And If We Let Go
The stairs shuddered beneath me as I stormed out of the dungeon. Torture was supposed to ease this riptide of anger, but the swell of fulfillment I normally felt when meting out justice was noticeably absent. Instead, I glamoured my victim to forget his stay in my “guest quarters” and to instead drive himself to the nearest police station. I’d once made a promise to Sookie that I would let the humans deal with their own crimes. What a time to have that nugget of Sookie’s morals influence me. I needed to kill someone; something; anything to shake this…this…
I growled and with a burst of speed took off towards my Corvette. Jumping into the car, I roared off onto the back roads. The wind screamed through the open windows and I had no idea where I was going until I was already halfway there; until I pulled down her driveway, the car barely surviving the pock-marked gravel. Tomorrow I would make a call to have it fixed. Sookie would know that I cared for her; that I wasn’t just the Sheriff of Area Five. I sat staring at her house for several minutes before I finally let go of my white-knuckled death grip on the steering wheel. I trudged up to the porch and collapsed on the swing wishing there was something, anything, I could do.
Two hours until sunrise and I’d never felt so at odds with myself. I didn’t want to fly around the state searching for her in case she came back home. I didn’t want to torture anyone. I didn’t want to sit in the destruction strewn about my office and brood. I stood and moved around the outside of the house to the point in the back where a large heavy square had damaged Sookie’s hibernating roses. There was nothing more than a vague scent of fireworks after their explosion. But the smell only existed in the backyard and lead absolutely nowhere, which left me with nothing to follow.
Nothing had changed in the thirty-nine hours and fifty-six minutes since I’d noticed her missing. There were no new scents to track; no new leads to follow. What was my problem? I was so used to being in control and I hated feeling so discombobulated. If only I knew what had happened between us.
Despite evidence to the contrary, I knew Sookie would come home. But if that was true why was I so anxious? Why did I feel an almost desperate need to kill something? Could I kill Bill? The random thought popped into my brain. It was tempting, but he was still in Peru doing research for the Queen. If I didn’t want to leave the area to search the state for Sookie, I certainly wasn’t going to fly off to another country to kill Bill, no matter how satisfying it would be.
There was something about this entire situation that felt familiar and at the same time utterly unnerving. Maybe it was the fact that I was sitting on the stairs outside her house, but I felt like Sookie was close to me. And yet, she was nowhere to be found. I couldn’t feel her singing in my blood and I’d heard nothing back from any of my searching vampires. Not even Pam, who knew that until Sookie was safe with me again I would be as on edge as ever. It was days like this that I really missed being a Viking.
Leaning back on my elbows to look at the cloud-filled sky, I sighed. When the first cold flake whispered against my cheek it went unnoticed. Then it was followed by another and another until I realized that the sky was flickering white against the night. A brief whisper of remembrance passed across my consciousness before flitting away. Another memory replaced it. Our winters in Sweden had been hard, making the rebirth that followed even sweeter. I could smell the salt of the sea carried on the newly warm spring wind. A picture of Sookie in the just plowed fields that surrounded the village flashed in my mind and I smiled thinking of how well she would have fit in there. It was an easy image to hold.
She should be here now with me witnessing the miracle of snow in Louisiana, but she was lost somewhere I couldn’t find her. I closed my eyes and let the flakes drift down and cover my face wishing they were Sookie’s kisses.
I wanted her home. Now.
I stood and walked back around to the front of the house. I didn’t want to go back to my own home. I couldn’t leave her. Even if she wasn’t here, it was in this house that I felt closest to her. I walked silently up the stairs and opened the screen door, slipping the key into the lock that fit her new door. It was beautiful. Solid oak, nothing fancy, but it fit the old farm house. Pam had chosen well. Her living room was silent, the old couch and shelves of movies and old Buffy videos. It felt empty without her.
I walked into her room and simply stood there breathing in her scent. It was as if she’d up and left without a thought to where she was going. Her brush sat askew to a tumble of make-up. Her bed made, but her nightgown tossed thoughtlessly against the end of the bed. I resisted the urge to crawl between her covers and sat instead in the old chair next to the window. Between one breath and the next, memories assaulted me.
I remembered everything.
I lay on my back staring at the ornate ceiling gilded in gold leaf. As upset as I was at Appius’ commands to me, I couldn’t help but worry about Eric. Who was Appius to him? Something had changed since last I’d seen him in Scotland. It’d been three hundred years, yes, but he was harder, less romantic. In both Sweden and Scotland it had only taken minutes before our connection became apparent. Here he was the cold and calculating vampire I knew in the future, but without the flirtatious façade he loved to wear. Before I’d known his past lives, I’d assumed he had always been like that, but now I knew better.
Frustrated I threw back the covers and shoved my feet in the boots that I’d kicked off when I came back to the room earlier and laced them up quickly. Apparently The Doctor had gone back to the TARDIS and brought in some more clothes for me because I found a trunk sitting at the foot of the bed when I’d returned to the room. I’d rifled through it and found a simple flannel night gown that was warm and comfortable. I grabbed the thick grey robe that was tossed over the trunk and tied it tightly around me. I was certain it wasn’t appropriate for me to be seen outside my room in the middle of the night wearing nothing but my nightclothes, but I needed to walk. I felt too confined.
I slipped out the door quietly, not wanting to wake The Doctor, or anyone else for that matter. Only the vampires would be up at this time of night. But I didn’t want to run into them either so I tried to be as silent as possible while I roamed about the semi-darkened hallways, lit only by flickering candlelight. The gigantic oil paintings glared down at me as if they knew the intruder I was; as if they knew that I didn’t belong in this time. But the TARDIS had brought us here for a reason, I had to believe that.
I wandered, lost in the walking. Worry plagued me as I passed portraits of people long dead, the candlelight only serving to place sinister intentions on their already terrifying faces. I stopped when I realized there was light coming from the slit in a slightly open door in the room up ahead of me. I nearly turned around, not wanting to get caught, but my curiosity got the better of me. I tip-toed a bit closer trying to make out the voices, thankful for the antique rug than ran the length of the hall that muffled my footsteps. I almost gasped audibly when I realized it was Eric and Appius talking, but caught myself just in time. I stood completely still and tried to remain as silent as possible taking shallow breaths to avoid being heard by them. I didn’t dare get too close for fear that they would catch my scent or my heartbeat.
“I have no idea what brought up this conversation.” Eric’s voice was dismissive with an edge that I didn’t understand.
“You will obey me,” came Appius’ cold command. “I cannot have you fawning over this…this woman.” I should’ve left at once, especially considering I was pretty sure that they were talking about me, but I couldn’t force my feet to move.
“You have nothing to worry about Sire. She means nothing to me and besides that…”
Appius cut him off. “Do you think I did not notice the way your gaze was drawn to her? I will make a match for you. One worthy of your bloodline. She is human and therefore beneath you. Stay to your meaningless interactions, Eric. There is no place in your life for love, only duty.”
“Appius, come now, do you really think a warm-blooded woman could satisfy me?” Eric replied offhandedly, but I could hear hardness there beneath the words. What a horrible way to live. No wonder my Eric trusted few people.
Something crashed to the floor and thudded heavily. I wished I could see what was happening. Was Eric in danger? My hands clenched into fists and I wished for the first time that I was a vampire and strong enough to defend Eric from anyone. My spirit roared ahead of me into the room while my legs stayed firmly rooted.
“I created you and therefore I have the right to unmake you whenever I choose. Do not forget this. I demand your obedience and you will do as you’re told. Or the woman will suffer for your rebellion. Am I understood?” There was a long pause broken only by yet another thudding clatter. “Am? I? Understood?”
There was a choking sound followed by Eric’s roughened voice. “Yes Master.” There was nothing of Eric’s normal unflappable demeanor in his response. On the contrary, he sounded defeated. I was desperate to stride into the room to defend him, though that would have been incredibly foolish, when I felt a hand on my elbow. It was The Doctor and he was tugging me away. He held one finger to his lips as he rushed me back down the hallway as silently as possible. I was seething. Who was this man who thought to speak to Eric that way? No one spoke to my Eric that way. No one…Oh crape paper. Then it hit me. Sire. Master. I created you.
Appius was Eric’s maker.
The Doctor and I walked in silence as I let the revelation tumble around in my brain. If Appius was indeed Eric’s maker then there was little I could do to stop him from doing whatever he wanted.
“Where are we going Doctor?” I asked when we were far enough away from the prying vampire ears.
“What did you think you were doing Sookie? One false step and they could have heard you outside the door. In fact, I’m flabbergasted that they didn’t. You should be incredibly thankful that they were too absorbed in their conversation to notice you. Good grief, will I ever have a companion who doesn’t wander headfirst into trouble?” He let go of me and ran his hands through his hair making it messier than normal.
“Don’t you think I know that? I knew it was stupid to stand there, but don’t you understand? That is Eric in there.” I flung my arm pointing back towards the room. He grabbed my arm again, not enough to hurt, but enough to drag me away from the danger I was too incensed to contemplate. “My Eric. My strong invincible vampire being spoken to as if he was a child. It took every ounce of self-control not to storm in there and stake Appius.” I pulled my arm from his grip, stormed away and began pacing the width of the hallway. “God, I feel so weak. There was nothing I could do other than stand there and listen to him be berated.”
The Doctor and I continued stalking through darkened hallways and I still had no idea where we were headed until we were at the front door. I didn’t realize that The Doctor had my coat over his other arm until he threw it over my shoulders.
As if he had only just remembered that he hadn’t answered my question he said glibly, “We’re going outside.”
“But…it’s cold outside.”
“Seriously Sookie? You really are a complete contradiction. You were ready to charge in and confront a vampire who could tear you to shreds without getting winded, but you’re afraid of a little snow?” His confusion was evident in his half-amused tone.
I huffed. “I wasn’t actually going to charge in there Doctor. Please, give me some credit.” He raised that stupid eyebrow as I roughly slid my arms into the coat. “And I am not afraid of snow, I was just…uh…um…stating the obvious, I guess,” I finished with a ridiculous shrug of my shoulders. I laughed at myself feeling my anger begin to lift.
“Come on. There’s something I’ve been dying to do since we arrived here.”
We walked through the huge doors and out into the cloudy night. The brisk wind blew easily through the open folds of my coat and I buttoned it quickly against the bite. The world seemed more silent when covered in the sparkling blanket of snow. The walks, so clean when we arrived, had been covered by several inches of freshly fallen white. It was such a contrast against the deep grey night. So simple against the majesty of the palace behind us. The flakes still fell, though not as heavily as they had earlier in the evening.
“I don’t understand why She brought us here.” I stuffed my hands into the pockets to find a pair of soft woolen mittens tucked inside. I mentally thanked the TARDIS knowing that somehow, someone, somewhere had squirreled them away knowing they’d be useful the next time the coat was used.
“Neither do I, Sookie, but She always has her reasons.” The Doctor turned his face skyward and enjoyed the snowflakes as they lingered before melting on his cheeks. “You’ll know when you’re supposed to act. She wouldn’t let you disrupt history in any way.”
“How do I know we haven’t changed things already?” It was a concern that had been bothering me off and on throughout the whole adventure through Eric’s past lives.
The Doctor turned his face towards me, his features softening until I could see how Rose had fallen in love with him and made the choice to stay and fight rather than flee to safety. It was a face that made you want to brave the oncoming alien hordes.
“There are certain moments in time that are fixed and unchangeable. Lincoln, Einstein, Pompeii, Hiroshima. No matter what timeline or parallel universe, these moments always happen. You wouldn’t be able to change history no matter how hard you tried.” I must have looked confused because he explained further. “Say you went back to Pompeii and tried to get the city to evacuate before the volcano erupted. You would want to save the city, but something would stop you. You’d become entangled in events only to find out that you were the one that caused the eruption. Then you’d have to live with the guilt afterwards.”
I shook my head trying to understand and gave up. The Doctor’s life was so foreign to me. I couldn’t imagine being an active part of history. But it occurred to me that I was now. Everything that I was experiencing had already happened for Eric. My present was living his past.
“I am part of the reason that Eric is the way he is now.” The realization hit me and I felt completely overwhelmed. I looked around for somewhere to sit and started towards a wooden bench set parallel to the walkway. The Doctor stopped me by simply holding out his hand. I didn’t hesitate. I took it in my own.
He pulled me into the middle of the field and turned me to face the palace. “You have always been a part of history. You have always made your mark. Every single person on this planet and every other planet in every universe. Every single second of every single day. You all make a difference. You shape the world simply by existing. Without you the world would be a completely different place.” His smile was small and tinged with recollections. “Oh it might be in minor, seemingly insignificant ways, but even the small things add up.”
“The butterfly effect.” I smiled back at him, nodding.
“The first day I met Rose I told her: The ground beneath our feet is spinning at a thousand miles an hour. The entire planet is hurtling around the sun at sixty seven thousand miles an hour. And I can feel it. We’re falling through space, you and me, clinging to the skin of this tiny little world. And, if we let go…(i)” He abruptly let go of my hand and fell backwards into the snow. “Let go, Sookie. Let yourself fall and find where you’re meant to be. You might feel small, but you most definitely are not.”
I looked askance at him for only a split second before I fell back to the ground beneath me. The snow puffed out around me as my body displaced the bed of icy softness beneath me.
“I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve saved the world now. I’ve seen wonders you’d never believe. They don’t matter. You know what does?” We both turned our heads to face the other in the snow and I patted down the mound between us so I could see him. “I stood with Rose on the edge of a black hole and begged the universe for just a few more moments with her.” His eyes glossed over, but no tears fell. “So trust that you are in the right place and know that your presence makes all the difference.”
I looked up at the cloudy sky wishing I could see the stars. I felt so far away from Eric right now, but I could still feel him. Not the Eric inside the palace, so remote and harsh, so startling from Scotland’s Eric or human Eric, but my Eric. The one I had come to know and love. The Eric who sat so trusting between my legs as I braided his hair. The Eric who I had found wandering on the back roads to my house for no discernable reason. The Eric who sat on a throne and ruled his small slice of Louisiana with an iron fist and a silver tongue. The Doctor began to wave his arms up and down in a distracting motion.
“What are you doing?” I asked, taken aback by this movement after all our stillness.
“Making a snow angel,” was his simple reply. “You should try it.”
The snowflakes, still falling, dotted my face like kisses I wished were Eric’s. We’d never had enough snow in Louisiana to do anything like make snow angels and I relished the experience. The cold had started to seep through my coat, but it didn’t matter. I couldn’t see the angel I was making and it didn’t matter. Knowing that I was leaving an imprint that would be gone by morning, knowing that it was an instant in time that would disintegrate with the continuing snow, none of it mattered. The freedom I felt swooned into me and I gazed up at the sky wishing I could share it with Eric. I imagined his joy at the sight of me doing something so ridiculous, his quirked smile and smothered laugh, and it soothed me somehow.
I laughed with a liberation I don’t think I’d ever felt before. I was leaving my mark on a moment that happened long before my parents had ever seen my face. And it would be gone without anyone the wiser.
The Doctor stood and did a little hop away from his angel. “Now get up. Careful or you’ll ruin it,” he warned.
I was about to stand when my eyes focused on a frame I knew all too well. Eric was only a handful of feet away from me and I wondered how much he had heard of our conversation. His long black jacket buttoned up to his neckline as if he needed it, he stared at me with haunted eyes. I stood and hopped away from my angel and took two steps towards my love.
“Who are you?” He asked less caustically than his words implied. “You feel familiar and I don’t understand why.” He seemed to be ransacking his memory trying to place me. Part of me really wanted him to find me in his mental rolodex. Mostly I knew better. Mostly.
“Princess Sophia,” I remembered to say in time not to reveal myself and curtsied clumsily. I also remembered to not clutch at my wedding ring, luckily it was covered by my coat and nightdress, but it was a close call. I needed reassurance standing in front of this Eric. “And maybe we’re soul mates,” I couldn’t help but add, stuffing my hands into my pockets. I couldn’t risk reaching for him. I saw The Doctor running his hand across his throat as if in warning at saying anything further, but I didn’t need it. I may be snarky, but I wasn’t a complete fool.
Eric was startled and then scoffed at my statement and clasped his hands behind him. He began to pace, but I noticed he was careful not to mar our angels.
“It’s like you sing to me. Like you are a Siren on the ocean calling me to bash my ship against the rocks.”
I didn’t know what to say about that. So, for once, I kept my mouth shut. Eric continued to look at me like I was a fresh well in the middle of the desert, but with the distrust that it was all a mirage. The Doctor made some hand signals that I interpreted as asking if I was okay here and when I nodded, slipped away into the night.
“You should mean nothing to me.”
“I never would have imagined otherwise,” I managed to choke out though saying the words broke my heart.
“What were you doing here?” He asked, changing the subject abruptly.
“Making snow angels,” I answered simply, smiling at the ridiculousness of a Princess playing in the snow.
He was not amused and changed the subject yet again. “You need to leave. The sooner the better.”
“Why?” I asked wondering where this random train of thought was going.
He exhaled harshly and stopped in his tracks. “I don’t need to explain myself.”
I took a step towards him resisting the urge to run to his arms. “I think you do.” Silence hung between us.
“Are you always this frustrating?” His blue eyes glared into mine. He was irritated, but took a step closer to me.
I laughed, I couldn’t help it. Eric never did like being disagreed with. “I’m told yes. Yes, I am always this frustrating.” I took another tentative step in his direction and he didn’t back up, which I counted as a plus.
He studied me, hands still clasped behind him, but inching slowly closer. “Your scent…you remind me…why can’t I recall?” His voice broke and I had to reach out to him, touching his cheek with my mittened hand. He leaned into it. He released his grip on his own hands and brought them around, pulling off my mittens, dropping them and then entwining his fingers in my hair that hung down around my shoulders. My other hand reached up and rested against his unbeating heart. His head bent and he pressed his forehead against mine. “You are so familiar. I should go, but it’s like I’m captive.” He paused. “This is too dangerous, but I can’t seem to step away from you.”
His lips were so close to mine and all I wanted to do was breach the last few inches that separated us, but I didn’t dare. “Eric,” I began, his name a low murmur.
“Eric,” a sharp voice penetrated, shattering the silence.
Appius had found us.
(i): This quote is taken directly from the Doctor Who episode Rose. (Season 1, Episode 1)