By: Sleepy Lotus
Part I: Godric
This is absurd.
The human Sookie Stackhouse had a way of turning Eric's night upon its head. Making him feel unsure of himself, in ways he had not doubted in centuries. Vulnerable, in places he'd thought walled off from the world for longer than this country had been in existence.
Here she was, sitting before him, tears rolling down her pretty cheeks as she told him of the efforts she'd made to find Bill. The mark of the Nazi werewolves-it sounded ridiculous, but not far enough from the mark for comfort.
Bill. The thought of the spineless twerp made his lip curl with disgust, and even more so that this beautiful creature belonged to the Civil War veteran, and not to him.
Not for long, if he had anything to do with it.
He could tell as her face fell into even further despair that Sookie thought his disgust was meant for her; her love and tears for her missing vampire. Would be fiancé, had he stuck around to hear the yes.
Also absurd, and thank Odin he hadn't.
"Please don't do that," he found himself demanding, softly. "It makes me feel disturbingly…human."
Sookie gulped a deep breath-the walls between she and Eric towered high once more. One could almost forget that not so long ago, they'd shared.. . something, between them. A night of understanding -an almost sickeningly innocent exchange of comfort.
She'd gone to him after Godric died. In the beginning, because she'd felt she owed Godric that much, for saving her from her would-be rapist. Obligation, nothing more, she'd told herself. It had nothing to do with the fact that Eric intrigued her, with this newfound vulnerability. This dumbfounding love for a being other than himself.
She'd liked it better when she thought him callous, shallow, despicable, mean, selfish… god damn it if it wasn't so cut and dry anymore.
He'd heard her approach, no doubt, but made no move to hide the runnels of blood tears from his cheeks. "Eric?"
The vampire rolled desolate blue eyes up to hers, all the more brilliant in the contrast against the blood. "Godric is gone." His words fell empty, broken, and Sookie's heart broke for his loss. And so very gently, she kissed his forehead, a small hand cupping his jaw. Eric's hand went to cover hers, holding her living warmth to his skin. "What are you doing here?"
"I told Godric I would take care of you."
Eric laughed at the absurdity of the notion. But she delivered with such sincerity; everything was so urgent to mortals. He found that somehow, in that moment, he felt grateful for that. He clung to it; if a blood drinker so great as Godric could lose his grip on the years, choose to give them all up to the sun, what was keeping him rooted to this world? "Did you now? Even after the way I tricked you? After the bomb?"
Licking her lips nervously, Sookie stepped closer, running fingers through Eric's hair. He closed his eyes to the blissful sensation of that simple contact; her gentle fingers and thundering heartbeat soothed him indescribably. "I've been thinking about that," she admitted.
So had he. And in this moment, he wanted Sookie Stackhouse to be his more than ever.
"And it was an underhanded, dirty thing, Eric."
"Yes," he agreed, yet did not apologize. Still, he also did not seem particularly proud, or even smug.
"But I also wonder if you haven't freed me a little."
The vampire's eyes flew open, startling her with their intensity. "What are you saying?"
Her fingers continued their motions through his hair, almost absently enjoying the texture through her fingers. "Bill fed me his blood from almost the first night we met, Eric. Now, I'm left with so many questions, about everything. Is anything of what I feel for him real? Is this real?" She felt suddenly dizzy as she cupped his face with both hands, staring into his eyes in search of answers.
"This is very real," he assured her, placing his other hand over hers. "It has to be." Suddenly unsettled by the emotion in Eric's voice, she began to draw away, but quick as lightning he caught her hands once more. He drew her back down to him, and she went without a fight, as a moth goes to the flame. Lightly he kissed her, taking comfort in the contact, the simple, universal act of touching lips with another. Though a thrill coursed through her at his touch, Sookie sensed that for once this vampire didn't seek to seduce her. He simply sought her.
And yet, he too seemed unsettled by their proximity. It was so easy to tease her, to infuriate her, to make innuendos at every little thing she said. But this, perhaps, let the little telepath a little too close to home. His safety depended on those around him believing him to be a powerful and invulnerable vampire. Stone cold. What would happen to him, now that Sookie knew different?
"Perhaps you should go," he suggested, even as it pained him deeply to say so.
Sookie understood this shift, all too well. Understood that he was stonewalling her once more, remembering the person she knew him to be. Up until a night ago, she'd had no idea that it was a persona. A mere facet of the vampire Eric Northman.
"No, Eric, don't do this."
"It's past dawn, Sookie. I'm tired. Please…"
"I know what it's like to lose someone so important to you, Eric. My Gran meant everything to me. She taught me so much, protected me, loved me more than anyone, accepted me for exactly who I am-when she died, a little piece of me went to the grave with her. You shouldn't be alone, after losing someone like that in your life."
Eric regarded her with a weighty gaze, and Sookie suddenly stood very aware that he'd lived nearly a millennia longer than her. "Are you offering to coddle me?" he asked, making one last attempt to send her on her way with sarcasm, before he felt certain he would cave.
Lifting her chin defiantly, Sookie kicked off her shoes, and crawled onto the bed. He watched her with a tired amusement, as she settled against the headboard in her pretty sundress. She was a ray of light in the shadowy room. And when she crooked her finger to him, he found he couldn't resist her. Eric lay upon her breast, long arms wrapped about her body, and it was a sweet relief to hold her life so close to him. An anchor in the storm-he wouldn't blow away, she wouldn't let him.
"And when your Gran died, Sookie. Who did this for you? Bill?"
A heartbeat passed in silence, her fingers pausing in their trail over his bare back. Two heartbeats, three, before she finally answered, "No."
"Your smart-mouthed friend?"
"No, Eric." There was a fragile note in her voice, and though he sensed it pained her the vampire felt the need to pursue this mystery.
The telepath remained silent, and he realized that no one was there to comfort her at the time she needed it most, in the way she truly needed. "Lafayette gave me some valium to knock me out, which was nice, I guess," she finally blabbered in her friends' defense. "I had a good cry over Gran's last pecan pie. And then everything sped on, somehow, with Jason going to jail and Renee trying to kill me-"
His voice cut through her tirade, surprising as it was certain. "I should have been there for you. I failed you, as everyone else around you always does."
Sookie pressed her lips with surprise. "You didn't know," she tried to head him off.
"I did know. I am sheriff, Sookie. It is my business to know everything. I'm sorry."
Sookie froze, taken completely by surprise, as was Eric himself as the words fell from his mouth. And they were genuine. It had been a long time since he'd extended anything genuine to a human, outside of a threat.
Tears began rolling down Sookie's cheeks, a place still so raw upon her heart prodded painfully by their discussion. She'd thought she could be the strong one for him, in his hour of need, but perhaps she'd bitten more off than she could chew. Sensing he'd upset her, Eric pulled her down to nestle in his arms. Stranger yet, she let him.
"Your heart is so pure," he whispered in her hair, a note of wonder in his tone. "Most humans would be so bitter, in your situation. Alienated from the humanity around you because you are more than them; because you know their every stupid thought. I don't think I've ever realized that you are nearly as alone as I am."
Sookie shifted to nuzzle into the hollow of Eric's neck. "You're saying that we're more alike than I think, you and I," she tried to make light of their solitude, even as it tore holes in her heart to do so.
"Something like that, yes."
"You aren't alone, Eric. You have Pam."
"Yes. But who else?"
"I don't know. I don't know who you keep close to you."
"I had Godric. But no more. And what of you? Who is left for you, Sookie Stackhouse?"
She had plenty, she reasoned. Tara and Lafayette, though both kept their distance, of sorts. Sam who loved her blindly. But just that-blindly. It was sweet, but not what she wanted. There was Terry-crazy, PTSD'd Terry, bless his heart… Jason, of course! Her selfish, Adonis of a brother… And then there was Bill… Bill, who for which every feeling she'd ever felt might just have been a lie.
"I don't want to talk about it," she murmured, cuddling closer, and Eric felt very content to have her in his arms. They lay in silence for several minutes. It was nice to have someone, who with silence did not weigh uncomfortably. Sookie wondered if this sense of content was due to the blood she'd ingested, or simply because Eric really understood better than anyone.
"You should get some rest," she finally sighed, sitting up on an elbow. Tenderly she cradled the side of his face, brushing a lock of blond hair behind his ear. "Tomorrow is another night."
He found it amusing that she would remind him; he who knew better than anyone.
Suddenly unwilling to relinquish Sookie just yet, he rose to lean over her, pushing her back upon the bed. "Stay with me?"
Sookie pressed her lips nervously, though he could clearly read the urge in her to stay put. "Bill will be livid with me as it is."
Eric gave a wry smile, and she could see the Eric she knew very well peeking through. The vampire so full of bravado and himself that nothing else could get through. Yet there was something endearing in it; almost cute, in small doses. "Bill doesn't have to know. Leave before dusk, take a shower to wash my scent from you, and he'll be none the wiser."
"So sneaky, Mr. Northman."
"Or simply go to him, bathed in the scent of my skin. Tell him you've changed your mind, that you are to be mine." His lips curled in a dangerous smirk. The way the snake must have smiled at Eve. Crazier yet, it seemed like a good idea.
Now that definitely had to be the blood talking.
"A girl just can't belong to herself, around you vampires, can she?"
"We are possessive," he admitted, without a shred of shame or apology. His fingers moved to trace the veins upon her neck and chest distractedly, inspiring a damning thrill of desire to shake Sookie's spine. "But there are benefits."
"I'm all too aware," she assured him, pushing his hand as it began a lower course to her cleavage.
"Are you? When all you have known is Bill? A bi-centennial weakling?"
Sookie felt suddenly glad for their banter; Eric obviously felt better. Not healed, not yet, probably not ever. A loss like that never completely heals, only scabs with time. With a roll of her eyes she taunted, "And you're so different, blah blah blah, a thousand years of experience, etcetera etcetera, amen."
In the end, she stayed.
Eric fell asleep with her warm body tucked against his, and he couldn't remember the last time he'd ever felt so complete.
The next day, it was as though nothing had ever happened.
Bill suspected, but did not know, and would not accuse. Sookie went back to acting as though she hated him. He almost would have believed it, could he not feel her in a secret place over his heart from the blood. Once, they'd shared a brief glance of longing, but the moment dissolved as Bill turned back to her, and they went on as though it had never been.
He hadn't seen her since, until the night Pam led her down into the basement to find him mid-coitus with his Estonian stripper. Not exactly the reunion he'd hoped for. He found himself agreeing to try and find Bill-he himself had wanted to collect the annoying vampire, for his own reasons. The twerp knew of the vampire blood dealing, and needed a stern talking to, at the very least. The thought of administering other persuasions curled a cruel smile upon his lips.
"Wow," she'd said with such disdain, looking about the drippy basement, the chained stripped, trying to train her eyes anywhere but his manhood raised proudly in salute. She was not shocked-but certainly disdainful. Bored, with the cruelties of the vampire world. It shamed him a little, to see that look in her eyes. She glowed in the gloom in that lavender dress, a breath of fresh air wherever she went. "You sure know how to treat a girl."
She'd turned on her heel to go, but he caught her with a single long finger hooked in hers. "I would be so good to you, Sookie," he whispered. "You would never see this place."
Sookie raised a skeptical eyebrow, even as her heart skittered about in her chest. His eyes glittered like silver moons in the darkness, terrible and beautiful, and she forgot for a moment Bill, and how to say no.
But she was a fighter.
"Find Bill," she'd finally demanded, and stormed up the stairs.
So there they were, together once again at his bar. A sense of foreboding gripped Eric as he thought on the implications of these werewolves in his territory. He'd gone to great lengths to exterminate a nest of them during the second great war, even so far as the distasteful act of posing as an SS officer. With Sookie involved, somehow the stakes raised even higher.
She attempted to staunch her tears, eyes cast downwards. Just because they'd shared that one, blissfully forbidden night of innocent comfort, didn't mean she would expect anything of him now. She knew better, with vampires.
Good, it isn't her place to, his first voice growled, even as the one he rarely listened to these days, the voice closer to his heart and soul, demanded he make things right. She'd come to him in his time of need. For the sake of honor at the very least, he should do the same.
His large hand hovered over hers, reluctant, and Sookie watched wide eyed with surprise. And when it finally settled, engulfing her little paw in his own, both felt a certain sense of relief. A tension washed through them that neither quite understood. Brown eyes met blue, and Sookie's heart flipped at the raw intensity of the vampire's gaze.
"We'll find him," he promised softly, and her fingers laced with his, suddenly reluctant to ever let go.
But then Pam and the annoying new vampire Jessica came out from the little girls' room, with fucking perfect timing, and Sookie bolted up from her seat, eyes cast downwards once again. He could feel her guilt-having warm thoughts about him while Bill was missing unsettled her conscience.
"Thank you," she said hurriedly, and in the blink of an eye, she was gone.
A/N: So, whatcha think? I'm playing with the idea of doing a series of these, maybe one for every new episode, to play up the scenes between Eric and Sookie. Between Charlaine and Alan, they never quite give us what we want, do they? Grrr… Well, at any rate, reviews are greatly appreciated!