I’m Still Here
It was eerily quiet in the cemetery. There were no sounds of insects, no rustling of leaves, and no indication of life of any kind. The only sound was Sookie’s heartbeat. That sound was loud in her ears and it felt like her heart was beating out of her chest. Despite how she felt inside, Sookie was dressed for the occasion. Part out of respect for Bill’s impending passing and part from the proper Southern form her Gran had instilled in her. She looked the part of a grieving widow, though that was far from the reality of the situation or her feelings. Her hair was swept up loosely and she wore a short black lace dress with long sleeves. Ironic that she wore this same dress the last time she was expected to sacrifice something of herself for the wanted wishes of this vampire, when she agreed to become the Faepire wife to Warlow.
She had made all the preparations before sunset, and with a surprising ease she hadn’t expected. The world, and more specifically Bon Temps, was so different now. The bureaucracy that would have delayed a grave excavation was all but gone, as were most of the people that called this place home. Standing there staring at the foot of Bill’s newly re-dug grave and weathered head stone, Sookie began to feel a mix of emotions, none of which were sympathetic or grieved.
Damn you, Bill. She thought to herself.
Closing her clammy palms into tight fists, she began to feel nauseous. Sweat formed on her brow and down her back, chilling her to her marrow despite the Louisiana heat. She felt a slight breeze across her back like fingernails grazing her skin causing it to rise with goose bumps. It was ominous. There was no wind tonight, the trees were still. She shuddered at the feel of it.
She could sense there was no one around. No one to witness what was coming…this ultimate betrayal of her past and present feelings for this man…this vampire. Truthfully, Sookie wished she wasn’t there either. She told herself that her heart and Bill deserved the peace that her ball of Fae light could grant them both, but the closer it came, the more it began to feel like an imposition and it aggrieved her.
Bill had betrayed her in so many ways, and on so many levels. She’d put herself in danger repeatedly for him, had barely escaped with her life from so many threats because of and from him since they met. The constant turmoil of her life outweighed any happiness she ever felt for him and she was outraged by the fact that Bill had asked her to give up her light to kill him. This wasn’t her responsibility. But she would do it because she had promised. At least, she would have closure.
He had told her she made him feel again after over a hundred and fifty years. He said she’d brought light back into his life. Now he told her the only reason he’d been drawn to her was because of that light. She had saved him, loved him, hated him, feared him and loved him again. It was exhausting and at the end, it all meant nothing.
She stood alone in the night waiting…more phantom breezes crawling over her. She shook her head to clear it knowing it was her imagination. The cemetery had always been a place of solace for her. It was a place where she could come and tell Gran all her troubles and fears feeling comforted when she was done. Tonight was different. Tonight she felt unnerved and uncomfortable in the too quiet night. How could silence be so cold, too still even for the dead?
Standing there lost in her own thoughts about how unkind and selfish Bill was for someone who supposedly loved her and told her this was the best thing for HER.
“You’ll never be free until I’m gone.” He’d said.
What the fuck did that even mean?
Wouldn’t it have been nobler to just meet the sun? Her thoughts turned to Godric on the roof. He had been so brave and certain. He commanded the one he loved most not to witness. He was full of compassion and love above all else when he met the True Death. It brought back in full force that Bill never loved her, not really.
Caught up in her thoughts, Sookie didn’t hear or sense anyone approaching. Suddenly, she was gripped from behind and tugged backwards, causing her hands to glow reflexively as she whipped around to find Bill grasping her arm to steady himself. It startled her out of her thoughts. He appeared weak and tired, but his hold on her was anything but, as he swayed slightly from her abrupt turn. Her hands stopped glowing and the negative feelings left her mind briefly as she felt sorrow. She steadied him for a moment before he climbed into the grave. Looking at him, Sookie was reminded that inside was his own coffin that had been buried empty in his marked grave. Tears formed in her eyes as weight of it hit her.
Concentrating, she created a light that grew in her hand to form a ball swirling with colors that intensified with her pain. Bill climbed into the coffin and closed his eyes. Her emotions and thoughts were a disoriented and contradicting mess, as they had been all night.
I can’t believe I’m about to do this. How could he ask me to help him commit suicide? I don’t want to fucking do this. How could he ask me to give up my light? To make me something I’m not. It’s not right. Dammit, I won’t do it!
Sensing her hesitation, Bill opened his eyes and called her name. She was staring at her hand, looking at the power she held there.
“No.” she said firmly.
She closed her hand and extinguished the light.
“But…” he started agitatedly.
“No. I have given you too much. This is not yours to take.” she returned, looking straight at him.
She walked over and grabbed the shovel leaning against a tombstone and broke it in two with her foot. She tossed the sharp piece of wood into the grave before climbing down herself. She removed her shoes and took a deep breath before getting into the coffin and straddling him.
As she held the makeshift stake over his heart, she cried out of anger and frustration, “Why didn’t you just take the cure, Bill? You selfish, cowardly bastard!”
Suddenly Bill sat up with vamp speed and cried out. “Sookie! Wait! I’m not…”
With the force and speed of his movement, he impaled the stake through his own heart. Blood and body sprayed and splattered over her face and dress as she stared at Bill melting into a pool of blood and sludge a look of shock on his face before it, too, exploded. Shaking, she raised her head to the sky and let out a loud and painful wail, her hair coming loose and falling down her back with her violent shudders.
Exhausted, she stood and started to step out of the coffin that was now filled with a slippery soup of what was left of Bill Compton, mixed with the dirt that was on the bottom surface. The mud it formed was slicker than ice and nearly as cold. The texture and feel at her feet was definitely “other worldly”. It almost felt like it was crawling. Whether it was the realization of what she was standing in, or the sheer sensation of it squishing between her toes, Sookie’s next move was a reflex more than a calculated step. She felt like she couldn’t get away from it fast enough. It was as if she was trying to just jump straight up out of Bill’s coffin, but the primordial mud created a vacuum around her foot like quicksand, swamp sludge sucking her foot back down. The unexpected force threw her off balance and she fell backward striking her head and neck on the hard wooden ridge of the coffin. Her hands gripped at the goo as her feet continued to slip, frantically kicking her legs trying to find purchase only to push her head further out as she tried to lift it using her damaged neck and shoulders as leverage. Her long hair caught on the now splintered wood and jerked her head back over the edge causing her already weak and injured neck to snap completely leaving her head hanging over the outside of the coffin. Her loose golden locks hung to touch the ground as blood flowed down staining them red.
Her sight was dimming as she realized she couldn’t move.
My God I’m so stupid! Everything I’ve lived through and now…I’m gonna die here in this sludge filled grave. Everyone always thought Bill would be the death of me, but this…this is just fucked up! Why did I get in this damn coffin with him? Why didn’t I just use my light? Why didn’t I throw that fucking stake at him like a javelin? God, please help me! Please!
These mere seconds felt like an eternity waiting for a rescue and knowing full well all the options were exhausted. No one would come this time. Regret and a life of now seemingly bad choices flashed before her eyes. It felt like an extended “I told you so” repeating in a loop.
She lay staring up at the clear sky, the stars and Bill’s headstone mocking her as the shadows and light were moving in and out of focus. Little bits of light, dark, and then a forced clarity as she felt a familiar void moving toward her in the distance…
Oh thank you, thank you, thank you…I’m still here!
Hope filled her and she relaxed as everything went black.
Pam was walking at a human pace past Bill’s house none too pleased to have been sent back here to check up on Eric’s pet.
Damn Eric! Damn him for making me come here. If he’s done with her, if he doesn’t want to see her again, why send me out here? I don’t give a shit if she’s ok after her talk with Bill. The dumb bitch chose door number two and only won a toaster. I’ll bet she’ll try to spin again and win the big prize since she can’t seem to make up her damn mind. I’m so over Sookie and her stupid fucking name…
Then she smelled the blood.
She vamped through the cemetery following the scent to the open grave. Looking down inside she saw something she never thought possible. Sookie was lying in a coffin full of muck that she assumed was Bill. Head hanging down over the outside with her neck bent at an unnatural angle, eyes wide open, looking up, unmoving.
“Holy Shit!” she exclaimed.
Eric is going to fucking lose it. Fuck! I have to call him. Fuck! Sookie you Dumbass! Even now you continue to piss me off!
Before she could fully register what was in front of her, Pam’s phone rang. It was Eric.
“Pam? I felt you. What’s wrong? Are you alright?”
The irony of Sookie’s passing was not lost on those who knew and loved her. Now with the passage of over a century, only a handful of the most resilient supernatural beings remembered the HepV epidemic. Far fewer remembered Sookie Stackhouse. Only one had completely and purposefully blocked her memory from his mind. She was hidden away where he never sought to reach. Until…
Eric woke in his coffin from his day rest to the sweet, familiar scent of Sookie. His fangs snapped down as he was immediately filled with arousal. Everything that had been locked away suddenly flooded back to him in that moment. In his mind, he could see her beautiful smile, every curve, her soft lips, her eyes. “I can’t sleep.” she whispered. He could feel her lying next to him, her weight pressed against the side of his body, her head on his chest. It was more powerful and comforting than he remembered to have her in his arms again. He relished it and as he was filled with the love and hope he hadn’t felt in a century, his mind began to come back to reality. Arousal gave way to confusion and the pain of heartache as he remembered.
As if waking from a dream while trying to hold onto it, he took a deep unneeded breath searching for her scent again. The scent of Sookie faded as quickly as it had come and in its place was a revolting, putrid, rotting smell. Worse than any festering corpse, animal or human, he could remember. If Eric could vomit, he would have in that moment. He reached to the side for the locking mechanism inside his coffin just as it came to him that it only locked from the inside and was too small for anything other than his large frame. His eyes snapped open and the weight of her disappeared, but something remained next to him and on his chest.
What the fuck is this? How did anyone get in here? What the fuck is in here with me?
Discomforted and angry he started fumbling trying to open the lid, not finding the latch in his haste. The smell intensified. He didn’t need to breathe, so he didn’t, as he quickly continued to work on getting out. The more he searched for the lock, the more furious and unsettled he became. The stench permeated his skin and burned his eyes forcing them to close. He began punching the lid when he heard the click of the lock unlatch on its own. Not caring how it happened just relieved that it did, he vamped out of his coffin the instant it opened. He turned and looked inside. Lying there was a decaying, moldy black lace dress caked with dirt and dried blood alongside where his body rested with one long sleeve stretched out across where his chest had just been.
Eric stood immobile staring at it until he heard running water behind him. He turned around to find its source only to find himself in Sookie’s bedroom with the sound of the shower coming from the bathroom. Disconcerted, he looked back to his coffin to find the black dress in pristine condition laid out on Sookie’s bed. His coffin was gone.
Eric approached the bathroom cautiously and slowly opened the door. The room was filled with steam, but he could see Sookie’s form in the shower. He reached for the shower curtain and yanked it back. A gust of hot steam caused him to wince.
When he opened his eyes he was in another coffin. Sookie was there in the black dress straddling him holding the handle of a shovel over his heart and crying.
“Why didn’t you just take the cure, Bill? You selfish, cowardly bastard!”
Suddenly Eric sat up with vamp speed and cried out. “Sookie! Wait! I’m not Bill!”
With the force and speed of his panicked movement, he impaled the stake through his own heart as the last word died on his lips.