In the brief moment that she thought Bill was gone, Sookie experienced three things in quick succession.
First; the swell of grief in her chest, numbing out everything except her heart, still beating though sore as it was.
Then, breaching through the pain, a supreme sense of relief. It was over. She had done what she could. She hadn't been able to save Bill, and though it hurt her; this time she would get a chance to heal. Loving him had been mostly about pain, and this was as bad as it was ever going to hurt. She had done what she could, and somehow through her tears, she was able to breathe. Breathe for what felt like the first time in ages.
And lastly, gratitude. Her face was against Eric's chest, his big hand at the back of her head, his mouth dipping into her hair as he shielded her from the world, and she was grateful. Grateful that it was him, that he was there.
That she still... had him.
Sookie was holding on to Eric for all she was worth, and she would have been content doing so for a while longer.
It wasn't over, though. Of course not.
She was running down the hallway, the blood-curdling roar of the creature who used to be Bill echoing through the walls behind her, and she was so incredibly sick of it. The running. Running from maenads, weres, witches. Chasing people who were also running from the same things.
Running for her life.
She could no longer remember not running, and as she thought this, an impossible rage added itself to the crescendo of conflicting emotions that wanted to tear her apart. She was done with this shit; done with even caring. For a split second, she wanted to stop dead in her tracks and let whatever was going to happen just dammed well happen.
It was in that split second that Eric decided to grab her.
Sookie yelled for him to stop, put her down, but he was moving so fast that the pressure knocked the air back into her lungs. They darted through the underground maze, and she could see nothing but a blur of gray walls splattered with red. So much red. Moments later, they were outside. Jason, Tara and the other vampires were there waiting. Sookie caught a short glimpse of their bewildered faces before Eric spun around, barking a few short phrases that sounded more like orders than information.
After that, gravity promptly seized to exist.
Sookie had never had issues with heights, not really, but tearing through the night sky in that velocity with her feet dangling freely was not pleasant at all. She groaned, locking her arms around Eric's neck, squeezing her eyes shut. Since he would hardly stop now, there wasn't much else she could do. So she endured. At least now, she wasn't doing her own running.
Just as she was wondering how she would battle her imminent nausea, Sookie felt Eric slow down and descend. He put her down far more gently than he had picked her up, and she reveled in the feeling of concrete beneath her sneakers. But they weren't on the ground. Disoriented, it took her a few seconds to realize that the lights and the wind meant that she was standing on the roof of a skyscraper. Office complex, most likely. Feeling her stomach plummet slightly yet again, Sookie peered over the edge. None of the buildings seemed familiar to her.
The scene was new, but the cast and their roles remained.
Shivering in the cool night breeze, Sookie turned to Eric. His hair was windswept, but he appeared otherwise unfazed by the flight. Unfazed by it all, really.
"So, do you mind telling me what that was all about?" she said, throwing her hands out to her sides. "The grabbing and running?"
Eric was fiddling with his phone, but when she spoke, he shot her a quick glance.
"Saving you." he said.
A laugh wanted to build in the back of Sookie's throat, but she had no idea why. She swallowed it down.
"From Bill?" she said.
Eric put the phone to his ear, locking his pale gaze with hers.
"From yourself, mostly." he stated, as plainly as if this had been a well-renowned truth.
"Oh, so that's what you were doing...!" Sookie said. Her chest was hot now, her heart picking up speed. "Do you even realize how condescending that sounds?"
"You let your feelings get the best of you; act on impulse." Eric said, tone composed though his eyes had gained some depth. "That's not always a good thing."
"Well, that makes two of us, don't you think?" Sookie said, gesturing towards the rooftop.
"Exactly." Eric said.
She wasn't done there, not at all. She wanted to lash out; berate him for assuming that she was helpless in the first place, tell him he had no right to barge off with her like this, separate her from her brother and her friends, keep her to himself. All those sort of things.
But they had been over this. And though it had taken some time, but Sookie had begun to realize that no matter how badly he frustrated her, drove her mad; Eric wanted her safe. Nothing was different.
Sookie opened her mouth, but she could manage nothing but a fractured sigh.
Turning around, she started pacing in a narrow pattern, struggling to gather her racing thoughts. In the corner of her eye, Eric took the phone down, pushing in another number before he brought it back up.
Her heart just would not calm down.
Suddenly, she noticed that Eric was staring at her. Cheeks throbbing, Sookie met his gaze again. Eric was watching her intently, lips slightly parted.
"What?" she sighed. "Eric, what is it?"
"Your blood..." Eric said. His voice was low, and as he spoke, a wry smile drifted like a shadow across his face. "Even over here, it burns me."
So much for trying to still her heart.
Between them, the short moment where their eye contact remained grew to minutes and hours. Sookie's chest heaved as she let the heat of his words travel through her and land low in the pit of her stomach.
Then, a female voice rose from Eric's phone.
"Yes, Pam?" Eric answered, just dazed enough for Sookie to detect it, revel in it. "Did you find it? Good. Just a few blocks. Yes. Put Nora on."
Sookie had stopped caring about context. Instead, she listened to Eric's voice, recalling all those times she had dreaded, then yearned for it in her dreams.
"Yeah, hi. Just calling to let you know that they've invented chargers for phones, can you believe it? You should totally get one!" Eric continued, tone snarky and eyebrows raised. "Seriously. I need you to be on line with the military asap. If they even possess a fraction of the weapons they were boasting about, they are going to need every single one of them. Probably. Yes, I know I broke his neck, I was there - but for all they know, the sanguinistas did. Time to put your skills to the test, then."
Sookie hadn't really reflected on the fact that she had walked up to Eric, not until there was only a breath separating them. And even then, she didn't change her mind.
Acting on impulse was not always a good thing. But it could be.
Sometimes, there wasn't any choice involved.
Swiftly, Sookie grabbed Eric's phone. The blonde vampire's eyes widened, but he let her do it. As she brought it to her ear, the distance between them reduced to nothing.
"Get to it, Nora." she said, finishing the call with the tap of a button.
Her forehead brushed against Eric's chest as she put the phone in her own pocket, and when she looked back up, his gaze was glowing with curiosity and poorly disguised longing. At once, the fluttering of Sookie's heart reached her every corner.
"You aren't done saving me just yet..." she said, gathering the hem of Eric's shirt in her fist, pulling him down slightly.
Onto her lips.
A few seconds passed before Eric answered the kiss, and when he did, the strangest thing happened. Over the violent thrumming of her blood, Sookie felt her world stop spinning and then re-align itself around Eric; his scent, his fingers curling first gently then firmly in her hair. How that which was feral in him - what he kept so carefully restrained - rose to meet with her touch; beckoning her, calling to something hidden and vital in herself that she'd only just begun discovering. She hadn't expected that.
She hadn't known she missed it this much.
Eric's mouth moved over hers, tasting her, tugging gently at her lower lip until she moaned, allowing him deeper. The wind caressed Sookie's face as she brought her hands to Eric's hips, losing herself in his embrace. She pushed up against him, feeling him tense and drawing a muffled groan from the back of his throat as their lower bodies connected. One of his hands were suddenly at Sookie's lower back, a slender finger stroking against the exposed skin there, sending a heated tremble through her that sank deep, culminating between her legs.
Neither of them had asked permission; they didn't need to. Somehow, they just knew.
Maybe they weren't that different at all.
"Can we... please?" Sookie breathed, tugging at Eric's jacket as he brought his mouth to the soft flesh beneath her ear.
He remained there shortly, pushing his lips into her skin. Sookie could feel him furrowing his brow. Then, he took her cheeks into his hands and leaned back so that she could face him. They were so close still that their lips were all but touching, and the short pause Eric needed before speaking told Sookie that he was just as full of need as she was.
"Soon..." he murmured.
"How soon…?" Sookie swallowed.
"As soon as I can guarantee your safety again."
Eric's eyes were ablaze as he moved his hands to rest on her shoulders.
"And I will. I promise." he said.
She believed him.
Her blood still racing, Sookie sighed, a grin forming in the corner of her mouth as she mocked her own state. Eric looked inquisitive, but she only shook her head slightly.
"Give me a thousand years, and maybe I'll come close to your self-control." she said, adjusting the strands of her hair that had fallen into her face.
The smirk that had begun on Eric's lips froze somewhat.
"I could..." he said.
The silence that fell between them then was so potent that, when the large van containing the rest of the group pulled up on the street below moments later, Sookie was kind of glad that it did.