Sookie looked back and forth between the two men―the two vampires―who had dominated her thoughts as of late.
Bill. Every time she saw him, her heart couldn’t help but flutter. He’d been the first man that she had ever loved. Brooding and dark―even more now than he’d been before her time in the fairy realm―Bill was obviously frustrated by the pressures of being the vampire king of Louisiana. He looked at her, his eyes immediately going from hard to soft as a slight smile raised his lips. It was a smile that assured that he’d always protect her, always be there for her no matter what, always love her. Her heart warmed even more toward him because of the reassurance he seemed to bring to her every time she looked at him. She loved him.
Eric. Her heart jumped when Bill turned from her and she shifted her eyes to the blond vampire talking to Bill. Eric towered over his king, and she noticed the curved bend in his upper back as he leaned down to talk to him. Once Bill’s attention went to the door, probably to something said by Jessica, Eric’s head turned slightly toward Sookie, his sharp light blue eyes capturing her brown eyes with his for a moment. Those eyes screamed so many things at Sookie, too many things. They held the vampire that she’d met at Fangtasia, the hard, cold, in-charge being that had frustrated and used Sookie for his own benefit more than once. But they also held the sweet, loving, honest vampire who had stayed in Sookie’s home and then her bed for the last week. She loved him too.
With seeming reluctance, Eric turned his eyes toward Bill as the shorter vampire began to speak to him. Once again, Eric seemed to hunch a bit. Sookie wondered if he did this to show deference in his posture. Surely a man―well a vampire―as tall as he was would need to find a way to at least seem to defer to his sovereign when it suited him.
But when she thought about it, she realized that he’d always bent down to speak to her too and then, later, to capture her lips with his. She quickly shook herself from this thought, however, tabling it for later contemplation.
Sookie’s eyes went back and forth between the two vampires that she loved, hoping that something would lead her more to one than the other. But this didn’t happen. Under her breath, she couldn’t help but mutter, “What a clusterfuck!”
Both vampires, their keen hearing picking up on Sookie’s cursing, turned their attention from their conversation to look at her, and she couldn’t help the blush that their gazes inspired. Their reactions to that blush, however, were completely idiosyncratic―and completely expected.
Bill’s dark eyes warmed as he gave her a sincere, almost pitying smile. “Of course,” Sookie thought, “Bill is always looking out for me.”
Eric’s blue eyes brightened more―if that was possible―but he didn’t follow this up with a smile for her. “Of course not,” Sookie thought. Only one corner of his mouth turned up―into a smirk.
With difficulty, Sookie pulled her gaze from the two vampires to Lafayette, Tara, and Jesus, who all looked stricken and in shock over the events of the last several days. She slowly walked over to greet them as the cousins embraced. “Y’all okay?” she asked them, looking at the exhausted look on Jesus’s face and the defeated slump of his shoulders.
Sookie hadn’t had a chance to talk to Jesus much, but she had liked him instinctually. After all, he made Lafayette happy, and that was what was most important in Sookie’s book. And, of course, he had just saved her life from the witch Marnie, despite the fact that he had obviously cared about the older woman―at least before she went batshit crazy.
Sookie walked up to Jesus, putting her hand on his arm. She said in a low voice, “Jesus, I know that what you did was hard for you, but thank you. You saved my life. You saved everyone here.”
Jesus took in the young woman in front of him. He’d heard a lot about Sookie Stackhouse from Lafayette for the last year when everyone had thought that she was dead. She was an important part of Lafayette’s life too, someone who always accepted him as he was. He knew that Lafayette would need friends like her even more now since he’d just found out that he was a medium and since he’d just seen Jesus in his demon form. He answered Sookie softly as Lafayette and Tara disentangled from each other’s embrace and talked quietly to each other. “You too, Sookie. You saved lives here too.” As Jesus gestured toward the two vampires at the front of the store, he and Sookie shared a look of understanding, in silent commiseration about all the fucked up things that had happened in the last week or two. Sookie was also happy to see that Jesus did not share Marnie’s obsessive hatred for vampires.
Tara broke their moment. “What about them?” she asked bitterly, gesturing in the direction of, but refusing to look at, the vampires across the room.
“What do you mean?” Sookie asked, glancing in Bill and Eric’s direction, just long enough to see that they were both looking at her at the same time.
“Fuck, Sook. I’m so fucking tired of all this bullshit. One was bad enough, but now you are looking at the both of them like some teenaged girl with a crush! We could have all died here today―because of them and their fucked up kind!” Tara’s voice grew louder and angrier with each word.
Lafayette tried to jump in, “Listen, Tara. This isn’t the time. What we needs to do is get the fuck up outta here, ‘kay Hooker?”
“No. Listen, Sook. This is the end. I love you, but you need to make a decision right now! I ain’t gonna be around you if you are around them.” Tara had her stubborn look placed solidly on her face. Her relief that Sookie had escaped from the witch’s circle of fire was apparently spent.
Sookie’s own temper rose. “Tara, it is not their fault that we are here! Marnie is the one that held you captive. She’s the one that tried to kill me, not them. Heck, she killed one of her own people!”
“Oh great!” Tara exclaimed. “Sook, you have such fucking rose-colored glasses on when it comes to those undead motherfuckers. You’d better take those the fuck off right now, or you are gonna be even deader than they are!”
By this point, Eric and Bill had made their way toward the group, Eric growling low in his throat and Bill looking at the older vampire menacingly as if to tell Eric to back down.
Sookie saw them approach and knew that the situation was about to escalate. She looked pleadingly at Lafayette and Jesus, silently begging for back-up, silently hoping that her best friend for her whole life wasn’t about to be killed by one of the two vampires she loved. Turning to look at Bill and Eric, she posited that it would be Eric who would most likely be fueled into rage by Tara’s anger since he was already growling.
As soon as Sookie caught Eric’s eye with hers, however, he did something that surprised her. He turned for a millisecond into her Eric, the one who was not a big, bad Viking vampire sheriff. He turned into the man who looked at her guiltily when he dragged mud onto her rug.
Sookie tilted her head almost imperceptibly as she looked at Eric, and they shared a look of understanding that she almost didn’t believe she could share with the restored Eric. He nodded to her very slightly, a gesture missed by everyone else in the room. Then, he abruptly stopped his progress about eight feet from Sookie and Tara, became silent, and pushed his hands into his pockets forcefully. His posture, so straight and ready for attack mere moments before, slumped a bit.
Sookie nodded gratefully back to him, knowing in her gut somehow that he’d just agreed to try to stop himself from killing her friend. It was something, at least.
For his part, Bill stopped a few steps closer to the group and nodded at Sookie in a much more perceptible way than Eric had. He too seemed to be agreeing not to harm Tara.
Tara, seeing Sookie looking over her shoulder, turned to face the vampire pair.
“Well look,” she said, anger and sarcasm competing in her tone, “if it isn’t dead and deader? Marnie was a fucked up bitch at the end, but I do wish that she had managed to kill you two!”
This time it was Bill who let a growl escape from his throat as his fangs descended. Sookie looked at Eric, expecting to see the same or worse, but he looked completely unconcerned, even bored by Tara’s words. He spoke up, “Tut, tut. We’re not all bad,” Eric drawled. “After all, just earlier tonight, I told my progeny that she was not allowed to kill you even though you were there when the witch put a spell on her.” He winked at Sookie who did a double take at his playful manner. Sookie was even more surprised when she realized that Eric was trying to deflate the situation, even as Bill continued growling at her friend.
“‘Bout that magic thing,” Lafayette said, looking briefly at Eric before pleadingly turning his gaze toward Sookie. “We’s was just there with Marnie. In fact, we were hopin’ she was gonna reverse the spell on Tall, Blonde, and Scary.” He gestured to Eric. “We didn’t think she was gonna do nothing to that crazy vampire bitch.”
“Ah Lafayette,” Eric continued to drawl. He gestured his hand airily. “All water under the bridge.”
Sookie was surprised when Eric’s playful tone turned to one of seriousness―to sincerity―when he continued talking to Lafayette, even though his gaze was directed more toward herself. “For the services you and your boyfriend have rendered in dismissing the witch, you have my assurance that neither Pamela nor I will seek retribution for . . .” he paused for a moment, looking meaningfully into Sookie’s eyes, “ . . . past mistakes.”
Tara turned to Eric venomously, “You undead fuck, don’t think you can just wave your hand and everyone here is gonna get down on their knees and say fucking thank you.”
“Tara!” Sookie yelled. “Shut up! Or you are gonna get yourself killed!”
“Right!” Tara yelled and moved aggressively toward Sookie, causing Jesus and both vampires to tense. “You even know that they are killers, yet here you are, on their fucking side! That one,” she yelled, pointing toward Bill who had resumed his growl, “used you and lied to you the whole time you were together. He almost fucking killed you in the back of that van! I should never have wasted my time with you again after you took him back after that!”
She continued, now pointing at Eric, “And that psycho motherfucker just ripped out a guy’s heart and turned it into a fucking sippy cup. And he held Lafayette in a fucking dungeon for weeks! They are all manipulative bastards, and they all deserve to fucking fry!”
Sookie knew that Tara’s anger was out of control, just as she knew that her friend’s life was spinning out of control, but given the clusterfuck of her own life, she didn’t know how to help Tara at the moment, except to try to keep her alive.
“I should have fucking stayed in New Orleans, stayed away from all your shit!” Tara continued.
Sookie sighed, trying to reign in her own temper. “Tara, why don’t you just go home right now. We’ll talk about this later.”
“You know what, Sookie? For once, you are right! I’m getting the fuck out of here though; this fucked up place is never gonna be my home again. I’m glad that you are alive, and I hope that you get your shit together, but I’m out!” Tara turned toward her cousin. “Y’all leaving? ‘Cause I’m ready to get the fuck away from all this shit!”
Lafayette looked at Sookie sympathetically before addressing his cousin, knowing that leaving was the best thing right then. “Yeah bitch,” he gave Sookie an apologetic look and kissed her cheek, “let’s get out of this twisted up place.”
As Tara turned and stormed off, trailed by Lafayette, Jesus reached out and touched Sookie’s hand. “It’ll be okay,” he said in a low voice. “You know her more than I do. She just needs some time to simmer down.”
Sookie shook her head sadly. “I don’t think so, Jesus. But I’ll be fine,” she tried to reassure him. “I’ll call you guys tomorrow.”
“Yeah,” Jesus turned and walked toward the door, nodding slightly to both vampires as he passed them.
Tara slammed the door loudly on her way out, disturbing Jason and Jessica, who had been in a side room. They peaked out of the door and then entered the main room where Sookie and the two vampires were standing, looking at each other rather awkwardly.
Eric spoke first, “Sookie, do you and your brother need a ride back to your homes?”
“Naw,” Jason answered crossing the room and putting an arm around Sookie. “I have my truck outside.”
“Even so,” Bill said, looking at Sookie like a vampire who was trying to glamour someone, “I would feel better if I saw you home safely.” His voice seemed full of affection and care.
Sookie resisted the sudden urge she felt to go with Bill. “No thank you,” Sookie answered, looking back and forth between the two again. “It’ll be dawn pretty soon, and y’all need to get to―well―wherever it is you need to get.” She smiled a genuine smile for the first time in a few days―ever since Eric had been taken by Marnie. “At least you won’t have to silver yourselves again. You’ll get some real rest today.”
Bill nodded, seemingly hesitant to leave. “Eric,” he said looking at the taller vampire who was still several steps further away from Sookie than he was.
“Hmmm?” Eric’s eyes were still on Sookie as he answered his king.
“Let us take our leave,” Bill said, his Southern accent and manners in full swing as he turned back to give Sookie a small bow before beginning towards the door.
Eric stood in place for a moment before walking slowly toward Sookie.
As he approached, Jason’s hold on her shoulders seemed to get a bit stronger, but Sookie couldn’t break her stare from Eric, who had lifted his hand slowly up to the level of her cheek as he strode the few steps it took his long body to reach her. He placed his cool hand against her cheek softly. It was the same hand that he’d pierced with his fangs just a few days before, the hand that she’d drunk from. Sookie couldn’t help but to lean slightly into his touch.
Eric’s eyes sparkled as he sensed her movement. “Miss Stackhouse,” he said, the twinkle now more obvious in his mischievous eyes, “I should very much like to pick up the conversation that we were having the other day at the king’s residence. May I call on you at the house this evening when I rise?”
Sookie couldn’t help but notice that Eric had said “the house” and not “your house,” and her temper would have probably flared yet again if she were not so exhausted. But she decided not to confront him about her house right then.
“I want a few days to myself, okay?” Sookie said, her eyes pleading at Eric. “There’s been too much stuff lately, and I need some time.”
Eric lowered his hand from her cheek and looked a bit saddened by her words before he recovered his calm demeanor. He said in a low voice, “Then you shall have your days, Sookie.” He bowed a bit, keeping his eyes trained on her.
“Eric!” Bill’s voice was loud from across the room and enabled Sookie to break Eric’s gaze and look at Bill. Bill’s jealousy was clear from his tone, “Eric, it is time to go. Now!” he added when Eric did not move immediately.
“Well,” Eric said, still unmoving, as he looked at Sookie, “until I see you again, then.” He smirked, turned around, and sped out the door faster than Sookie’s eyes could see.
Bill took the opportunity of Eric’s departure to give Sookie a final, love-filled look before his face clouded with concern. “Sookie, despite Eric’s cooperation this evening, I still believe him to be a danger to you, especially since he has recovered his memories. You should guard yourself from him.”
Sookie acknowledged Bill’s concern with a nod even as she noticed that his eye twitched a bit as he delivered his warning. She’d seen that kind of movement from him before and had always dismissed it as something he just did sometimes. She pushed the gesture aside in her mind yet again as soon as she recognized it.
After one last look, Bill too sped from the building, leaving Jason and Sookie behind. Sookie took in the room a final time as five men dressed in black uniforms came in. Sookie and Jason recognized them as Bill’s guards.
“Well, let’s get out of here so that they can clean up the place,” Sookie said, knowing that all traces of the deaths that had occurred there would soon be covered up.
As a sheriff’s deputy, Jason had a momentary thought that the police should be informed. But then he shook his head. “Yeah, let’s let the vamps take this one.”
With their arms linked, the siblings walked out of the door and into the cool night air, both glad to leave the craziness that was Marnie behind.