It was everything, all that existed for a moment.
My chest felt as though it was being crushed. My head felt like it had collided with something hard…
But I was fine.
No blood. No one around. No obvious reasons for my pain or the unexplainable tears that had started to haze my vision… but…
In fact… No one. The house was completely deserted.
As alarm set in, I flew out of the bed to find some clothes…
Feeling for her didn’t help… She wasn’t home. She wasn’t anywhere nearby either. She was gone…
Not home and in pain… And all I could tell was that she was somewhere southeast of me…
I barely managed to eliminate Bon Temps as her location as I tore through 2 pairs of jeans in my panicked rush to leave the house on my search.
I was so distracted, so consumed with finding Sookie that my phone startled me when it began to ring…
My phone. I hadn’t even thought to look at my phone…
Not Sookie. It wasn’t Sookie calling and the fact that her guard was calling me when I was feeling so much pain from her made me hesitate to answer…
“Alcide, where is she?’
“We’re at Bon Secures…” No. no. no…
“The hospital!? What the fuck happened?”
“It’s not Sookie… Adele collapsed.”
“Sookie isn’t doing a lot of talking, but Adele was putting laundry away and fell on her way back downstairs.”
“How is she?”
“It was a heart attack… they’re saying that it wasn’t a bad one, but since she fell…”
“Why is Sookie in pain?”
“She’s a wreck because of Adele… but…” He cleared his throat. “Sookie doesn’t do well in hospitals.” Fuck… why would a telepath ‘do well’ surrounded by pain and suffering. Fuck!
“What are the doctors doing for Adele?”
“She needs surgery on her leg. She banged it up pretty bad, but they’re wanting for her to stabilize first. She’s unconscious from the concussion.”
“Tell her I’m on my way.”
“No… The sun’s still up for a while… I’m surprised you answered…”
“Then why did you call?”
“Sookie got worse a minute ago… Said you were up.” She’d felt my fears, like what she was already dealing with wasn’t too much for her.
“Is she in an isolated area?”
He cleared his throat. “No. I tried to get her to go somewhere quiet, but she won’t leave the waiting room. She’s afraid she’ll miss news. I thought about forcing her, but I think it’ll just make things worse. Jason’s doing his best to calm her down, but she won’t touch him. He’s freaking out too.” Fuck!
“She needs to be sedated before she gives herself a heart attack.” Now would be a great time for her to be glamoured.
“Uh… Eric, she is… They gave her a valium. All it did was calm her down enough to not hyperventilate anymore.”
“As soon as she’s given another update, take her out for some fresh air. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
I practically bounced off of the walls of our room.
Plagued through our bond with overwhelming fear and hurt to the point that my attempts to calm her were in vain… I couldn’t even muster the ability to convince myself to calm down…
I was completely fucking useless.
Still 45 minutes to go until I could step outside…
Still 45 minutes until I could go to Sookie…
Knowing that I wouldn’t be much more help than offering a quit mind for her to hide in, but it was still something.
It was weak, but it was still a purpose.
With only 20 minutes left until sunset, I ventured upstairs…
The kitchen was dark, shielded from the sun even during the brightest part of the day… The counter was spread with fruit… two place settings… the plates were seemingly untouched, loaded with eggs and toast… a full cup of coffee sitting next to each…
All of it was as cold as me.
It had happened in the morning… Sookie had been suffering for hours…
And she would have every right to be bitter that I wasn’t available.
I was staring at the pan resting in the sink when my phone began to ring again.
This time, it was Pam.
The phone was barely at my ear. “What the fuck?” She’d risen in a similar state as I had.
“I’m waiting to go join them now. Adele had a heart attack this morning. They’re at the hospital…”
“Oh my god… Eric… How is she?” Explaining to Pam only added to the battery of emotions that I was already finding impossible to handle.
“According to Alcide the heart attack was mild, but when it happened she was on the stairs… she fell. She’s suffering from a concussion and her leg needs surgery somehow.”
“I’m not sure about the details. I’ll find out more at the hospital.”
“I’m getting dressed now. I’ll meet you there.”
“Pam… They’ve been at the hospital all day. Alcide can’t get Sookie to leave the waiting room and she’s not doing well considering what she’s surrounded with… would you… stop on your way to get them something to eat?”
She was quiet for a minute… “Eric, I can try, but I’m not sure… yeah. I’ll figure something out… Sookie and Alcide, is Jason there?”
“He is, but he’s reasonably distraught.”
In spite of the roads in between home and the hospital being congested with every sluggish idiot and erratic moron in the area code as though there was an organized blockade formed with the sole purpose of pushing me into a killing spree, I still managed to make it to the hospital in less than 15 minutes… I did have to take a moment to glamour my way out of a speeding ticket once I arrived, but it still took less time than actually dealing with the process of ‘license and registration’ followed by being hassled for a ‘blatant disregard for human safety laws’.
If it hadn’t been for the fact that she was waiting at the threshold to the ‘Critical Care Unit’ entrance, I might not have recognized her based on sight.
Sookie’s face was swollen and red. Her hair a tangled mess… Not at all her usually bright and pulled together self.
She was wearing a pair of Jason’s sweat pants and one of my t-shirts over her pink bikini… She’d been planning on laying out for some sun after breakfast and found herself hastily dressing in the laundry room instead.
Sookie fidgeted, pacing the width of the hallway along the opening to the wing as though an invisible force was tethering her from leaving…
Almost like a vampire awaiting an invitation to enter.
…And the moment I crossed into the department, Sookie launched herself against me…
My shirt was instantly soaked with a torrential flood of fresh tears as she wept, shaking violently while her guard and brother watched from behind the glass walls of the waiting room.
Trying to calm her failed again and in spite of the hold I had on her, she didn’t seem to be trying to avoid her upset by using me to seek any peace.
I couldn’t tolerate it for long. It had been needling at me for long enough and knowing that she had been suffering for far longer than I had, only made the situation seem more dismal.
“Sookie, you need to try to calm down if you won’t let me help you.”
She practically radiated guilt and sobbed, “It’s my fault she fell.”
“How could it possibly be your fault, Sookie? You didn’t cause her heart…”
“I should’ve known… She called me, but I didn’t answer her… then I heard her fall.”
“You think that if you hadn’t had your shields up, you’d have known something was wrong?” I’d barely finished before she began hyperventilating again… her legs gave up and if I hadn’t already been holding her, she’d have crumbled into the floor.
“I… I didn’t… I was frying the eggs… I let her… I let her…”
I shushed her, lifting her to take to the waiting room…
It wasn’t until I sat down with her in my lap that I felt her all but disappear. She finally decided to ‘hide in my bubble’. Her breathing slowed down and her aching diminished… the only thing left was my own worry and Pam’s frazzled and rushed mood. Manageable.
“That’s what she was like until you woke up.”
Alcide had barely waited until I was sitting with her before settling in the chairs across from us. Jason followed suit. As much as they were worried, they were curious.
Jason stared at Sookie for a minute before saying anything. “What the hell is that? She’s been freaking the fuck out all day. How’d you calm her down?”
“I didn’t. She’s focusing on my thoughts.”
“I thought she can’t read y’all though.”
“She can’t. Our minds are blank to her. She’s focusing on nothing. It’s better than the alternative.”
“How’d she calm down once you were up though? She got way worse again for a minute, but by the time Alcide was back from calling you, she’d settled down again.”
“When I rose, I could feel her right away. She’s actually in physical pain. She ‘got worse’ because she was feeling my sudden panic in addition to dealing with her own. What’s known of Adele’s condition?”
Jason sat back, running his hands through his hair… frustrated that I’d changed the subject to avoid explaining our bond with two families present. “They did some kind of tests… The blockage isn’t too bad that they want to do heart surgery. They think medication will work on it. They’re surprised she’s in such good shape considering her age… They’re more worried about what the tumble did. She shattered her knee and the concussion is pretty bad…”
Alcide interrupted to clarify. “It caused a seizure while they were working on her.” Shit.
“To clarify, her heart isn’t a concern.”
Alcide shook his head. “No. Near as the docs can tell, it was the timing of it. They’re running another round of tests and when she wakes up they can see her.”
Thankfully, Sookie had all but locked herself inside my quiet mind by the time Pam arrived.
I only wasted a second wondering why she’d have Bubba in tow… The massive bag of take-out was the dead giveaway… My child in all of her resourcefulness had called the only vampire she could think of that might have a clue of what to order at a restaurant.
She shrugged as he contentedly began unloading the bag onto the small table in the corner. “Pork chops, mashed taters, mac’n’cheese, collards, stewed maters, sweet tea… Miss Adele says she makes this kinda thing for Sundy suppers. How she doin’?” Shrimp salad, shrimp gumbo, shrimp kabobs, fried shrimp… Every time I saw Bubba, I regretted having seen Forrest Gump… It made a straight face nearly impossible.
Jason almost managed to smile at him. “She’s hanging in there… We’re still waiting for word.”
“Well, y’all c’mon and get your fill… Stuffs no good cold. I ‘member that much.”
Despite how much Pam wanted to be informed on Adele’s health, I took the time to pull away from Sookie.
I set her on a chair at the table while Alcide and Jason started to fill a plate for her.
It took a moment for her to drift back once I’d broken our contact. “Pam and Bubba have brought dinner. You need to eat.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“You might not feel hungry, but you haven’t eaten anything since dinner last night. You’ll eat so I don’t have to worry about you too.”
“Eric, I don’t…”
“Sookie, Bubba’s feelings would be hurt if he thinks he didn’t order well.”
She sniffled, “Damn Baptist.”
I smiled at her. “Pam and I are going to get some news even if we have to glamour to get it. We’ll be back soon.”
She nodded and after she kissed me, she turned to see a full plate and Bubba filling a paper cup with tea for her.
We found a vacant room to offer a slight amount of privacy. I’d have skipped the step altogether if Pam wasn’t nearly crazed to get information.
“If I didn’t know better, I’d swear she was your grandmother.”
She actually punched me… her south paw hammered right into my cheek. “Asshole!” It was a good one too, but my plans to rattle her cage halted seeing her eyes start to fill.
“It’s not like you to give a shit about… anything.”
“Fuck you. I learned from the best and Adele… I haven’t known her long enough, damn it.” She had to know that feeling was mutual.
“Fine. I’m sorry then.”
“What do we know?”
“I’m going to confirm it with a doctor first, but according to Alcide her heart isn’t in question. It’s the injuries from her fall that are the problem.”
“She… How hurt is she?”
“A ‘shattered’ knee and a head injury severe enough to have caused convulsions.”
“So why did I come with you to talk to a doctor?”
“You didn’t. You came with me because I need a look out.”
It took longer than I thought it would to find a doctor who was working on Adele’s case… the fifth one we stopped to be exact.
I had to question her intelligence since she believed that Pam and I were Adele’s grandchildren, but she freely explained that Adele’s ‘subendocardial infarction’ was a-typically mild for a woman her age and that tests showed the remaining ‘plaque’ was minimal and didn’t give the doctors much reason for concern. Adele was for all intents and purposes, ‘healthy as a horse’… except, of course, for the fact that she needed a ‘knee arthroplasty’ and was bleeding into her brain… I had to hold Pam back until the doctor could get away…
And then we had to find someone who knew which room Adele was in since I hadn’t had the chance to ask the doctor.
The weepy episode that Pam had only just managed to keep at bay finally came to head when she saw Adele’s state…
But I’d be lying to say that seeing her like that was anything less than devastating. Even if I had questioned my plans for a second, the sight before us would have erased any doubt I could have had.
Her hospital gown hardly covered her, making way for the dozens of leads monitoring her heart… Her leg was in traction with a cooling device resting on her knee to prevent swelling… Her neck was locked into a brace to keep her from moving her head around…
And as though seeing the woman we’d quickly grown too fond of held together with medical equipment that resembled torture devices wasn’t enough, the fact that the entire right side of her body was black and purple…
Pam wasn’t even bothering to hide her teary reaction as she shoved me towards Adele’s bed. “What are you waiting for!?”
It was bizarre that I couldn’t laugh at her. I usually managed to avoid my own reactions by finding absurdity in hers… That wasn’t going to work today.
Instead of reminding Pam how out of line she was, I managed to forgive the push… Had it been any other circumstances, I’d have shoved back… but… had it been any other circumstances she wouldn’t care enough to have bothered.
I started with the cart closest the door, rifling through the drawers and finding what I was looking for in the second drawer… motioning to Pam to secure the door…
It had taken us long enough to find a doctor that I had felt Sookie’s satisfaction from her meal, but as quickly as she ate her tension began rising again because Pam and I had been gone for so long.
The hermetically sealed scalpel was sharp enough that I didn’t feel it cut into my hand until I was already holding it to Adele’s mouth…
It only took a moment, and I’d known it wouldn’t take much, but her bruises started to fade quickly…
The darkest of them were purple by the time we could hear the heart monitor register what we could already hear…
Adele was getting stronger before she managed to take her first swallow.
I took a seat on the side of the bed while Pam cleaned her face… only leaving her post once she was satisfied that Adele had ‘enough’… even then, it was only when the bag of ice water began shaking as Adele’s knee healed that Pam was reassured at all.
That was amusing… My blood would’ve brought Adele back from worse injuries and Pam knew it. She still stayed in the room until she saw Adele’s eye start to flutter for herself.
“You’ve caused a lot of trouble.”
She gave me a confused smile as she took in her surroundings. “What’s going on? How did I…”
“You… decided to have your first heart attack on the stairs.”
“Oh no!” She looked over herself moving her once swollen and battered arm… looking over her leg. “What is all this? Why…?”
“Your knee was shattered and you had a severe concussion. How are you feeling?”
She stopped fighting against the neck brace and relaxed back to the bed. “I feel… fine… What did you do?”
“I healed your injuries by giving you my blood.”
“Oh, Eric… I… Thank you but…”
“I haven’t prevented the inevitable… Your heart attack was a minor one… the injuries would have taken you a long time to recover from. All I did was relieve you of the recovery.”
“No death cheating?”
I chuckled at her. “No ma’am. We’ve robbed the orthopedic surgeon of a vacation, but nothing more. You need to be fit to help Sookie with Hunter.”
“What’ll it do to me? Having your blood?”
“That’s variable. Sookie’s senses are heightened. The more she has, the stronger and faster she is… It’s safe to say that you’ll have a bit of a spring in your step for a while.”
“And you’ll be able to sense me, right?”
I nodded and let her work through her thoughts… concern, frustration (though, not focused on me), appreciation… she was uncomfortable until I helped her remove the neck brace…
I waited, but she seemed to get caught on an idea. “Yes?”
“How do I get out of this bed? We have errands to run.”