Title: To Thine Own Self
Fandom: True Blood (tv series)
Disclaimer: Don't own the books or the show, which is a little sad for me.
Summary: Eric just got his memories back. He's not too happy with a certain blonde waitress. [Spoilers just up through Cold Grey Light of Dawn (4x07). Pure speculation after that.]
A/N: So I wrote my first True Blood story last week, and it was just a humorous little collection of ways that Eric might react to getting his memories back. But as fun as that was, none of them are the reaction that I actually want to see. So here's my attempt at an honest, hopefully realistic way that Eric would deal with the return of his memories, and how it would affect his relationship with Sookie. Hope you enjoy it!
They were facing down Marnie, or Antonia, or whoever she was, in the middle of a graveyard (as if that wasn't enough of a cliché: the walking dead versus the spirit world, going head-to-head in a cemetery) when it happened.
Mid-battle, Eric froze. A wooden arrow went whizzing by his shoulder, and Sookie screamed for him to watch out. He looked back at her with wide eyes, and continued to stare until another arrow clipped his bicep. He let out an involuntary snarl, and just like that he was back, eyes narrowed, charging forward.
But Sookie had seen it, that moment of awareness, and she knew what it must mean.
There was no time to think of anything but survival for the next several minutes. A great many brave and terrible things occurred, on the part of both humans and vampires. But when the smoke cleared, most of the human bodies lay broken on the ground, and the angry spirit of a woman consumed by vengeance and righteous anger was gone.
Bill informed them that Antonia wasn't gone for good. It was only her vessel, Marnie, who lay lifeless at their feet. The rest of the witches scattered, apparently to regroup for the next battle. The war wasn't over; it was just on pause.
Jessica tugged on her maker's hand, and Bill nodded. She'd been injured in the fight and needed to rest. Before they left, he faced the both of them, Sookie and Eric, and offered them a few sincere words of gratitude. Eric said nothing. Sookie murmured a vague response, but her eyes were glued to the blond vampire.
A moment later they were alone, but still he was silent, staring straight ahead with his jaw set in a tense line.
Her voice sounded weak to her own ears, but she couldn't keep a degree unease from slipping into her tone. She couldn't read his mind, but she knew what had happened.
"What?" he said gruffly, eyes ahead.
"The spell was broken."
It wasn't a question, but he answered nonetheless.
She wished, not for the first time, that his moods weren't so inscrutable. Without his memories, he had been an open book, but that was done. He had warned her when he was wrapped in silver that remembering one thousand years of misdeeds would change him, but how? Was he angry? Confused? Did he regret what they had done? Did he regret her?
"You must be quite sad," he said.
His voice startled her. They had both fallen silent after his affirmation, consumed by their own thoughts, and it took her a moment to register his statement. When she did, she frowned.
"Why would you say that?" she asked.
Finally, he looked at her. The moon was no longer full, but it still loomed large in the sky. Its light made his pale skin brighter even than the sun had on the day he was the God of the Sea. But on that day, he had smiled and his eyes twinkled with elation. Now his face was shrouded in cold fury.
"Your little lamb is gone. The big bad wolf is back."
A strange smile spread across his face. His lips curled back to reveal his fangs. She knew he wanted to frighten her, to make her uneasy at the sight, but she felt no rush of adrenaline. It was quite the opposite; she felt as if all the life was draining out of her.
"No," she said faintly.
She wouldn't believe it. He couldn't be entirely gone. That sweet creature she made love to in the forest was still inside him, buried under centuries of memories, but he was there.
"No?" Eric repeated, eyeing her curiously.
His tongue darted out to test the tip of his fang.
"We'll get through this. We'll—"
She didn't get out her next sentence, because in a flash, Eric was on her. He had her against a tombstone, his body pressed so completely against hers that she gasped for breath. The fingers of one hand dug into her hair and pulled, bending her entire body backwards and baring her neck to him. Then, with his free hand, he trailed his fingertips across her cheek. It was the gentle caress of a lover, but to her it felt like a slap.
"Well, that all depends on you, doesn't it, lover?"
His hand traveled down the column of her neck, thumb brushing over the slight dip above her collarbone. When his fingers curled around her throat, she felt the first pangs of panic set in.
"Depends on me how?" she asked, trying to keep her voice even.
He lowered his face to hers so that they were almost nose-to-nose. Then even further. His right hand was still twisted in her hair, holding her face still so that her eyes couldn't follow his movements. But she felt the scrape of teeth against her throat and stopped breathing entirely.
"Can you love the big bad wolf?" he asked.
Before she could respond, he dragged a single fang along her throat, as painless as the quick slice of a razor, but no less startling. She gasped, but without giving her a moment to process anything, his tongue replaced his teeth, suckling at the open wound like it provided the sweetest nectar on earth. He didn't hide his groan of pleasure, and his free hand slid down her collarbone to cup her breast. Only then did she snap out of her shock.
"Eric, stop! This isn't you!" she cried out.
He had done nothing to restrain her hands, so she brought them up to his shoulders and pushed. She felt him laugh against her neck, a faint rumbling sensation that scared her more than the biting had. She gave up on pushing and started full-out squirming for freedom, twisting and turning her body in a desperate attempt to slip away.
In another flash of vamp speed, his lips were detached from her throat and she was standing upright but flush against him. The hand that had been on her breast was now firmly on her back, holding her there. The other hand remained in her hair, forcing her to look straight at him.
"This is me, little girl. You've known it all along," he said.
Her blood glistened on his lips. She felt ill, and without meaning to, a small moan escaped her lips. It wasn't a sound of pleasure, and Eric didn't mistake it for one. The horrible smile finally left his face, and his eyes went cold and dark.
"Did you think that starry-eyed simpleton who followed you around like a devoted puppy was the real me?" he demanded.
"It is you. Part of you at least," she managed to retort. "This is just the shock of gettin' all your memories back at once. Underneath it all, you're sweet. You're kind. You can love."
He tilted his head to the side and peered at her, as if viewing her from a different angle would change her words.
"That. Wasn't. Me," he said, his voice low and rough.
"Not the you I first met. But you weren't always a vampire," she replied.
His eyes narrowed.
"What do you think, Sookie? That if you peel back one thousand years of life after death, you find him? That I was that child-like and gentle once upon a time?"
His voice was back down to a low growl, but his body was coiled and ready to strike.
"That was NEVER ME!" he roared. He didn't so much release her as shove her away. She stumbled, but managed to stay on her feet. Blood continued to trickle slowly from her neck wound, but she barely noticed it. Her eyes remained on Eric, whose face was screwed up in rage.
"As a human, I was a spoiled Viking prince who fucked anything that moved," he said.
He was unhinged. He turned and kicked a tombstone, shattering the heavy granite.
She had never seen him so out of control. It was as if he was at war with himself, lashing out at every part of him, and by extension, her. Sookie waited for him to turn back around before she spoke, carefully and evenly.
"There is good in you. There is more to you than your worst self."
"The man you fell in love with doesn't exist in me. He was an aberration. An interloper who inhabited my body. He is gone forever," the vampire snarled.
He was so angry. She knew that he hated to appear weak, that he'd denied his feelings before to preserve his aura of cold arrogance.
"Godric knew it was true," she went on.
She knew that mentioning his maker was precarious, but Godric was the one person who believed in Eric's inherent goodness. Eric's eyes flashed with outrage. She knew she could never outrun him, but her legs tensed, ready. However, his anger disappeared as suddenly as it had emerged, it was replaced with that dangerous smile.
"Once again, Ms. Stackhouse, you prove how little you understand of vampires." His cold form of address didn't escape her notice. "When Godric chose me a thousand years ago, it wasn't because he was drawn to my ability to love." He spat the last word out like it was a curse. "It was because of my prowess on the battlefield. My bloodlust."
She felt a familiar flash of irritation. He was always denying that he was capable of compassion, but she had seen it for herself, not just when he suffered from amnesia, but before that as well.
"You can't tell me that the man without his memories is nothin' like you. I saw you in the church of the Fellowship of The Sun. You would have sacrificed yourself for me and Godric," she said, her conviction growing with every word.
He looked into her eyes, and even though he was standing a few graves away, she could see a shift in him. He was him again. His look was intense and direct, like before.
"I have always felt a sense of duty, Sookie. I have always protected those things that I find precious," he began, his voice barely above a whisper. "But do not equate what you saw in me then with the bewitched man of the past week."
It was downright childish, but she couldn't help it. She stamped her foot and let out a frustrated growl.
"Ugh! What are you tryin' to prove? Are you so embarrassed that you acted like a person that you have to scare me into pretendin' it never happened?" she snapped.
"I wasn't a person; I was an empty shell!" he shouted, zooming to her side again.
He loomed over her, radiating hostility. All Sookie could hear was the pounding of her own heart.
"That's not true at all," she countered, poking a finger into his chest. "You felt deeply. You were real. You were human."
He arched an eyebrow and replied without hesitation.
"No personality, no history, no sins. That's not humanity, it's the absence of it."
As he spoke, he had started to circle her.
"No," she said numbly.
His movements were deft and predatory. He disappeared behind her, and when he spoke again, it was a murmur in her ear.
"I had nothing but you, Sookie. The woman who found me. You were all I knew, and I was bound to you like a childe to his maker. A perfect blank slate for you to build your own perfect boyfriend on."
His circle tightened, and he came into view again.
"That's what you fell in love with," he concluded.
Suddenly, her feet were unfrozen. She took a step backwards and thought about just going right on, running. But she wanted to stand her ground, to prove him wrong.
"Don't do this! Don't take away what we had," she said.
It was more of a plea than an argument, but it was all she could manage at the moment.
"The man you fucked under the full moon wasn't any version of me."
"He was!" she shouted. "Eric, you're—"
"THIS IS WHAT I AM!" he bellowed back, fangs glinting in the moonlight.
He zoomed up to her again, hands gripping her elbows. She wondered idly if he was going to bite her again, but found herself not caring. Her heart was leaden in her chest. He was only the second man she had ever loved, and the first time had already been revealed as a lie. Bill made a fool of her by feeding her his blood and tricking her into falling for him. Now it was somehow the reverse. It was another false love, based on magic and duplicity.
"How could you love me when I was like that?" he asked.
She looked up, surprised by the sudden softness in his voice. That wild intensity was gone from his eyes, and his expression lacked any hostility. His look was inquisitive.
"How could I not?" she answered honestly.
She knew that it wasn't the answer he wanted. With his rage gone, he couldn't cover it up anymore. He was hurt. He believed that the amnesiac Eric was a false Eric. And for her to fall in love with the false Eric was a rejection of his true self.
"I'm sorry," I said after the silence had stretched on for too long.
His jaw tensed.
"Is that your answer then?" he asked.
"There was a question?"
He dragged his hands up her arms until they found her back.
"Can you love the big bad wolf?"
Gran was right all along. It was never going to last.
"No," she replied.
For a moment, he said nothing. Then that old gleam was back in his eye, and she was falling backwards, literally. With his hands at her back, she never met the ground, but he dipped her so quickly that she yelped.
She caught just a flash of his grin before he was too close to see at all, and then he captured her lips with his own. He pulled her lower lip between his teeth, scraping his canines across the soft flesh in a way that didn't break the skin, but made her gasp nonetheless. He took full advantage of her momentary distraction and slanted his mouth over hers, forcing her lips further apart and sweeping his tongue in between them. Somewhere along the way, she found myself mirroring his movements. Her tongue brushed past his, and she lost herself.
It was still a fight, but they weren't using words anymore, and Sookie couldn't quite remember what we were arguing about in the first place. When he pulled away, she felt completely off-balance, literally and metaphorically; she was dizzy from the kiss, from her position, from his nearness, from the shock of her own reaction to him.
He leaned forward until his lips were at her ear, and when he spoke, she felt his breath tease her wisps of blonde hair.
"You're a liar, Sookie Stackhouse."
She had barely processed his words when his lips were on her again, this time latching onto her neck. He didn't drink from her, but his tongue swept over her tiny cut, causing her to shiver. She couldn't even bother to feel embarrassed when her body strained up to meet his. He obliged her immediately, lowering her the rest of the way to the ground and settling his weight between her legs.
"You have feelings for me," he murmured as his lips trailed back up to her mouth.
She clutched at his hair, and her eyes drifted shut when he kissed her again. His lips moved softly but insistently, and every now and then his tongue brushed hers. The kiss was so much gentler than she would have guessed. He kissed her like he had without his memories.
That thought brought her up short.
"Mmphstop," she managed to mumble around his lips.
He acted as though he hadn't heard, which was possibly the case. Even with his heightened senses, he was a bit distracted. But Sookie was insistent. She pushed on his shoulders and tore her mouth away from his.
"Eric, stop! I don't want this," she demanded.
She couldn't shake the feeling that she was cheating somehow. If Eric was going to claim that the man she made love to was an entirely different person, then it was wrong for her to do this now, so soon after. To her relief, he pulled away, but only slightly.
"Don't lie to yourself, Sookie," Eric said. His voice was a whisper, his lips hovering inches above hers. She felt almost like he was glamouring her. It was as if she was in his office at Fangtasia all over again, when he kissed her and she kissed him back right. And then he chained her up in his dungeon.
That was enough to snap her out of it. She looked away and pushed again on his shoulders, hard.
"It doesn't matter what my body might be sayin' right now. This isn't right," she asserted.
He allowed her to push him away, planting his hands on either side of her shoulders to hold his upper body off of her. But that smirk was back.
"Who cares about right and wrong?" he asked.
As he spoke, he pressed his lower body down, settling his weight even more firmly between her legs.
"I do. And that's exactly why this can never happen," she said, proud of herself for maintaining focus. "You're cruel and calculatin'."
He didn't skip a beat.
"You've always known that about me. And yet, you still can't resist me," he said, his voice dropping to a low rasp.
"That's your blood," she insisted, but it sounded like a weak excuse, even to her.
His smirk only grew.
"That's your good taste, lover," he purred, lowering himself back down on his elbows.
But she was getting angry by now, and his words only irked her even more.
"You bought my house so you could own me, Eric. That's sick," she spat.
He arched an eyebrow.
"You would rather a stranger own it?" he asked coolly.
"That's not the point!" she retorted. "You're cruel and violent. You don't care about people."
The hint of a snarl crept back into his expression.
"Well, which is it, Sookie?" he asked. "Deep down inside, am I a monster or a teddy bear?"
She frowned at the question. If he was a monster, then obviously she should run in the other direction, but if he wasn't… Now that he remembered his misdeeds, could she forget them? Centuries of brutality. She couldn't even wrap her mind around it.
"I guess it doesn't really matter," she said softly. "Everything you've done… You've killed so many people."
He seemed taken aback at the lack of venom in her response, but recovered gamely.
"So has Bill," he pointed out.
"You tortured my friend."
"He broke our law," he said immediately. "Besides, I wasn't going to kill him. I like Lafayette. He amuses me."
She shook her head.
"Eric, no human could love that. It's too evil."
His eyes skipped over hers, and she saw in a single unguarded moment that he hadn't expected the conversation to take this route. He gathered his wits as quickly as he could and offered his retort.
"Then I guess it's lucky for me you're not human."
He knew exactly what buttons to press. She hated that.
"I am human," she hissed.
And the smirk was back. She hated that too.
"Your blood says otherwise," he taunted.
He leaned down and slowly dragged his tongue along her bite wound, consuming the last of the blood that remained there. She couldn't suppress a shudder, but she twisted in his grasp enough to pull her skin from his lips.
"At least I'm not evil!" she shouted.
"No, but you've killed," he replied, his voice low and even.
"For self-defense," she countered. "I could never do the things you do."
He pulled back far enough to meet her eyes directly.
"Things like what? Like pour the remains of a man's lover down a garbage disposal, flip the switch—"
"How did you—"
"—and then laugh maniacally while he screams in emotional agony?" he continued over her.
Her mouth hung open, eyes wide, horrified. She had no response, no way to defend herself.
"How?" she managed to gasp.
"Security footage," he explained. "I can't watch the bar in the daytime, and Ginger's ability to keep calm under pressure leaves something to be desired."
She had almost forgotten the entire event. It seemed like a lifetime ago, when in her timeline it was only a couple of weeks. Had she really destroyed the last of Russell Edgington's lover down the drain and delighted in his anguish? Eric was right. That wasn't human.
She blinked back her tears and looked up at him. His face was, once again, unreadable.
"That wasn't me," she said.
"It was you. It was Fairy Sookie," he replied simply.
"There is no Fairy Sookie!" she raged, pushing on his shoulders again. But rather than easing up as he had before, he leaned in even further. She reached up to claw at his face, but he easily batted her hands away.
"Why do you insist on denying what is etched into your veins?" he demanded.
She struggled furiously and managed to shove at his face with one hand.
"Because I'm not a MONSTER!" she screamed.
Without warning, a white ball of energy burst forth from her palm. They both gasped when he was thrown off of her with the force of the blast. Sookie sat up dazedly and immediately scanned the graveyard. Her lay ten yards away, groaning atop the shattered remains of another tombstone.
Slowly rising to her feet, Sookie peered over at him. She felt a jolt of panic when she saw his body start to shake.
"Eric? Are you okay?" she called out hesitantly.
She inched forward until his face came into view. She was confused to see a smile on his face. Her confusion quickly turned to irritation when she realized what the shaking was all about.
"You're laughin'? How is any of this funny?" she demanded.
He stood slowly, pausing to stretch his limbs in a way that reminded her of a large jungle cat.
"I told you, I love it when Fairy Sookie comes out. She's so feisty," he said, grinning.
She crossed her arms over her chest.
"You don't like me feisty."
She fought the urge to inch back when he stepped closer. His eyes raked over her as he invaded her space.
"I can prove to you just how much I like it," he said.
She scowled up at him
"You like me weak and under your control," she scoffed. "That's why you bought my house."
"I bought your house so that you would still have one to live in when you returned."
"Bull pucky!" she snapped.
"And so that you couldn't uninvite me again, yes," he admitted without a hint of shame. "But don't interpret that as me wanting you weak."
She narrowed her eyes.
"See, I'm havin' a hard time believin' you."
A slow smile spread across his face,
"I had a daydream about you once."
His statement came out of left field. She stared at him for a moment, eyebrows drawn together.
"Spare me the details," she said warily.
Of course, he ignored her.
"You amazed me with your powers, called me 'cowboy,' and then threw me onto the bed where you promised to do wicked things to me."
The smile remained firmly in place when he reached down and took her hand. He lifted it up between them, and she allowed it, too puzzled to stop him. He turned her palm towards him and began tracing each digit with his index finger.
"I love your power," he said, continuing to explore her palm. "You're the first human in centuries to challenge me. I find it… intriguing."
He was causing an almost electric sensation wherever their skin touched. It felt as if she had created another ball of energy and it was rolling around in her hand. The feeling was difficult to ignore, but she shook herself and found it in her to be offended. That was safe. It was their routine.
"Intriguin'? What's that s'posed to mean? I'm an oddity? Like a dog that can walk on its hind legs?"
She meant her retort to sound spiteful, but she was still incredibly distracted by his touch, and it came out sounding more dazed than anything.
"Like a human girl with fairy powers and a smart mouth," he corrected, still smiling.
She didn't understand why he was smiling. Her fairy side wasn't nice. It wasn't safe. It was unknown, frightening, inhuman. She pulled her hand back.
"I don't like it. I don't like what it does to me," she admitted quietly.
He didn't try to reclaim her hand, but neither did he back away.
"But it is a part of you. Denying that is to deny yourself."
She looked down at her feet and shook her head.
"What I did with Talbot's body—"
"Russell Edgington was an unhinged violent psychotic. You owe him nothing," he interrupted, his voice suddenly hard.
She hated that he'd even brought it up. She wanted to forget it had ever happened.
"Why did you even review the tapes?" she asked.
He was silent for a moment, and she looked up to see him staring at her. She could tell his thoughts were moving a mile a minute and wondered what he was thinking.
"You were gone. Vanished without a trace," he said finally.
"And you thought there was a clue in the footage of me from that night?"
"No," he replied.
"So then why—"
"You were gone," he repeated abruptly. Then he continued more hesitantly. "You were gone, and I… I just wanted to see you."
She let out a breath she hadn't known she was holding. He missed her. He went over the security feed just to see her face again. She imagined him in his office, remote control in hand, fast-forwarding through hours of tape to find her appearance. But what he found…
"Still, I wish you hadn't seen me like that," she muttered.
"I'm glad I did," he replied.
She peered up at him, bewildered.
"I want to see every side of you, Sookie. I want you to hide nothing from me," he said matter-of-factly.
Her brother's voice echoed in her mind. It was right after Amy's death. He was still mourning her, and Sookie couldn't understand it.
'I can't help it, Sook, I loved her. And when you love someone you've got to love it all. Otherwise it ain't love.'
Her reminiscing was short-lived, however, when she remembered Eric's own denials.
"So I don't get to hide anythin' from you, but you get to hide yourself from me?"
"I've hidden nothing from you," he said evenly.
"See, now you're just lyin' like a no-legged dog," she said, shaking her head. "You've done nothin' but hide from me tonight."
"I have revealed more of myself to you tonight than I have to any human," he countered.
"You couldn't admit that you have any good in you," she argued.
"That is not what I said," he rebuffed her. "I merely stated that the man without his memories was not me; I never said that I am incapable of goodness. Or love."
He reached out and placed his hand on her cheek. She allowed it.
"Just as you are capable of darkness," he added.
She thought back to her first blood-induced dream of him, lying naked in a hotel bed. 'Everybody thinks you're a darling, don't they?' Dream Eric had said. He could always see through her, even in her subconscious.
But it was so frightening. Fairy Sookie seemed to be coming out more and more each day. What was most terrifying wasn't the thought that she would lose herself; it was the thought that she would lose the people she loved. Because who could love a girl who did what she did to Russell Edgington, psychotic vampire or not?
"You are more than your worst self, Sookie," Eric said, pulling her out of her own head.
They were her own words from earlier that night, but they had taken on a whole new meaning. She couldn't deny any longer that she was something more than human.
"I am not a teddy bear, Sookie. I am a vampire. I will kill. I will feed. I will enjoy it," Eric said, his voice firm even while his hand tenderly caressed her cheek. "But I will also love you, all of you, if you are mine."
His words brought her relief. She would never have expected that, but it was true. She needed someone who would love the good with the bad. Bill couldn't even accept his own nature, let alone hers. Sam and Alcide wanted the darling Sookie. But Eric… Eric seemed to delight in all sides of her: her innocence, her stubbornness, and her darkness.
"You don't have to give me an answer now," he continued. "But allow me to leave you with one last argument on my behalf."
He waited for her to respond. She'd been noticeably silent for the past minute, and he wanted to make sure he had her full attention. It was just too much to take in. An hour ago, he was a different person. Now she was discovering that she was different too.
"Okay," she said shakily.
He smiled. He brought his free hand up to her neck, fingers curled around the back of her head, and even though she knew it was coming, she couldn't suppress a gasp.
He brought his mouth down to hers, and both of their eyes slid shut. His lips moved gently across hers, and after a few seconds she felt the tip of his tongue at the seam of her lips. She parted them without thinking, and she felt him grin into the kiss. She felt like he was devouring her, but somehow it wasn't overpowering. His tongue swept along her mouth with a practiced ease, and his hand moved to cup her chin. She moved with him as he angled his face to deepen the kiss, and she was lost. When he finally pulled away, he took a moment to nip playfully at her lower lip.
She opened her eyes, focusing on him slowly. He gave her one last smile and leaned in to her ear.
"Good night, Sookie," he whispered.
There was a gust of wind, and when she blinked, he was gone.
End Notes: Thanks for reading! Lafayette says, "Ring, ring, hookah! Time to leave a review!"