A/N ~ Hello ladies and gents. Here I am with yet ANOTHER new fic. I've been toying with this idea for a few months and I think I finally got the beginning right so I'm passing it along to you. I hope you guys like it. Let me know ;)
As usual, I don't own any of these characters, I just take them for rides in my Jeep. :)
The gutter. The fucking gutter. That's where I was sitting when I realized that I was a bum. I'm not talking figuratively either; I'm literal with that shit.
I had a brown paper bag in my hand that was wrapped around a bottle of the most disgusting, and yet deliciously evil and cheap vodka known to man. It was almost empty. Yet, even though I had nearly polished off the fifth of comforting numbness, I couldn't drown my sorrows no matter how hard I tried.
It had been one year since Katrina had devastated me. I say me because that bitch had come after me personally. I'm sure of it. As sure of it as I am of my own stench. God, I can't even stand myself...
I had been happy a year ago before that bitch took my life. I was about to propose to my girlfriend, and we had bought a house together six months earlier. I was happy. We were happy. That's all over now. That bitch took my house, took my business, took my Audrey. Miraculously I was unscathed, but I might as well have died that day. My current existence disgusted me. I didn't want to be like this, I didn't want to beg on the street for spare change from passersby. I was in a deep, dark hole and I just didn't know how to claw my way out, or if I even wanted to.
As luck would have it, someone was about to toss down a ladder.
"Amelia I can't do this now, I'm almost back to the hotel. Send the papers over and I'll look at them tonight," I spoke into my cell phone, and then flipped it shut. God, I wished Amelia was here with me for this trip. She was my best friend, and the closest thing I had to family.
I was in New Orleans for a meeting with one of my lawyers, Mr. Cataliades. He was a nice enough man, always took great care with my affairs. He had not known my parents or grandparents so he had never met me before the accident; met the real me. Instead I offered him the face I showed almost everyone else now - the Fake Sookie Stackhouse.
It had been eight years since it happened. I was 17 and my brother was 20. We had been on vacation with my parents and grandmother in Spain, laughing and enjoying each other's company. Then I was on a plane with four caskets, bringing them home. It was a car accident that took my family from me, changing me forever. I didn't want to be the strong one, the one to make the arrangements. I didn't want to be the only one left.
After their funerals, our estate seemed so empty. I honestly don't remember much of those first few months, shuffling around. I had already graduated by that time - a full year early - and was left to my own devices on our massive estate. We were what you would call 'old money'. Well, I guess now I was the only one of us left. When I had met with the lawyers to settle their affairs, I found out just how old our money was. I knew we were well off, but I didn't know we were that well off. It was more money than I could spend in fifty lifetimes, but none of it would buy me what I wanted most: family. I had none left now. Not even a distant cousin. I was completely alone in this world, and it was terrifying.
I could tell the house staff was worried about me during that first year, so I did my best to pull out of the fog I had been in. Help came to me in the form of the chauffeur's daughter, Amelia. Mr. Carmichael's daughter had just graduated from private school and was coming to stay with him for the summer before heading off to college in the fall. We instantly became friends. She had grieved the loss of her mother several years earlier, and always seemed to know just the thing to say to me when I felt my spirits falter. Those three months we had were the only thing that saved me from falling into the abyss forever, I'm positive. I owed her more than I could ever repay and I told her as much. Amelia simply shrugged and told me that someone had helped her once and she was grateful to be able to pay it forward.
When she left for college, I felt as if I was missing an organ. We talked constantly, and after that first semester I decided I couldn't be without her any longer and enrolled alongside her. I had always been an excellent student, and felt that my year and a half break from real life was due to end.
So Amelia and I moved in together after that. She left the dorms and moved into the cottage I bought close to campus. Slowly, she got me to come out of my self-imposed shell and start to enjoy life again. I was not the same girl any longer, but I was on my way.
There were still things that I felt uneasy with, and Amelia respected me on those subjects. One was that I just plain didn't date. I just couldn't stand to be alone with men. My therapist and I tried to figure out why, but were never able to. She had hinted that maybe it was due to my closeness with my brother; perhaps I was sheltering myself in honor of him. I thought it was a load of horseshit, and that I just didn't want to have to deal with them.
Another thing was that I never let Amelia pay for anything. She was extremely hesitant at first, but one night I absolutely broke down when she tried to pay for dinner.
"Sook, what's the matter? It's just dinner?" she asked with concern in her voice as she saw the tears welling in my eyes.
"Ame, I just… I have more money than I could ever spend. I don't want it. Please, just let me take care of things so you don't have to worry. Your dad has been so great to us, you have been so great to me… I just… I don't know what else I can do for you. This is really just a small thing for me. Just let me take care of everything, please..."
She finally relented after I let a tear roll down my cheek. I still have no idea why it was so important for me, but I felt good knowing that I could take care of things. and let her enjoy college instead of worrying about money.
We had a circle of friends that we had built during our first two years at school. I never let them in as close as Amelia though. I had kind of built a facade to show everyone, to protect myself. I didn't want anyone to see the hurt and despair I still carried with me everyday. so I shut it into a box and tucked it away whenever I had to. I pretended to be jovial, carefree. No one seemed to notice that it was an act except Amelia. She would roll her eyes at me when she saw my fake smile plastered across my face. She was used to it, and she accepted it. She had once told me she would go along with whatever I needed to do to find myself again. She knew I was lost; it wasn't even something I had to tell her. I told her that night that she was my sister and always would be. She hugged me fiercely and told me. "I'm your family now, Stackhouse. Gonna have to try hard to get rid of me!!" We laughed and I wiped my tears away knowing in my heart that if I lost her too, I would die myself.
Amelia had always wanted to be a photographer, so that's the path she chose. She let me buy her the best cameras, and was the envy of her little circle. After a while she admitted to me that people had startedsaying that we were a couple. They said I was her 'Sugar Momma'. We laughed for weeks on that one! Admittedly, we played into it. A few times when we had been out at the bar, or a house party that Amelia dragged me to, we would make a show of things and give each other a little kiss or squeeze. Those nights always cheered me up since it was hard to think about anything else when you had a room full of people staring at you. Fake Sookie didn't care if everyone stared. I had built her up over those four years and everyone loved her. She was everything I wasn't: loud, happy, flirty... But it was all an act. The only person who knew the real me was Amelia.
Finally, graduation approached. We got our degrees, mine in business and Amelia's in Graphic Arts/Photography.
We had decided to move back to the estate while we plotted out the next moves in our lives. Shortly after, my business manager suggested I take a position within one of our family companies and I agreed. I needed to put my degree to good use and start living a normal adult life. I quickly found that I loved working since it allowed me to focus on something, instead of brooding about life.
Amelia traveled constantly, shooting different locations for a magazine she had been with for the past two years. I missed her, but still saw her quite a bit as she used the estate as 'home base'. She was currently trying to strike it out on her own with a new business venture that I had agreed, wholeheartedly, to back her in. It wasn't just that she was a friend; I really loved Amelia's photography and thought it was a great business plan. She had been scouting properties for the studio for weeks and had it narrowed down to a few choices she wanted me to look at. Knowing Amelia, I fully expected there to be rather large stack of papers waiting for me at the front desk of my hotel. She was nothing if not thorough.
I noticed that there was a large amount of traffic on the busy New Orleans street and we were only three blocks from the hotel, so I told the driver I'd walk the rest of the way and get some fresh air. I hopped out of the town car and slung my Fendi bag over my shoulder as I clacked my Ferragamo heels on the pavement. Yes, I had brand name clothes and accessories. It was expected with my position in my company. In reality, I'd love nothing more than to don a pair of hip hugger jeans and a fitted tee but that just wasn't considered 'appropriate' for a young woman in my position; you know, a twenty five year old on the billionaire's list.
My phone rang in my hand, and I answered after looking at the caller ID. It was Mr. Cataliades' secretary stating that the courier would be delivering copies of the contracts we had pored over earlier in the day. Good, I wanted to get that settled as soon as possible.
I was lost in my thoughts, wishing I could be home at the estate and riding the horses. Wishing for the millionth time that I could see my brother catch a football again. Wanting a slice of my grandmother's apple pie.
I briefly registered a homeless man drinking from a paper sack and sitting in the gutter as I hung up the phone and continued towards the curb. Such a shame that he was out on the street. New Orleans hadn't really recovered fully yet from the hurricane and I wondered if he had been here prior to that. He caught me staring at him and I instantly felt bad. There I was in my $400 pumps and he was drinking dime store liquor with no place to call home. I considered giving him whatever bills I had in my wallet but when I locked eyes with his I saw something incredible. Besides the obvious beauty of the perfectly crystal blue orbs, I saw hurt, anguish and defiance. I also detected a twinge of pride, which told me this man wouldn't take anything I had to offer him unless maybe it was alcoholic.
He held my gaze as I walked past him, and just when I reached the curb and was about to step off was I able to pull my eyes away. Unfortunately, I should have turned sooner because I walked right into the path of an oncoming bus.
I felt a shove, then I was on the ground and someone was screaming. I climbed to my feet and turned around to figure out what had happened and that's when I saw him. The bum I had exchanged eye contact with was on the street in front of the bus. The bus that had been about to hit me. My god, he had pushed me out of the way and been hit!
I rushed to his side and knelt down next to the unconscious stranger. Both of his legs were tucked under his body, and splayed at sickening angles; it was obvious they were both broken. I felt bile coming up in my throat but suppressed it and managed to keep it together until the ambulance arrived a few minutes later. I left the medics no choice and clamored in with them and the man that had saved me.
I waited anxiously in the waiting room until the doctor emerged a few hours later. He gave me a skeptical eye before telling me that he shouldn't release any information to me since I wasn't kin of his patient. Once I explained to him that the man had saved my life and been hurt in the process – plus that I would be taking care of all his medical bills – he informed me that the stranger did indeed have two broken legs, a concussion, a broken wrist, and various cuts and abrasions.
I thanked him for his time, and asked if it would be possible to see him any time soon. I needed to make sure this man understood how grateful I was to him. I needed to see him with my own eyes and make sure he was, in fact, as 'alright' as the doctor had assured me. I had no idea why, but I just needed to see him.
After another hour of waiting, I was allowed in to his room. It was a tiny shared room and I wondered if this was really what hospital conditions were like. How could one recuperate in a place like this!? When I rounded the corner past the curtain, I nearly stopped in my tracks; the air pulled from my lungs. My hand instantly flew up to my chest and my mouth flew open as I took in the sight in front of me.
This poor man. He was covered in plaster cast everywhere, strung up with cords; there were monitors beeping and tubes coming out of him. I instantly felt tears welling in my eyes and I didn't even know his name.
When I managed to move my feet again, I quietly made my way to the chair at his bedside and perched on the edge without making a sound. I stared down at his face, still covered in his thick dirty blond beard. His long lighter blond hair was splayed across his face and the pillow. I noticed that it was almost the same shade as my own.
The nurse that led me back had said he had been given powerful painkillers and might not even register my presence, so I didn't even think twice when my hand reached out and I gently brushed his forearm with my fingertips. He didn't stir as I lightly caressed his arm in a subconscious attempt to soothe this poor wounded man. My 'maternal' instincts must have taken over because next thing I knew I was brushing back the hair from his face, and the tears were spilling freely down my own.
It could be me lying here in this bed. The thought frightened me. What if it had been me? What if my life was turned upside down, my body bent and broken? Who would come to visit me? Who really cared about me? I was broken out of my grim thoughts when I heard a groan from my savior.
I pulled my hand away from his face, not realizing I still had one on his forearm.
"Aud…" he breathed out, not opening his eyes.
"Shh now, you just rest."
"I dreamed… you died…the hurricane." It was barely audible, and hard to make out. What was he trying to say?
"Shh, go back to sleep hun. Don't you worry about a thing." I smoothed his hair down and ran my hand along his face. He leaned into my palm, nuzzling it as he made a muffled sigh. He was out again after that.
An hour and a half later I had called my private doctor and gotten some things done. She was able to arrange care for our patient from a colleague, who had determined that he would soon be able to travel. I felt a compelling need to keep him close and make sure he was alright, so I had arranged for him to be brought to the estate and for a home care nurse. It would take a few days until they were sure he was stable, but after that he would be taken to the estate by my helicopter.
I was utterly wrung out from the events over the last several hours and the nurses on the new private floor assured me they would call if there was any change in his condition. Reluctantly, I made my way downstairs and my car took me to the hotel.
I can't move my legs.
Where am I? What's going on? I tried to lift my right arm and found I couldn't. I tried the left and was able to raise it slightly, but no further. What. Is. Going. On.
"Oh, welcome back to the land of the living!" I heard a female voice call out from across the room, then footsteps as the voice came nearer to me.
I hesitantly opened my eyes and let them adjust. I was in a hospital bed, but not in a hospital. The linens on the bed were – for lack of a better word – luxurious. The room was large and furnished decadently. There were grandiose floral arrangements around and large windows with heavy curtains pulled back to let in the sunlight. When I looked down, I noticed that there were also casts on my legs.
"What the hell happened to me?" I asked; it wasn't directed at anyone in particular.
"You got hit by a bus." The woman had crossed the room and was now standing to my left affixing a blood pressure cuff to my one usable appendage.
A bus. The last thing I remembered was that little blonde puff of money stepping off the curb and not even paying attention to the bus coming at her. Foolishly, I pushed her out of the way and then…
"Oh shit is right, Mister. You're pretty banged up. You've been out of it for close to five days now. How are you feeling?"
"Feeling? Well, like I got hit by a bus." How the fuck did she think I felt? "My legs," I said, looking up at her with questioning eyes, unable to finish my sentence.
"Just broken, your spine is fine. No paralysis. Your wrist too on that side," she motioned with her head toward my other arm.
"Where am I?"
The woman turned her back to me and made her way to a side table and made some notes. Without turning back towards me she replied, "I think it's best if I leave that to the lady of the house to explain. I'll let her know you are awake now."
With that she left the room, and left me wondering what lady's house I was in and how I'd gotten here.
I must have dozed off because suddenly I felt a warm hand on my good arm. I turned my face from the windows to look at my new visitor and was met with the beautiful face of a blond angel. She looked worried and concerned, and in need of sleep. Even in this state she was gorgeous. I steeled myself, realizing that my appearance must be shocking. I was, after all, a street bum.
"Oh, thank God." She removed her hand from my arm, and turned to place a wet cloth on my forehead.
"Where am I? Who are you?"
She gingerly slowed her attentions with the cold compress on my face and then looked into my eyes.
"I'm sorry, where are my manners? Susannah Stackhouse, but please call me Sookie," she gingerly took my left hand with hers for an awkward handshake before she continued. "You are in my home; after the accident…" The accident. I suddenly flashed back and realized it was her that I had pushed out of the way of the bus that hit me. I closed my eyes as she continued, tuning back into her explanation. "…so we brought you here, to my home."
Oh. So I wasn't in the hospital.
She quieted as I contemplated what she had said. This undoubtedly well off woman had brought me into her home – why? Had she taken pity on me, the poor homeless man? Had she felt guilt at my predicament? I shut my eyes and turned my head away. I was falling back into my wallowing hole. I wanted pity from no one. I wanted nothing.
Yes, I was a prick. I ignored her. She tried to get me to talk, but I just kept my face towards the windows and away from her, silently willing her to leave me be.
A few minutes later as she was walking out of the door she turned and said, "I understand if you don't want to talk, but could you at least tell me your name?"
What the hell, it couldn't hurt to tell her.
"Eric, Eric Northman." I kept my gaze on the windows, unwilling to look at her face again.
"Eric. Thank you." Her voice wavered, and she sounded like she was about to cry. She took a moment to regain her composure before saying, "Thank you for saving my life. I owe you more than you could possibly know and I hope you will allow me to make it up to you." With that she turned and left, closing the door behind her.
Well? What do we think? Potential? Review and let me know. Ya know, it always seems strange to me when I get 1000 hits to a story and only 30-40 reviews. It hurts, it really hurts! How is it supposed to get better if you won't share your constructive criticism!? I know I have been absolutely HORRRRRIBLE about responding to reviews lately, but I pormise I'll get better. I figure you all would like me to write more story before writing replies so that is my FF priority.
Thank you all for reading!!!