Summary: (Set after S5 of True Blood.) When Billith rose, Eric yelled “RUN!” and Sookie did. But what if, he didn’t run with her. What if he turned to face his foe—to give his beloved time to escape. What if she stopped and ran back to him. What will happen when Eric and Sookie decide to face all of their foes together? (Set after my story Inner, but can be read independently.)
Disclaimer: I own nothing related to True Blood or the Southern Vampire Mysteries novels. Those items provide the inspiration for the story; however, I do not own or profit from the fanfiction I produce using that inspiration (except in the form of your kind comments and reviews).
Many Thanks! As always, I owe the wonderful Sephrenia and Kleannhouse many thanks. Seph is responsible for all the art in this story, and Kleannhouse has once again lent me her beta skills. You two are lovely!
PLEASE READ: I hope that you all have/will read my work Inner before reading this one; however, I know that it got a little tedious to some since I stuck to my original plan to stick to cannon. However, this piece will be going very far away from TB’s Season 6. If you did not read Inner, the Epilogue to that story (which you do need to be aware of) should be read first. For your convenience, it is attached to this chapter (the italics bit). If you did read Inner, feel free to skip to chapter 1 of From the Inside Out. Welcome to the story! I hope you like it!
EPILOGUE FOR INNER: DONE RUNNING
“Run!” Eric yelled.
It was such a short word, yet—even when I’d been a child—it had always had a negative connotation for me.
Run away from the voices in your head.
In my earliest memories, I was trying to run from them, but I’d never succeeded in getting away. Just as I’d get far enough into the woods to not hear them so well, I’d catch the worry of Daddy or Mama.
So—I’d run back to them, vowing that I would stop myself from hearing this time. That I would be normal—for them.
I always failed.
Run from the hurtful things people think. Run from touch.
Run from love since—even the ones who love you the most—also hate the way you are.
Run from Gran’s regrets. Run from her sorrow over losing the man she loved.
Run from her worries—about you.
Run from her mind, the only one that you heard love from when you were a little girl. Run so that love doesn’t go away.
Pretend that everything’s okay.
Don’t be a burden to her.
Run from bullies on the playground.
Run from Uncle Bartlett.
Run into the woods. Climb the highest tree you can find. Hide in the dark.
Hide until Gran finds you and makes you tell why you’d run.
Why your body was scraped by tree branches.
Why you’d run away from the home she’d given you.
Run from the feeling that she might choose her brother’s side over you.
Run from teachers’ thoughts—teachers who were certain you were retarded.
Pretend to be normal. Pretend to be normal.
Pretend not to hear them when you failed.
Run from teenaged boys who wanted to fuck your body for sport or because of a dare.
Run from the people at work who call you “crazy Sookie” in their thoughts and aloud.
“Crazy” in stereo.
Run from the man who killed your Gran because of you—the man who had planned to kill and rape you.
Run since—to Rene—the order of those two plans hadn’t mattered.
Run from the pain of loss and into the arms of Bill Compton, the first man who’d made you think you didn’t have to run anymore.
Run to ask Bill to have pity on you—to take away your pain. Run to beg for his love with your body.
Run from a Maenad.
Run from religious fanatics.
Run from Weres.
Run from Russell.
Run from faeries.
Run from witches.
Run from Eric, who’d been shirtless at the side of the country road.
Run to save people who held you responsible for their own need to run.
Run away from your own car, which also wanted to kill you!
How fucking sad when even your own fucking car wants to kill you!
Run from everything!
Run into a bottle of booze.
Run into the arms of a warm man whose thoughts of his ex-girlfriend were the punishment you needed because you had been the one to kill her.
You’d killed her when you should have run.
See Sookie run.
Run, Sookie, run.
No matter how much practice I’d had, I’d never been able to run fast enough.
Six years before, I’d made it my New Year’s resolution to run every day. I told Gran that it was “jogging.” I told Gran that it was “just to keep in shape.”
The truth? I’d run to try to escape.
Rain or shine.
I’d run every day that year—as far and as fast as I could until my breath had run itself out.
But I’d never gotten far enough to outrun who I was.
Still—despite not having success with running in the past—as soon as Eric had ordered it, I had run again.
It was a habit—after all.
Run away—even from the ones you love. Because—if you don’t—you will have to experience their inevitable rejection.
Bill was now a blood-coated monster, so—at least—running from him made sense this time.
Running away from Eric had once made sense to me too.
Now that he has his memories back, you won’t hold his interest for long, Sookie.
Do you really want to end up like Yvetta? Strung up in a dungeon? Exposed while he moves on to another? Naked? Unwanted?
After all, vampires turn on those they love.
Bill was proof of that.
Very real, very dangerous proof.
But—can I run? After all, my ancestor ‘sold’ me to a vampire—the very one that murdered my parents! And he’s coming for me—even now!
I got all the way to the elevator, before metal prevented me from running another step—though my feet kept moving. I pushed the button and looked around.
Where was an emergency staircase when you needed it? Didn’t the designers of this building known that I would need to run one day?
The elevator door opened, and I was about to run inside of its shelter when I heard a noise that finally stopped me from running—both figuratively and literally.
It was the sickening sound of a body being thrown against a wall.
“She’s a waitress,” he’d said when asked what I was.
Not a freak.
Not an abomination.
Not a telepath.
Not a human.
Not a fairy.
Not a bloodbag.
It’s how I’d identified myself when I’d been asked by people that I knew wanted me for what I was.
Not who I was.
I found myself running again—this time back toward where that noise had come from.
Bill was standing over Eric, ready to kill him.
“No!” I cried out.
My hands lit up, and—without hesitation—I shot my light at Bill.
“No more running!” I yelled.
My light sputtered, but I shot again. My blasts were enough to stun Bill, and I ran to Eric, pulling him to his feet.
“I told you to run,” he growled.
“I did. I have,” I said, even as I tried to hurriedly drag him with me. “But no more—not without you. Never again.”
He growled again—in pain. In frustration.
“Come on! Move your fucking feet, Northman!” I ordered.
We were heaving and towing each other—or trying to—when Bill took hold of us.
Me by the hair and Eric by the back of the neck.
Indeed, there would be no more running.
And I was—strangely enough—fine with that. Despite my current predicament.
I was fine because my fate would be shared with Eric.
He was no runner.
In that moment, I realized something.
I loved him. I loved all of him.
And then I realized something else—even as I fought against Bill’s hold on my hair in order to try to look at Eric.
Eric had been the only one who had ever loved all of me.
Hell—he’d been the only one who’d even acknowledged all of me!
If I could have laughed, I would have.
But I couldn’t. Instead, I cursed fate for not letting me understand what Eric had offered to me until the end.
I cursed the monster who I was certain was going to kill us.
I cursed myself.
“What do you want from me?” I’d once asked Eric.
“Everything,” he’d said unequivocally.
I hadn’t understood what he’d meant then—what he’d already meant even before his amnesia.
I hadn’t had time enough to take in what he’d done to my house—for me.
I hadn’t had time enough to ask the most important question.
“I remember everything. Us,” he’d said after I’d managed to break the necromancer’s spell.
He’d told me that nothing had changed about his feelings—that he was just “more.”
The “more” had scared me.
After all, he was already so much more—more than I’d ever allowed myself to hope for. Much more than the world had told me that I deserved.
He’d reminded me that I’d given myself to him completely. He’d claimed me even after I’d told him that I loved Bill too.
I’d been afraid to admit that he was right—right about my giving myself to him. Completely.
Afraid to admit that when I had let myself let go with him, I’d felt safe and cherished.
And—unlike with Bill—that feeling hadn’t been toppled by a lie.
Eric hadn’t denied the person he was when he’d had amnesia. On the contrary, he’d accepted that person into himself without a thought, becoming more vulnerable in the process.
He’d not been afraid to admit that he’d given himself to me. He’d told me that he loved me.
His eyes had told me that he was ready to give me “everything.”
But I’d been afraid to believe those eyes.
With seemingly sincere eyes, Bill had once promised everything too, but he’d left me with nothing.
I hadn’t been brave enough with Eric. I’d not given us a chance—not a real one.
I’d blinked under the focus of his eyes.
As the monster that used to be Bill continued to hold us, I felt myself at the precipice.
Life and death.
Right or left.
“I choose you,” I said, trying once more to turn my head toward Eric, despite the fact that doing so was increasing my pain. “I choose you, Eric Northman,” I emphasized, making sure that he knew whom I was talking to.
There had been enough misunderstandings—enough wishy-washiness.
No more running.
Dying? Maybe. But running? No.
“And I choose you,” he returned. I realized that he’d somehow managed to keep ahold of my hand, and he squeezed it.
My heart leapt, but the moment of elation was fleeting.
I felt myself being raised off my feet and then I was flying through the air.
I flexed my hand; Eric’s was gone.
I hit the ground hard and had only enough energy to recognize that Eric was screaming before the world went black.
FROM THE INSIDE OUT
“You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.”—Swami Vivekananda
Chapter 1: Dark and Dawn
I’d miscalculated many things during the last several weeks. I’d overestimated my sister’s loyalty to me. I’d underestimated the power of Lilith. I’d misjudged the level of Bill’s humanity. Worst of all, I’d made a mistake in reintroducing Sookie into the equation.
I should never have brought her to the Authority to try to save Bill, but—then again—Bill would have always come for her.
Even as Billith.
After Billith had thrown Sookie across the room, knocking her unconscious, he’d turned his focus onto me. His fists pounding against my flesh had been excruciating. However, it was clear that he hadn’t wanted to kill me—not right away, at least. And then he had managed to do something quite difficult to do; he’d knocked me unconscious.
It turned out that he’d been re-formed into half-God.
Still, the douche was more powerful than I was—a humbling feeling since he looked like Bill.
I had “woken up” on the rooftop of the Authority, chained to Sookie. We were both on our knees, facing each other. My hands were bound behind me with leather-covered silver. Her hands were bound behind her with iron.
We were both still clothed from the waist down. However, our shirts had been removed, though I knew Sookie would be happy that her bra was still on.
She was still unconscious, her head leaning against my chest and a little drool dripping near my nipple. At any other time, I would have enjoyed the sensation very much. I would have also enjoyed being able to tease her about it once she awoke.
But our situation was not a pleasant one.
With both iron and silver chains, we’d been bound together at the thighs and the waists. And the chains on our legs were fastened to hooks so that any movement toward the door would be impossible—as would flight.
Bill was checking our bindings. He was no longer covered in blood, and he’d dressed—thank the gods! Becoming a “god” hadn’t made his body any less—problematic.
He was wearing gloves, which meant that silver still affected him. That was good to know.
“So, Billith I presume,” I said sourly—and with some snark.
He chuckled, his laugh dark, its timbre heavier than before. “Billith. I like that.”
I studied the creature before me. He looked just like Bill, except for his eyes, which were darker—emotionless and divested of any humanity. His inflection was different too—less exaggerated and with a twinge of an older-sounding accent. English seemed to taste strange to Billith. It was as if the “spirit” of Lilith was still getting used to using Bill’s body.
I felt Sookie stir against my body and then wake up with a start. She struggled for a moment as she got her bearings, and her body teetered backwards. Billith straightened her and then raised the chains around us a little to make Sookie steadier. Of course, that resulted in some more of the silver directly touching my back.
I hissed as I was burned anew.
However, other than that, I did not react to the pain. I was too worried about my bonded.
The woman who had run back—for me.
“Sookie,” I said questioningly.
After a few moments, her eyes focused on mine.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
She let out a mirthless laugh. “What do you think?”
I sighed with relief at Sookie’s display of spirit. “I meant your head. You have a big bump on it.”
She sighed. “Looks like that’s the least of our worries.”
“She is right,” Billith said humorlessly from behind her.
“Bill!” she gasped, trying to turn her body to see him. The chains moved and my skin sizzled a bit more.
“Sookie,” I panted. “Try not to move.”
She looked down, her eyes analyzing our predicament. When she looked back up at me, it was with realization.
“Sorry,” she whispered.
I gave her a little smile.
“Bill,” she repeated, though this time she didn’t try to turn around. “What the fuck are you doing?”
Billith moved so that Sookie could see him.
“Bill?” Sookie said for a third time—this time asking his name like a question.
“Yes,” he responded as if contemplating whether he should or not. “I am Bill. And, no, I am not Bill. I find that I remember what he remembers. I can feel his bond with his child. Bill is a part of me.” There was a pause. “Yet I am Lilith. I am both Lilith and Bill.”
“As in the vampire god Lilith?” Sookie asked.
“You have been told something of me then?” Billith asked, preening slightly. Bill always was a bit of a prima donna.
“Just that you manipulate people into following you with your blood,” Sookie said bitterly. “And you killed Bill!”
“No,” Billith responded. “This body was remade—perfected—in order to accommodate Lilith’s spirit. My spirit! Yes—like a phoenix rising from the ashes, William Compton’s body has risen anew with Lilith—me. We are both. We are one—the same being.”
“Sounds like religious mumbo jumbo to me,” Sookie spat out.
Billith’s expression remained indifferent.
“You are a human-fairy hybrid. Your human mind cannot understand things vampire. And your fairy mind is corrupted.”
“Then explain why I think its religious mumbo jumbo, too,” I intoned.
Billith’s eyes flashed with anger as he/she looked at me.
“Eric Northman, there was a time when I wanted you to be the host of my spirit. Or at least to fight the other Chancellors for the honor,” Billith said as he/she looked me up and down. “You would have been an excellent vessel for my spirit, but your mind resisted me. I offered you many chances to understand the truth.” He/she dragged a finger down my cheek.
I recoiled. Having “Bill” look at me with lust was disconcerting to say the least.
“I hate to lose any good vampire,” Billith continued, “but you rejected the honor of bearing my blood.”
“Glad to disappoint,” I muttered.
Billith sighed. “Indeed, because you would not stop resisting, you must be punished, Viking—though I will give your progeny the chance to join me.”
“How magnanimous of you,” I said sarcastically.
Billith checked the chains again, dragging them along my back a little—likely to punish me for my attitude.
The bitch could still blow me.
“Do you not think a rooftop is appropriate?” Billith asked with a sneer. He/she looked at Sookie. “In Dallas, you insisted upon following Eric and Godric to the rooftop,” Billith said, his/her Southern accent thickening.
Obviously, it was more “Bill” speaking now.
“I knew then,” Billith continued, “that you would continue to be drawn to Eric. Your blood told me from your first meeting at Fangtasia that you were attracted to him—intrigued by him. And—as I waited for the dawn to pull me under that morning—I felt your compassion for him. Your care. For him!”
Again, there was anger in Billith’s eyes, though this time they lightened a little—becoming almost human-looking. “Bill” went on. “I’d worked so hard to make you mine—first for the queen and then for myself. As soon as I’d had your blood, I knew that you were destined to be mine. So I used my blood in you to facilitate that outcome.”
“You son of a bitch,” Sookie growled.
He seemed to process her slur with amusement. “Truly, Sookie, it was best for you too. And I came to actually care about you, even love you.”
“That’s not love! You used your blood to manipulate me!” she returned.
“Yes. But it was not easy; you never seemed to have enough of my blood to behave properly.”
“So you forced more upon me,” she growled.
“Lucky happenstances. The providence of fate,” he smiled sickly. “I felt your fear when you encountered the Maenad, and I took longer than needed to react to that—to get to you. And then you were shot by one of my own men during the Witch War. Again, it was fortuitous.” His eyes took on a faraway look. “Of course, both of those situations almost backfired on me. After you were shot, your blood tried to reject mine—because of the bond you’d begun with Eric—though I eventually got it into you. And, after the Maenad had scratched you, you couldn’t take my blood at all—until Dr. Ludwig helped,” he added.
“Bastard!” Sookie said, a tear slipping from her eye.
“Still you resisted me and my blood, especially after you’d had his,” he said as he dragged the chain over my back again and glared at Sookie.
“Stop!” Sookie yelled.
“You two will burn together, cleansing me of my tie to Sookie Stackhouse,” Billith said, his/her voice having regained its cold, indifferent tone. “It is appropriate that the sun remove the last sliver of my humanity so that I may truly fulfill my destiny—to once again become progenitor to all vampires.”
“You’re crazy!” Sookie said.
Billith ignored Sookie’s words and continued, “In winning the honor to house my spirit, William Compton will be the father of our kind, as I has been the mother.”
“Billith,” Sookie snorted, coming up with the same “nickname” I had.
I smirked. I loved that our senses of humor matched so fucking well.
“Yes—Billith,” he/she responded seriously, still quite pleased with the name we’d meant as an insult.
“What happened to the others?” Sookie asked, remembering—as I had already—that we had planned to meet our allies on the roof.
“I let them escape the compound,” Billith said evenly. “Let it never be said that I do not remember those who have served me—with blood or friendship. Your compatriots were allowed to live as a testament to that. The vampires among them will be given the opportunity to follow me—or, in Nora’s case, to return to me—and the human will serve vampire-kind with his blood.”
Billith looked toward the East.
“Fifteen minutes until sunrise,” he commented. “Even as a God, I still feel the need to seek shelter. Truly—and rightly—vampires are of the night.”
“Fifteen minutes,” Sookie whispered, looking at me with concern.
“I will leave you now,” Billith said, “as a last sign of my mercy.”
“Mercy?!” Sookie asked with disbelief and anger.
“Yes,” Billith responded as if confused by Sookie’s confusion. “I give you this time to make your peace with your fate before you burn. Or,” his/her eyes sparkled briefly with malice, “to dread its arrival in tears.”
Billith turned around again just as he/she got to the door. “Should your friends return to try to save you, they will be cut down by my guards, who will be watching via camera until dawn.” He/she paused. “I may watch as well. It will be interesting to see if Sookie is drained or burned first,” Billith said coldly before leaving.
“Why can’t I get my fuckin’ light to work?” Sookie asked with frustration.
“Iron,” I responded. “He bound you in iron, and—according to the Vampire bible—that stifles a fairy’s powers.”
She looked up at me—her eyes wide. “Tell me you have a plan for gettin’ us out of this.”
I sighed and shook my head. “No plan, Sookie. And nothing to say—other than I’m sorry.”
“For what? I’m the one who came back. You told me to run.”
I chuckled. “As I don’t have time to list all of the ways I am sorry, I’ll just state the obvious. I’m sorry I brought you here.”
“I’m not,” she said immediately—stubbornly. “I would have been even madder if you’d just abandoned Bill to that,” she paused, “monster who has taken him. You gave him a chance to choose to stay himself.” She sighed. “Why did you do that—by the way? I thought you detested Bill.”
“We have . . . .” I paused. “We had common interests. And I had to try—because you love him.”
“Maybe I loved him once—but the vampire who called me an abomination, the one that chose power over everything else? He isn’t worthy of my love.” She scoffed. “And if I weren’t such a naïve idiot, I probably would have seen that a part of him had been trying to manipulate me all along. So—no! I don’t love Bill. Not anymore.”
“I love you,” she said firmly.
“But you rejected me,” I reminded.
She shook her head a little. “Yes I did. I was confused. After I was shot and Bill gave me his blood again, it was like all of the bad that he’d done was pushed back and I remembered only the feeling of loving him.”
“But you were with the Were,” I added, not able to completely hide the bitterness in my tone.
“Don’t remind me,” she said with a sigh. “I think I’m still hung over from that night. The truth is that I was using Alcide, and he was using me. He left the next morning, and—despite the fact that I un-glamoured him so that he no longer thought I was disgusting,” she paused and glared at me for a moment, though she didn’t chastise me, “he hasn’t called me since. So I guess all that talk about wanting me for so long was just that: talk. Talk to get into my pants!” She looked up at me. “But—you wanna know something? I didn’t have the impulse to call him either. So I guess that tells me all I need to know about my feelings for Alcide. You, on the other hand, I wanted to call—to see—especially after the night we found Russell in that abandoned hospital.”
“It was impossible,” I said. “Bill and I were brought back here that night. We were basically made into prisoners after that—prisoners of a fucked up Authority, believing in a fucked up god.”
She sighed. “But Bill started to believe in that god?”
“Yes,” I said sadly.
“How long?” she asked.
“Eight minutes until sunrise,” I returned. Until we die, I didn’t say aloud.
She lay her head against my chest, and—for a moment—I let myself enjoy the feeling of her warm flesh against mine.
“There’s no way out of this—is there?” she asked hopelessly.
“None that I can see,” I responded. “I could call Pam, but . . . .”
“But she’d just be killed, along with the others,” Sookie sighed.
We were silent for at least thirty of our remaining seconds, and I felt a warm tear slide down my chest, a tear that ripped a truth out of me.
A truth that had not changed or diminished since the memory-free me had been with Sookie in her home.
In fact, it was even truer than before.
“Sookie Stackhouse, I love you,” I said quietly. “I have lived in this world for more than a thousand years, and I have never loved another as much. And I will take that love with me to whatever awaits.”
“Fuck!” she said, leaning away and looking up at me.
“I will admit that’s not the response I was looking for when I told you I loved you again,” I said, managing a smirk. “You did say it first you know.”
She had just enough give in her bindings to turn her shoulder to nudge mine.
“Ouch!” I said with a grin.
“You aren’t allowed to give up!” she returned desperately. “I won’t let you tell me an ‘I love you’ right before you give up!”
“Sookie!” I said, interrupting her before she went off on a rant. “There’s not much time. You are in iron, and I am in silver. We are going to die here. And I need you to know just how sorry I am—sorry that I couldn’t protect you.”
She knocked her shoulder into me again. “Fuck you, Eric Northman! You’re not gettin’ out of givin’ me my house back that easily,” she said as more tears streamed down her cheeks.
I wished she was right, but I could feel the immediacy of the sun, and I knew we had only a few minutes left before I burned—and burned her.
A/N: Well? I hope you liked the beginning of this story. It is very “freeing” to be loose from Season 5. Here’s some information on this story. I am not sure how long it will end up being, but I doubt that it will be as long as Inner. I’ll be dealing with the Season 6 villains-Billith, Warlow, Burrell-but I will be doing this quite differently from how the show did it. While Inner was very introspective, From the Inside Out will have more “action” (or-at least more for me). It will be from Eric’s POV (probably except for an Epilogue). The drafting of the work is going well. But the draft isn’t finished. That means that I will be posting only one chapter a week for the time being. I’m thinking on Wednesdays.
Thanks so much for reading! I hope that you will enjoy this story and leave your comments for me. Your words and kindness make my life just that much better.
P.S. Extra thanks to Seph who did sparkly new banners for Eric and Sookie for this story! Love them! And her banner for the story as a whole took my breath away! Thanks so much for your art, Seph!!!!