Sail on Silver Girl
Eric – 1917
Eric sped through the maze of darkened hallways, a rage burning through him, careless of the approaching sunrise. He cursed his maker, wishing he could bring him back from the grave to take his time killing him. He deserved to suffer for the death of the woman Eric loved. There was only one woman whose face haunted him throughout his long years on this earth and when he’d found her again, he couldn’t save her. There were moments through the centuries where her scent, her smile, the joy of her essence, would shock him with the arrival of its memory, but it would always slip away. He assumed she had died, living only a human existence, and thus had locked his recollections of her away.
Her death cracked open the hidden volumes of their time together and it had all came flooding back: the brief days he’d known her in Scotland; dancing with her in the ballroom of King James, rescuing her from the flames. But he was shocked to find that there was more.
She was his wife. His one true wife.
He didn’t know how it was possible, but that didn’t change the truth. Her changing name didn’t matter. All that mattered was that she was his love and she was gone.
He tore into his rooms and headed straight for the steamer trunk at the end of the bed. Tucked away in the bottom was an old simple wooden box that he always carried with him. He hadn’t opened it in almost a millennium, having hidden it away when he knew he must marry another. Inside, wrapped in soft grey wool, was his wedding ring. Gently he removed it, clutching it in his palm, and forcing his tears away. He would go back and carry her body away with him. He needed to leave the palace immediately for when the Tsar realized his precious Alexei was dead there would be nothing he could do to escape the firing squad. It wasn’t the bullets that worried him, but the sun. Not that he cared for his death now, but he would not reveal the existence of vampires to the entire Romanov family. It would be disastrous.
So he would go to ground holding her in his arms and then he would fly to his homeland to bury her in the glade where they had made love for the first and last time.
He needed to get back to her. She was alone, lying on the cold stone floor. He zipped back to the room where she died, seeing nothing on the way there, hearing nothing except the stilling of her heart when it stopped. The loss of that sound would haunt him for the rest of the eternity he was doomed to exist without her. He had mourned her every time she had left him in the past, but it was enough to know that she was alive somewhere filling the world with her sunshine. Losing her, in his arms, when he had just found her again, gutted him in a way he had never experienced before.
He stopped short of the entrance to the room where she had died, bracing his fisted hand against the frame, unable to move forward.
“Eric,” Rasputin’s voice carried out of flickering torchlight. “Come in.”
The troublesome old man still lived. He stepped reluctantly into the room; her body was nowhere to be seen.
“Where is she?” He ground out through clenched teeth.
“She is gone. The Doctor retrieved her body.”
Silence reigned as they stood facing each other over the wooden table. Rasputin was incredibly lucky that he wasn’t ripping him limb from limb, though not sure why he allowed the old man continued breath. He needed to know where she was. Rasputin broke the stare first, walking around to place one gnarled hand over his fist.
“You must let her go.”
Rasputin’s hands made their way to his temples, a gentle pressure exerting itself. He could feel the old man’s words seeping into his brain as well as reading the thoughts there. Eric had no idea why he was letting the repulsive man touch him, knowing the warlock could do whatever he wanted, but he had no will left to exert. The warlock left one hand on his right temple, the other moving down to pry open the palm that held the precious ring. His hand covered both his palm and the ring and he could feel the metal growing warm.
“She was your heart’s desire and it kept you from reaching your potential. A part of your heart was always held back. Love held you back. Let it go and be the vampire your maker wanted you to be. Forget her.”
The warlock’s power called the memories forward and then darkness crept over them. The glade in Sweden; the kindness she showed his children; Sookie on her knees helping to plant the harvest; her standing, eyes wide, in front of the tapestry in his manor in Scotland; the look of joy on her face when they took to the sky: one by one the pictures went black.
“You will not remember her. You will only remember that you killed your maker in a fit of selfish rage. You will banish yourself from this palace and redeem yourself in Appius’ eyes by living up to the vampire he wished you to be. You will never know truth of who you were when you were with her.”
Rasputin took the ring from his hand and the box from beneath his arm, placing the ring in its centuries old hiding spot.
“This ring will serve as a reminder only of your failures. You will keep it with you, never to recall the joy, only the pain it brought you.”
He removed his hands and stepped away, moving back to the seat behind the table. Folding his hands in front of him, Eric blinked and wondered why he was standing there.
“Yes Eric? Did you need something?”
He searched his brain, but had no recollection of why he had sought out the old man. “No. I simply came to say my farewells. I am leaving and have no intention of returning. Without Appius I have no reason to stay here.”
Eric turned away and vamped out into the almost daylight. He would need to go to ground to escape a fiery death. A feeling of forgetting tugged at him, but he discarded the useless emotion. He turned his face to the sky and felt the flakes of snow fall against his cheeks and linger before melting into oblivion.
He reentered the TARDIS, her engines still silent, his arms filled with Sookie. He almost fell to the floor in despair, but with the precious bundle in his arms, he wouldn’t allow it and he laid her down gently.
“Not another one. I can’t lose another. Please Sookie, open your eyes.” The Doctor hovered over her, his hands gentle against her cheeks that were far too pale for her usually tan skin. He knelt down and cradled her head in his lap, fretting that she would not wake again. Rasputin had assured him that she hadn’t had enough blood to turn into a vampire, but The Doctor would worry until she opened her eyes and spoke to him again. He stared at her, her hand tightened around her ring from Eric and the chain The Doctor had given her so that it would be close to her heart no matter what. He was still, which was an unusual occurrence for him. He did much better when he was flying into danger or facing down the Dalek army.
“Tea! She needs a spot of tea. That always fixes me right up.” He slipped his coat and jacket from his shoulders, covering her with the coat and making a pillow of his jacket. He crawled on his hands and knees over to the panel covering the kettle. He turned the dial on the burner and warmed up the water searching through the tins. What kind of tea was calming? English breakfast? Earl Grey? Or did she need something with caffeine? He never knew what kind of tea it was, just that Jackie, Rose’s mom made the right kind. There wasn’t a label that said “The Doctor’s Tea” so he just grabbed one randomly, too stressed to think too much.
His hands shook as he pouring the steaming water into the delicate white and blue porcelain tea cup. He wasn’t sure where the cup had come from, but it had been sitting waiting by the kettle, so he used it. The TARDIS always provided what he needed and he never questioned her. Well seldom. Okay, on occasion, but this was important. She would know his needs. Had to, he was too frazzled to think straight. Not that he ever thought straight. Kind of like time, his thoughts ran non-linearly.
He shuffled on his knees over to Sookie and lifted her head so that he could help her sip the steaming liquid. He blew on it, not wanting to burn her lips. The room’s muted earth tones swirled around him as he blew and blew and blew on the tea impatiently trying to get it to cool enough for her. When he couldn’t wait any longer he put the cup to her lips.
“Please Sook, just take a sip. Just a little one. For me? Oh Gallifrey, I can’t lose you. Who else is going to introduce me to Elvis…OH! I’m sorry, I mean Bubba, very silly name for Elvis if you ask me, but of course you didn’t, because you are here in my lap instead of questioning me and running off to get into trouble like the rest of my companions.”
He didn’t know how long he stayed there with her, but eventually he set down the tea and rocked her in his arms begging every God in every universe to save her. He couldn’t lose anyone else. He just couldn’t. Leaving her behind in her own time was one thing. Never being able to visit her again was quite another.
He wondered then if he should have waited for Eric to return, for certainly he would return for her. The Doctor thought that he had a right to say goodbye, but Rasputin was quite insistent that they needed to get her to safety. There was something off about the old man, but The Doctor couldn’t place it right now with all the worry swirling around them.
Her free hand raised and clasped his without much strength, but it was there.
“Doctor?” Her voice was weak.
“Oh Sookie. Thank the universe you’re okay.” He exhaled harshly freeing the tension coiled in his body.
“Where’s Eric? He remembered…” She opened her eyes finally and looked around the TARDIS control room. “Oh, are we on our way home?” Sadness seeped out with every syllable.
He barked out a laugh. “Oh you were destined to be my companion. Only a companion would almost die and then be sad that I was taking them home.” His eyes searched her features to ensure she was actually back with the living and not simply surfacing for one last hurrah.
“Dead huh. Well that’s a new one for me.” She coughed and he gently lifted her body so that she sat straighter and her airways were clear.
He tugged her to his body when she stopped coughing, he couldn’t help it.
“I was so worried Sookie.” He hugged her tightly. “You came so close. You were almost a vampire and then what was I gonna do? I don’t even know how to care for a vampire!” His eyes sparkled down in mischief, happy now that she was clear of the danger. He became sober before he admitted the next thing, taking a deep breath because he didn’t want to say the words, but he knew he had to. “I think it’s time you go home. I don’t want you to go, mind you, but I think it’s for the best.”
She sat up fully, shrugging off his coat. Something shone in her eyes as she seemed to come back to life. She tucked the chain holding Eric’s ring back into her dress and pushed off the floor.
“No, I think we have one more stop.” She stood and wobbled over to the console. She was still weak, but seemed determined. When she put her hands on the controls, the TARDIS restarted her engines.
“Um, Sookie, how are you gonna fly…”
“Shhh.” Waving as she hushed him. Again. She might be shaky, but she was definitely still sassy. “Okay old girl, you know where we need to go.”
He was about to argue with her again when the TARDIS took off into the void. He was stunned into silence.
June 10, 1972
With every passing second I felt better, the vampire blood I was given must have finally kicked in.
“Alright Doctor, this trip is my gift to you. Lemme just run and change real quick.” The Doctor quirked up his eyebrow, as if I couldn’t have expected that. I laughed and ran up the spiral staircase, past the library and swimming pool, until I found the dressing room. I was surprised that I didn’t get lost again, but chalked it up to the TARDIS deciding she liked me.
Oh! He was really gonna like his surprise. At least I was pretty sure he would anyway. He was a little off, that man, and I could never quite guess how he could react to anything. I grabbed a pink and white mini-dress off one of the hangers and did a bit of searching until I found a pair of vinyl hot pink platform boots. I was still a tiny bit off kilter from the almost dying, but determined to make our last trip together memorable. Pulling my hair up into a high ponytail I checked my outfit in the mirror and decided I looked good enough for the evening I had planned.
Back in the control room, The Doctor mumbling to himself something about the TARDIS never flying for anyone else, I interrupted him.
“Hey Doctor, you ready for your gift for showing me all of time and space? Or at least Eric’s portions of it?” Something occurred to me. “You’ll need your psychic paper.”
“I am always ready for an adventure Sookie. Where are we?”
I held my hand out, and when he took it, drawing him toward the door. With a wink and smile over my shoulder I opened the door into 1972 New York City. The lights, the cars, the smells of the hot dog venders, and the hustle and bustle of the Disco Era. We were standing in front of Madison Square Garden.
“You said you always wanted to see Elvis. So me and the TARDIS brought you to see him.”
The Doctor’s eyes widened and his face filled up with a childlike joy. I was glad. He had done so much for me, helped me see the truth of Eric and the love I felt for him. When I laid my hands on the console I wasn’t sure the TARDIS would listen to me, but she did. The Doctor bounced on the soles of his shoes and clutched tighter to my hand, practically dragging me up the wide stairs that led to the stadium. He stopped suddenly and threw his arms around me, hugging me as tight as he possibly could without breaking one of us. Then he continued his race to the doors.
Holding up his psychic paper, we were waved through into the massive crowd. I’d never been to a big concert before and the crush of a thousand minds almost knocked me to my knees. I hadn’t noticed it before since the Doctor was so excited to be here that I was concentrating fully on him.
“Give me a moment Doctor. I need to get my brain under control.”
He looked confused, but figured out that I was talking about my telepathy.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t even think. We can go if you need to…” He let it hang between us, his face drooping a little in disappointment.
“No! Absolutely not. I just need to get it under control. I haven’t spent near enough time learning more about shielding and I refuse to let my telepathy ruin this for us.” I closed my eyes and envisioned a large steel wall erecting block by block around my brain. Little by little the mental ramblings of the people around me were siphoned out. When my thoughts were my own again, I smiled brilliantly.
“Alright, let’s go.” I was so excited. I was going to see Elvis before he was Bubba. Not that I didn’t love Bubba, but still. It was Elvis.
We wandered into the arena and it only just then struck me that we didn’t have seats.
“Uh where are we gonna sit?”
The Doctor focused on taking in the entire stadium, eyes searching from top to bottom and the show was obviously sold out.
“Hmmmm…Oooh, I’ve got it.”
He tugged my hand and rushed out the door to our left and headed toward the backstage area. When we approached the large bouncers, he just waved his psychic paper and the bouncer unclipped the velvet rope for us to proceed. We weaved our way through the throngs of people preparing for the show and slid in right behind the front curtain. We had a perfect view of the stage. And apparently we found our spot just in time since the lights dimmed and from the opposite side Elvis swaggered onto stage.
The Doctor could barely contain his glee. He pulled me in front of him and wrapped his arms around my waist, letting his chin drop onto my shoulder.
“Thank you Sookie. I’ve been trying to make it to New York to see Elvis for ages. I don’t know how you got the TARDIS to listen to you, but I’m glad she did.” He kissed me sweetly on the cheek.
His smile was infectious, as was his giddiness. We bounced and swayed and screamed when the crowd did. I had only seen glimpses of the charisma in Elvis that was residual in Bubba. Seeing it live, not ten feet away from me, was intoxicating. I didn’t breathe through most of the show. Heartbreak Hotel, Don’t Be Cruel, Hound Dog. I couldn’t help but dance along. Not to mention the covers he did blew me away. Who knew that Elvis covered The Righteous Brothers?
I was stunned by the whole concert and then a piano began a mournful melody that I knew well.
“Oh Doctor, I love this song.” And I did. It spoke to so many of the trials I’d gone through lately. But it gave me hope and hope was what I needed.
When Elvis’ voice rang out with the first verse of Bridge Over Troubled Waters, the tears rolled openly down my cheeks. It was incredible. I’d never given Elvis enough credit for his incredible singing voice. I knew all the hits, of course, who didn’t? I leaned into The Doctor’s lean frame and he hugged me tighter against himself.
“It’s incredible,” The Doctor said reverently. He reached into his pocket and pulled out an antique white linen handkerchief. I thanked him quietly and wiped away my tears. When Elvis closed the show with Can’t Help Falling in Love, I knew that that song would be that reminded me of Eric forever. I couldn’t help myself when it came to him. It was simply always meant to be.
When the last notes of the song faded away the entire crowd was completely silent for several seconds. Then the world erupted in cheers. I may have meant this as a present for The Doctor, but it was just as amazing an experience for me. One that I would never forget for as long as I lived. Of course, the trip itself was one I would treasure for a lifetime.
When Elvis exited the stage right past us, I thought The Doctor might faint, but he held it together. Instead of swooning, he held out one hand to the legend in front of us and simply thanked him.
“Thank you, thank you very much,” was Elvis’ reply. I grinned like a fool.
“You know, we’re already backstage. We could follow and hang out if you’d like.” I nudged The Doctor with my shoulder in encouragement.
“No Sookie, this was perfect. You have no idea.”
We left the stage and streamed out with the rest of the animated and chatty crowd. For once, their mental thoughts didn’t bother me. It was glorious.
We made our way out into the starless night, so different from Sweden and Scotland. It was June and the night was warm, so we walked hand in hand through the streets of the city, so alive and vivacious.
Something was still bothering me though. “Doctor, can I ask you something?”
He nodded. “Of course Sookie. What is it?”
“Well, I killed Alexei Romanov and I worry that I’ve changed something in time. What if I’ve screwed something up?”
He scrunched up his face as if searching his brain archive. “Well, he wasn’t supposed to die until the following year when the rest of his family was executed, but do you remember that I told you about fixed points in time?” I nodded. “Well his death obviously wasn’t one or you wouldn’t have succeeded. Whatever he and Appius were supposed to have done will either happen or it won’t. If it’s supposed to happen, if the universe demands an action, someone else will have to make it happen. The universe is very flexible that way.” My face furrowed in worry. “But, maybe, just maybe, you’ve saved yourself some kind of heartbreak down the road. Maybe something that was going to happen wasn’t supposed to. Maybe you worked out a wrinkle for the universe. Maybe there are a thousand voices cheering out for you right now for saving the day.”
He pulled my hand, looping it through his arm and we walked west on 30th street until we came to the Hudson. The lights of the city reflected off the water and we sat in companionable silence while the sounds of the city bathed us in an urban lullaby. New Jersey glowed in the distance.
The moonlight broke the clouds and bathed down on him as Eric sat in Sookie’s chair unable to move for the memories that assaulted him. He could feel her fingers as they wound themselves through his hair, braiding it. He remembered holding her. Watching Buffy. Protecting her with his warrior’s body. The shower. Oh Odin, he remembered the shower.
He’d felt closer to his humanity loving her without his memory than he ever had ever since his death. He remembered the curse the witch used and it tickled at another set of memories that were yet unlocked. He shook off their absence and focused on the one thing that mattered more than anything else.
She loved him. He was sure of it. He would just have to help her remember.
This is the link to the setlist for Elvis’ 1972 performance at Madison Square Garden that actually has footage of his cover of Bridge Over Troubled Waters: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/elvis-presley/1972/madison-square-garden-new-york-ny-3bdf68b0.html