A/N: Contains spoilers from TB season five. This is more of a continuation of the last chapter than an epilogue.
The second Sookie felt her feet hit the ground she whipped around to fight off Neal. When she felt that they were teleporting, she instinctively pinched her eyes shut, making the tears pooling in her eyes stream down her cheeks.
As soon she opened them again, she was almost blinded by the extreme brightness of her surrounding, like she was staring directly at the sun.
She blinked a few times, shielding her sight with her hands, until her eyes finally adjusted to the brilliant glow of the place. She tried to move and walk around but lost her footing and landed on something wet and spongy. She looked down and was startled to see that she was in a forest of some sort. Thick vegetation was around her, tall oak and willow trees bunched up in a circle and she was in the center of it. She could hear the lapping of water from a stream nearby.
There was a nip in the air like the first day of autumn. But because of the dense foliage, the air was still thick and humid. Sookie turned around as she searched for Neal.
"Right here," Neal announced behind her when he saw her looking around. He was perched on top of a hollow log, eyes trained on her.
Sookie jerked toward the fae and without warning, she shot him with her light. Neal stumbled backward, rolling in the moist grass.
"I told you never to do it again!" she bellowed as she rushed to his side, hands blazing with light. Neal fumbled to stand up but fell on his back again when Sookie zapped him square on the chest.
Sookie dropped her hands to her sides before she channeled her energy to teleport herself back to Shreveport. But to her shock and dismay she couldn't. She tried to do it a few more times but something was warding off her attempts.
She was outraged. She turned back to Neal, face burning with fury. "What the fuck kind of place is this?!" she growled.
"If you calm down, I will explain," Neal said as he sprung to his feet, hands up, palms facing her - asking her to hold fire. He took a few cautious steps forward.
"Zip it. I don't need your explanation. I need you to get me the fuck out of here and back to Shreveport before I zap you dry," Sookie threatened as she held up her hands, which were starting to flare up again.
Neal staggered toward her. "I can't take you back … yet," he spoke haltingly.
Before the Russell war …
Eric sat down beside Neal at the bottom step in the basement. The Viking waited a few seconds to make sure that no one but the fairy would be able to hear him.
"Claudine was your sister." It wasn't a question.
Neal's jaws tightened as he fixed his gaze on his hands that clenched involuntarily at the mention of his departed sibling. "What gave me away?"
"Your blood," Eric replied in a clinical tone, remembering the exquisite taste of Claudine's blood that he'd had more than a week ago. "I guess it's safe to assume Claudette's your sibling, too."
Neal replied with a brief nod.
"That's why you can all teleport," Eric commented. "Can you also read minds like Sookie?"
Neal shook his head. "Only my sisters can. It's a common ability among the female fae."
"So what's your trick?"
"I'm a gatekeeper. I create portals. Only a few can open portals between this realm and Fae. Although all fairies can travel in different dimensions through an existing doorway, only a few can make a new one. I can also seal an open portal so no other fairy can pass to this realm."
Eric contemplated that piece of information before he spoke again. "Where did you take her earlier?"
"Just outside Shreveport. I knew she'd be going back to you one way or another, so I didn't go too far."
Eric turned his head toward the fae, a serious look on his face. "Why are you here? I drained your sister," he asked without a hint of remorse, only curiosity.
"I'm not here to kill you, if that's what you're getting at," Neal muttered under his breath.
Eric shrugged before he straightened his back. "I know you're not. If you were, you would have done so when you brought Bill here with Jason. Pam wasn't here to stop you then. Sookie's also knocked out. And let's be honest, Ginger and Jason weren't that hard to distract," Eric stated dryly.
Neal sighed. "I just don't see the point. As much as I grieve for the dead, I care more for the living. Ending you wouldn't help my cause."
"And that is?" Eric asked, although he already had a pretty good idea what it would be.
"Keep her alive."
It was Eric's turn to lock his jaws. He groaned as he buried his face in his hands. After a few seconds, he looked up. "They're coming for her."
"The Authority. The Guardian knows about her. Even if we do kill Russell, Sookie will never be safe. Roman may have kept his distance from her because he didn't see her as a threat before. But when Claudette gave Russell the ability to daywalk, she also signed Sookie's death warrant," Eric said between his teeth.
"Can't you protect her from the Authority?" Neal asked as he studied the Viking.
"It is called the Authority for a reason," Eric replied with a hard edge in his voice.
"Why are you telling me this?"
"Because I need you to make her disappear," Eric answered, locking his gaze with the fairy.
Present day …
"You took me to Fae?!" Sookie was downright appalled. Her hands flew up on reflex. "You're gonna give me to Mab, aren't you? This was your plan all along!"
The telepath didn't wait for Neal to reply as she beckoned her photokinesis and directed it at him.
But the fairy, who had been expecting the blast, leaped behind a massive oak tree to dodge the scorching ball of light. Sookie charged up again before she cast another blast in Neal's direction. Neal teleported behind her and locked her hands to her sides.
"Sookie, please!" Neal exclaimed. He was exhausted and frustrated. Sookie strained against his grasp, yanking her arms away from the fairy's strong grip. "He asked me to take you in a secure place while he takes care of the vampire Authority. But because you could also teleport, it was tricky."
"So you brought me here? Even though you knew I was wanted by the Queen!" she snarled.
"Fae is a vast realm, Sookie. We're on the side of the resistance. Do you remember the first time we met? When I helped you and your grandfather Earl escape Mab? I was the one who opened that portal for you," he explained. Sookie drew her eyebrows, still very suspicious and still very crossed.
"It wasn't you who helped me," she spat out the words like venom.
"Yes, it was." Sookie watched in awe as Neal morphed into his original goblin-like form. "We attune ourselves to the frequency of beauty of the realm we are in."
He changed back to his human form - the one Sookie was accustomed to.
"It doesn't change the fact that you took me against my will when I specifically asked you not to," Sookie spat.
"I made an oath, Sookie -"
"I don't give a damn if you gave your fuckin' word to the freakin' Marines, Neal or Claude or whatever your name is! You broke my trust," Sookie said through clenched teeth. "Now, get me out of here. You had no right. You and Eric had no right to decide what's good for me!"
"Why don't you flip your situation with him for a minute, Sookie? If it were you who had the chance to protect him and make things right so he could have the freedom he always wanted. Can you honestly tell me, you would not do the same?"
"They know about you, Sookie. The vampire authority, the people Eric has no power to control. He asked me to buy him some time so he could get rid of the ones who knew of your existence. Those vamps will have no qualms using you for your abilities. For your blood. For your lineage. And if they see you as a threat they will eliminate you."
Sookie fell silent. For the first time since she was transported to Fae she had nothing to say. Every broken piece was coming together in her head. The cryptic exchanges between Eric and Neal. The reason Eric got so mad at Nora. His motivation for releasing Pam.
It was all for her.
Eric knew the Authority was coming for her and he wanted to shield her from them. He was going to take on the vampire leaders – vampire politics – to ensure her safety, to make sure she would remain anonymous, invisible from those who wanted to exploit or eradicate her.
Sookie felt her knees buckle as she dropped to the ground.
It was early morning when they landed back to Bon Temps. Sookie and Neal were still wearing their torn and blood-smeared clothes they'd worn that night at Fangtasia. They were in the middle of the cemetery, and Sookie was more than grateful that the graveyard was deserted at this hour.
She hadn't spoken a single word to Neal since he explained to her what Eric had told him. After what seemed like an hour, Neal stood up and stretched out his hand to her. She took it without question and the next thing she knew they were back in Bon Temps.
Sookie started toward her farmhouse when it struck her. Russell had burned down her house. She was homeless. Her steps halted as she looked at Neal behind her, unsure what to do.
"Just keep going," he replied, waving his hand in the direction of Sookie's ancestral home.
Sookie's jaw dropped as she stared at the brand new two-story farmhouse that stood exactly where her old home was. It was like the first time she came back from Fae and found her decrepit house fully restored by Eric.
It had been built to look the same as the previous one and Sookie's heart soared because she knew exactly who made it that way. She had no idea how long she had been gone this time, and she was eager to find out. And find him.
She dashed to the farmhouse, leaving Neal who was walking slowly behind her. She almost jumped back when the front door burst open revealing her brother, wearing his policeman uniform.
"Damn fuck it! Sook?!" Jason blurted as he stared incredulously at his sister. "You look like shit! Please tell me that's not your blood, and please for the love of Gran, tell me you didn't butcher anybody. No, don't tell me. I don't wanna know."
"I missed you, too, Jase!" Sookie grinned as she pulled her brother in for a hug, rubbing grime and dried blood on his crisp uniform. But Jason didn't seem to mind as he held on to her tightly.
"He told me you'd be back," Jason mumbled. Sookie drew back to look at her sibling. "Eric," he said as if answering her unspoken question.
"Is he here? How long was I gone?" She didn't realize she was shuddering until she felt Jason's hands rubbing her arms.
"You've been gone five years, Sook. And no, he ain't here," he replied as he carefully studied her appearance. "Damn, Sook! You're shaking like a leaf! C'mon inside," Jason ushered her in. Then out of the corner of his eye, he saw Neal standing beside the garden bed below the porch. "Hey, man! How've you been?" Jason asked, waving at the fairy.
Neal flashed Jason a timid smile, hands in his pocket. "Good, good. You?"
Jason's eyes softened as he stared at his sister. "I am now." Sookie, who stood rigidly by the doorway, was also staring at Neal. "Are you comin' in?" Jason asked the fae.
Neal shook his head slightly. "Nah. I'm just dropping her off. I've to be somewhere anyway." He met Sookie's eyes and flashed her a poignant smile before he turned around and started marching back to the cemetery.
Sookie rushed to follow Neal. "Where you goin'?" she asked, tugging at his arm.
"I have to get back to Fae. I'm part of the resistance. Claudette may be wrong about a lot of things, but she wasn't wrong about Mab. There is a large of faction of fairies who still want to overthrow her, and that's where I belong."
"Will I see you again?"
Neal faced Sookie as he reluctantly took her wobbly hands. "There's a war brewing in Fae as we speak. It's my job as a gatekeeper to close all the portals permanently so Mab will have no means to threaten the fairies who decided to stay here anymore. When Claudette and Preston died, the resistance had already sent out word to other fairies on this realm that we'll be closing all doors back to Fae. Those who have decided to remain here will be locked out for good. That includes you."
Sookie bit her lip. "Oh … So I guess this is goodbye?"
Neal bobbed his head. "It was a pleasure meeting you, Sookie Stackhouse. Stay out of trouble, 'kay?"
"Thank you, Neal. For everything." She was on the verge of tears.
His gray eyes lit up when he beamed at her. He had to get out of there while he still could. He let go of her hands and started jogging back to the cemetery. He needed to find the exact position of the portal so he could close it properly.
Sookie suddenly remembered something as she called out to Neal. "Wait!" The fairy stopped abruptly and looked back to her, eyebrow raised. Sookie ran toward him. "Have you always known I was a telepath?"
Neal shrugged. "Not at first. But when we were in Hooligans and you told me about your godmother who was accidentally drained by a vamp. It wasn't hard to put two and two together."
"Is that why you and the other fairies in Hooligans were blocking me from your heads?" Sookie inquired, remembering how all the fairies' mind in the fae bar sounded like radio static to her.
Neal chuckled. "No, Sookie. It's just that telepathy is such a common trait among fairies that shielding our thoughts is sort of second nature to us. And no, I'm not a telepath, if that's what you wanna ask next. A male telepath is very rare in Fae."
That was good enough for Sookie as she finally let the fairy go, never to see him again.
Eric wasn't waiting for her as she had expected.
When she asked Jason about Eric after Neal left, her brother was lost for words. She peeked at her sibling's thoughts and learned that in the span of five years, Eric had only visited the farmhouse once. The Viking didn't even stay long – didn't even step inside the house. He only told Jason that Sookie would be back and that he should keep an eye on the farmhouse until she did.
Sookie felt gutted. She went straight to the bathroom, grabbed a towel and bit it savagely to stop herself from screaming. She stripped off her clothes and stood under the hot shower until her skin felt raw and scalded. She twisted the knob and let the ice cold water wash away her tears. She wanted to stay there until she could no longer feel anything.
She desperately wanted to be alone at that time, flip a switch and just shut down. But Jason's panicked thoughts pulled her out of her misery. She didn't want him to worry about her so she put on her happy face and forced herself to meet him downstairs.
Jason fixed her a sandwich and watched her as she ate. Her brother pretty much summed up what she missed for the last five years.
The night of the Russell war, Pam went to his house to get Tara and Jess. They were in a hurry that Pam only told him that Eric would be in touch with him regarding Sookie. The female vampire also left Jason a large sum of money that she ordered him to give to Alcide. Jason had been so clueless about what was happening that only when Alcide knocked in his front door the next day asking for his permission to start the construction of the farmhouse that it finally made sense to him. The money Pam gave him was to finance the rebuilding of their burned down ancestral home.
Alcide kept his word that he would help build the farmhouse from scratch and was under strict orders from Eric to make it look exactly like the old one.
Jason hadn't heard from Eric for two years. Then out of the blue the vampire dropped by to check on the new house.
Sam still owned Merlotte's together with his girlfriend, Luna. They survived the assault launched by the anti-supernatural hate group called the Obamas.
According to Jason the shifters and the Weres had their own version of the Great Reveal the same year she had disappeared. As expected, misguided zealots came after the two-natured at first, but when the US government started expressing their support for the supes, the haters had no choice but to back off. It would still take a long time before the two-natured supes would be treated without prejudice by the society. But if there was anything certain about the human race, it was their ability to evolve and adapt.
Andy Bellefleur, who married Holly – one of Sookie's former coworkers in Merlotte's - four years ago, filed for early retirement as fatherhood took most of his time and patience. Aside from Holly's two teenage boys, Sookie learned that Andy had impregnated a fairy, who took off right after she gave birth, leaving four babies to Andy.
Only a few knew of the bloodline of Andy's children, but because the former Sheriff was close to Jason, he was comfortable letting the latter in on the secret. If it were a different time Sookie would have jumped at an opportunity to offer her assistance, considering her kinship with the children. But she decided Andy had survived this long without her help and with a Wiccan such as Holly to help him, he was in pretty good hands.
Jason saved his best story for last when he told Sookie that aside from getting promoted to Sheriff when Andy left his post, he, too, had gotten hitched. He and his wife, Michele, had been married for two years now, and they were expecting their first child this fall.
Sookie and Jason spent the whole afternoon together. It was only when Lafayette came by that Jason decided to take his leave, promising to return the next day with Michele.
Lafayette filled in the blanks for Sookie. She found out that it was her friend who picked out the few pieces of clothing that she found in her closet - as per Pam's insistence. It appeared that Pam had been privy to Eric's plans to send Sookie away but because Lafayette was mostly human and could be glamoured, Pam didn't divulge Sookie's exact location to him. All Lafayette could do was hold on to the vampire's word that Sookie would be back.
Tara, along with Pam, had been visiting Lafayette every two years. The maker-child duo went traveling for the first three years, until the two decided to take up residence in Hawaii two years ago.
According to Lafayette, Tara was slowly regaining her memories. She could now remember him and Sookie and all the people she knew when she was still human. Sadly, she could also recall her miserable childhood and her mother, Lettie Mae, who had disowned her as soon as she found out that Tara was now among the undead.
But Tara was unfazed by her mother's reaction. Lafayette said that the two vamps had a good thing going. He also hinted that they might be having more than a maker-child relationship. "If you know what I mean," he even added wickedly.
Jessica, who stayed with Pam and Tara for a while, decided to go solo after a year. She came back to Bon Temps to arrange an overdue memorial service for her maker that was attended by the Shreveport wolf pack, Sam and the Bellefleurs. The red-headed baby vamp traveled all over Europe for two years before she came back to the States.
But she didn't go back to Bon Temps. She went straight to Alaska. Apparently, there was a big void inside her that only Hoyt could fill. Hoyt, who had no recollection of Jess, was apprehensive to form a relationship with the vampire at first. But Jess was nothing but persistent as she continued pursuing Hoyt. And after six months of relentless wooing, the mild-mannered Fortenberry finally reunited with Jess. Hoyt and Jess would visit twice a year to pay their respects to Bill and Mrs. Fortenberry, who still hated the baby vamp and her cheeto-colored hair.
Lafayette also told her that he finally found Jesus's body in Mexico shortly after Sookie went missing. Apparently Jesus's whack job of a grandfather took his remains in his effort to usurp his grandson's brujo magic. Long story short, Lafayette managed to flee Mexico along with what was left of Jesus and was finally able to give his lover a proper burial. It took quite some time but Lafayette had found love again and was now living with his new life partner.
Before Lafayette left that evening, he gave her Tara's number in Hawaii and Alcide's office number in Shreveport.
Her first night back was horrible. She woke up in the middle of the night soaked in cold sweat, screaming Eric's name.
Sookie called Alcide and the two had lunch in Shreveport the following day. On the way to the restaurant she passed by the place where Fangtasia once stood. It was now a local pub, catering to yuppies who worked in Shreveport and Monroe.
Her stomach tightened as she gazed at the last place she saw Eric.
Alcide became the Shreveport pack master immediately after the Russell war. There were only a handful of wolves left after that fateful night, but it was a solid pack and every year new members came pouring in from all over Louisiana and Mississippi. The Shreveport pack was now 35 members strong.
Alcide and his father, Jackson, were running their family business as building contractors. He was now engaged to Rikki, the wounded wolf Sookie had seen in the Russell war, and the two were set to tie the knot next June.
Sookie also found out that the night she went to Fae, Eric's last phone call was to Alcide. Aside from the construction of her farmhouse, the Viking also asked him to bury Bill's remains in Bon Temps cemetery. Eric left Bill's vestiges inside Pam's minivan parked two streets from Fangtasia.
Alcide also hadn't heard from Eric since he stopped by Louisiana three years ago. The last he heard was Eric became the new face of mainstreaming two years after the Russell war. It went on for a couple of years but it came to a halt when Steve Newlin took the job as the spokesperson for the AVL.
The wolf showed Sookie a few magazine covers of Eric advertising two labels of synthetic blood, Tru Blood and Royalty Blended. Sookie's heart skipped a beat as she stared at Eric's hypnotic blue eyes that seemed to call out for her. She took the magazines from Alcide with trembling hands. She stared at his beautiful, charming, addictive face and for the first time since she came back from Fae, she started feeling something else aside from the paroxysms of fear.
She was dumbfounded, smitten, jealous, angry and frustrated all at the same time. She hated the person who took that photo of him. She loathed the one Eric was staring and smiling at during the pictorials. She wanted to claw Eric's face and tell him mean things because that smile was only for her. No one should be able to make him look that good but her.
It was stupid and juvenile. But Sookie was too far gone to give a damn.
She didn't realize she was crying until the glossy paper she was holding became soggy with tears. She wiped them furiously before she looked up at Alcide and asked if she could have the magazines. "Do you really need to ask?" he replied with a pained smile.
Sookie and Alcide parted ways an hour before sundown. She drove back to Bon Temps, stopping by Merlotte's to greet Sam and a few Bon Temps locals, who had been relatively close to her. She had dinner as she swapped stories with Sam, Luna and Arlene. Four hours later, she came back home and gave it a few more minutes before she dialed Tara's number in Hawaii with the disposable cellphone she bought from Wal-mart early that day. There was a five-hour difference between Louisiana and Honolulu so midnight in Bon Temps would be seven o'clock for Tara and Pam.
Tara was ecstatic to hear from Sookie and the telepath listened patiently as Tara told her stories of her adventures with her maker. But after half an hour of nothing but polite "wow" and "how nice" from Sookie, Tara finally took the hint and passed the phone to Pam.
Pam in her usual bored tone told Sookie that she, too, had been cut off by Eric. Pam hadn't seen her maker since the night he released her. The night of the Russell war, Eric had booked her and Tara seats on the Anubis flight to Sweden, where they stayed in Öland for two months all the while hoping he would follow. But after a month of neither hide nor hair of the Viking, they realized he was truly adamant to keep his distance from them. She, Tara and Jess then stayed in his farm in Trondheim for a few weeks before they tried their luck in Paris and finally in Barbados. Eric was a no-show in all his safe houses.
Sookie could hear the pain in Pam's voice as she disclosed all her efforts to get in touch with her maker. Pam became optimistic when she saw Eric's ads for mainstreaming. She tried tracking him back in the US but all her efforts came back fruitless.
But it wasn't all sob stories for Pam.
Pam's voice took a bittersweet tone as she told Sookie of the gifts she had been getting from Eric. With the exception of the first year since Sookie went to Fae, Pam had been receiving tokens from him on the day of her turning. No matter where she was on that specific date, Pam would always get something – her favorite perfume, a luxurious fur coat, a vintage necklace, an expensive pair of shoes. The gifts would always come with a card that only said one thing: Pam. She knew they were all from Eric. "That fucking bastard knows how to sneak up on me," Pam said in her strained voice.
After a few more minutes, Sookie couldn't take hearing his name anymore. It was like she was punishing herself over and over for something she didn't do. She wasn't the one who sent him away. This time, he was the one who bailed out on her. No matter what his reasons were, Sookie couldn't help but feel lost, beaten and abandoned.
What seemed like an hour for her was five long years for everyone she left behind. It was amazing how a seemingly short time could make so much difference. So many things had changed that Sookie suddenly felt irrelevant.
Long after she ended her conversation with Pam, Sookie could still hear his name. Everywhere she looked reminded her of him, taunting her about the things she had and lost. She had kept her bond with him open, waiting for even a flicker of life to creep in.
The bond that he promised would last for eternity was now silent, lifeless - as dead as she felt inside.
Her second night was more brutal than the first. The nightmares were crueler, sadistic even. She dreamed of Russell, Debbie, Rene, Mab, Lorena and even Maryann the maenad, all feasting on her flesh. She kept screaming for him, but no Eric came. She woke up drenched in tears and sweat only to find out the reality was no better.
Sookie was escorted into a small living room of the palatial manor in New Orleans, where she waited nervously for her company.
After what seemed like a couple of hours, the Queen of Louisiana finally arrived. She dismissed her guards as she closed the door behind her.
"I never thought I'd see you again," Nora said dryly as she took her seat opposite Sookie.
The telepath found out from Pam that Nora had resigned from her post in the Authority to take the reign left by Bill shortly after the Russell war. Although she hadn't fully restored both arms when she was crowned, no one dared challenge her because she was backed up by the Guardian himself.
On her third night with still no sign of Eric, Sookie decided to arrange a meeting with the only person who might have information about the Viking.
Sookie returned the vampire's steely gaze as she replied. "So did I. But it seemed I love Eric more than I hate you."
Since there was no love lost between the two women, they didn't need to waste time on useless chitchat anymore. Nora told Sookie that the night she went to Fae, Eric was taken prisoner by the Authority. Since no one but Salome knew of Nora's connection to Eric, Nora evaded Roman's ire against the Viking and wasn't held for questioning like he was. But as a form of punishment, she was stripped of her rank as chancellor and was exiled to Louisiana to rule the small piece of land.
Apparently, the Guardian was not pleased with the way Eric handled Russell. Although Eric managed to hide Sookie and Neal's scent by burning down Fangtasia, Roman remained suspicious as to how they captured a 3,000-year-old vampire with no outside help. Eric wasn't forthcoming about the fairies and the wolves involved in the battle and that incurred him more of the Guardian's wrath.
Eric had been held captive for a year and a half. Nora decided not to give Sookie the blow-by-blow account of Eric's torture in the hands of the Authority. "Use your fuckin' imagination," Nora added with contempt.
The Authority, which had developed numerous kinds of ways to obtain valuable information from vampires through the centuries, had used all known – and unknown – methods on the Viking. But the stubborn fool refused to yield.
What the chancellors saw as rebellion, the Guardian saw as valor. Roman sensed a coup brewing within the organization and decided to employ Eric's aid. The Guardian, who was a very practical man, realized that someone as unbreakable as Eric would be a great asset to him.
Much to the chancellors' consternation, Eric was released and appointed chancellor by the Guardian. Roman justified his actions by stressing that Eric, the handsome and charismatic vampire, would be perfect to boost their mainstreaming agenda. Two years after Eric became Roman's right-hand, those chancellors who Nora knew for a fact were affiliated with the fairies and the Sanguinistas, had met their untimely deaths from silver poisoning.
The Authority went over a major revamp. The monarchies all over the world became the honorary chancellors. It worked better for the Guardian to have the monarchs on his side promoting the AVL's agenda. Eric stepped down as chancellor shortly after that.
And that was the last Nora heard from him. She heard from a very reliable source that Eric had cut a deal with Roman in exchange for his assistance regarding the traitorous chancellors. "I'm sure even a dimwit like you could figure out what that deal was," the Queen of Louisiana said crisply.
Sookie went to New Orleans looking for answers but she left more confused than ever.
If it were true that Eric did it all for her, then where was he now?
That night as Sookie laid in bed, preparing herself for the nightmares that she was sure would plague her in her sleep, she had made her decision. She was done waiting for him. It was time to claim what was rightfully hers.
Sookie held the hydrangeas close to her chest as she walked toward the tombstone that read:
William Thomas Compton
Father. Husband. Friend.
She put the hydrangeas next to the wilted ones she left him three days ago.
She spent a good hour beside his tomb, telling him things that she hadn't been able to say before. And for the nth time since he met his true death, she asked for his forgiveness for the things she did, and failed to do. She told him that she would keep her promise never to forget him. She knew she wouldn't be able to even if she tried.
She also visited her Gran's grave as she continued recounting everything that had happened to her for the past few days – the good and the bad.
"I won't be able to visit you for a long time again, Gran. I know you love this place and it will always be special to me. This is where you raised me with so much love. But it's time I move on. This place has haunted me since you've been gone, Gran. I know you'll understand. You always do."
When she came back to the house it was middle of the day. She went straight to her room to pick up a small gym bag that contained a few pieces of clothing she found in her closet. She grabbed the magazines Alcide gave her and placed them carefully in her bag.
She didn't bother to bring any more. There wasn't anything significant to bring anyway. All her personal things were reduced to ashes. She didn't have a single photo of her family left. But she didn't mind. Those were only things – although irreplaceable, they were not invaluable. She realized her parents and her Gran didn't live in those photos and trinkets. They were safely tucked inside her, where no one could burn or steal them.
She drove to the Sheriff's office to meet her brother. When she handed Jason the keys to her house and his old truck that he lent her - because her old Honda was the only thing that didn't survive her departure – he wasn't surprised at all.
He told her he had expected it. "You were never really back, Sook," he said. "You're like a freakin' wind-up toy. You'll look at me but I know you can't really see me. You'll nod your head when I tell you somethin' but I know you're not really listenin'. You're here with me but I know your mind's with him."
Sookie couldn't hold it in anymore. She buried her face in his chest as she tried to find comfort in her brother's arms. She cried, soaking his shirt with all the tears she fought to keep inside.
"How long this time?" was all her brother could ask. Sookie looked up at him as she drew back to pull something from her bag. Jason took it and read the papers inside the envelope. It was the deed of the farmhouse.
Jason looked at her, flabbergasted.
"It's yours now. It should belong to a Stackhouse. You and Michele will be needing a bigger place when the baby comes. My room can be the nursery."
Jason started shaking his head but Sookie clasped her hand against his cheek. "It's only a house, Jase. Right now, I need a home."
Sookie didn't bother saying goodbye to her friends. She only left Lafayette a note reassuring him that she would be in touch with him soon. She was done with goodbyes. They were used to her skipping town – and time – anyway. Saying goodbye would only give them a chance to stop her. And she was sure there was nothing in Bon Temps that could prevent her from leaving.
Sookie woke up with a start when the buzzing at the back of her head became too intense. She looked at the window as she tried to calm herself. She wasn't surprised that she fell asleep. She was surprised that she had a dreamless slumber. It had been so long since she had one. Maybe she was so tired that her subconscious finally decided to cut her some slack.
Her plane left New Orleans at four in the afternoon, and four hours later she landed in San Francisco where she took the connecting flight to Honolulu. There had been a snafu with her booking that she had to take a different plane from the one she initially booked. But the attendants were apologetic enough that they upgraded her to business class. Sookie didn't care if she were in coach or first class. She only wanted to get to Hawaii as fast as she could. Pam and Tara were going to fetch her in the airport at 10 o'clock tonight.
When Sookie decided to look for Eric, she knew she would need a lot of help. And the only person she could think of was the one who was as desperate as she was to find the Viking.
Pam was more than willing to offer her services. And although Sookie had money kept in the bank, Pam still insisted on wiring her some more to cover her travel expenses. Sookie reluctantly accepted it but not without reiterating that she would pay her back once she got back on her feet.
She looked out the window to gaze at the starry sky. They must be crossing the Pacific Ocean now because of the peacefulness that surrounded her. She felt herself drifting off again until she felt someone coming. It was a flight attendant. "Would you like something to read?"
Sookie flashed her a sweet smile and took the San Francisco Chronicle and a glossy magazine. She browsed the newspaper's front page and got bored right away so she moved on to the magazine instead.
Her heart got caught in her throat as she stared at the cover page. It was a back issue of Redbook magazine that featured none other than him. With his lopsided smirk and smoldering eyes.
But it wasn't the cover that made the hair at the back of her neck stood. She already had that copy. It was among the periodicals Alcide gave her. It was the note below his picture that was making it hard for her to breathe.
Written in elegant script: Like sunshine in a pretty blonde bottle. Welcome home, Mrs. Northman.
It took her some time to get her bearings back. For a few minutes she was too shocked and ecstatic to speak. When she finally found her voice, she unlatched her seatbelt and bolted out of her seat.
The business class cabin wasn't crowded like the economy class so it wasn't hard to get out of her seat and into the aisle as she scanned every face on the plane. She swiped the curtain separating business class from coach and started her search again.
She was like a crazed person as she careened forward. A male flight attendant moved in front of her to ask what she needed. 'I need my fuckin' husband!' she wanted to shout but that would only make her sound crazier than she already looked.
Her eyes searched for the stewardess who gave her the magazine but she, too, was nowhere to be seen. She continued skimming through the passengers' faces but none stood out like Eric would. After much prodding from the attendant, Sookie finally gave up and went back to her seat.
'What does this mean?' she raked her brain for answers but came up empty. If Eric were inside the plane with her, why wasn't he showing himself? Was she still in danger? She thought Eric had already struck a deal with the Authority in exchange for her protection.
Pam. Sookie could only think of one other person who would know about that note. Maybe Eric had told Pam what he told Sookie the night she returned from Fae the first time. Pam also knew of the Blóðfesta. If this was Pam's idea of a joke then Sookie wasn't laughing.
A couple of hours later they landed safely in Honolulu International Airport. Sookie was glad she only had a carry-on bag because she was dying to get out of the airport and look for Pam.
She was at the arrival area in no time. Although it was late at night, the airport was swarming with locals and tourists alike. She made a quick search of the place with her telepathy, sorting out supes from humans.
Since the two-natured were also out of the closet, there was a huge turnout of supes in public places. She found several shifters and vampires in the area. She locked her shield up as she started rummaging through her stuff to get her mobile phone with international roaming to call Pam.
It was too noisy inside the airport so she made her way outside, looking for a quiet place to make her phone call.
She found herself in the parking lot with only a few local cabs and even fewer private cars. But as she started dialing, something inside her tickled and hummed back to life. It was the bond!
She let her mental shield drop once again and found two vampire voids in the area. She couldn't care less about the other one because she knew with every fiber of her being that one of those voids was Eric.
Sookie was like a madman as she ran. She clutched the gym bag tightly to her chest as she dashed toward him, using the bond as a tracker.
There, leaning casually against a silver Audi R8, was Eric. His arms folded against his chest, his face unreadable.
She could only see his silhouette from the soft glimmer of the lamp post. His hair was longer and had a lighter shade as it fell loosely on his face. He was wearing ripped jeans and plain black shirt. Completing his casual look was a pair of flip flops. And he never looked more beautiful.
Sookie felt self-conscious when she realized what a mess she must have looked with her modest sundress and cardigan paired with her white Keds. Sweat from the running she just did matted her hair to her forehead. She slipped down the strap of her bag from her shoulder to her hand.
Eric was the first to break the silence. "Would you like a ride, Miss?"
"Missus," she corrected. "Mrs. Northman."
Eric's composed face crumpled into a grin as he took long steps toward her. In a swift motion he took her in his arms and claimed her lips. Sookie instinctively wrapped her arms around his neck as she let him devour her mouth.
Sookie was gasping for breath when Eric finally pulled away. "What took you so long?" he asked, his breath tickling her cheeks.
"I got here as fast as I could," she croaked as she fought back her tears.
"Not fast enough."
"And whose fault was that?" she inquired accusingly.
"Mine. All mine," he answered without missing a beat.
"Damn straight. And I still hate you," she spat as she started wiggling her body to get out of his grasp.
"No, you don't," he said, sounding very sure of himself.
That self-assured tone unnerved Sookie as she remembered all the times Eric had been high-handed with her. She drew back from him, taking a few steps backward until their bodies were no longer in contact.
"Yes, I do!" she growled. Eric drew his brows together, perplexed as to how Sookie went from hot to cold in a matter of seconds. "I fuckin' hate you because you're an arrogant bastard who didn't give me a choice! I hate you because you have so little faith in me and I hate you because you lied to me!"
Eric cut her off. "Technically, I didn't lie. I promised you I wouldn't leave, but I never said anything about you leaving me."
"You don't get it, do you?" Sookie hissed. "You don't get to send me away. And I hate you for it. I hate that you took five years from me."
This was not the reaction he expected.
When he felt her return, he was halfway across the world, sulking and lonely. But it was the middle of the day in London so he had to wait a few more hours to book a flight back to Louisiana.
Sadly, he had to wait another day because he couldn't risk exposing himself in the US without Roman's permission. It was part of their deal. He would leave the country to distance himself from the Authority in exchange for the blanket immunity to Sookie and Pam.
Although the Guardian had no interest in Sookie and the fairies, some monarchs still did. And because the assault on the former chancellors remained unsolved, Eric had to lie low in a foreign country until Roman was sure there were no more threats against the AVL.
When he got the green light from Roman to go back to America, he was on the first Anubis flight out, only to find out Sookie was already on her way to Hawaii to meet with Pam.
After five years of being incommunicado with his progeny, Eric finally called Pam. Following a thorough lashing from her for being off-the-grid for so long, Pam eventually agreed to help him. She pulled some strings so Sookie would be on the same flight as him.
While Sookie was upgraded to business class, Eric was stuck among the heavy cargo inside his casket. It was uncomfortable at best because for most of the ride he was awake. But he didn't mind the cramped space. Hell, he'd travel inside a box filled with maggots, if it meant he could be closer to her.
He waited until the last minute to board his traveling casket in hopes of catching a glimpse of Sookie. She was one of the last passengers to board the connecting flight. But right before they sealed him in his coffin, he saw her - in all her ethereal but unassuming glory. He managed to slip a magazine to one of the stewardesses and glamoured her to hand the copy only to Sookie.
He managed to bribe the cargo personnel who were in charge of unloading the passenger baggage so his casket would be the first to alight the plane. He was a silent blur in the airport. He wanted to surprise her, see the priceless look on her face when she saw him.
Pam met him outside and gave him the keys to her car parked in the lot for his disposal. Not long after Pam left, he felt Sookie and he knew she could feel the stirring of the bond because of their close proximity.
For the first time in five years, Eric let her in. He shattered the wall that he had put up to block her.
And now she was here, standing in front of him, angry as hell. He had watched her run toward him, and it took all his restraint not to meet her halfway. He had waited five years for this and he would savor every second of it. He schooled his features to remain blank as he watched her reaction. While his face was cold, everything inside him was burning and chaotic.
Her frustrated voice pulled him back to present. "Are you fuckin' listenin' to me?"
He took a deep breath to calm his nerves before he spoke. "I took five years so you could have more, Sookie. So you won't need to live in fear anymore," Eric said in a constrained but even tone. "And I'd do it again."
Sookie let out a dry chuckle. "Unbelievable. You don't even have the decency to look contrite."
"Why should I be sorry? You're alive, aren't you?" he scoffed. "I'm fuckin' tired of arguing with you when you're so hellbent in underestimating your value. You think you're so selfless because you're so eager to die? Then let me tell you something, Sookie," he spat her name as though it was bile in his mouth. "You're a selfish, whiny and stubborn little telepath, who always strive to be difficult."
Sookie imagined herself as a punching bag, taking relentless thumping from the Viking.
"Do you think I can still live without you?" Eric kept on. "You can't tell me you love me and expect me to just stand back and let you get hunted down!"
Sookie was about to voice out her argument when Eric's wounded voice cut her off.
"I don't know how to love, Sookie. And I don't know if I'm loving you right. This," he pressed his palm above her breasts before he slammed it to his chest, "this thing we have. It's all new to me and it's driving me insane! I'm not like you or Bill. I'm not the romantic kind. I won't shower you with I love you's or give you promises I know I won't be able to keep."
She opened her mouth to tell him the she didn't need him to be like that, but Eric wasn't done.
"I'm a fucking Viking, Sookie! A savage, whose first instinct is fight or flight. I'm calculating, manipulative and cold. And my ways are unconventional most of the time. I'm not cut out to be the prince charming you wanted me to be."
"Who said I wanted fairytale?! I know enough about fairies to know that those tales aren't real. What I want … who I want is someone who won't send me away when things get ugly."
"Then I'm not who you want," Eric resigned. "I won't always be around to cuddle you when your life gets too rough and I won't hold your hand when the monsters scare you. Because I'll be busy fighting them off – keeping you from them. I love you way too much to lose you, Sookie, even if it means I won't have you with me. If that's not what you want, tough, because that's who I am. And I won't apologize for that. Because what and who I am is what's keeping you alive, no matter how flawed my methods may be."
There was nothing left to say.
Sookie still felt wronged and Eric was still adamant he was right. Both too stubborn. Unyielding.
They stared each other down for a long time as they reached a stalemate.
Sookie was the first one to blink as she threw her bag to Eric, which the vampire caught with ease. He looked at her unsure what she wanted him to do.
"Is this yours?" she asked him as she walked toward the passenger side of the silver Audi. Eric followed her movements as he bobbed his head in agreement. "Then let's go. We have a lot of catching up to do."
Eric pressed the car's electronic key accompanied by a soft beeping sound as the doors unlocked. Sookie unceremoniously opened the door and folded herself inside. Eric did the same before he shoved her luggage in the backseat.
"Just so you know, your partner-in-crime has gone back to Fae and will be locked in there for good. So don't expect him to do any more of your dirty work," Sookie said casually as she strapped on her seatbelt. With Eric behind the wheel, road safety was always a priority. "That means you won't be getting rid of me anytime soon."
Eric snorted. "I wasn't planning to," he countered with a smirk. He meant it this time. Five years without Sookie was enough torture. Her absence caused him too much anguish that the Authority's whole interrogation process felt like coddling.
"Good. Because you still owe me forever," she replied as she tried hard to keep the scowl on her face.
"Thought you didn't believe in forever?" he asked curiously with a hint of levity.
"I changed my mind."
Eric laughed as he took her hand and planted a kiss on it. He never let it go as he drove toward Pam's beachfront house.
"Pam's in on this, isn't she?" Sookie asked. Eric nodded with a playful grin.
"That bitch!" Sookie spat. "Oh, she's gonna pay for this. She promised me a hula dance, did you know?"
Eric gaped at her. Hula and Pam? That could not end well. Fortunately, he did not intend to spend the rest of the evening watching his progeny in a grass skirt. He had bigger plans for the night, and the next evening and the one after that. He stole a glance at Sookie and knew his dog days were over.
As the silver Audi drove into the vast manor beside the beach, a lone black sedan lurked behind the car, in the shadows. He had followed her from Bon Temps all the way to Honolulu. He was thrown a curve ball when she took a different plane in San Francisco, but he had managed to catch up to her. It didn't matter that they got separated. He knew where she was heading.
He had waited far too long for her. A hundred years since he had signed that contract with the sneaky Stackhouse. The bastard must have thought he would grow tired of waiting for his bethrothed. The first-born Stackhouse female with fairy light.
He pulled out his cellphone and dialed a number. "Your information was accurate. I'll wire the money to your offshore account. Expect it tomorrow at sundown."
He didn't wait for a response as he hung up on the person on the other line before he dialed another number. "I'd like to book a light tight room," he said to the other line. "I'll be staying indefinitely. I'll be there in an hour. Yes. Put the room under Warlow."
A/N: I don't own the characters. I only like messing with them.
At long last, I'm finally done. I took liberty with some of the characters like Roman and Hoyt. I loved Chris Meloni to death and I felt like it was unfair to kill him off right away. I'm pro-mainstreaming so I decided to keep him. Although I love, love, love Jason, I didn't like he and Jess together, they were both so fickle and immature. And my heart broke when Bubba left for Alaska.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who took time to read this fiction. I hoped you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. MyVikingBoyfriend, always a rock star! The Blodfesta idea was all hers and it was so intriguing that I begged her to let me borrow it.
To everyone who were so kind to give me their thoughts, thank you! For keeping me inspired as well as grounded.
My apologies for sneaking in Warlow, he was just too juicy to ignore. And we all know there was never a dull moment for our favorite pair. Someone would always be out to disrupt the peace. But that was one of the reasons we loved them to bits, right?