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.
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.
The End of Inner.
A/N: Well…that’s the end of this story. I really hope you liked it! As you can already see, the epilogue diverges greatly from the show-as does the sequel.
Thank you for reading this! I hope you will let me know what you think.
Many, many thanks to Seph for your art and Kleannhouse for your eagle eyes.
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