A/N: I was recently re-reading one of my favorite scenes from Dead As A Doornail, and it struck me how completely stupid it was for Eric to call Bill to repair Sookie's window. Of all the vampires in his Area who owe him fealty, he calls Sookie's ex-boyfriend? Really? Is he trying to cockblock himself?
Of course, we all know the real reason he calls Bill. It's so Charlaine can prevent Eric and Sookie from getting down for another four books. Well, I have the opposite agenda.
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Charlaine Harris; I'm just borrowing them to correct a grave injustice.
"Tara, please. You have to go to the hospital. You could be seriously hurt." I stroked my friend's back, but withdrew my hand when I saw her flinch in pain.
"No, Sookie. I couldn't live with the shame of it." Tara ground out weakly.
"The shame of what? Being beaten to within an inch of your life? Tara, that's nothing to be ashamed of!"
"Everyone around town knows I was going with Mickey, Sookie. They'll all know he did this to me and… I just don't want this getting out. They'll think I'm a fangbanger."
I was pretty sure everyone in Bon Temps already thought Tara was a fangbanger, but I held my tongue.
"You can have some of my blood." I looked up sharply at Eric. I'd never known him to offer blood to a human before. Well, any human besides me, though he didn't so much offer as trick me into that.
"No!" Tara would have screamed had she had the strength. "Anything but that."
Eric shrugged and whipped out his phone, dialing a number rapidly before retreating to a corner of the room. I staggered to my feet and fetched my pain pills and a glass of water from the kitchen. "Here," I pressed one on her. "Swallow this while we figure something out."
"What is it?"
"One of the drugs I got for my shoulder while it heals. It won't knock you out, but it should take the edge off a bit."
Tara obediently took the pill and chased it down with the glass of water. I watched her swallow painfully. Mickey had really done a number on her throat.
"Ludwig is on her way." Eric told me. I nodded at him gratefully.
"What? Who's that?" Tara's eyes were wide and terrified as she looked from Eric to me.
"She's a doctor, honey. A supe doctor. She's very good, though she's kind of a bitch." I smiled at her reassuringly.
"I don't want to see some supe doctor. I am done with supernaturals! It's nothing but humans for me from here on out."
"Tara, I'm sort of a supernatural," I pointed out, surprising myself a little. I'd never referred to myself as a supe before, but I was unexpectedly comfortable with the term. It was better than 'freak,' at least. "Are you done with me?"
"No, Sookie, of course not! I owe you everything. I owe you my life." We embraced each other.
"Good. Then listen to me. Dr. Ludwig's treated me before, and I'm still here, right? So you do what she says and you'll be fine in no time." Tara nodded hesitantly.
"I've arranged for you to stay at a supe clinic just outside of Clarice while you recover," Eric said. "It is known only to supernaturals. There will be no humans there to 'shame' you." He looked like he was fighting the urge to roll his eyes. I scowled at him.
The pill seemed to be taking effect. Tara was becoming more docile by the minute. I thought she would protest when Eric told her he'd shipped her off to some clinic somewhere, but she seemed to take it in stride. I glanced out my broken window and noticed the storm had abated. Thank god for small favors. At least Tara wouldn't have to be carried out in the rain.
There was a knock at the door. Eric went to open it.
"Dr. Ludwig, a pleasure to see you again, as always."
"Fuck off, fanger. Where's the girl?" Eric cocked his head towards Tara and me, still huddled on the floor by the broken window.
Ludwig brushed past Eric carelessly and marched right up to us, nudging me aside. Two orderlies trailed after her, carrying a stretcher between them. She peered into Tara's face curiously.
"What is she? She smells like regular old human to me."
"I am a regular old human!" Tara said indignantly.
"So why the fuck did you call me, then, Vampire?" Ludwig turned to Eric accusingly.
Eric shrugged. "She refused to go to a human hospital, and your clinic is known for its… discretion. Besides, how could I deprive her of your charming bedside manner?" I snickered.
Ludwig muttered a string of profanities in some ancient language before ordering her men to load Tara into the stretcher. They carefully lifted my friend into it, and then carried her out to a waiting ambulance. I followed them and was about to get in with her when Eric blurred in front of me.
"Eric, get out of my way."
"No. You're not going with her."
"The hell I'm not. I'm not leaving her by herself in some strange place with even stranger people she doesn't know."
"She will be well looked after. And you are injured. You are not going anywhere tonight."
I opened my mouth to tell him where to get off, ordering me around like this, when Tara interrupted me. "It's okay, Sookie. I'll be fine. I have my cell; I'll call you if I need anything."
I frowned. "Are you sure? I'll come with you if you want, it's really no trouble—"
"No, Sookie, you've already done so much for me. You need to rest." Tara smiled at me weakly. I peeked into her head to see if she was being honest or just putting up a brave front, but she seemed to be genuinely okay with this. I sighed and acquiesced.
"Okay, but you call me first thing in the morning, you hear?" After she promised to and I squeezed her hand in goodbye, Ludwig's people closed the ambulance doors and drove Tara into the night.
A pickup pulled into my little driveway almost as soon as the ambulance had left. I could just make out the logo on the side of the truck in the dim light from the streetlamps. Andersen Windows. I raised my eyebrows. It wasn't exactly normal business hours, and I hadn't even thought about the broken window, let alone called around for a repairman. How… of course. Eric.
"Thank you," I told him sincerely. "Send me the bill and I'll be glad to—"
He cut me off with a wave of his hand. "Don't worry about it. The shifter's homeowner's insurance should cover it."
I doubted that, unless Sam's policy had a special clause for damage due to acts of god or the undead, but I was too tired to argue. I accepted Eric's generosity as payment for the favor he'd extracted from me earlier. That eased my conscience a little. After all, if Salome had scooped up Mickey a little sooner, I wouldn't have a pile of broken glass and blood on my living room floor right now and Tara would be in a lot better shape. That wasn't really Eric's fault but I was inclined to blame him anyway. I had a feeling I'd be paying for my part of our little bargain for a while.
Wearily, I trudged back into my apartment to assess the damage. I was happy to see it wasn't as bad as I'd anticipated. I expected broken furniture from my scuffle with Mickey, but other than the window, everything seemed to be alright, if a little askew.
After removing the remains of the window while noting down its dimensions, the workmen put up a temporary cover over the hole that was left, promising to return in the morning to install the replacement. It had all been done very quickly, and they'd swept up the glass, too, which I was thankful for, though the linoleum was still sticky and wet with blood and rain. The workmen hadn't mentioned the blood, though I suppose working for vampires, they'd seen much worse.
I retreated into the bathroom and returned with a mop. I awkwardly started to clean up the remaining mess, which was a little tricky doing one-handed.
Eric stood off to the side, watching me. He didn't offer to help, oh no, but he was perfectly content to stand there and watch me.
I finished mopping up the mess and straightened a little painfully. I must have tweaked my back at some point, putting all my weight on one side.
"You need my blood."
"What? No, I don't."
"You've been shot, you've been beaten and you're in obvious pain. You'll drink." Eric raised his wrist to his mouth, his fangs already extended.
"No, Eric. I've got pills for that. Thank you for the offer, but I'm fine. Really." I picked up the mop and carried it back to the bathroom, rinsing it off and leaving it in the tub to drip dry.
When I emerged back into the living room, Eric was still standing in the same spot. I wondered why he was still here. Weren't we done?
When I started to shift the coffee table back into position, Eric finally deigned to help me. He batted my hands away and straightened out the room with incredible speed. I thanked him and collapsed onto the sofa, letting my eyelids flicker shut. To my surprise, he joined me.
"And now, we will finish our conversation." I opened my eyes in disbelief.
"Really? Is there anything left to talk about?"
"Oh yes." He took my hand in his. "We have much to discuss."