Author's note: This is the last plot point developed in my notes that never made it into a part of my trilogy. I so much wanted to fit in this idea, but it never blended naturally with any story line. So while I'm not happy with this little impression as a piece of writing, I like what is going on with Bill; I had once thought he'd never let me go to this particular place, but he actually gave me the idea…


Sookie was feeling restless. Bill was away on business—far away in Japan. He had wanted her to come with him. See some of the places he loved to explore. But she had declined, making noises about working on her research. Really, she hadn't wanted to be away from Pen, she just couldn't say that to Bill. He knew anyway. He always knew.

Sookie lived her life around Bill. He lived his through her. They loved each other completely, but they certainly didn't see eye to eye about many things. After thirty-some years of being together, was her vampire need for independence finally kicking in? Was the life they shared drawing to a close?

Bill worried about that. Her continuing interest in Penrice Haines knackered him until he thought sometimes he'd explode.

His heart was a furnace for her. He burned hotter and more fiercely in love with her with each passing year. He knew she loved him—and respected him—but he had always feared she'd leave him. He was somewhat amazed she had stayed with him for so long. It had not been in her human nature (therefore would not be in her vampire nature) to stick. She liked to do what she wanted and liked others to do what she wanted, even though she often didn't always know what that meant. Bill had all the patience in the world for her because she was his one and only true love. He no longer had to search. Didn't want to or need to. But Sookie?

As a human, she had gone through multiple partners in just a couple of years. It was almost like once she'd discovered she could have successful sex, she wanted to make up for lost time; there'd been two vampires, a were tiger, a fairy, and if she'd had the opportunity, her shifter boss and another couple of weres would have been added to the mix. Bill had patiently stood by, watching her "experiment" with love, hurting like he'd been flayed, but ever hopeful. His reward was her turning to him when she felt she'd lost everything, seeking his comfort and attention for eternity. He had willingly, even happily, brought her over, and when she had accepted his proposal of marriage, all his long, terrible existence seemed worth it.

And now she was restless.

Bill could feel her. She was pacing, in turmoil, self-absorbed, conflicted. If he could have gotten to her quickly, he knew he could once again head off this particular bout of unease in her. But she was five thousand miles and half a world away. There was no "getting to her quickly" to be done.

Besides, he had worked very hard to gain the confidence of these particular clients. They wanted him for this job and he wanted to do it. He would have to push himself, learn new things, and go to new places, and all these actions held appeal. He was torn yet again between life and love, suspended in that all-too familiar limbo of what he liked tug-of-warring with what he needed.

Bill was pacing too: his long legs swinging through each pendulum step with graceful deliberation, his soulful eyes downcast, his dark hair falling over his brow. He clenched and unclenched his fists, growing ever more agitated. He couldn't stay. He mustn't leave.

Bill ran his hands through his hair, tugging it, trying to pull the answers from his brain. Suddenly, his hands dropped to his side. His head came up. His eyes glittered with an animal light. He had the answer. He knew.

Could he do this thing? He never had. He knew all too well what it felt like, and he'd thought it was something he'd never subject her to. And yet. And yet…

Bill strode to the glass door, throwing it open to the balcony hanging on the side of the tall building. He liked having a room that faced west; it made him feel closer to her. Now, he stood in the soft night air, with the city lights twinkling and pulsing below, his ears catching snatches of conversation even this far above. He raised his gaze toward the horizon, scanning the clouds, memorizing their radiance. He would always want to remember the night when he first called his child.

Much like when he made her, he had to trust that his instincts were correct. He closed his eyes, and with them his human mind, allowing his vampire nature to spiral up from the ground to fill him. It felt… good.

Bill conjured up an image of his beloved. He studied the image, concentrating on bringing it into focus. Sharp. Sharper. He was dimly aware of a frigid calm spreading through him; he was as still and contained as a stone. He had never been so perfectly vampire. He could taste the memory of her sweet, salty blood like a snake sliding through him. A feeling was growing inside him, building in him until he thought his skin would split and shred off his frame. It was like his body was the lens focusing a laser made from pure energy, vibrating through him like harp strings twanging, tightening with the pull of metal on wood. If the feeling had words, they would be, My Child.

The words, the feeling—the calling—flew from him like an owl launching from a tree onto an unsuspecting mouse. Within seconds, he felt the impact, talons on quivering hot fur; it was… delightful.

Immediately he was flooded with confusion and fear. If that feeling had words, they would be, My Master?

Bill brushed aside the bewilderment, focusing the lens of the calling on larger prey, sending the great gray wings soaring westward, commanding, Come to me.

And again, within seconds, the response, flustered and disoriented: you are… calling me?

This he had felt before, this he knew. He hated this undeniable summoning, yet there would be no disobeying. He had called her. She would come.

Come to me, Sookie.

He felt, almost as clearly as if he'd seen it, the stamping of a foot, the exasperated exhalation, the toss of a ponytail. He cleared all concern and hesitation from his mind, and with clarity that brooked no argument, repeated, Come to me.

He waited, tense and expectant for all of ten seconds, twenty, before he knew in exactly the same way he knew he had no heartbeat that he'd be picking her up at the airport tomorrow night.

888888888

When she came off the plane, she was almost—but not quite—running. She flew into Bill's arms and the quaking tension that had pulled him these past hours relaxed and subsided. He covered her face, her eyelids and lips, her cheeks and neck, with hard, consuming kisses. He tasted her tears and licked them away, not caring if anyone saw. His hands tangled in her hair, then ran down her back, pulling her tight to him. His lips found hers and he kissed her. She sighed into his mouth, and their blood connection was flooded with relief, then calm, even serenity. As always, when they came together after a time apart, their love for each other was palpable.

Bill had known that their need would overwhelm them, so he had reserved a Japanese capsule room for them in the airport—clever Japanese—lest they take each other on the floor by the baggage claim. Really nothing more than a mattress stuffed into a closet, it was nevertheless all they needed, and within minutes of her arrival, Bill was claiming his wife with tongue, hands, cock, and fangs. She was air, water, life—quite literally blood—and he knew there would never be any regrets that he had called her to him.

In the aftermath—the sheets were a total loss—nestled together in the molded plastic box not much larger than the travel coffin she had flown in, Bill stroked Sookie's glowing body, observing, "Your skin is like something the English stir into their tea." He felt her smile against his chest before she propped up on an elbow to look at him.

Sookie stared long and deep into his eyes, probing their shared blood for answers before finally settling for words. "You called me."

"Yes."

"Why?"

Bill reached up to trail a long finger down her cheek and jaw and neck, before answering, "Pen."

Sookie looked visibly shaken at that, but also oddly happy.

"You knew?"

Bill nodded, "My darling. My dearest darling. I cannot stop you from turning Pen. If you must, you will. But before you do, I needed to tell you how much I love you. How much you mean to me. How much our time together has meant to me."

"Oh Bill.. I…" But he put his fingers to her lips and shushed her.

"In your practice, you treat it, but you don't recognize it. You feel it, but you don't accept it—that protects you.

"But it won't always.

"Love between a vampire and a human is sanctioned addiction. Pen is already addicted to you and you are naturally flattered; many newer vampires fall into this pit. He will not love you, any more than a heroin addict loves the heroin. Pen loves how you make him feel. Did you not love how I made you feel? How Eric made you feel?

"That is how Pen feels for you."

For long moments he thought she wouldn't reply; she seemed far away, lost in her thoughts. Had she heard him? Was she angry? All he felt was her turmoil.

But when she spoke, her voice was soft with love and understanding.

"I love you, Bill. I always will. But your sorrow has made a slave of me."

Bill flinched: his father had owned slaves. As a young boy, he had grown up with slaves and considered them a part of his family. It was only much, much later that he understood what it meant to be imprisoned by another, to never have the freedom to truly leave. That prison's name was Lorena, and his Sookie had freed him from those chains forever. Is it… was it possible he was doing the same thing to her?

Bill ducked his head into her shoulder. He did not want to see her eyes when he asked his next question. "When I called you, what did you feel?"

He felt the concentration in her body as she struggled to find words. He knew how impossible the feeling of being called by one's maker was to describe. It felt like the spider calling to the fly. Feeling the tangle of the web and wanting to be stuck, all the while wanting to get away.

Sookie's voice was barely audible, even right next to his ear. "Like stepping for a missing stair."

The silence built between them until it pushed him to his elbow to stare into her eyes, blue as midnight and full of starless darkness. His own eyes poured into hers and she made a soundless gasp, a sharp rising of her chest as the full force of his love hit her. She cupped his face in her cool hands and said, "Until I was in your arms, I felt I was falling forth forever blindly: couldn't grab hold of anything. Hating the sight of that empty air… empty until you filled my sight."

Like his life passing before his eyes, Bill saw Sookie as he'd first seen her, in her tight white tee shirt, her ponytail bouncing behind her as she vibrated with the excitement of meeting her first vampire: she was happy. To see him. She rescued him and almost died for him. He saved her, not because his queen had commanded it, but because he simply had to. After the death of her grandmother, she gave him her untouched body and he thought he would burst from the greatness of that gift. And when her human life betrayed her to the bottom of her spirit, she gave him her life, to make her over in his image, loving him and trusting him. Why wasn't it enough?

"I waited for you, Sookie."

"I know you did, Bill. And I love that you did that for me.

"But you are all I know."

Those words were wood piercing the long dead cavern of his chest.

"So you will leave me then." It was a statement.

"No, Bill."

He trembled with the strain to replay those words inside his head. Had he heard correctly? "No?" he whispered, afraid to speak any louder for fear he'd shout and bring airport security running.

Sookie kissed him, softly, tenderly, meltingly sweet. She murmered against his lips, "I may turn Pen. If not Pen, someone else. It is what vampires do. " Bill started to protest, but she cut him off: "Even you, Bill."

"But I will not leave you."

"And likely, I will not leave you."

Bill could not help glaring at her. "You expect me to tolerate a lover in your bed?"

"No, Bill," Sookie chided him, "but you know I always wanted a child…"

"You already have a child!" Bill exclaimed.

It took Sookie a long moment to even realize what he meant. "Rio doesn't feel like my child; she feels like my sister."

"Sookie, you're chickening out on me, aren't you?" Bill said, and even in the dark, he saw her eyes widen at his use of the somewhat modern expression of speech. While she struggled to marshal her argument, Bill quickly interjected, "At least—before making Pen your child—do something for me?"

Sookie almost brushed him off, saying, "Of course. What?"

"Talk to Rio. Before you turn Pen, tell Rio of your plan."

Sookie raised an eyebrow, looking skeptical. "Why would I want to do that?"

"I just think she'd want to know of your urge to provide her with a brother."

Bill could feel Sookie's shock, before she snorted laughter through her nose. "Okay Bill, you got it," she chuckled.

Not allowing her to hear his sigh of relief, Bill pulled her into his arms and crushed her to him, knowing that—at least for now—he had won.

[2343]