A/N: I know that many of you want Sookie to realize the truth about everything like a bolt out of the blue when she wakes up, but we all know that with Sookie Stackhouse, it is NEVER that easy. And I don’t think it should be either. She has to figure things out for herself now, but I hope that you will be patient with her―and me―while she does.
Sookie woke up feeling like she hadn’t slept at all; her body was sore, and she felt a bit empty inside. She wondered if this was a side effect of the connections to Bill and Eric being gone.
She heard a rustling to her right and saw Jesus standing next to her, taking her pulse.
“Hey,” she managed, her throat feeling dry.
“Hey Sook,” Jesus returned quietly, moving his hand from her pulse point to grasp her hand gently. “How you feelin’?”
Sookie noticed that Jesus had finally taken up the nickname used by most of her friends and family, which made her smile. After what they’d all gone through the previous day, she was glad. She smiled up at him even though it hurt to do so.
“What happened?” she asked quietly, her throat scratchy. “It took a long time to break, didn’t it?”
Struggling to gather his thoughts, Jesus took a moment before answering. “Well, the process was much harder for you than I could ever have thought it would be, I guess since there was both a tie and a bond to break. But you are doing fine now that you have had several IV’s to rehydrate you. You’ve been sleeping for a while now.”
“What time is it?” Sookie asked, trying to sit up a little. For the first time, she noticed that the IV was still hooked up to her arm.
Jesus followed her eyes, “This is the last one you’ll need, Sook. You lost a lot of fluids during the spell; your body was pretty worn out by the time it was completed. You will also probably be sore and weak for a couple of days. Laf and I want you to stay with us until you feel better. It’ll do him good not to have to be alone too when I’m at work, and it’ll make me feel better to have you close so that we can keep an eye on you.”
Sookie nodded in agreement. She was awfully tired. She looked more closely at Jesus and saw that he was in his work clothes. “Are you coming or going, Jesus?”
Jesus chuckled, “Actually, I just got home from work.”
“Shit, what time is it?” Sookie asked again, trying to sit up a bit more forcefully.
“It’s 4:25 or so.”
“Yeah, you needed a lot of rest, but you’ll be feeling normal in a couple of days.”
Sookie laughed a bit, “Nothing is ever normal with me, Jesus. You’ll find that out.” Her voice cracked a bit, and Jesus handed her a glass of water.
Lafayette had heard Sookie’s voice and rushed into the room, a look of relief on his face. “See Laf, I told you she’d be fine,” Jesus said.
“Shit hooker,” Lafayette said, as he walked to the other side of the bed and took her other hand, “you had us some kind of worried.”
“Sorry,” Sookie said sheepishly.
Jesus left to go change clothes and call Jason to tell him that Sookie had awoken. Jason had promised to be by after his shift ended at 5:00 to check on Sookie.
Lafayette sat down next to his friend. “Don’t scare me like that ever again, okay?” he asked, looking concerned.
Sookie nodded, reaching out to pull him into a hug. She felt warmed by his affection, and she was thankful, so very thankful to have her good friends with her. She just wished that Tara could be there, but she understood her need to escape. In a way, it was the same need that had pushed her to rid herself of the vampire blood in her body.
“How do you feel?” Lafayette asked, as Jesus re-entered, now dressed in jeans and a T-shirt.
Sookie contemplated for a moment before answering. She knew that Lafayette was asking about both her physical and mental well-being.
“It’s hard to know,” she finally said, after downing another half a glass of water. “I feel tired and sore from the physical stuff I went through. And my throat hurts. To be honest it feels like I’m just starting to get over the worst flu of my life.”
“I think that’s good considering what you went through,” Jesus said.
“Do you think the spell took so long because of all the blood I’d had recently?” Sookie asked as Jesus and Lafayette shared a look. “I had a little of Eric’s, and I don’t even know how much of Bill’s after I got shot.”
Jesus only shrugged; because of the glamour, he was unable to answer with the truth of why the spell had taken so long or even think about it.
Lafayette asked, “What about the other thing? Do you’s feel any different? Inside?”
Sookie nodded slowly. “I do, but I don’t know quite how to describe it. It almost feels like I’m missing something that I was used to. It’s kinda like when you feel as if you are still wearing a ring even after you take it off. Or like you are still on a roller coaster when you lie down to go to sleep after riding them all day. I don’t know how else to describe it.”
Jesus nodded and tried to encourage Sookie, “Well, you are sort of missing something. I think I know what you mean though. I used to go with one of my uncles to fish on the Gulf. We’d spend all day on the water, and when I finally went to bed at the end of the day, I’d always still feel like I was floating a little.”
“Yeah, like that,” Sookie said before sinking back into her thoughts for a minute. She couldn’t pinpoint what felt off or where the feeling was coming from, but she made a note to ask Eric.
Then, she wondered why she thought about asking him and not Bill before she reasoned that the older vampire would obviously know more about blood magic. She seriously wondered if she’d be able to get straight answers from either of them, however. What they didn’t know was that their willingness to be upfront was going to help her to determine the choice she would ultimately make regarding them.
Thinking about the vampires, Sookie suddenly felt concerned. “Did anything happen with Bill or Eric after I was out last night?” She was worried that they had been hurt, considering the length of the spell. And she was also concerned that one or both of the vampires would be angry that she had severed their connection. She was especially concerned that Eric might act on that anger. Bill had told her early on that Eric was known for his ruthlessness, especially when things didn’t go his way. Sookie bit her lip, waiting for Lafayette or Jesus to answer her.
Jesus finally did, “They both came by last night to check on you. Bill came with Jessica, who talked to Jason for a little while. I don’t think that relationship is going to happen, but you’ll have to ask him.”
“And was Bill okay?” Sookie asked. “Did the length of the spell hurt him.”
“No,” Jesus answered. “He seemed fine, as if his experience with the spell took a normal amount of time.”
“And Eric? Was he okay? He didn’t try to hurt you, did he?” Sookie asked, looking at Lafayette.
“No,” Lafayette quickly answered. “He mainly just made sure that you were okay. Pam came by too.”
“And he wasn’t hurt either?” she asked.
Lafayette sort of just shook his head, again not able to answer because of the glamour.
Sookie accepted this as a “No,” and asked, “Do you think they’ll be back?”
“We tolds them ‘bout the spell, and they both seemed to take it okay,” Lafayette said the lines that he and Jesus agreed would be the best thing to tell Sookie. The glamour from the previous evening prevented them from saying much of anything else.
“So are they coming back tonight?” Sookie asked again.
Jesus answered this time, “I don’t know, but maybe.”
“Were they angry?” Sookie continued.
“Didn’t seem to be, honey,” Lafayette said. Just then, he heard a knock at the door. It was just after 5 and the sun wasn’t down quite yet, so he figured it was Jason. “Lemme go let Jase in, baby girl,” Lafayette said, pulling his pink, leopard print robe tight against his body.
“Do you think everything will be okay?” Sookie asked Jesus as soon as Lafayette was gone. The last thing she wanted to do was scare Lafayette; he’d already had to deal with torture from the old Eric, and she was worried that any more vampire problems would set him off.
“It’ll be fine, Sook,” Jesus assured.
“Still, I don’t think I should stay here and cause problems.”
“Don’t be silly, child,” Lafayette drawled, as he reentered the room. “You’s gotsta stay here so I don’t worry ‘bout you in the vamp zone that is yo’ house.”
Sookie laughed. “Okay, Lala, but I’ll just stay a couple of days. Then I have to figure out what to do with work.”
Sookie spent the next few minutes hugging Jason, who had followed Lafayette into the room a bit timidly. The siblings held each other tightly, both glad that the other was safe.
“What about Jessica?” Sookie finally asked.
Jason sighed, “I don’t know. I mean, I know that I still like her; I really do. I’m attracted to her, and I thought last night that I’d actually like to try to pursue somethin’ with her, but she only seemed to be interested in sex and blood from me.”
Sookie couldn’t help her blush as her brother continued, “She was mad about me breaking the blood thingy―um, the tie thing―that we had. When I told her that I wouldn’t sacrifice my friendship with Hoyt for anything less than somethin’ that had the potential to get serious, she left even more angry.”
Sookie noticed that Jason looked upset about Jessica’s reaction. Sookie continued to be amazed by the changes in her brother that had occurred while she was gone for a year. Those changes were even more profound to her since they’d seemed to have happened overnight. He was growing up and was actually sort of looking for a more substantial relationship, though his taste in women was still somewhat destructive, Sookie thought to herself.
“What about you, Sook?” Jason asked. “Have you figured out how you feel ‘bout them vamps?”
Sookie looked inside of herself. She still felt affection for them both. When she thought specifically about Bill, she couldn’t quite pinpoint her feelings. She wanted to find out what it would be like to see and spend time with him without his blood in her, but she was wary of him due to his past actions.
When she turned her thoughts to Eric, her heart gave an involuntary leap, and the empty spot that seemed to exist inside of her lurched a bit. Sookie definitely wanted to see him as well and was strangely comforted by the thought of spending time with him. But she couldn’t be sure if she still loved either of the vampires.
She finally answered, “I don’t know, Jase. Like you said before―it’s not like there’s been a strike of lightening to make everything clear. I just feel like I want to give them both a chance to prove themselves right now. My instincts tell me that after I have seen them and spent some time with them, I’ll figure out how I feel.”
Suddenly, Jason’s stomach growled loudly.
Lafayette laughed, “Shit, Sook, you must be starvin’ too! I put on some of grandmomma’s gumbo.”
Sookie nodded, realizing that she was hungry―weak and tired too, but also hungry. “Is my overnight bag in here?” Sookie asked, realizing also that she really needed a bath after her ordeal the day before.
Lafayette walked over to the small table where the bag had ended up and picked it up. “Thanks,” Sookie said. “I think I’d like to take a bath and then grab a bite once I feel a little more clean.”
Jesus took that as his cue to remove the IV, and they all chuckled as Jason left the room muttering something about how he’d rather get bitten by a vampire than stuck with a needle.
Lafayette insisted on helping her into the bathroom and started the water in the tub, dumping in some bath oil that smelled like jasmine. “This oughta make you right as rain.”
After Lafayette left her alone, Sookie waited for the bath to fill and stripped off her very smelly clothes, wondering how her friends had stood her for so long. Looking down at herself, she realized that she must have sweat buckets, but when she caught her reflection in the mirror, she was surprised to see that her face seemed clean, even though her hair was most certainly worse for wear. She determined that Jesus or Lafayette must have taken a wet cloth to her face and resolved to thank them if she remembered after her bath. For now, she just wanted to sink herself in the hot, fragrant water, clear her mind, and plan her next step.
And that’s just what she did for the next 40 minutes.