Sookie looked at the clock on her microwave and sighed. For the last ten and a half years, she’d never been able to get into a regular sleep pattern. She would spend hours in Eric’s cubby, writing out her memories. She wasn’t sure why she was doing it, or why she felt most comfortable in that room. She didn’t question why she could only sleep peacefully in that bed after Caelum died. Sookie couldn’t understand why she churched up their story into bedtime fairy tales for her daughter. She didn’t regret much in her life. At least, not since her daughter was born. Before she came into her life, she had almost nothing but grief.
She wished Bill had been honest with her from the start. That Hadley had known how to keep her damn mouth shut. That so many things with Eric had played out differently.
She would never regret stepping out onto that rooftop in Dallas. Seeing Eric vulnerable and grieving… it was the first time she saw him as more than evil and manipulative. And although she’d like to forget how Yvetta looked clinging to chains, naked and sweaty in Fangtasia’s basement, she couldn’t help but be impressed by Eric’s stamina and… er… size. Although inexperienced with men besides Bill, she hadn’t been dazzled or mind-blown by either of those qualities with him.
Most of her regretted taking Claudine’s hand and popping to that fucking fairy realm. The only good part of that experience was getting to see Granddaddy again. But losing more than a year of her life? That sucked. While she wasn’t thrilled with Eric as a landlord, she wasn’t as angry as she acted. The blood dreams and his speech at her house about “saucy” Fairy-Sookie and her lesser human side affected her more than she wanted to admit. Then he had to mess with witches and get himself cursed.
Amnesiac Eric showed Sookie the man under the scary Viking vampire sheriff persona. He was sensitive, funny, sweet… and still kissed like a house on fire. He also proved that his memory had no effect on his stamina. From sweet and slow lovemaking in the woods to passionate coupling at the bottom of her stairs to primal fucking in her bed… the man may not have known his child or his king, but that didn’t stop him from knowing how to turn her inside-out with pleasure.
The end result of that madness was being forced to choose between Bill and Eric. Being asked to do so a) after having massive amounts of blood from each of them and b) while she was woozy and lightheaded from feeding two healing vampires at the same time wasn’t very fair in her opinion, but no one asked her that.
Both men had their pros and cons. If she’d been firing on all cylinders, she might have seen things she missed at first. Like Bill’s smug smirk when she forgave him. Or Eric’s almost-childlike smile when she turned his way. How, of the two, Bill looked angry when she chose neither vampire; Eric simply looked shattered.
The following year… she’d rather forget. Other than meeting the ancestor responsible for her telepathy and her brief relationship with Alcide, nothing happened that she could think about without hurting. Especially the Hep-V outbreak. When Eric reappeared with those dark veins peeking from under his collar, she wanted to cry. She didn’t feel the same sense of… wrongness when they appeared on Bill, despite the fact that she had infected him. He’d never had the same joie de vivre that Eric had. After the epidemic started, even before his infection, he seemed like the Goth kid sitting in the corner, morbidly obsessed with death and pushing everyone who cared about him away. She knew that she slept with him that last time partly for old-time’s sake, but also out of pity. He had refused the cure in Sarah Newlin’s blood offered by Eric and committed himself to meeting his true and final death.
No, Sookie never would or could forget assisting Bill in his suicide, but it would not stop her from enjoying her life. When Eric told her that she was one of the few people – vampires, humans, all manner of supes – that he truly cared for, it affected her more than she could have predicted.
So much so that, after Bill was gone and life had calmed down, she went to Fangtasia. She knew that he’d kept the club while working on some project that he’d taken over from those Japanese gangsters. She had to see him to get her thoughts straight in her head.
She was grateful that Pam wasn’t working the door, so she was able to enter without taunting or sarcastic verbal abuse. On the stage, in his ostentatious throne, sat the cool-eyed Viking in all his Scandinavian glory. Sookie thought for sure he’d sense her when she entered, but he never looked her way. Loitering against the back wall, she watched him smirk, stand, and summon a curvy redhead from the bar. She followed him like a wide-eyed puppy to his office where the door slammed shut behind her.
It shouldn’t have hurt the way it did. Even if Eric believed himself immune, she wouldn’t have let him feed from her since she was still Hep-V-positive. She wasn’t willing to risk exposing him again. Besides, he’d only said he cared for her. Since the aftermath of Marnie’s possession of Lafayette, she knew he wouldn’t risk her rejection again by telling her he loved her. At least, that’s what she had thought. Seeing him seeking pleasure without thought or hesitation, she resolved to do the same and left Fangtasia with no intention of ever returning.
A few months later, she arrived at the hospital with a wildflower bouquet for her sister-in-law and a soft chenille teddy bear for her newborn niece. Sookie passed by the nursery window and immediately knew that the squalling infant with light blond peach-fuzz belonged to her brother.
A tall, dark-haired man came to stand next to her. “That’s my best friend’s little girl over there,” he said, pointing to a sleeping baby with a pink cap. “Which one is yours?”
“That’s my niece, Bettie Adele. The one letting everyone know she’s quite unhappy with her new quarters,” she said with a grin. “I need to drop these off for my sister-in-law. It was nice meeting you,” she said vaguely. She tried to listen in, as she’d gotten in the habit of doing with strangers.
All she’d heard was soft static that pulsed calmly.
It was strangely relaxing.
In the hospital room, both Jason and Bridget were napping. Knowing they needed their rest, she left the flowers and bear on the bedside tray and quietly stepped out.
“Do you think I could interest you in a cup of coffee?” a deep voice asked from behind her. The static was pulsing slightly faster, like an excited heartbeat. She turned with a smile, nodded, and followed him to the elevator.
Muffins and lattes started the relationship between Caelum Brennan and Sookie Stackhouse. He moved into her farmhouse after a year together and they were engaged a few months later. Before they married, they had a long talk about their individual pasts and joint future.
Caelum apprehensively admitted his fairy background, inherited from a father who disappeared after his conception. He learned of his heritage when he met his fairy godmother Carina who trained him how to use his light for protection and helped him hone his skill as a harbinger.
Sookie confessed her telepathy, relieved that he wasn’t looking at her like she was crazy. She told him about Claudine, Queen Mab, Granddaddy Earl, and the battle at the portal club against Russell Edgington. She even found the courage to tell him about Warlow and the self-destructive place she was in at that time. As he went through a similar phase, he understood and they moved on toward a better future together.
Caelum was universally liked in Bon Temps once he got out and about. Jason would take his future brother-in-law to football games and Arlene always gave him dinner on the house at Bellefleur’s. Only the vampires in the community were standoffish. He smelled delicious and they all decided that their absence at evening events was preferable to getting staked.
The Brennan-Stackhouse wedding was small and intimate, but still beautiful. The bride was given away by her brother at sunset and the couple spent an idyllic week in Mexico for their honeymoon. Sookie learned to trust her husband’s instincts when she insisted on a moonlight stroll on a beach that he had one of his feelings about. Only their combined “microwave” fingers and his previously unknown ability to teleport kept them from being drained by vampires attracted to their scent on the sea breeze.
Sookie filled her time by waiting tables at Bellefleur’s when Arlene needed the help. Caelum used his gift selling insurance and the two fairy-hybrids were happy. His white-noise-filled mind allowed her to let go and not have to deal with distracting thoughts while being intimate. It wasn’t long after they met that Sookie learned that his mental static throbbed in time with his emotions. It was a handy tool when she needed a gauge on what he was feeling, but much better than hearing actual thoughts. She was also relieved that her husband had no telepathic talents whatsoever.
Eric never left her mind entirely, despite her resolution. Sookie knew that part of her attraction to Caelum stemmed from his tall, slim build and his light eyes. He had a dry and sometimes dark sense of humor. His cocky smirk could make her hotter than the flames of Hades.
But she loved her husband for who he was, despite the reasons for her initial attraction. Caelum was a good man and when Sookie found herself pregnant after a year of marriage, he couldn’t help his emotional tears. He was unsure of his skills as a father, not having one to look up to as he grew up. She reassured him and let him know that she was confident of his skills. She also let him know that if he needed further reassurance or any questions, Jason was an excellent father to his now two girls, despite his goofball tendencies.
In spite of her supernatural heritage and fairy sensibilities, Sookie had an easy pregnancy. Her worries about twins (or more) after Andy’s experience were for naught and on January twenty-first, Addie Michelle Brennan – named for her maternal grandmother and great-grandmother – came screaming into the world.
The family was comfortable and happy. Caelum made a good income with plenty left over to save, so Sookie was able to stay home with her daughter. During Addie’s infancy, Sookie was grateful for her telepathy as she was able to soothe any reason for tears away, from hunger to discomfort to colic. Because of that early connection, while she loved her father dearly, Addie was truly her Momma’s girl.
It almost broke Sookie when Caelum died. He had gone to Shreveport to get an anniversary gift for his wife. He had one of his “feelings”, but was determined to get to the jewelry store before it closed. He didn’t know that a pair of young vampires – less than seventy, but old enough to have some control – caught his scent in the shopping center parking lot. Intoxicated by the exotic blood, they giggled like stoned teenagers when the body disintegrated into shimmery dust. They met a similar fate when they drunkenly passed out in the open and inadvertently met the sun the next morning.
Caelum visited his father as he passed into the Summerlands. He dictated his wishes to the man who had abandoned his mother and left for his final plane of existence. Knowing his duty, Solenn informed the prince of the man’s death and wishes before promptly moving on, giving no more thought to his son’s death than he had to his life.
At the news, Niall promptly opened the nearest portal to visit his great-granddaughter. He did not look forward to telling her that she was now a widow, but as Caelum’s earthly remains were literally dust in the wind, he had no other choice. He took care to visit during the day when the child was away from home. Sookie, in her worry over her missing husband, hadn’t slept the night before and it showed in her face. When Addie came home from school that day, her mother told her of her father’s death. Their shared grief bonded them closer than before.