Disclaimer: The Sookie Stackhouse Series is the creation of Charlaine Harris. Don't sue me Charlaine! I love your books.

A/N- This one shot story takes place the day after "The Gamble."

From Ode, Intimations of Immortality,

Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;

Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

- William Wordsworth, 1807


I. Sam

I arrived ten minutes early. Steeling myself, I went in through the back door and went to put my purse in the office. Sam was sitting at his desk and did not even turn around to see that it was me.

"Well, aren't you early, Sookie." Such an edge to his voice.

"Good morning, Sam."


I waited.

Sam finally turned in his chair to look at me. Though there was no accusation in his eyes, I saw the hurt there. He looked as if he didn't even know where to start.

"Sam, I just want…."

"Sookie, don't even bother."

"It's too important not to bother, Sam. I'm sorry. I'm sorry I didn't tell you. I feel awful that I didn't. I thought it would just make you worry more…"

"Or less?" he said quizzically.

"Less? Sam, you've worried about every move I've made since Bill Compton walked into this bar."

He didn't reply.

"I feel bad that I didn't tell you. I didn't tell anyone, other than Claudine. I'm just tired of everyone requiring an explanation about why I feel the way I do. Questioning my judgment. Or worse, trying to talk me out of it. I love him, Sam. It's a really simple explanation. I love him."

Silence. He turned back to the bills on his desk.

"I'm sure he'll keep you safe, Sookie. I just wonder what the price is for that."

"Sam, I love him. Try to be happy for me. Please?"

"You're still my best waitress, Sookie."

I bent down and hugged him.

"And you're still my best friend."

"Did you come in early to work, or to talk?"

I laughed. But I could still feel the hurt and worry rolling off him.

He feared for me.

II. Jason

It was a busy lunch crowd. It seemed like everyone arrived at noon and wanted to be out in forty-five minutes. The kitchen was backed up. Holly took Bud Dearborn's plate by mistake and then both of us were in the weeds because it was the wrong kind of burger for JB.

Jason and Hoyt walked in at 12:30 pm. He kissed me on the cheek as I walked by loaded with plates and gestured to Holly asking which was my station and which was hers. Today they sat at mine.

I came over to take their order and found them arguing about how long I had been married.

"A month, Jason. I've been married a month."

"That's what I told Hoyt, but he had some fool idea that you got married yesterday."

Wow, Bill must have rushed that one, I thought.

"So what are you guys having for lunch today?"

"The usual," they said simultaneously and laughed.

Jason seemed so chipper.

When I brought their burgers, Jason looked up at me and said,

"Sookie, I'm glad for you. And I'm glad we're getting along better. I promise I'll try to be a better brother." He looked confused as he said this, as if something in it didn't quite fit. But then he smiled. That nervous smile I have when I know something's not quite right and don't know what to say.

Shaking my head, I said, "I'll get you boys refills." I picked up their glasses, turned and walked back to the bar.

Sam looked at me and nodded in their direction. "Everything okay there?"

"Other than the fact that Jason is brain damaged, yeah, it's all fine."

"Sookie, Bill just put a bit of effort into getting Jason into a better place with you. I don't think that any of us would have disagreed with the sentiment. Is Hoyt okay?"

"He's fine."

He handed me the cokes and gave me a cautious look.

"Are you going to talk to Bill?"

I sighed. "Yes." I paused. "I'm going after work."

"That will be your hard conversation, Sookie. Not the one with me."

I nodded. I remembered what I'd heard last night as he walked away. "Lorena ruined every single thing about my life."

Jason hugged me before he left.

They left a good tip, and the table wasn't even a mess.

III. Bill

I parked my car in the circular drive in front. I waited in the fading light on the front porch, in one of the rocking chairs, which creaked as I rocked.

He came out just after the sun slipped below the horizon and the crickets and frogs began their nighttime serenade in earnest. He sat in the other chair. Without looking, I extended my hand to his, and he held it.

We rocked.

We did not speak.