“Sookie” Eric said from the shadows. She stopped and turned as her eyes searched for the owner of the voice. Her eyes came into focus and she saw him, in silhouette, the outline of his hip jutting out, and arms crossed. “Eric?”, she whispered with a hint of question in her voice. Their eyes met and held for what seemed like an eternity before she heard a voice clearing behind her. Startled, she quickly turned and gave a nod to her companions. “I’ll be fine” she said as she turned and walked hesitantly towards Eric.
“Can we talk? There are some things I need to discuss with you.”
Sookie continued to move towards him shaking her head ‘yes’. He took a few steps forward stepping into the glow that radiated from Bellefleur’s Bar and Grill. She couldn’t help but notice how angelic it made him look. He was a beautiful man.
“So….we’ve never had an opportunity to talk, you and I. Seeing you again has stirred feelings that I would rather have left buried”, Eric said as he motioned for her to sit at the picnic table that laid between them. “I’d like to be rid of these feelings, once and for all”. Sookie gave no reaction to his confession. Eric sighed and continued, “It’s easy to see that Bill still has a hold over you. Regardless of what he’s done, you’re drawn to him and I no longer have the energy”, a weighted pause consumed his thoughts for a few moments, but then he continued “or the desire to fight…..for you”.
Sookie felt confused. She wasn’t prepared to have this conversation. She had been ignoring this Eric since he regained his memories. She couldn’t deny that she had feelings for him, but he scared her. He made her feel things about him…about herself…that she was not prepared to deal with, and right now, she had bigger things on her mind. Namely Bill and his Hep-V. Bill was dying….dying at her hands, and talking about her feelings about Eric, or anyone else, for that matter, wasn’t happening. So she did what she did best when it came to him, she ignored her feelings. And she ignored his feelings.
“Bill’s dying and it’s my fault. I can’t ignore that. It’s my responsibility to help him and I can’t be concerned about what you may or may not feel”, she said, pain seeping into her voice. “I’m tired of this dance, too, Eric. So do what you gotta do. I don’t want to fight and, frankly, it’s pissing me off that you choose now to tell me this. What do you want me to do, Eric? Huh?! Do you want me to drop everything and run away with you? Well, I can’t..I…I won’t”.
Eric wasn’t surprised by Sookie’s attack. It had been her MO, after all. Protect Bill. Hate Bill. Love Bill. All of it at the expense of just about everything else. Bill evoked tumultuous emotions in Sookie. His blood coursed through her and it left a trail of destruction in its wake. She had no judgment when it came to Bill. Despite the betrayals, lies, and manipulations, she was drawn to him. Literally, a moth to a flame, and Eric had no desire to watch her burn. Now she felt guilt and she was willing to lose herself to Bill in an attempt to wash away her perceived sin. There was no fighting that. Not with Sookie. Stubborn, that’s what she was and it was clear that she’d all but dug in for the long haul.
Eric sighed with acceptance. The words he spoke to Nora were true. ‘Another life’…that’s what he had had with Sookie and he finally accepted that there was nothing more. “I’m sorry”, he said as he fought the urge to touch her. Unsure what to say next, a slight smile crossed his face “My timing, I fear, has never been good when it comes to you.” Silence hung between them. Hanging his head, he said “I don’t want to fight with you, Sookie, but I also need to find some peace. Seeing you again, even as I felt death creeping through every inch of my being, I found that I couldn’t let go. You, Sookie….you gave me hope when there was none, when I had all but given up, and you’ve always been that for me. From the moment you walked into my life….that girl in the white dress, you have given me something to look forward to. Quite a feat when you’ve lived as long as I have. In my thousand years, I can barely remember looking forward to a future with another being as I’ve looked forward to being with you.” Eric locked eyes with her, “but I know now it can never be. So I am letting go. I’m choosing to move on and accept that you will never be mine. In life…and in death, you will be Bill’s. His grip on you may lessen over time, as his blood and your guilt release you, but know that I will be gone.”
Unshed tears filled Sookie’s eyes as she looked at Eric’s pain-filled face. She wished she could let go of Bill, but she couldn’t. She knew that he would always be an itch that she would have to scratch, regardless of how he had wronged her. Hell, she couldn’t make it make sense no matter how hard she tried; she just couldn’t help it.
Eric rose from the table and reached for her hand one last time. As they touched, Sookie felt the spark. She felt the electricity that coursed through her body and it intensified as he moved her hand to meet his lips. He looked into her eyes and she could tell it was goodbye. She saw it . She felt it. Time stood still as they met, hand to mouth and eye to eye. It was over…finally over and she was inexplicably terrified. The fear that engulfed her in that moment was paralyzing. Suddenly, she was incapable of clear thought, and then he was gone.
Panic overwhelmed her and she could not catch a breath. She rose looking all around as she fought her own body to swallow air. She felt herself starting to lose ground. Her knees hit first. Next, the tears that were unshed before came tumbling down, gravity forcing the water from her eyes. As she gasped for air, her ears were filled with the sounds of crying. The wails of someone hurting pierced through her own feelings of loss.
Sookie fought to regain control, shaking her head hoping to toss her despair from her mind . Her need to help others was strong and someone needed her. The fogginess began to recede and, as her equilibrium returned, she realized that the cries she had heard were her own. She was that someone in pain, and she was alone — alone physically and alone emotionally. ‘We will be one’ echoed in her head, but slowly faded away as realization of her future crushed her. She was so lost and she didn’t know how to reconcile that with the thought that Eric was out of her life — forever.
Sookie took a deep breath and picked herself up to sit on the bench. Her need to help others at the expense of herself had overwhelmed her her entire life. It was borne out of hearing their thoughts and knowing that there were times that she could give them what they needed. She always had an inside track to what people needed and she would help when she could. She had subconsciously trained herself to put others ahead of herself and now, finally hearing her own pain in such a disconnected way, she knew she needed to stop. She needed to learn that it was okay to put herself first sometimes. But how….how could she go about it? How could she avoid the trap she had created? How could she learn to live for herself? And how could she find her way back to having Eric in her life?
Unbeknownst to Sookie, Eric had been watching from the sky shielded by the darkness from her searching eyes. Although he had every expectation that this was his final goodbye, he felt a pull in his blood as he flew away. It had stopped him in his tracks. That pull, threaded with immense pain, almost had him tumbling to the ground. As he turned in its direction, he saw Sookie on her knees howling in agony. He hurt as he watched her, wanting to go to her, to comfort her, but he knew he couldn’t. He needed to end this vicious cycle that he had found himself in. If only she could remove the blinders that prevented her from seeing the truth. He could talk himself into waiting, if only she’d give him a sign — some type of signal indicating that there was, indeed, hope. He had time, after all, but he would not compete with Bill any longer. He had spent too much time already fighting that uphill battle, so he took one last look at the woman who captured his heart, in a hushed voice said “I love you, Sookie Stackhouse” and then shot through the dark sky.