He welcomed the pain. For with the pain came the reassurance that his badly charred body had begun to heal. As he felt the sharp, tiny teeth of the hungry rodent as it sank it's fangs into the flesh of his lower leg, he instinctively reached down and felt his fingers close around the small, furry body. He was in desperate need of fresh blood. He was still quite weak and not healed to the point of being strong enough to find a source of that magical healing elixr, fresh human blood. Even this small amount of rodent blood would be strength. Bill felt his fangs tear into the throat of the terrified, struggling creature ,even as he gagged against the vile taste of this fresh, warm blood as it trickled down his throat. Life, or life as he knew it, was slowly being returned to his injured body. He lifted his arm and with his hand, he began to feel across his chest. Yes, he was slowly healing. Bill had never sustained such devastating injuries. He had never been burned by the sun as he was always certain to be locked securely in his resting place before the warm, golden rays of that glorious orb gazed down up the earth.
He lay back, exhausted from his slight efforts. As he began to drift off into that state of half dream, half illusion, Bill thought he could hear someone calling to him. It was as if he had wandered into a place so dark and lonely that no one could reach him. He struggled to find his voice, to find a way to call out from this place of lost hope. He was no longer sure of what was real and what was merely a manifestation of his yearning. As he closed his blue eyes, he felt her hands on his face once again. "Oh Mother! Where have you been? I've been trying to find you for so long! I'm so alone, so frightened. Oh Mother, please stay with me, don't leave me here alone." Bill heard himself weeping as he implored his beloved Mother to stay with him. He could feel her soft, warm lips gently caress his cheek as he breathed in the comforting fragrance of her lavender scent as she leaned over and whispered "yes, my sweet one, I'm right here. I've always been right here. You are my sweet little Billy and I'll never leave you". Bill smiled, and then, like a vapor in the mist of morning, she was gone. He felt the tears began to fall from the corner of his eyes. He was alone. He had always been alone. Everyone and everything he loved was lost to him. Even Sookie. She was gone. He had failed in his effort to protect her and now she was dead. His mind drifted off once more into a turbulent and restless sleep as the image of a terrified and pleading young girl with red hair and blue eyes swam in his dreams.
Gradually, he could feel his body becoming stronger and stronger. His confused and jumbled thoughts became clearer. Then he remembered. Sookie, she was not dead. He remembered calling out to her, pouring every last ounce of his strength into reaching out to her, hoping against hope that she would respond to his call. She just couldn't be dead. Yes, he remembered now. The body of the shifter, Sam Merlotte, lay on the ground as she opened her eyes, got up and somehow found the strength to end the life of that man. He thought about the shifter. The shifter that he had asked to watch out for her, the one who had been in Sookie's home, his arms around her, his lips on hers. He felt the anger and sadness fill his heart once again. In his weakened, confused state, his emotions were raw and all but uncontrollable. The hurt was so new, so harsh that he thought he could not bear it. A sob filled his chest as he remembered the terrible feeling of betrayal and hurt as she angrily turned on him and put him out of her home while the shifter remained. It seemed as if, in spite of it all, he had lost Sookie forever. How long had he lain here? He couldn't remember anymore. But it no longer mattered. Sookie had made her choice. He felt as though his aching heart would break.
Sundown was quickly approaching. Bill lay in his cold, dark cocoon as he waited for the warming rays of the sun to safely retreat into it's hiding place, leaving only the briefest of a lingering scent of sunshine to gently waft on the night breeze. Rain would be coming soon. He could smell it's approach and he needed to be free of this place and healed by the time it made it's presence known. He slowly made his way up into the night air. He was still quite weak, but his first thoughts were of Sookie, of seeing Sookie and somehow making her understand how deeply sorry he was for his failure to save her. But not yet. His hunger was overwhelming and he desperately needed to feed. But where? He stood for a moment in the night air and tried to clear his thoughts as he began to think about a place he could safely feed without being seen. He was just too weak and would not be able to resist an attack. Then he remembered. There was a store, one of those that remained open all the time. It was near his home. He had frequently stopped in to purchase TrueBlood and on occasion, a special treat of the creamy dark chocolate Sookie loved so much. But tonight he needed much more sustanance than a bottle of synthetic blood. For only fresh, human blood could provide the magical healing power he so desperately required. As he slowly made his way to the highway, he forced himself not to think about what he was doing. He had made Sookie a promise to shy away from such behavior that to her seemed so barbaric. But Bill was no longer certain that Sookie would even care about what he did.
Bill silently waited in the shadows, hidden in a clump of trees that sheltered the back side of the store. He knew it wouldn't be long before someone made their way around the back in order to relieve themselves. He, as well as other vampires, had learned years ago that this was a fail-proof method of acquiring fresh blood. The combination of beer and the constant need of humans to relieve themselves made it somewhat like shooting fish in a barrel. All he need do was wait.
The warm water of the shower felt so wonderful to his freshly healed body. As he watched the dirt and charred ash fall in a torrent of soap and shampoo, he thought about what he would say to her. Would she even care about what he had to say? He remembered the tears and heartbreak in her eyes as he bid her good-bye the night he left for the tribunal. The tribunal, combined with the horror and shame of what he had done to that poor girl, then the exasperation at the unruly creature that had emerged from the ground was something he wasn't prepared to deal with just yet. The idea of being so indebted to Eric was not something he relished dwelling on either. There would be payback, of that he was certain. As to what it might be, Bill could only be certain of one thing. Whatever payback Eric demanded would require a painful sacrifice on his part. There were times when Bill felt as though his life had been spent atoning for some transgression or another. Would he ever be finished with paying his penance to whichever supreme being decided his fate? Would he ever be left to find his way in whatever resemblance of peace he could find?
As he walked up the graveled path to her home, he felt as though his mind and heart were engaged in an epic battle. His mind was so certain that his life with Sookie was over, while his hopeful heart refused to even entertain the thought. But what if it really was over? What would he do? He would not beg. He would not beseech Sookie to reconsider her decision. He was finished with begging, forever. He would turn around, walk down those same steps, leave this town and his beloved state of Louisiana forever, never to return. But he would first look in her window, and whatever he saw would ultimately decide his fate. As he stopped and watched her for a few brief moments, he felt such a feeling of supreme relief to realize that she was alone. A trembling hand reached for the doorbell and in the blink of an eye, there she was. And she was still his.
However many years fate had decided to give him, Bill Compton knew that he would never experience the joy, relief and love he felt as he held Sookie in his arms. He wanted to heal her, but she would have none of it. He carefully held her and all he could think about was kissing and touching every inch of her body. It wasn't so much the need to feel her woman's body joined with his and the need to reaffirm their love and passion as much as the need to reassure himself that she was alright. He just couldn't stop touching her and breathing in the scent of her. And she felt the same. The look of incredulous disbelief on her face as she opened her door and saw him had made her almost weak with joy and relief. As their tender carresses soon turned into a fierce need to express their love for each other, Bill was very gentle with her. He touched her almost as if she were made of the finest porcelain. Tomorrow there would be issues and new problems that would test their love and tolerance, but tonight it did not matter. They had both endured heartbreak, strife and sorrow, but tonight would be their night of reaffirming their love, passion and need for each other. Bill couldn't stop smiling. Sookie was alright and yes, she was still his.