Don’t Fear The Reaper

Firstly, a little pimping duty. I don’t normally pimp, cause I hate it – not even my stuff if I can help it – I only tweet the link to this journal cause Thyra asked me. When I pimp, it’s cause I can’t write, and I want to. Those fics on the Crème de la Crème Fics list are all ones that make me say “I wish I could write like that”.  Same goes for certain challenges etc. One is HvH and the other is a new fic exchange – Sookie’s Secret Santa. It’s the perfect opportunity to give and receive for Christmas. I would write for it – but the person who got me would be severely gypped – not only would they have to put up with whatever creative juices I could wring from my brain (and I’ve been meaning to write a 250 word HvH and the creativity hasn’t struck me yet) but they’d probably end up getting it in time for Christmas 2012. Or possibly 2013. I think it’s a wonderful idea for Christmas – and best bit is that it’s suitor neutral, and hopefully Sookie positive. Yay!

This is a subject that makes people fret towards the HEA – which I’ve discussed previously is Eric and Sookie for me. Usually people say that that HEA can’t possibly exist because Sookie is not immortal, and Eric is infertile – that this makes them incompatible. She won’t live forever because she’s human, and not fairy, and refuses to turn, while Eric can’t have babies, meaning he’s absolutely incompatible with Sookie because she wants babies. So, I’m going to deal with that subject with this post. The idea that Sookie would be somehow hurting Eric by not living forever and continuing their relationship.

I believe it’s further confused because there are a substantial portion of readers who are shit scared of death. It’s why they read vampire books – the dream of being immortal is something that they desperately want. You can find all manner of peeps freaking the hell out over birthdays – I’ve read it heaps of times – the OMG I’m so depressed, I’m going to be 40 this month type statement. Vampire fiction draws that demographic – because vampires seemingly can’t die – or rather, they don’t age and die.

I’ve dealt with a thought experiment of what would happen if Sookie really was a vampire under SVM rules before. Most of fanfic has Sookie categorically ignoring all those rules. She becomes a superpowered fairy vampire, with Niall, Eric and Felipe on her side for the most part. No one ever threatens her family, and if they do, then she just threatens them with something or other and they back off – usually those fairy powers. She eats food, and finds some reason why she walks in the daytime. She rarely has to submit to vampire royalty, and she doesn’t actually lose anything except her heartbeat. No one ever fights her, and if they do, she always wins…or at least Eric always wins. This storyline is ultimately for Eric’s benefit, because it fundamentally disregards Sookie’s clear wish because Eric would be really broken up if she died.

That’s fine in fanfic – it’s a way to have flights of sheer fancy with whatever crap you feel like should happen, without regard to writing a cohesive storyline. But that’s also why a lot of people don’t like fanfic – it’s not actually good storytelling – to have everything tied up neatly with a giant series like this with 50,000 words, wherein it’s a story of how Eric got everything he ever wanted. It’s why for all the claims that people are “better than CH” (which is just pandering to authors’ egos), the publishing companies haven’t optioned any of the fanfics to be written in the event that CH doesn’t do what fans want. Here’s one reader who would think those books would suck.

So Sookie becoming a vampire to make Eric happy wouldn’t be a happy ending for me – and probably hundreds and possibly thousands of readers like me. True Blood might have dumbed down the audience so much that they’d accept a girl doing what a guy needs to make him happy, but the books were bestsellers before the show ever came out. I don’t think it would fly with a great portion of readers if the last book was all about Eric and how to make him happy, fuck what Sookie is doing as long as she’s compliant.

Sookie as a vampire wouldn’t be a happy ending, mainly because the vampire world is filled with stellar greats such as Andre, Mickey, Godfrey, Felipe – some of whom Sookie has to now obey – not just Eric. It’s not really a solution to have her glued to Eric’s side for the rest of eternity. Many times in the books, Eric is off elsewhere when Sookie is injured. Hell – he was across the room when she got staked, and he left that all up to her. Of course, the fangirl argument is that he was unaware, or slower than Tara, or even that he couldn’t understand what the thing in the human’s hand was, but we all know that’s just excuses made on Eric’s behalf, to make him the secret hero. Eric wanted to survive, and didn’t want to be staked, even if Sookie was struggling with her attacker, so like the guy into self-preservation he is, he left her to it, and she was staked.

Even in the heat of battle, even in small periods of time, Eric is mainly concerned that he’ll survive his ordeals. Thinking about himself and putting himself first is what he does best. Eric is a survivor, and the first thing he thinks of is his own survival:

“Oh, would you have flung yourself in front of me?”
“No,” Eric said simply. “Because it might have hit me in the heart,
and I would die. But I would have dived in and tackled you to
take you out of the arrow’s path if there had been time.”

All Together Dead, p. 222

All the guff that Eric goes on about in fanfic is not what Book Eric says – it’s clear – *me first* is the name of the game. Before any cries of typical fangirl naysaying – um, they’re recently blood bonded at that point, when he fails to save her from that arrow. So the bond is useful for what now? Oh, right. Absolutely not for saving her life. Case in point. It’s never been used for that one single time – it’s only really good so that Eric can come glare at police and such in the aftermath. The bond is absolutely fucking useless in the “Saving Sookie” stakes.

Now, of course, one could argue that being a vampire is something that would mean you get saved – but that’s a bit of a mixed bag. Cause it’s also where you’re more likely to get attacked and assassinated. The above arrow chucker was a vampire – Kyle Perkins, so you can’t have faster reflexes than a vampire by virtue of being a vampire. Not to mention, one only needs to look at the long list of vampires killed to see how that logic runs out. We have Malcolm, Harlen, Liam, Diane, Lorena, Chow, Longshadow, Felicia, Appius, Alexei, Hadley, Sophie Anne, Rashaun, Chester, Melanie, Audrey (child of Booth Crimmins), Waldo, Victor, Sigebert, Wybert, Milos, Peter Threadgill, Andre – off the top of my head.

No vampire – old or young – has a guarantee that they’ll survive without violence done to their person. If not for Sookie, one could add Bill, Eric, Pam and the King of Kentucky at the very least to that list for what she did at Rhodes. Sookie won’t have her own Sookie to pull her arse out of the fire, and a whole heap of new enemies, who are seasoned killers. In fact, as Sookie points out:

They’re not stake proof, and a beheading will end anyone’s existence, vamp or human.
The Sookie Stackhouse Companion, p. 221

Her own cousin was a child of the Queen, and Hadley was murdered…by another vampire. Being the child of a powerful vampire didn’t save Hadley – who relied on the Queen’s name to keep her safe. In fact, barring a few, all of those vampires above were killed by other vampires. The rest were killed by humans and one fairy. I’m never really sure where the claims that turning a vampire would make Sookie “safer”. It would have gotten her killed over and over – not saved. At this point Sookie has minimal contact with vampires she likes, whereas as a vampire, Eric rubs shoulders with the likes of Mickey and Felipe. She has to do what Felipe tells her to do – and I doubt he’s in the business of keeping her in Eric’s sights all night – cause he strikes me as the type who likes to make money, not make people safe.

If that’s not enough – Sookie has made it clear to both vampires she’s involved with that she’ll never be turned. She told Bill:

“Sorry, don’t want to be a vampire,” I said, and my voice was weak and thready.
Dead Until Dark, p. 31

So before he fed her blood the first time – she didn’t want to be a vampire – she’d decided that before the books started, and before she saw the violent vampire lifestyle. She’s unlikely to change her mind now she has seen the violence, and she trusts the vampires she cares for not to betray her completely. As for Eric, she’s made it clear that she trusts him not to turn her either – turning her would betray her trust worse than Bill – and there are plenty of tall blonds to fuck if that’s the way Sookie rolls. If you’re pinning your hopes on Pam, don’t. Pam thinks Sookie makes a far more amusing human and doesn’t know if she’d make a good vampire. Nor can a vampire be bonded to another vampire – so the blood bond is out for them if she does turn.

Nor does vampire blood keep you young forever and ever. That’s the other device used – that it’ll make you young forever, if you take enough. Usually, Sookie has to guzzle vampire blood daily, in a Renfield type situation – which is totally fine, because she can’t seem to take ten steps away from Eric anyway, and he’s all there, like a Coke machine. But vampire blood is only good for injury and some illnesses. It cannot regenerate tissue – which means that it can’t stop one from aging. Aging is caused by the shortening of telomeres – part of your DNA. In order not to die, you’d have to find a way to regenerate your telomeres (which scientists found causes cancer). Despite what people think, growing old and dying is not an illness or an injury. It doesn’t count.

Of course, the other part of the fanfic treatment is to make Super!Sookie – who needs to save herself (Eric rarely needs saving in these fics – only Sookie – scotching the “more power means safe” argument with their own lack of logic) – and she develops fairy powers designed to have her the most powerful vampire that ever existed. In the books, there isn’t anything compatible about fairies and vampires – they’re not even human, or born of this world – and they have some weird obsession going on with each other. Claude can’t seem to keep away from Eric, and Eric certainly finds it difficult to stay away from yummy, delicious fairies. Furthermore, under CH lore, fairies can’t become vampires so that one’s absolutely nixed. It’s vampire/vampire or nothing – no hybrid-fairy-vampire-bullshits running around.

So then the solution to the mortality problem is usually to make Sookie into a full blown fairy. According to CH that’s not possible either – a human can’t become a fairy. And if a human can’t become a fairy, that means they’re not immortal either. Now the common argument for that is that it’s CH’s world and she can re-write it how she wants to. But I don’t think you construct a book series, say you know how it’s going to end, and pull something out at the last minute just to give it a romance HEA, when the books aren’t romances. Not to mention, that if CH were hankering to write about a female vampire, she’s got Dahlia, and she would have turned Sookie at least a couple of years ago to write those action-filled adventures.

Not only that, but fairies are killed as well – we’ve seen Claudine, Claudette (taken out by a bag with lemons in it), Colman (taken out by Eric), Fintan, Breandan and all his followers all die – and that’s if vampires don’t try to catch and eat them. They’re at war over half breeds like Sookie – who was tortured to make a political point to her grandfather. Being a fairy would put her in a world of pain – Niall didn’t stop the fairies from getting to her last time, and nor did Eric or Bill. As I’ve discussed before – if people want to assassinate you, they will get through – even to the President of the United States.

If Sookie actually became a full-blown fairy, with Niall’s obvious favouritism towards her, and not his full born-fairy children, I don’t think those factions would take kindly to it. Yes, all of the water fairies were killed barring two females – but they’re not the only fairies. Even the father of Claudine’s baby, a sky fairy wasn’t too crash hot on humans:

“…He stays mostly in Faery,” Claudine said. “He is not much for human companionship.”
Dead and Gone, p. 288

Just because Breandan’s people wanted to see no contact with humans, and wanted to exterminate the fairy-born humans doesn’t mean that that means every other fairy would be happy with a human bitser as their Queen, or even in their realm. Much like Tara isn’t too crash hot on vampires, but doesn’t belong to the Fellowship of the Sun. It’s easy to polarise in fanfic, but that’s not CH’s style – and it’s not realistic. After all, Fintan is older than Dillon – but he’s from Einen – and so Dillon is the one who will inherit from his father and he follows him around learning Prince-craft. There is no fairy royal family stuff coming out, and there’s no fairy breeding or anything silly like that. Sookie is human – and human is what she’ll stay.

Nor are the books recounted in retrospect by a dead Sookie. CH has said she’s not comfortable with that ending. Apart from the fact that a few random tense issues that editors have missed, that doesn’t really make sense. Yes, there are times when Sookie embellishes on what happened while not in the ‘current time’ narrative, but that’s just so that CH can deal with it, and not have to come back to an issue she considers over with. Fans ask her enough questions without needing to create problems for herself. Cunningly revealing at the end of the books that Sookie is now dead is a terrible thing to do to fans. You’ll notice in movies/books like The Lovely Bones that the narrator announces near the start that she’s dead.

So what are the arguments for keeping Sookie alive and immortal? Mostly because it’s what Eric wants. The plot line usually turns out that Eric and Pam bully Sookie mercilessly until she gives up her house, her job, her friends and starts sitting ten feet from Eric at all times, and being his personal feedbag. It’s the classic complete submission story. The other story that’s like that is that Sookie has a “revelation” that everything but Eric and what he wants to do is worthless. She dumps all her friends, her job, her house, but it’s supposed to be totally okay cause it’s what she wants. Completely ignoring the fact that it’s not really what Sookie wants, because she’s usually dumping these things to make Eric happy, and says so and adds the rider that seeing him happy makes her happy, which brings us right back around to the complete submission story, but with a superficial innovation to make out it’s what she wants.

Sometimes there’s crying from Eric, and it’s impressed upon us how sad he is at the thought of death, despite dishing it out to people through the centuries. Eric is no suicidal emo vampire – he’d much prefer to die in battle. Usually, that’s the argument that finally changes Fanfic Sookie’s mind – because Eric would die without her, or have nothing to live for, or would be broken irreparably and instantly meet the Sun. That’s a romantic notion, but it’s just not true. Even if you take it as the interpretation that he liked Aude, and married her because it was what you did, and so didn’t care about her death; Eric has lived through and long past the deaths of his six children, whom he certainly cared about:

In time, I stopped pining after my children and my home. I had never been away from my people.
Dead and Gone, p. 88

He pined for those kids over time. Even if one could argue that he wasn’t desperately in love with his wife, even though he says he missed her, he certainly didn’t see his children as collateral damage. He didn’t see his people, and his family as something he was happy to ankle, so he could go off and become immortal – and they are long since dead. I would say that missing his children is incredibly painful just because of this:

“Aude had…we had…six children.”
Dead and Gone, p. 86

Since when Eric told Sookie, she’d known he had children, that means that he hasn’t forgotten about them in over a thousand years and still talks about them – and here – this is where he’s still trying to put a break on those feelings. Eric probably tries to think about them in a detached way, so it won’t hurt so bad. He thinks of Aude as having them – not himself – so he can forget he was forced to abandon them to the vagaries of no Mum and Dad, and hoping they had enough money to be raised, and that his family would care for them. The idea of losing his kids still canes Eric, and so he still tries to emotionally distance himself after all these years.

If Eric can survive after losing his kids, and go on to natter about surviving, then the death of Sookie isn’t going to break him irreparably. I think it kinda cheapens who Eric is when he does that in fanfic – he’ll meet the Sun because Sookie died, but he could live on after the desertion and death of his kids – and they are certainly dead now. He’s lived through the deaths or desertions (going on the theory he turned them) of all his previous girlfriends. As I’ve discussed before, some of which, he killed himself because he was tired of them or was moving house or whatever. It’s not as if Eric has lived an immortal life untouched by death – no vampire has – they live death, deal it out, and used to live amongst the cities full of dead people pre-Dracula.

Of course, the counter argument to that is that Eric would be finally broken after the death of Sookie – because while he survived all the shit that’s been thrown at him over time, this is the one thing he couldn’t face. The final loss of the love of his life, blah, blah, blah. His kids pushed him to the edge, Sookie pushed him over. I have no doubt that it would upset Eric greatly. But break him? I doubt it. He’s just not that breakable. He’s lived through his first death, leaving everything he knew, being sexually enslaved to Appius, and living with the brutality of the vampire world after all these years. In fact, Eric says himself that time to survive is the key:

“This is not a promise vampires make very often, since we grow more and more
jealous of our lives the longer we live. You’d think it’d be the other way around.”
“Every now and then you’ll find someone who wants to meet the sun after a long life,”
Pam said, as if she wanted to set the record straight.
“Yes,” Eric said, frowning. “Every now and then.”

From Dead to Worse, p. 289

Eric’s certainly jealous of his own life – he shows above that he’s not really into throwing himself into fatal danger for Sookie’s sake, because he might die – of staking, of arrows. And here, I don’t think “frowning” at the thought of willingly meeting the Sun is something some suicidal emo vampire would do. Surely he’d sigh and look like he saw the value. Not look as if it was a confusing weirdo trait he couldn’t quite grasp.

Not only that, but while Eric might have joie de vivre, he hardly feels like he’s a young man. He might look 23 on the outside, but he’s not – and he probably hasn’t felt young in a long time. He might look young, but that doesn’t correlate with the idea he thinks of himself as young. And he doesn’t:

“I feel very old.”
“You are very old-fashioned.” He was ancient fashioned.

Dead Reckoning, p. 260

Eric makes constant reference to his age in DR – talking about Sookie as “young” and “pretty” – but not including himself in that. I would say that as pretty and young as Eric looks, he certainly doesn’t feel like that inside. Considering the abandon with which he throws himself into fighting, I doubt Eric is all that attached to the idea of living forever. He’s seen a thousand years of living, and he doesn’t care enough to get himself a job like Maxwell Lee’s. He’s happy with the idea of surviving – and I’m sure he’s well over his face by now – no matter how gorgeous. If he could die in battle, I’m sure that would be acceptable to him. He’s not exactly freaking out over the thought that he might finally die again:

“He might win?” I said, testing the idea out loud.
“Yes,” Eric said. He met my eyes. “And what would happen to you and Pam afterward….” 

Dead Reckoning, pp. 188-189

Eric’s equally concerned over the idea that Victor will torture Pam and Sookie after his death – but his own death in a battle against Victor is not so scary that Eric stays safe and tries to outmanoeuvre Victor. Eric values quality of life over quantity of life, for sure.

So even though I think Sookie’s death would upset him greatly, I just don’t see Eric breaking in that eventuality – he’ll go on after her death, like he did after he was forced to abandon his kids that he still loves after a thousand years. It’s not happy, but then immortality isn’t some wonderful benefit in the books – CH’s vampires are all powerful at night, and so harmless during the day that Sookie won’t let Claude go near Eric’s hidey hole. During Eric’s history, he’s lost almost everything he ever had, and he’s not wussier than Doctor Who, is he?

And after all, Eric did test Sookie out before he ever gave her blood to see if she wanted to be a vampire. It requires a bit of thought and questioning why he asked this:

“Sookie,” he said, suddenly serious. “I’ve been dead for a few hundred years. I am used to it. But she is not quite gone. There is a spark. Do you want me to bring her over?” I was shocked speechless. How could I make that decision?
And while I thought about it, he said, “She is gone.”

Living Dead in Dallas, p. 212

You really think Eric wants to turn some random human on the floor to make Sookie happy? Or because humans surviving is important to him? I sure don’t. But if Eric had come straight out and asked Sookie if she wanted to be a vampire, she could have lied. No – this is Eric testing her reaction to the thought of vamping it up for herself. If Sookie had leapt at the opportunity for Trudi, he would have ‘accidentally’ let her get shot, and turned her. Like he did her a favour, and accidentally fucked Bill over, since Bill is gone and couldn’t do the deed himself. And then when she didn’t leap at the opportunity, he gave her blood instead. Eric has known for quite a while that Sookie didn’t want to be a vampire. Otherwise, she may not have made it off the floor alive. He’s not someone who went into this blind – he’s just hoped that she’d change her mind. And she hasn’t.

As for how their relationship will fare when Sookie gets older? I have high doubts Sookie will see old age. High doubts. Even Sookie’s not seeing that as an overwhelming certainty:

Actually, they’d all been murdered. I’d never put it to myself like that before. People in my family really, truly had a short life expectancy. If I followed the family trend, I could expect to meet my end through violence in the not-too-distant future.
Small Town Wedding, The Sookie Stackhouse Companion, p. 15

The most dangerous thing in Sookie’s life is Eric – he’s brought three vampire assassins into her life – Longshadow, Charles Twining and Victor – all of whom were gunning for her – two of them because Eric loved her and it would hurt him if Sookie died. As I’ve discussed before – if Sookie really wanted safety, the first person she’d throw overboard would be Eric.

Even if Sookie did grow old – against all the odds – there’s nothing about an old woman that would scare Eric. He’s not actually supposed to be interested only in her looks. If he is, he’s as shallow as hell, and not in love with her. Humans in real life routinely fall in love and stay with their mate into old age, and through cancer, and other debilitating diseases that end up with bits cut off you, and don’t make you “young and pretty”.

Sookie isn’t really inclined to be afraid of death either. Apart from the fact that she’s Christian, and probably still has a vague sliver of hope she’ll go to Heaven, then dying isn’t something she’s been brought up to fear – just misbehaving. Sookie seems to believe in a loving God anyway, because she often thinks that she hopes God will understand why she chose to survive, and not turn the other cheek. Her parents are both dead – she’s been living with the idea of death for a while. She’s no fifty year old woman losing someone for the first time. So too, her grandparents – apart from Niall and Dermot, none of her older family members are alive. Not even her contemporaries – Crystal and Hadley are dead too.

On top of that, Sookie was raised by Gran – who is older and has aged. Sookie knows definitely, from her love from Gran, that age doesn’t mean you’re less loveable, or lesser anything. Her childhood wasn’t marked by having a really young mother who withered away in front of her eyes – it was filled with an old woman who was incredibly vital. She was around to see that Gran couldn’t do stuff for herself – she’s aware of how incapacitating it can be when you’re old:

If I don’t go in until night, I might go shopping, or take Gran to the store, or rent
a movie to watch, or sunbathe. And I read a lot. I’m lucky Gran is still spry.

Dead Until Dark, p. 56

Sookie mentions too that one of the reasons that she doesn’t get her own apartment is because she can help her Gran out without insulting her inadvertently by giving her charity. It was Sookie who paid for the “stupid tin roof” she often curses, because it helped her Gran out. Old age is not something frightening to her – it’s familiar – not foreign.

I say this as a person who knows from where that sort of attitude comes from. My Dad was 56 when I was born, and my mother was 38. When I was ten, my father retired from working for life, when I was twelve, my mother got breast cancer and they both died before I reached the age of 24. I’m not even vaguely worried about death or old age – I lived with old people – people who were old enough to be my grandparents. There’s nothing scary about grey hair, or getting old. I often round up my age to the nearest five because it’s easier to remember 40 than it is to remember (I’m ashamed to say I got out a calculator) 37. I expect old age and death to happen to me, and it doesn’t look too bad. In fact, Mr. Minty once said to me “For fuck’s sake will you stop talking about what I should do after you die? You’re 23!” For the record, I’ve arranged to give him to someone else – and I want him to be happy after I die. I don’t want him to pine for me. Hopefully he can con new wife that I was a saint and rubbed his feet and cooked his dinner every night – then he’ll have it made because she’ll try to live up to that impossibility. 😀 I doubt the idea of Eric pining after her would make Sookie think it’s terribly romantic either.

Sookie knows that Eric will live on after her – and she’s still reconciled to death at the end of it all – not trying to scramble desperately to become a vampire in hopes that she’ll live forever. For his part, perhaps Eric will finally take on board that Sookie hasn’t changed her mind about becoming a vampire. One day he’ll get it. Sookie really shouldn’t have to live every moment to make Eric happy. Sookie should get a chance to be happy on her own terms, even if that means living and dying as a human. She’s not a present for Eric’s character, as a reward for a life lived by hook or by crook. She’s a person in her own right – and a person with the equal right to be as happy as Eric is.

It’s unlikely that Sookie and Eric will break up because of these two things – mortality and children. If Sookie just wanted children more than anything else, she would have married Sam, or even JB – she waited because she wanted personal fulfilment that was all about her. If Sookie wanted children, there’s actually nothing to prevent her physically from taking up with a human. She’s still actually able to have sex with them – just she wanted satisfying sex with the possibility of feeling good and a relationship she could relax with.  She’d also decided that before the books too. When it comes to weighing up a life of happiness versus children, Sookie already knew what she wanted – and she didn’t want children so badly to forego one so she could have the other. She’s not going to break up with someone she loves just to have babies.

Same with Eric – only a fool would break up with someone they loved because there might be pain in the future. I’m well aware that Mr. Minty might die before me, and I don’t break up with him to prevent myself that pain…and in so doing, cause myself pain with a break up. I stay with him, just as I would if he got sick, because I love him, not because I’m sure I won’t have any hassle if I lose him. If Eric broke up with Sookie because she wasn’t going to live forever, that would just be Eric causing himself pain for no good reason – cause it’ll still hurt when she dies anyway – if he really loves her. Just like if Eric died from his risky lifestyle, it would hurt Sookie, and she doesn’t leave Eric over that either. There’s no escaping that they will eventually part in death.

Like all people in love, even if they know it won’t have a happy ending, they don’t stop enjoying the love because it will one day end in pain. That’s life – and neither Eric or Sookie are young, foolish or romantic enough to think it will be otherwise. The end isn’t the point – the means is – and it’s far better to have a life with someone you love, someone who gets you, someone who loves you back than spending life alone in the hopes of avoiding pain. Cause you’re also avoiding love too.