Summary: In a world where Uncle Bartlett went too far, Sookie Stackhouse decides to embrace herself rather than bend to the townfolk's perception of normal. Years later, she saves a dense vampire from two drainers. Slowburn Sookie/Eric.

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EDITED: Because it sucked.

The bar crowd had thinned considerably by four o'clock. Most people were preparing for the DGD meeting. Everyone had strong feelings about the meeting, one way or another. Lafayette came out from the kitchens and struck a conversation with Tara. In a calmer state of mind, Sookie's thoughts turned to Bill.

Her feelings were mixed on him. He had done some good to her, and he had done some bad. Her instincts were against him, but she had never been someone who made decisions on the fly. She would give him a chance to explain the possessive bullshit.

One choice down, another remaining. Eric. What was she going to do about him? Above all else, the small things she had liked about him, he was one scary SOB. A powerful vampire shrieff who knew about her sixth sense. No way that could end rosy.

But Eric had taken her home last night, and Sookie hadn't missed the moonlight bouncing off a head of bright blonde hair from the tree tops as she walked home. He had watched her. At least, he seemed to vaule her as an asset - and he undoubtably vauled her assets.

"You doin' okay, Sookie?" Rene asked, concern in his thick accent after she'd taken his order of a pitcher of beer. He was waiting on Hoyt and Jason.

"Peachy," Sookie answered, flashing him a smile. She had always gotten on well with Jason's friends, especially Hoyt and Rene. She hadn't forgotten his help with the leering fratboys. "You and Arlene comin' to the meeting tonight?"

"Yeah, yeah. Kids ain't stayin' home for nothing, not after hearin' bout your vampire."

"My vampire?" Sookie repeated, arching her eyebrows, leaning back on her heels a little. "Yeesh, is there something in the water?" Lord, she hoped she was immune to it.

Rene looked intrigued but before he could ask any questions, Lafayette called to her from behind the bar, "Come get your fine ass over here, hookah!" He snapped a bar towel like a whip in her direction.

Snickering, Sookie grinned widely over her shoulder at her two friends. "Sorry, Rene, looks like we might have to finish this conversation later." Rene waved her off playfully, and Sookie walked over to the bar, bowing her head in mock subordinance. "Queen Lala, you hollered?"

"We were just doin' some reminiscin' - " Lafayette told her, causing the blonde's eyes to widen in alarm.

"Oh Lord," Sookie groaned, looking between them, eyebrows arching. "History will repeat itself over my bloated corpse."

"Oh, no, honey child," Lafayette cooed with a certain flourish, grinning. "Ain't about nothing bad."

Tara snorted. "Most of the shit we did was bad for me and Sook."

Sookie winced at the memories. Between Lafayette, Tara and her, trauma was guaranteed. "Do you remember when we woke up in a nudist colony?"

"Jesus fucking Christ!" Tara exclaimed, flinching. Sookie laughed wickedly at her friend's horrified expression. "How the hell could I ever forget?"

Closing his eyes, Lafayette made an obscene sound of enjoyment at the memories. "Mmm mmm! Damn you both for callin' my mama."

The memory of Lafayette's outraged face when his mama and her Gran showed up to take them home made Sookie double over with hysterical laughter, gripping the bar to keep herself upright. Tara laughed with her. None of them paid any mind to the disdainful looks they attracted.

"Crazy motherfuckers," Lafayette declared, amusement rolling out in his smooth voice. He poured himself a shot of whiskey. "That was a damn good night. Sook, you should come partyin' with Lala sometime."

"What?" Tara snapped, looking at her cousin. "I ain't fun enough for you?"

"Too damn right. You need Sook to mellow you the fuck out." Lafayette tossed back his shot, pouring three more. Tara drank hers without hesitation, but Sookie only tossed hers back when Lala shoved it into her hand.

"I'm crazy mellow," Sookie grinned proudly, feeling the whiskey burning down her throat. Her eyes glowed with mirth.

"You is," Lafayette agreed, gesturing flamboyantly with his hand, looking her lewdly up and down. "You in, girlfriend? Come swingin' with me and Tara?"

"All the way, baby." Sookie flashed him a naughty grin to match her purred response.

Tara snorted, shaking her head with a smile. "We're going to end up in another damn nudist colony." Tara went to pour herself another shot and stopped abrupty, looking back at Sookie. "Girl, you never did tell us why you broke up with JB."

Sookie stopped smiling, automatically adverting her eyes. The three of them had gotten drunk in mourning of her relationship with JB that night. She and Tara had been underage but Lafayette encouraged fun in any form.

"Age differences," she lied unblinkingly. They had started dating when she was fourteen and he was eighteen. "We wanted different things."

"Like hell you did," Tara scoffed. "He was crazy about you. Damn fool is still mooning over you. If you shot him one look, he'd be all over you before you could blink."

"There was bets about you and that fine man having a bunch of super fine babies," Lafayette interjected, who had been manning the betting pool.

For once, the telepath found herself cursing how well her friends knew her. She and JB had been nuts over each other, like stupidly nuts. Like gushing over baby names nuts. But in the end, he was an eighteen-year-old boy, and she hadn't be able to think about sex without wanting to retreat somewhere quiet and safe.

JB had been understanding, never pushing her past her comfort zone, and they had been good friends with second base but Sookie hadn't been able to shake the feeling of being unfair to him. Thus, she'd broken up with him and used him as an excuse to avoid dating - not that Lala paid much mind. Her friend still insisted on setting her up on dates.

"From what I know, they came damn close," Tara told her cousin, who raised his eyebrows in interest.

"Just FYI, I hate you all," Sookie informed them with a quirky twirl of her finger in a circular motion. Lafayette and Tara stared at her until she crumbled with an exasperated sigh. "He was a teenage boy. He shouldn't have to wait for his girlfriend to get over herself."

Lafayette and Tara exchanged a look of disbelief but they both knew better then to argue with her.

"So out with it," Tara said, leaning into the bar with one hip and placing a hand on the other hip. "Why didn't you and JB ever cross the finale hurdle?"

Knowing Tara would refuse to do anything for her until she answered honestly, the blonde leaned over the bar, grabbing an empty pitcher and started filling it up. Someone wolf whistled, causing Tara to shoot a truly fearsome look over Sookie's shoulder, and she flipped the offender off herself without looking back.

"Uh, because my brother has a gun?" Sookie retorted as though that should be blindingly obvious, looking up at Tara and Lafayette casually.

When the pitcher was full, she straightened up and swayed her hips away from her friends. Sookie dropped the pitcher off at Rene's table, twisting around without a falter in her walk to curtsy mockingly back at her friends, lifting her small white apron.

Sookie returned Tara's rude gesture with an elaborately blown kiss, unable to help a smile at the sound of Lafayette's laughter.

Sookie got off work at Merlotte's at four. By that time, her lack of sleep was wearing her down. Making Gran promise to wake her up for six, Sookie took a quick shower and crawled into bed to take a nap before her hair had even dried.

Too soon, Sookie woke up. Her eyes flew open to the dark. Her hair was pressing against her face in wickedly curly tangles. Her white silk nightgown had been pushed up to her belly button in her sleep, hand low on her stomach.

A series of muddled memories of her dream flashed through her mind - Eric Northman pushing her down to the bed, mouth firm on her bare skin, fangs raking down her stomach...

Her body burned with pleasure at the fantasy, and Sookie sighed at the hot throb between her thighs. Closing her eyes, she summoned up the memory of how Eric's cheek felt under her lips, hand sliding down between her legs.

And then with a slam, she realized why she had woken up.

An image had passed through Gran's head, an image of Eric smirking, head ducked to meet her gaze, utterly stunning as usual as he stood on her porch. Horror hit Sookie like a bucket of ice water. She lunged off the bed, snagging her silk white dressing gown, yanking it on, roughly tying it closed as she flew down the hallway.

"Would you mind if I wait for Sookie inside?" she heard Eric ask in his dark, flowing voice.

"Of course not, come - " her Gran was saying just as Sookie bolted down the stairs, blonde hair wildly askew, eyes huge and frantic, robe tied loosely around her curvy waist.

Eric stared at her starkly over her Gran's shoulder, pale face glowing attractively in the porch light, blue eyes darkening with animal lust at the sight of her - wearing so little or looking so bedraggled? Sookie had been too exhausted to bother with a bra or panties before falling asleep.

Not for the first time, Sookie wondered how good his eyes were.

"Sookie!" Gran gasped, looking appalled at her state of dress. Or it might have been her abrupt appearence.

"Sookie," Eric echoed in an entirely different tone, dark and sleek. He wore a pair of dark jeans that clung to his long, long legs, and a black leather jacket that pulled over his broad shoulders, covering a dark t-shirt. His eyes burned relentlessly into her from across the room. Her terror fading fast, Sookie felt a rekindling of the fire in her lower gut at his stare.

"Gran," Sookie said cheerfully, forcing her eyes to stick to her Gran. She started to climb down the stairs, feeling a decidedly lustful weakness in her legs. "Why don't you finish gettin' ready for your meeting?"

There was an undercurrent of steel in her voice, an inflexibility, that made her Gran look at her searchingly. Smirking, Sookie ruffled her hair, eyes deliberately unconcerned. The sight of Eric so close to Gran alarmed her, but she wasn't about to let him know that.

"Well," Gran said, looking between them uncertainly, clearly picking up the tension in the air - closer to sexual than awkward. "If you're sure?"

Sookie's foot hit the hallway floor, her smirk widened into a perky grin. "I'm sure."

Before her Gran could respond, Sookie made several light steps forward, putting herself between her Gran and Eric. She pressed on her Gran's shoulders and gave her a light push towards the stairs, offering a cheerful wave and a big, mirthful grin.

Gran hesitated for a moment before climbing the stairs, and Sookie turned to Eric, grin turning back into a smirk. She moved forward, and he shifted an inch in response, just enough so that she could slid past him - her scantily clad body brushed intimately against his, silk-covered breasts sliding against his hard muscular chest.

Lord. Her heart stuttered nervously, a shock of white-hot heat jolted down between her legs, and her smirk slipped. His smirk stretched gloriously across his handsome face, arrogant and knowing, but with a dark heat burning in his eyes.

"Not going to invite me in?" Eric said lowly, words brushing over her face. His tone was sex, pure sex.

Sookie clung to her composure by calmly closing the door and stepping back, smiling widely as she tilted her head to the side. Something hot tightened in her lower stomach, urged on by a single look into his blazing eyes.

"Not tonight," she said.

Eric made a humming sound with the edge of a growl, raising his eyebrows down at her. "I thought Southern women were renowned for their manners."

"And I thought Viking's were supposed to have beards."

Eric looked down at her, and she looked unflinchingly back up at him. He dipped his head closer to hers, until they were a scant few inches apart, enough for him to feel the heat of her body through the flimsy silk she wore. His intense blue eyes flickered down to the clumsy knot holding the silky robe tied.

For a moment, in the space of one breath, she thought he would reach for her, and that maybe she wouldn't stop him right away, but Eric restrained himself to an intense look that burned ruthlessly through her, and a wry twitch of his lips. His blonde hair hung around his face, adding to his general aura of sexuality and power. He made to speak but in the progress of drawing a breath, something changed. His fangs snapped down.

Sookie's spiked furiously, dazzling her with its intensity. And Eric stared at her with dark eyes, blue wrapped around very dilated pupils, blatantly aroused by whatever he smelled and everything he saw.

"Do I smell different than other people?" Sookie asked curiously, unwilling swayed by the look on his face. Her libido had always been easy to tame before, but Eric seemed to flood her body with dizzying lust and wild hormones. Asshole.

"Exceptionally better," Eric answered starkly. He breathed her in without shame, and Sookie felt another surge of heat between her legs. She was very wet for a man who she barely knew. Breakthrough much? "Especially when you're aroused."

"Well, what about when I'm pissed off?"

"I enjoy the view," Eric answered smoothly, a fanged, charmingly cocky grin flashing across his face. When push came to shove, Sookie knew he was no more of a sweetie that an enraged lion; her thoughts showed on her face. "Denying your attraction to me, Miss Stackhouse?" a single eyebrow arched, a masterful gestured she shared. "I expected you to be above such delusions. How disappointing."

His expression crawled under her skin, filling the small blonde with a strong urge to prove him wrong. It was a deliberate taunt, she knew. His eyes were that of a deadly predator baiting a trap, testing her intelligence as much as her courage. Eric wanted her to meet his expectations, to prove her worth though she was guessing he rarely gave others - especially humans - the chance.

As always, Sookie rose to the challenge with flirtation in her eyes, a seductive quirk to her smile.

"Eric," she said huskily, almost a moan. She felt powerful at the dark, burning want in his gaze. Lord, his eyes promised such dark, delicious things. "I'm honest enough to admit to myself that I would love to push you back down on my porch swing and ride you until the house is falling down around us, and the only word that means a damn thing to you is my name."

Blue eyes, darker and more powerful than all the sin in the world, flared with an incinerating heat and a wildly aggressive combativeness to match her own. Only Sookie could feel an edge of glee under the scorching lust engulfing her. "Such promises."

"But it won't ever happen." Sookie pressed her lips together to stop her from licking them, and did not look down to see if he was hard. She was betting he was as hard as she was wet - to the point it was almost uncomfortable. "I kind of have this problem that stops me from sleeping with every hot guy I see - I think it's called self-respect."

Eric was worryingly still though his blue eyes rolled over her form with such fierce intensity that Sookie could almost feel his hands all over her skin, dipping between her thighs with the same smooth confidence behind his every action. In the end, he smirked, a growl rumbling in his chest, lifting his head to give her breathing space. "No one likes a tease, Sookie."

Sookie's heart raced at the sound of her name rolling off Eric's tongue but she didn't miss a beat. "You do."

"What gives you that idea?"

"Well, judging by how my pulse is still beating, I'm guessin' you ain't too broken up by the lack of meekly bending to your will on my part."

"True," said Eric in his low, gritty voice. "I would much prefer you to bend over a table or my desk or - "

"I'm sorry to disappoint you," Sookie said, flashing him a genuine grin. There was something about Eric that kept his words and actions from being off-puttingly crass or overly threatening. Anyone else would have been punched or chewed out. "But I'm not going to blush myself into a coma or run screaming from your nasty talk."

Eric purred, a deep, obscene sound that she felt in her bones more than heard. It was animal, and her animal side wanted to respond in kind, as an acceptance and as a challenge. "I wish you would run; I could make your screams extremely...pleasurable."

Sookie enjoyed their banter. With her Gran out of the way, with a small measure of certainty that he wouldn't be killing her, she was able to enjoy the quick back-and-forth and the desire he inspired but she had a meeting to attend. Besides her Gran had not approved of her attire for a good reason.

"I wish you'd tell me why you were here," Sookie replied, railing the conversation. She rocked back on her heels, and looked up at him, brown eyes twinkling with daring. She batted her eyelashes in an over-the-top manner. "Did ya miss me?"

Eric looked - thankfully - amused by her idle question, seeming more interested in the things moving did to her skimpy clothing. "I believe I own you a contract." He reached into his black leather jacket and pulled out a plain brown envelope, passing it over to her.

Sookie took it gingerly, feeling wary of binding herself to Eric in any way. "I'll want to look it over before screwing myself over indefinitely."

"Of course," Eric said agreeably. His stance was always guarded, tense and prepared for a fight, but she detected a slight change. The energy pouring off him was less sexual and more business-like. She felt herself relaxing slightly. "I came to your home in order to review the contract with you, though if you would rather do something else..." his voice trailed off suggestively.

"If we went over the contract tonight, you would probably end up teaching my Gran about the finer points of medieval torture technique," Sookie remarked, not noticing Eric's minimal reaction at words. "Best I get back to you on this one."

"You will find my personal number in the envelope," Eric told her, dipping his head. The space between them disappeared rapidly, and his lips were on her cheek, soft and plump. Sookie stiffened, feeling a swell of shock and panic in her stomach at the contact, and then Eric was leaning away, a smirk on his lips. "Enjoy your evening, Miss Stackhouse."

Eric launched himself up into the sky, a dark blurr to her eyes. After he was gone, Sookie exhaled, silencing the dozens frantic thoughts buzzing in her head, torn between alarm and amused pleasure. "Well!" she said cheerfully to herself, a hand on her hip, tilting her head back to the sky. "Nice to know I'm not the only crazy pain in the ass in the world."

Time for a cold shower. Hopefully she could talk herself out of writing Eric's 'personal number' out on the bathroom wall in Merlotte's as revenge for screwing with her with his little goodbye. Or better yet - Fangtasia's.

Unable to help herself, Sookie laughed wickedly at the thought.

Sookie walked up to her Gran in a pretty colourful sundress and coy white sandles, hair straightened. Her make-up was light and tasteful. Her pale pink lipstick left no mark as she kissed her Gran's cheek. "Excited?"

"Oh, yes," Gran said, a smile lighting up her face. "We're all very excited to hear Mister Compton speak."

"Really?" Sookie said, feigning surprised. "Because what with fifty percent of our town being unashamed bashers of, well, pretty much everything and all those vaguely creepy messages of moral outrage on the answering machine..."

Gran glanced at her, a resigned set to her mouth. "These are good folk," she said firmly. "They will come around."

"With pitchforks, maybe."

"Sookie," Gran chided sharply. Sookie shook her head in disbelief and started to laugh. Her Gran was as sweet as sugar, but capable of being just as strange as Sookie herself.

"When I accidentally joined that nudist colony, you were fine with it - in fact you encouraged me to explore alternate lifestyles, if that painfully awkward conversation wasn't all one big stress induced hallucination - but my sarcasm offends you?"

Gran looked at her, perfectly prim - except for the wicked humor in her eyes. "There are certain subjects you do not speak so lightly about, young lady. Besides, I suspect your brother scolded you quite well enough."

Sookie felt the hot tangle of thoughts behind her, a split second warning before a gruff voice spoke up from behind her, "How do you accidentally join a nudist colony?"

Happiness swelled inside of Sookie, and she turned around to face Tray Dawson with a glowing grin on her face. Dawson was a mere inch shorter than Eric with a head of wild dark hair, serious brown eyes and a tanned, slightly wrinkled face set sternly. He was older than Sookie by nearly a decade. He had a quick, dry wit which complimented Sookie's quirky humor quite well.

"A great fake ID and lots of alcohol," she said brightly.

"Now that I did not approve of," Gran said sternly.

"Tray Dawson," the Were introduced himself, taking her Gran's small hand in his huge one. "If you're the women who raised Sookie, you have my condolences."

Her Gran laughed, amusement ringing out in her voice. "Adele Stackhouse. I've heard much about you, Mister Dawson."

Seeing that her Gran was distracted, Sookie slipped away from the two of them, inwardly making a mental note to catch Dawson later. He lived in Shreveport. What was he doing in Bon Temps? And what was his impression of Eric? She needed a second opinion. Fast.

Currently, she was hunting another vampire. Sookie vanished through a door that lead to the kitchen which was far cooler than the rest of the church. Bill rose quickly from the table as she entered the room, looking at her intently. "Sookie, are you well? I called upon you this evening but your grandmother informed me you were sleeping."

"I needed some quality time with the Sandman after last night," Sookie explained, diving ruthlessly into the conversation, closing the door behind her. Her necklace was silver, just in case.

Bill scowled, making a swift movement towards her. "Did Eric harm you? By the time I was able to return to Bon Temps, I was forced to seek shelter from the sun."

His choice of wording interested Sookie. "Excuse me?"

"I believe Eric ordered Pam to prevent me from coming to your rescue."

"You got beaten up by Pam?" Sookie laughed. Her ego-bruising was unintentional. If she was in his place, she would have been too focused on the funny side to be embarrassed. In fact, she had tried to avoid hurting his feelings by not mocking the idea of him rescuing her from Eric.

Bill drew himself up, looking indignant at Sookie's unintentional slight. "Eric has given Pam extensive training - "

"And Pam is kind of terrifying," Sookie admitted, cutting him some slack. She tried to shove aside her mirth but a few stray giggles escaped her mouth as she pictured how one-sided a fight between Pam and Bill would be. A total smack-down she expected. "I mean that corset - wow. I know she doesn't need to breath, but wow."

"Sookie - "

"You have to respect the kind of woman who can walk in those high heels."

"Sookie - "

"I know I couldn't, but I'm not really a high heel girl. Did you know Merlotte's originally had high heels as part of the uniform? Sam had to change it because I kept accidentally maiming the customers."

Bill looked like he was about to mispronounce her name again but then her plan to bore him into submission seemed to work. He sighed, resigned. "You often wear high heels."

"Practice, my darling. Practice." Sookie took lead of the conversation, smirking slightly at Bill's long-suffering expression. Shaking her head, the telepath abruptly sobered up. "I wanted to ask you something about last night."

Bill narrowed his eyes at her. "You are angry I claimed you to be mine."

"I prefer the term 'formerly enraged'."

"I was trying to protect you," Bill said immediately, accent drenched in a condescending element that reminded Sookie of Andy Bellefluer at his worst. It rubbed her the wrong way. "If you had simply agreed to my claim, Eric would not have touched you."

Sookie's temper flared at his wording and his paternal tone of voice. "Uh-huh," she said sarcastically. "I'm guessing it never occurred to you to - oh, I don't know - warn me that I might have to pretend to be a roll over and play brain-dead in order not to get high-jacked?"

Bill jerked at her wording. "I was tryin' to protect you!"

"Not telling me things until its too late isn't protecting me," she pointed out in a calm tone. She was capable of being reasonable. "I'm thankful that you tried, but I am not yours and you don't get to cherry-pick what you tell me if doing so could end badly for me."

Reacting too fast to have truly thought about her words, Bill made to speak again before stopping. "The meeting will be starting soon."

Sookie was irritated at the timing but she left the kitchen with a meaningful look. They would be continuing their conversation later. For now, Sookie caught Tray Dawson's eye from where he stood talking to Sam (his brain patterns were slightly different from a Were's) and nodded to where Tara was seated. It was a lot less smooth than Eric's method of summoning people, but it worked.

"Is Lafayette working or just avoiding the church?" Sookie wanted to know, dropping into the seat beside Tara, who snorted.

"Who knows what that bitch is doing."

"Or who," Sookie added, provoking a more genuine laugh from her friend.

Because of his sexual nature, Lafayette wasn't all too welcome in church anymore. It was one of the many reasons Sookie tended to avoid churches. Lafayette was one of the best people she knew, why should she care for people who thought so badly of him?

Dawson sank down in the chair beside Sookie, shooting her a meaningful look. "You've got some real interesting friends."

Between Bill, Sam, Eric and Dawson himself, Sookie could hardly disagree. After introducing Tara and Dawson, Jason dropped into the chair on Tara's other side. He was wide-eyed and his tanned skin was glistening with sweat. Sookie frowned at him in genuine concern, forcing herself not to dip into his head for answers.

"Hey, Tara," Jason said breathlessly, a dorky grin on his face. It was a grin Sookie had often seen on Tara's face whenever she looked at her brother. It was not an expression that belonged on Jason Stackhouse's face.

Without hesitation, Sookie reached over Tara to check Jason's forehead with the back of her palm. His skin was hot and damp with sweat. Her concern deepened into worry. "Are you feelin' okay, Jase?"

"Yeah," Jason said with that odd grin. "I feel great."

Forcing Tara to lean back in her chair ("This shit is unreal," she muttered,) Sookie leaned to the side and checked her brother's pulse. It was unnaturally fast. "You don't look so hot," Sookie said with worry leaking into her voice, causing Tara and Dawson to stare at her in surprise.

Jason stared at her with wide perturbed eyes. "I'm always hot," he muttered, slapping her hand away.

Sookie slapped his hand lightly in return, making him pout, and felt his forehead again. Jason tried to slap her hand away again but he missed and slapped himself. A laugh tore out of Sookie's throat, and Jason shifted away from her, whining, "Tara, make her stop."

"Are you high?" Sookie asked mockingly, unable to stop herself from laughing a little harder at the tone of voice she hadn't heard since their childhood. Beside her, Dawson inhaled deeply and suddenly stiffened. Tara looked at Jason closely.

Sookie tried not to pay their reactions too much mind, but she felt the suspicion being tucked away in the corner of her mind. There was a politely cleared throat - Gran, not approving of what she saw - and then Bill came out from the kitchen to begin the meeting, forcing Sookie to tear her questioning gaze away from Jason.

Christ. Why is writing S1!Eric so much harder than S2!Eric? And where did the nudist colony jokes come form?

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