Disclaimer: No one is mine. All credit goes to Charlaine Harris and Alan Ball
[Revised chapter] All my thanks to my fabulous beta Susanj51, who offered to go through sixteen chapters and clean up any messes I might have made!
Meet the Moon
It was late, only a few hours before dawn and before I would leave Dallas after what seemed like an eternity with the undead. The trip had been life-changing in so many ways that it made me want to curl up in a little ball and not think about all the horrible events that had taken place. Yet, a small part of me wanted to sear every last detail into my memory. After being kidnapped, almost blown up, having my life threatened by more than one vampire, and watching the one stranger who cared enough to protect me from an unspeakable act, the one person who could make Eric cry, evaporate into his first sunrise in more than two thousand years, I was going back to Bon Temps completely changed—for more than one reason.
After everything that had happened, the biggest change would be dealing with a whole new web of Eric issues. I still couldn't believe that the manipulative, cruel, selfish vampire who tricked me into drinking his blood was the same devoted, loving man I saw on the rooftop last night.
"Sookie, we must hurry if we want to make our flight home," Bill urged even though I was moving at top human speed, which granted, was not exactly supersonic. I was still doing my best.
"I'm going as fast as I can," I replied, throwing a few more sundresses into my suitcase, wincing at the thought of how stubborn the wrinkles would be to press out when I unpacked in Bon Temps. Focusing was much more difficult now that I had to untangle my fragile string of focus from the interwoven images of Eric and Godric on the rooftop every time I actually had to get something done. Like now, for instance.
"You're thinking of him again, aren't you?" Bill's dark eyes peered deeply into mine, making no attempt to hide his jealousy.
All I could do was nod slightly, avert my eyes, and pretend that I was completely absorbed in packing.
Bill didn't say anything after that, only helped stuff the rest of my belongings into the suitcase, which now seemed so much smaller than when we came to Dallas. After a moment or two of shoving and rearranging clothes in thick silence, I felt Bill come up behind me and press my back against his chest, his cool hands running up and down my bare arms.
"I am so sorry he took advantage of you, Sookie," he was close enough for his lips to rub against my ear as he spoke—a gesture that normally would have sent shivers running through me, but for whatever reason, I felt nothing.
"We'll get through this." I tried to be reassuring. "It was only a few drops."
"Doesn't matter if it's a few drops or a gallon, he's inside you now. He always will be."
Bill could never know how true that was. For the past thirty-six hours, Eric was the first thing in my head when I woke up and the last person I pictured before going to bed. Last night, I was actually afraid to sleep. Even just a few hours after swallowing his blood, each time I so much as shut my eyes for a moment, he was there waiting for me; this big, Viking, vampire stalker was hiding in every crevice of my mind. I couldn't fight it. And worse, Bill was all too aware of each and every feeling I had.
"Sookie, let me finish packing for you, we have to leave for the airport now. The plane leaves in a few hours." Before I could protest, my suitcase was already packed, closed, and loaded onto the cart with the other luggage.
We sat in silence for a few minutes before Bill had to retire into his travel coffin for the trip, which would leave me with all the baggage—both literal and figurative. The silence had too many opportunities to think, and it wasn't long before I slipped into the memory of Eric and how carefully he had grasped my hand on the rooftop when I promised to stay with Godric through the end. We had fit together perfectly; his hand enveloped mine completely, warming me despite the coolness of his flesh. As much as I wanted to deny it, Eric and I had lived a lifetime in that single moment—whether that was because of the blood or something else I decided not to think about.
"Ready?" Bill asked, reminding me that he was still in the room.
"Absolutely, I just want to crawl into my bed and forget about all the horrible things that happened this week."
"I know how you feel," Bill said as he wrapped his arm around the small of my back and guided me out the door. I couldn't help but notice how stiff the touch felt. It was nothing like the comforting pressure I was used to. After the incident with Eric, Bill hadn't seemed as comfortable with me. All his usual caresses were robotic and stiff, not at all tender like they were before.
We walked together as far as the lobby before parting so that Bill could prepare himself for shipping inside the travel coffin. He pecked me on the cheek then disappeared down some back hallway and left me alone with my thoughts—or thought, as the case may be. The lobby was deserted, the quietest I'd seen it since we first checked in. Even the hotel staff was preoccupied elsewhere.
I sat quietly on a bench out of the way, waiting for the shuttle to take me to the airport and tried not to notice how the flecks of blue in the granite floors were the same shade as the cerulean in Eric's eyes.
Bill used to occupy my every thought. I used to dream about him, about giving him my body to do with as he pleased. I remembered dreaming of his cold touch against my feverish skin and how all I wanted was more. The sensation of Bill's teeth piercing my neck had sent shivers of delight racing through my body. In those dreams, everything about Bill seduced me into a writhing puddle of submission; he could do whatever he wanted with me.
Now, instead of Bill, I was picturing Eric in bed beside me. I found myself longing to feel his arms around me in a post-coital tangle of limbs; I wanted to know the sensation of his fingers drifting in lazy patterns across my naked skin as we talked quietly of whatever slipped into our heads. In those few moments on the roof, I had seem a fathomless emotional depth that Eric had managed to hide from the rest of the world, and now, ,God, help me, I wanted nothing more than to see just how deep those feelings run, to see what it would be like to be the subject of those emotions.
These fantasies I had about Eric were so different from the ones I had with Bill—more vivid and elaborate. What was wrong with me? How could I have let a few stupid drops have this much of an effect on my life? I loved Bill, so why couldn't I forget about Eric? My love for him was stronger than any blood bond could be.
I repeated the mantra to myself over and over, hoping that it would eventually feel as true as it sounded out loud while I sat in the lobby waiting for enough time to pass so that I could get out of there.
"Sookie," I heard a familiar voice whisper from directly behind me. My body reacted before my mind had the chance to place the voice as my stomach fell through the floor. Dread, excitement, anger, hope—they all mixed together in my chest, almost knocking me down beneath their pressure.
"It is always a pleasure," Eric added, his voice purring with sarcasm—a not-so-subtle reminder that he would always know what I was feeling.
"Eric," I replied coldly, turning to look at him with what I hoped was an expression of certitude. I expected to see the familiar, stony mischievous light that seemed to be a constant presence in his gaze, but it was missing. Instead there was only dullness; his spark was gone. Despite having a body of no more than thirty-two years, Eric looked ancient. His head hung lower, and his shoulders were slightly hunched beneath the burden of loss. My heart immediately reached out to take some of his grief.
"Here is your fee. Ten thousand, as we agreed." He extended an envelope to me stuffed with more cash than I had ever seen at once.
I hesitated before taking it, not sure what to say. "I wasn't expecting this until after we got back."
"Yes, well," he said looking as uncomfortable as I'd ever seen him. "I wanted to give it to you myself, and I didn't know when I would see you again," Eric pressed the envelope into my hand. I swore I felt his fingers linger over mine.
"Eric," I said a little more softly this time, the money all but forgotten. The longer I looked up into his face, the closer I came to seeing behind his façade. Emotions welled up in his eyes, but Eric quickly shoved them away before I had the chance to identify them, replacing his expression with a familiar, cold aloofness. "Are you okay?"
Eric hesitated before responding. "I will be fine. Thank you, Sookie . . . for everything," he gave me a slight nod, meeting my concerned gaze, and turned to leave.
Suddenly, I found my arm reaching out for Eric's and clasping onto his hand, much like when I'd promised to stay with Godric. The comfort we shared on the rooftop returned immediately and enveloped us within the moment. Neither of us said anything, but Eric's eyes turned to meet mine again. This time he made no effort to conceal his sorrow. I felt a spark flash between us when our gazes fused together, and everything outside this single instant of connection ceased to exist, even Bill—especially Bill.
"Godric found peace." I felt the words leave my lips but didn't remember thinking them. Our eyes remained locked on each other for a few more seconds when my hand registered a slight, almost imperceptible, squeeze before Eric released it, and he slipped back to wherever he came from. I wasn't even sure whether Eric was aware of what he'd done, and I didn't really care. All I could think about was how my heart almost fell out of my chest from that single touch. And about how I had never felt anything like it before.