The first of my senses to return was sight.
My eyes were being blinded by the white light in front of them and strangely enough, the memory of the weird little troll-looking woman from the Poltergeist movie popped into my head, crooning, “Go into the light.”
But I didn’t want to. Not yet anyways because to me that could only mean one thing.
I would be dead.
Whenever I’d asked Corbett about his experience when he died, he’d just said one minute he was alive and then next he wasn’t. A small amount of time had been lost in the interim, but he couldn’t say what had happened in between because by the time he ‘came to,’ his body was already on the way to the morgue. From what Adele had described on the night she’d been killed, her experience sounded similar. One minute she was standing in the kitchen and the next she was outside on the porch.
No one mentioned a white light.
But if I was seeing one – if I went into the light – according to that troll-ish woman and Shirley Maclaine, wouldn’t that mean I would go on to wherever other souls went when their bodies died?
Was Sookie still alive?
Or had she been killed too?
What if I went into the light and she stayed behind with her father and grandmother?
Would I ever see her again?
Or would she go into the light with the hope I would too? Would I lose my only chance to be with her by fighting to remain in this world?
It seemed I’d lost my chance to make any choice when the light suddenly disappeared and everything plunged back into darkness. I was tired. Everything about me felt drained, but I struggled against it. I was afraid to give up. I’d spent nearly my entire lifetime being alone and I didn’t want to spend eternity that way too.
And I sure as hell didn’t want to spend an eternity without Sookie.
“Eric! Eric! Wake up!”
My eyes fluttered open only to see both Adele’s and Corbett’s concerned faces hovering over mine. I wasn’t sure what was happening, but when Corbett pressed his hands against my shoulders to shake me – and I felt it – I had a clue.
I was dead.
But not dead dead.
“Sookie?” I mumbled, hoping like hell she’d made it out of there unscathed.
It was Sookie’s frantic voice I heard then and I didn’t know whether or not I should be happy or sad when she appeared over me. There were tears in her eyes when she leaned down and I felt her lips press against mine while she said, “I love you. I’m here, baby. I’m right here.”
Fuuck…was she dead too?
My eyes fell closed again with my exhaustion taking over. It was all too overwhelming. My failure at keeping her safe and unharmed made my chest feel like it had been torn wide open.
It was too much.
I couldn’t deal with it right now. I didn’t want to deal with any of it. Ever.
“ERIC!” she shouted, making my eyelids twitch. “You fight! Do you hear me! You fight to stay with me!”
I tried to open my eyes again. I didn’t want to disappoint her again, but when I did they were once again filled with the blinding light. I could hear other voices too by then. Voices in the background I didn’t recognize. But all I could see was the light. And I could suddenly feel my body moving even though I couldn’t feel anything beneath my feet. It was a strange floating sensation and I wondered once again if the choice to go into the light had been made for me.
But hearing Sookie’s sobbing voice right at my ear pleading, “Don’t leave me Eric. Please don’t leave me,” made me fight against the exhaustion. Fight against going anywhere where she wouldn’t be going with me.
But no matter how hard I tried to fight it, I just wasn’t strong enough. And I only knew I had lost the battle when just as I was plunged back into total darkness, her last words to me sounded like she’d whispered them from the opposite end of a very long tunnel.
“I love you Eric. I love you.”
“We’re losing him.”
“He’s in tachycardia.”
“He’s back. His pulse is steady, but weak. What’s our ETA?”
More blinding light accompanied the words, “His pupils are responsive,” before the darkness filled me once again.
“There’s no time. Prep him for surgery.”
The foreign voices continued to filter in and out through the shadows of my mind and into my psyche. The snippets of phrases I overheard held little meaning to me, but seemed familiar at the same time. The only one to truly register had been the sound of Sookie’s voice screaming out my name, but I didn’t have the strength to acknowledge her. My eyes felt like iron weights had been placed on them and my limbs were just as useless.
I couldn’t move them no matter how much I tried.
I felt like a failure all over again. I failed to protect Sookie. I failed to remain with her in our world. The bright light was back to blinding me and I could feel my body moving at a swift rate, even though I didn’t seem to be getting any closer to it. But I still couldn’t stop it.
I couldn’t stop any of it.
And like the light, my consciousness faded away with it, carrying the bitter weight of knowing I wasn’t strong enough to stay with her.
Even in the blackness of my new world I would recognize her voice anywhere and everything ached inside of me hearing her sounding just as dead as her words.
“I killed him.”
‘No. No you didn’t,’ I silently argued. ‘I would gladly die a thousand times to keep you safe.’
I was just happy that I seemed to be able to at least stay in the same world where Sookie was. I didn’t want to be without her. I never could figure out if she’d been killed too, but I hoped not – even if I felt horrible that physically, at least, she would have to be without me.
“Hey! Look whose back!”
Corbett’s smiling face was hovering above mine just as my sight returned and he gave me a playful tap on the cheek as he said, “‘Bout time, son. We were getting worried.”
“How are you doing, sweetheart?”
Adele’s smiling face appeared next to Corbett’s, but I still felt groggy. I couldn’t yet form any words with my mouth, so I tried to convey my questions with my eyes.
“She’s fine, Eric. Sookie is fine.” Looking both grateful and proud, she added, “You saved her life.”
I tried to get my body to move, but it wasn’t cooperating at the moment. I wasn’t sure how much time had passed from the time I died until now, but it seemed odd that my whole body was radiating pain.
Adele’s twirling ‘Ta da’ performance had led me to believe I’d be feeling as good as new right about now.
But my silver lining was knowing I at least wouldn’t have to spend all of eternity naked.
While I waited for whatever mystical mojo to get with the program and give me the power over my arms and legs again, I tried to ask another question with nothing more than my eyes.
Narrowed and filled with anger seemed to do the trick.
“That bastard Bellefleur?” Corbett snarled, now looking just as angry.
Detective Doodlebug hadn’t lost his touch at all.
‘Yes,’ my eyes replied by way of rapid blinking.
His grin returned and grew impossibly wide before he nodded to his right and said, “Well quit yer yammerin’ and just listen for yourself.”
Great. An eternity with a smart ass would be my own kind of purgatory.
When he moved out of the way I could see Sookie sitting in a chair off to the side of the room with Jason, Flood, and Herveaux surrounding her. I couldn’t tell if it was the way the light was shining through the window or if the halo effect around them was something all ghosts could see when looking at the living.
It looked like she was glowing.
But only her aura was bright. The rest of her looked more dismal than I’d ever seen her before. Her eyes were back to being puffy and red, and she didn’t seem to notice the tears streaming down her face as I listened to her say, “He went on and on about how our family kept fuckin’ with his. High school football. His career. His grandmother losing a fucking bake-off. He lost his goddamn mind. He said he was going to stage it to look like a murder-suicide and make Eric out to be the killer all along. If he hadn’t…if Eric hadn’t…”
She started sobbing then, so Jason kneeled down in front of her and hugged her to his chest while she cried. I was glad they at least had each other to get through the coming days. Sookie would still have me too, even if she wouldn’t be able to see me.
But my chest ached even more while I silently hoped she would at least talk to me when she was alone – even if she couldn’t hear me answer her in return.
When she seemed to gather herself again, she forced herself to explain, “His shot went wide and he seemed frozen when…when Eric…” Her breath hitched in her throat and she needed a few minutes and several deep breaths before she gave up and finished her statement with, “So I reached behind the water heater and grabbed the shotgun. I aimed it right at him and fired.”
“It was a good kill,” Flood said, patting her shoulder gently. “A clean kill.”
“Good enough they’ll have to have a closed casket at the funeral,” Herveaux growled.
“Fuck that! They should just burn the son of a bitch,” Jason joined in. “I’ll dig a pit in my backyard and we can have a pig roast.” He smiled and nudged Sookie’s arm, adding, “But I’ll do burgers and dogs on the grill for us to eat while we bid him bon fuck off on his way to hell.”
Herveaux nodded in agreement and offered to bring the beer, while both Sookie and Flood ignored them as her partner tried to get everyone back on track by saying, “The prosecutor has already said he’s not interested in coming after you and I doubt Internal Affairs will either once they’re done with their investigation, so don’t you worry about that.”
“I’m not,” she whispered, while a new batch of tears streamed down her face. “I’m just worried about…”
Her words trailed off while her eyes strayed in my direction and I barely had the time to realize she was holding my gaze when she literally sprung out of her seat and yelled, “Eric! You’re awake!”
Wait. Did that mean…
She rushed towards me and when she leaned down over my body, I could feel something pulling at my arm. I looked down to see the wires running across my chest like an LA freeway and only then did I realize I was lying down in a bed. But Sookie didn’t notice anything other than my open eyes as she gently cupped my face in her hands and softly sobbed out, “You’re awake.”
I discovered my arm could move if I had the incentive of wanting to comfort Sookie, so I gently wrapped it around her back as she lightly leaned down on top of me to cry against my shoulder. And for the first time, I couldn’t even say that her tears bothered me.
Not when I could feel my own trailing down the sides of my face.
I was alive.
Sookie was alive.
I couldn’t ask for anything more.
“I can’t believe we’re actually doing this,” Sookie giggled, while her eyes glanced down at her dress. I could tell she was nervous and so was I, but I was more excited than anything.
“You’re not getting cold feet, are you?” I asked, smoothing the wrinkles out of my own outfit.
She smiled coyly and responded, “Maybe,” while automatically reaching for her declared favorite piece of jewelry, so she could twirl it with her fingers. It was a new habit of hers that could mean she was either nervous or just lost in thought. She hadn’t taken it off since I’d put it on her six months earlier.
But knowing she was just giving me a hard time, I played into her game and stomped my foot on the sidewalk while whining, “But we’re already dressed for it. We’ve been planning it for months. We sat on a plane for hours just so we could do this.”
It was our first real trip together and I planned on making the most out of our alone time, but we had all week long to enjoy it. Sookie and I hadn’t spent a single night apart after the Andy ordeal. She’d even stayed at the hospital with me, refusing to leave my side for longer than it took for her to shower. But I couldn’t say that I minded.
We didn’t even discuss living together. It just happened. All it took was us walking into my apartment right after I was discharged from the hospital. Looking around, I casually asked what furniture she thought we should keep of mine and what she wanted to bring over of hers. I knew it was a lame way to go about it, but I had already learned by then.
Lame usually worked out well for me when it came to Sookie.
If anything, it would’ve felt unnatural for us not to be together, no matter how many actual days it had been that we’d known each other. My place was bigger than hers, so with the help of Jason and our now close circle of friends, Sookie officially moved in.
Which was why Corbett could now enter the apartment at will. But it only took one day for him to learn to knock first.
He should’ve known Sookie and I would be in a celebratory mood.
Both he and Adele found if they were focused, they could move inanimate objects. But it took a lot of concentration and it seemed to zap their energy whenever they did it. We figured it was their fear and adrenaline on the night of Bellefleur’s attack that helped them move his arm. And I later found out that when his spirit appeared in the kitchen a few moments after Sookie shot him, Bellefleur found out the hard way I hadn’t been lying to him.
He also found out what a pissed off Corbett Stackhouse could do. No one had seen Bellefleur since.
But now that they had a new trick up their sleeve, there was a new little bell for them to use, hanging right outside our front door. Neither Corbett nor Adele would come in until we said the coast was clear.
And they were accustomed to waiting.
Sookie inherited the farmhouse and we spent every weekend possible there. We both would’ve loved to live there full time, but with our jobs it wasn’t practical. The commute to Shreveport was too long and we both had nights when we were on call. One day, though. We both agreed one day we would call Bon Temps home for good.
Jason of all people had applied for and been hired as Bellefleur’s replacement. I was skeptical at first, but being a cop really was in the Stackhouse genes because he took the job seriously and he was actually good at it. He still acted like the same goofball he always was when he was off duty, but as soon as he put on his uniform he was a different person.
His family couldn’t have been prouder.
We hadn’t told him about my quirky little secret yet though. Sookie was sure it would make his head cave in if we tried to explain it to him while he was still dealing with all of the other changes going on in his life. But one day – maybe – we would.
But that one day wasn’t now. Now – today – I had Sookie all to myself.
And when I made the mistake of letting my eyes trail over her body, suddenly I wondered if maybe staying in the hotel all day long instead wouldn’t be a better idea.
“No way, Northman,” she chastised, either using her spot-on telepathy against me or seeing the lustful look on my face. It was one and the same, really.
“I didn’t put this on just so you could rip it off of me before we even do this.”
I bet I could get her to change her mind.
Perhaps sensing I was in a gambling mood, she licked her lips and gave me her fuck-me eyes while she promised, “You can do that when we get back.”
As if I hadn’t already planned to. Hell, we’d just done that before we’d gotten dressed and I was already ready to go again.
Sookie was my own personal Viagra.
She let go of the bullet-turned-pendant from between her fingertips and let it drop back down on its chain between her breasts, so she could grab onto my hand. Wearing the bullet around her neck that had nearly killed me but at the same time had saved her was maybe a bit macabre for some couples. But considering everything we’d been through together, it was a perfect representation of us.
Life and death.
Together we’d somehow managed to find the perfect balance between the two.
“Let’s go…Master,” she purred and placed another chain into my free hand.
I’d had no idea of just how perfect Sookie would be for me when we first met, but if I’d ever had any doubts, this moment would’ve taken them all away. She’d never looked more beautiful and her happiness made her look like she was glowing from the inside out. And I felt just as happy knowing she was about to make another dream of mine come true.
Never – in my entire life – would I have ever imagined doing what we were about to do. I never imagined having someone as beautiful and as loving as her who would make this day even possible.
And she was all mine.
And one day we would make that legal. But that day wasn’t today either. I didn’t know where she found the perfect replica of Princess Leia’s slave costume, but I imagined a lot of light sabers would be powering up once we got inside. That was okay though because I had zero doubts on who she would be going home with.
I no longer had any doubts she would always be by my side.
So it was with a huge smile on my face that we walked hand in hand, together into our future.
Well…I guess it was sort of George Lucas’s future too. Today they were one and the same.
Because today was the first day of Comic Con.