Chapter 33 – Too Much To Live For
February 9, 2013
Annabelle, Gran’s Physical Therapist and Gran woke Sookie mid morning the next day with their chatter in the hallway. She waited until she heard them in the kitchen then left the room to take a shower. Taking a glance in the mirror was shocking. Of course she knew she had a rough night and wouldn’t look great but she looked absolutely horrible. Her complexion was both extremely pale in some spots but red and blotchy in others, darkness circled below her eyes, her lower lip was peeling from all the chewing she’d done on it and her eyes were puffy from the almost constant crying. She spent a moment being thankful for her friends. Pam had been there every time she woke to help her, at least until the sun came up when Potts took over. She looked again in the mirror and decided that the crying was over, mostly because she didn’t think it was physically possible to keep crying but also because she was going to follow Gran’s advice and take the time Eric was in Dallas to evaluate Eric’s comments about children and ‘normal’ husbands.
For now, she was home in Bon Temps, Gran was going to get stronger and she had friends to visit. She decided to check out Tara’s new store after breakfast as the first step on her new outlook.
She greeted everyone in the kitchen brightly and grabbed a yogurt before joining Annabelle, Gran and Potts at the table. “Is that all you’re having dear?” Gran asked.
“I need to eat quickly since I want to head out to Tara’s Togs. I haven’t seen it yet and I have my new credit cards to try out.”
“What are you talking about baby?”
“Oh Gran, Uncle Des set up my accounts for payments from the Queen and sent me the credit/debit cards to access the account. Between the pay I get from Sophie-Anne and the settlement from the kidnapping, we won’t want for anything.”
Potts listened to the exchange and was torn. She had a letter Eric had written just before dawn he’d asked her to print and give to Sookie this morning, but Sookie seemed good right now. She knew from Pam that he recognized his mistake now, so maybe the letter would be received well. She considered the consequences of withholding the letter. ‘Eric will be unhappy, strike that, he’ll be pissed if I don’t give it to her this morning and it provides some relief to Sookie. I’ll be mad at myself, and likely so will Gran if I give her the letter and it brings her down.’ She decided the letter was Sookie’s, and that she was just the mailman if you will so she went to her bedroom to retrieve it while Sookie ate. She stalled upstairs to brush her teeth and check her hair but eventually ran out of excuses and headed down. At least Sookie finished her yogurt; she’d only picked at her food the day before. “Sookie, I have a letter from Eric.”
He while face changed at the announcement, but she didn’t cry; if Potts could describe it, she would say it was a mixture of concern and happiness. “Thank you.” She looked to her Gran. “I think I’ll go outside to read this.”
“I’ll be here if you want to talk.” Sookie bent down to kiss Gran and then walked out the door.
Sookie pulled her favorite lounger from the tool shed and set it in the sun. The temperature wasn’t that high right now, but the sun still felt great on her skin. She took a breath and opened the letter.
I wrote out several versions of this note, some with lengthy details about my reasons and feelings. I decided that simple was better.
I WISH I could take back every action and word that removed you from my life.
I don’t know if you’ll accept me back or not as I know I hurt you very badly. I’ll give you space if you need for now but know that just as you stated: I’ll fight for you. I’ll stalk you, I won’t give you up.
I will call Pam tonight and I hope you will talk to me, even just so I can be sure you are well. Unfortunately, due to the agreement between Louisiana and Texas, I cannot leave Dallas or I would be on my knees begging you for forgiveness. The moment my obligations here are complete, I will make my way to you.
Sookie read the short letter several times before she could even begin reacting. Was she happy that Eric realized the mistake? Yes. Was she pissed he had caused all this turmoil without thinking it through or talking to her? Most definitely. Was she going to make him pay? No, not make him pay, but they had these days apart anyway. Her Gran had made some good points yesterday. They’d only been dating since Thanksgiving and here it wasn’t even Valentine’s Day and they had committed to each other. That didn’t make it wrong, but it wouldn’t hurt to explore it since he wasn’t here anyway. She decided to speak to him when he called. Everything that happened didn’t stop her from loving him and they were both hurting. If a phone call could ease that, she would certainly do it. She congratulated herself for NOT crying and headed back to the kitchen. All eyes were on her searching for her reaction. “I’m fine.” She said to calm them and she nudged Potts. “You ready to go to Tara’s with me?”
“Sure Sookie. I’ll tell Peter we’re off.”
Sookie enjoyed the visit with Tara and selected several nice dresses for palace type work, a few casual outfits for hanging around town, and some selections for Potts and Pam. Tara was beaming as she showed off her business and described how well she’d been doing, even enticing some of the ladies who normally drove to Shreveport for their shopping. Sookie paid for her purchases using her new credit card and they headed out.
Deciding to embrace the full ‘Bon Temps’ experience, Sookie towed Potts to Merlotte’s. She figured some people would have questions, but she never thought she’d get the reaction she did. Arlene was the first person to see her and she promptly burst into tears. “Oh God Sookie, I’m sorry about Rene. I didn’t know.”
Sookie answered coolly. “I know you didn’t know he was the murderer Arlene, but that doesn’t change the fact that you insulted me when you came to see Gran.”
She wiped her tears and lowered her voice to a whisper. “Sookie, you’re living with a monster. I had to help. You’re my friend.”
“A friend wouldn’t call my fiancé a monster.” While Sookie was unsure about the relationship, Arlene didn’t need to know that.
She now yelled instead of whispering. “fiancé!? Sookie, he’s a vampire; they’re all monsters.”
“So are all humans monsters since your fiancé raped and murdered 5 girls and tried to kill me?” She narrowed her eyes. “You will not speak about my life and choices again Arlene. Now if you will excuse me, I have a craving for a burger Lafayette and I want to visit with folks who will actually be happy to see me.” She walked by Arlene with Potts at her back and headed to the kitchen pass thru. “LALA! Get your butt out here!”
Her flamboyant friend squealed and ran out from the kitchen. Sookie was grabbed and spun around a few times before he put her down. “Hows you doing hookah?”
“Better for having seen you. Potts this is the Lala or Lafayette I’ve told you about. Lafayette, this is my friend Potts. I dragged her skinny butt in here for one of your famous burgers.”
They chatted for several minutes until Sam exited his office and interrupted. “CHERE?” Sam asked when he saw her.
“Hey Sam. I was wondering where you were.”
He moved to hug her while he explained. “I had a supplier meeting in my office. How are you do. . .” He moved away from her as if he’d been yanked back by a string.
“What’s wrong Sam?”
He hissed out his reason. “You reek of Northman.” He guided her into the office, Potts followed and Lala stayed in the hallway as Sam shut the door.
Sookie’s reply was composed. “Of course I do Sam. We’re bonded and engaged.”
“Vampires and humans can’t marry Sookie. He’s using the blood to manipulate you.” She shook her head no. “He is Sookie, you would never love a monster like Eric.”
She closed her eyes and counted to 10 to calm down. Finally she opened her eyes and responded calmly. “Sam, we are going to be pledged, I’m sure you know the difference between that and a human marriage. As for your comment about blood, he’s not manipulating me. I did have a small amount when I first moved in, but that faded quickly – and before we started dating. Also, it would have been much easier for Eric if he had been able to manipulate me with his blood, it just doesn’t work that way for us. Finally, you WILL NOT refer to him as a monster again or I’ll have you speak to Arlene about my perspective on that shit.”
“Sookie, I know you’re his captive but. . .”
“The punishment has been put aside. It’s a long story but I’m no longer a prisoner of the vampire legal system.”
“Then you’re WILLINGLY throwing your life away? You’ll never have children with him, you’ll whither in the dark. One day when your looks change, he’ll dump you.”
“SAM Merlotte! Do you want to have a nice conversation and catch up? Cause if you’ve decided to just sit and judge me cause I’m the one that got away, I’ll get my burgers to go.”
“I don’t know Chere, maybe you better go home and shower me off; Northman might punish his pet for touching another man.”
“Knock it off Sam. I think you just answered my question about having a nice conversation.” She left the office and yelled into the kitchen. “Lala, make a dozen of the burgers to go.” She turned to Potts. “We’ll share them with the folks back at the house.”
“You gots it girl.”
Burgers in hand, they headed back to the farmhouse and were surprised to see Alcide’s truck in the driveway. He saw her grabbing the shopping bags and came to help. “Hey Sweets, how are you today?”
“I’m good. We’ve got some burgers here, want to join us?”
“Whatcha doing here anyway?”
“I have some plans for the Compton property to show you.”
“I’m starving, so I won’t even get into what you mean until I have some food first. I have a feeling I’m not going to like it.”
Alcide grimaced. He suspected the email from Northman was a secret from Sookie, but he was clearly told to review the plans with Sookie today. He hoped it meant there was a chance for the pair.
Sookie yelled to Peter. “Got a burger for you, I’ll fix you a plate.”
They finished their late lunch quickly and after Sookie wiped the table, Alcide rolled out the plans he’d been asked to create. Her eyes went wide and misted a bit – but she did NOT cry. She reached out and found Gran’s hand. “I never told him Gran. Did you?”
“I’ve never even mentioned the movie to him. I don’t know how it never came up, but it didn’t. I don’t know how he could have possibly known.”
Potts and Annabelle were at a loss. Potts was the one that asked. “Sookie, what is this?”
He eyes never left the first blue print on the table, but she answered. “It’s Tara.”
Potts was still perplexed and looked to Alcide. “I got an email from Northman before dawn this morning. He wants Compton’s home torn down and this built in its place. It’s the mansion from the plantation in the movie Gone with the Wind.”
“I’ve always dreamed of living in it. I just don’t know how he could know.” She sighed. “When Alcide showed up and told me why he had these floor plans, I was ready to be pissed at Mr. High Handed but I can’t find it in me to follow through with that. This, I mean, that he somehow found out and is delivering me my dream is overwhelming.”
“Do you want to look at these later Sweets?”
“No Alcide, show me everything.” Alcide reviewed the blueprints and specifications he had put together. They walked to the property and discussed exact placement, Sookie growing more excited with each detail. She was beaming with excitement as she reviewed the information with Gran, who had retired to her bed for a short nap and woke when she heard Sookie and Alcide return.
After situating Gran in the living room, she pulled Alcide outside for a chat. “Tell me what’s going on with you, or I’ll pull it from your head.”
He blew out a large breath. “You haven’t listened yet?”
“No and it’s been killing me. I kinda hoped you’d share when we were walking the other property, like you wanted some privacy, but I can tell something’s eaten at you.”
“I broke up with Debbie. Actually, we’ve been having problems for a while, but I found out she’s been cheating on me and that’s the last straw.”
She reached up to hug her friend. “Alcide, I’m sorry. It’s not a good month for relationships, is it?”
“You seem in better spirits today.”
“He wrote me a letter. The gist of it is he regrets his actions. We’re talking tonight. I mean, it’s not back to where we were since he’s still gone for work and all, but we’ll get there. He hurt me, and I need to process that.”
“You’re a processor, didya ever notice that?”
“Maybe it’s just how my funky brain works.” She nudged his hips with her elbow. “So how long before you ask Potts out?” His jaw dropped at her proclamation but he said nothing. “I didn’t listen, I swear, but the phrase ‘stolen glances’ applies for the two of you.”
“You think you’re so smart.”
“Just observant.” She checked her watch. “I need to make my call. Any chance you and your power hearing buddies can be far enough away to give me some semblance or privacy?”
“Go to your Gran’s room and run the humidifier. It’ll cover everything if we’re outside. If your vampires in the safe room are up, they’ll still hear it though, just letting you know.”
“Well, that’s not good.”
“Hang on, I’ll grab the humidifier and we’ll run to Compton’s and plug it in. I checked the power when we were there.”
“Thanks Alcide. Better take Potts so you can walk the perimeter.” She smirked.
Alcide had her settled in Compton’s living room on an outside chaise they carried from the farmhouse; Sookie didn’t want to sit on any of the disgusting furniture. After Alcide and Potts left to secure the area she took a deep breath and reminded herself not to cry, over and over again. Finally she was ready and she dialed.
In Dallas, Eric was awake and showered and just starting Norse work on his computer when his phone rang. He’d left it on the nightstand in Godric’s room so Godric grabbed for it as he was closer. He smiled when he saw the caller ID and handed the phone to his son. “I’ll be in the den if you want me.”
Knots formed in Eric’s stomach as he answered the phone. “Sookie?”
“Hi.” ‘Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry.’
“I’m sorry. I acted rashly. I should have discussed it with you.”
“Yes, you should have.”
“And I shouldn’t have waited for dawn; even though I did not plan it with any thought, I believe I did that subconsciously to make it easier to leave.”
“Easier for YOU.”
“I see that now.” There was a moment of two of silence when he offered. “I love you.”
“I love you too, but you hurt me Eric. Badly.”
“I know. I won’t do it again.”
“No, you won’t.” Her words scared him. Did she mean she wouldn’t give him the chance? “Eric, we’ve had this same problem several times, though not as big as this. You constantly make decisions for us and for ME without discussing it. You really thought I could move on while we would see each other for work? When we would need to exchange blood forever?”
“I had planned to ask Ludwig to collect the blood for us to drink it.”
“I don’t even want to respond to that.” Eric started to say something and she cut him off. “This wasn’t an immediate danger situation. Hell, I don’t even know where this came from. I need time and you need to focus on Dallas. Give me a few days and I’ll call you when I’m ready to talk.”
“Sookie?” His voice was shaky.
“Eric, I’ve been a mess and I need to wrap my head around the way you tossed me from your life and then how quickly you recognized that your actions were a mistake. I’m a fragile human, remember. I can’t make the turnaround as quickly as you.”
“What about the bond, can we open it?” He was begging her.
“YOU are the one that closed it and it really pissed me off, but now I think it’s a good idea to keep it closed.”
THAT hurt, but he could do nothing. He was quiet while he decided his next statement. “I will respect your wishes on the bond.” He sighed and added, “I love you, please remember that.”
“And more importantly, I love you so don’t get hurt. I need you to be around so I can give you a proper piece of my mind over your actions.” Her voice lightened a bit as she said that and it gave him a small bit of hope.
Four long nights had passed since Eric had spoken to Sookie and he was beginning to lose hope. Without the bond he had no way of gauging what she was doing or thinking. Pam was no help either; keeping their communications to his area business or Fangtasia. To exist, and that was all he was trying to do, he rested, took his blood from bags and spent time trying to come up with ways to soften Sookie’s heart towards him. If only she was materialistic, but he laughed, then she wouldn’t be the person he fell in love with.
Godric had been keeping a careful eye on his son, and he observed him bordering on despair. Eric was able to focus on the meetings, but once they were back home, he withdrew, not even talking to Godric. He would not intervene further though. Sookie had the right to make her own decision on Eric’s actions, though he knew she was hurting as well. He received an update from Cara each day. Cara reported that while Sookie put on a brave face during the day for Gran, at night, she and Pam needed to constantly care for Sookie; sometimes calming her from a crying fit, sometimes saving the knick knacks in the house from a tantrum. Her most recent text was the first time Godric started to relax about the situation:
C: I believe the hurt and anger are abating. She still wants to talk through his reasons and discuss what all this means for them, but Pam and I feel that she has reached her limit of being without Eric. Please don’t say anything in case we are wrong, but I think she will call him soon.
G: This is good news. Thanks to you and Pam.
C: Just make sure he’s not an ass, it won’t take much for her to blow up and become angry again.
G: He won’t, he’s prepared to beg for her forgiveness.
C: Can you film that?
G: You’d like that wouldn’t you?
He hoped Cara was right. He felt Eric moving in his room, next to Godric’s. He sent a silent prayer to Toutatis, the last god he worshipped as a human, to have Sookie call, even if it was to yell at Eric. His prayer was answered as he heard Eric answer his phone and flood the maker child bond with emotion: joy, hope, guilt, longing all mixing around. He waited in his chamber for news to give Eric space.
“Hi Eric. How are you?”
“Physically I am fine and the meetings are progressing. Otherwise all I do is miss you. How are you?”
“Similar, Gran’s rehab is progressing but when I’m not focused on that, I miss you.”
“Then are we good?”
She snorted since she was crying a bit and his words caused a jolt of laughter. “No Eric we can’t just jump to being good.” That worried him, but her next words calmed him a bit. “Here’s what we need to do. We have time since we’re apart anyway. Let’s commit to really thinking through our obstacles. Children, sunlight, and the stuff you call normalcy for me; and you need to consider a life with a human, a fragile human that’s going to grow in popularity among your kind. I also want you to consider if adoption or artificial insemination would be an option for you if I really do want to have children.”
“Of cour. . .”
“Stop Eric. We have time, no rash decisions. For the children question – really think about it. Could you raise someone else’s child, could you see me pregnant, even from artificial insemination, and it not be your child? If I did have children I would want a partner in dirty diapers, difficult decisions and feedings in addition to the joys of parenthood. I want us to spend time on this each night or day as it is. We can talk each night, but I want to commit to really thinking us through. Because if we do this and we decide to move forward and pledge, you WILL NEVER doubt us, you WILL NEVER question my commitment, you WILL NEVER hurt me like this again, ever.”
He was quiet and he considered what she was saying. He’d done all those things when he disregarded the decision and the commitment she’d already given and she’d done NOTHING to cause the doubt. He deserved her reaction; not that it was a punishment it was more like he’d caused the need for this reflection time. Luckily they were far apart physically or it would be even more painful: To be close and unable to touch her. Sookie stood still, not worried, not upset while he thought. She knew he was probably a bit taken aback that she just didn’t ‘jump in his arms’ in a way that could be done over the phone so he needed time to consider her proposal. Finally he said. “I agree to this. Are you on human or vampire hours right now?”
“I’m a bit messed up on sleep patterns right now, I think if we talk around now each night it would be best. Alcide set me up with a place to have a private conversation while he and Potts patrol, so this is best for now.”
He was disappointed that they would have one call a day while he was gone, but he needed to remain cognizant that she was also trying to care for her Gran who was on human hours. “Ok Min älskade, we’ll talk this time each day.” He paused and Sookie remained quiet. “I want to tell you more about what I’ve been thinking about under Godric’s guidance. I think it would be good information for both of our reflections. Can I do that?”
Sookie wasn’t sure she wanted to know, but she was the one that set the directive that they reflect and his thinking would certainly need to be part of that. “Go on.”
“Godric, in our 1000 years together has taught me many things. He taught me to survive, he taught me to trust, he taught me subtleties of politics and most importantly he taught me to listen to him. You were probably expecting me to say he taught me to love, and he did but the night I arrived here, his most important lesson was listening to him. What I’m saying is: I realize now what I did, and why I did it. Sookie, I love you so much and I used snippets of irrelevant data to make a decision for us and I should have never done that. I saw two vampires lose their companions because they could not father children, I felt your sadness when you spoke to Theresa and I assumed you were upset that I could not father children. So rather than continue down our path where you would never have the children you wanted or you left me to do it, I pre-empted what I thought was an eventuality and left you before you left me.”
Sookie gasped in shock. He really thought that eventually she would leave him and he acted before she could.
He continued on. “In my human and vampire life, I’ve never allowed myself to feel regret. Keeping my family alive was my priority as a human and I couldn’t afford the luxury of the emotion. As a vampire, well we live too damn long to allow regret. With these actions, I’ve now experience regret and I am overwhelmed by it. With Godric’s help, I realize that I acted rashly. I didn’t think through the two companion situations fully and just quickly equated them to us.”
“Give me a minute Eric.” He did, he waited patiently while she sorted through his comments. “I know you and Theresa weren’t bonded, what about the other companion and her vampire, were they bonded?”
“No, this is one of the ‘I acted rashly’ examples. Companions usually are bonded or plan to bond but both couples were not. I didn’t consider the differences between them and us.”
“I can understand where you were headed, I don’t like it, but I understand. I realize you thought you were sacrificing for me. It doesn’t take the hurt away.”
“Even with the bond closed, I know I hurt you.”
“I miss the bond.”
“So, can we agree to share the bond? I’ve kept my side closed, can I open it? Will I have your side available to me when I do?”
“I just don’t know that it would be a good idea while we go through our reflection. Plus, I’m pretty sure you’re going to be engaged in stuff that I don’t want to feel.”
“Can we open it during our calls? Just for that time each day?” Again he was begging for the bond; not feeling her was causing him physical pain.
“Yes, we can do that.” As soon as the words were out of her mouth, they both opened the bond full up. Sookie felt a wave of dizziness from it, but calmed after a moment and breathed, “That’s better.”
“Yes it most certainly is.” Wanting to move onto something he hoped was pleasant he asked, “So, anything about Alcide’s plans for Compton’s old property you want to discuss?”
She recognized the need to change the topic and was relieved herself; the call had been difficult and a bit awkward so far. “HOW DID YOU KNOW?”
“It’s actually a secret source that I can’t reveal.”
She grumped. “Won’t or can’t?”
“You know I can check my brother, Tara and Lala for glamour, they’d be the only possibilities. “
“It didn’t come from any of them I promise.” He smiled, she wasn’t mad, he could feel her joy over the topic of the building plans and that made him happy. “I just don’t know that I should have him start anything. I mean, what if after we’re done reflecting we decide not to be together?”
He wanted to yell that there was no way that was happening, but he promised to spend the time reflecting so that comment wouldn’t work. Instead he offered. “Why don’t you have him tear down the existing shack and clean the site? Those tasks need to be done regardless for safety reasons?”
“It’s not a shack; it’s a large antebellum home.”
“That’s ready to fall over. You can also make some decisions on building specifications. Those decisions could take weeks anyway.”
Pleased that he didn’t just blurt out that they were staying together, she listened to his thoughts and agreed to the ideas. She told him about the plans from Alcide and he was impressed that the wolf was able to pull so much together so quickly. When he mentioned that to Sookie, she informed him that plans for the fictitious house were available already and he purchased those with the idea that they could customize and tweak where needed. That led to a discussion about what tweaks she would want and he was surprised that while she was in love with the overall look of the home, she wanted it on a smaller scale. He would just talk to her about the size later and they would make the decision together. They spoke until shortly after the sun had fully set in Dallas and Godric had come to collect Eric for their meetings.
Sookie heard Godric call to Eric. “Min son, we must get going, I cannot be late for a meeting with my fellow Sheriffs and the King.”
“I must go. I love you and am already looking forward to our call tomorrow.”
“Yes, don’t make your daddy mad.” She chuckled. “I love you too, please be safe.”
“Always. I have too much to live for min älskade.”