Approximately 5 years later...

Sookie pulled her brand new crimson colored Jeep Compass into a parking stall, grabbed her purse and the magazine sitting on her passenger seat, and got out, engaging the anti-theft system. She stood back for a moment to admire her new vehicle. She knew Eric more or less hated it, because it seemed so big and bulky. But, she was the one who'd bought it, and she absolutely loved it. She finally understood why Eric always referred to his Corvette's (that's right, plural, over the year's he'd upgraded several times) as "his baby."

She entered into the 3-story building which housed several physicians and the like. She rode the elevator to the top floor, walked down the hallway, and waved at the receptionist when she took a seat in the waiting room at the office of Dr. Amy Ludwig, Grief Counselor. Taking a brief look at her watch, she knew Eric wouldn't be finished with his appointment for another 25 minutes.

She and Eric had been living together for the past 2 ½ years. She'd made plans to meet Pam and Amelia for lunch around the same time that Eric's appointment was scheduled for. Since they were both going to the studio after his appointment, she'd dropped him off so they wouldn't have to take two separate vehicles.

She took another look at the cover of her magazine. It was an advanced copy of the next issue of Rolling Stone, which Pam had just given her that day. The cover held a photo of Shades of Dawn, taken a couple of weeks ago. She flipped to the page with the feature article, and began to read.

It is often said that 'misery loves company.' Most people would assume that to mean that, those who are miserable have a tendency to bring misery to others, so they are not wallowing on their own. However, for the members of popular rock band Shades of Dawn, it has come to mean something else entirely. It seems that 'misery' has decided it quite enjoys THEIR company. Once it has left them, it just can't resist coming back for more.

During its first five years in business, Bon Temps Records, run by New Orleans native and socialite Sophie-Anne LeClerq, developed a reputation for signing artists who seemed to put out one hit record after another. When Shades of Dawn released their first album, they were no exception. Unfortunately, tragedy struck when guitarist Clancy Crane died of an accidental drug overdose while the band was on tour for their third album.

Although they had almost finished recording their next album, the released was delayed as Eric Northman, lead singer and cousin of Crane, seemed to take the loss especially hard. Almost a year passed before the spot left empty by Crane was filled, and Shades of Dawn returned to the recording studio. They did so with not only one new guitarist, but two. Twin siblings Jason and Sookie Stackhouse brought a new level of intensity and talent to the group, and it seemed they were a perfect fit. In fact, the first single released from the new album was written by Sookie, and debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts.

The subsequent tour sold out in all venues, and the album itself was nominated for three Grammy Awards. 'I don't think I love you,' written by Sookie Stackhouse, along with 'Until the End,' written by Crane and recorded prior to his death, were each nominated for Best Rock Song. 'Until the End' ended up taking home that honor, along with the album taking home the prize for Best Rock Album. It seemed that the band had finally overcome the weight of Crane's loss.

Shortly after the end of their 'Until the End' tour, publicist and manager Pamela Ravenscroft released a statement that the band would be taking a little time off before starting anything new. During this break, drummer Alcide Herveaux married his long-time girlfriend, Maria-Star Cooper, who at the time was expecting their first child. It was then that misery struck.

Herveaux's wife unfortunately went into labor 2 ½ months early, and doctors had no choice but to deliver the baby. The baby, a little girl they named Janice, was in the hospital for 3 months before the Herveaux's were able to bring her home. According to Ravenscroft, the band did not even begin to discuss the idea of a new album until the child had been home for a few months, giving everyone time to adjust.

By the time they were ready to get back into the studio, it had been almost two years since the release of their last album. The music industry once again began to buzz with anticipation over their upcoming album. Just when things had gotten started, however, they were once again brought to a grinding halt.

Andre Paul, personal assistant and long-time lover of Bon Temps Records head Sophie-Anne LeClerq, drowned when his yacht was caught in a particularly bad storm off the coast of Florida. LeClerq was devastated, refusing to leave the home they shared after his funeral. Four weeks later, the legal team for Bon Temps received a letter from LeClerq stating that they were to auction off the record label to the highest bidder. Two days later, a housekeeper found LeClerq dead in her bedroom. The medical examiner ruled her death as a suicide.

The record label was indeed sold to the highest bidder, which turned out to be Las Vegas business man Felipe de Castro. When announcing his intentions to move the company's base of operations to Nevada, de Castro gave all the artists under the label to buy out the remaining time on their contracts. However, he refused to allow Shades of Dawn to take this option, not wanting to lose their revenue.

After a very heated legal battle, an arbitrator ruled that de Castro's demands were a breach in the original contract between Bon Temps and Shades of Dawn, and had no choice but to allow them to leave the label.

The rumors of what label would be fortunate enough to sign the band began to fly. But, for several weeks, all questions on the issue were given the simple response of 'No comment,' from Ravenscroft. In an announcement that shocked the entire music industry, it was finally revealed that Shades of Dawn would be releasing any future albums under their own, newly formed label. Sam Merlotte, a friend and former band mate to both Stackhouse siblings, signed-on as producer, and Shades of Dawn once again returned to the recording studio.

Sookie's attention was pulled away from the magazine article when she felt someone's foot tap hers, and she looked up to see Eric standing in front of her.

"Ready?" he asked.

She nodded, closed the magazine, and rose from the chair. She once again waved to the receptionist as she and Eric left the office hand in hand. Neither said anything more until they were back on the road.

"So?" Sookie asked Eric, raising her eyebrows and glancing at him quickly before returning her attention to the road.

"So, Dr. Ludwig said that she feels I no longer need to continue seeing her on a regular basis. But, I'm always welcome to make an appointment and stop by if I feel the need. Oh, and, she wants a signed copy of the CD when it comes out." He paused for a moment while they both laughed. "Did you read the article?" He asked her.

"Most of it. So far everything's accurate. Although, with the way that Pam went over it before she allowed them to print it, I'm not at all surprised."

"Yeah, she's pretty thorough. So, how was lunch?"

"It was great. We just went to Applebee's. Oh, but you'll never guess who our waiter was!" Sookie took a moment to glance at Eric, and when he simply shrugged, she said, "Bill Compton!"

Eric laughed loudly. "Why the hell is he working at a restaurant?"

"I wondered the same thing. I mean, I knew that he was dropped by his label after he was arrested, but, his family's so wealthy, I never would've thought he'd need to take on a job. But, Amelia said she'd heard that his parents were so upset about his arrest, they totally disowned him and cut off his trust fund."

The two of them continued to laugh at the misfortune of Bill until they arrived at the recording studio. They walked in to discover they were the last ones to arrive.

"There you are. Great, let's get started," Pam said. "This is the last song, and everything else for the album is ready, so, let's see if we can't get this done quickly, alright?"

After they took a few minutes to set everything up, Pam sat alongside Sam Merlotte as the band began to record. She smiled as she listened to Eric's rich voice sing the lyrics that he and Sookie had written together.

Hello, let me introduce you to the characters in the show

One says yes, one says no

Decide – which voice in your head you can keep alive

Even in madness, I know you still believe

Paint me on canvas so I become what you could never be

I dare you to tell me to walk through fire

Wear my soul and call me a liar

I dare you to tell me to walk through fire

I dare you to tell me, I dare you to

Hello, are you still chasing the memories in shadow

Some stay young, some grow old

Come alive, there are thoughts unclear you can never hide

Even in madness, I know you still believe

Paint me on canvas so I become what you could never be

I dare you to tell me to walk through fire

Wear my soul and call me a liar

I dare you to tell me to walk through fire

I dare you to tell me, I dare you to

After a couple of takes, they were satisfied with what they had, and decided they would just need to record Eric singing over himself for extra layering. Alcide, Jason, and Lafayette all left, while Sookie sat with Pam and Sam while Eric continued recording.

Pam couldn't help but notice that Eric's eyes never left Sookie's as he sang. At one point, Pam noticed from the corner of her eye that Sookie was mouthing the words along with Eric as he sang. While they were waiting for Sam to cue up the track for the final time, Sookie suddenly stood, and left the room momentarily. When she came back, she had a piece of paper and a magic marker, and smiled brightly as she wrote something down, before once again taking her seat.

Pam didn't think much of it, and leaned over to speak with Sam as Eric sang through the song one final time. They were discussing how long it would take to edit everything, when they noticed Eric had stopped singing. Pam looked up at him, and noticed that he was looking at Sookie with a shocked look on his face. She turned to follow his gaze, and laughed out loud and clapped her hands when she eyes landed on Sookie, who was holding a sign up for Eric which simply read, "Marry Me?"

A/N And that, my friends, is sadly the end of Shades of Dawn. First off, the song used in this chapter is I Dare You, by Shinedown. Now, I've had several people ask if I'm planning a sequel. Well, I'm not sure, yet. I'm not saying yes, but, I'm not saying no, either. I plan on focusing a bit more time on You Should Be Mine, then doing the promised one-shot sequel to Colorado Summers, then the sequel to Dark Past, Bright Future. If and when I DO begin a sequel for this, I will post a notice about it at the end of this fic. Thanks for reading, and as always, REVIEW!