Yes, I've started a new fic. Yes, I am crazy. Yes, I hope ya'll don't hate me.

I got this idea after watching a youtube E/S vid, and this story will follow the plot of that vid. The vidder, nutbustedhaji, is awesome and totally cool with me writing this. I'm looking at it as an exercise in writing more angsty emotions. This is one of those stories where Eric and Sookie aren't truly together until the end. This is about the journey of them coming together, and it's one heck of a journey, so stick with me on it!

I'm thinking this is only going to be about 10-15 chapters, so it shouldn't take too awful long to complete. No worries about my other fics though. Honestly, whether I was posting this or not I would have been working on it, so my other stories were going to get the same amount of attention regardless. In all likeliness you'll be getting updates from me more often, just not to the same fics. :)

Huge thanks to my two beta loves for this fic, FDM and SMeadows. You two are so amazing, and this would still read like crap without you. *Viking hugs*

I'd also like to give a warning that this will deal with a subtle emotional/mental form of abuse, so if you're sensitive to something like that, please go into this cautiously.

Chapter 1 – Keep Telling Yourself That

Sookie Stackhouse was a waitress at my bar. When she first came in to apply for a job I thought she was a pretty face, but probably just like every other blonde-haired, large-breasted woman. I assumed she was dumb, and loose; I couldn't have been more wrong. Within a couple of nights she proved herself to be hardworking and smart. She had a thick skin, and didn't put up with the drunks behaving inappropriately.

I found myself looking for excuses to talk to her when she stayed late to finish up her closing duties. She was sweet, caring, and had such a great sense of humor. She seemed to have no clue that all these qualities made her extremely attractive, and that was refreshing and endearing. I quickly realized that she was everything I wanted in a woman; only any other woman with the same qualities wouldn't cut it because they simply weren't her.

The only negative thing about her? She wasn't single.

It would be like that, wouldn't it? I finally find a great woman; a woman that I could see myself with in the long run, and she wasn't available. Isn't there a saying that women use? "All the good ones are either married or gay." For men the saying is, "All the good ones are either married or in a relationship with a jackass who doesn't appreciate them." Well, maybe that's not quite how it goes, but you understand what I mean.

Her boyfriend was Bill Compton. The guy was an asshole. I found out about him when he came into the bar to see her, and I saw her give him a peck on the cheek. Instantly, I flooded with jealousy, and then she saw me and brought me over to introduce us. I didn't understand how she couldn't tell what a smug bastard he was, but I hoped that she would eventually. I was willing to wait though, because a girl like Sookie Stackhouse is the kind of girl you wait for.

Something about Sookie's nature made me suspect that she had been through a lot. For lack of a better term, she was kind of damaged. I first noticed this the day her grandmother died. Sookie always put on a mask for other people. When she smiled, or was truly happy, her soul shined through it. She was innately good.

Sookie was working a busy shift when she got the news of her grandmother's passing. Her brother came in, walked right up to her, and slapped her across the face. I had been heading back to my office at the time, and saw it happen. Immediately, I was at her side, ready to defend her. Her brother was screaming at her that it was her fault their grandmother had died as two of my bartenders held him back. The patrons in the bar all surrounded us and watched the scene play out like the vultures they were.

"What?" she asked, her voice quavering with shock.

"Gran had a heart attack, and you weren't there to take care of her! She was already dead when I found her, and it's your fault!" he screamed at her.

"Get him out of here," I ordered the bartenders and gently led Sookie back to my office.

Once I made sure she was seated comfortably, I hollered at one of the waitresses to bring her a bottle of water. I picked up the phone and called the coroner's office, and after explaining the situation, they confirmed that Mrs. Adele Stackhouse had died of a heart attack earlier in the evening.

I hung up and looked at Sookie. She was slumped on my leather couch; looking the weakest I'd ever seen her. It was obvious that she was trying desperately not to fall apart. There was a red mark on her cheek where her brother had struck her, so I grabbed an ice pack out of my little freezer. You'd be surprised how handy those are in a bar. I slowly walked over to her and knelt in front of her, wanting nothing more than to embrace her to soothe her pain. I brushed some hair behind her ear, and her eyes snapped to mine.

"She's really gone, isn't she?" she asked.

"I'm sorry, Sookie," I said, and she burst into tears, dropping her head in her hands.

I had no idea what to do with a crying woman, so I grabbed some tissues and waited. Her crying escalated into sobs, and I couldn't take it anymore. I tentatively reached out to her, slowly wrapping her in a hug. To my surprise, and I'm sorry to say, delight, she wrapped her arms around me and hugged me back. Even more to my surprise, I was able to calm her down when I began gently humming. It was what my mother used to do to me when I was a kid, and it seemed to work with Sookie too. Eventually, she stopped crying, and pulled back.

"Oh, goodness. I've made a mess of your shirt!" she said with a horrified look on her face.

"Oh, it's okay. It's not the only one I have," I smiled.

She gave me a half-hearted smile in return and took the tissues from my hand. While she dried her eyes, and wiped her nose, I asked her if there was anyone I could call to pick her up.

"Well, Jason's a big fat no. My friend Amelia is working."

"What about Bill?" I asked.

She seemed to close off the tiniest bit when I said his name. She shook her head. "No, I can't call him. He's working on some new program; he doesn't like to be bothered."

"Even in a situation like this?" I asked, genuinely shocked. She couldn't even turn to her boyfriend when her grandmother died? That was ridiculous. She shook her head.

"I can take you," I said. "Just let me tell Pam I'm leaving."

"Oh no, Eric. I can't ask you to do that. I'll just drive myself," she insisted.

"You're not going anywhere as upset as you are. Let me drive you."

She finally accepted, and I drove her home. She stared out the window the whole way, quietly giving me directions when I needed them. When we finally pulled up to her house, she stiffened. There was a car in the drive, and a person sitting on the porch. It was Bill. I started to get out of the car with her, but she stopped me.

"Thanks for the ride, Eric. I really appreciate it."

She made to get out of the car, but I put my hand on her shoulder. She looked back at me nervously.

"Call me when you're ready to come back to work, okay? Take all the time you need. I'll get your shifts covered."

She nodded, thanked me again, and got out of the car. I watched her walk up to Bill, and watched him start wildly gesturing to my car; it almost looked like they were arguing. I assumed it wasn't going to do her any good with me watching them, so I pulled out of the drive and headed back to the bar.

My thoughts consumed me. What kind of boyfriend yells at his girlfriend just after her grandmother dies? I briefly wondered if he would get physically abusive with her and considered turning back, but I stopped myself. I'd never seen so much as a tiny bruise on her, and she didn't really seem like the type to put up with a man that would hit a woman. Although, I still felt a bit uneasy about the whole thing, but I kept driving.

That was a year ago. Sookie came back to work about a week after her grandmother passed, and again, she thanked me for being there for her. She made no indication that things with her and Bill were bad, and she still never had any bruises. She never wore heavy make-up, so I just assumed that I was trying to make Bill out to be worse that what he was.

I continued to admire Sookie from afar. Not in a creepy way or anything. I simply enjoyed her company when I could and tried to be there for her without pissing Bill off. I'd like to think that we became friends. She began to feel comfortable enough to call me if she needed a night off while dealing with her grief, and I was happy about that. She knew she could turn to me when things were rough.

Pam was the only one who seemed to guess at my interest in Sookie, and she called me a pussy for not going after her. Pam was my best friend, and like a sister to me. She always had been. She was smart, ruthless, extremely business-savvy, and also a lesbian, so our relationship worked out well. I tried to explain to her that Sookie couldn't be won like that. I couldn't simply put the moves on her until she cracked and gave in. She was obviously in a 'complicated' relationship with Bill and dealing with the death of someone close to her. Vulnerable as she was, I couldn't bring myself to take advantage of her.

It always struck me how different she was while she was waitressing or alone with me compared to how she acted around Bill. She seemed so… not herself around him, like she was watching her every move. Yet, it almost seemed automatic, as though she didn't even know she was doing it.

Over the year that we had grown closer, I considered bringing up her relationship with Bill many times purely out of concern for her. In passing, I once mentioned that if she ever wanted to 'talk', I would listen, and she nearly bit my head off defending him. She said he'd been through a lot, and that she loved him, which nearly broke my heart. She also said I shouldn't judge him for how he is around others.

I could actually see in her eyes that she had some affection for him. I wouldn't call it love, but that's what she thought it was, so I backed off. She apologized to me the next day, but I told her there was nothing to apologize for, and I haven't asked about her relationship with Bill since.

Sookie was off work tonight for her anniversary with Bill. I tried not to think about the reason. The paperwork on my desk had been mounting up, so I stayed holed up in my office until I decided to go get some takeout for Pam and me. Since she had been craving pasta, Pam asked me to go to a little place across town, claiming that they had the only Alfredo in town that she'd eat. Normally I would have argued, but I knew I could use the extra time by myself.

My phone rang when I was halfway there, and I expected it to be Pam with another crazy demand.

"Pam, I'm not changing the order. You're getting what you said you wanted," I answered.

"Eric?" Asked a voice that was definitely not Pam. A voice that sounded upset.

"Sookie?" I asked, immediately on edge.

"Have you seen Bill?"

"No, I thought you two were celebrating tonight."

"He was supposed to meet me, but he didn't show up. That was two hours ago, and he hasn't called. He's not answering his cell. I was hoping someone had seen him at some point today."

"I'm sorry, I haven't seen him. Are you… Should… Do you want me to come help you look for him?"

Yes, I just asked the woman I was falling for if she wanted my help looking for her boyfriend. Maybe I really was a pansy-ass.

"No, that's okay. Please call me if you see him though."

"I will."

After we hung up I wondered if I should go to her house anyway. She sounded really upset. I knew I wouldn't be of much help though, so I continued on to the restaurant.

When I arrived, I was told the orders were backed up, so I sat down for a few minutes and let my mind wander. All I could think about was Sookie. I wondered if she was okay. It may have been year since the loss of her grandmother, but that was still pretty recent, and she was probably going crazy with worry, wondering if Bill was lying dead in a ditch somewhere.

Only he wasn't lying dead in a ditch. Unfortunately, he walked into the restaurant healthy as a horse, with a woman on his arm, a woman who wasn't Sookie. I recognized the woman to be Lorena, his ex-girlfriend. Lorena had come into the bar once, and Sookie reacted badly to seeing her. Curiosity had gotten the best of me, so I had asked who she was. Sookie told me that Lorena was Bill's high school sweetheart, and apparently they had had a nasty break up. Shortly after, Sookie met Bill and she's been with him ever since, but she didn't like Lorena.

As they walked to a corner booth, Bill leaned down and whispered in her ear, causing her to giggle. My blood was boiling as I watched them get cozy at their table, and within seconds they were making out. They only briefly stopped when his cell phone rang. He picked it up, looked at the caller ID once before muting it, and set it back down. I had no doubt that he had just ignored a call from Sookie, who was going out of her mind with worry.

I didn't understand how he could be cheating on the sweet, funny, beautiful woman that was Sookie with that skanky piece of trash. I was about two seconds away from walking over there and giving him a piece of my mind, and perhaps my fist, when the waitress told me that my food was ready. I quickly paid for the food and took off back to the bar.

"You have to tell her," Pam said after I told her what had happened.

"Pam, she loves him. I can't do that to her."

"You'd rather watch her spend her life with a man she thinks she loves, knowing that he cheats on her, than tell her and let her make her own decision? She deserves to know, now go."

I left to appease Pam, but I didn't really have the full intentions of going to Sookie's house. I drove around aimlessly, trying to decide what to do, and subconsciously found myself driving down Sookie's road. My headlights shone on her sitting on the porch steps, and when she saw them she jumped up and ran to the driveway, but stopped when she saw it was me.

"Eric? What are you doing here?" she asked when I got out of the car. "Did you see Bill?"

I could tell she'd been crying, and I knew I'd have to do this delicately.

"Sookie, can I come inside? I need to talk to you," I said gently, calmly.

She nodded. "Yeah, sure. Come in."

She was the perfect hostess, even in her distress; she offered me a beverage, and made sure I was comfortable.

"What did you need to talk to me about?" she asked nervously once we were sitting down.

"Do you know that little restaurant called Joy's in Shreveport?" I asked.

"Yes, I think Bill took me there once when we started dating. Why?"

"I went there tonight to get food, and I was on my way there when you called earlier."

"Okay…" she said, unsure of why I was telling her this.

"I saw Bill when I got there."

"Oh thank God! Was he okay?" she asked, and then it seemed to sink in a bit. "Why was he there?" she asked quietly, almost as though she was afraid to hear herself.

"He was fine," I said, while I tried to grow some balls to tell her what I knew was going to hurt her. I found it strange that this seemed harder than telling her that her grandmother had passed away.

"He was with Lorena, and they weren't acting like just friends."

She had a look of shock on her face, and refused to look into my eyes. She shook her head slightly, as though she was trying to erase her thoughts.

"What were they acting like?"

"They were kissing… a lot."

Her eyes clenched shut, and her head dropped. Again, I didn't know what to do. Her heart was probably breaking, and even though I wasn't the asshole that cheated on her, I was still the asshole that delivered the blow. So I stayed silent and waited. After a few second I saw the tears start to drop to the floor, and I immediately looked around for some tissues. When I found some, I knelt on the floor in front of her like I had when her grandmother died. I held the tissues out for her, and she quietly took them, dried her eyes, and then abruptly stood up.

"Eric, thank you for coming to tell me, but I think I want to be alone right now," she said as strongly as she could.

I wasn't going to argue with her for fear of her kicking me out. I stood up and bent to give her a brief, soft kiss on her temple, and said, "Please call me if you need anything, even if it's just to talk. I really am here for you, Sookie."

She nodded, but didn't say anything, so I left. As I drove home, I tried to tell myself that this could be a turning point. Maybe she and Bill would split up, and after she healed from it I could start pursuing her. She'd realize that she deserved better, give me a chance, and then she'd fall in love with me. I smiled at the idea. Sookie could fall in love with me.

Yeah, keep telling yourself that.

Okay! Now that you've read it, what do you think? Please let me know! I can't get any better if I don't know what people think of it.

*bites nails*

P.S. I'll post the link to the vid this is based on in my profile. Give it a bit to show up though :)