A Bored To Death Outtake
The emptiness of my house was irritating to say the least. The frequency of our little ‘skips’, as Adele had grown fond of calling them, was daunting… no less than one each month. They never interfered with the nights and days of our actual lives, but they were definitely a test of our patience.
I was sure, since it had happened before, that another version of me would be waking to find Sookie in his bed with him. He’d be enjoying the way she’d chosen to greet me when I woke, basking in the sunlight she’d promised to bring to bed with her.
The more I thought about it, the more I pondered the idea of letting our bond wane slightly so that our side trips wouldn’t happen as frequently.
As it was, I found myself driving out to Bon Temps alone to try and reunite with my Sookie, not knowing what I’d find… Taking my Escalade because my Corvette hadn’t been in the garage and wondering as much about the layer of dust on it as I did about why the engine didn’t want to turn over.
At first glance, I didn’t find much of anything. Sookie’s rust-eaten hatchback was waiting at the end of a heavily pitted driveway in front of a more ramshackle version of her family home than I’d seen yet.
I knocked first, not wanting to be shot by yet another version of Sookie, but there was no answer.
With no other clues, I tried the knob to find it locked… then around to the porch to find the door standing open.
I called out to Sookie, again with no answer, but I did hear a slight bump come from the back of the house.
I knew better than to think my Sookie would be who I’d find. The combination of a car she hadn’t driven in months and a property that hadn’t had any maintenance done, guaranteed it.
What I did find was a Merlotte’s apron on the kitchen counter next to a purse and a stack of mail. Her wallet was empty except for some change, but her apron had a wad of singles in it… the stack of mail was nothing but ‘final’ notices for that house and an equally disturbing pair of foreclosure letters from the bank; the family home and Jason’s house. The sink was stacked with days of dishes. The garbage was overflowing the bin… more confusing still was a vest with a service station logo on the back… a second job?
Something had gone terribly wrong in this version.
I made my way through the house carefully, still quite literally ‘gun shy’, as I looked for signs of life…
Sookie was crumpled in a heap next to the toilet in the filthy hall bathroom. Barely breathing and so hot I could feel her fever radiating from her before I knelt to check her health.
Her skin seared to the touch and there didn’t seem to be any way to revive her.
I looked for her cell phone since I hadn’t found it in her purse while looking for clues, but it wasn’t in her pockets either… I set Sookie in the tub while it filled with cold water. I had to leave her long enough to find the cordless phone to call Pam since my cell conveniently had no service.
“How is your evening going?”
“Oh my God! Eric?”
“Tell me that I’m remembering correctly… Cold baths help bring down fevers.”
“Where have you been?” I didn’t have the patience to think about why she’d have asked.
“Fevers, Pam. Focus.”
She snapped, “Antibiotics work better. Who’s sick?”
“Sookie. I found her alone and unconscious.”
“What’s a Sookie?” Shit.
“Nevermind that. I’m in Bon Temps. 200 Hummingbird Lane.”
“I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
I had to sit on the floor so that I could hold her knees down, keeping her legs straight to keep her from sliding underwater… Without any hints that she might be coming around, I thought I’d try to learn something about that Sookie.
Jason’s number was disconnected.
Alcide’s number was disconnected…
That left only Sam…
“Merlotte’s. Terry speaking. How can I help you tonight?”
“Is Sam there?”
“Naw, sir. Out sick.”
“Sorry to say, Lafayette’s been gone a few months now.”
“Arlene?” I should have crossed my fingers. I was running out of Sookie’s friends to ask for.
“Hell mister, I’da asked for Sookie first.”
“Is she there?”
“No. She got off work earlier, but I’da still asked for her first. Lemme getcha Arlene.”
I watched Sookie’s teeth start to chatter while I waited for Arlene to come to the phone.
“You got Arlene.” Had I been in a better mood, I might’ve asked if there was a cure, or if having a case of Arlene was terminal.
“Hello. This is Eric. I’m a friend of Sookie’s. Did you see her today?”
“Just for a sec. I was coming. She was going. Is she feeling better?”
“Worse actually. I found her with a high fever. Is there any way you can think of for me to get in touch with Jason? I think she should go to a hospital.”
“I told her that too, but she said she can’t afford it… If you’re a friend of Sookie’s then how come you’re asking after Jason?”
An off the cuff lie… “I haven’t been back in the country for long.”
“Oh… he’s in jail. Went up the river for killing fangbangers, if you can believe that. Only people that think he done it are a couple of cops and the 12 idiots who sat on the jury.” Fanfuckingtastic.
“What about her Vampire friend?”
“That’s news to me.” No Bill?
“Poor lady didn’t make it through the trial… Look, if you want, I can send my husband out to take her to the hospital.”
“I thought you were single.”
“I’m off the market. Me and Rene been married a couple of months now.” Even better.
“I’ll take care of her. Did she get the same illness as Sam? Terry mentioned he was out sick too.”
“I don’t think so. He just calls it in once in a while. He seemed fine last night when I saw him. Sookie’s been dragging since I worked with her yesterday.”
“Thank you. I’ll have her call you when she’s up to talking.”
“You do that.”
Dead Adele, imprisoned Jason, free Rene, missing Lafayette, no Bill to blame anything for, and when I looked through the window, I saw the reason for Sam’s ‘illness’ too clearly. Full moon.
Sookie could’ve contracted her mystery illness from any one of the customers at her mundane jobs.
I was left with nothing for too long… until I heard shuffling in the yard.
Maybe there was a Bill to blame things for after all.
I took Sookie out of the water as quickly as I could and put her on the bed, not caring about soaking her linens as much as finding who was lurking in her yard.
I was aware that I could find nothing more than a deer or the damned raccoons that were ‘close enough to cats’ for Bubba… but when I reached the front porch, I saw headlights bouncing up the driveway fast enough to cause damage to the car.
Before I could react to Pam’s crazed arrival, I was being wrung and wept on. What the fuck?
“Pam? You’re being ridiculous.”
“RIDICULOUS!? You’ve been missing for 2 months and 24 days! I’ve searched the area for you only to find your scent and nothing else… but I can still feel you… why haven’t you contacted me?”
“What?” I couldn’t think of anything else to say. I’d been missing for nearly 3 months? Well, a version of me…
“What do you mean, ‘what’? I know you’re my maker and all, but you have some explaining to do! You’ve been here? All this time? Why? Why haven’t you called? You… THIS is where you’ve been staying?”
“No. I think we both have some explaining to do.”
“We both…? Eric… do you have any idea what life has been like since you left? I’ve been in hiding. Hallow’s taken over everything. She even ended your replacement… Everything’s gone to shit and the only reason I stayed was because I could still feel you.”
“Hallow? The Witch? Why was I replaced? With whom? Why didn’t you take my place?” That trifling cretin hadn’t gotten far with her bullshit threats once Paulette and Porter were set loose on her… She learned too quickly to do more research. Vampires plus a Telepath plus two Witches that were stronger than a whole coven equaled a colossal failure for the conniving, blackmailing Witch. Her delusions of grandeur hadn’t gotten her out of the state alive.
“I thought she’d killed you! It turns out you were hiding…”
“I don’t hide. You fucking know better than that.”
“Whatever. You were gone. Flood and most of his pack were slaughtered one by one. When I told the Queen I was only interested in finding you so that you could resume your duties, she sent that retard Compton to stand in. His car was found in the Fangtasia parking lot with his luggage still in it. He hadn’t lasted the night. I had to kill Bobby so that they couldn’t get to him. Hallow cut Area Five’s numbers in half.”
“Area 5 has been seized by a Witch?”
“A Were-Witch. A Were-Witch who is abducting Vampires and using their blood as fuel… Where have you been!?”
“I’ve been splitting my time between Shreveport and Bon Temps when I’m not traveling with Sookie.”
“Traveling with Sookie!? The reason you finally called me! You’ve been on holiday…!”
“Calm yourself. Do you want an explanation or do you want to piss me off?”
“I’m not who you’re looking for. I’m sure once Sookie is healthy again, she can help, but… you’re still looking for your Eric… we need to check on Sookie to see if the bath helped to bring down her fever.”
“Why the fuck do I care about the health of some human!?”
“Because that human could help you take care of your Witch problem, but you’re going to have to be nice.”
“As though you’re vying for Christmas goodies.”
When I entered the house, Pam scoffed from the door frame. “I can’t get in. You’re going to have to have Sookie invite me.”
“She can’t. She’s unconscious.”
“Then explain out here.”
“I need to… Pam, just go around to the side of the house. I’ll open the fucking window so you can harass me that way.”
“You’re going to leave me standing in the yard so that you can tend to a human!? You’re right about one thing… You’re not the Eric I know!”
She was a spoiled fucking brat no matter what parallel I’d come across… And I couldn’t wait to laugh about it when it was all over with Adele.
Sookie’s fever had come down slightly. She still wasn’t conscious, but I did my best to tend to her. I changed the bedding and put Sookie into dry pajamas.
While I worked, I explained the annoying phenomenon that my Sookie and I had been dealing with since August…
Pam, of course, interrupted every few seconds to turn what could’ve been a 10 minute talk into an hour long attack on my sanity.
When I was done explaining and she was done blasting me with insults, all she had left was staring.
Since Sookie was resting, I joined Pam again on the porch and tried to guess as to why I’d been able to enter the house when she couldn’t.
I couldn’t describe how happy I was to see the checkered taxi’s sudden appearance in the driveway if I had to.
Sookie, My Sookie, was holding her sapphire up to the window proudly and only let herself smile when I showed my ring in turn. Seeing a ‘wedding band’ on my hand made Pam’s eyes bulge enough that I laughed.
She was giggling when she slid out of the car and came directly over to wrap her arms around me. “I don’t even care that the house seems like you broke up with me and didn’t tell me. I hate waking up when you’re gone.”
“You didn’t wake with Alcide again?”
She laughed. “You’re still too bitter about that!”
“He got my wake up.”
She hummed into my chest. “Oh, no he didn’t. His little head would’ve exploded.”
“Do I want to know where you woke?”
“The patio. I put my clothes back on because it was getting chilly, even in the sun, but I fell asleep reading… I’d run to the store so my wallet was in my pocket this time. Good thing too since I’d have had to break in to get to the safe. You don’t want to know how much a Shreveport to Bon Temps cab costs.”
“I couldn’t care less… You’re not allowed to nap anymore. I’m getting annoyed with this shit.”
“Amen… So what are we dealing with?”
“I just finished explaining to Pam how it is that I’m not who she’s looking for. It seems that the me she knows has been missing for nearly 3 months.”
I nodded. “Hallow has taken over my area.”
“How did she manage? We trumped her hand after that first meeting.”
“Since Pam has no idea who you are, you made the difference somehow. You were there when she came to me with her little proposal and we made our arrangements before she had the chance to be a threat.”
She turned to Pam, never taking her arms away from me. “But you can still feel your Eric though, right? I mean… he’s alive?”
Pam rolled her eyes, but opted to humor Sookie. “Yes… he says he’s not ‘my Eric’, but I haven’t felt him so strongly in all the time I’ve been searching for him.”
“If he were just laying low, he’d have contacted you to tell you though…”
“I’d like to think he’d contact me rather than leaving me completely out of the loop while he shacks up with the livestock. Who the fuck are you!? Eric, seriously! Why are you just standing there cuddling with some stupid little…”
I growled, “Pam. Stop talking.”
She seethed, glowering at me for a moment before she erupted, finally taking notice of Sookie’s scent. “You’re bonded!? To a HUMAN!? I’ve been forced into one of the safehouses while you…”
“Pam, I’ve been trying to tell you that I saw you just yesterday. You and Bubba went to the movies with…”
“Bubba is gone! Hallow ended him too!”
Sookie released her hold on me to step back. “Oh. Hell. NO! What could he have done!?”
Pam hissed, “Keep your mouth shut unless you’re spoken to, human.”
Sookie was giggling and only irritating Pam more when she suddenly stopped. Her eyes darted around curiously before she whispered, “We have company.”
She shook her head slowly. “Eric, if I didn’t know any better, I’d swear it’s you.” Lovely… I’d been starting to think that the other me wasn’t going to make an appearance.
“Everything about it… Eric, I swear, it’s you…”
“But Pam has no idea who you are. Why would ‘I’ be here and not have told Pam?”
Sookie took a step away from Pam. “Maybe we’re making a mistake by assuming this Pam can be trusted.”
I wanted to argue, but there wasn’t any way to dispute it since Pam’s alarmed demeanor could’ve been an act… Pam was capable of being cutthroat and devious. I’d never had a reason to be concerned… I’d been fucking proud of it, but without the bond to give me any hints, there wasn’t a way to be sure enough to defend her.
…Not that she’d given me the time. She advanced on Sookie, fangs drawn and hissing nastily. “The same could be said for me. Why would I automatically trust an Eric who’d be so smitten with a human?”
Sookie didn’t flinch in the slightest. “Gee, I don’t know… Why else would your Eric be close enough for both of us to feel him and not come forward, PAM? Why would he be close enough to hear us and think twice about coming forward? I can’t think of any reason he’d be concerned about ME since I’m just livestock.”
“I don’t know! Hallow made him disappear. Then she thought she’d toy with me… threatened to end another Vampire every night until I turned Eric over. Like I’d turn him over anyway, but I’ve been looking for him ever since… for me! Whatever she did made him vanish and I’m worried that killing the Witch would do something to him! I don’t know what to do!”
My Sookie rolled her eyes. “You could start by acting like a damn Vampire instead of a lost toddler.”
Pam hadn’t gotten the pleasure of scaring Sookie, only making her angrier. “I’ve had enough of you! You might be living it up in White-Trash-Barbie’s Dream House with your fanged Ken doll, but that isn’t what I’ve been dealing with! You don’t have any way to understand what it’s like to lose a maker… I’ve done everything I could think of to make sure that I’m not crazy, that I’m not sensing him because I miss him. I’ve felt drawn to this backwater shithole for 83 nights and every search turned up nothing.”
Sookie wedged her arms between the two of them and shoved Pam back hard enough that she landed on her ass in the yard, and then laughed at the shocked expression left on Pam’s face. “I get it! You’re stressed out. We’ll figure things out faster if you stop being a baby… and stop looking at me like that. I’m bonded to Eric for god sakes. I’m stronger than I look.” Sookie smoothed her hair as she stepped from the porch and around to the corner of the house to call out, “Eric! I know you’re out there. Come on out. We need to figure out what’s going on…”
Nothing… it was still too cool for even the crickets to respond.
“Please… Eric, I can tell you’re just as confused as we are. We all want answers. If we put our heads together, we might be able to get somewhere… I know you’ve been listening… Eric?”
I was ready to tell her to give up. If ‘I’d’ been hiding from Pam, I certainly wasn’t going to be talked out of the woods so easily…
That’s what I thought until I heard my own voice in the yard. “How is it that you can sense me?”
Sookie’s eyes darted back and forth, searching the tree line. “I’m a Telepath. I can’t hear your thoughts, but I can sense that you’re there.”
“And the other one? Pam?” He sounded unsure of the way Pam’s name sounded.
“She’s your child… Eric, you made her. She’s a pain in your ass, but you’ve been together for over 300 years.”
He corrected, “Jan.” What the fuck?
I watched her eyes lock on to something finally as she waited for his reply. He finally came into my line of sight, stopping several feet away from Sookie with his hands buried in the pockets of baggy sweatpants. His clothing was appalling, but the bigger problem was that he was ashen and withered… The effects of a poor diet. “I have no memory. Adele started calling me Jan Doe.”
Sookie smiled at him, less confused about his memory than Pam or I. “That sounds like Gran alright… If you don’t have any memory, how did you end up out here?”
“I don’t know. My first memory is running along the road on January 1st. I found the cemetery and went to ground that morning, but Adele found the disturbed earth when she was tending to her husband’s grave… she was waiting for me at sunset the next evening.” That sounded exactly like something Adele would do too… ‘finding’ a stray Vampire and taking him in.
“Ok… so where’s Gran?”
“With her husband. She had a heart attack about a month ago while you were at work.”
“What’s wrong with me? I mean the other me.”
“I couldn’t guess. I’ve never spoken to you, her. Adele was worried about your reaction.”
“How have you been managing? Feeding? Bathing?”
“I’ve been staying in the vacant house on the other side of the cemetery… bathing here while you, she’s at work since the other house’s utilities are off… I’ve been taking True Blood. Adele was buying it, but once she died, I started glamouring Sookie to leave a few bottles at a time in the cemetery out of desperation.” So he thought.
“Why were you here tonight?”
“I was bathing when she returned unexpectedly. She’s been ill and left work early.”
“She fainted when she saw you in the house?”
“No. When I heard her come in, I went to the empty bedroom and waited for my chance to leave. I heard her collapse, but when he came in, I went out through the window.”
“So you’ve just been hanging out in Bon Temps, waiting for your memory to come back? Why not try to contact other Vampires to see if they know you?”
“I would have, but when I rose to meet Adele, she showed me a flyer that she’d seen at the grocery store… Someone was looking for me. She put two and two together… the flyer and the loose dirt… She went to the trouble of calling the phone number on the flyer. She said that the woman who answered was ‘acting shady’ so she reported that she’d seen me check into a light tight room at a motel and subsequently watched the room be stormed like an ambush. With no memory, I didn’t know who I could trust other than Adele.”
“Well… You could’ve trusted Sookie. She hasn’t reported you.”
“I told you, I’ve been staying clear of her. I’ve been glamouring her…”
“Gran told you I can read minds though.”
“Yes. We kept each other company while Sookie was at work.”
“She can sense you like I can. She knows you’ve been around, but… I can’t be glamoured and… when Gran died, the house became hers… She had to have invited you in because Gran’s invite wouldn’t have been good anymore.”
Since the news surprised and confused him, Sookie took a step towards him with her hand out, pulling his wrist out of his pocket and leading him to the porch. She invited Pam to enter and then wandered to the bedroom… I chose to avoid the awkward silence between ‘Jan’ and Pam by following Sookie, but Jan decided to do the same.
Sookie went directly to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom and came back with a thermometer and a bottle of pills. She had me crush a couple of tablets while she took the invalid’s temperature…
Sookie rolled her eyes at the result… “A hundred two? Wussy! Wake up. We’ve had higher fevers than this.” She put her knee to the side of the bed to nudge it before sitting down and trying to give small amounts of the powdered tablets to the ill Sookie.
“Is she dreaming, Sookie? Is there any consciousness?”
She nodded as she dabbed away an unswallowed dribble of water. “She’s dreaming about Gran. It’s more of a nightmare really. Kind of revisiting the funeral… So, Jan, any ideas on how to get in touch with Jason? Did he move? This has happened before where he lived in California.”
“He’s in St. Francisville.”
She smiled. “Yeah? He settle down there for work or because of a girl?”
“Two girls… He’s at Angola for killing a pair of fangbangers…”
“You’re shitting me!”
Since I’d never gotten a grasp on that particular saying either, the puzzled look on his face wasn’t any kind of shock. I tried to relieve him of asking. “Arlene told me the same thing. The stress of the trial is ultimately what did Adele in… I called his number first to try to understand the situation… Jason and Alcide are both disconnected. Sam’s out chasing the mailman. Lafayette is ‘gone’ according to Terry. That could mean he quit or that he moved…”
Jan interrupted. “Lafayette died. He was left in the back of a detective’s car. The murder is ‘unsolved’ and Bellefleur is assumed the culprit… Who is this Alcide?”
“Her guard. A Were with the Shreveport pack. Pam mentioned that the pack had been thinned out. He could be dead too for all we know… What about Hadley? Has she been in contact since the trial?”
“Sookie’s cousin. She became the Queen’s child.”
“There’s a Hadley interred in the cemetery. She’s next to ‘Linda’. Her death date is more than 5 years ago though.”
Sookie shot a look in my direction. “No Hadley.”
I nodded. “So… no whining to the Queen about being homesick…”
Sookie finished, “So no Bill Compton being sent to ‘discover’ me… there’s where the paths diverge. More than 5 years, means she didn’t go to rehab when Gran sent her so she died of an OD or something.”
“No Hunter either then.” I could’ve laughed thinking about how annoyed he’d be to hear it.
When ‘Jan’ asked who Hunter was, Sookie explained that if Hadley died 5 years ago, then she didn’t live long enough to have her 4 year old, but Sookie explained the long way giving more details, including that Hunter lived with us…
That lured Pam from the front of the house. “You? You’re raising a child? You?”
“You’ve taken him to the movies twice this week and had a fucking ‘pajama party’ with Jason and Bubba last week.”
“I would NOT!”
“You bought flannel pajamas with little dinosaurs on them for the occasion.”
“You can’t be serious!”
“You told Sookie that you were going to steal him.”
“A CHILD!? You’ve gone mad!”
“No. In my reality, Sookie proved her worth and befriended you very easily. You’re eager for Hunter to grow up so that you can call her your sister when I turn her.”
“Seriously, Pam. Sookie got my attention the moment you brought her to my office. None of it matters though. It has nothing to do with you or your predicament…” I turned to Sookie. “Ideas?”
She shrugged. “Paulette for starters… But I think that we should take a little trip to Fangtasia.”
Pam blurted, “To see the bitch that caused all of this!?”
Sookie fired back. “SHE’S. A. WERE! Get your shit together! Her and her brother will be out on a run and her little minions won’t be able to cloud their thoughts from me. Eric and I can talk to them and I can walk right into that office and get her spell book so that we can UNFUCK YOUR ERIC!”
“Or get your boyfriend just as fucked as my maker. Brilliant!”
Sookie rolled her eyes and pounded her head into the wall behind her. “GAWD! What I’d give for a fist full of push pins right now! You…” Sookie stopped talking when her sick self began to stir.
We all watched her as she noticed me, then ‘Jan’ and Pam… finally seeing My Sookie sitting on the other side of the bed. She groaned, “Well this is weird.”
My Sookie smiled at her. “We can explain.”
She sat up, rubbing her eyes. “Ok… start with how I’m in PJs in bed then we’ll get to how there’s two Erics.”
All four of us had to pick our jaws up from the floor to start explaining…
It had been nearly 10 o’clock when Sookie came out of her fever enough to talk to anyone, but that time, that situation, that Sookie didn’t need nearly as much explaining as the others had…
My Sookie didn’t go into as much detail as usual because she was anxious to hear the other side of things, which was another first… She’d always been less interested in the lives of other versions of herself than she was in literary characters… The only notice she gave to any of the various versions of us was to me. She cared less for other Sookies than she did about what she was wearing. My welfare was her only concern.
Over the ‘skips’ we’d made, there had only been three constants. The first was that as soon as I rose, whether it was in bed with My Sookie, another Sookie, or alone, there was an instant feeling that something wasn’t right. That reality was askew… A niggling feeling that I was grateful for since Sophie-Ann hadn’t had been so fortunate as to get the hint…
Another constant, the only time I didn’t feel all but pulled to Bon Temps was when that’s where I rose and she experienced the same. Adele teased me by repeating ‘home is where the heart is’ every time we explained another experience. I never argued with her… My goal was always reuniting with Sookie… That was the third constant.
My Sookie stared at herself, urging her explanation. “So… why is it that this me, isn’t at all freaking out… I usually do.”
The sickly Sookie tipped her head to the side. “You came to Merlotte’s because you couldn’t find Eric… beginning of January. You said you always met up ‘here’, but he wasn’t around yet… I didn’t know what you were talking about, but you used Sam’s office phone to call Fangtasia and you had a shitfit because y’all ‘already took care of that bitch’. So you explained that your Eric had pissed off some Witch and she cast a spell on him. You were barely done explaining what happened when Eric showed up to meet up with you… When that Eric was cursed, he wasn’t gone but a couple hours before you got to him though because of some bond… Once she and Pam killed the Witch the spell was broken, but Eric didn’t remember what he missed while he was under the spell… not that he missed much. I’m gonna take a stab and guess that wasn’t y’all… another y’all?”
I nodded. “Sookie was with me at Fangtasia the night Hallow made her demands. By sunset the next night, she and Paulette had circled the wagons… Hallow and Mark were bound from doing harm in my Area. When she shifted her attentions to New Orleans, Andre didn’t waste time with magic. He showed his sense of humor by burning them at the stake dressed as pilgrims.”
She giggled. “Like Salem?”
“Well… it wasn’t long after that I heard and saw Gran thinking about ‘Jan’… then I started catching little hints now and then… I even teased Gran about it when we saw ‘Missing’ posters of him at Wal-Mart… she thought ‘poor Jan’… I told her that he looked like more of an ‘Eric’ to me… she was having fun with the secret and that other Sookie told me not to mess around with the Witches unless I could kill them… She gave me a short list of folks I could trust if they came out here looking for him. Pam, Jason, that Witch you mentioned, Paulette… otherwise to keep my mouth shut about him or I’d get us both killed…” Good advice.
My Sookie nodded thoughtfully then raised her eyebrow. “So what’s with the two jobs?”
“Money was already really tight keeping up the bills on this house and Jason’s… When Gran died, her Social Security checks stopped. I guess the fever just got to me because I’m run down.”
My Sookie shook her head and pulled her wallet out of her pocket… she emptied her cash out on the night stand, and I followed suit, only keeping a few hundred in case we needed it…
Sookie scowled at us and snatched the cash to count it. “$6,000! You two walk around with what I make in 4 months in your wallets!? I can’t take this!” She’d shoved the money through the air to get My Sookie to take it back.
My Sookie gently pushed her hand back. “I made more than 3 times that much last night… Take it. It should cover your past due bills and get Gran a proper headstone… Ok… A plan…”
Pam was still pouting when I looked over to her. “You said you’ve been in hiding. Was your resting place breeched?”
“No. When you disappeared, I yanked the hard drive out of the computer and took the files from the safe and left. I’ve been using our Bossier safehouse just in case.”
“So my house hasn’t been compromised?”
“Not that I know of. What are you thinking?”
I asked the rapidly improving patient, “Sookie, does this Holly know about your ability?”
She nodded. “To an extent. Everyone sorta knows.”
“Does she know that you can’t read Vampire minds?”
“No. No one would know that. There hasn’t been one out here except for him.”
“Good. Call her. Tell her that you finally felt ill enough to go to an emergency room and while you were there, you overheard the thoughts of a Vampire who was planning to raid Fangtasia… that she needs to call all of the other Witches and warn them.”
She started scooting off of the bed. “Aye, aye captain… are you hoping that someone will be able to contact that witch and she’ll show up.”
“Yes.” And when she did, I’d snap her neck and burn the building down around the rest for good measure.
Jan and the other Sookie (who was just as stubborn as mine) rode with me and My Sookie to Shreveport…
We were barely out of Sookie’s pitted driveway before the questions started. Both Jan and his Sookie were curious about details. It almost seemed senseless to give them since Jan probably wouldn’t remember and certainly wouldn’t believe Sookie’s testimony since she was a stranger to him… As it was, they both stared at the back of Sookie’s head for most of the drive since it was laid on my shoulder.
After the questions waned, about halfway into the ride, My Sookie began feeling frustrated and sympathetic, defensive and obstinate…
I was concerned enough that I was trying to think of a way to ask her why… Since Jan spoke English, he’d know the other languages I did. If I whispered, he’d have heard it…
But My Sookie’s sudden feeling of victory relieved me…
“Have you fed from anyone while you’ve been in Bon Temps?” We’d been together for 6 months and she was still surprising me… Her moods had been the result of telepathically talking her other self into feeding him…
“No. I haven’t spoken to anyone but Adele since I arrived. We decided that it wasn’t safe.”
“You need to feed.” His quiet made her lift her head and turn to look at him. “We’re about to confront the Witches who stole a thousand years worth of memories from you. Sweetie, you need your strength. Do you remember how to do it without killing the donor?”
I watched in the rearview mirror as he nodded slowly with a gaped mouth.
She smiled at him and patted his knee. “K… Sookie’s willing, but she’s never been fed from so you’re going to have to be gentle.”
His fangs ran out as he nodded again, making the other Sookie jump. “Wait. I thought you said that you’re going to feed yours too.”
My Sookie nodded. “I am, but… ummm, we should wait until the car’s stopped first.”
“Since we’re bonded… when he feeds from me it causes a kind of chain reaction.”
“What kind of chain reaction?”
My Sookie licked her lips and smirked in my direction. “Are you sure you want to know?”
“Uh, yeah! I mean, if it happens to y’all… yeah. I want to know.”
“Then let’s just say that feeding him usually leads to dessert.”
“Because we’re bonded, but you aren’t. You shouldn’t have that problem.” She buried her face in her hands and disappeared from the rearview… I was too amused since it seemed so long since My Sookie was so bashful. It was only then that it occurred to me that without a Bill, without knowing me, unless that Sookie had finally caved for Merlotte, she was still as ‘inexperienced’ as mine was when I found her.
Since My Sookie still didn’t speak Swedish, I knew the other one wouldn’t either. I warned, “Hon räddade dig med sin tystnad, så du är skyldig henne hela din existens. All min erfarenhet säger mig att hon är oskuld, så det är bäst för dig att du tar det varsamt, så jag slipper förinta dig på ren princip. Är det förstått?”
He nodded. “Klart och tydligt.”
My Sookie turned enough to reach back and take the other’s hand. “It’s going to hurt at first, but it’s not bad. His saliva will numb it after a second… and if he doesn’t stop on his own, I’ll punch him in his dick.”
She snickered and slapped My Sookie’s arm. “Don’t make me laugh. This is scary for me.”
“If you don’t want me to help you relax, then touch him… focus on his thoughts. I’m still using Eric to avoid freaking out when a plane lands.”
I adjusted the rearview so that I could be watchful, unsure if being punched in the dick could stop ‘me’ from draining Sookie considering the state he was in…
The blissful expression that took over the other Sookie’s face was the only clue I had that she’d made contact with Jan. Not only did I watch his skin get back what little bit of pigment we had, but he behaved well enough to withdraw his fangs after three long draws and healed her marking without prompting.
While he growled, fighting the understandable urge to go back for seconds, My Sookie leaned over and kissed my neck. “That’s why.”
“What question are you answering?”
“When you asked why I love you… Even when you don’t know who the hell you are, you’re still a good man… Children and old ladies agree.”
With nothing but ashes left of Fangtasia and its frantically plotting occupants, the five of us returned to Jan’s house…
Not only was it the closest, but we all needed to wash away the gasoline and odor of singed magic and we still had loose ends to tie up. So it was decided that the other Sookie and Pam would stay with Jan at his house so that they could be there for the tutorial.
My Sookie led the way down to ‘his’ room so that she could find something fresh for herselves and Pam to wear, relieving him of T-shirts all three pairs of his underwear, teasingly calling us ‘commando Vampires’ as she ran up the stairs… I was left to give the memoryless version of myself a tour of his resting place. Still, nothing was familiar to him.
Since his Sookie hadn’t known why his memory didn’t return as soon as Hallow was dead, Pam called Paulette while we were en route to find out that a spell strong enough to void a Vampire’s memory would most likely need a night or two to wear off. It still tried my patience to see him stare into his closet as though it was a stranger’s. As financially strapped as Adele had been, she’d bought him only 3 pairs of sweatpants and T shirts… and her guess as to his shoe size left something to be desired.
Leaving him to take his shower, I began staging the business and political aspects that I hoped would be over quickly so that Sookie and I could retire and go home.
As soon as he stepped under the water, he asked, “Are you sure she can’t be glamoured?”
“Positive. I’ve tried.”
“Various reasons. Unfortunately, she’s doomed to remember everything that she doesn’t consciously hide from.”
“Then why did she help me? She needed the bounty.”
“Because you needed help.”
“That doesn’t seem practical.”
“You met Adele. You know that she was delightfully unique… Sookie was raised with a different way of thinking than most humans.”
“If she can’t be glamoured, then how can I be sure she’ll be discrete?”
“Bring her to your side. Be patient. Don’t lie to her. She’ll be the best thing that ever happened to you.”
“No. Not just any human. The human who took a second job instead of selling you to Hallow. The human who provided for you and extended an invitation without any promise of reward. The human who fed you so that you’d have the strength to execute the bitch who cursed you and then cried when she saw that you had a flesh wound. That human. Not random slag. Not a pathetic, materialistic pet. That human is better than you… Sookie is braver and more loyal than anything or anyone I’ve ever met. That human will love you and forgive your faults and demons because she knows, she knows too well, that every man has them. If you give her the chance, that human will make you love and need and laugh and fight and question yourself, but more importantly, she’ll make you happy.”
Without drying, he left the shower to stand in the doorframe. “You…. I love?”
“No. You don’t because you’ve only had but a taste of what Sookie is capable of… Sookie, and everything she has to offer, is everything you’ll ever want or need. Since I can remember every bit of what I’ve seen and done, you should try to remember that above anything.”
He stared at me for a moment as though I was the one impaired and scoffed as he returned to his shower…
I’d expected as much.
We reconvened in ‘Adele’s room’… Jan had waited for me to finish my shower, not knowing his own home and feeling more unwelcome there than he had in Bon Temps.
His eyes widened as we walked into the library, scanning the shelves. “Adele would’ve staked me if she knew I have this…”
The women were already waiting so My Sookie giggled at him. “Yeah, she would. As it is, My Gran has changed her will. When she dies, she wants to be cremated and kept here.” Pam rolled her eyes.
I set Jan’s laptop on the desk and as soon as I logged on, I missed the new one Sookie had given me at Christmas… The ‘tastefully nude’ photo of Sookie as my wallpaper aside, I’d already gotten used to the new operating system. “Adele spends most of her alone time in this room… that armchair is hers now.”
The other Sookie gave a bittersweet smile and sighed, “I bet” as she fingered the spine of Candide. “So what’s next? What are y’all doing?”
“Not us. We… Because we’re in the unique situation of Jan having amnesia, we are making a video record for him in the case that he doesn’t remember what happened while he was cursed once the spell is broken. There are certain things that you’ll have to be careful of, things that could quite possibly make your lives more difficult…”
He finally stopped looking over the books to ask, “Such as?”
I only paused long enough to start the recording and sit down. “Hadley is a defining factor. In our version of reality, Hadley didn’t die. She was just estranged and later became the pet, then child, of Sophie-Ann… By bonding to Sophie-Ann, they shared this… this strange experience of sliding into different versions of their reality… The fact that our versions of Sophie-Ann and Andre know about it, offers a certain amount of cushion. Since I can tell everyone else to shut the fuck up or mind their own business, being able to explain information provided in our skips fully to the only one I answer to is easier. You’ll need to formulate an excuse for why you were missing for so long only to resolve the situation over night.”
“Your version of Sophie-Ann bonded to Sookie’s cousin and this happens to her too?”
My Sookie nodded and waved the memory card that she’d started keeping in her wallet, just as I had. “This will be your best friend. Y’all need to make copies and add to it… There are more than 200 journal entries on this…”
Pam gasped, “200?” Jan and the other Sookie were just as shocked.
My Sookie nodded. “Twelve of them are ours. We’ve collected four journals from different Sophie-Anns and they’ve all had years of skipping experience. It’s kind of insane considering how different they all are. I mean, this version has seen two other versions now. Our first one was a little nuts because neither pair of Us had ever skipped before. But… we’ve actually overlapped a couple of times, you know, met the same versions more than once. He’s the King of Louisiana in one version…”
I added, “She’s already been turned in two others…”
The other Sookie shrieked, “TURNED!?”
My Sookie shrugged. “They had a business trip that didn’t go well. It was be turned or die completely. The other time was because Bill Compton is a greedy, overambitious fuck-stain…”
“I’m going to fire Alcide if you keep talking like that.”
She giggled and kissed my cheek. “Leave him alone. Besides, I got that one from Pam.” I didn’t bother looking surprised. “Anyway… Bill Compton isn’t a problem for you because he’s double dead in this version… K… back to things… It’s kind of a pain in the ass, but we’ve gotten used to it. When I wake up for the day, I put Eric’s phone and wallet into his hand so that he isn’t stuck without his too. I guess the best thing y’all can do is just make it a point to keep the journals up to date… That means you need to add the first one and this one. Add as many notes as you can because, in all honesty, it isn’t a diary as much as a guide for all the other ones you run into.”
“Umm… How does it… how do you get back?”
“We go to bed. It’s that simple. We don’t know how or why, but in every version we’ve come across, all we have to do is turn in and everything resets itself for us. It’ll be sunset for us, but time for y’all will stay put because y’all were the hosts.”
Pam huffed, rolling her eyes again and sitting on the chair behind the desk. “Then what?”
Always a brat… “Then you wait for Jan’s memory lapse to correct itself, educate him as to everything that’s happened if he doesn’t remember it, and then start fixing the post-Hallow clusterfuck that is Shreveport. I strongly suggest you keep Sookie a secret. Sophie-Ann having her own Stackhouse is definitely a reason why I haven’t been challenged for her.”
My Sookie studied the ceiling for a moment before she thought of something to add. “You two can’t exchange blood somewhere that isn’t light tight. We blackout and go for hours…”
Jan narrowed his eyes. “Hours?”
I nodded. “It happened to us several times before we recorded it… the recording was time stamped and stopped at 10am… before we did.”
Since the other Sookie was starting to blush, Mine changed the subject despite Jan’s interest. “Ooh! Detective Coughlin!” Sookie bolted from my lap and reached over the desk to grab a note pad and pen. “Rene’s other victims. We only know of three because our Rene was stopped. His first victim was his sister… the other two were customers at Fangtasia. If you contact Coughlin with Shreveport PD, he’ll look into the two Shreveport murders and connect them to the ones Jason went up for… He should get cleared in no time.”
Jan nodded. “If your brother needs a lawyer, I’ll make sure he has a good one. I owe you that much. I offered to help, but Adele refused…”
She shook her head. “How could you have helped?”
“I offered to mimic the other crimes while Jason had an alibi.”
“You offered to kill a girl…?”
Her eyes widened. “No wonder Gran told you no!”
“Actually, she hit me.”
Both Sookie’s snorted out identical laughs, but I patted My Sookie’s thigh. “Have we covered everything?”
She bit her lip as she thought about it. “No Hadley means that they’re on their own and have to wag the dog. Become one with the skip journal. Don’t share blood in the open. How to get Jason out of jail… I think so.”
She waited for me to agree before she stood up, ejected her memory card and took the pen to write something in Jan’s palm… and then hugged her other self, which was a first. “Keep a bead on me. You’ll feel us leave… See ya.”
Sookie sighed as she tossed herself down on the bed. “Time for our magic carpet ride.”
“You seem less annoyed with this skip than before.”
“I don’t know. I’m kind of proud of that one. She had enough sense to keep his secret… and Bill being dead is always a plus…”
I turned around as though I’d leave. “That reminds me… I need to ask about her uncle.”
As I expected her to, she bounced onto my back, laughing playfully. “Oh, no you don’t! You only get to kill Bartlett once. Get in bed so we can go home!”
“Only if you tell me what you wrote on his hand.”
“She cared for you when you had nothing. Remember her. Trust her. She’ll love you forever.”
“Because you’ll love me forever?”
She giggled against my ear. “You’re not in bed yet.”
I chuckled at her and laid back on top of her while she struggled, cackling as she tried to get out from under me. “Waiting.”
“Yes! You giant butthead! Now get off…”
“I’ll love your heavy ass forever. Now roll over.” She slapped my ass while I situated so that she could curl up next to me.
We’d only had our eyes closed for a few minutes before we heard the pounding of footsteps barreling down the stairs…
Sookie and I were smiling at each other by the time the door to our room swung open and Hunter ran in to jump onto the bed. “Welcome home! Was there a ME!?” From the smell of him, he’d been outside when he felt us return.
Sookie giggled as she kissed his cheek. “No sir. Sorry.”
His grin melted instantly, making his lip poke out. “Why not?”
“Because that Hadley didn’t live long enough to have you.”
His only reply was blowing a raspberry that I returned.
I asked, “Is everything normal?”
He nodded. “Yep. For now.”