Summary: this story is an alternative scenario for season 7 of True Blood and it starts somewhere around episode 7, "May be the last time". Because, let's face it, that episode sucked.
It is a one-shot for now, but I am considering writing a few more chapters and turning it into a short story depending on the feedback (so let me know if you'd like that, please).
I would like to thank my beta, Breathesgirl, for finding time to take care of this little story for me while still working on my SVM story, 'Forget-me-not'.
Disclaimer: sad truth is, if True Blood script was a fanfiction, I would have stopped reading it a a long time ago.
Rated T for language.
Sookie Stackhouse tossed in her bed and sighed for the hundredth time that night. Lord knew she needed some rest but sleep, the elusive bastard, wouldn't find her. There was too much to worry about!
She really had had a week from hell: the pack of infected vampires attacked her home town and kidnapped her friends. Her best friend and boyfriend died gruesome deaths. Eric showed up after six months of absence only to reveal that he was sick and that he too was running on borrowed time and then she learned that her first love, Bill Compton, was infected with Hep-V as well and that the disease was progressing unusually fast in his case. She sighed again.
She felt bad about Bill, she really did, especially since it turned out that she was the one who had infected him. She felt like she owed it to him to be there for him at the end so he wouldn't feel alone. It seemed like the least she could do… Only she couldn't.
She had tried. She had gone to his house and waited for him with Jessica and then they had talked and made peace, and she was actually grateful for that, since it gave them closure and a chance to forgive each other – him for the fact she unintentionally infected him and her for all his past betrayals and the heartache he had caused her…
It was all good – sad, but good – until it became apparent that the virus was starting to affect Bill's mental capacities: he had started hallucinating.
From what she could tell by listening to his mumbled words he dreamed up a vision of her coming to him once again in a virginal white dress, as she had once done, and accepted him back into her life as a romantic partner. That wouldn't have been so bad but when he started to imagine having sex with her she decided that she could no longer be witness to his suffering: she needed to leave. Jessica had understood. Frankly, it was embarrassing and disturbing and she felt bad for witnessing it.
Sookie sighed again. She couldn't help but feel guilty. Everyone and everything was dying around her. Misery followed her every step. Maybe she really should just leave town and…
The noise from downstairs interrupted her train of thought. She frowned but after a moment the sound repeated and she identified it as someone knocking on the door.
"What now?" she grumbled as she got out of bed.
She threw on her bathrobe and stomped down the stairs, angry that someone had the nerve to come to her house at that time of night. Then she sobered up – what if something had happened? What if it was Jessica? Maybe she came to tell her that Bill…
Sookie swung the door open and gasped when it revealed the tall frame of the vampire standing on her porch. He wasn't who she had expected.
"Eric!" she cried out, feeling the simultaneous rush of relief from seeing him still undead and sorrow at the thought that it was only temporary comfort.
"Nice outfit," he commented taking in her bathrobe-clad form.
Sookie's emotions got the better of her: she acted on instinct and before he had a chance to explain himself she reached for him and grabbed him roughly by the lapels of his leather jacket to pull his face closer to hers. She was seething.
"Where have you been?" she yelled. "And why weren't you answering your phone? Would it kill you to at least send me a text? What the hell is wrong with you!"
Much to her dismay Eric seemed rather amused and pleased with himself.
"Did you worry for me, lover?" he purred.
"You bet I was worried! You tell me you're dying and then you're not answering my calls? What was I supposed to think? What the hell, Eric?"
"I was busy," he said cheekily.
There was a smirk on his face that was making her mad as a wet hen. The last time she'd seen him he had seemed to be resigned and calm but the sadness and exhaustion was weighing heavily on him, but now, now his apparent inappropriate good mood was just pissing her off.
"You can't keep doing this! First you drop off the face of Earth for months without letting anybody know what's going on with you and if you were okay, and then you get yourself sick and disappear again! I didn't even know if you were alive! I'm so fucking angry at you right now!"
He grinned even wider and his eyes danced.
"You're talking too much," he said and silenced her with a swift kiss.
He smiled against her lips when she melted against him after initially freezing for a second, but then frowned when he smelled her tears. He broke the kiss and rested his forehead against hers.
"Sookie…" he breathed, stroking her hair with his calloused hand. "Shhh, it's okay."
She trembled in his arms and the shadow of the old blood-bond was just enough for him to recognise that it was because of pain.
"How can you say that?" she whispered bitterly. "Nothing is okay. Damn it, Eric! You're dying! It's not fucking okay!"
She hit him weakly on the chest, not really wanting to hurt him, but in a helpless act of frustration and then fisted the fabric of his tank-top in her hands. She dropped her gaze, avoiding looking into his eyes, since she didn't want to cry, instead she stared at his chest.
Suddenly she stiffened as her eyes fixed on the path of pale skin uncovered by her mistreatment of his clothes, just above the edge of his tank-top. She swallowed hard, her mouth feeling dry. Her heart-beat sped up wildly and she could hear the rhythmical rush of her own blood in her ears. She stood there frozen, equally afraid to look away and risk that what she was seeing would disappear and to believe that it wouldn't…
God, please, let it be true. Please, let it not be another dream, I can't wake up now.
She licked her lips, still not looking up.
"Eric?" she said and it broke his heart a little to hear how small her voice was. "Are you… What…?"
She couldn't bring herself to finish her sentence, the unexpected hope crushing her chest, too painful and fragile to voice aloud.
"That's what I was trying to tell you," Eric said gently. "I came here to let you know that you don't need to worry about me anymore. I'm fine."
Instead of replying Sookie rolled down the dark fabric of the tank-top with trembling hands as far it would stretch, finding only smooth, milky-white skin underneath it. She inhaled deeply.
"Take it off," she demanded sharply.
Eric leered at her teasingly.
"If you wanted me to strip for you, all you had to do was…"
"Take it off, Eric," she repeated, without a hint of humour in her voice. "I need to see."
Without another word, he stepped back and shrugged off his jacket before dropping it carelessly on the porch floor. Despite the seriousness of the situation he couldn't quite stop himself from preening and the smirk from tugging at the corner of his mouth when he stepped into the circle of light from the lantern and slowly took off his tank-top and tossed it aside.
Sookie watched, mesmerised, as he uncovered the expanse of flawless skin. She inched closer to him until she could touch him. She unashamedly ran her hands up and down his impressive arms and across his chest. The dreaded black veins were gone as if she had dreamed them up in the first place. He was standing tall and proud, once again strong and as healthy as a vampire could be. She finally looked up into his sparkling eyes.
"Tell me it's true," she asked, a desperate plea in her voice. "Tell me it's not some kind of trick, and you're not still sick but just found some way to hide it – that Pam didn't paint you with stage make-up, or something…"
He barked with laughter. He had been in a continuously great mood ever since he beat the decease, his joie de vivre flaring right back up and replacing the feeling of grief and depression that had been haunting him for the past six months. He felt healed in more ways than one.
He quickly sobered up when he realised Sookie wasn't laughing with him.
"I promise, Sookie," he said solemnly. "It's not a trick. I'm cured."
She closed the gap between them and hugged him tightly, resting her head against his naked chest and letting herself cry when her strained nerves finally relaxed and a huge weight lifted off her shoulders. He was there in the flesh. He was real.
"I was so scared," she admitted, her voice faltering. "Don't you dare ever do that again!"
She kissed the place where his silent heart was and something inside him unravelled further in reaction to this simple gesture. He had already accepted that he was going to always have a soft spot for Sookie Stackhouse but he was pleasantly surprised at the way she welcomed him when he returned to Bon Temps. It was bittersweet to hear the joy in her voice when she realised it was him at Bill's door but before she fully took in the sight of him, and then to watch the expression on her face change when understanding hit her. It was extremely selfish, but he found an odd sense of comfort in the fact that she cared enough to be affected.
After their talk he believed she did care. It was what brought him to her doorstep. Plus, almost dying was good for putting things into perspective. There were very few people besides Pam (and Ginger – he snickered inwardly) who would miss him if he was gone. He quite liked the thought that Sookie Stackhouse was one of them. She happened to be one of the few he cared about as well.
She deserved to know – and now he knew he had done the right thing by coming.
"I'm okay, Sookie," he said stroking her back. "It's okay."
His soothing touch and murmured words of comfort slowly started to work and she felt herself beginning to calm down. She didn't want to think about ending the embrace and leaving the safe bubble that existed within his arms.
"I've already told you once that I've lost too many people in my life," she whispered, as if afraid to break the spell.
Eric closed his eyes momentarily, remembering the moment she meant and the words that followed:
I can't lose you too.
"You've lost even more since then," he remarked.
"Yes. I have."
She looked up at him, her eyes like two dark pools, deep and earnest. She raised her hand and slowly, as if asking for permission, cupped his cheek.
"I can't lose you, Eric," she echoed seriously.
He looked into her eyes for a few seconds, as if both searching for something and making some kind of decision, and then he said calmly:
There are many things I didn't like about season 7, but it seriously irritated me that Sookie didn't spare even a second to tell Eric she was happy that he was going to be okay when she found out he'd been cured.
Also, after watching an episode that consisted almost solely of flashback, dreams, visions and hallucinations, I really wasn't sure at first when I saw Sookie in a white, flowing dress recreating her run across the cemetery, if it was supposed to be real or just a memory - that's where the idea came from.