A/N: Sorry it's been so long since I've updated but this semester has been rough. Fortunately, the semester is almost over and all my stories will be seeing updates soon! :)
Beta: I'm a firm believer in betas and I often say this chapter would not be possible without mine. For this chapter, this is very literal! Thank you, Christina, for the writing the paragraph that would not come to me! :)
Legal: Not mine : (
Dark again. Not cold though. Sookie was no closer to figuring out what this dream place was. She'd wanted to ask Godric but…
Godric. He was really gone.
She couldn't understand why he'd just give up like that. He was tired, she supposed. If she lived for millennia she would be too. Still, she'd miss him.
Sookie stretched out in the empty darkness, feeling her muscles flex as she moved. It was so dark and so quiet. Every breath she took and every minute movement was sharp and noticeable. Where could this be?
She stood and began walking again. Nothing changed. There was no way to mark her progress. After a while, she sat again.
A feeling of safety surrounded her. This place, although a mystery to her, was very peaceful. She was beginning to become quite comfortable here. Peaceful and warm.
Sookie found herself hoping that Godric was somewhere he found peaceful. Eric was certainly not. Last night had been heartbreaking to watch.
Last night. She had stayed with Eric. What would Bill say? A bit of panic shattered her peace and her senses dulled a bit. She almost thought she heard…
"Sookie! Wake up!"
Opening her eyes, Sookie found Eric leaning over her. Was that concern for her she saw before he pulled back?
"Eric. I'm sorry, I…"
"You slept here last night."
"Yes. I didn't want to leave you alone."
"I am a very old vampire, Sookie," he said, turning away from her and walking toward the closet. "I assure you I am quite capable of looking after myself."
Sookie started to feel embarrassed. He didn't want her here.
Before she had time to contemplate the thought, he had returned and was kneeling on the floor beside her, holding her hands in his.
"That is not what I meant, Sookie. You know I do want you here. You should be mine. I only meant that I do not need to be pitied."
Sookie nodded but refused to make eye contact with him.
"I am glad you are here, Sookie. You belong here with me," he told her, lifting her chin with the tips of his fingers and forcing her to look at him.
She sighed as she looked in his eyes and saw nothing but truth there.
"I just know how it feels. That's all. I know you are a big bad vampire but that doesn't mean you don't feel. We all need someone to be there for us when things get to be too much."
"You're right. I'm sorry. What I should have said was this: thank you."
Sookie nodded and started to climb out of Eric's bed. "I should get going before Bill…"
Before she could finish her sentence, the outer door to Eric's room was knocked in and Bill stormed into the room.
"What have you done to her?" he accused, heading straight for Eric's half-dressed form standing by the bed.
"Nobody's done anything to me, Bill. I'm right here."
"Thank God, Sookie, I was so worried," he began, heading toward her until he noticed her attire. "Sookie, what are you wearing? And what are you doing in Eric's bed?" he accused pointedly, looking back at Eric.
Eric smirked and raised an eyebrow, but looked back to Sookie for whatever explanation she wanted to give.
"It's not what it looks like," she tried to explain, tugging at Eric's shirt tail as it barely fell past her knees.
"You said you wanted us to work out, Sookie. Are you punishing me?"
"Damn it, Bill! Listen to me. I know what this looks like, but you've got it all wrong."
"This is your fault!" Bill yelled, stepping up to Eric and punching him as hard as he could across the jaw.
Eric just let the force of the blow turn his head. Before he'd even had a chance to turn back to face Bill, Sookie was off the bed pushing her way between them.
"Get out!" she screamed, getting up in Bill's face. "You have no idea what's going on and you apparently don't give a damn. Now get the hell out, Bill Compton, and I don't care if I ever see you again!"
"Sookie!" he yelled, grabbing her by the shoulders and shaking her a bit. "Please, you don't know what you're saying. Come with me, away from him."
"Fuck you!" Sookie screamed, struggling to get loose from Bill's grasp.
Eric reached up and carefully pulled Bill's fingers from her shoulders. Sookie slipped out from between the two vampires and slid behind Eric, out of Bill's reach.
"You will leave now, Bill," Eric told him calmly while keeping him from grabbing Sookie.
"I will not let you take her from me!"
"I have taken nothing!" Eric, finally losing his temper, leaned down and yelled into Bill's face. Calming slightly, he stood up and spoke again. "You may leave of your own power or mine, but you will leave now."
Bill stared defiantly up at the Viking for a moment but he knew he couldn't win this on raw power alone.
"This is not the end of this," Bill warned before turning to storm out of the room.
The room got eerily quiet and Sookie stepped back around Eric to face him.
"I'm sorry, Eric."
He shrugged and went back toward the closet to finish dressing.
"Thank you," she said softly, staring at his back as he pulled on his t-shirt.
"You're welcome," he responded evenly without turning back to her. He just kept staring into the closet, lost in his own thoughts.
"Eric," she began.
He sighed and turned to face her.
"I…" she began again before he interrupted her.
"Sookie, I have some things I have to do today. I should feed. Don't worry, you can stay here in the bedroom and I'll keep the room service in the outer sitting area. You should probably get dressed though. Pam will be here soon. You can let her know what you need from Bill's room and she can go get your luggage for you. And I will need to go speak with Isabel," Eric finally came to a stop with his manic to-do list as a single red tear rolled down his cheek.
Sookie crossed to him quickly and reached up to wipe the tear away. She sighed. He was trying to hide his pain by staying busy. She wanted to distract him from that plan and help him deal with this. She was afraid that no one else would show him the sympathy he needed. No, she couldn't imagine Pam offering a shoulder to cry on.
"Come and sit with me on the bed," she told him, grabbing his hand.
"Sookie, I have to get things done," he bristled. "I'm sure you think I need to deal with my feelings but I don't."
She shrugged and released his hand before continuing to and sitting down on the bed. "I understand. I just thought you needed to feed."
Eric's eyes widened. "And you're offering?"
"The least I could do," she said dismissively with a shrug of her left shoulder.
Before she could blink, Eric was kneeling between her legs on the floor, looking up at her.
"You do not owe me anything, Sookie. If you want this, tell me you want me. Do not misunderstand what you are offering. You've had my blood. If I have yours, we will begin a process of bonding that I will not want to stop. I will make you mine."
Sookie thought about what she really wanted as she stared down into those ocean blue eyes. The truth was there was no going back to Bill, and there was only one path forward and away from him. She would not stay with a man, vampire or not, that lied to her, obviously thought she was stupid, and may or may not have intentionally put her in harm's way to gain a way into her life.
But it was more than just wanting to be rid of Bill, who was proving to be toxic, as some of her romances occasionally described the heroine's bad relationships. It was more than not wanting to be lied to and used anymore. When Eric mentioned having to order "room service", Sookie had felt an unexpected… jealously. Was that what that was? She didn't like it, and she decided she had to do something about it.
Eric was surprised at the resolve he saw in her eyes and felt from her, but he was stunned when she shifted her long blond hair to one side and bared her neck to him. He leaned in, breathing across her lovely tanned throat and causing little chill bumps to rise before a shiver ran through her body.
He forced himself to pause and give her one more chance to be sure. "Ask me," he commanded.
Sookie took a deep breath and reached a hand up to rest on the nape of his neck.
"Bite me, Eric, please."