“You are nervous?”
With his soft spoken question my fidgeting in the seat beside him ceased – old habits die hard – and instead I smoothed the skirt of my dress before bringing my hands back to my lap and answering, “Yes, Master.”
There was no point in denying it. Certainly not to him, when he could feel everything I felt.
“There is no need,” he smiled to reassure me. “You know if the crowd becomes too much for you we will leave. But I believe you are ready.”
“Yes, Master,” I repeated even though the crowd wasn’t what was making me nervous.
More like everything but the crowd was making me nervous.
Something he gathered from the tenor of my emotions because he only had to turn his head and look at me for me to explain, “I think I’m just nervous to be going home.”
It had been two months since I’d last left Bon Temps. It had taken two long months to get my shields under control. Two full months of gaining control of my urges. My impulses.
Two months where everyone I’d ever known believed I was dead.
And they were right.
In a way.
But I wasn’t really dead. However I would have been if it weren’t for the man at my side now.
I owed him everything.
I owed him my life.
As I turned to take in the increasingly familiar territory, I let my thoughts drift back to that day.
The day that I died.
I was drowning, but there wasn’t a drop of water to be seen.
It reminded me of a poem, but I couldn’t remember the words.
I was so cold.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. We were just supposed to gather information using my quirk. Find out from their thoughts where the Sheriff of Area 9 was being held, while pretending to be interested in joining their church.
But this was no church.
This was Hell on earth.
Hugo was a traitor. A Fellowship spy.
All because he was angry Isabelle wouldn’t turn him.
How effin’ lame…
My senses were assaulted by the overwhelming scent of blood.
But my sense of smell wasn’t the only thing assaulted.
At least I couldn’t feel him on top of me anymore.
I’d lost sensation in the lower half of my body when Gabe had thrown me across the room, so I guessed that he’d broken my back.
But I could still feel the blade of his knife against my throat.
The sticky trail of blood dripping down my neck at the first slice.
The searing pain when he’d shoved it into my chest.
With my head turned, I could see him now. Torn literally into two pieces, I couldn’t find it within me to care.
I would have laughed if I could spare the breath.
Tears leaked from my eyes when I struggled to pull air into my lungs, but I knew it was pointless.
I was dying.
A fact mimicked to me by the face now hovering over mine. Physically he appeared young, but I could see hundreds of lifetimes behind his eyes.
Maybe even thousands.
I could only assume he was my savior.
“You are dying.”
His soft spoken words were a comfort. Dead bodies couldn’t hurt anymore.
I had been hurt enough for one lifetime.
“You should go,” I coughed out. “The others. They’ll come looking for him soon. It should nearly be sunset and the other vampires know you’re here. They’ll help you escape.”
“You came for me?” he asked, looking shocked I would do such a thing.
“Because it was the right thing to do.”
I still felt that way, in spite of what it would cost me. But seeing his hesitation, I pleaded, “Please! Don’t let my death be in vain. Go. Live.”
“But I am death,” he argued without any malice. He simply made it sound like a fact.
But to my dying eyes, he glowed like an angel.
Like life itself.
However, all I said was, “It doesn’t count when you can still walk and talk.”
I tried to smile with my lame joke, but I was sure it probably looked more like a grimace. So I forced myself to add, “But you’ll really be dead come sunrise. They plan to chain you to a cross at dawn and watch you burn.”
“I know. That is why I came to them willingly. I am hoping it will repent for my sins.”
“What?” I asked out loud. My Stackhouse temper rose above the pain in my body and I glared at him asking, “Why?”
“I do not understand.”
That made two of us!
“Isn’t one life enough?” I hissed. “Why would you give them a second life when they’ve already taken mine?”
Take, take, take…
Everything had been taken from me.
My Uncle Bartlett had taken my innocence.
Rene had taken my Gran.
And now my very life would be taken from me and it would all be for nothing if he chose to stay here and die.
“How old are you?” I asked, not feeling any amount of shame for asking such a personal question.
I’d given him my life.
He owed me an answer at the very least.
“I am older than your Jesus,” he softly replied.
“Then my sacrifice should be nothing new to you,” I choked out.
It was getting harder to breathe.
“I’m already dying, so let me die for your sins and you can start over with a clean slate.”
He stared back at me with confusion coloring his expression and asked, “Why would you do this for me?”
“It’s not like I have much of a choice. What’s done is done and if we both die then my death will have been for nothing.”
“And if you had a choice?” he asked.
What was he talking about?
What choice did I have?
Unless his vampire gift was time travel, I was pretty much screwed.
But thinking maybe he meant if I had the choice to do it all over again – to come here and rescue a willing prisoner – I answered him truthfully with, “I may have done things differently.”
Reading Hugo’s mind being the obvious difference.
“But I still would have come here for you. I would have tried to convince you that dying at the hands of a madman wouldn’t absolve you of your sins. Seeking forgiveness and showing you’ve changed through your actions, that is how you can truly repent.”
He seemed to chew on that thought for a moment – my dying moment – before he asked, “Do you believe in God.”
“Do you believe he will punish me for my sins?”
As much as I wanted to tell him yes – yes, God will punish you if you don’t fight to live and seek redemption through your actions – I couldn’t lie to him.
“No,” I whispered. “God forgives.”
“And are you ready to meet your God?” he asked, appearing genuinely curious.
“It’s not like I have much of a choice.”
Already the harsh light in the room was becoming dimmer.
It wouldn’t be long now.
“You are willing to fight for my life with your dying breaths, but are you willing to walk with death and fight for another day?”
Walk with death?
Like the Grim Reaper?
“I don’t understand,” I admitted.
“Perhaps it was your God who sent you to me,” he seemed to muse out loud. “And my redemption lies with you, my savior.”
“Still don’t get it,” I choked out.
But with my sarcastic words, he graced me with a small smile and his own reverent words of my harsh reality.
“My blood is very old, but your injuries are too great for me to heal you. You will die. I am asking if you are willing to die and then rise as my child.”
“A vampire?” I asked incredulously.
I hadn’t given it a lot of thought to be honest. I obviously didn’t have anything against vampires, but I never imagined myself one.
I loved the sun.
I would have to give up food.
I would have to watch my friends and family grow old and die.
I would be strong.
I would see lifetime after lifetime of new things.
I would be able to defend myself in a nearly indestructible body.
And with a Maker older than Jesus, I imagined there wouldn’t be many who would threaten us.
“Do you have any other children?” I asked for some ridiculous reason, like I was interviewing for the position of Maker.
“I do,” he smiled, much bigger than before. “Two. A male and a female.”
“A matching set,” I smiled back.
“Not quite,” he grinned. “They fight. Often. But they are good children, each with their own strengths.”
“Nothing like adding another baby to the mix to ratchet up the sibling rivalry,” I rambled on, wondering if I really wanted to do this.
But glancing over at Gabe’s shredded body lying on the floor and remembering that same body on top of my own, doing unspeakable things, I made up my mind.
I would never be left broken and beaten again.
Not like this.
“You must decide,” he gently commanded. “I can sense your spark of life dimming.”
Taking in as much air as my collapsed lungs could manage, I breathed out, “I’m ready.”
Shaking my head as much as I could, I answered, “To live.”
Leaning down over me, his fangs snapped into place and his eyes held mine as he asked, “What is your name, child?”
“Sookie. Sookie Stackhouse.”
“Very well, Sookie Stackhouse. Close your eyes and when they open you will be…”
I couldn’t remember anything after that, but the flashback lasted all of two seconds in my vampire mind.
I was a vampire.
It was as if the realization itself was new all over again, instead of my reality for the last two months. But it was enough to make my new fangs snap down from my gums and my hands shot up to cover my mouth, like it was a great big secret.
And it was.
But not from the man next to me.
My Maker, Godric.
Even without my new supernaturally enhanced eyes, I was sure I would have been able to spot the differences in his appearance. I hadn’t known him very well at all on the day we’d chosen one another, but I would be eternally grateful to him for giving me that choice. It was like being given a gift you never knew you wanted until you had it.
And in a way, I felt like he felt the same way about me.
After rising as his child, we’d spent nearly every waking moment together since then. And in that time I learned many things.
One of them being why he’d been at the Fellowship’s church at all.
But he’d said it was seeing my fire – my willingness to die for someone like him, a sinner in his own mind – that gave him new purpose. He wanted to learn from me as much as I needed to learn from him.
We made a good pair.
I loved him like a father.
Like a brother.
Like a son.
The desolation that had been behind his eyes on that day in the basement, disappeared on my first night as his child and hadn’t been seen since. He was kind and gentle and had a great sense of humor.
I found him to be even funnier whenever he didn’t understand my southern turns of phrase.
Saying something was finer than a frog’s hair had left him completely baffled and had me laughing until I cried.
But, I’ll admit, bloody tears are gross.
And he still found my ease at being embarrassed to be a hoot, which was no different now because he smiled at me, hiding my fangs from the man who’d given them to me, and simply said, “You are stunning.”
I could feel his amusement and affection flowing into me, which had taken some getting used to at first.
It was weird, but always welcome.
He made me feel anchored in a way I hadn’t ever experienced before. Even with Gran.
He grinned back at me when I finally got my fangs to hide away again and said, “You are fortunate bagged blood is a viable alternative for you. The option was not available when I made my other children. But now that we are out in the open, it wouldn’t do to allow you to drain a small village every night.”
My horror at the thought was quickly replaced by my playful glare in his direction.
He was teasing me.
I had yet to feed on a live donor, but I knew it was coming.
I just didn’t know whether or not to look forward to or dread the inevitability.
But my telepathy had been strengthened times a thousand when I first rose as a vampire. I couldn’t shut out the voices at all, with my shields nonexistent. Thankfully he’d taken me far away into the open countryside away from civilization and when I was able to rebuild them, he slowly began taking me around more and more people.
I wasn’t so worried about the thoughts getting in now. My shields were like steel walls behind ten feet of concrete.
No, my worries were for something else altogether.
One of those other children he’d mentioned being one of them.
There were warnings about buying something sight unseen and boy did I learn my lesson. I didn’t regret my choice, nor would I wish for another Maker, but the thought of being the sister of Eric Northman was…
Something not good.
Godric got a dose of that buyer beware himself, not knowing he was getting a telepathic child from the get go, but he’d dealt with it with grace.
Surely I could do the same.
It helped when he tried to reassure me the vampire I knew as a human wasn’t the same vampire Eric truly was on the inside.
Even if I had once preferred cancer to Eric.
But I trusted Godric like I trusted no other, so I had no reason to not believe him. And if Eric showed me any ill will, then I had no doubt our Maker would set him straight.
And I may have secretly hoped he would show his ass, so I could see Godric give him the whoopin’ he deserved.
But thinking of Eric led me to thinking about Bill. It was with Bill that I’d first met the Sheriff of Area 5 and I almost felt bad for not thinking of him more often. But when I’d first risen, it had taken hours before he’d even crossed my mind. After telling Godric about my relationship with Bill, he had explained in detail what consuming vampire blood from the source would do.
Things Bill had never explained at all.
But it made sense to me now. With Godric becoming my Maker, his older-than-Jesus blood had canceled out every drop of Bill’s blood still left in my body.
And with it, my attraction to him went away too.
I felt bad to no longer have feelings for him, but surely he would understand.
At least once he got over the whole ‘Sookie is mine!’ thing he was so fond of.
Seeing we were getting closer to Shreveport, the butterflies started up in my gut again, but now I also felt a sense of one-upmanship.
And seeing and feeling the question behind my Maker’s eyes, I smiled explaining, “It feels good to finally know something before everyone else does.”
Everyone being Eric.
He didn’t know we were coming. All he knew was that his Maker had made it out of the Fellowship’s church and resigned from his position as Sheriff of Area 9 before taking off.
No one knew about his newly made telepathic part-Fae child.
That part-Fae part had been a doozy to learn about, but Godric was certain he’d tasted it in my blood. And even I could smell the difference with my now supernaturally enhanced senses.
Eric had been right.
I really was sweet.
But given my other gifts Godric felt we would be best protected if we lived in Eric’s area. He was two thousand years old, but he couldn’t fight off everyone, nor did I want him to. And I had wanted to go home – even though I was afraid of the reception I would get from everyone – so I wasn’t going to argue with him over it.
In fact, I’d learned to not argue very much anymore.
At least, with my Maker.
We would just have to wait and see if that extended to my vampire brother.
Pulling up to Fangtasia, we both got out of the car and headed towards the door. I knew Godric had still been repressing his side of their bond because he didn’t want to have Eric try and find us when he was busy trying to help me, so tonight would be the first time he would see him in years.
More years than my lifetime.
I didn’t recognize the vampire on the door and the want to fidget was still there, but I suppressed the urge and merely followed my Maker inside.
I’d been around vampires enough to know how I should act, but it was only now that I was one, that I finally understood.
To call him Master was a term of endearment, but only because my Maker was worthy of title.
And I would be a worthy child to him and show him the deference he was due.
After all, he had given me the choice and I had chosen him.
Life, not death.
Pam had been the first to notice our arrival from her position, standing behind Eric on his throne. But it was Eric who made it to us first.
And then got down onto his knees.
In front of God and everyone.
If we hadn’t shared a Maker, I might not have understood. And while he’d had a thousand years more with Godric than me, I didn’t feel any less cowed by the man who’d given us eternal life.
It was something I’d risen with, but for all I knew it could have begun on that day in the basement of the church.
When Death had chosen Life.
Eric bowed deeply in respect and simply uttered, “Master.”
Putting his hand on Eric’s shoulder, Godric smiled and replied, “Rise my child.” And I felt a hearty dose of amusement coming from him right as he fully opened their bond and added, “Meet your new sister.”