"Sookie, my love, I would face the sun for you." He said, his lips leaving sweet kisses down my neck before he buried his face in my hair, inhaling so softly, savoring. I loved his promises almost as much as I love what he did with me. He was the only man, dead or alive, that could make my toes curl and send electric pulses through my body just by being near me. Short breaths escaped my lips as I felt his cold, hard body adjust to fit the shape of mine, like a most perfect glove. I loved this feeling. He nibbled gently and oh so naughtily on my ear, still inhaling the scent from my hair. To me, it smelled like Herbal Essences Volume Booster, to him it smelled like fairy and telepath. "I could live in here." He mumbled, his slight accent finding its way to the surface. His hands found their way to my hair as his fingers pulled ever so slightly as he shuddered against my body. His hands left my hair, and my hair left my head in his gentle giant hands. Holding a fist full of highlighted blonde hair, my vampire, my Viking, my Eric looked up at me through startled blues eyes. "Sookie?"
That was the third time I had dreamed of Eric Northman since I had received the diagnosis. There was a reason the headaches were getting worse and my telepathy was slowly disappearing. Words like tumor and cancer were too hard to grasp; so I made sense of it all using more friendly words like growth and when the headaches were especially bad, parasite. I hadn't told anyone, but people know something was wrong. Amelia and Octavia, the resident witches of the Stackhouse abode had been hovering since I came home from the doctor. Eric, bound by blood and more able to feel my emotions than I'm comfortable with, had called each night and left numerous messages. Sam knew something was wrong as well. It was getting more obvious with each passing day. I was losing weight faster than normal, even for cancer patients. My eyes were swollen from crying every night, and the bags under them were growing darker by the day. I wanted so badly to return Eric's calls, to find myself in his strong arms and be told that everything would be fine. But it wouldn't. I would die. I would die single, childless, and utterly alone, and the world would soon forget about the eccentric Sookie Stackhouse. I had so many people to tell, I just didn't know where to start.
Jason. I hadn't spoken to my brother since the incident in Hot Shot with Calvin and Crystal. I hadn't meant to forgive him so quickly, but he needed to know. I should call him. I picked up the cordless phone that had migrated from the living room to my nightstand and started dialing his number. By the fourth number, I was sobbing over the phone, just like all the other times I had tried to call someone. My lungs hurt from trying to breathe so quickly, and I crumpled down to the bed and shivered. It could have been hours, or it could have been minutes, but I felt my mattress shift as someone sat down next to me, and a cold hand brushing my hair out of my face. "Go away." I told him. "I don't want to see you right now." Half of it was true. I didn't want Eric to see me with greasy hair, swollen eyes and shuddering in my room. The other half of me still wanted to be in his arms. Being there was the most comforting and wonderful place in the world. His hand brushing hair away from my face led me back to months previous, where he loved me in bed, in the shower, in the kitchen….
"You need me now as I have always needed you, lover." He said. His accent was stronger tonight. I didn't turn to face him. He didn't need to see me, and seeing him would break my heart all over again. "You know how we can fix this. I can make you better than you ever were, and I will always be yours." I woke and turned quickly to find myself alone in the dark, and I knew what my other option was. I would die, no matter what happened, but the new option was rising again, three nights later, vampire.
I thought about it as I worked the next day. Sam hovered around the bar and opened his mouth to speak each time I passed, and decided that he didn't actually know what to say. I focused on tables as best I could, trying to hear people's words and hear what I could of their thoughts. The people that used to be so easy for me to read were shut off from my disability. For once, I truly heard nothing. I messed up three orders and dropped a try within two hours of arriving, and Sam grabbed my arm as I walked by the bar to pick up some onion rings for Tara and J.B., I had brought her French fries by mistake. She was still too preoccupied with her new husband's puppy-dog eyes to notice things weren't at all right. Sam had to speak before I registered he was holding on to me.
"Sookie?" I turned to face him, ashamed of how I looked today. "I called Holly, she'll be here in a few minutes to cover your shift. I'm going to take you home." He smiled, but it was fake. His face screamed "READ MY MIND!" but he was blank to me.
"I'm fine, Sam, I'm just a little tired. I'll grab a coke or something and I'll be fine." I tried to convince both him and myself of this, but it didn't work on either of us.
"Go grab your bag. I'll drive you home." I knew better than to protest a second time, and did as he told me. I waved goodbye to Terry and went out the back door with Sam to his truck. He opened the door for me and held my hand as I climbed in the tall cab. It had never been so difficult before. Once I was in my seat I leaned my head back and closed my eyes, and I heard him shut the door and walk slowly across the gravel to his own side, open his own door and climb inside. I didn't open my eyes when he shut his door, turned on the engine and backed out of Merlotte's parking lot. It wasn't until his warm hand found mine that I found a reason to open them. "You've got to give me some answers." It was that simple, and it had taken him nearly two weeks to come up with that.
"I'm not doin' so great, Sam." I turned to him. I felt like more tears were coming, but I was all dried up. His eyes begged for me to continue. "A couple months ago I started…not hearing people like I used to. I thought I was just shielding better than usual, or it was becoming more natural. I didn't think too much about it. Then the headaches started. I told myself it was allergies, but they didn't stop after the flowers were done blooming." I paused. He waited; his eyes mostly on me, my eyes mostly on the road. "I'm sick, Sam. There's something in my brain and I'm not going to live through this. It's too big and it's growing too fast."
"Do you need money for treatment? I can always lend you some. Hell, you wouldn't even have to pay me back. Just think of it as Merlotte's insurance policy." He tried to smile. The smile faded and he turned too serious. "Why didn't you tell me?" He gripped my hand, it almost hurt but I couldn't find the energy to move it.
"I didn't know how. I thought I might be okay but I went to the hospital in Shreveport the other day and there's just not much anyone can do about it. I haven't even told Jason yet." I shook my head in disbelief that I hadn't told my only kin that my days were numbered. Sam looked like he was about to say something and then stopped, sinking back into his seat. He did this two or three more times before we turned into the driveway. He turned off the engine and sank back into his seat once more and we both stared at the house for a minute. "I could use a bath, Sam. Would you help me?" I was giving up on modesty and trying to be the strong one.
"Yeah. I could probably do that." He finally released my hand and got out of the truck, made his way over to the passenger door and opened it for me. I tried to get out slowly but fell onto him and he caught me before I had time to hit the ground. I always underestimated how strong he was. He held me while I tried to find my feet and get them to work. Once I had found my balance, he let go but stayed close in case I couldn't make it. I walked slowly up to the house and I knew what would be waiting on me inside. Amelia's once crystal-clear broadcasting had been reduced to a whisper, but I had heard her and Octavia waiting at the kitchen table. They knew it was time for the explanation. I sat down at the table and Sam disappeared to my room upstairs. I heard him turn on the bathwater a second or two later before returning downstairs. I was too tired to explain everything to Amelia and Octavia, so I just sat there. Honesty was exhausting. Instead I stood up, steadying myself on the table, and announced that I was having a bath. Sam came to help me, and I didn't stop him. He held me as we walked up the stairs and he sat on my bed while I ducked into the bathroom. "I'll be right here in case you need anything." He was beautiful. The setting sun behind him brought his strawberry blond halo to life, and his smile warmed my heart.
Once I had stripped down and crawled into the bath, I called Sam to come sit next to me. He had used a ridiculous amount of bubbles, and you couldn't have seen through the water with x-ray vision, even if you tried. He had also lit a few candles. Only Sam would think to do that. Well…maybe one other person. I smiled at the thought of him. Sam interrupted my almost-daydream. "So, if you don't mind my asking, what exactly are you going to do?"
I knew what exactly he wanted to know, but I played dumb. "Well, I'm probably going to wash my hair, and then I'll shave my legs and do other stuff and then dry off. Do you have other suggestions?" I seriously thought about asking if he had brought a rubber ducky, but banished the thought from my head. He tried to act light-hearted, but any traces of optimism had vanished with my fake answer to his serious question. "What do you think I should do about it?"
He wasn't prepared for that. He slouched down in the chair he had pulled in from the bedroom. "I don't know. Death is so final. As much as I disagree with it, there are…you know. There's Bill." A cold chill ran through me. He should have known better than to bring up my first boyfriend who had so coldy betrayed me. "You could still work the dinner shift sometimes." I smiled at that. Always thinking of work, never thinking of himself.
"You can't have a vampire bar-maid Sam. You'd lose all your customers." I smiled. This was the first true smile since the diagnosis, and it felt wonderful. I sank down a couple more inches into the tub so enjoy the warmth of the bath.
"Not all of them. Plus I think we'd get some new ones if we had a…" he was struggling with the idea of me as one of them, "vampire waitress. You know, tourists and stuff." The man had a point. Most of the people that were upset about things like vampires had stopped coming after the Supe revelation few months ago. Truth be told, that was a whopping 5 customers. "And I would give you all the True-Blood you want." He added. Such a gentleman…sort of.
"But you really wouldn't mind?" I was bewildered how well he was taking this. It was a lot easier to have this conversation with Sam than I thought it would be, even naked in a bathtub with greasy hair.
"It's not ideal." He tried to come up with something else to say. He was struggling. "But having you around in a...in an altered form is still better than not having you around at all. I mean, it's all so sudden. I wish you would have told me earlier, but I just don't think you have much of a choice. I'd rather know you're mostly alive, even if you're not around Bon Temps anymore. I'll miss yah, whatever you do."
That's all it took for my mind to be made up. I reached my hand up, out of the water and held his hand in mine. I didn't care about the wet marks I was leaving on his jeans or the water that was dripping to the floor that Amelia had scrubbed with a toothbrush just a few days ago. "Would you like me to call Eric for you?"
of me wanted to do it myself, but part of me just wanted to get it
"Go for it. Just wait a couple more minutes until the sun sets. Tell him to be here at nine, I'll be ready for him." He nodded, his eyes were starting to well up. "And if you could bring Amelia and Octavia in, that would be great." He nodded again. "I love you, Sam."
"I love you too, Sookie." And he cracked. Tears began flowing down his face and he stood up and left. I let myself fall under the water as I sunk down further into the tub. I had just a minute before Amelia and Octavia came in, so I spent it washing my hair and shaving my right leg. I had just started on the left when they walked in, Octavia sitting in the chair and Amelia sitting on the 3 inches that was the side of the bathtub. She wasn't comfortable, but didn't really care. Sam had told them everything in the hallway.
They both looked at me with frightened eyes, both fighting back tears. Octavia was the first to break down, and blotting her mascara with her sleeve, while trying to smile and be strong. "You don't have to be strong, Octavia. I'm certainly not doing it." I told her and they both laughed awkwardly.
Amelia spoke next, her voice cracking. "Is there anything we can do?"
I nodded. "I need you guys to work some magic."
By 7:30 we were all sitting down to dinner which Octavia had made frightfully fast. She had roasted a chicken and some vegetables, and we were doing our best to laugh. When Amelia started joking about how we'd have to start keeping blood in the ketchup bottles so people didn't suspect anything, I cracked up. Only Amelia would think of that sort of thing. We all had a couple glasses of wine with the meal and by 8:15, Amelia was itching to get to work on me. Back upstairs we went with Octavia trudging along behind us. Amelia sat me down in a chair in front of the vanity and disappeared into the closet. She emerged a minute later, with a silver formal gown Eric had given me a few months ago, and the shoes that went with it. I'd never had a chance to wear either. I guess tonight was my last chance. Or my first…depending on how you looked at it. The two witches worked quickly and by 8:45 I had perfect spiral ringlets falling down my back, flawless makeup and thanks to Octavia and her ability to do just about anything with a spell, had put on some of the weight I had lost so that the dress draped where it needed to. Despite crying for a couple weeks straight and losing nearly 20 pounds (only 10 of which I wanted to part with) the woman in the mirror looked amazing. Those witches were worth their weight in gold. I felt stronger after Octavia had worked on me, and I was able to make it downstairs by myself, and we sat at the kitchen table in silence, waiting as each second passed, bringing the clock closer to 9. Amelia clicked her fingernails against the kitchen table for what seemed like hours; Sam sighed every minute or so. Nobody spoke. "Well I don't know about you guys" Octavia broke the silence, "but I could sure use another glass of wine." This was very matter-of-factly, but I didn't listen.
I felt a pull coming from outside and I stood up without giving it any thought. He was here. With every ounce of strength I had, I pulled open the front door and ran down the stairs, holding up my dress. I felt like a princess in a Disney movie as I ran out past Sam's truck and paused to kick off my heels before starting towards Eric again. He was just coming into view and I hit the soft grass and was able to run faster. He smiled wider than I had ever seen a vampire, no- scratch that, he smile wider than I had ever seen anyone smile, and he ran towards me and within one second, I was in his arms and safe. My heart could have exploded then, and it didn't matter anymore. "Lover," he said, inhaling my scent with a smile. "I've been wanting this so badly."
"I know." I told him, while I flipped my curls to the side to reveal my neck, his lips tracing my eager veins, fangs poised. "And I'm finally ready."