minds. One couldn’t be this good if he had nothing to atone for. Kindness isn’t born it’s cultivated, sometimes out of love but more often out of guilt. He was good because he was a ferocious wolf. He relished in a bloody fight but he’d never attack in his human form. He made no such distinction when in the mode of predator to prey. No animal was spared when he was one himself.
We understood each other in that vulnerability. To be born with something you can’t control but he had a pack whilst I had a decimated empty tent once inhabited by a group of lost fairies. He had family and friends that were like him whilst my only fairy relations showed up when I was far too old to appreciate the needed support. The only other telepath I had met scorned me.
Alcide was being buried beside his mother. She had died young of cancer, his father had never been the same. Riddling himself in debt and reaching out to Eric for help. The Herveaux’s moved as solitary beings within their familial ties. Lone wolves was a ridiculously accurate description.
I didn’t carry the same pain for his death as they did. I mourned the loss of my friend. I had loved him as such, that was truth. I played the dutiful distraught girlfriend, I could do that for him. I’d been acting all my life.
On paper we had the perfect credentials for the ultimate ‘boy meets girl’ story. A misunderstanding when we met. Attraction found when pretending to be a couple we were not. A drunken mishap. Our timing never quite right till it was. We fit the mould but it was a shallow one.
He had always made the first move seeking me out in the lowest points of my life. Not that it had been an intentional move, I simply had far too many low points in my life. He had broken with Debbie and demanded I do the same with the vampires haunting my heart. Alcide hadn’t outright declared it but it was implied, he was always frugal with words.
At the time I told him I couldn’t change who I loved. It implied he had never entered into that reserved space. I had tried.
“Try harder,” had been his brusque reply.
With him I had tried. I had tried and I had failed. I couldn’t change that with all the will in my mind and all the strength in my light. He was asking for something I couldn’t give but I took his company regardless. Terry had just died.
Too many people had died. I didn’t want to die alone when I had nearly met my eternal end at the hands of a psychopathic faepire. Bill and I were done that much was clear. When one of you calls the other an abomination and you stake him in retaliation there is no turning back from that. Our ties had permanently severed. Fucking monster.
That other tie that had bound me by blood had disappeared from my life. Not because I chased him away but because he understood I needed the distance to become myself once more. That girl that had stepped into his bar in a virginal white dress. The innocence robbed soon after. I needed to fight back to regain what was once mine. I would always be her to him but I knew, like him, I was better than that. Because I wanted to live. That innocence was lost.
I needed to let fairy Sookie speak for me because that would keep me safe. It was more than that, I needed to be her too. I had been on that night. It’s why I stood breathing whilst clumps of earth fell on the polished wood of the casket. Alcide fought like a man. Not like a wolf.
It cost him both lives.
A swarm of Hep-V infected vampires had descended onto our town. They threatened to take what was mine. They died whilst I lived. My fighting light lit up the sky with the destruction of their threat. As strong as Alcide was he fought with too much good inside him. Worry for me instead of himself. Thankfully his death was swift and I could only shed a tear of relief when it was over.
The service was as simple as the man. The casket had remained firmly closed, whilst I had seen far too many bodies of the dead in varying states of decay, others didn’t have to. There were rituals specific to the were that went unnoticed by the human eyes. I stood in the receiving line shaking their hands one by one, thought by thought.
I was never his. I had paid my debt to him. I had tried harder. I stayed because I took something from him as she had taken something from me. Death followed me around and I sought its company. I had punished myself enough. I would never be his Debbie and I was ok with that. We were right beside each other but not with each other.
His belongings were already packed up, it was the first thing I did once I arrived home. There wasn’t much; clothes, a cell phone charger and some toiletries. No pictures of us together. We never took one. No trinkets or gifts. The longest relationship of my life was condensed to a concentrate of nothingness.
His sister never liked Debbie but she liked me even less. To her I was indistinguishable from a common fangbanger. She thought I was using her brother. I probably was, he had been my emotional crutch. I couldn’t trust anyone anymore. My parents had tried to kill me, Lafayette by proxy, Bill, Warlow and a string of others. I was bound to them by love but all it did was seem to get me killed.
Love for me had killed Alcide. He had always come running when I needed him but he had never placed his trust in me. Perhaps Debbie had used it all up. I trusted him, but not enough to place my own safety with his. I stood on my own that night.
My trust was requested once and I had given it then in the basement of a Dallas church. He had escorted me out safely, the only damage inflicted by silver on his skin. No harm had come to me. In his care I had felt safe like with no other.
It was Eric’s jealousy that had me running into the arms of Alcide. Glamouring him to relinquish his pursuit of me. It was an outright dare for me to defy him. For all the intelligence Eric Northman possessed it seemed to run out the door when it concerned me. In all honesty the same applied to myself.
I had been reckless with Bill, unknowingly stepping into a field without sight of a destination. I was desperate with Warlow taking anything that offered me a sense of control of myself. Alcide had been a relationship that was initiated by my mind. It made sense, there was unfinished business there. Just like my introduction to the man it had always been shadowed by the presence of another. One who didn’t protect me as payment or obligation instead he paid me. First with money then with affection but always with protection. Going six months without it made it clear.
Alcide was gone.
That only drove the point home. The loneliness I feared wasn’t so scary anymore. He never truly held my heart so it didn’t shatter to pieces. Only once had I spoken that I loved another with truth. It came from me and not from blood.
I knew he was still with us. I just didn’t know where and I refused to give up.
Eric never did.
So neither would I.