I was in an exceptionally good mood. Work had gone really well for the first time in I can’t remember how long. The augmented mental shields that were a byproduct of my new fairy powers made wading through a day of waiting tables much easier. I didn’t have to fight to keep the smile on my face, even when a table of frat boys ogled my boobs. There was no listening to their ongoing mental monologues. It was glorious. The day was also glorious and I drove with the windows down. The temperature would drop come nightfall, but for now it was a perfect day.
I smiled at my driveway as I pulled in, thinking of Eric and how soon enough he would be back where he belonged. No matter what else happened, we would free him. The house was quiet. Bubba was still here despite the fact that Karin had returned from her trip to procure supplies that we would need for the upcoming battle. Only some of us would be going in as invited guests, while others would be going on by less honest methods. I didn’t pretend to understand it all, but I wouldn’t be the ones scaling walls or anything.
Pam would be over for a nightly sparring, but I had a little while until she showed so I made some dinner, threw in a load of laundry, and picked up a bit. I decided to head outside and practice some of the Tai Chi moves she had taught me. Pam was continually drilling into me that it was all about muscle memory. I needed to train my body to move without thinking. That way I wouldn’t lose precious seconds trying to think of what came next, my body would simply respond. I enjoyed the sense of peace that accompanied the movements. As the sun set my mind cleared and I was able to calm myself. I was anxious to get on with the fighting portion of the future, it would be dangerous, of that there was no doubt, but every day that we crept closer time seemed to slow.
I was halfway through the series of exercises when I heard a rustling from the tree line behind me. A year ago I would have ignored it and gone about my business. Six months ago I would have returned to the house and pretended that there was nothing going on. Now, I continued on through my series of moves, but I was alert to the presence lurking in the background. I listened and considered what I knew. There wasn’t enough sound for more than one attacker. They were probably a vampire since I had been out here for the hour before sunset and nothing had happened until dark fell over the yard. I was alone though Bubba had probably risen for the evening and was getting around so if there were sounds of a fight, he’d come speedy vamp-style out here. Karin would also arrive shortly, so realistically I only needed to hold my own for a bit. It would be a good test of my skills.
Whoever it was crept closer until I could sense their presence close behind me. I was prepared when the vampire jumped me from behind and I ducked at just the right moment, sending him somersaulting of his own power across the lawn. He shot to his feet and charged. I feinted to the right and he caught my arm instead of my full body. I swung around with the force and used the momentum to launch a roundhouse kick to his upper body. It didn’t do much more than shuffle him to the side, but it gave me the time to grab a fallen branch from the ground. About the length of a baseball bat, it was thick, strong, and, luckily, had a jagged end. It wasn’t exactly stake length, but I had played softball and I had been pretty good. I would tire much easier than a vampire so it was important that I ended the fight as quickly as possible. The next time he pounced I would go for it.
I took up a stance like I was looking to hit a home run, legs spread, and one hand over the other ready to strike. He came at me and I swung. It didn’t catch him across the head like I would have liked, but it connected none the less. He bobbled around stunned and I charged him, brandishing the branch held straight on like a sword of righteousness. Would it have been easier to just use one of my fireballs and send him up in flames? Well yes, but we’d decided that it would be better to keep my new skills on the down low. So I charged with a weapon that was as close to a sword of righteousness as Kmart is to Macy’s. Despite everything I chuckled a bit to myself.
As I streaked towards him I imagined impaling him. I missed. He grabbed, spinning me, and throwing me to the ground. My shoulder jarred with the impact against a tree root. He fell on me, fangs bared, and I brought my knees up blocking his advance. My arms locked on his chest pressing him away from me. I collapsed my left arm and rolled to the right, getting my body out from under him. I rotated back to the left, using my elbow to crush the vampire’s nose. It wouldn’t take long to heal, but it would be painful. While he clutched at his face, I grabbed my makeshift sword and shoved it through his torso. I missed the heart, but he was rendered immovable.
Breathing heavy it occurred to me that Bubba hadn’t shown and I worried momentarily that something had happened until I saw Pam, Karin, and Bubba standing on the back porch staring at me.
“Y’all gonna help me here or just stand there catching flies?” I asked channeling a bit of Pam’s snark.
Karin’s smirk raised a bit and she looked at Pam saying, “Yup. I think she’s ready. What do you think?”
“Well she should have pinned him sooner, but she got the job done.” She leaned against the post of the porch, arms crossed, and acting pleased with herself.
The vampire I had trapped beneath me started to wriggle in attempt to free himself and Bubba sped over to my side, ripping his body up over the branch, and slammed him to the tree behind us.
“Miss Pamela? What are we going to do with this one?” Bubba asked.
“Well now, it seems that we should be able to get some information out of him. Maybe even something we can use. Bubba, hold him.” Pam and Karin stalked over, looking calm and deadly. I knew what they were about to do, and although I knew it was necessary, he had tried to kill or kidnap me, but I didn’t have to watch. Then I realized that I was still clinging to my old habits: allowing others to do the dirty work, so I decided to stay and witness everything that happened. I wasn’t to a point where I would participate, and I might never be, but I wouldn’t turn a blind eye to what was happening.
Over the next few hours the vampire screamed as Karin and Pam did their best. He shrieked and pleaded, bled and healed, as they cut into him repeatedly. It was gruesome, but he told us what we needed to know. He had been hired by a vampire named Harrison who had sent him to kidnap me. It seemed that vamp society still wanted to use me for nefarious purposes. We didn’t know who Harrison was, yet, but we knew a vampire who kept records of that kind of stuff.
They had finished wringing every ounce of information they could from the vampire whose name they discovered was Jim. A ridiculous name, I thought to myself. They were about to execute him when I walked over to them. Bubba trailed slightly behind me, unsure of my plan.
“Pam?” Her head turned to gaze at me with that unflinching stare of hers.
“May I do the honors?” Her shocked look said everything.
“Are you sure Sookie? You aren’t normally one to…well…get your sundress dirty.”
“I thought it was about time I started taking an equal part in the dirtier parts. I’ve let you all carry the load for far too long. Can you think of a better way to practice my new power? I mean, it’s not like he’ll be able to run around telling the other little anti-Sookie vampires about it. I haven’t had a chance to see the effects.”
She raised an eyebrow, glanced at Karin and they both stepped out of the way.
I stood a bit away from him and centered myself. In the instant before I let loose the fire, I looked the vampire Jim square in the eye, and then I fried him. It didn’t hit him full in the chest like I had planned, but it still caught him across the stomach. The flames rippled, licking along his abs and spreading in both directions. He let loose a screech that echoed through the woods around. If I had neighbors I would have worried that they might come running, actually, I considered, the remoteness of my house had served me well on a number of occasions. It took only seconds before he was reduced to ash. Normally when vampires were staked they exploded into a puddle of goo, but apparently fire worked on them differently. The wind picked up the remainders blew them away. There wouldn’t be a mess for us to clean up. Bonus, I thought to myself.
“Well now, that’s handy,” Karin said as she leaned watching the scene unfold before her. She hadn’t seen my power at work so it was a bit more surprising for her than either Pam or Bubba.
“Quite,” Pam said and she turned to head back into the house.
Once inside, we settled ourselves at the kitchen table to examine the situation.
“Can we safely assume that this threat came from either Freyda or Felipe?” I asked them.
“I believe so,” Pam said as she reached into the fridge for blood for the three of them. I realized then that we must actually be friends since she was making herself at home. She punched the keypad on the microwave and leaned against the countertop. “I can’t think of any other active enemies you have right now.”
“Good point, though I’m sure I’ve made a few over the years.” She smirked as the microwave beeped. “We need to track the money, so to speak.”
“I agree. I think we all know who the best candidate for information is, right?” I saw in their eyes that they knew exactly who I was speaking of.
Karin rose from the table, downing her blood quickly, and heading towards the back door. “I’ll go speak with Bill. Sookie will be safe with the two of you, not to mention she has proven tonight to be quite adept herself.” Her voice trailed off as the screen door closed behind her. It appeared that Bill was finally truly moving on, if Karin’s quick offer to go to him was any indication. Pam eyed me, waiting for my reaction.
“What?” I asked, not sure of the reaction she expected.
“No hissy fit? You don’t want to act as if the world revolves around you and hence your exes are off limits?” She settled herself at the table.
“No, of course not. I may not have realized that things were over between Bill and I before, but too much has occurred between the two of for me to ever go back there.”
Bubba looked crestfallen. I was sorry to hurt him, but we were done and over with. There was no going back.
“I’m sorry Bubba, I know how much you liked to see the two of us together, but things between Bill and I are never going to be the same.”
“Because you love Mr. Eric now?” He asked quietly.
“Not just because of that, but yes.” I didn’t want to go into detail about Bill’s betrayal, or what had happened in the trunk after I had rescued him from Lorena. I still had a hard time reconciling it myself, but I was trying to come to grips with events I had ignored for far too long. It hurt. He had been my first love and there’s no getting over the destruction of our relationship. I could only try and accept what happened.
We sat in silence for a time. They finished their blood and although I would have liked to stay up to wait for the information that Karin retrieved information from Bill. It was late and I had had a long day.
“I’m going to turn in for the night y’all. We’ll reconvene this meeting of the Scooby Gang tomorrow. Same time, same place.” I nodded to them and walked out of the kitchen and into my bedroom. I realized that Pam had followed me.
“We’ll get him back, I promise you that.” I sat on the edge of my bed and the weight of everything pressed down on me. She sat down beside me and wrapped an arm around me. “I know you’re worried, but you are getting stronger by the day. Tonight you took down an enemy that was stronger and faster than you. Karin was quite impressed, as was I.”
I sighed and leaned into her. She wasn’t very touchy-feely so I appreciated the comfort she was offering me.
“You’ve grown. You’ve seen much in the last years, but you always still had an air of naivety. That’s gone and you’ve taken up the mantle of warrior and you wear it well.” She hugged me a moment more and rose to leave my bedroom. “I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this, but I’m glad we’ve become friends. I wanted to rip your head off for the way you treated Eric after he left, but now…well now I see how young you really were to deal with everything you’ve had to. It must have been hard and I don’t think I truly understood that. I’m glad you’re back on the good side.”
She said nothing else and left me shocked staring at the empty doorway. I reminded myself that in days we storm Freyda’s fortress, attempting to kill those vampires who were loyal to her. Two years ago I never would have considered this plan, but now I knew that you had to fight for those you loved. I knew then that I had taken one step closer to understanding Eric’s motivations. He had always seemed heartless and vicious to me, and though he was, in a way, it was only because he was protecting those he loved. I realized that I was absolutely ready to do the same.