Sookie woke up with a hangover the size of a Mack truck, and it felt like she was being run over by one too. Her throat was dry and her breath was foul. She also needed to pee like a racehorse. She decided that the bathroom would be her best bet in seeing to all her needs right away.
Once there, she found that there was no glass by the sink, so she had to drink straight from the faucet, but the water still tasted better than any she could remember. Not having her toothbrush in the room and not motivated to walk the ten feet into the living room to get it from her bag, she put some toothpaste on her finger and worked it back and forth in her mouth. She cringed to think of what Gran would think, but at least her breath felt less disgusting when she was done. After she took care of her human needs, as the vampires always called it, she decided she felt up to moving to the kitchen and getting a real glass of water and maybe about 12 aspirins.
She almost tripped over a still-sleeping Jason as she made her way through the living room. She wondered how she’d missed that he was there on her way to the bathroom and briefly speculated about whether she’d stepped on him without even knowing it in the haze of her hangover.
She shrugged and finished moving to the kitchen. Once there, the acidic smell of coffee made her want to find the nearest toilet.
Lafayette and Jesus were chatting quietly at the table. Once Lafayette saw Sookie, he chuckled a bit. “Now I know’s why all the undead like you, Sook. You look like death on a stick.”
“Thanks,” Sookie deadpanned. Only Gran’s voice in her head kept her from flipping Lafayette the bird.
“Here, drink this,” Jesus said kindly, giving her a glass of a deep-green liquid.
Sookie looked at Jesus skeptically. After all, her current condition had started the morning before when she had taken her first sip of his other ‘brew’.
Jesus laughed as if reading her mind, “Go ahead; it’ll help the hangover. It’s a miracle.”
Still a little unsure, Sookie decided that she was the actual mind reader in the room, and she put her talent to use, confirming that both Jesus and Lafayette had had a glass of the liquid and that they both felt much better. Since much better was what she needed right then, Sookie picked up the offered glass and drank it down as fast as she could. She was still really thirsty even after her time spent at the bathroom faucet, and the liquid was actually quite tasty.
“Thanks,” she said, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand in another move Gran would have tanned her hide for. She walked to the sink, rinsed out her glass, and refilled it with water before joining the boys at the table. She’d decided to stick with that nickname for them. Moments later, however, she thought about changing it to the “miracle” boys because as soon as she sat down, she realized that she felt a lot better already and that the jackhammer beating into her brain had turned into just a dull throb. She looked up at Lafayette in surprise.
“It’s good shit, right?” Lafayette laughed.
“Yeah,” Sookie sighed, feeling even better. The coffee had even started to smell good, and she looked at it longingly across the room. But she didn’t want to get back up.
Jesus laughed when he followed her eyes. “I have to refill mine anyway,” he said as he picked up his cup.
When he returned with a fresh, steaming cup of caffeinated goodness for Sookie, she smiled broadly. “Thanks again.”
After she was through half a cup, she grabbed a biscuit from a pan on the table and ate it greedily. By the time she was done with cup number one and was up herself to get a second, she felt perfectly normal.
“Wow,” she said, sitting back down. “That stuff is amazing! Is it some witch spell?”
Jesus laughed, “It’s an old family recipe, so yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if something witchy has worked its way in, but it’s mostly just different herbs and vegetables.”
“Oh,” Sookie said, taking another drink of coffee.
After a few minutes of talking about the lack of news in the local paper, Lafayette slid Sookie’s phone to her from across the table. “Found this outside on the porch table this mornin’,” he said gesturing to the phone.
“I must have put it down after Bill left,” Sookie mused, starting to remember the night before. Her kiss with Bill threatened to bring her headache back, so she picked up the phone to check to see if she had any messages. There was one new text―from Eric. Holding her breath, Sookie opened it. The message said, “Should you ever need more fires built in your dreams, do not hesitate to summon.” She gasped and set down the phone.
“Shit, it was real,” she muttered as her dream came back to her in full force.
“What is it?” Lafayette asked, a bit concerned by the shocked look on Sookie’s face. He picked up the phone and read the text. “What’s this? Is Tall, Blonde and Toothy botherin’ you, Sook?”
Lafayette handed the phone to Jesus, who looked at it with confusion. “Did you have a dream about him, Sookie? Is this him trying to―uh―flirt or something?”
“From the sounds of that there text and the blush on your face, it sounds like a sexy dream to me,” Lafayette said, intrigued. “Do tell. Did he ‘light your fire’?”
Sookie shook her head again, finding her voice. “No. I mean, I had a dream, but it wasn’t that kind. It was really odd though.”
Just then, Jason stumbled into the room. A similar operation was done to cure him of his hangover, and within fifteen minutes, all the remaining biscuits on the table had been eaten―all by Jason―and he was up making everyone scrambled eggs while Sookie just sat contemplating her dream.
Finally Jesus’s curiosity got the better of him, “What happened in your dream, Sookie?”
Jason spoke up from the kitchen, “If you had one of those vampire sex dreams, can I leave the room before you start to talkin’?”
Sookie laughed, “It wasn’t like that, Jase, but it was real strange.”
Jesus looked at Sookie, “Do you think Eric sent it―since he sent you the text about it?”
Sookie shook her head. “No, I think Bill may have sent it to start with, but I’m not sure. It started off with more Bill anyway.” She shivered at her memory of the beginning of the dream.
Jason joined them at the table with a big bowl full of fluffy eggs, and they all dug in while they were warm.
“Why do you’s think Bill sent it?” Lafayette asked after a while. “And if he did, then how could Eric send you a text ‘bout it?”
Sookie swallowed a bite and said, “Well, it started off kinda scary. It was pitch black outside―so dark that I literally couldn’t see my own hand. Then I realized I was sitting on Bill’s grave.”
“Creepy,” Jason exclaimed, putting a bite into his mouth.
“It was,” Sookie confirmed. “And then I heard a noise, and it turned out to be Bill, but there was just something off about the whole thing. He was trying to,” she blushed and looked at Jason, “to―um ―seduce me, but I was scared, and I just felt the need to get home, so I started running toward the house.”
“Did he chase you?” Jason asked.
Sookie shook her head. “No, I don’t think so. But I couldn’t find my way in the dark. The funny thing was that when I thought about Eric, I felt like he could make me safe. And I was calling out to him in my dream.”
“Shit,” Jesus said, looking back down at the text. “Sookie?” he looked up asking her to confirm the supposition he’d just made.
The others missed the significance of Jesus’s reaction. “What?” Jason demanded.
Sookie confirmed Jesus’s guess at what had happened and explained for the others, “It’s just that when I called Eric, I guess I literally called him into my dream. He showed up and took me to Gran’s. And then he built a fire and we talked. I wasn’t scared anymore at all after he got there, and he stayed with me until I fell asleep.”
“And he remembered being in your dream.” Jesus stated, looking again at the text.
Sookie reached for her phone and read the text again, “Based on what this says, he did. He told me that he was at Fangtasia last night when he felt my anxiety, and then he said I kind of called him to me. He compared it to when a maker calls his child to him. He said that he was able to somehow use the magic in his blood to draw himself through our bond to me.”
“Bond,” Jesus said quietly. “Not tie?”
“Bond,” Sookie confirmed as Jesus and Lafayette looked at each other significantly.
“Wow, Sook,” Jesus said after a while. “Nothing in the books indicated anything about a human having the ability to pull a vampire into her dreams! A vampire can’t even put himself into them directly. He or she can only initiate or activate a dream, and the human does the rest.”
“Maybe it’s different because I’m part fairy? Or because it’s a bond and not a tie?” Sookie put her face into her hands. “It’s just all so damned confusing!”
“So let me get this straight,” Jason said, finally catching up. “You dreamed of Bill first, probably because he sent you the dream . . .”
“Maybe,” Sookie interrupted. “I was a bit frustrated at him after he left because he wasn’t really respecting what I was saying about needing time and space. So maybe my subconscious was just trying to work all that out, and he didn’t do anything at all.”
“But the dream was vivid, right?” Jesus asked.
“Yeah,” Sookie admitted.
Jason continued, “So whether Bill was the cause or not, in the dream you got scared and ran from one vamp and then called another vamp to come and help you? That seems real screwed up to me, Sook!”
“I know,” Sookie said frustrated.
Jesus added, “And it seems clear that whether Bill started your dream or not, you were the one that initiated the contact with Eric right?”
“Yep, at least that’s what it seemed like. It really felt like I was calling him to me, like I could bring him to me if I wanted, and then he was there. And he remembers it, so it must have really happened.”
“Did he know that he was in your dream at that time too?” Jesus asked to clarify.
“Yeah, he definitely knew I was dreaming, and he knew that I’d called him. But he didn’t know exactly how he’d gotten to me. He’d never heard of anything like that happening to any vampire before, not even the ones that had made permanent bonds with people.”
Sookie took a drink of coffee and then continued, “He did confirm to me that we have a bond and not a tie like I have with Bill. He also told me some things about it.”
“Fuck, Sook,” Lafayette exclaimed, breaking his silence. “It’s crazy to be thinkin’ y’all had a real conversation in a dream and that you’s both remember it.”
“No doubt,” Sookie agreed.
“Well, what did you learn about bonds?” Jesus asked, looking very interested. “The books I have looked at don’t say much, as I said before. I don’t think they are common at all.”
“They seem to do a lot of the same things that ties do, except the connection made is stronger. Also, it seems that the human will be able to feel the vampire just like he can feel her, especially if the bond is repeated three times, which makes it permanent. I also asked if he could control me more with it, but he said that he couldn’t control me any more than I could control him, whatever that means. In fact, he told me straight up that he wasn’t able to control me at all, and the funny thing is that I believed him at the time. But now I’m wondering how that could be true if a bond is stronger than a tie, and a tie lets a vampire manipulate the human’s dreams if he wants.”
Sookie took a deep breath and continued, “Then he told me that he hadn’t sent me a dream since the first one he said he ‘tried’ to send in Dallas.” Sookie used air quotes around the word “tried.” But I did dream about him while I was there, and I also had other dreams with him too. It’s just so confusing. My instincts are telling me to trust him when he says that he hasn’t been compelling me to have dreams, but that could just be his blood influencing me. Every time I think I know something, I just feel like I’m going around in circles.”
Jason said quietly, “I had another dream last night too―‘bout Jess. You said vamps could influence us to dream, right?” he asked, looking at Jesus.
“Yeah,” Jesus confirmed.
“Well, in this one, Jess seemed to be calling me to her, and we―uh―did it. She told me that I should forget about Hoyt, and in the dream, I did. I just got caught up in her. I felt so bad about it all when I woke up a little while ago,” he finished forlornly.
Sookie put a hand on Jason’s arm in comfort and then looked squarely at Jesus. “I know you have concerns about doing the spell to get rid of the vampire blood, but I still want it done―now more than ever. If I am ever going to know what’s real and be confident in who I am or who I love again, I have to.”
“Me too,” Jason said quietly.
Jesus looked at the siblings. He understood more than anyone how much you could want to move away from your past and make a new start. With a deep sigh and an answering nod from Lafayette, he said, “Okay, but before we do this, I need a few hours. I want to make sure, Sookie, that it would even work for you since you have a bond with Eric. From what I’ve read, it’s not a complicated spell, but if it’s not done exactly right, then the people going through it could die. And like I said before, it is very painful. Those are the reasons Laf didn’t do it.” He paused, “If we’re going to do this, though, I want to make sure we know the spell backwards and forwards.”
Sookie glanced at her watch. They’d slept late due to all the liquor intake, and it was already a little after noon.
“Okay,” Sookie resolved. “It’s 12:10, and sunset tonight is a little before 6:30. I assume this would be better to do when they are not awake, right?”
Jesus nodded, knowing immediately who the “they” referred to.
Sookie continued, “Then, if we start the spell at about 4:00, that will give you time, right?”
Jesus nodded, “The longest it’s ever taken to break a tie has been about ten minutes, so even if yours is stronger than usual, two and a half hours before sunset should be plenty. You’ll both also need to plan to stay here again at least for tonight, if not for a few more days. The spell can make you a little sick and will definitely make you tired.”
Sookie nodded. “Okay, then, while you are studying, we can go get some more food and some clothes.”
Jesus nodded. “That sounds good. Just be back at 3:00 so that we can talk through any problems and I can explain what’s going to happen.”
Sookie looked at Lafayette and Jesus. She reached out both her hands to take theirs. “Thank you for doing this.”
An hour later, Sookie pulled into her driveway; she was still getting used to the fact that a smooth even layer of nice gravel was there instead of the rutty, muddy drive that had been there before. She thought about how many times Gran had wanted to fix the driveway but had had to prioritize other things with her meager budget. Gran would have loved everything Eric had done to the place, from the paint color to the new mailbox to the flower boxes. Sookie shook her head and went inside.
She had grabbed a quick bite with Jason, and now she needed a shower and some more clothes if she was going to be at Lafayette and Jesus’s house for at least one more night. For the first time, she was actually a bit glad that Sam had fired her. At least, she wouldn’t have to ask for more time off like Lafayette had earlier.
Sookie got out of her car and grabbed her bag of dirty clothes from the front seat. As she approached the door, she saw an envelope with “Sookie Stackhouse” written on it stuck to the glass. “Eric’s letter,” she said to herself as she pulled it down. She unlocked the door and noticed how well the key worked. Before, the lock had been a bit worn or rusty, but now the key turned like the lock was brand new. “High-handed, anal vampire,” Sookie smiled to herself.
She went inside and set her bag by the stairs before going to pour herself a glass of water. She sat down at the table and opened the manila envelope. Inside was a smaller envelope made out of thick ivory paper. In what looked like perfectly slanted and formed letters, her first name was written on the ivory envelope.
She opened it and read.
I have promised to stay away, but I find that I must tell you about the effects of the blood exchange we made several days ago―the night that we went into battle together to fight the witches.
But first, in case I never get another chance, I must convey my pride in your actions that evening. I had wanted to run away with you―certainly an attractive prospect―but you were right. Running was not the suitable or noble thing to do. Then later, I was honored to stand with you in facing the witches.
I am sorry for my own actions that evening. I should never have left your side. You were shot and almost killed, and I was neither there to prevent it nor there to help you after the fact, though I wish for you to know that I felt your distress and was trying to get to you when the witch, Antonia, stopped me and forced me into the hold of her spell. Still, I should not have left you to start with. I will endeavor to make no similar mistakes in priority in the future.
As for the main reason for this letter, I find that I must tell you that we formed what is called a blood bond as we made our exchange. This is different than the blood tie we had before or the one that you have with Bill.
I can tell you only what I know of bonds, and even though I have a thousand years of accumulated knowledge, I admit that a know little of them for two reasons. First, they are rare among my kind. Second, I have never pursued one before, so I have not chased knowledge about them. I am currently sorting through many books from Godric’s library which may hold more information; I will tell you if I find out more.
What I do know is that bonds are type of tie, the strongest type. Thrice bound to each other, sharers of blood will be bound permanently. Some rules of ties will apply to bonds as well. I will be able to locate you; I will also feel your emotions more fully than with a tie. You may also “feel” me to some extent, though if the bond is not strengthened with a second and third exchange, this may never amount to much for you and will fade with time.
Rest assured that a bond allows me no influence over you, actually even less than a tie would allow for since a bond is viewed as an equal exchange of essences between human and vampire, which is, as you may guess, the reason for their rarity.
So, I can feel you more than I did before, and you might be able to feel me a bit. I can sense where you are, though I would have to be closer than I am now (Shreveport) in order to pinpoint you exactly. You may also be able to sense when I am near. Additional exchanges would mean that the connection would broaden and we could actually send each other waves of feelings―not to control, as I know you would fear, but to strengthen and comfort.
I feel that I must tell you that I do not regret your taking my blood. I didn’t have my memories, but the same desire for you that I had then would still fuel the offering now. I could not, however, tell you the repercussions of taking my blood at the time, and I regret that. You will most likely hate the idea that I can feel you even more and that the connection is so strong for me now.
I will, if you wish, endeavor to learn how to stifle the feeling of you―just as you have learned to block out the thoughts of humans you don’t wish to hear. I will act as you wish in this matter and will stay away from you to mute the bond if that is your desire.
But never―never―think that I regret our time together. I would have all the time in the world with you if it were my choice, but the choice is yours now. I will remain in love with you regardless. It was thus before you took my blood in the cubby and before I took yours.
As I told you before, I will be waiting if you should want me. If you do not, I will endeavor to forego my natural impulse to take that which I desire, and I will leave you to live your life in peace―but unless I meet my true death, I will always be only a call away.
Sookie’s eyes dripped with tears as she finished the letter. She could imagine the dueling looks in his eyes as he’d written it, hope and defeat. And here she was, about to remove the bond and the ties that she had with all vampires, including the man who had just spilled his heart to her in the letter. She had a moment of pause. The idea of being bonded with Eric was not a bad one in her mind, but she still didn’t know for sure what was real or not. Could she take Eric’s word that he wouldn’t try to influence her with his blood? Could she take Bill’s? She had deep feelings for both of them and, therefore, wanted to believe them both, but she would never know for sure as long as their blood was in her. She needed her clean slate. And if she did really love one of them, she could reassess things later. She could even re-form whatever ties or bonds she wished. And that would be the difference this time. It would not be forced. It would be her choice―a mutual choice for both parties.
Sookie quickly showered and gathered up some clean clothes to last a couple of days. Most of her clothing had been destroyed during Maryann’s stay, and the rest had been packed up in boxes during the restoration of her home. She opened a box that had been put near her old dresser, and right on top was the red Fangtasia shirt she’d been given to put on after the Maenad attack. “High-handed vampire,” she thought to herself as she added the Fangtasia shirt and a few other comfortable T-shirts and sweatshirts to her bag.
She killed the rest of the time she needed to by unpacking the boxes. She thought briefly of moving her clothing into Gran’s old room, which she’d almost decided to make her own, but she didn’t. She didn’t want to face taking her Gran’s stuff out of there today on top of everything else. She did, however, move the empty boxes into that room so that she would be ready if she did decide to relocate to the more grown-up space.
At 2:30, she left to go by the store to pick up some food to take to Lafayette and Jesus’s place. On a whim, she bought a four-pack of TruBlood, but even as she drove to the boys’ house, she scolded herself for doing so and wondered if it was their blood that was making her want to see them both right then.
She sighed. No matter what, she was ready to figure out her own mind. If her heart really did belong to one of them, then so be it. If not, then she could at least be certain of that and then move on with her life.