Epilogue – Bill's Tale
I maneuvered my wheelchair down the narrow hallway at Fangtasia and into the main bar area. My main bar area. I could not believe that I now owned this bar. Or that I had been made Sheriff in my weakened state. Thalia had been made my protector. She sat at the end of the bar now flipping through a magazine. She didn't look at me.
I know that the very idea of a vampire in a wheelchair had appalled Thalia. It had been Sookie's idea. The wheelchair, not the Sheriff part. Everyone had been stumped as to what to do about a vampire – a proposed Sheriff with no legs. In the past, injured vampires hid, we couldn't have people see us re-growing limbs after all. But things had changed. Sookie could not seem to understand the conundrum and had said to Eric, "Just get him a wheelchair. Remember Spike." Eric had roared with laughter when she said this. I did not see what was funny. I had never heard of this Spike person and despite searching my database numerous times I had found no trace of him. I mentioned this to Eric and thought he might keel over laughing, apparently I could only dream.
I heard the door open and turned to tell whatever entitled, aggressive human that had decided that the closed sign did not apply to them to get out, and saw Eric standing in the doorway. If I had thought it possible, I would have said he looked sad. He caught Thalia's eye and jerked his head to the side. She went rocketing out the door without even a look in my direction. It irked me, as I was now supposed to be her superior, but what could I say, he was still my superior. I'd speak to her later when he was gone. 'Did you need me?" I asked.
He glanced at me for a moment and then without responding, continued looking around the room. He walked slowly to a table against the far wall. It was not the booth he normally preferred for business. Just one of the two-tops. He placed his hand on the table as if it could show him something. He stared at it for a while. I was about to head back to the office since there was no reason for me to sit around watching him look at a table when he said, "I know you don't see yourself as a bar owner, but it's a good base business for a Sheriff."
I nodded. I did not see myself as a bar owner. It seemed an embarrassingly low-class business and in my day had been the profession of ruffians and scalawags, but I could hardly ignore Eric's advice on being a Sheriff. He had been an excellent Sheriff and having gone over the books at Fangtasia I could not deny that the bar might be classless, but it was certainly profitable. I could only hope I would be as effective both as a Sheriff and a barkeep (since that was to be my lot in life), "If I haven't said it already thank you for choosing me and putting so much support behind it." I knew there were those that did not believe I could do the job in my current condition, but Eric had made it clear I had his full support. It had made the difference.
He glanced at me almost as if he couldn't understand what I was talking about, "You'll do fine. Perhaps not right away, but you'll grow into the job." I didn't know how to respond to that so I said nothing. Not that it mattered because he was back staring at the table again having completely forgotten that I was there or at least that was what I thought. He traced his fingertips over the table, "I was sitting here with Pam when you brought her in for the first time."
At first, I wasn't certain what he was talking about and then I remembered, of course, that was where he had been sitting with Pam the night I came in with Sookie. I sat in my chair uncomfortable to be part of his stroll down memory lane, not that Eric seemed to notice. He was lost in thoughts that were completely his own. Finally, when I could stand it no longer I blurted out, "She is well?" I didn't care much I just needed something to say. I had decided after this last injury that Sookie and I could clearly bring each other nothing but pain and it was time to move on. And I found that the decision was sticking with me though Sookie visited and clucked over my injuries, I did not truly wish her back, especially now that she was mothering a child.
He shrugged, "She is adjusting." I wracked my brain to determine what it was that she would need to adjust to – smelling better – whereas I had been injured defending Sookie yet again. And then I remembered that she was now parent to a rather damaged child and had always longed to remain human for reasons I could hardly fathom, it was not as though her human life had been such bliss. Still, I suppose both of those things required adjustment. "She is anxious to move," Eric continued and then trailed off again.
"Well, we all have adjustments that we have to make in life and I am certain that she is better off now –" I stopped as I heard Eric's fangs pop.
He was towering over me for a moment and then leaned in close, "No one asked for your opinion on the matter."
I inclined my head in deference. After all, what else was I going to do, "I meant no disrespect." In my head I thought of how enjoyable it would be to tell them both to get the fuck out of my life, but I would not do it. Truly, I didn't even really want to, leaving Eric's protection now would be extremely foolish. Eric moved to the middle of the bar and stood there for what felt like hours. And although I understood his need to say good-bye, I did have things to do this evening.
"Pam is going with you?" I asked hoping to jar him from his recollections and let me get on with my night. He nodded absently, "She left two days ago. She wanted to make certain the house was ready." I thought he might leave after that, but sadly, it was not to be. I thought I might still be sitting in the bar at dawn, but Sookie saved me.
The door swung open and she strode in looking exactly the same as she had the first time she had come in here. Sunlight in a dark place. A candle in a coal mine. Just not my candle. She smelled incredible.
"Eric?" she said without acknowledging me. He turned and smiled at her as she tapped her foot impatiently. "It's kind of a long drive to New Orleans, even the way you drive. We need to get on the road." He looked around the bar, reluctant to leave. Sookie said laughingly, "If you burn up en route the whole promotion thing is really a bust. C'mon shake a leg. It's bad enough that Hunter is going to sleep in the car all night because you didn't want us to drive alone."
He quirked an eyebrow at her neither annoyed by her presumptuousness or embarrassed that she was henpecking him in front of a subordinate. I would have been both. "I was just –"
"Saying goodbye, telling Bill how to do his job, I know." Her tone made it amusing as opposed to rude or at least he seemed to think so. She looked around. She seemed sad as well, which struck me as odd. Why would she miss Fangtasia? She looked at Eric, "It's going to be weird, not coming to see you at work anymore. Where will you even work? Like an office? Will you have an assistant that I should be jealous of? You better hire someone old…or male." He laughed at her. And she smiled broadly, "Hey I don't want anyone getting ideas just because I'm not around as much." She looked around again, "I think I'll always picture you here."
He looked around as well, "This bar was very good to me." She smiled at him and walked over to that same table. Honestly, it was a piece of particleboard. "Remember the first time I came in here with Bill?" She sounded as though she thought it was funny that I had been the one to bring her here. Probably to her it was. She touched the table as he had, "You were sitting here with Pam. Lord, you were beautiful!"
Eric crossed the room and wrapped his arms around her waist resting his chin on the top of her head, "Were?"
She looked up at him and smirked, "Yeah, well, you've really been letting yourself go. It's like a guy finds out your going to be around for hundreds of years and forget it, it all just goes to hell in a hand basket…Although you do dress better than you did then. Jeans and a vest, seriously?"
He chuckled into her hair and nuzzled her neck, "Bar clothes lover…and I believe you are also dressing better…lace up jeans, need I say more?" They laughed together in a conversation they had clearly had many times before. Eric leaned forward and kissed the top of her ear, "Perhaps if I had known what was walking into my life that night I would have dressed more appropriately." I, the unwilling eavesdropper on all of this, could not fathom what would have been a more appropriate outfit for Eric's first meeting of Sookie. Jeans and a vest seemed perfect to me, but perhaps I had a negative bias.
She leaned against him and sighed, "That or you might have run away screaming."
He threw back his head and laughed loudly. Sometimes even I was forced to admit them to be a stunning couple, mostly, I just found them to be obnoxious. This was one of the obnoxious times. "Never," he purred at her. And the mood in the room seemed to shift from light and teasing to thick with sexual tension, as though the air itself changed. I thought they might drop down on the floor and have sex at any moment. Sookie's scent was rapidly becoming overwhelming. "Vikings never run."
"Well, I guess it's good you don't want to run since you're stuck with me for more than a normal human lifespan." She dropped her eyes to the floor and looked uncertain. Again, I felt as if this was a conversation that they had had before.
He spun her around placing a finger under her chin and raised her face to his, "And it will not be long enough. It will not be anywhere near enough time together."
Tears fell down her cheeks and I envied him her love as I had many times in the past years. It seemed that Sookie would never be fully out of my system. I realized that as I watched her cry. I might resent her even hate her at times, but I was not over her. He wiped her tears away with his thumb and cupped her cheek with his hand. Her fingers wrapped around his wrist and she rubbed her cheek against his palm, "I'm sorry I don't know why I'm crying."
He gave her a soft smile, "I don't know why you are crying either lover. It is a happy thing. You are alive. I am Felipe's regent in Louisiana and no one will touch you. Pam is disseminating all sort of interesting stories about you. And until you become more skilled at masking your scent, I have the best smelling wife around. These are not reasons for tears."
She rolled her eyes at the mention of her scent and shook her head at him, "Let's get on the road." She started to walk out, but then returned to place a kiss on my cheek, "Bye Bill."
I nodded not wanting to over-dramatize anything; after all it was not really goodbye. Eric was regent and I was his Sheriff I was certain Sookie and I would be seeing each other again. In fact, I thought I saw something about a dinner next month, "I'm certain I will see you soon Sookie. Perhaps at the next function."
She didn't really respond, but simply said, "Good luck with everything."
It was Eric who offered explanation, "Sookie does not plan on attending official events or acting in that capacity." I was stunned. This was not done; she was his wife. His vampire wife not just his human wife, but I certainly knew better than to open my mouth. The last vampire to insult Sookie in this establishment had gone flying through the doors. I wanted to point out that she was his wife and protocol dictated a certain involvement, perhaps if he hadn't married her it would not be a problem, but of course, he'd had to marry her. Truly though what was the point, Eric did not care what anyone thought and Sookie would follow her own path, especially with Eric so graciously chopping down anything that might be in her way.
"That's right," Sookie piped in. "I'm done with vampires."
Eric grinned at her and she returned his broad smile. Apparently, I was the only adult in the room, "That sounds rather speciesist considering you are married to a vampire."
She looked at Eric complete with goo-goo eyes, "The exception that proves the rule." Oh please.
In a blinding flash of motion, Eric picked her up and swung her around in a circle. If I could, I would have retched. He set her back on her feet and slapped her rather hard on the ass. She jumped in surprise and gave him a mildly outraged, yet indulgent look. "Let's go wife."
She shook her head, "Keep it under a hundred okay? And don't scare Hunter."
He picked up her hand and brought it to his lips. Kissing it softly he stated, "Anything for you lover. Anything."
She smiled and allowed him to lead her out of the bar. I sat in my chair watching the door close behind them wondering if perhaps this was the way it had been meant to happen from the moment I brought her here. As the door swung shut I said to no one, "Good bye Sookie." And turned my attention to taking over as Sheriff.
A/N: Thanks so much to everyone that read this and Home Sweet Dead. They have both been so much fun to write and I'm sort of sad that I'm finished. After chapter 14 (Victor's death) and all of your great reviews asking about the future, I thought about taking this story in a different direction and continuing on to explore their life in New Orleans or Sookie's adjustment to all the changes in here life, but I decided against it. For me, this is where this story stops. Thanks again for reading. I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it!