Disclaimer: I do not own True Blood or anything you recognize from it.

Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win. — Stephen King

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Chapter Thirty-Four

The Stench of Undeniable Truths

And that is how Sam found me. Staring unblinkingly at the photos, not moving, not even sure if I was really breathing. I couldn't make sense of it all and yet, how could I not? How could I ignore the fact that there was photographic evidence of me felling aged vampires without so much as lifting a finger? And how the hell could I ignore the fact that I was letting Eric twist the blade deeper in my heart. This was his way of telling me that he wasn't finished with me. I clenched my hands together, enjoying the crinkling and ripping sound of the glossy photos as they warped in my hands. Though these weren't the originals, it was satisfying to destroy the photos, I felt like I was rejecting everything about him and what I reluctantly felt for him. I was destroying the truth that I couldn't deny myself any longer. That I had been and was a pawn in his sick, twisted little game. And I somehow lost my heart along the way.

"Erin…?" A voice called through the tunnel, or at least it sounded as if Sam was speaking through a long tube, I couldn't hear past the rushing waves trying to pull me under.

"What is all this?" He asked, tugging the crinkled and crumpled photos from my locked grasp. "What the hell?"

"That's me, Sam." I quietly said, pointing wearily to a very clear photo of me flinging my hand up and a vampire flying through the air, "And that's a fang."

We stayed that way for a while, letting the silence comfortably settle around us. Pillowing our distinct realities as they began converging, we all had secrets and Eric had forced me to reveal mine to Sam. I wasn't really afraid of the stones they may throw, I wasn't afraid of the words of condemnation and I sure as hell wasn't afraid of the whispered threats behind my back. But this was Sam and regardless of my fearlessness, I actually cared what he thought. What was happening to me?

"Erin…I don't know how to make sense of this." Sam sighed throwing the wrinkled photos on the table.

I swallowed; I never really planned on telling anyone but if I even had a remote choice, Sam would have been it. He was affable enough that even if I weaved an elaborate tale with a rotten thread, he would feign belief to pacify me. "What don't you understand Sam?" I asked nonchalantly through the pounding of my heart.

"That you are fucking Jean Grey from X-Men. Is this some kind of a joke, Erin?" Sam asked quietly and even as the words left his mouth, the truth was blaring through his eyes and my stomach dropped. Did I honestly expect him to believe me? When was the last time anyone ever believed in tall tales that was I?

I didn't bother saying anything, I could defend myself until my lungs collapsed and still I would be condemned, despite everything that Sam and I had together…if there were even a miniscule thread connecting us, he would never believe me. What could I ever say to refute the undeniable truth that was perfectly photographed that went against the social norms of reality?

I concentrated on a crumpled photo on the table and before I could consciously process what I would do, what this night meant for me, the photograph hit Sam in the face, earning a loud expletive from him. "You know what Sam? I thought you'd be different. We all have secrets and fuck it, here's one of mine." I snapped sweeping a glance around his place before nodding to myself.

In all honesty, I've been waiting for Eric to make his move; did I actually think he'd let me go without fully using my capabilities to his whim? We could all lifelessly pretend and dream about diamond rings, concierges and satin sheets but the reality of the matter was, Eric wasn't a romantic. Sure, he might give you a nice epitaph before he ripped your head off, but he could never give you fairy tale love and a happy ending. I fell endlessly for Eric because of who he was, not who I wanted him to be but along the way, I forgot the monster within him, just as he forgot mine.

"Where are you going?" Sam asked, following me around his place as I searched for my car keys.

"I think I'm finally ready to get out of your hair Sam." I replied, sighing triumphantly when my hand grazed the key's edge that had somehow rammed itself between the cushions on his couch.

I had to admit, I wasn't afraid anymore. In fact, I was as fearless as I ever had been and I had a deep nagging urge to tear things apart with my own two hands. It felt good to be back in my own skin where I knew that I was just as dangerous as the monsters lurking in the dark. My surroundings felt newer; they seemed brighter than ever before…who knew all it had to take was for my heart to be ripped out for me to start enjoying life again?

The door slammed shut behind me and I breathed in the chilled tenebrous air and walked to my car, enjoying the crunching sounds of rocks and gravel groan under my determined feet. I drove with confidence across town to my place, enjoying the silence of the dead of night, comfortable in the knowledge that they wouldn't come for me; Eric would want me to stew and to unravel under the tension, of which, I wouldn't do. Yes, I'd wait, it would give me time to prepare for the war but I sure as hell wasn't tense. Oddly, I was more relaxed than I've been in a while.

When my foot hit the threshold of my place, my insides eased and though I'm adamant that I'm not sentimental, I felt something I've never felt before. I felt like I was finally home.