Disclaimer: Characters and situations belong to Charlaine Harris. I'm only borrowing.
Summary: After the stake is removed in Club Dead, Sookie wakes up nearly naked in bed with Eric, how exactly did this happen?
Timeline: Post Dead to the World but also takes place in the midst of Club Dead... curious?
Note: I found this on my hard drive today. This one-shot ended up morphing into a chapter of 'I Have Gone Out' so if you're reading that, you WILL recognize this. Do not be fooled. If you are not reading IHGO then this is new to you. I decided this should appear in its stand alone form for those of you who prefer your fanfiction in sips. Enjoy.
The Sleep of the Staked
Well, the thing you should know is, I've never been good at remembering my dreams.
When we were kids, Jason used to come down to the breakfast table and regale me and Gran with all the places he'd gone in sleep, the coups he'd staged against tyrannical rhinoceros kings, and the cities he'd built on Jupiter.
The things Jason dreamed were so vivid and detailed that I would have thought he was just making them up except that when I listened inside his head, I could hear all kinds of crazy snatches of conversation with dreamed up people milling around in there while he talked.
I was more than a little jealous. If I went to exotic places in my sleep, the memory of them melted away in the daylight and when I rubbed sleep out of my eyes there was nothing in front of me but my little corner of Louisiana. Sometimes I'd think I remembered a dream, one where I jumped so high on my parents' bed that I thought I could fly but then I went crashing down. It felt so real. But then Jason always stopped me and told me it wasn't a dream, it'd really happened but I'd fallen and hit my head real hard and had to go get stitches. I guess that's why it felt so real.
So when you ask me why it is that my first instinct, upon seeing a terrified vampire running down Hummingbird Road in the middle of the night, was to stop and give him a lift, and why, the next thing I did was clean him up and take him into my home and I answer that it was because of this recurring dream I had, I'll understand if you don't believe me. I probably wouldn't believe me either.
But maybe if we sit down at the breakfast table and I regale you with the dream maybe, maybe then you'll understand.
You're not supposed to be able to feel pain in dreams, but this one always started with pain, gut-wrenching, white-hot pain. Sometimes I woke myself up with it before the dream could begin. But sometimes I didn't.
"Sookie. Let go. You need to drift away."
I was walking in a mirror that wasn't reflecting the world I knew but the world it remembered. The other world, the real world was dissolving away like it'd been made of sugar and now dropped into hot water. The new place was colorful and warmly lit but the angle of it was wrong. I was on my back and there were people hovering over me, no, not people. Vampires.
Fear was welling up from somewhere, fear of pain that I could swear must have been happening the instant before I got here. I looked up, away from the pain, up across fields of gold and ivory. Up and up. Then my eyes skittered across blue and I fell into a sky that was calm and quiet and waiting for me. "Put it down Sookie. I'll take it a while. Trust me."
I tumbled the wrong way through the air, down and down. As I fell, parts of me stayed where they were. Fear fell away, and embarrassment (though my dress must be up around my ears). Mistrust stuck fast where my body had been a second ago. "You're safe," said the place, said the walls of the rabbit-hole. As I fell I was wrapped in the quilt from my bed, Gran's quilt. And there was a fire going somewhere, and someone had made me breakfast. Maybe that's where I was headed? Somewhere safe, and quiet, and full of home.
But I could have sworn there was a different way to get to the kitchen.
No matter. I didn't care if I never got there. I'd be quite content falling forever. This place didn't seem to have a bottom so falling was no so different from flying.
"Come back now."
I stopped. Or maybe the world stopped passing me. I thought about collecting the parts of myself together. There were still things missing. Wariness. Mistrust.
But I had more pressing concerns. It was dark and I was wrapped in something that wasn't Gran's quilt. It was damp and clung at my waist, twisted under my arms. I pushed at it, wondering why I'd left the rabbit-hole. I almost thought... I could I have sworn I had been falling into the center of myself. If I'd gone a little farther I would have gone forever, I would have been in the stars.
It was dark. And I was too hot. And someone was humming. Badly.
I pushed at the fabric that clung to me and a frustrated grunt interrupted the mangled melody.
"Allow me," said the rabbit hole that was no longer flying past, just lingering somewhere in the dark. Cool hands slid under my back, making me weightless again, pulling me the wrong way through the air, lifting me gently into a sitting position. I hadn't realized I was lying down. Two sounds started at once. One should have been, "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." The other was a zipper.
It was dark.
"Are my eyes open?"
"No," said the rabbit hole.
"Oh." I resolved to fix the issue.
Maybe in five minutes. I was too hot. Sitting, I could feel the spot the heat was coming from, a patch on my stomach that felt as if the Devil himself had given me an appendectomy.
The cool hands helped me to lie down again. "Your skin is too hot. Even for a human, I think."
What would you know? You're a rabbit hole, I thought ungraciously but the rabbit hole's blessedly cool hands were lifting my hips and mercifully pulling off that hideous damp-clinging fabric, my suffocating second skin. So I thought this would be a bad time to offend it.
"Are my eyes open?" I knew I had already asked but I hadn't paid enough attention to the answer.
"Still no," said the patient rabbit hole. Then it laughed at me.
"Oh." I didn't think it usually took much effort to open my eyes. But I found myself wishing the rabbit hole would make them weightless.
I wish I may, I wish I might.... Wish not granted.
A huge amount of concentration later, I saw the first shy flutters of light. Twinkle, Twinkle....
"You sing very badly."
I blinked against painfully bright light. Maybe the light was the reason I was so darned hot. I blinked and blinked a shape, a face, into focus. "You look like Eric," I told the rabbit hole.
"I am Lief."
"Don't believe you." I decided to test the rabbit hole's identity. "You are late... for a very important date."
"I don't think so."
Not its fault. The rabbit was late, not the hole. Hole's don't have pocket watches. "How do you know?"
"Pam would have called," it said reasonably.
Ah, yes. Maybe it was Eric. "Maybe you can be Eric," I granted magnanimously. Then, "Eric why is it so hot in here?"
"It is only you, Sookie," he said but his voice was all wrong. Not enough leer. Must be on account of his being late. Or a leaf. Or a rabbit hole. Whatever. "Your body is fighting infection. You were staked. Do you remember?"
"No." I fought with my eyelids again which had managed to close without me noticing. This time I turned my head a bit and saw that I was lying on top of a rather luxurious comforter on an even more luxurious four-poster. Also... "Eric, am I naked?"
"Am I almost naked?"
Well, damn. "Did you do it? Why did you undress me?"
"Because you were not doing it very well." Yup. Reasonable rabbit hole.
Eric laughed. He would be used to women thanking him for taking their clothes off.
"It's hot, Eric."
He vanished above my line of sight and then reappeared with a glass of water. He studied me for a moment, blond brows contemplating the mechanics of water drinking. "Will it hurt you worse to sit again?"
"Is the water cold?" I asked and he nodded. "I can sit."
This was not exactly true, I quickly found out. Eric had to help.
"Eric stop moving," I said urgently. Or there will be dire consequences.
"Am I hurting you?"
"No," I wriggled so more of his arm touched more of my back. It was blissfully cool. A shade tree at high noon. The first lemonade of summer. Hot apple pie with cold ice cream. I sighed. Okay, so maybe it was more of a moan.
Eric laughed quietly and I fought my eyes open yet again to see what was funny. "It seems I confused agony and ecstasy," he said, sitting next to me on the bed and placing his other hand across my forehead. The water had disappeared.
He stroked long fingers through my sweat-damp hair. His nails scratched lightly over my hot scalp and I swear I felt like an irrigated field, like he was putting the life back into me row by row.
"If you even think about stopping, I will kill you. Again," I threatened, reaching up to cover his hand with both of mine, holding it in place and cooling my palms. "Killing two birds with one hand.... 's worth two in the bush."
"You are making very little sense," Eric said, numbly as a rabbit hole. "You should drink some water. Then sleep."
"Okay," I said amiably and then promptly screeched a protest when he took his hand back from me. "My stomach hurts. It's hot," I explained. "And I am way too tired to kill you now. Even though I said I would."
"Yes. You were staked."
"Oh." I could feel his bottomless rabbit hole eyes on me so I tipped my head up and to the side to look at him. He was looking at me. "What are you doing?"
"Wondering if I can glamour you into remembering. You are very annoying."
"I am feeling very... stupid," I admitted.
"It's the drugs the doctor gave you."
"And the stake," I said, proud for remembering.
"Drink," he said, one hand behind my head, one on the glass.
The water was delicious. Where was I? Mississippi? "Mississippi water is delicious," I said between gulps. "Remind me if I forget. I'm afraid I'll forget." It was important. I could hear the urgency in my voice. I drank more water.
When I finished the glass, Eric helped me to lie down again. But then he moved away and I was hot, sweating all over the beautiful bed. "Come back," I said. "Please."
The bed dipped as Eric laid down next to me. He slid an arm under my overheating body. I turned in toward his cool chest, laying my head on his shoulder and working my cheek inside his collar. I felt like my brain was going to boil right out my ear.
"Sookie, what are you doing?" His hand had covered my hand that was struggling with the buttons of his shirt.
I was undressing him. Obviously. "You are not doing it very well," I reasoned.
He laughed and said something that sounded disbelieving but I didn't think it was in English so I couldn't tell. Then he was gone for a moment, leaving my head to fall against the pillows. Then he was back and all at once I was pressed against the full, cool length of him.
I sighed a sigh that started in my toes and ended in my breath against his collarbone. I was suddenly that indescribably perfect temperature that makes your skin feel new and fresh like it's never properly felt the world before. I moaned again. I'd intended to say, "Thank you, Eric," but I think only the "Eric," part made it out.
He rumbled a warning in his chest. "You will be very lucky if I don't eat you up."
"Now don't ruin it by getting all horny." I smiled sleepily. I wasn't sure who I was warning.
My breasts were pressed against his chest, the blistering heat between them mercifully trickling off and down across his ribs. Not all of me was getting cooler for being skin to skin with him. One particular part was getting decidedly warmer, in fact. Guilt arose from somewhere, somewhere outside the four poster bed, somewhere before the stake-shaped hole in my stomach. But, I reasoned with the guilt, I was only almost naked and far too tired to do anything about heat of any kind it. That's why he was here.
Minutes, hours, days later, I finally roused myself enough to turn over, cooling my back against the rabbit hole turned vampire. A few minutes after that I shivered.
"You are very... high maintenance," my rabbit hole said and the comforter was pulled up over us.
When I began to get too hot again, I pulled his arms back around my waist. "Right here," I said, guiding his hand to the stake-shaped hole that was becoming a stake-shaped scar.
The heat of it was scalding, burning me right up from the inside out. But he cupped his cool hand over, not quite touching, and I felt a little better. I leaned back against him, against the solid, comforting weight of him. He was Eric and I felt safe, felt safe because of him instead of in spite of him. Who would have thought he'd be the one who wouldn't leave me?
I felt myself sliding under that heavy, winter blanket sleep. "Eric," I said, before it could claim me. "Remind me about the water. Mississippi water." He made a non-committal sound that I decided to take as agreement. "And remind me that I undressed you." That got a laugh. "And remind me that you were nice to me."
I let my eyes slide closed, humming, Eric's cool skin and Gran's quilt warm. Somewhere someone had made me breakfast. I wondered if this time I'd manage to fall into the stars.
I must have had the dream a hundred times before I started to remember it. Each time I woke knowing I'd had that dream again but I could never remember what that dream was. When it finally put itself together in my memory, it was far too vivid. I was sure I'd never dreamed a dream like that before.
So when you ask me why it is that my first instinct, upon seeing a terrified vampire running down Hummingbird Road in the middle of the night, was to stop and give him a lift, and why, the next thing I did was clean him up and take him into my home and I answer that it was because of this recurring dream I had, I'll understand if you don't believe me.
Because, well, the thing you should know is, I've never been good at remembering my dreams.