Summary: Sookie returns from Fairy Land with a dash of reality, and handles her dangerous situation with more awareness. Watch the pretty ripples...AU Season Four. Eventual Eric/Sookie.

Sookie opened her eyes to the soft flow of gentle music, and found herself looking straight up into the sun. The last thing she remembered was being in the cubby with Eric, being held by Eric as he read, feeling safe, mind pleasantly blank. With one look, Sookie identified her location as the sugar-coated version of Faerie and she pushed hersef up abruptly, calling frantically on her Light.

"Don't be afraid." Sookie's eyes fell on a man and filled with recognition. A dark-haired man who was tied with Eric as the best looking man she had ever seen.

Claude was sitting on the grass bank a few feet from where she sat, feet dangling into the sparkling water. There was a morose slump to his shoulders that made Sookie's stomach drop, and her wariness increase.

Even if they had been on opposite sides, Claude and Claudine had been family, and Sookie knew that no matter what Jason did, she would kill anyone who hurt him. The cold-blooded certainty in her thoughts unnerved her but she couldn't regret it.

"We were twins," Claude said, seeming to pick up on her thoughts. It was strange being around another telepath. He turned to her, blue eyes serious. "I regret her passing, but you and I share blood, also. I bear you no harm, my cousin."

"And Eric?" Sookie asked, arching an eyebrow. Jason wasn't the only one she felt fiercely protective of.

Claude watched him with an unreadable expression. "You care for him deeply," he stated, making Sookie stiffen. "Then I will seek no retribution."

Considering how Eric had done against the last Fairy he had faced and how strong her lover was, she doubted Claude could have gotten retribution anyway but it was one less thing to worry about.

"Thank you," Sookie said, easing up slightly. The pleasant burn in her limbs faded, finding no threat.

Claude acknowledged her thanks with a nod, and Sookie shifted her limbs, faintly annoyed to find herself back in the white floaty dress from her less violent visit.

"Am I in danger or is this a social visit?" Sookie asked.

"You are always in danger," Claude informed her frankly.

Unable to argue, Sookie moved closer to him until she was sitting on the bank, dipping her legs in the water. She looked at him with curiosity, and Claude stared back with blatant interest.

He didn't look like her, Sookie noticed. His hair was dark, eyes bright blue, skin pale, like Claudine. Sookie was unsure of what to think of Claude. He had saved her in Faerie and he had warned her about Claudine, but there was something otherworldly about him that confused her.

"Do you care about me?" she asked curiously.

Claude blinked, and then reached out to touch her cheek. Though it made her wary, Sookie allowed it, softened by something in his eyes. His skin was warm, unlike Eric's cool hands. "You are my cousin."

Sookie thought of Hadley, and of the look on Queen Mab's face as she tried to force the Light Fruit upon her. "That doesn't mean anything."

"It is everything," Claude said firmly. "We are of the same blood, of the same spark, of the same Light."

Sookie tried not to be swayed by his words and the devoted look of belief in his eyes but a small piece of her heart attached itself to Claude. The warmth of a new affection couldn't drown out Sookie's loyalty, however. "What about Jason?"

Claude paused, tucking a small piece of hair behind her ear before drawing his hand back. "He does not possess the spark. I am unable to contact him, but I value the connection of blood regardless."

A small fear of Sookie's drained away but she wasn't willing to relax completely.

"Your brother will need you in the future," Claude said abruptly, a stilled tension in his form. Sookie frowned, an instant jump in concern. "It is not my place to say why."

A heavy darkness fell over them suddenly, and Sookie inhaled sharply, heart leaping in panic. "Claude - "

"You are waking," her cousin explained. "Beware, cousin. The future holds many things in store."

Before Sookie could ask what he meant, the world fell out from under her, and Sookie opened her eyes in the cubby. She woke up sharply, sucking in a shaking breath, body flinching, heart hammering frantically, wrapped in Eric's limbs.

They were spooning, his taller form curled protectively around her small body, one leg inserted between her legs, arms fastened tightly around her. He was sleeping, an unmoving statue to rival David.

Instinctively, Sookie twisted around in the small space his arms gave her, careful not to bump his nose against her head, and she looked into his face. His face was relaxed, unexpectedly peaceful, eyes closed, mouth soft and smiling the slightest bit.

Her heart skipped a beat before slowing, comforted at the sight of him. Her terror was replaced with a soft, warming emotion. Sookie kissed him lightly, a tender brush of her mouth to his soft lips, and settled down. His chest was unmoving against her own.

For a moment, Sookie relaxed and simply absorbed the peaceful moment, knowing instinctively it would be a rare one, before she remembered work and Marnie. Reluctantly, she wiggled her way out of Eric's arms, shivering at how cold the cubby seemed by comparison.

Sookie left the cubby, closing the doors firmly behind her. As she rose from picking up the watergun, she caught sight of the kitchen and paused, wondering. Figuring there was nothing to lose in checking, Sookie moved into her kitchen and checked her first-aid kit.

There was a bottle of expensive iron supplements.

"Eric..." Sookie murmured, unable to explain the pained sensation in her chest. She had missed Eric before but that had been mostly for his own sake.

Now, she found herself wondering what Eric's expression might have been like if she'd given into him before he'd lost his memories. Smug, arrogant, pleased? Happy? Relevent? Would he have felt rejected when she asked him to heal his bite? It felt strange and unfair to compare the two, so Sookie forced herself not too.

One thing was for damn sure, she would need to talk to Eric whenever he got his memory back. Everything was so hazy and unclear to her, maybe he could shed some light on things.

Not willing to spend any more time mooning over a bunch of pills, Sookie quickly took two of the tablets before rushing upstairs to get ready for work, keeping the watergun close.

Sookie flitted around Merlotte's with a smile on her face. Inside, she was less pleased. When Lafayette hadn't shown up for work, she had asked Sam, and he'd told her that Lafayette had asked for some time off. It was a smart move, and Sookie was relieved that Lafayette was out of Pam's reach but it left her with a problem.

Before she went to see Marnie, Sookie was hoping to get the full story of what had happened the night Eric had lost his memories. If she asked Tara, then her childhood friend could get suspicious, and that was the last thing Sookie needed.

That left Holly, who Sookie had exchanged very few words with. As Sookie worked, she prepared a couple of innocent questions that should make Holly remember that night.

"Hey, Holly?" Sookie said when there was a lull in the lunchtime rush. It was nearing one o'clock.

Holly looked at her with a grin. "Yeah, Sookie?"

"I'm real sorry to ask you this," Sookie chewed on her lip, expression sheepish, "But well, you're the only person I can ask." Holly looked intrigued as she continued, lying remorselessly. "Lafayette and Tara told me about that wicca meeting y'all went to, the one that vampire crashed..."

A memory flashed through Holly's mind. Eric bursting through the doors, fangs down, looming tall and unfairly beautiful, grinning with a malicious arrogance that made her feel strangely sad, asking in an accent similar to hers, "Y'all need a dead body?"

He terrified Holly. The taller blonde stiffened, seeking a way to end the conversation fast. "That was a real mess, honey. I really don't feel like talkin' about it..."

Sookie was persistant. "I understand that, and normally I wouldn't push, but whatever happened that night scared Lafayette outta town."

"It was nothing," Holly said uncomfortably. Another memory sailed through her head. An old frumpy woman chanting - Tara dropping from Eric's hand to the floor - a flash of Lafayette's terrified face - and then how the air had changed, growing cold and dark.

Holly had been in perfect position to see the expression on Eric's face change, how his light blue eyes had drained, cold amusement and disbelief turning into a lost, terrified expression, like a frightened little boy. It was sickening for Sookie to witness.

A tangled knot of emotions lodged in her throat, making it difficult to breath, forcing her to advert her gaze before she gave herself away. Rage boiled through her, almost unbearably hot, sending sparks down her arm.

"Are you alright, honey?"

Sookie refrained from reeling her fist back and punching Holly in the mouth. She wasn't responsible for that look on Eric's face. After half-heartedly smoothing things over with Holly, Sookie went back to work with a heavy weight on her mind.

It was hard to keep working while the snap-shots of that night played over and over again in the back of her head but Sookie managed to end her shift with no major slip ups. She changed into a blue sundress and let her hair fall loosely around her face before heading out the back of Merlotte's.

Thomas was waiting for her in the sunlight. He was wearing a leather jacket, sunglasses on his face, propped up against the hood of a dark SUV. When he caught sight of her, a grin split his handsome stubbled face.

"You look lovely," he called to her when she was close enough to hear.

"Said the big bad wolf," Sookie murmured, ducking her head with a small smile.

"Was that pop culture from my angel?" Thomas teased, pushing off the car to open her door for her. As she climbed into the car without responding, the Were caught her eye and winked at her before closing her door.

Sookie only let the grin cross her face when Thomas couldn't see it. She doubted Eric would approve of her encouraging Thomas' flirtatious behaviour. Thinking about Eric as she had left him, rumpled and handsome in the cubby, softened Sookie's heart.

Sookie frowned at her gushing thoughts. There were plenty of reasons why being with Eric was a terrible idea. The largest of them was when he regained his memory. Despite dozens of wild theories, she didn't know how he would react to her. After Bill's betrayal, she refused to fling her heart into someone's lap without considering the consequences.

And there could be a lot of painful consequences if she loved him, and he didn't feel the same way. Thinking of Eric with another woman made her feel sick with jealousy now, how much worse would it be if she fell for him? It would be unbearable.

Sookie knew she cared deeply about him, and she was accepting that he cared about her as well, but until she was sure, her feelings couldn't go any deeper.

It still felt keenly like betrayal when Thomas slipped an arm around her shoulders as they crossed the street to the Moon Goddess Emporium, and Sookie shot him a startled look. Thomas looked at her innocently, act ruined by the smirk curling the corners of his mouth. "We have to look authentic, Angel."

After giving him a look that stated her opinion on his supposed intentions very clearly, Sookie reluctantly wrapped an arm around his waist - he did have a point - and walked into the shop, feeling his increased body heat warming her side.

The shop was cluttered, filled with many strange things. Sookie took in the exits, mentally double-checked the water pistol in her bag, but made no real note of the witch's belongings. She was trying to get a feel of the witch, not buy a crappy candle.

Sookie slipped out from under Thomas' arm and approached the desk. A woman in her forties, the one she had seen in Holly's head, appeared from the back. She was more frail-looking in person, bony, and clearly distracted. Sookie swallowed a hot flash of wildly protective rage at the sight of the witch who had wiped Eric's memory.

It wasn't easy. He had been so afraid, so unlike himself when she had stumbled across him, and the memory made her chest hurt. But she couldn't afford to be angry.


"Hi," Sookie returned sweetly, glancing at Thomas as the handsome Were stood at her side. She felt safer with him so close. "We were passing by and we saw your sign, I'd like a reading, please."

"Ah," Marnie said distantly, not fully processing the words at first. "Ah. Well, then, sit." The witch gestured half-heartedly to a table with two chairs. "Will you both be getting a reading?"

"Oh, no," Thomas said with an easy-going smile. Marnie startled at his accent, and Sookie watched the two from the corner of her eye as she moved to the table. "Just my girlfriend."

"I'm Sookie," the blonde telepath said, shaking Marnie's hand when she was close. A confusing flood of emotions hit Sookie with the small contact - fear, wonder, annoyance, malice - but her smile remained unchanging. "He's Thomas."

"Marnie," the witch said curtly, breaking the contact, taking a seat at the same time as Sookie.

Thomas remained standing, arms crossed over his chest, bright green eyes sharp and intent, protective and admiring, on Sookie. She could almost sense his curiosity, his wonder, as he waited with baited breath for her to do her thing. Sookie snuck a glance at him; it was strange for a human to be so accepting of her curse.

With an experienced hand, Marnie lit two pale candles. "Could I have something to hold onto? Just something personal."

Reaching back, Sookie unclasped her silver necklace. Gran had brought it for her sixteenth birthday. It had been too long since Sookie had worn it. As the candle light caught on the silver, Sookie felt a pang of pain at the thought of her Gran and dropped the necklace reluctantly into Marnie's waiting palm.

Marnie closed her hand, stroking the back of her own fingers with her other hand, and made an odd gesture. "Now just relax." Sookie inwardly rolled her eyes at the irony. "Think of a question."

Instead, Sookie watched as Marine's expression contorted, like the biggest fake in the whole world, and dipped into her head. There was a strange buzzing rush of thoughts, of many thoughts; more than a single woman's head should be able to hold.

Sookie's eyes widened fractionally in surprise when she realized that Marnie had actual talent, actual contact with the other side. Her eyes darted to Thomas, who read her expression. His own expression tipped into surprise.

On the drive, he had told her how difficult necromancy was, how much power it required. Contacting the dead was a minor branch but it was a branch nonetheless. While Sookie had known Marnie was dabbling in necromancy, Thomas hadn't.

Still knowing Marnie had erased Eric's memory and done something to Pam's face was one thing but hearing the voices of dead people in her head via telepathy was another. It was unsettling, but Sookie forced herself not to shy away from Marnie's head.

"There's a presence," Marnie said dramatically, her spiral falling on mostly deaf ears. "Someone who passed on not long ago." Which, really, was simple logic. Most people who tried to contact the dead were recently bereaved. "A woman. I-I see a yellow apron. Someone older." What a shock, Sookie thought sarcastically, trying not to react to the yellow apron.

"My Gran had a yellow apron," Sookie said absently, pushing deeper into Marnie's head. The buzzing grew louder, more frenzied. For a moment, Sookie felt a flick of hope, nearly pushing Eric out of her head - but Adele Stackhouse's voice was nowhere to be found under the masses, and she would recognize it anywhere.

Marnie made a sound of agreement. "She misses you very much."

Fuck you, Sookie thought hotly, struggling to control her temper. Knowing that Marnie had hurt Eric filled her with a frightening anger that burned hot and cold, urging her to do anything to make sure the witch could never hurt him again, and now, she was bringing Gran into things?

How dare she? Sookie stiffened, tiny explosions rocking through her body, Light rising to the surface.

"Sookie, you okay?" Thomas asked quietly.

"She is at peace," Marnie continued. "She - she wants you to look after someone. A sibling?"

Sookie flinched, remembering Claude's warning. "Jason," she whispered. She hadn't seen him in far too long. Eric had distracted her completely.

Lord, what had happened to him? Terror filled Sookie, making her fingertips spark faintly with the two strong emotions warring within her. If something happened to Jason, she would never be able to forgive herself. And God help anyone who harmed him.

Jason was her only family left. She loved him desperately, even though they had drifted since she'd met Bill. She would die for him. Would kill for him if it came down to it.

And then, clear as a bell, Sookie heard her Gran's soft voice for the first time since hearing her terrifed screams in Rene's head.

Sookie, I know what you're trying to do, and it ain't working. I know you're afraid of getting your heart broken, but you mustn't shut yourself off from the outside world.

"Gran," Sookie said softly, protesting. Her world had shrank down to the sound of her Gran's voice, echoing sternly in her ears.

You fell in love with the wrong man and you paid for it horribly. You trusted the wrong people, and it all turned around on you. You're scared of being made a fool, but some people can be trusted. Her Gran's voice turned from gentle to fierce, a mama bear protecting her precious baby. I am incredibly proud of you for takin' care of yourself but Sookie, sweetheart, this woman poses great danger. Run.

"What?" Marnie shrilled, sounding shocked and appalled. Sookie blocked out her next words, doe eyes darting around the room. Thomas was crouched down beside her chair, looking at her with worry.

"We have to leave," Sookie said abruptly. Thomas sprung away from her chair as she stood up, hurriedly pulling out some cash and dropping it on the table, snatching her necklace out of Marnie's hand.

"What - what are you doing?" Marnie looked startled and dazed.

"Lady, when my Gran tells me to run, I run. Keep the change."

Ignoring his shocked expression, Sookie grabbed Thomas' hand, and pulled him after her as she bolted out of the shop.

Thomas kept her mind off Gran on the drive home by asking a lot of questions about her telepathy. Some of his questions were bizzare enough to provoke a smile from Sookie. He peppered his questions with flirtatious comments that left her feeling incredibly conflicted. Why couldn't she have met a man like him or Alcide before Bill or Eric?

"I can't get much from other Supernatural minds," Sookie told him. "I can't read vampires at all."

"That's very fortunate," Thomas commented. His grin was wide and playful. "What about Weres?"

"Mostly emotions or random words. If I wanted to read your mind, I would have to actually try."

Thomas glanced at her in surprise. "You don't usually?"

Sookie shook her head, looking across at him. The windows were down, stirring her hair around her face. "No. I have to force myself not to hear what people are thinkin'."

Thomas raised his eyebrows, looking her over with attractive green eyes. "That doesn't sound fun."

"It isn't, but I have to do it. If I didn't..." Sookie shook her head at the thought, looking down at her lap, feeling slightly uncomfortable. "I would've been driven crazy a long time ago, or maybe it would put me into a coma. Who knows."

Sensing her mood, Thomas changed the subject to Alcide. He kept the conversation light and away from Debbie Pelt. The Were didn't mention Marnie or ask why she had even wanted to see the witch in the first place which Sookie was thankful for.

After Thomas pulled into Merlotte's parking lot, he walked her to her yellow car. A stray thought from a group of teenaged girls made Sookie wince.

"Angel?" Thomas questioned.

Sookie jerked her head to the pack of girls as they lingered outside Merlotte's. "They think we're dating."

"Oh?" A grin slashed across Thomas' face. He lifted her hand to his mouth, kissing her skin slowly, looking down her arm and directly in the eyes with attractive green eyes. "Would you like to give them something to talk about?"

Sookie swallowed, blinking. The playful grin on his mouth contrasted with the very real desire in his eyes, but it wasn't that which struck her silent. He reminded her of Eric in that moment, and the intensity of her feelings about that startled her. Once again, she found herself missing him - as the sweetheart in her house, and the arrogant jerk who ruled Fangtasia.

Sookie gently pulled her hand back, looking up at Thomas. "I'm...uh, I'm kind of with someone..."

Thomas dialed down the intensity in his eyes, smiling understandingly at her. It was completely genuine. "I wish I could say I was surprised. Girls like you are too lovely not to have someone bloody nuts about them."

Heat flooded Sookie's cheeks. "He isn't...things are difficult..."

"Well, Angel, if things ever change, the offer still stands." Thomas grinned flirtatiously, kissing the back of her hand with genuine fondness, and she felt a rush of friendship for him. After releasing her hand, the handsome Were sobered. "We're friends, aren't we, Sookie?"

Smiling faintly at the irony of their first meeting, Sookie nodded. "Yeah, we are."

"Then as your friend, I want you to promise me that if you ever need help - say, with a certain witch - you'll call me."

Touched by the concern on his face, it took Sookie a moment to speak. "I promise," she said quietly.

Hesitating, as though searching for something else to say, Thomas eventually accepted her words with a nod. He saw her off with a dramatically blown kiss and a wave.

It was getting dark, but instead of driving home, Sookie headed over to her brother's place. She knocked on the door several times, panic growing with every second. Then she tried calling his cell. It went unanswered. She tried his home number, and it rang out.

After that, Sookie fetched her spare key from the glove box of her car and looked around Jason's place. It was empty. Because of the usual state of disarray, she was unable to tell if he had been gone for long.

Pacing, Sookie dialled his cell again. Wild theories flew through her head. For Jason, it had been a year since he'd seen her. The last time one of their family members had died, Jason ended up taking V. That could be the trouble Gran and Claude had been trying to warn her of.

Sookie didn't fully believe that. Jason wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed, but he wouldn't start taking V again. Besides he'd seemed fine the last time she'd seen him. He was a police officer now.

Cursing softly, Sookie called 911 and convinced Rosie to let her talk to Andy Bellefluer. Andy was as helpful as ever, though he seemed far more aggressive, but he did admit that Jason hadn't been to work in a few days. He promised to look into it. Which was hardly comforting.

As a last resort, Sookie called Hoyt Fortenberry. That went to voice mail as well, but she left a message asking him to call her if he'd seen Jason in the past few days.

Afterwards, Sookie sank numbly down onto her brother's couch and buried her head in her hands. Life was like a game of dominos; a single mistake, and everything tumbled down. Would things ever stop falling down? Guilt wormed through her insides. If she had noticed sooner...

Shaking her head, Sookie reminded herself toughly that sitting around on her brother's couch in a haze of self-pity was far from helpful. Besides whenever she tended to do that, things took a turn for the worse, and fate didn't need to be tempted.

Calmly swiping the few escaped tears away, Sookie pushed herself to her feet and looked around, a pained twist to her mouth. She forced herself to drive home, but her composure took a serious beating the second she'd locked her door behind her.

Her back hit the door with a soft thump as her knees threatened to give out from under her. Inhaling shakily, Sookie's eyes sought a distraction. She looked between the cubby and the stairs. She was tired and hurting, and she wanted Eric.

Eric made her feel safe and relaxed, even knowing how many people held grudges against her. She cared about him deeply, and she wanted him to be happy. Unbidden, an image of his expression when she asked him to heal his bite flitted through her head, making her flinch.

It wasn't entirely unlike his expression when his memories had been locked away. From the second she'd woken up in bed with him, she'd known she would prefer to walk over hot coals than ever see that look, especially caused by her, on his face again.

Sookie wouldn't give him her heart until it was something they both wanted, while in their right minds, but she couldn't bring herself to reject him completely. But intentionally crawling into bed with Eric, whereas the other times it simply happened, was crossing a line. She was taking a risk in deciding to be with him like he was now, and considering she had been trying to train herself out of taking risks, it was nerve-wracking.

Perhaps she should sleep in her own bed tonight. Away from Eric, where his pretty eyes and handsome face couldn't melt her resolve.

Sookie made an aborted movement towards the stairs before stopping, looking uncertainly at the cubby.

"Fuck it," she breathed. Her brother could be anywhere for all she knew. Like Scarlett, she would worry about her...relationship with Eric in the morning.

Removing the water pistol from her bag, Sookie went upstairs and changed into an old pink shirt that reached her thighs. After removing her make up and brushing her teeth, checking all the windows and doors, Sookie climbed down into the cubby with the water pistol and her cell phone.

The instant her foot hit the floor, several bright lights flared on. Blinking the light out of her eyes, Sookie automatically found Eric with her eyes. He was exactly where she had left him, curled up on his side, eyes closed, expression slack and peaceful.

The tension in Sookie's form eased at the sight of him, and her heart melted in her chest, a worrying flutter in her stomach. Determined not to dwell on that, Sookie placed her water pistol on the floor and laid her cell on Eric's books. She climbed onto the bed, pulling his arm around her waist, tangling her legs with hers until she was back to how the day had started.

Wrapped up in Eric's limbs in Eric's bed.

A strange tentative peace rolled through Sookie, soft and fragile and golden. Fear for Jason lingered but it was easier to accept that she could do nothing to help her wayward sibling until morning. Stupid girly feelings. It had never been like that with Bill, but then she had been too moon-eyed to form a coherent thought, and hold it for longer than a few minutes.

With Eric, she felt safe, comforted, but not overpowered (drowned) by her feelings for him. She hadn't been struck dumb (and then some) or selfish. She was still Sookie, just more paranoid and more attached to Eric Northman. But...

"Even when you're a total jerk," Sookie muttered to Eric's sleeping form, speaking the words as the thought came to her, "You make it very hard not to love you."

There isn't much Eric in this chapter but there are things that needed to be done. Besides I promise to make up for it in the next chapter...if you review.

Feel free to check out Circular Reasoning. :D