Title: "Florence Nightingale at Your Service, Viking"

Summary: When Eric succumbs to a rare vampire illness, he must rely on Sookie to care for him.

Rating: M (though mostly for last chapter)

Pairing: Eric & Sookie

Disclaimer: The talented Charlaine Harris is the rightful owner and creator of this fabulous world of hers. I'm just traipsing through her backyard for a while...

Author's note: I've never written a fan fic before so please be kind and write reviews if you like it (and if you hate it, I'm sorry!). Thanks!

Chapter 1

I sagged in the back door dragging my sneakers on the linoleum of my kitchen. I was truly and utterly exhausted. Holly's son Cody was sick and had to take him to see a doctor so Sam had me pull a double shift to cover. I knew I could've said no, but when Sam approached me with those puppy dog (ha-ha) eyes to ask if I could stay, I just couldn't turn him down. The vague 'pleasepleasepleasecan'tgetanyoneelsepleasestay' stream coming from inside Sam's head didn't help my resolve either. After all, I could use the money, and honestly, what else did I have to do on a Friday night other than rest my weary feet? As I thought of my reasons for accepting Holly's shift, the thought of my current freedom from men sent a small wave of loneliness through my body before I stamped it down. This was no pity party. I have a house, two good roommates who double as friends and a great boss who could be my best friend—I was a lucky girl. Aaand, not to mention the fact that I was an independent woman, gosh darn it! I shouldn't need a man to make me happy!

My internal chastising did the trick… almost… and I went back to my previous state of 'weary but happy to be home,' a whole busy-Friday-night-shift of tips the richer.

"Hi Roomie!" called Amelia cheerfully from the living room.

"Hey Amelia!" I responded, trying (almost successfully, I thought) to match her cheer.

"I made a chicken pie and left it on the stove for you! I figured you'd be hungry when you got home so I left it out!" my dear, sweet, wonderful roommate Amelia called again. I smiled, thinking of the comfort a warm pie with chicken, peas, carrots, onions, and delicious gravy inside offered.

"Have I ever mentioned how much I love you, Amelia?" I called back as I cut a piece for myself and scooted the plate in the microwave to warm.

"Not nearly often enough, Sookie, but remember I told you that I go for the dark and skinny ones!" Amelia called back, laughing.

I chuckled too, thinking of her last two relationships. I walked towards the living room and leaned on the doorway leading from the kitchen, crossing my arms and smiling. "There's nothing dark about Pam, except the fact that she's a vampire, and there's CERTAINLY nothing skinny about Tray!" I countered, thinking of the magnolia skinned, light-blonde-haired vampire and the mass of solid muscle that comprised the Were.

"Alright, you got me. I made exceptions in both of those cases. So sue me! Speaking of Tray, he's actually going to be over in about half an hour. We're going to hang out since I'll be in New Orleans for the next week. Hope you don't mind me leaving you alone? I know Octavia's out in Shreveport with her nieces…" Amelia looked at me with eyes (and thoughts) hopeful that I wouldn't mind, and that if I did, I'd keep quiet about it.

"Of course, Amelia!" I said quickly, forcing a smile. It wasn't her job to babysit me or feel bad that my man status bar was currently reading "Vacant". "You have fun with Tray, and tell him I said 'Hi'. I'll be just fine reading my new book. I'll miss you next week though!" I said, trying to be as chipper as I could be, though slightly disappointed about not being able to relax with some girl time with my witchy friend. It will have to be Sookie-time instead. I saw a relaxing bath and a mani-pedi in my near future. That would be just fine indeed.

"I'll miss you too, Sookie!" Amelia exclaimed, relieved. "I'll be back next Saturday. I hope all the construction I've been paying for to fix my apartment is over soon. Hurricanes suck." She continued, her happy face turning into a pout.

"They sure do-- good luck with all that if I don't see you tomorrow." I said, turning to get my pie out of the microwave. I grabbed a fork, sprinkled some salt on the plate and went in to plop in an easy chair next to the sofa Amelia was seated on. The warm pie was heavenly and exactly what I didn't know I wanted, and putting my feet over the side of the easy chair did wonders in itself to soothe the tender soles. "Pie's great, by the way."

Amelia looked back up from her … spellbook? ... and smiled. "Thanks—I'm glad you like it. Gotta do something with all the leftover chicken, carrots and onions from the chicken soup!"

Amelia had gotten a nasty cold a few days back, and made a big pot of chicken soup that we all enjoyed immensely, even though only Amelia was sick. I mused on how long it had been since I had gotten sick and realized it was quite a while. Beaten up? Sure. Shot? Yup. Staked? Oh yeah. But sick? I was proud to say not. I quickly decided to go with one of Gran's many sayings and "Not look a gift horse in the mouth." I'll take that gift horse and keep it forever—I loathed being sick.

There was a knock on the back door and Amelia sprang up to answer it. She lithely glided to the back door and let in Tray, who looked truly happy to see her. Amelia ran back into the room and grabbed her light jacket that she had left on the couch and turned to give me a quick hug. I put the now empty plate down on the coffee table and returned her hug. We pulled away smiling.

"Have fun with Tray! Safe trip tomorrow and back!" I said, knowing I'd probably still be asleep when she left early in the morning.

Amelia smiled back. "Thanks Sookie! See you in a week!" She had kind of a sad smile on her face, and I couldn't help but let down my firm guard I kept up when I was around Amelia, curious to see what had her down. Her thoughts were like a megaphone in my head most of the time so it was typically a struggle not to answer her thoughts rather than her words.

hope Eric calls her they have to get their shit straightened out stupid vampire jerking around Sookie all alone in the house maybe tonight-- and I cut her off by putting my shields up, not wanting to hear the rest of it.

"I'll be fine, Amelia. Even if the 'stupid vampire' doesn't call me, I'm good." I gave her a forced reassuring smile and winked for good measure.

Amelia looked a little abashed and looked at her feet, fidgeting. "Man Sook, I know I should remember by now that you can do that but I keep forgetting. Sorry I thought about it… it's just … you guys gotta work your issues out. I see how sometimes you'll be fine and then all of a sudden you're angry and stomping around the house for no good reason. I mean, you threw your book at me last week when I asked you to pass me the remote control, for chrissakes! Thank god it wasn't your Twilight hardcover... that thing would have knocked me unconscious!" she said with a small smile, trying to lighten the mood. That book was a hoot, like Buffy, with its sparkly, near-invincible vampires, though I certainly felt a certain compassion for Edward and his own telepathic abilities, I'll tell you that. I've been privy to way too many inappropriate thoughts my whole life to consider living in a whole house full of coupled-off horny vampires like he did. If I could hear vampire thoughts, of course. Which I can't. For the most part. Shh.

I sighed. I knew she was right and wouldn't bother denying it. "Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. Eric and I... well... we'll figure it out eventually. He's been busy with the new King of Louisiana and I'm sure he doesn't have time to worry about some silly human girl..." I thought it sounded weak at best, but it'd have to do. No purpose getting angry all over again over Eric's perpetual absence. When he wants to sort things out, we will. And I won't beg.

"I'm really sorry about throwing that book at you, though… I still haven't the foggiest idea why I did that! I was fine and reading, and all of a sudden I was in a fury and throwing things. Very strange…." I caught myself rambling, stuck in my head. I shook my head and moved on. "Anyhow, I promise, I'll try to fix things as best I can. Don't keep Tray waiting—have fun!" I said, meeting Amelia's eyes.

"Thanks Sookie...good luck getting things… settled. See you soon!" She gave me a 100-watt smile and with that, my quirky roommate was gone. I heard the engine of Tray's truck roar to life and heard the gravel spill from underneath the tires as he pulled out of the driveway.

And silence.

I was deciding whether I wanted to take a bath or read my book first for a bit when the phone rang. I got up to answer it, and found it was the vampire I'd consider the closest thing to a girlfriend as I'd ever have among the group.

"Hi Pam!" I said, trying to convey my happiness at hearing her voice.

"Hello, my telepathic friend. How are you this evening?" She asked in a genial sort of tone.

"Oh, just fine. Just relaxing after a double shift. What's up?" I asked, now curious for the reason for this phone call. Although I'd consider Pam to be my friend, I couldn't ever recall the vampire calling without a specific purpose in mind.

"I was calling to inquire as to your plans tonight." Pam said, getting right to the point.

"Oh... well, uh, I was just planning to relax and take shower and read a little bit. I'm pretty tired." I said honestly. I wish I could say I had something exciting that I planned to do to show that I didn't need Eric around in order to have a good time, but I couldn't lie to Pam. She'd know. She always knows. Damn vampires.

"Very well. That's all. Enjoy your evening!" Pam said with a smile in her voice, putting an end to the conversation.

"What, Pam? Why— " and the connection ended with a 'click'. Pam hung up on me! That was an ominous phone call and I wondered what to expect. If Pam hadn't sound so upbeat I might have actually been nervous, but I threw my hands up mentally and (in the vein of My Cousin Vinny, which I had watched the previous night) I thought, 'What are you gonna do?' Take a bath. THAT'S what this girl's gonna do.

I grabbed my latest romance novel and went into the bathroom. I shucked my Merlotte's uniform, threw them in the hamper and turned on the hot water after plugging the tub. I picked out a bottle of lavender scented soap for a bubble bath and squeezed some into the running water. The scent filled the room along with the steam from the hot water. Soon enough, I was lowering myself into the heavenly warmth of the hot water, relieving all the aches in my back and shoulders from carrying around heavy trays all day and in my feet from standing on them from morning 'til night. I pulled my hair out of the high ponytail I had it harnessed back in and relaxed fully as my hair spilled onto my shoulders and the tips into the water. I tilted my head back to get my hair wet. After I washed my hair and shaved and scrubbed my body, I dried off my hands with a little hand towel I had near the tub and reached for my book to read.

I had gotten about two chapters into my book—the heroine had just met the gorgeous hunk that would in later chapters, undoubtedly, be entertaining her with his "sculpted abs" and "burgeoning manhood"—when I felt a wave of calm and contentment pass over me. I was confused for a moment, because I thought I was already pretty calm and content, and then realization hit me.

Eric was here.