“Tara!” Sookie called out as she chased her friend, trying to prevent her from leaving. She heard her pain-filled cries as the liquid silver hit her, burning her flesh. She reached the porch seconds too late to stop Tara from running. “This cannot be happening,” she groaned as she saw Tara disappear from view.
“Oh hell, hookah,” Lafayette said as joined her on the porch. “What we gonna do now, Sook?”
“Find her,” Sookie replied her agitation growing. She could feel something coming, something old and powerful, but she did not know what or how she could feel it, just that she could. Her body hummed with energy; her fingers crackled with the power that lay beneath them. “I’ll go and see Pam, see if she can call Tara to her.”
“That bitch ain’t gonna do shit,” Lafayette scoffed.
“Do you have a better idea?” Sookie asked. “Cause if you have, I’m happy to hear it.”
“Hell no,” Lafayette admitted reluctantly.
“Right. I’ll go grab my jacket and drive to Fangtasia. You… go see if she’s at your place or something,” Sookie said as she headed into the house to grab her jacket. She was halfway to the door when the phone rang; she was in half a mind to ignore it, but given the lateness of the hour she realized it could be important. “Hello,” she greeted as she picked it up.
“Sookie Stackhouse?” an unfamiliar voice asked.
“Yes, who is this?” Sookie replied.
“Wh…” the words died in her throat as she stumbled back dropping the phone. Heat surged through her body as she collapsed to the floor, pain overwhelming her as her body convulsed. “No… not… now,” she gritted out before a soul-piercing scream tore out her throat. Blood dripped from her eyes as she convulsed and slammed her head against the floor, cracking it open. Blood pooled beneath her as she took her last breath.
Emptiness surrounded her, caging her in, as her body lay broken on the kitchen floor. No sound reached her ears, nor vision her eyes as she drifted in the nothingness, her mental faculties the only thing left alive. Memories flashed through her mind: the lives she had lived and forgot, the men she had loved and lost. Eons of living, of dying, of fighting and fucking, of being reborn. As the veil lifted, she remembered it all, all she was, is, and ever will be. Her eyes snapped open as her last memory came to her, the one that started the whole thing.
Twenty-eight years earlier.
“You cannot be serious,” Roman said, staring at her with shock. “It is preposterous and cannot be done.”
“It can,” Sookie replied solemnly not taking any pleasure in what she was proposing. “My ancestry makes it possible… my father. It is the same way they fall. They’re reborn, human, mortal…”
“And that is what you want? To be human, to be mortal?”
“No,” she admitted truthfully. “I have never wanted to be something I’m not. I don’t look at humans and wish I was one. I’m not trying to reclaim my lost humanity.” She chuckled, “I can’t; I was never human to begin with. I will be honest with you. The thought of being mortal or being human scares me tremendously. They break so easily and their lives are so short compared to ours. I have danced with death for so long now, but I have always managed to elude it. Doing this will give him a hold on me, one that will be hard to shake…”
“Then why do it?” Roman asked frustrated. As far as he was concerned what she was proposing was madness. He could see no good reason for her to risk everything she had ever worked for.
“Because I fear that if I don’t death will claim me whether I want it to or not.”
Fear flickered over Roman’s face before he schooled his features. The thought of her dying felt like a stake to the chest, something he never wanted to experience first hand. “You can’t die, it’s not possible.”
“I can… She did and I am not as strong as her. I’m not invincible, I may be harder to kill than most, but I can be killed. I can die.”
“She gave her life for yours. She sacrificed herself for you.”
“And that is something I have had to live with for a very long time. The guilt knowing She died for me has torn me apart. I often wonder how different things would have been if I’d just have stayed where I was if I hadn’t run to her. Would She still be alive? Would She be here now?”
“You can’t know the answers to that, Sookie,” Roman said softly stepping closer to her. Cupping her face in his hands, he stroked a finger over her cheek. “She loved you. I may have never known her, but I know that. Her love for you was legendary. She was your mother, your maker; She gave you life, took it away, and gave it to you again. She fought and died for you.”
“I never asked her to,” Sookie replied hoarsely. “I never asked any of you to die for me. I don’t want you to.”
“Is that what this is all about? You think you need to protect us from something?” Roman asked.
“Partially,” Sookie admitted. “I also need to protect myself.”
“From what?” Roman asked.
“From what is to come,” Sookie replied apprehensively.
“From what is to come,” Roman repeated confused. “Sookie, I don’t understand.”
Letting her head fall forward, she rested it against Roman’s chest, her hands gripping his hips. “How long to you think we can stay hidden?” she asked her voice mumbled. “Us, our kind?”
“We have stayed hidden for millennia and will continue to do so,” Roman answered, unsure where she was going with her line of questioning.
“No, we won’t. There will come a time when we can no longer hide ourselves. The humans will discover us,” Sookie said, lifting her head so she could look him in the eye. “Each century the humans grow more intelligent. They think, they learn, they evolve, while we lay stagnant. We rely on our superior speed, strength, and our ability to glamour, believing they will always give us the upper hand. But soon those abilities will fail us and humans will learn of our existence, and I fear that day is not long off.”
“Why? What makes you believe this?”
“Because in some ways they already know of us,” Sookie replied sadly. “They tell stories of us now. They call it fiction, but we all know every fable is based on a grain of truth. They may not know all our secrets, but they know some, and I fear soon they will know them all. We can’t hide ourselves for much longer, Roman. Every decade the humans make advancements in technology; soon it will be impossible for us to conceal ourselves.”
“If that is true, then we will need you more than ever,” Roman argued. “We will need you to guide us, to lead us.”
“My being here will only make it worse,” Sookie countered. “If my time walking this earth has taught me anything, it is that humans fear what is different, and I am different. I am not like the rest of you. We have watched their history evolve. We lived it with them. We have seen the rise and fall of entire civilizations, the persecution of race and religion. We have seen wars fought in the name of the father and we have seen what one man’s fear and hatred can destroy. If the truth of who I am – what I am got out, what do you think would happen? Do you think the humans would rise up and welcome me? Or do you think they would muster their armies and try to capture or kill me? I was born from darkness and light. I was heaven touched and hell born. I have been around longer than anyone still walking this earth. They would fear me, and rightfully so. I am frightening. They will learn of our existence; it cannot be helped or avoided. But they can’t learn of me, not yet; it is too soon.”
“So you intend to hide,” Roman said with disgust.
“I intend to survive,” Sookie replied. “I intend for us to survive. Roman, if the humans learn of me, of who I am, of my ancestry, they will hunt me. They will not leave me alone knowing the power I possess, and what do you think will happen if by chance they caught me?”
“I would come for you,” Roman answered firmly. “We would come for you…” he trailed off as he finally understood what she was saying. “We would not sit idly by and watch as they took you. We would fight for you, with you. It would be…”
“A bloodbath,” Sookie finished for him. “You… we would destroy all those who stood in our path. We would leave carnage, death, and destruction in our wake and the humans would rise up and unite against us. War would break out and we would all lose.”
Taking his hands in hers, Sookie raised them to her lips and kissed them. “I don’t want to leave you. We have been together for a long time; we have spent millennia fighting and fucking. You are my first, my favorite; there is no one I trust more. I need you to lead them in my absence, guide them, and, when the time comes, find a way to coexist with the humans.”
“Will that be even possible?” Roman asked. “You know there are factions among our kind who believe humans are nothing more then pets for us to play with. Our own bible says as much: that humans are nothing more than food for us to consume.”
“But we both know our bible is wrong. It does not reflect the beliefs of our Mother, only the vampire who wrote it. He did not speak for or with her. If Lilith believed humans were only good as food she would have never turned anyone and we as a race would have died off a long time ago. The Saguinista Movement is wrong and blinded by its own arrogance. The members forget that they were once human themselves, and whether they like to admit it or not, we need humans to survive. Without them, we would starve; they are our entire source for food. Despite what some would like to claim, animal blood does not nourish us. If we are to survive, you must find a way for us to coexist with humans. You cannot let the Saguinista Movement destroy everything we are. If they feel threatened, the humans will rise up and fight back. Do not let the Saguinista start a war. It is a war we will not win.”
“How do you propose I do this?” Roman asked. “How am I supposed to get vampires to coexist with humans, and for humans to accept us? How am I supposed to neutralize the Saguinista Movement?”
“I do not know,” Sookie admitted with a small smile. “But I do know if anyone can do it, it is you. It won’t be easy; many will try to sabotage you, and with me gone, those who opposed me will step up. The Saguinista Movement will become more vocal and some may even reveal themselves…” she trailed off shrugging.
“You intend to draw them out,” Roman realized a smile spreading across his face.
“Why not use this to our advantage?” Sookie replied. “Use my absence to draw them out; don’t let them hide in the shadows any longer. If their beliefs are so strong, make them admit them, and then see how many of them are willing to stand behind their beliefs.”
“And what am I supposed to do if or when they do?” Roman asked. “You won’t be here to deal with it yourself, and I doubt they will listen to anyone else.”
“Despite what you believe, Roman, my word is not law. I am just one person; I do not control everyone.”
“Few would dare go against you. They respect you,” Roman countered.
“Do they? Or is it fear that they feel?” Sookie replied. “They have heard stories of me, but few have actually met me. And you know as well as I, I have ruled little in the last thousand years, choosing to let others take the mantle of leadership. I cannot always guide you Roman. I am afraid this is something you will have to learn on your own.”
“And if I can’t?” Roman asked, letting his fear show. Despite his age he had never truly stood on his own, they had spent centuries apart, but he always had her to go to if he needed to. She had guided him for so long, he had lived his life by her lessons, teaching his own children the same way. He had always been able to seek her out for advice or just companionship and now knowing that wouldn’t be possible troubled him greatly. His bond with her was stronger than any other, including the ones he had with his own children and the knowledge that the bond would soon fizzle out scared him.
“You can and will. You were born for greatness; I believe that now more than ever. I know you will do me proud. You were meant for this role. It is your time, Roman; embrace it.”
“How long do I have,” Roman asked, “until you do this?”
“Not long I’m afraid,” Sookie admitted. “I know of a fallen who has the power needed to wield this kind of magic. I have chosen a family and it will be done soon.”
“How am I supposed to explain your disappearance?”
“Anyway but the truth,” Sookie replied. “Telling whoever asks that I am mortal is the surest way to get me killed. The spell will keep me concealed from them. They will believe me to just be human if they ever encountered me, but it will not hide me from them. If they know who I am, what I have been reborn as they could kill me.”
“I can arrange protection for you,” Roman said, not liking the thought of her being vulnerable.
“No,” Sookie said, shooting the idea down. “You cannot draw attention to me. I must be left alone to live a human life…”
“No buts. Promise me this Roman,” Sookie insisted firmly. “Unless it is absolutely necessary, you must stay away from me.”
“I am to let you grow old and die a human death,” Roman said aghast.
“I won’t grow old and die a human death,” Sookie assured him cupping his face in her hands. “There will be a way to break the spell and lift the veil. You will know when to do it and when you do, I will return to you. I will not leave you, but at the very least you must allow me to reach maturity. I do not want to spend eternity like Alexander. Let me at least reach the age I was when I died for the first time.”
“And what happens if you die before that time comes?”
“Have faith in me Roman,” Sookie said. “Trust me when I say I will not leave you.”
“I have faith in you.”
“Then you shouldn’t have to worry. I will be fine and so will you.”
“You can’t know that.”
“I can and I do. I wouldn’t do this otherwise,” Sookie assured him.
“I wish you wouldn’t,” Roman admitted.
“And I wish I didn’t have too, but I don’t know any other way. It has to be done, she… I… I have to do it.”
Roman stared at Sookie intently; he knew there was something she wasn’t telling him, more to her reasoning that she had explained. He wanted to ask what it was but knew that if she wasn’t telling him, it was for a reason. They were few secrets between them; their very relationship prevented it. As he gazed into her eyes, he realized it all came down to trust, did he trust her when she said what she was doing was necessary? There was only one answer to that: yes. Yes, he trusted her; he always had and always would.
“Then I will do as you have asked,” he said finally breaking the silence. “I will hold the sharks off until you return. I will not fail you.”
“I know you won’t,” Sookie said with a smile. “Call Dieter to you; he will help you in anyway you need, and you will need the help. As soon as I am gone the sharks will scent the blood in the water. Surround yourself around those you trust… and keep an eye on those you don’t.”
Resting his head against her, Roman breathed in her scent. “There is no one I trust more than you.”
“There is your child. If you need him, he will come,” Sookie replied.
“I fear for him,” Roman admitted.
“Then give him something to care about again,” Sookie suggested, knowing what plagued her companion.
“I’m afraid it might be too late,” Roman replied. “I fear that his course is set and nothing I do can change it.”
“You won’t know that unless you try. No regrets, Roman. If you try and fail at least you will know for sure you couldn’t do anything. Don’t live with ‘what if’s?”
“Like you don’t,” Roman said, raising an eyebrow.
“I live with so many ‘what if’s. It is exhausting,” Sookie replied. “So, I know what I am talking about when I say you don’t want to too.”
A blood tear trickled out the corner of her eye as the knowledge that Roman hadn’t been able to give him something to care about hit her and Roman had been justified in his fear Sookie’s now unbeating heart broke as she realized what Roman had lost and the pain he would have suffered. She cursed the spell that prevented her from remembering until it was too late.
Climbing to her feet, Sookie placed a hand on her chest that no longer needed air in her lungs as she stared at the pool of blood on the kitchen floor, “You have the worst fucking timing,” she growled, her eyes flicking to the phone as she paced back and forth. “And I just got that fucking floor clean.”
Storming over to the phone, she picked it up, pleased to see the call was still connected. “You better have a good fucking reason for doing this now.”
“We need you,” Roman said, the longing clear in his voice.
“That is not a good reason,” Sookie spat. “The Great Revelation is still fresh in everyone’s minds, and given what Russell Edgington did just a year ago adding me back in the mix could prove to be the thing that tips the humans over the edge.”
“Or it could be the balance we need. We need you Sookie, now more than ever. We are losing ground in our fight with the Saguinista Movement. They are gaining power, and it will not be long before they attempt a complete takeover.”
“How did they gain so much power in such a short time?” Sookie questioned. “I have not been gone that long. Twenty-eight years is a blink of an eye to us; they shouldn’t have achieved so much so quickly.”
“The Russell Edgington situation has exacerbated things. They see him as some kind of a leader, a voice for their cause. They have made him their martyr.”
Sookie groaned, remembering the news Alcide brought her the day before. Russell Edgington was alive… well undead, and free, and no doubt plotting his revenge. A revenge that included her.
“Send a car for me, tell them to meet me at the Shreveport limits… Oh, and while you are at it, send a containment team. A new vampire has risen in Bon Temps, one that is ill-equipped to deal with the turn, and her Maker is of no use,” Sookie gritted out thinking how Pam had abandoned Tara to her and Lafayette’s care. Fucking Pam, Sookie cursed silently.
“Is the new born hostile?” Roman asked.
“Seeing how she has been turned into what she hates the most, I would say so,” Sookie replied dryly.
“We can have her neutralized…”
“You will do such thing,” Sookie said, cutting him off. “She’s only a day old. She needs time to come to terms with her new life. I will not have her staked after risking so much to save her.”
“She is a friend of yours,” Roman said reading between the lines.
“The first one I made in that life,” Sookie replied.
“I will send a team with the instructions to capture her,” Roman assured her.
“They will meet you at the Shreveport limits in two hours.”
“I will see you soon,” Sookie said.
“I look forward to seeing you again in the flesh, Mistress,” Roman replied the joy evident in his voice.
“I look forward to seeing you again as well,” Sookie said, a small smile spreading across her face.
It had only been twenty-eight years since she had last seen him, but she found she really missed Roman, now that she could remember. The two of them had gone centuries without seeing each other in the past, but she never missed him as much as she did right then. Being human, even for such a short amount of time had given her a new outlook. Time had new meaning. It was no longer insignificant, as even being immortal didn’t guarantee them forever; time was no longer something to waste, but treasure.
“I will have everything ready for you when you get here,” Roman said.
“I know you will.”
“Until then,” Roman replied before hanging up.
I’ve spent too much time with humans because I suddenly find that very annoying, Sookie thought as she hung up the phone and huffed at the poor phone manners.
Looking around the kitchen, Sookie groaned at the mess her little fall had caused. Grabbing a cloth, she quickly cleaned up the pool of blood before racing through the house and up the stairs to her bedroom. Stripping off her clothes, she threw them in the washing basket before jumping in the shower and washed away the blood and grime from her day.
Sookie stood in front of her closet and grimaced at the clothes she wore everyday. Searching through the closet for something suitable to wear, her eyes were drawn to a red silk dress near the back she knew she hadn’t bought. Pulling the dress out of the closet, she placed it on the bed before quickly drying and styling her hair. Grabbing the dress, she slipped it on, loving how the silk felt against her skin. She paired the dress with a pair of strappy gold sandals before making her way out the house.
She paused by her car and stared at the old farmhouse as the memories of the last twenty-seven years flooded her mind. She remembered the day she and Jason had been told their parents were dead and they were going to be living with their Gran. She hadn’t truly understood what it meant at the time, having no idea what death really was, a stark contrast to what her life was before when all she knew was death.
As she climbed into her car, Sookie’s mind wandered to her friends. She wondered how they would take her transformation. A stab of guilt hit her as she realized she couldn’t tell them the truth of what and who she was, not immediately anyway. She needed to think up a cover story to explain away her new status, but she knew she could rely on Roman for that. He would help her in any way she needed.
As she pulled out of the driveway, Sookie made a note to call Lafayette as soon as she could. She didn’t want him worrying himself to death as he searched for Tara, and she was sure her disappearance would only add to his worry
Two hours after she had finished the call with Roman, Sookie waited at the Shreveport city limits, her mind and body preparing themselves for what was to come. For the first time since she rose as a vampire so long ago, Sookie found herself at a loss; she had no idea what to expect. From Roman’s call she deduced things were going badly in the vampire world, but she was in the dark when it came to knowing how bad they really were. Her human memories told her Russell was a threat, but she didn’t believe for one second he was the only one or even the biggest. He could not have been free for too long, otherwise he would have come for her already. No; something told Sookie he was still weak and recovering.
As she waited, Sookie couldn’t help but wonder what the hell Eric and Bill were thinking when they consigned him to the ground instead of killing him. They must have known it wouldn’t hold him forever. Had it been arrogance that had them acting the way they did or something else? Eric had been hell-bent on killing Russell, only to change his mind after feeding her to him and almost meeting the sun. She didn’t know what changed Eric’s mind, but she knew it was a mistake they all would pay for. And as for Bill, she couldn’t say she was too surprised when it came to him. He seemed to have a habit of going along with anyone if he thought it would benefit him. She had no doubt Bill planned to use the situation to his advantage. Seeing how he became King of Louisiana not long after Russell’s entombment, she suspected he already had.
Sookie was pulled from her musings by the sound of cars approaching. Straightening her shoulders, she schooled her features as she watched the SUV pull up and the Authority guards jump out.
“Sookie,” one of the guards said.
“Now I know Roman didn’t instruct you to greet me in such an informal manner,” Sookie said as she eyed the guard.
“My apologies, Mistress,” the guard replied, bowing before her. “The Guardian instructed us to meet you here and escort you to him while the containment team deals with the newborn vampire.”
Flicking her eyes over the containment team, she asked, “You’re clear on your orders?”
“We are to located and neutralize the newly risen vampire,” one of them replied tonelessly.
“No, you’re to locate and subdue the newly risen vampire,” Sookie corrected. “I know Roman… the Guardian told you to subdue her.”
“Our laws say any vampire who is a threat to the Mainstreaming Movement must be neutralized,” he replied.
“And I am telling you, you will locate and subdue… not neutralize her,” Sookie said her tone firm.
“You have no say in what we do,” he said foolishly. “I follow the…”
Moving quicker than even any of the vampires could see, Sookie pinned him to the side of the SUV, her hand wrapped around his throat. “Maybe I wasn’t clear,” she said, her voice low and sweet. “You are to subdue, restrain, constrain, contain, capture, catch, apprehend, detain, or perform any other synonym that will get it through your head. Do you understand me now?”
The guard stared down at her, his eyes wide and frightful. Try as he might, he could not escape her hold. Her fingers had started to sink into his neck, piercing his skin. His blood spilled out and ran down her fingers.
“Our rules…” he started shakily.
“That is not a yes,” Sookie replied, cutting him off. Lifting him away from the SUV she threw him behind her before speeding after him, her foot planted firmly on his chest as he hit the ground. Bearing down, Sookie grinned as she heard his ribs crack under the pressure of her foot. “I know for a fact your orders were to subdue her. Do you think you can disregard the Guardian’s orders?”
“No,” he wheezed.
“So what are you going to do?”
“Subdue the newly risen vampire.”
“Good boy,” Sookie said, grinning as she lifted her foot up. Spinning around, she sauntered over to the SUV. “Oh, and just so you know, if you disregard both mine and the Guardian’s orders, I’ll separate your head from your shoulders. That goes for the rest of you as well,” she ran her eyes over the rest of the containment team. “If he,” pointing to the guard still on the ground, “or any of you kills her, you will all meet the true death. So you better make sure he doesn’t.”
Hopping into the back of the SUV, Sookie rested her head against the back of the seat and closed her eyes. It’s good to be back.