RBS 11.

EPOV:

I knew she’d been avoiding me as best she could. Doing it without it being so obvious wasn’t that easy in a place like this. Truth be told I was doing my best to avoid her, too. I didn’t want to be hurt over this, I mean if you think about it, it’s really stupid. I was taking his word over hers and I didn’t know squat about him, well other than I hated him and wished he’d fall into a black hole and never rise. But her? Her I knew. Or least I thought I knew her, I wanted to know her again. But still, there was something in his words and her lack of denial that just set my paranoia off the charts. I was wanting to talk to her every day but every day I somehow managed to talk myself out of it. I’d let it rot for almost two weeks when I’d finally had enough. I needed to see her, I needed to apologise for being such an ass-hat and I needed to do it soon. I couldn’t stand the thought that I’d hurt her any longer, and it was eating away at me and the guilt was just something I didn’t want on my shoulders any longer. Niall had a stack of papers for all the teachers, consisting of some kind of government documents for funding or something or other, I used that as my excuse.

Niall knew, of course, smiling at me looking past his glasses with a smirk. He told me I had ten minutes and then I had to get back to the books. So I jogged, slowing my roll as I passed each door way in case one of the Sisters would peek out and chastise me for running in the halls. There are so rules you just don’t forget.

I had practiced what I was going to say to her all the way there. I knew I was wrong to judge her like I did, particularly without hearing her side of his evil and more than likely made up words to me about them and the status of their relationship to each other.

So imagine my surprise when I got to her door, to her class to see her laughing and smiling with her kids…and Bill.

What the fuck?

Well first of all I wasn’t aware Compton could smile, I thought for sure his face was made of grey cement and would crack at any movement that wasn’t a scowl.

Her shocked look on seeing me and attempting to cover it up just went and twisted the knife in deeper. If she was or wasn’t doing something she shouldn’t with him like he hinted they were, why not just come out and tell me? I was a big boy I could take it.

But still my ego got in the way and I just couldn’t handle talking to her knowing she was doing whatever she was doing with him.

I know this wasn’t right holding out and not telling her what he told me, not trusting her. And why? Because I knew I’d lied to her and I’d been lying to her. I lied about Sophie, I lied about her very existence in my life and that guilt is what made me judge her on my own standards.

I just needed to make it stop but I didn’t know how.

Niall accused me of ‘brooding’ for the remainder of the day and insisted that I got and tally up the donations from the week before, bag them and take them to the bank and stick them in the new Chapel bank account that he’s set up. He said he wanted to keep a better eye on their cash and gain some small interest in the process. I couldn’t fault his logic and since he was busy trying to solve every problem on the agenda I felt like I needed to start pulling my weight a little more with him and his daily jobs. I felt like I was coasting for the two weeks I’d been back. Having been so used to being busy all day every day, to returning to a simpler less demanding schedule was a little daunting. That, and it seemingly gave me far too much time to think about Sookie.

When I saw her again, off in her own little world as she set out the church bibles on the seats. I really wanted nothing more than to go to her, tell her I’d been a pig headed idiot and that I didn’t really believe that she’s touch Bill much less carry on some kind of sordid gross relationship with him. I wanted to tell her the truth about Sophie, I wanted her to know everything so I could be guilt free and we could move on. But again, stupid male pride blocked my path.

I’d pissed her off something fierce it seems, she was cursing …and in church? Oh yeah I’d gone and done it now. No doubt she was chastising herself for even thinking swear words in church never the less actually saying them. And when I spewed my own I saw her cringe. She was trying to be a hard ass but deep down it still bothered her. I walked away from her again, and again cursing myself for being this idiot that all of a sudden couldn’t articulate for fear of screeching like a little girl. I got to the door when I noticed him. He looked …for the lack of a better term, shady. Skinny but tall, almost as tall as me, ginger haired and pale he walked right up to me and demanded that I give him my money.

I refused and told him to back off. He told me that as a priest it was my job to help the poor now he was poor so why wasn’t’ I helping him.

Before I had the chance to explain again that I couldn’t just go giving handouts another guy jumped me from behind, tackling me to the ground. I dropped the smalls sacks of money as I wrestled him to the ground as best I could before the first guy decided that kicking at my head would be the way to go. It hurt like a mother…but I held my own. I got a few solid punches in to both of them before I saw the knife. She was a beauty, six inches of solid steel shining in the evening sunset right before he stuck her in my gut. Once. I moved to hit it away but the other guy pushed me against the wall and I felt another jab

Twice.

The third time came harder before he twisted it deep, that’s when things got a little hazy. All I remember then is Sookie, her voice and her hands. I know that she was pleading with me to hold on and believe it the last thing I wanted was to do was fade in any capacity.

I needed to tell her I was sorry, that I was an idiot, that I loved her and that I never wanted to leave her.

Where that last epiphany came from, I don’t know.

I felt cold and almost like I wanted to throw up as the warmth of her hands were there one minutes holding me together, and gone the next. The next thing I really remember clearly is waking up in the hospital hooked up to a drip and feeling like I’d been hit by a truck.

SPOV:

It had taken them three hours to get back to us with a phone call. Geraldine had gotten word via Niall that they had taken Eric into surgery and that they were just waiting on any word. I had to go down there I just couldn’t sit around doing nothing any longer than I already had. Despite the sisters disapproving looks I managed to get into Niall’s office and the location of the only other phone in the building and got in touch with Amelia who of course agreed to drive me to the hospital.

She came from her job picked me up and dropped me off, sad that she couldn’t stay with me I was still thankful for her. I went over what happened with Eric on the way there, she was it seems, as shocked as I was.

I was greeted in the hospital by Niall, informing me again that Eric was still in surgery and they were waiting on word any minute. He also told me that the police was looking to speak with me, to see exactly what it was I had witnessed on those steps.

Sadly I told them that I had very little to bring forth that might help, since all I saw was Eric sprawled on the steps bleeding and that that was my primary focus. They assured me they’d have more questions at a later date. I didn’t care. All I cared about was the relief I felt when the doctor told us that Eric had done very well in the surgery and that he’d been in recovery if we wanted to see him.

He was asleep still, but he looked so helpless and small despite his size usually. He just seemed so broken and pale. It broke my heart.

“He’ll be fine Sookie, he’s a fighter. You both are so you know how he is.” Niall commented.

“I know it’s just…Seeing him like this is …” my voice broke a little before I finished my sentence. Niall came over and gave his haphazard awkward attempt at a hug, if I wasn’t so worried I would have laughed.

He didn’t know how to hug, it was kind of cute.

I on the other hand did know how to hug and gave him what the kids would call a big bear hug in return. His face when we parted was a picture.

“You’re a good girl Sookie Stackhouse. We need more of you.”

Not so good, I thought as the flashes of kissing Eric in his room flitted in and out of my brain.

We stayed with him for a few hours. He woke up once, but he was so groggy I doubt he even knew we were there.

The next three days were full of worry for most of us. I donated blood since I was a universal blood type, hoping that most of it might go to someone that really needed it, like Eric must have needed the blood, during his surgery.

I was kept so busy that I couldn’t visit him again after the first time. And on hearing the news that they were bringing him back here, I instantly protested.

“But he’s just had an operation! He’s just been stabbed he could have died! He needs to stay in hospital until he’s ok!””Stackhouse stop being hysterical this instant, the care that he can receive here is just as good as what he’d receive there. Besides, Fr Compton has informed me that the budget is too tight this year and unnecessary medical bills are to be cut down.”My mouth was all but agape.

“He can’t be serious!” She raised her eyebrows at me, not a good sign.

“Sookie, do you need to be reminded of your place here? Of my place here? And more importantly, his place here? Their word is law, my word is law, your word doesn’t stand for anything so please do us both a favour and shut up.””May I be excused?”

She simply rolled her eyes, which I took as my permission to leave her office.

I went from hers to his straight away.

Knocking and waiting as was only good manners before he answered.

“What brings you to see me?” he smiled giving me the once over as he did so. Out of my formal wear and in a simple grey shift dress, tights and low heels. It wasn’t anything special to look at but he continued to look anyway.

“And might I add you look very pretty today Sookie.”

“Look, Father, I just wanted to know why you’ve decided to go against medical advise and bring Eric out of the hospital early? I mean I know it’s a lot of money…but…”

“Yes, Sookie, a lot of money that we just don’t have to be throwing around.”

“Throwing around? Father he could have died!””Come in and we’ll discuss this.”

Hell, no.

“If it’s all the same I’d rather not. Look, please, it could be extremely dangerous to do this now. A few more days at least…””No. Sookie there just simply isn’t the funds for it, and since we know that all he needs now is care that the sisters can provide – for free – well it seems like an ok thing to me.””What if something goes wrong? If his surgery-“”Sookie, they called to confirm this morning. He’s doing as well as can be expected, a young fit man whose wounds thankfully missed any organs. He’ll be fine in a few weeks, some rest and recuperation which he can do for the comfort of his own bed.”

“You’re positive.”

“I am. I may not like Fr Northman personally Sookie but I can see that …well, he means an awful lot to you.””He’s my friend, that’s all.” Recalling our last ‘conversation’ on the status of my relationship with Eric made me want to heave.

“So you keep saying…I just wonder if you’d be this worried about all your ‘friends’.”

“Of course.”

“Even I?”

You are not my friend you jackass.

“Of course.” Smile Sookie, smile. Don’t get on his bad side right now.

He smiled back.

“Well good, if you’d like you can make sure his room is up to your high standard ready for Eric’s return. Have Agnes or one of the other sisters help you if needed.”

The other nuns my age were few and far between and being somewhat isolated from them already made it odd when they would initiate contact with me.

But that’s what happened as three of us prepared dinner.

“So, Sookie?”

Surprised, I looked up. The newest member of the Convent was a Sister Selah from a small town south of New Orleans.

“Yes?””What’s the deal with you and Eric then?”The other two giggled.

“Excuse me?””Father Northman? You know, super tall, handsome as the day is long….Can’t seem to take his eyes off of you.”

“I know who he is Selah I’m just not sure what you’re talking about.”The other one spoke up, I wasn’t sure of her name yet.

“Oh come on Sookie you can tell us.”

“Tell you what? He’s my friend, we’ve been friends forever. That’s all.”

“And you grew up here too?”How’d she know that?

“Yes.”

“With Eric?”

“Yes? Do you have a point?””No it’s just real interesting’ is all, seems you have quite the little fan club, Bill Compton too it seems.””Look Selah I’ve had a rough couple of days so if you have a point please, make it or be quiet.”

“It’s just funny, Eric has only been here a few weeks and you and he seemed very cosy.” Came the smug reply from the brown haired girl. Her blonde haired sidekick then piped up with a “very cosy”

“I saw you, you know?”

My heart started beating so fast I was sure she could hear it.

“I’m sorry?””Going into the priests quarters…he even took you by the hand, and I waited, you two were in there a while weren’t you?”

I felt my face start to burn.

“He…”She stood smiling, smug like she’d got something on me and that somehow made her better than me.

“These. He gave me these, but he couldn’t find them in his luggage. That’s what took so long.” I held up my beautiful red beads. The two other girls ‘ooh’d’ and complimented me on how beautiful they were.

“He got them in Rome, that’s in Europe in case you didn’t know…So…Whatever you’re trying to imply Selah, I would suggest you stop. Not only is it a sin to think such things but to blame me or hint at blame both myself and Father Northman…Well, shame on you. And I should report you to Sister Geraldine myself for such behaviour.”

Her face froze in a grimace. She stomped her foot and stormed out. One of her sidekicks followed while one was busy heating the oven.

“She’s just jealous.”

“Why?”

“Because, she’s bitter, she’s here against her will. Her mother found out she’d been diddling the milk delivery boy and she’d gotten pregnant. They sent her to the unwed mother’s home in Shreveport until the baby was born, then they shopped her over here for good. She’s had a thing for Bill since he arrived…And well…Eric is dreamy you know? So, she was jealous that they both pay attention to you and not her.”

How did they even know that they paid attention to me?

“Oh.” I said trying to understand.

“I think you’re ok Sookie… And she only notices those things cause she’s been flirting with them and they ignore it…So she was pissed off at you is all.”

“Oh.” I said again, speaking failed me it seems.

“She’ll give eventually I’m sure. She’ll find someone else to hate on.”

Great, as if Geraldine, Bill, and Niall weren’t enough sets of eyes now I had to worry about Selah.

Eric arrived back the next morning while I was in class. I was sorry that I wasn’t there to welcome him, but when I did finally get to him I never wanted to leave. He looked so weak and pale and I hated Bill for forcing him to be here instead of the hospital.

I sat with him most of the evening while he was sedated. But around eight he began to come around.

“Sookie…”

Agnes who sat in the corner at the time smiled, “He’s been in and out of it all day, that’s all he manages to say…Guess he really wants to see you huh?” She laughed patting me on the shoulder before making a quiet exit of Eric’s cell.

“Eric, sweetie can you hear me? It’s Sookie. I’m here ok?”

Agnes told me he’d been medicated before he left the hospital and that there were syringes full of pain meds should he need them. Agnes was the one to administer them of course. His bandages would have to be changed every day to avoid infection too, and rest. Lots of rest.

“Sook…”He opened his eyes then, groggy but alive. I thanked Jesus again silently.

“Hey…” I said pulling the chair closer to the bed. I couldn’t help but pet his hair as I spoke. “You gave me a scare buddy. Don’t do that again.””Buddy? Really?” he choked, his mouth obvious dry.

“Ah nice to see you haven’t lost your sarcasm in all this.”

He coughed “Yeah, but ‘buddy’?”His voice was broken and dry so I reached for the small cup of water on his locker. And gave him a sip.

“Sook, I’m sorry we were fighting. I needed you to know that.”

“Look, hey, it’s not important anymore ok? There are more important things…Like you being here and being ok for one.””But I-“”No, Eric I don’t care ok? I almost lost you and …” my voice broke “I don’t know what I’d do …if…if…”

He reached out his right hand then to pat my cheek before my tears fell.

“I’m right here Stackhouse so you buckle the tears, you can’t get rid of me that easily you know?”

“You better mean that.”

“Hey…Look at me…” he tilted my chin towards him “See? Right here, I’m a bit fuzzy but I’m still here.”

Then I couldn’t help myself but I launched in for a hug. Fast but gently, and he patted my braided hair as I hugged him, trying my best to avoid his stab wounds in his left side.

“You need to sleep.” he said out of the blue. I sat in my chair, my home of two days reading, as I had done on and off for those two days in between meals and looking after a rather sleepy Eric.

“No, I’m okay I just want to stay here.” I pulled my legs up to my chest, the long skirt of my habit acting like a tent around them.

“Lay with me?”I looked at him then, that request could have been taken a number of ways.

“No I-”

“You need to rest, and if you’re refusing to leave then you may as well lay here. I’ll scoot.” He managed a half smile.

I was exhausted ,I couldn’t lie about that. It had been a stressful few days to say the least. Avoiding his bandaged left side I went to his right and laid down slowly. His free right arm pushing himself away from me as much as was possible, then falling around my shoulders cuddling me into himself.

It was new, it was nice.

“I’m stealing all the pillow but I offer me as an alternative.” he grinned.

I embraced his cuddle laying my head gently on his chest.

“I’m not hurting you am I?”

“No, course not. The stitches are on the other side any way.”

He smelled different. Still there was that small sent of washing powder mixed with soap but there was something else. I had no idea what it even was, but I liked it. I buried my nose in his t-shirt. We laid like that, quietly for a little while.

“Thank you for not dying.” I said quietly.

“Thank you for not letting me die.” he sighed softly before looking down at me. “Sook, I’m sorry I was such an ass. Really I don’t know what made me …well ok I do know. It’s just you have to understand, Bill said some things to me and I guess they planted this seed in my head that you and he were somehow involved, and then, well, after you dismissed” he looked towards the closed door carefully before continuing “when you just dismissed our kiss like it meant nothing, I assumed that kissing was something you did a lot of, and …with him.” He at least had the decency to look like he knew what an idiot he’d been when he was saying this to me.

I was shocked to say the least. I mean I knew that Bill had said or done something to set him off, I just didn’t expect that.

“So let me get this straight you thought I was involved with Bill…Like involved in a relationship? Eric, I’m a nun? Does that not sort of clear that little thought up for you?””But you…””I what?” Don’t get pissed off at him, he almost died, he’s on medication, he has a gaping hold in his side.

“Well, you kissed me didn’t you?”

I sat up straight then I needed to not be cuddling him when I said what I had to say. Fear be gone, I had to say this.

“Eric…The…God. You’re the only guy I’ve ever kissed. Like, ever. And for the record… done anything else with either, you get what I’m saying?”He smiled sheepishly. “Yes.”

“And again, for the record. Bill Compton is a vile nasty little man that I wouldn’t lay a hand on voluntarily even if my life depended on it. Understand?”

“Yes.”

“And the reason why I talked myself and you out of our kiss is because it terrified me.”

He looked hurt then, as if I’d poked his wound.

“What I mean is, it terrified me Eric because of easy it was for me to do. I didn’t even think twice about all those points you brought up afterwards. All I knew is that you were back and I missed you and being that close to you was so easy and nice and…I wanted to kiss you.”

I wanted to jump you, vows, what vows? But I didn’t dare say that. I blushed again just thinking it. I really needed to toughen up.

“You did?” Why did he look bashful? Mores to the point how did he look bashful? Injured, swollen eye, bruised cheek…and he still looked adorable. It really wasn’t fair you know.

“I did.” I answered back, I aimed for proudly but it came out rather meek.

“As in…you don’t now?”

I looked up to face him then, the imaginary piece of fluff I’d been picking from the bed sheet long forgotten.

“I…Hmph. It doesn’t matter if I do or if I don’t, we can’t and that’s the main thing.”

“Well, I mean, we could it would just be…”

“Wrong.”

“No, Sookie. Kissing you, would be a lot of things, but never ever wrong. At least in my eyes.”

“But it’s not your eyes that matter Eric, it’s theirs. And in their eyes whatever we might be feeling doesn’t matter. We made a choice and we knew the consequences of that choice. Now we just have to live with it.”

“No matter how much I want you…”

I blushed, he blushed, realising that it wasn’t just a few innocent kisses on his mind.

The awkwardness filled the air so much that I almost couldn’t breathe. There was no way I could lie back down, either next to or on him after that. I was as uncomfortable as he looked and honestly I just needed some space and some air.

“I should go.””Sook, I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfor-“”You didn’t it’s just I’m so tired you know? It might be best if I go get some sleep and come back and see you tomorrow? How’s that?””That’d be good, thank you.”

I smiled hopping off the bed and finding my shoes.

“G’night Sook.””Night.”

Walking back outside for the first time in two days felt strange. It was well after midnight and there was complete silence around me. Getting a blast of fresh air gave me a second strength, not wanting to rush to bed as I once had wanted, I took a seat on one of the ‘reflection’ chairs in the garden. Looking across at the orphanage, I could tell you each room by it’s window, each winter by the layers of paint chipped, each little kid under the windows all wondering deep inside why. Why they were left there? Why no one wanted them? Why people were so cruel…it’s all you had some nights, you yourself and your doubts. The nuns and the priests, with the exception of one or two, did very little to quell these doubts. If anything they fed on them. I remembered every slap, every whip, every cut and bruise. Every insult or jibe about being unwanted and unloved, it all added up and it all stood out in a vast collage of horrible days spent in there. It made me question everything, like why the heck I was still here for one thing.

Simple.

I had nowhere else to go. I knew my fate was to follow Eric’s when he was turned out of here, had it not been for Niall, where would he had gone? Would I have ever seen him again?

When I turned 17 I knew I wanted to go into the order, for many reasons at the time. So by 18 my choice was made. Three almost four years later I was questioning that choice, daily.

Don’t get me wrong, I still believed in my God and the power of prayer and loving thy neighbour an all that but I disagreed with every fibre of my being on how this place and it’s religion was run. The power trips the guilt trips the ‘trips’ down a flight of stairs should you rub someone the wrong way. The fact that a man can come into a house full of virgin women and take them as he pleases, against their will or not, it was wrong. The fact that the good men were few and far between and the good women almost non existent. They where there of course, they did as much good as they were allowed but that was and I felt would always be over-shadowed by the pure evil that sat by it’s side.

It was corrupt.

Why was I here?

My kids, my teaching, Niall, Eric, Agnes, at times. They were all reasons to stay. Even if I had reason to go, who says it would be that easy?

EPOV:

I wanted to blame the legitimately amazing pain medication they were feeding me, I wanted to blame that for my thought process of idiocies. She’d stayed with me since I’d arrived I knew that much, it was a weekend so I knew she wasn’t teaching, but still, she sat in that uncomfortable old arm chair for me.

Waiting for me to wake up, reading, waiting, I wanted to will myself awake because I knew she was there and I had so much I needed to say to her, but again the magical painkiller that was injected into me had kept me off in happy dreamland for longer that I would have liked.

I kept dreaming that Sookie and I were in this large field and there were six evil cupcakes chasing us, her one way, me the other. I kept yelling at her to come my way, but she didn’t she kept saying that her way was better and she could out run the evil cupcakes if she tried.

It was weird, and I woke up really just wanting some kind of cake with chocolate frosting.

She was calling me ‘buddy’ which was weird but also kind of nice. She was worried about me but she didn’t want to be overly dramatic, when I’m pretty sure had the situation been reversed, I would have been a crumpled mess on the floor somewhere. When she hugged me it was amazing and over far too quickly. She smelled like coffee, sugar and soap, but she looked dead on her feet. Offering her a quarter of my bed was all I could do but I couldn’t resist the ample opportunity it gave for me to cuddle her.

Sookie was built for cuddling. She along with her ample bosom, hourglass figure, and what I assumed to be still her long legs…just called out for you to cuddle it really. So given the chance you better believe I took it.

It lasted all too briefly before I finally apologised like a punk for my behaviour and I’m ever so glad she got that I was in fact a total idiot and would take it all back if I could. The urge to reach over slip my hand in her hair and kiss the life out of her with what little life I had left in me, was almost consuming. I hate to admit that I breathed a sigh of relief when she left, if only that it stopped me from doing something incredibly stupid – again.

The next two days were a blur of drip changing, bandage changing, police statements and sleep. I knew she checked in on me once or twice because Agnes who while in her sixties, knew that it was the one thing I wanted to know whenever I finally woke up from time to time. Agnes she was a kind but firm woman, and she had incredibly cold hands. It made for her venturing into my pyjamas every day rather unpleasant. My stab wounds were located along my left side, down past my waist and almost hitting my leg/groin area. Painful, awkward, itchy and did I mention awkward? Having a woman in her 60s tend to that area every day was not fun! And, why I wondered she made the point of doing it right at the crack of dawn? Morning wood mixed with touching and awkwardness and cold and pain, well it was just plain hell is what it was.

So imagine my surprise on the third morning, when instead of Agnes, I got Sookie.

SPOV:

We’d been cooking up a storm in the kitchen since five am, one mess after another as some of the newer Sisters attempted to take control. It was, in a word, disastrous.

I was putting out fires left and right, and while I wish that was metaphorical, it wasn’t. Actual fires. Burnt scones led to burnt ovens led to smells and smoke and ugh. It was just horrific. After hours of trying to teach them how to bake, or cook or basically not set all the kitchen a blaze I was rescued by a pissed off looking Agnes.

Dismissed to get myself cleaned up she asked if I could take over her duties for the day, any excuse to get out of there I’d do just about anything.

I was to load the laundry, sweep the walkway and go change Eric’s bandages.

All but the last part I was ok with. She took my nervousness as a sign that I didn’t want to hurt him, part of her was right, the other part of her didn’t connect that I was just terrified to be alone with him again.

After my mini revelation on the state of my life, my purpose and my needs I was feeling lacklustre for it all and in need of something else. Never dismissing my faith, but perhaps for a minute or two, I simply misplaced it? Whatever the reason was I just plain didn’t trust myself around him any more. Especially not alone in that room where so much had already happened.

It was just after nine when I rounded the corner of the hallway that led to Eric’s cell. He had called out before I reached the door.

“Aggie, you’d be so proud of me today I finally managed pants! Sure it took like an hour, but hey …Oh.. You’re not Agnes.”

“Nope, I’m not.”

“Hi.”

“Hi.”

“I was…I mean I was expecting her since she’s usually here at like, dawn, with her antiseptic and bandages and cold hands.”

I laughed. “I know, she uhh, she’s busy so I have to …She sent me in her place. I hope that’s ok?”

He nodded from his place on his bed. His colour had improved vastly over just three short days, and he was, true to his word, wearing pants.

And only his black day pants.

It was ridiculous how distracted I was by his arms…followed by the rest of him.

“Um, so how does she usually do this ?” I asked setting down my bandages, antiseptic and scissors on his bedside table trying my best not to stare or possibly drool.

“Well the first few times I was kinda out of it, but she usually snips the bandage that’s wrapped all the way around my waist and then strips off the smaller ones on the stitches, cleans then and replaces.”

“Do you stand up or…”

“Well, I lay, but this morning I could stand for a little while before it hurt? So I mean would standing help?”

It would mean I wouldn’t have to lean over you’re some what naked body, so yeah, thanks.

“We could try that maybe, yeah. Do you need any help?”

He shook his head ‘no’ as he gripped the bedside table tight as he swung his legs off the bed, cringing as he did so.

“Eric if it hurts, stop.””No, I’m good.”

He stood shaky on his feet, like a baby foul taking it’s first steps. I walked over and sat on the chair next his bed, finally getting a up close look at what those horrible men did to him. I couldn’t get a whole look because his pants blocked my way, and in being there they also blocked my access to getting the bandages changed.

“I…I’m sorry about the pants but can we…um.” I motioned with my hands, not really wanting to say the words ‘hey Eric let’s take off your pants?”

“Oh, damn sorry I forgot.” he said quietly bending his neck to look down at me as I looked up to him. “Um, Sookie, I’m …well my left is what I use to…I can’t um” he sighed frustrated that what he wanted to say just wasn’t coming out. “It took me an hour to button the pants with one hand, I know this sounds all kinds of wrong but could you maybe? And save us some time here?” I noticed he looked away as he asked me.

Asked me to unbutton and take off his pants. I tried to brush it off like it was something as simple as ‘Sookie could you hand me that book over there’ or something but my hands betrayed me slightly as I reached for his belt.

I unbuckled it slowly, I didn’t know the exact location of his stabs so I had to be extra careful I didn’t nick or jab anything tender.

I watched his stomach retract as he inhaled sharply when I flicked open the first button, then the second, and then undid the zipper. His breathing was shallow and fast, I could tell by how his stomach continued to contact and expand. I could almost feel the heat of his stare on me as I did my best to undo his pants and shimmy them down his legs, they stopped at his knees. I dragged my fingers across his stomach to loosen up the larger bandage before reaching for the scissors and snipping it on one side, and then the other. He jumped a little when the cold metal of the blade touched his skin.

His long underwear kept what modesty he had, not that it kept much under control though. I worked as fast and as gently as I could removing the plastered up day old bandages that sat directly on his stitches. All the while willing myself not to look at him in the eye or in the swelling in his underpants that was currently if anything only expanding.

Oh, dear god he was –

“Sookie.” I know he said my name but his voice was so low and so horse that I wasn’t sure what he wanted.

“Yeah?” Breezy, be breezy, you are not just staring at the fact that he’s hard, you are NOT.

“You forgot the antiseptic.”

Crap.

“Did I?”

He answered with a sort of ‘mmhmm’ as I unstuck one of the plasters and swiped with the buds I’d dipped in the cleaning liquid. Replaced and wrapped again I finally but the waistband of his underwear to rights before sliding up his pants to their rightful position once more. All the while doing my very best not to focus on his trapped erection outlining his very thin and kind of useless underwear.

He wobbled a little when I stood up, and I did my best to help him to a seat again. Swinging his feet back over on to the bed again with some discomfort he grabbed his second pillow placing it over his lap.

Yeah, too late there buddy.

“Ok! So, that’s that done and out of the way and yeah so that’s…Oh have you had some breakfast? I mean I know Agnes was busy but did she bring you something? Would you like something now or later? Or some juice! I can get you juice!” Why yes I was panicking and rambling and acting like a fool, and all at once too that was an accomplishment to say the least.

When I finally glanced at his face it read as a mixture of frustration, pain, and what I’m guessing was his attempt at ignoring the fact that me being eye level with his groin for ten minutes didn’t just give him a boner.

“No I’m…I’m good thanks. And thank you…you’re much um…gentler than Agnes she’s kinda rough.”

“She likes it rough huh.”

WHAT DID I JUST SAY. Oh Sookie, foot meet mouth.

Eric burst out laughing at that. I simply blushed so hard I assumed I was purple.

“I uhhh I mean….I mean I didn’t mean it like THAT.”

He continued to laugh at me “Sure you did Stackhouse, sure you did. And, hey I mean it’s alright, don’t they say it’s always the quiet ones you gotta look out for? Agnes could be one of those loose women we’ve heard some much about. Her rough touch…was so romantic rough, she’s had practice.” he mocked me.

I just rolled my eyes and attempted to act casual, “Whatever Northman you owe me for patching up your old shish kebab’d self.” I laughed back, gathering my supplies and making as hasty an exit as I could.

That was my good deed done for the day, now If only Jesus or whoever was listening could make all the thoughts of Eric fall out of my head, that would be great and we’d all be fine right?

Right?

Yeah, didn’t think so.

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