AN: Sorry this update took so long. Thank you all for being patient with me!

Sookie crept up the stairs to her house, half-expecting Maryann or some crazed orgy-member to jump out at her at any moment. Tara should be inside, maybe unpacking some boxes. She could call Jason to come over and help her straighten up the house tomorrow. All would right itself in a few days, come out in the wash, however you wanted to say it. But this wasn't her house. It had been defiled in every way possible, with sex, with violence, with hatred, with chaos, and most importantly, with rotting meat.

She could still smell it even though they'd scrubbed everything for hours. She'd pretty much had the whole town working on it, they all felt so bad. Of course, some of them hadn't been much help being so hung-over, and with how Arleen couldn't stop crying. At least she had Terry to help her through it, though he was awkward as all get-out over the whole orgy thing. For once, Sookie approved in Arleen's taste in men. Although at this point he might have been the only one left, Sookie added with a giggle. Oh, even if her home had been completely wrecked it was still her home and it was good to be back. With Bill gone, and now with the knowledge that Bill had never truly been, she felt like she was starting over. Like the past several weeks had been erased and now she was once again, Sookie Stackhouse, the waitress. Surprisingly it was a good feeling.

She opened her front door, running her fingers lovingly over the peeling paint for a moment before stepping inside.

"Oh my God, thank Jesus," Tara cried, running to Sookie and wrapping her arms around her. "Where the Hell have you been? I've been worried sick about you. Is Bill here? Cause I'm gonna whoop his ass good for not calling home with so much as a by the by."

Sookie shook her head with a smile and hugged her friend again, tighter this time.

"Bill's gone," she whispered.

Tara pulled Sookie away to hold her at arm's length, "Bill's what now?"

Sookie smiled slightly and shook her head vaguely, "He's gone. I don't know if he's coming back and I don't know if I want him to."

"You can't be serious."

She nodded, "This vampire queen, Sophie-Anne? Well she hired Bill to come get me for her. Everything he ever said was a lie. And now he's been kidnapped and Eric doesn't know what that means for me, whether the Queen's gonna come and then there's something about Mississippi. I don't really know, but I'm so glad to be home."

Tara nodded and patted Sookie on the shoulder, "We gotta get you something to drink, girl. And then you can explain to me all this crazy-talk."

Sookie laughed and followed her friend into the kitchen.

"I found these old recipes of your Gran's. I've been tryin' to put together the house like she had, I'm sorry if I messed some things up but I keep callin' Jason and he won't return my calls."

"No, Tara, everything looks wonderful."

"Thanks Sook. There's something you should know, though, Sook…"

"What is it?"

"Sam's gone. He ain't told nobody where he went. All through that shit with Maryann he kept sayin' he was gonna leave but I figured that was just about her cause they had some kind of history. But I guess that wuddin't it cause he done left town."

"Is Merlotte's still open?"

"Sure, Terry's runnin' the place. I guess Sam asked him to before he left. I don't know, Sook, things is just as fucked up as ever."

Sookie nodded and poured herself a glass of lemonade and sat down with a sigh.

"I had sex with Eric," she said after taking a long drink.

"Oh Hell you did not!...who's Eric?"

"Vampire Sheriff of Area 5. I don't even know what that means anymore."

"And you had sex with him before or after Bill left?"

"Not left-kidnapped."

"Before or after?"


"You is bad Sookie Stackhouse. Is he the one that's gonna be protectin' you from all this?"

"Yeah. He said he'd be here by now. He might be actually, just outside. It's still a couple hours before dawn."

"Now that's just fucked up, some vampire watching us," Tara jumped out and looked out the window. Sookie couldn't help but laugh.

"Laugh all you want but you's the one who keeps fucking these vampires and bringing them into our town."

Sookie laughed harder and harder until she snorted and then covered her mouth to muffle the giggles, "I'm sorry, Tara. I'm sorry, I just…things are so bad and all I want to do is laugh."

"Laugh all you want. But I tell you one thing, I don't want no vampire sex when I'm in this house, you got me?"

Sookie nodded, still giggling slightly when the doorbell rang. She jumped up excitedly and ran for the front door and threw it open. There he stood, and she felt herself blushing just at the way he was looking at her.

"Aren't you going to invite me in," he prompted her slowly.

She shook her head to clear it and blushed deeper, "Oh…of course. Won't you please come in?"

He smiled at her adorable confusion, and at the obvious happiness she felt being back in her own home. He was glad he had offered her this option.

"Eric this is my friend Tara. Tara this is Eric my…the Viking."

Eric suppressed a laugh at her introduction and crossed the room languidly to where Tara stood with her arms crossed over her chest, one hip thrown out, and her game face on.

"Pleased to meet you Tara," he said smoothly with a touch of glamour to soothe her.

"Don't you be tryin' that shit with me," she responded roughly. "I've spent the last few weeks in a chaos coma, I don't need nobody else fuckin' with my head."

Eric nodded soberly and turned to Sookie.

"Your perimeter is safe. I have my men surrounding the area until dawn when they will go to ground. By the end of tomorrow's night I should have a better idea what we could be dealing with. In the mean time, I will leave you girls to your catching up…and your cleaning up."

Sookie raised her eyebrows. She knew her house stank but there was still no call for him to bring it up.

"Did I say you could leave?" She said sassily, then instantly regretted her words at the savage expression that crossed his face before he neutralized it.

"I assumed you would not wish for me to stay. This is your home, and clearly I do not belong here."

She was surprised to see the hurt in his eyes as he said that and made to leave.

"I thought Bill belonged here just fine and look how that turned out," Sookie replied, "Don't leave me out on a limb here Eric, I'm asking you to stay."

He turned to face her and watched her eyes for an inscrutable moment before nodding once.

"As you wish," he said calmly, and ran a casual hand down her back. She smiled. There was the affection she had been waiting for. They might be long buried, but those impulses were still, she would just have to be patient.

She grinned up at him, "I'll make up the closet for you."