Chapter Eighteen: Terrible Timing
“Why you couldn’t just turn her?” Ludwig grumbled as she adjusted the IV next to Eric’s bed. “How much blood did you take anyway?” She asked in an accusatory manner.
“None!” Eric snapped. “She was shot this afternoon. I send her to work with my blood in case of accidents, but it does nothing for exsanguination!”
Ludwig eyed the vampire, her lids in tiny slits as if silently demanding to know if he believed she was unaware of that fact.
“Shot, you say?” Ludwig asked instead of continuing to glare. “What does your Bonded do for a living?”
“She is a police detective with the Shreveport P.D.,” Eric explained grimly.
Ludwig’s eyebrows rose, “Just how long have you been Bonded?”
“Nearly a week now,” Eric answered her.
Looking between the vampire and the human in question, Ludwig asked, “Yet she hasn’t quit her job? You haven’t made her quit?”
“She wishes to remain on the force…” Eric looked over to his Bonded and the pain-filled ache in his chest intensified. “She is trying to bring down her danger levels, and it was all going well until today…”
Ludwig scoffed, “Is everything seemingly fine with your Bond? You can send to each other properly? You can influence each other? There’s a desire to be with one another?” She demanded.
“Yes,” Eric assured. “All of that. We are quite blissful when we are together. When she is not home by the time I rise, I can feel her longing for me until she arrives home.” The doctor’s perplexed expression gave Eric pause, “What is it?”
Shrugging, Ludwig began packing up her bag, “Nothing. I am just amazed she has the willpower to remain a police officer while Bonded. Are you certain she’s human?”
“She is a telepath.”
“Is that all?” Ludwig raised her eyebrows again.
“Her blood is sweet,” Eric offered.
“That doesn’t narrow it down all that much,” Ludwig quipped.
“I’m a Fairy,” Sookie murmured from her bed, squirming slightly at the needle in her arm.
Eric’s head snapped to the side, staring at his Bonded in disbelief, “Why did you not tell me?” he asked, astounded.
“I just found out today,” the frightened young woman whispered wearily. “Gran told me in the in-between…” Her eyes closed as she shifted into a more comfortable position.
“The in-between…?” Eric murmured to himself, trying to determine just what it was she was attempting to explain. “Did you say that your grandmother told you this today?”
“Mmm-hmm,” she sighed, repositioning herself once more.
Kneeling beside the bed, Eric took Sookie’s hand in his own and cautiously asked, “Sookie, this in-between, is it the realm between life and death?”
Her blue eyes cracked open and he felt a pang of concern pass through him. “Yes,” she admitted.
Kissing her palm, Eric nuzzled his cheek into it and then stroked her forearm while he tried to reconcile the thought that his mate had been so close to death.
“I’m sorry, Darlin’, I… I fought real hard,” she cried.
“No crying!” Ludwig commanded. “You’ve lost enough fluids for one day!”
Sookie turned her brimming eyes to the little doctor, “Are you the Supe doctor?”
A look of indignation crossed Ludwig’s face before she huffed, “I am.”
“Will I still be a telepath after he turns me?”
Crossing her arms over her chest, Ludwig considered the hybrid on the bed, “It is quite likely that you will retain your gift. Is there anything else you need of me, Northman?” She asked.
“No,” Eric whispered. “Nothing, thank you.”
“Do not drink from the girl for at least a week, nor should you share your blood with her in that time. I believe a transfusion will be impossible with her genealogy. She has lost too much of her own blood for now, and if you were to share any with her, you could turn her. I assume that is not your wish at this time,” Eric nodded numbly at her statement. “I will return in two weeks to take a blood sample from the girl. We will know more about her heritage after I have run some tests.” With that, Ludwig POPped out of the room and Eric was left to his anguished thoughts.
“Eric,” Sookie began, but he silenced her with his haunted stare.
For a heart-rending moment, Sookie was left to grasp for words. How could she possibly comfort him?
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know I was a fairy-”
“That is not why I am upset,” Eric replied, a solemn expression upon his beautiful face.
“I know,” They were silent for what seemed an eternity until Sookie whispered, “You want me to quit my job, don’t you?”
“I…” Eric stifled the request he wanted to make. He could already feel her resistance through the Bond, and it caused him even more pain to ask her to make yet another sacrifice. She had already lost so much that day, and then almost so much more.
Sitting in silence, Sookie played with his cold fingertips until she asked, “Do you want me to quit, Eric? Do you want to turn me into a vampire now?”
“Sookie,” Eric hushed her, his single word filled with such deep emotion. “I want you to be happy. That is all I have ever wanted for you.”
Gazing at their twined fingertips, Sookie admitted, “I don’t think I’m meant to be happy, Eric. I’m afraid that I’m too broken.”
“I have felt your happiness,” he reasoned gently. “I know that you can be happy, Dear One.”
“I-” Sookie stopped and shook her head. “We need to get to the station. Everyone will wonder what’s keeping us,” she whispered. Nodding her head at the IV she asked, “How long do I need to be hooked up?”
Glancing at the bag, Eric answered, “Another twenty minutes or so.”
Sighing, Sookie leaned back against the pillow and shut her eyes. “I’m just gonna shut my eyes for a couple minutes then,” she whispered softly once more.
“Rest,” he agreed, crawling into her bed and curling against her side. Eric played with the ends of her hair as he contemplated the terror growing inside him.
He desperately wanted to convince her to leave the police department, but he knew that she was close to being released from field duty. He knew the danger that had nearly stolen her from him earlier in the day was due to an act on the part of his own kind. How could he make her leave something she loved when the dangers that tore at his soul had been caused by vampires? How could he turn her into the very thing that wanted to see her dead, wiped from the Earth?
Before he knew it, Sookie’s IV bag was empty, and he was gently waking her rather than jarring her awake by removing the needle in her arm.
“Hmm?” Sookie groaned softly while cool kisses caressed her face.
“I was going to take the needle out for you, but I did not want to wake you with the pain,” Eric’s voice crooned into her ear.
“Oh, is it time to go?” she asked groggily.
“Yes, my Bonded. Soon we may leave and put an end to my Queen’s reign.”
“What happens after she is dethroned?” Sookie asked while Eric carefully removed the needle.
“A new regent will take her place,” Eric replied as he rolled off the bed and stood to help her up as well.
“Who will that be?” Sookie asked while she walked unsteadily toward the closet to change.
Eric shrugged, “It could be a regent from another state wishing to expand their territory. It could be a vampire who wishes to increase their political involvement. There is no telling who might be my new monarch.”
“Could you be king?” Sookie asked.
“I will be the first vampire offered the position given that it will be my deed that unseats Sophie-Anne,” he admitted, “but I have no ambition to be king.”
“Why?” Sookie asked.
“It is not a headache that I desire,” he smiled forlornly.
As she dressed, Sookie looked back to her Bonded, sorrow in her heart. “I wish I could make you smile the right way,” she whispered, tearing up.
“Oh, Sookie,” Eric came to her and wrapped her in his arms. “I have barely had you in my world two months, and you have been shot just as many times!”
Circling her arms around his waist, Sookie pressed her cheek to his chest. “I know,” she said. “I’m sorry.”
Eric shook his head and held her tighter, “Do not be sorry,” he pleaded. “It is not something you can help… It is who you are, it is what has made you the woman I love, but I do not want to lose you. I have gone over a thousand years without you, but I would not recognize my world without you in it.”
Thinking of her near-death moments with Gran, Sookie wondered if the old woman had been asking her something other than saying her final farewell. ‘Is he enough, Sookie?’ She could practically hear Adele’s voice in her ear. ‘Is he enough to say goodbye?’
This time, she would not only be saying goodbye to Gran. She would be saying goodbye to her career, her purpose in life, that ever-burning flame of right versus wrong that had always driven her, keeping her going throughout the harshest and most dreadful times in her life.
Being with him isn’t painful or difficult, Sookie reasoned with herself, every moment I have ever lived for myself has been with him.
The Bond had no place throughout her internal struggle. Even before their Bond, Sookie would have happily agreed that Eric had become the principal focus in her life. The truth of the matter was that Sookie was now uncertain if the Bond meant that she had no further purpose or aim in her life other than to be with Eric, and she was rebelling. Would she still be Sookie Stackhouse if she were no longer a police officer? Was she still meeting her expectations for herself if she became a vampire housewife? Would she truly be happy, or would her happiness be an artificial byproduct of the Bond? Who would she become?
“Eric,” Sookie sobbed. “I don’t even know who I am anymore! I want to quit my job and run away with you, anywhere, everywhere, but is that really what I want? Is it me? Is it the Bond? What have I been working for all this time, only to become your Bonded so that everything I’ve accomplished is just something I now shirk off to the side and just walk away, leaving it all behind me?”
Taking in all of her confusion, Eric leaned in and kissed the crown of her head, “Dear One, let us take care of the Queen and get you on interrogation duty. We will see how we fare once you are not patrolling the streets and in danger. After that, perhaps we can find a balance. Maybe my concerns for you will not be so… Paralyzing.”
Nodding against his chest, Sookie sucked in a deep breath between her teeth and let out a sob. “Why can’t I ever just have one terrible problem at a time?”
Eric laughed unsmilingly, “Because your life has never been an easy one, my Bonded. The Powers that Be seem to believe you are strong enough to take your tragedies in triplicate rather than one by one.”
“Triplicate!” Sookie moaned. “Oh, God! What will be my third tragedy!?” she laughed almost as if on the edge of hysteria.
“My apologies, Sookie. I did not mean to imply anything else would go wrong,” he responded somberly.
“Please stop being sad, Eric. I hate feeling you so torn up,” Sookie cried.
Taking a breath, Eric pulled away and took Sookie’s hand in his. “Shall we depart?”
“We shall,” she agreed, letting Eric lead her out of the room. They made quick work of walking and feeding Sookie’s dogs before making their way to the police station.
“Are you certain you are well enough for this?” Eric asked for the hundredth time while he helped her out of the car.
Unable to resist, Sookie rolled her eyes as she accepted his hand, “Yeah, Eric, I’m fine.”
Together they walked into the station, picking up Eric’s visitor pass before proceeding to lock-up. Sookie fired off a text to Trent, Kleinman, and Greggs while they headed to Chlebowski’s cell. Once they arrived, Sookie found the three men she had texted waiting with a fourth whom Sookie recognized as Sargent Darsen of the Internal Affairs Department.
“Good Evening, Stackhouse,” Darsen greeted apprehensively, and she could hear in his mind that he was very distracted by the news regarding her abilities. “Doin’ all right?” He asked in attempted courtesy.
“Fine,” Sookie responded. “How do you want to do this, Sargent? This is IA’s show so we’ll proceed however you see fit.”
Surprised at the Detective’s recognition, Darsen floundered a moment, “I suppose it would be best if we took Chlebowski to an interview room rather than Interrogation. I’ll interview Chlebowski, and you and Northman do your thing…?” He suggested with an edge of uncertainty.
Nodding, Eric and Sookie followed Darsen while Kleinman and Greggs went to retrieve Chlebowski.
The three had just settled in, Darsen front and center, Sookie and Eric off to the corner of the interview room when Greggs and Kleinman arrived with Chlebowski.
“Good Evening, Officer,” Darsen greeted smoothly.
The younger man tensed as he took a seat, his eyes drawn to Sookie. “Stackhouse, I’m so sorry-”
“It’s all right, Chlebowski, relax. We’re all going to figure this out,” she assured him gently, feeling Eric’s hand tighten over hers. When she looked at his expression, she could clearly see how much he wanted to kill the young patrol officer. Their Bond was not the least bit necessary for Sookie to know what he was feeling.
“Tim, why don’t you tell us about your day today?” Darsen suggested, trying to distract the man from his confused reaction to Sookie’s comment.
Shaking his head to dispel his confusion, Tim Chlebowski finally spoke, “It… You won’t believe me,” he said, almost too quietly to be heard.
“It’s okay, Tim,” Darsen encouraged. “We know what happened this afternoon wasn’t your fault. Just tell us about your day before the shooting.”
With an unsteady breath, Chlebowski began with the same uncertainty, “It was like a pounding in my head all day, there was this voice saying over and over that I couldn’t do anything about it too close to dusk.” Sookie’s back tensed, having heard those words all day as well. “I didn’t know what it was I wasn’t supposed to do,” he said shakily, but it seemed as if he was talking to himself even while he continued, “but when I saw her in the hallway, my hand was on my gun, I was pointing it at her, and I fired. When I saw her hit the ground, the pounding went away, and it was like it was never there… like a dream,” he finished.
“Had you met anyone new the previous night? Anyone suspicious?” Darsen asked.
Chlebowski shrugged, and began to speak like the young man they knew, “I was on duty the night before last. I pulled over a woman. She was driving a rental… I can’t remember her face, which is weird. I’m pretty good at remembering stuff like that. Petersen stayed in the cruiser. I wrote up the ticket, went back to the cruiser. Petersen said I was there a long time and asked if it was a hottie. I told him she was nothing worth remembering.”
“We’ll need the write up from that moving violation,” Darsen told him. Leaning back, he said to Eric, “I’ll run the plates from the rental and get the information on who rented the vehicle.” Eric merely nodded. “Anything else you can tell us, Tim?”
“Sophia Cesira, that was her name,” Chlebowski remembered suddenly, and Eric cursed under his breath.
“Mean something to you?” Darsen asked the vampire.
“It is a common alias of a vampire with whom I am familiar,” Eric replied in a firm, yet disturbingly calm manner. “A well-known one in our community. She either used it as a calling card or wanted it to appear as if she was being set up. That will be all the information I need to pursue my grievances combined with the additional evidence I have gathered for another crime to which she is connected. If you will keep this man on hold for me while I contact the proper channels, I would appreciate it. Dear One, do you need anything else?” he asked of Sookie.
Rising from her seat, Sookie looked at the young patrol officer with a sad smile, “I’m sorry you’re being put through all this, Officer,” she told him sincerely.
With that, the couple left the room, and Sookie took a deep breath that did nothing to allay her anxiety.
As they made their way to the Homicide Department, Eric squeezed Sookie’s hand, “Go, speak to your friends. I will make my calls, and then we can leave,” he encouraged.
Sookie nodded numbly and went toward her department, scarcely registering the mind just beyond the door. When it swung open and she was met with the red rimmed eyes of her brother, Sookie gasped, startled.
“Shut the fuck up, Sooks!” Jason bellowed while he rose from her desk chair, storming toward his sister, “Ya don’t even have the fuckin’ decency ta call an’ tell me Gran died!?”
“Was too busy bein’ a fangbangin’ cunt ta call an’ lemme know!?” He accused.
“Jason,” Sookie tried to scramble for her justifications, “I was-”
“That’s enough, Stackhouse!” Trent roared, reaching for the older sibling to halt his verbal assault.
“Ain’t bad enough I gotta put up with your high horsin’! Now I’m gittin’ even more looks a ’shame from the locals what wit’ them all knowin’ ‘zactly what a freak you always been!” Jason continued, shrugging out of Trent’s grasp, swinging his fist.
When Jason’s fist connected with her face, Sookie felt many things, none of them anywhere near good-natured or the least bit kind. Grief, anger, spite, envy, turmoil, malevolence, resentment, rage, disgust, fear, and then an all-encompassing sense that her life had just disintegrated around her. There, in that moment, the young woman wanted to cry, to scream out at the inequality, and Jason’s disgusting thoughts. She wanted to explode with righteous fury, then for all intent and purposes, that was exactly what happened.
A sudden burst of light illuminated the already well-lit office as radiantly as that of a supernova’s flash. Every occupant in the room was thrust against one wall whereas Sookie stood in a five-foot circumference of desolation. All alone in her sphere, Sookie felt whatever energy she had propelled filter out of her body and away from her, until all that remained were tiny scraps of the rationale that had seen her through the day. She was empty…cold…void of anything she could recognize as her own… Alone.
“What the FUCK!?”
For the second time that day, Sookie felt as though she was struggling from deep within a great abyss. She was submerged, only this time her body was too leaden with grief to break the surface that had drawn her under.
“Fuck! Her wound is opening!” Trent’s voice was miles away in the stratosphere.
“How is that even possible!?” Kleinman cried out, astonished.
“Whatever she did, whatever energy she just put out, it must have torn apart any healing by Northman’s blood,” Trent answered, clearly panicked. “Is this a fairy thing?!’
“Fairy!?” Jason exclaimed.
“WHAT HAPPENED!?” Eric’s bellow rang through her ears, clear as day. Sookie struggled to open her eyes, seeking his face.
“Her brother hit her,” Trent rushed to put in plain words. “Sookie fuckin’ lost it, and a huge flash blew apart the room! Her wound reopened and she’s bleedin’ bad. Give her your blood!”
“I cannot!” Eric shouted, in a panic himself now. “She has lost too much of her own today. If she consumes any more she will become vampire! She is not ready-”
“Then she’ll need a transfusion!” Kleinman reached for his phone, preparing to dial an ambulance.
“She cannot be transfused. She is fairy. Her body will reject human blood,” Eric’s voice was rapidly devolving into a near-animalistic growl as he grasped his phone, “Ludwig, appear now! Sookie is hurt!”
The POP that followed made Sookie’s body flinch unconsciously.
“What did I tell you about letting her bleed, Northman?” Ludwig snarled as she strode over to the injured woman. “Oh my,” she gasped, seeing the wound. “There is nothing to be done,” she spoke gravely. “I do not even have the time to transfuse her. There is no time to get the fairy blood. You must change her, Northman, now, or lose your Bonded-”
“The hell he’s turnin’ my sister inta some Deader!” Jason yelled, oblivious to the fact that a little, mythical hobbit creature had spontaneously appeared in the office.
“Then she will die,” Ludwig told him. “Forever.”
“Better her dead for good than becomin’ a soulless fanger!” Jason shouted forbiddingly.
A tear leaked out of Sookie’s closed eye though she could scarcely feel as Eric’s thumb brushed it away.
“Tell me, Sookie,” Eric beseeched, “Please, tell me what you want?”
Her eyelids were too heavy, her throat too raw, but somehow through the pain and exhaustion she breathed out, “Save me…”