Part VI: A Choice
Sookie stood in her doorway in a pretty yellow sundress, regarding the vampire before her with a mixture of apprehension, and broken love. Thunder rumbled in the distance, echoing the tremors that rocked her heart.
Yes, she loved Bill Compton, but she trusted him about as far as she could throw him. After what Eric had told her, of his mission from the queen, and the way he'd dumped a few cup-fulls of his blood down her throat nearly the first night they met…
Life could never be the same.
There was love, but also, too much doubt. She'd been so certain before. That Bill would be her rock. That they could be happy together, someday, after the dust settled.
She'd believed in she and Bill's love, with the fierce loyalty one only can in a first lover.
But she was making up for all that.
It had been her plan, her deviousness, and she and Eric's stellar performance that felled Russel Eddington. Sir Laurence Olivier, eat your heart out.
"Invite me in, Sookie, and I'll explain everything. You're in danger, and there are things you must know."
Suddenly, the air changed, a silent but forceful pop that pressed against Sookie as the fallout from an explosion.
She'd thought lightning struck the yard, until noticing Eric stood in the driveway, covered in concrete, and strode up her front porch steps with long, purposeful strides. A vampire on a mission. He did not appear pleased.
"Things, such as you tried to kill me, Bill? Buried me under two tons of concrete to keep your secrets hidden?"
The wind picked up, Sookie's skirt pressed against her legs, as her life changed before her very eyes. The rain would come soon, she could taste its certainty in the air.
Bill whirled to face his sheriff, a vampire he should have deferred to, but instead met head on with a wild defiance. "You have tasted her, and cannot be trusted," Bill hissed, only to find himself slammed against the post of the front porch, long fingers wrapped about his throat.
"You are the one who is not to be trusted," growled Eric, fangs bared. "I am in my rights to kill you now for your treachery." A cold fire burned in Eric's eyes, and in that moment Sookie felt certain the Viking held every intention of doing so. Slowly, his fingers began to close upon Bill's throat.
Eric still felt raw from the battle with Russell, all his hatred and anger still coiled within him, seeking more outlets.
Somehow, he'd expected this consuming rage to dissipate, after triumphing over his enemy, the vampire he'd been hunting since his mortal lifetime in the ground by his hand.
But the black hole inside bayed hungry for more blood, and Bill Compton stood within his grasp, another rival he'd ached to end since the excuse for a vampire set foot in his area.
"Eric!" Sookie cried out.
A crack of thunder exploded above them, lightning highlighting them all in an unearthly blue light.
For all Bill had done, Sookie still could not find it in her heart, to decide he deserved a final death. Even if she no longer wanted him, still, she would give her compassion.
Her plea fell on deaf Viking ears, and Sookie raced forward, latching herself to Eric's arm. The concrete rasped against her touch, but she dared not let go. She could feel the tension in his arm, the unfathomable strength, and the animal desire to destroy something weaker than him.
"Eric, please, don't kill him," she begged, and the tall vampire blinked, seemed to emerge from a place inside where storms raged over his soul. This small woman pulled him away from the tempest, her soft voice calling him back to sanity.
This was his world, this place of darkness and death.
But somehow, she ambushed him with her light, warmed his frozen heart in a way most unexpected. "Please," she persisted, tugging at the vampire who towered over her. "Show mercy. Just send him away from us, Eric. Just make him go away."
Eric snarled, his fingers tightening ever so slightly upon Bill's throat. He could see it in the southern vampire's eyes, that he expected death now. That any other sheriff would see him torn to shreds for daring such a thing, for failing such an assassination.
But Sookie thought Eric to be different. Thought him capable of human compassion. Almost as an experiment, the Viking slowly wrapped his mind around the idea, the temptation to prove Sookie right.
Send him away from us, she'd said.
Us. One word, filled with so much possibility. A whole future written in two mere letters.
She, and he.
A telepath, and a vampire.
With contempt, Eric threw Bill down into the yard, sending him rolling. "If you ever return to Louisiana," the sheriff quietly warned, "I will kill you. Now, get out of my sight." Bill glared, for a moment, seeming frozen.
He'd been allowed a second chance, a thing he'd never expected.
Bill knew he owed his life not to Eric, but to the small telepath who stood beside him, still gripping the Viking as though he might tear away at any moment.
"And I want my phone back!" Eric called to Bill's retreating form.
A moment passed, two, of near silence around the farmhouse, and then the rain broke. It fell in a torrent around the house, blurring the world in a curtain of water. It felt as though they stood upon their own little island, a boat amidst the deluge.
Sookie still had not let go of Eric's arm. The weight of loss settled upon her, the reality of the events just passed before them. Tears formed in her eyes, streamed down her cheeks, but she did not sob.
In all likelihood, she would never see Bill again. He'd tricked her. He'd used her. She'd nearly fallen into the trap, but fate and a Viking tripped up his plans. At times, she'd been uncertain of whose side the vampire before her stood upon - - as it turned out, he'd been in her corner all along.
"Are you alright?" he asked, and couldn't remember the last time he'd asked such a question, genuinely caring about the answer.
"Yes," she answered, wiping her eyes, and meant it. The world turned round more than once for her, that day. The world was shifting, fast. Suddenly, nothing seemed familiar.
She kind of liked it.
Of all the things Sookie Stackhouse could have said at that moment, it was the most practical that escaped her mouth. Her heart thundered in her chest and she didn't quite know what to make of it, what to do with the lightning that galloped through her veins with the promise of possibility, with this body standing so close to hers.
"Look at you," she almost scolded, laying her accent on thick, suddenly the perfect southern hostess. "You're a big hot mess, Eric Northman. Come inside and get cleaned up. It's the least I can do."
"I'll track concrete all through your home." He couldn't be sure why he protested, when he wanted more than anything at that moment, to escape into the warmth of Sookie Stackhouse and her safe haven of a farmhouse.
"Then take this off." Her small hands moved to push his leather jacket from his shoulders, and with a thrill of forbidden joy he let her undress him, the garment falling to plop upon the boards of the porch. "And this." Her fingers brushed bare skin as she lifted his t-shirt up his torso, and the vampire could not suppress a shudder. If Sookie noticed, she pretended ignorance, and the vampire stooped to help her pull the shirt over his head. His teeth clamped around any innuendo he might have made - all too easy, for one - and another? Something changed between them, that very moment. Ever so slightly, the world shifted below them. A new trust building, something fragile, rare, and wonderful - he dared not disturb its growth.
"And those," continued the telepath, pointing towards his boots. She pushed him to perch upon the railing, and knelt down herself to unlace them, pulling the heavy footwear away.
The Viking sat before her, only jeans and underwear remaining. At long last, Sookie seemed conscious of it, a slight rush of blood bringing a charming color to her cheeks. "And?" asked Eric, a half smile tugging upon the corner of his well-formed mouth.
Sookie paused, about to lose her nerve, but for the playful challenge glinting in the vampire's eyes. "And the rest," she demanded, hands on her hips, before turning her back. It was not the thought of seeing Eric stripped down that embarrassed her, but the lust that warmed her from the inside out at the thought. It struck her as a wave, and for a moment Sookie felt uncertain of the ground beneath her feet.
When the jeans fell into the pile with the rest of the gritty clothes, Sookie waved for Eric to follow her inside. She'd never rescinded Eric's invitation, and happily he followed her upstairs, through her bedroom, and into the master bath. "Sit," she instructed, and in nothing but a bright red pair of boxer-briefs, the vampire lowered himself upon the closed lid of the toilet. He watched Sookie fuss around the bathroom, stepping over his long legs to begin running a hot bath.
"Bubbles?" he asked as she dumped a capful of soap into the steaming hot water.
"We need to talk, and I have a feeling I'll find that difficult without them."
"Hmm. I find you puritanical Americans, and your need to deny the existence of the human body in its entirety as a natural thing, endlessly amusing."
Sookie smiled, raising an eyebrow as she filled a bowl with hot water, dipping a washcloth inside. "After all we've been through, you think I'm a puritan?" she asked incredulously, daubing at the concrete upon his face, wanting as little as possible of the stuff to end up in her plumbing.
"I still find you…innocent," Eric confessed. "But I think I like that about you, Sookie. Your soft, good heart. Your light draws me out of a darkness that has lasted centuries."
A furrow appeared between her brows, as bright pink but clean skin began to appear from behind the gray crusty mask of concrete. "You're just used to fangbangers without a shred of decency in them. But they're just lonely, Eric. Underneath it all, everyone's just so lonely."
As she finished wiping the concrete from his hands, Eric intended to draw her to him, but she gestured towards the tub. "Alright, in you go." So instead, Eric stood from his seat, divesting himself of the red undergarment. This time, Sookie did not turn her back, but nor did she look away from the artic blue eyes that bore into her. She did not break their eye contact, until the vampire sat submerged beneath a concealing layer of fluffy white bubbles.
"So tell me what happened," requested Sookie, perching on the side of the tub. "What did you do with Russell?"
Eric lathered shampoo into his hair, disappearing beneath the surface of the water to rinse before answering her question.
"I buried him beneath fifteen feet of concrete," he finally answered.
A heartbeat passed, two, three, as an uncertain fear spread through Sookie's veins.
"More or less. He will sit there, helpless, unable to move, grieving for his beloved in his concrete prison. I found it a fitting revenge."
"That's fine and well, until he escapes, Eric! Concrete isn't permanent, buildings get torn up all the time! He'll get free, and this mess will start all over again!" Sookie splashed the Viking in her ire, and Eric found himself wiping water from his eyes.
"I can't stand the thought of him gaining some sort of peace through death," he confessed quietly. "Godric appeared to me. He urged me to forgive Russell, but I cannot. I will not." The telltale blood of a vampire tear began to gather at the corner of his eye, and as Sookie reached out to wipe it away the vampire caught her wrist in his hand, long fingers wrapping easily about her limb. Sookie jumped in surprise, and found herself teetering precariously upon the edge, only Eric holding her at bay from plunging into the basin of the ancient claw-footed tub.
The decision lay with him, and Eric found in that moment he hadn't the strength to set her balance to rights. He wanted her there, in his arms, and so he let her fall.
Sookie shrieked as she tumbled into the warm water, the splash sending a wave over the rim to puddle on the floor. "Eric!" came her immediate protest upon surfacing, pushing water and hair from her face.
The vampire rolled his eyes as he pulled her to him. "You're perfectly clothed, Sookie, don't whine."
"But you're not." Despite of it, Sookie found it an easy thing to curl up against Eric's broad chest, the blissfully warm water lapping around them. She found a hollow in his shoulder that matched her head perfectly, as his arms wrapped around her, holding her steady, anchoring her to him. Still, the storm raged on outside, and for a little while they sat in the peace of a quiet house, in a womb of water with the rain tapping upon the roof.
"Godric was right." Her voice came quiet, but broke the silence as a peal of thunder in the small bathroom.
"You don't have to forgive him, but you should end this, Eric. Let go."
"I can't," insisted the vampire stubbornly.
"You won't. You can't fill the hole your family left with revenge. Not with violence, and hate - - you'll never be satisfied, Eric. You'll never be happy."
"Listen to you, speaking of these things I have lived with for longer than your family has been in existence, as if you could know."
But for the look she paid him, the sage weight in her eyes, Eric perhaps feared more than anything that she did know. That he should listen to this little telepath from a backwater town of Louisiana - - that she spoke true things.
"Fill it with something else," she urged him, undeterred. "Find something else to live for. Russell Eddington is done. That chapter of your life can be closed now, and you should take the chance to put it behind you."
"Like what?" he grumbled, pulling Sookie to straddle him. One large hand palmed the back of her head, as he demanded, "What should I choose then, Sookie?"
At that moment, her heart thundered in her chest, she felt certain threatening to bruise her ribcage. "You could choose love," she answered quietly, her gaze fixed upon his chin, the handsome cleft upon it. It was the only emotion she could think of, to battle such a consuming hatred that burned within the vampire.
Eric's hands moved to cradle the sides of her face, holding her as an object of precious value. "I could," he agreed. "But the only woman who has interested me in two centuries rejects me at every turn. What am I to do?"
Sookie sighed heavily, her eyes drifting closed as the Viking's fingertips ghosted down her neck, trailing over her shoulders and down her back, to rest upon the curve of her waist below the water's surface.
Her answer came as a whisper, and still thundered in the Viking's ears, loud and significant as a shout.
At long last, her eyes lifted to meet his, and he sat frozen for an instant, pinned by those clear azure irises, beautiful and deep as the lakes of the fjords.
In his wonder, the vampire nearly waited too long, those beautiful eyes before him filling with doubt. Shaking her head, cursing herself for a fool, Sookie attempted to rise from the water. The attempt was thwarted by a pair of long arms snatching her close, and soft lips pressing to hers in the most wonderful way. "I already have," he sighed between kisses, his mouth gently plying hers in ways that caused her body to ache to slide against him, into him, to become lost in his mouth and hands and great ancient heart. "I chose you the moment you walked through my door at Fangtasia, Sookie Stackhouse."
"Don't let go of me," she sighed as his lips glided down her neck, planting gentle kisses upon the pulse and points beyond. His kisses were a thing not of this world, a distraction that lifted Sookie to a higher plane, piecing her broken heart back together again. He took her to a place where love alone could be enough to live happily. If this feeling could just last, she reasoned dreamily, there would be no more wars. No more fighting, or greed, or unnecessary pain.
It seemed so real, more real than anything else. A moment of perfect lucidity, in which this was her place in this world. Here with Eric she could finally feel whole.
"I won't," he assured her. "Consider yourself warned."
As Eric plied her with kisses, he decided he would send Alcide back to the site in the daytime. Have the werewolf rip out the concrete, and end Russell Eddington once and for all. Stake him and let the pieces burn.
Happily, drawing Sookie's pretty yellow sundress over her head, tossing it to land in a sodden heap on the floor, the Viking realized he had other things to live for now. Clever fingers glided over young flesh, exploring her every curve and valley, wondering at the perfection in her humanity.
He hoped Godric could be proud of him, at long last. That perhaps he could not find it in his heart to forgive he who so brutally tore his family from him, but Eric could chose to walk a different path. That he could follow Sookie, and her healing light, rather than the usual vampire's road that only led to darker and darker perditions.
A/N: Ah, redemption, vindication, justice and true love… of course season three couldn't end this way! Haha. But I hope you enjoyed this happy little corner of wishful thinking… cheers, everyone!