Sookie stood anxiously in the garage as Eric threw a duffel bag into his Escalade. She knew he wanted to take his Corvette, but only left it behind because it was too showy and easily recognized. “Come here, Sookie.” He gestured as the garage door opened and let sunlight into the gloomy area.
Smiling to herself, Sookie took his hand as they stepped into the sunlight. “I want to be able to clearly remember your face while I am away. Remember it in the sunlight,” he said as his hands wove into her bright, blonde hair.
With that easy smile that belied the anxiety that shot throughout her entire body, Sookie reached up, playing with the ends of his hair. “The daytime really does suit you,” she whispered.
Leaning down, Eric captured her lips in a long kiss. It was not until they heard Pam’s gagging noise from just inside the house that they drew from each others’ mouths.
“Check in?” Sookie asked shyly.
“You will be lucky if I am not talking to you the entire drive, and then the wait at the hotel.” Eric smirked.
After another long kiss, Eric steeled his resolve and pulled away to get into the car. Sookie went to the doorway from the garage to the house and watched as Eric turned the engine over and began pulling out to the driveway. Every foot seemed to resound in her chest, like her heart was measuring every aching distance between her and the other half of her soul.
“Godric,” Sookie choked when her Bonded was on the road and picking up speed, “I don’t know if I can do this…”
A cool hand rested on her shoulder, and Sookie tensed instinctively. “Everything will be fine. You are both very strong and can endure this trial,” Godric assured her.
“Sookie,” Eric’s voice was in her head and her heart gave a relieved lurch. “Breathe, Lover. I have been further from you on Sheriff’s business.”
“It’s not the same,” she protested.
“No, but do not feel the distance. Just remind yourself that in less than 24 hours, I will be back in your arms,” he encouraged.
“Okay…” Sookie began walking towards her bedroom, secretly praying that she would sleep through the entire ordeal, but Pam stopped her before she could go into the pantry.
“Where do you think you are going?” Pam asked lightly.
“I just want to lie down and-”
“No,” Pam said firmly. “Grab your text books. We are going to do your lessons like any other day.”
“No buts. You do not get a day off just because Eric is not here,” Pam snapped back at Sookie’s protest.
Gloomily, Sookie retrieved her study materials and met Pam in Eric’s study. In all honesty, Pam’s insistence was a waste of time. Her student could not concentrate at all, and Sookie was brushing away stray tears the entire time.
After an hour passed, and Sookie’s internal odometer decided to send another stabbing anguish throughout her body, the young woman could hardly see through her tears.
“Forget it,” Pam finally snapped. “You are impossible right now. Go occupy yourself elsewhere.”
Rising from her station at Eric’s desk, Sookie brushed away more of her tears as she left the study. Godric was sitting in the living room as she passed by to her way to the kitchen, and Eric’s safe room.
“She does not understand,” Godric called to her, drawing Sookie’s attention to the living room. She came and sat across from her Bonded’s Maker as he continued, “Eric has closed off her end of their connection. She cannot feel the pain that you or he feels.”
“It hurts so much.” Sookie sniffled. “And as much as I want to block what I feel from him, to cut this pain in half… I’d rather feel that closeness even if it hurts this much.”
“I know, Little Sookie.” Godric smiled at her, trying to give her some of his strength, but knowing it could not reach her through the fog of her separation anxiety. “It is one of the sacrifices of your Bond. Your pain is incomprehensible.”
“You can feel us, right?” She sat down next to him on the couch.
“Feel, yes, but I do not experience it the same way. It is like watching a play. You feel for the characters, but you do not face their pain first hand,” Godric explained. “I wish I could. This love you have for one another is one of those historical romances… I thought it was a mythical one, but it is so much better, because it is real.”
“What should I do?” Sookie asked.
“The audience cannot console your wounded heart. You and Eric are the only ones who can end the pain,” he replied sadly.
“Eric doesn’t call me “Little One” anymore,” she said quietly. “Is that bad?”
Godric chuckled. “Quite the opposite. He does not see you as dependent on him any longer. That is not a bad thing. He is aware that you can take care of yourself, and that you are now his equal. When did he stop saying it?”
“A couple days after we Bonded.”
“That sounds fitting.” He nodded in agreement with his previous statement.
“I miss it.”
Sookie shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s just what he’s always called me. It’s the first affectionate name I ever had… I mean, he’s got a lot of endearin’ names for me. But “little one” became “dear one” or “my Bonded”… I feel like I lost a part of him when he stopped calling me that.”
“It was meant to be lost,” Godric assured her. “Though it is a sweet endearment, it spoke volumes about your station at his side.”
“How do you mean?”
“Him calling you that implied that you were at his side because you needed to be there. Calling you his dear one or his Bonded implies that you are at his side because he needs you there.”
“I’m so stupid.” She buried her face in her hands. “I should have gone with him. I didn’t have to go with him to meet the Queen. I could have stayed at a hotel or somethin’.” She sobbed.
“No, Sookie. Niall can still find you with your brother’s blood. He could possibly teleport on to this property, too, with that blood. Hence, why Eric asked that I remain with you. Although, that blood can only be used once, and I have my doubts that Niall would risk wasting it on getting to only you,” Godric told her. “After Fintan’s death, Niall would be extra cautious about taking you, and rather than stunning whomever you are with, he would most likely go for a kill shot. And though the Fae cannot kill a vampire with their magic alone he could disable us long enough to stake us or behead us.”
“Then why doesn’t he attack at night?” Sookie asked. “When I’m away from the house? Why didn’t he attack while we were in Dallas?”
“Fae are stronger in the day than at night. The sun boosts their magic. As for not being attacked in Dallas… You were at my residence during the daytime. I have the same wards as Eric on my property.”
“Oh.” She hugged herself tightly.
“Sookie… As soon as the sun sets I will take us towards New Orleans. We will meet Eric halfway or sooner. This is torture on you both,” Godric soothed.
“Why does my stupid life have to complicate everythin’? I should let Eric turn me. If I’m a vampire Niall has no use for me. I can’t give him an heir once I’m a vampire,” Sookie croaked.
“Sookie,” Godric’s voice was stern, “never allow fear to force your hand. You do not wish to become a vampire. Not yet, anyway. You have so much yet to experience as a human; as a Fae-”
“I DON’T WANT TO EXPERIENCE ANYTHIN’ AS A FUCKIN’ FAIRY!” Sookie cried out, making the light bulbs in the ceiling fan blow up.
“Shhh,” he soothed, disregarding the glass all over the floor, “do not say that. I know that your history with the Fae is more than just turbulent. They have done nothing but cause you pain. But to reject them entirely is to reject part of yourself. Even death cannot change what you were born as.”
“Godric,” Sookie choked, “I… I need to sleep. I can’t stay like this.”
“Really?” Godric frowned. “Do you think another power is-”
“No. That was all the sudden. I didn’t feel tired before I went into that power coma, or whatever you’d call it. I think it’s the Bond. All of this emotion is exhaustin’ me. Even last night I felt tired like this,” she explained.
Smiling gently, Godric nodded. “Go take a nap.”
Rising from the couch, Sookie finally made it to her bedroom she shared with Eric. He had kept saying that he would finally move their belongings to the actual master bedroom in the house, now that he did not need a safe room, but Sookie had felt too connected to this room. She had experienced too much in this room to leave it so abruptly. When they moved, she wondered how she would stand leaving it behind entirely.
Now, curled up in the blankets that smelled of them, Sookie sighed with a modicum of relief.
“How are you holding up, My Bonded?” She could feel the desperation in his thoughts, and knowing that he hurt as badly as her had a strange comfort to it.
“I miss you. Godric said he would begin driving me towards New Orleans as soon as the sun sets so we can be together as soon as possible, but once an attack from Niall was minimized,” she offered.
“That is a relief, Lover. I am fighting every fiber of my being to turn around. This is the longest journey of my entire existence,” he confessed.
“I’m goin’ to try and sleep. The tension of this is rippin’ me apart,” Sookie told him.
“That is a good idea. Perhaps…”
“With my end of the Bond slowed down, it won’t be so hard on you?” She knew he did not wish to admit it.
“I love you.”
“And I love you, Dear One.”
Sookie felt a new sensation when he called her that. At last, understanding its meaning brought her a wonderful sensation of contentment. She fell into sleep quickly once those words were sent to her, holding those thoughts deep in her heart as she slept.
Awakening to a bright light in front of her eyelids, casting a red haze into her vision, Sookie stretched tiredly before falling on to the hard ground beside her bed.
“Ow!” She sat up, rubbing her side on which she had fallen.
It did not take her long to realize the uncomfortable familiarity of the room she was sitting in. The cold, laminate tile against her bottom, the white linen glaring sunlight at her from a window that should not be in Eric’s safe room, the single bed that was barely large enough for her; let alone her Viking… And the thick bars on the window. It was more than just similar to the room she had lived in at the mental hospital. Somehow, it was… Identical.
“How… How did I get back here?” Sookie gasped, scuttling back, away from the bed and into the corner of the room, worrying the thin material of her patient green top between her confused fingertips.
“Oh, you finally woke up. It’s about time!” Sookie looked to her left at the open door of her hospital room to see Pam in a set of paisley pink scrubs.
“Pam!” Sookie jumped to her feet. “What’s goin’ on? Why did you bring me here?” she demanded, not believing that Pam would be so cruel as to move her into such a room while she was sleeping. A prank was not beyond her alleged friend, but this went far past the point of an acceptable hijinks!
Pam’s brow furrowed. “Sookie, you know that you had to be put in here after that last episode you had.”
“What? What episode?” Sookie demanded. “What are you tryin’ to pull? This is not funny!”
With a sigh, Pam shook her head and offered the girl a small plastic cup with a pair of pills. “You missed your medication time. Here, take them now.” She gently pushed the tiny container into Sookie’s shaking fingers. Her gaze was patient, unlike any glare or leer the telepath had witnessed before from the vampire.
“Pam…” Sookie shook her head. “I can’t believe you’re doin’ this to me. How could you think this would be even remotely funny? I thought we were friends now.”
“Sookie,” Pam patted her shoulder, not in the familiar condescending way she sometimes would, “I am your friend. I’m trying to help you by giving you your medicine.”
“Eric’s not goin’ to be happy when he finds out.”
Sookie did not miss Pam’s eyes rolling. Now that was familiar. “Dr. Northman will definitely hear about it when he gets back from his conference in New Orleans.”
“Conference? The meeting with the Queen was just suppose to be the two of them.” Sookie frowned.
“Queen? Oh, the head of the board of directors. Dr. Le Clerq!” Pam smiled. “Yes, well, a few members of her court will probably be there, too.”
Gritting her teeth, Sookie ground out, “You’re takin’ this way too far,” and she tried to stomp out of the room.
“Ah, ah ah!” Pam tsk’d. “You can go hang with Godric once you take your meds.”
Jaw aching with how tightly her teeth were clenched, Sookie forced the clamped mouth to open and shot back the pills. Pam would not actually give her anything. They were probably sugar pills. Opening her mouth wide when she had swallowed them, Sookie let Pam see that they had been taken down, all the while unable to quell the nausea grew from the similarities to her former hospital.
“Okay, Godric’s in the common room. Go on ahead.” Pam smiled proudly.
Grumbling all the way down the hall, Sookie paused when she realized exactly where she was. This was the exact mental institution that she had grown up in. She knew its every hallway, and she navigated, without error, to the common room. Godric was sitting by a checker board, it was without its pieces, but he was pondering it as if a difficult game were being played.
“Hey, Little Sookie.” Godric grinned at her once he had pantomimed the movement of his piece. “Want to play with me?”
“Uh, no.” Sookie knew full well that Godric would never be a part of Pam’s cruel joke, and his willingness to participate confused and angered her. “What is goin’ on?” she asked desperately.
“Well, after you freaked out on Mr. Hale, the nurse gave you a sedative and Hale put you back in your room,” Godric reminded her.
“M-Mr. Hale?” Sookie stammered, looking around and finding that no doppelganger of her Great Uncle was around.
“Yeah, the new orderly. He came to work here a few months after you first left,” Godric informed her. “Have a seat.” Sookie went to sit across from him, but Godric hissed, “That’s Niall’s seat!”
“Niall?” She was even more forlorn now.
“You are really weird today.” Godric shook his head as Sookie took another nearby seat.
“I’m the weird one?” Sookie griped, watching him play invisible chess against “Niall”. “So, who’s winning?” she asked.
“Niall is not protecting his Queen at all. I hate when opponents do not protect their Queen. I have let him get away with putting her head on the chopping block without taking her. So far. He is quite crafty with his pawns, though. He keeps using them to block my best moves.” Glancing up from his invisible game, he asked, “So, what are the voices saying today?”
Sookie frowned. “There’s nobody here to hear.”
Godric looked up from his chess game, eyebrows raised high. “Ummm,” He gestured to all of the other patients that Sookie had not realized until just then. “Your story about hearing people’s thoughts just went out the window.” He chuckled.
Crossing her arms over her chest, Sookie began tapping her foot. She began remembering everything that had happened before she woke up here, and realized that it was no prank. It was a dream. Sweet relief flooded over her at the realization. Then came the issue of waking herself up. Usually when she realized she was dreaming, she would soon wake up. Only, now, the more she tried to convince herself that she was asleep the more real and complete the dream became. The other patients’ faces became more defined, and she realized that they were taking the forms of the few people she had met after living with Eric. The paint on the walls became more saturated with color, as well as the imperfections of those walls. Cracks where the wall joined the ceiling, marker stains where a patient had decided to be Picasso for the day, a few dents where someone had lost their temper and put a fist to it…
The finite details of the walls, the characters that were the patients and staff, and worst of all; the old, familiar feeling of six years of her life. Only, now, she did not have her telepathy. It was more bearable than having to see the disturbing thoughts of the other patients, but the loss of her gift was making her jumpy, even paranoid. This would not help her convince anyone that she was perfectly normal.
“Godric,” Sookie turned to him; perhaps dream Godric was just as wise and helpful as real Godric, “my telepathy isn’t workin’ anymore,” she admitted.
“Of course not. You took your meds.” Godric shrugged. “You only ended up back in here because you stopped taking them when you were released.”
“I was away from here?” Sookie’s eyes went wide, as if this were evidence that everything was a dream. She quickly remembered Godric’s allusion to her leaving, and pressed him for details.
“Yeah. You turned 18 and were no longer subject to your parents’ commitment,” he reminded her. “You were gone a few months, and then you were brought back just the other night because you’d gone off of your meds and were starting to claim that vampires had taken you in and began teaching you a whole bunch of stuff.”
Sookie took a long, slow breath, preventing herself from claiming it was true. “Okay… But, how did I learn to read then if I wasn’t really gone?” she demanded.
“You can read now?” Godric looked up at her in surprise and a bit of pride. “Go grab a book! I want to hear you read to me!” His eyes lit up at the idea.
“Oh… Okay…” Sookie stood up and went to the communal bookshelf and grabbed a book at random. Coming back to her chair, she cracked it open and balked. Chinese. It had to be in Chinese or some foreign alphabet.
Godric seemed to deflate at her hesitation. “So, you didn’t actually learn how to read.” He sounded disappointed in her. “You did not have to lie about it. I would have still liked you.”
“No! I totally did learn!” she cried out, turning the book towards him. “Look, it’s not even in English! See!?”
“Sookie, it’s The Hardy Boys. It’s in English.” He gave her a condescending glance.
Clenching her teeth, Sookie snapped the book shut and threw it to the ground as she stood. “You’re not Godric!” she yelled. “Godric would never have looked at me like that!”
“Shh, Sookie. They are going to sedate you again if you make another scene!” Godric hissed, grabbing for her arm to pull her back into the chair.
“I don’t even care!” she yelled, stomping her foot childishly. “Let them pump me up with all the drugs they want! Maybe if I fall asleep in this world I’ll wake up in the right one again!”
“Sookie?” Pam’s voice made the girl turn around. “Everything okay?” Her eyes were concerned as she slowly approached the distressed girl.
“NO!” she yelled. “Nothin’ is okay! I want Eric! Let me see him!”
Pam sighed. “I told you. He’s in New Orleans until tomorrow. You’ll have to wait.”
“I DON’T WANT TO WAIT! I WANT HIM NOW!” she screamed as loud and with as much determination as she could muster.
“Sookie,” Pam was inching towards her tentatively, and Sookie saw the all too familiar move the nurses made when they were cueing an orderly to restrain a patient, “just-”
“No.” Sookie shook her head, raising her hands in defeat. “You don’t gotta make them hold me down. If ya wanna gimme a sedative then just give it to me. I don’t feel like gettin’ slammed around in a dream. My head can’t take it.” She held out her arm instead, offering it for a needle. “So, stick me and get it over with.”
Godric was watching in bewilderment at the scene. It was not like Sookie to offer an arm. Normally she would cry and beg for anything but a needle. Sometimes she would bargain to just be put alone in her room. But she would never offer to be sedated. She was always scared to sleep when others were awake. The girl claimed the other patients’ minds gave her bad dreams if they were awake and she was asleep.
“You really think you’ll wake up in your dream world, don’t you?” Godric whispered sadly. He seemed to sympathize with her delusional world.
“I have to.” Sookie shrugged as she looked down at Godric. “I’d rather be in the drugged haze of my fantasy than accept that this is my life. My Eric can’t not be real. My Pam. My Godric… They can’t not exist.”
While her head was turned, Pam took her arm carefully and pumped in another sedative before leading her to a chair to sit in.
“Mr. Hale will come with a wheelchair and take you back to your room.” Pam smiled comfortingly, patting Sookie’s hand as they waited.
“H-Hale?” Sookie stammered, feeling the effects of the sedative already. Her blurring eyes rolled across the room to find an older man pushing a chair towards her.
“Noooooo… No no.” Sookie shook her head weakly. “Not him. I don’t wanna go with him. Pam, please, you instead. Please, you instead.” She began to sob, holding Pam’s wrist as hard as her tired hands could. “Don’t leave him alone with me,” she begged.
“I’m here, I’ll walk with you two back to your room.” Pam smiled comfortingly, unlacing Sookie’s fingers from her arm.
Sookie sobbed harder as Hale’s arms wrapped around her body and placed her in the chair. For months she had known he could never lay a hand on her again, but here he was, touching her once more. She cringed as he patted her shoulder as they went down the hallway. But Pam held her hand the entire way… Her hands were so cold…
Another bout with Hale’s arms around her, lifting her now into her bed.
“You can go, Mr. Hale. I think Sookie needs me a while longer.” Pam dismissed him as she took Sookie’s hand once more. “I know it hurts to be back here, Sookie.” She patted the hand she held. “But everything’s okay. You’ll see Eric soon. I went ahead and called him down in New Orleans and he decided to come back up early.” A sad smile cracked Pam’s formerly stern mouth. “You were always his favorite patient. He saw so much promise in you.”
“I want to go back.” Sookie cried, the sedative that much stronger; carrying her into an abyss that she feared and longed for at the same time. “I want my Eric and Pam and Godric back.” She sniffled.
“We are here, Sookie. We’re all here,” Pam assured her. “Now, get some rest. When you wake up, hopefully Dr. Northman will be back, and you will feel much better.”
Darkness, her dream was absolute darkness, but a warm glow was swelling in her chest. Looking down at her bosom, Sookie saw a red light, so deep that it almost blended into the blackness all about her. That gentle glow grew and grew, it began to pulse, and then shot from her chest in a beam through the shadows. A searchlight for the other half of her heart. Slowly, Sookie followed the thrumming stream of crimson. As she walked, she could see a light in the distance. She began to run. Her feet could not move fast enough, the growing light in the distance making her heart leap with relief, and then-
“Stop! Not yet! Come back!” Sookie froze. Not daring to turn her eyes away from the finish line, she kept them trained on the light, but stopped to listen. “You have to do this first!” Her jaw tensed as she recognized the voice. It was her own. “He will bring you back. Don’t go yet. Finish what you have to first.”
The light that was pulsing from her body began to vibrate insistently, pleadingly. As she turned from it, a part of her soul felt like it was tearing in half, and tears flowed from her eyes as she turned her back to the sunlight that had been so close.
Crying, Sookie trudged back into the darkness, and when she looked behind her again to see if the beacon to freedom was still burning the way, Sookie found nothing but that darkness all around once more. Shutting her eyes, accepting the continued darkness they brought, Sookie let out a scream of despair that the emptiness happily swallowed.
A part of her mind felt as though it fractured as she let the shadows swallow her back up. Her heart broke a million times over as a shot of disbelief and pain rattled through her entire body. It was Eric. Eric knew that she had been close to him, close to returning to him… And she had turned her back on him and retreated once more into the caverns of her mind. She prayed as hard as she could that he would forgive her.
When her eyes opened once again, she found herself screaming into a gnarled hand. Bartlett was atop of her, straddling her hips as his free hand was yanking up her hospital smock and tearing it in the process.
Sookie’s heart raced as she realized that he had bound her to the bed with the available restraints. As a last ditch effort she tried bucking her hips to throw him off, or at least get his hand from her mouth. It was useless, here merely laughed and said, “Someone’s eager!”
Fear was quickly taking the back burner in Sookie’s mind. Now rage was growing, and days and days of Eric’s self defense training raced through her mind as Bartlett groped at her exposed breasts, squeezing them delightedly as she strained against her bindings.
Flexing her arms as hard as she could, Sookie curled her legs upward, and with a jerking motion, managed to push Bartlett forward enough to curl her spin. Getting her ankles crossed in front of his neck, the girl arched her spine painfully and yanked her legs back down. She could hear a satisfying *POP* as the old man’s body could not handle the force with which his body was buckled backwards. Tensing her legs as tight as she could, feeling the pull in her groin muscles as she strangled him with her legs, Sookie remained in that position long after she felt him stop struggling. She kept strangling him until she was certain he was dead.
After another ragged breath dragged into her lungs, Sookie’s legs finally relaxed. She remained frozen there for a time.
Unable to fight the adrenaline in her body, or just incapable of forgetting the feeling of Hale’s mouth and hands on her skin, Sookie screamed with the voice of relief and disgust. She sobbed for a moment before, weakly pulling against the restraints once more. Her shaking body was still struggling against the leather straps when Pam came flying into her room, panting.
“What the fuck?” Pam yelled. “SOOKIE!” She ran to the girl’s bed, quickly undoing the bindings and shoving Bartlett to the floor in a boneless heap. “What happened? Are you all right?” She turned away for a second to scream, “CALL DR. NORTHMAN NOW!” Then she looked back at the shaking blonde. “What happened? Are you okay?” she repeated.
“I opened my eyes and he was on top of me.” Sookie sobbed. “I got my legs up and ankles around his neck and strangled him… I-”
“Shhh, Sookie,” Pam soothed, having freed the girl. “It’s okay. You’re going to be okay! It’s over! You did what you needed to do!”
“What’s going on in here?” Godric came running into the room next.
“Godric! How did you get out of your room!?” Pam snapped.
“None of you have ever been able to keep me anywhere,” Godric answered plainly. “Sookie, it is okay. Eric is right here. You will be with him any second now.”
“Sookie. Sookie!” The girl looked up to see her Bonded standing in the doorway. His face was tight with concern, his jaw clenched with some angry emotion. “I got her. Get that trash out of here. Sookie, I am going to give you this.Drink as much as you need.” Eric sidled up behind her, bringing something to her lips that was cool and intoxicating. Her body relaxed into him, his chest molding into her back with such calming familiarity that the girl felt complete at last. Her dream was finally mimicking the reality she had come to find. “Sookie, please wake up. I need you to come back to me…”