I took a little comfort in his embrace as he gathered me up like shredded ribbons from where I stood that night. I snuggled myself into his neck as he held onto me, and flew us home. This time I felt no fear, I felt no curiosity even to look out at my view, I was simply too tired to care. Instead, I let him take the reins as it were; he carried me all the way home, upstairs and laid me on my bed softly. He removed my shoes, and even tucked me in.
Neither of us said a single word.
It was the best thing he could have done for me then, I did not have the energy to fight him, or to talk to him – which sometimes was the same thing. I just wanted to sleep; I wanted so desperately a dreamless sleep so I could wake up feeling a little fresher than I had in a long time. I prayed for it. I listened as he closed my windows, switched off my lamp, and left the room with a nod closing the door gently.
I didn’t know if he had left or not, but I didn’t seem to care as it was the last thing I remembered until I woke up with the birds at seven am.
A night without dreams of murder.
I sighed with relief as I pulled myself out of bed and attempted to bring myself back to life with a shower. I realised too that I had not eaten much the previous day and it had caught up with me. I decided on a big breakfast and a text to Jason to invite him over if he had time. I ran downstairs to hit the coffee, and check the fridge when I got that feeling that I wasn’t truly alone, but I sensed no minds… but there was a void.
I walked to Eric’s cubby, gently opening the door; I took a peek inside to find him lying there on the large leather bed he used when he had stayed with me during his memory-less days. He had stayed the night.
Part of me was relieved, part of me was annoyed, but for now I let the relieved part win out. He didn’t want to leave me for whatever reason, and I was more thankful than mad really. It was nice of him, even if he did not believe in the word.
As quietly as I could, I closed the doors and left him to his day death in peace. Not that he was really dead, he could have heard me – and probably did. Nevertheless, even vampires needed their rest.
Twenty minutes later, Jason was seated comfortably at the kitchen table as I dished us out our eggs, bacon, French toast and pancakes – I had gone all out for both of us, and there was far too much food – but I knew we could make a decent dent in it.
“You feelin’ okay, Sook?”
He shrugged taking a big bite of his toast.
“I guess, I mean if I’m bein’ honest I’ve been avoiding a lot of people lately, just trying to work and go home…”
“I just feel so bad about everything, and all the mess with Hoyt, I don’t even know how to fix it you know? I don’t know where to start.”
“Don’t be sorry if you don’t mean it Jas, insincere apologies are the worst things in times like these. If you like her, if she likes you… if she and Hoyt are done, then while it’s tasteless as all get out, you’re both free to do whatever you want.”
He looked a little shocked at me then.
“No, nothin’ it’s just not like something I thought you’d say is all. I mean you’re usually the romantic one, and Hoyt and Jessica did love each other.”
“Obviously not that much if they broke up, look…” I said as I glanced around my tainted kitchen, no matter how clean it was now, to me it still wore the mark of my deeds. “Life is too damn short, we know that better than anyone, if Hoyt can’t man up and deal, well that’s his problem. His Mamma is to blame for a lot of it too, babying a man well into his thirties like that, no; it’s time to live your life. If you can patch things up with him, try, if not, at least you’ve tried your best and if that ain’t good enough for Hoyt Fortenberry well tough.”
I had surprised even myself with that little outburst, Jason was right, it just was not something I would usually say, but then again, everything post ‘that night’ was different, maybe I was too.
I wasn’t sure or not if that was good thing or a bad thing yet.
After he left, I tried to spring clean, as much as one could spring clean in December, but it was Bon Temps and here even in winter, it never really much felt like what I assumed a ‘real’ winter was meant to feel like.
It never snowed here, or if it did, it never lasted for more than a few hours.
My mind wandered again to Eric, sleeping so soundly, just below my feet, I wondered if he often missed the winters he grew up with, I bet he did, and I bet he had a ton of fun in the snow as a boy.
Why was I wondering about Eric’s childhood of all things, I never once wondered about Bill’s, and he grew up here? In the same vein, why had I dreamed about Eric and his memories when never once awake or in sleep did I seem to care about Bill’s human past.
I checked the time and I did not have to be in for the lunch shift for another hour, I figured I could kill time in town maybe pick up a few things from the drugstore. I might even pick up some True blood for Eric, it had been a while since I even had to consider having that in stock, but a few bottles might not hurt, partially of he was still on this ‘we must train’ kick of his. It brought me back to talk of a war, and I felt that went Eric used words like that, it was not meant lightly, or even to scare me, it was to be honest with me.
Was it wrong that his honesty scared me more than Bill’s lies?
Work was work, and it had the same faces as the day before, and the week before, and if I thought back, probably the year before that too. One of the things about a small town, even one as fucked up, as the one I lived in, some things just never changed. Like Jane Bodehouse’s drinking problem, or Maxine Fortenberry’s obnoxious way of ordering double fries with a diet coke as if to kid herself.
I whizzed around my work shift avoiding Arlene, missing Lafayette and even more so missing Tara, knowing that it would be impossible for us to ever work the lunch-shift ever again. That realisation led to others, much sadder thoughts that brought me down right before the end of my shift. We would never walk to town in the summer again to pick out new bikinis, we would never bask in the sun – one of our favourite things to do together, and we would never have a picnic and sunburn or any of the daytime things we used to do.
It made me even more depressed to realise how long it had been since we had done any of those things, even when she was human.
I was shitty friend, not only had I failed her in life by letting so much take away from our friendship, but I failed her full stop – I let her get killed – for me! I let Lafayette make them make her a vampire, the one thing… one of the things she truly hated in the whole world.
By the end of my shift, my peaceful silence had morphed into downright holding back the tears.
When I got home at six, I was ready for a life-long nap.
Instead, I got home to a note attached to some grocery bags.
‘Sookie, I had to take my leave, I had my day man drop off some human essentials for you before I left. I believe some of it goes in your fridge but I was not sure what. Eat, and wear something comfortable. I will return at ten.’
Below his carefully written note was a flashy, scribbled signature, and I smiled. This note was him to a T. careful and perfect and well thought out, followed by the flash and pizazz of his big showman self. I rooted through the paper bags and found fresh chicken, milk, ice cream that was surely melting but not so melted that it was beyond repair, salad, juice, bread… he really had thought of everything. Or at least his human assistant had. The ice cream was even in a nice flavour.
I could ignore his orders; the man had left me chocolate swirl ice cream for crying out loud. I vowed to have that as I cooked myself some chicken salad and baby potatoes that I was sure I had lying around. I had four hours to kill before he came back; I may as well distract myself with something tasty after all.
“This time?” She asked me from across the field as I picked myself up. This time had been the fifth hit of the night so far, and this time I was almost crippled.
I did not like this feeling at all.
I held my side, it burned a little and she noticed.
“I hurt you bad this time huh?”
On the outside, yes, on the inside… well she had done worse before, but of course I would never admit that. Not to her, not to anyone.
“It is fine; this one feels like fire on the inside though.”
The others had not felt like much, if I had to compare them to anything it would be a slap or a punch to a human, this however had felt like a lot more. She was getting stronger with every try, and that filled me full of pride. The idea that Compton wanted to shield her away as if she was some precious flower, it just made me angry. She was so much more than her pretty petals let on, inside she was the one made of steel, I just hoped she would soon learn that and embrace it.
I picked myself up after she fired again, this time she aimed for my head and I spun sideways, landing rather ungracefully on my face. She was at my feet in seconds.
“If I had breath in me I would be winded.” I admitted and she grinned, taking a seat down next to me. The old air of December swirled around us, but I never felt it, and she didn’t seem bothered by it at all. Her cheeks were rosy red and there was a life light to her face that I hadn’t recalled since our time alone in her home, when we were… together.
I so desperately wanted to touch her, just to reach out and touch her to have her touch me back, but she had made her decision and she already had had enough men and vampires in her life forcing her hand and her feelings. I was determined not to be another.
I stood and she stood too, stretching out her arms and then her legs, pulling them up behind her back with a groan.
“What’s next?” She asked, excited now where as the night before she sounded scared and unsure, now she was enjoying herself. I wish I could have said the same.
“Focus on your intent more, the first four were weak, Sookie. I mean it, give me everything.”
Double meaning, sure but what was time with Sookie alone if not an excuse to be saucy and rile her up into the bargain.
She rolled her eyes.
“I have been it’s not my fault if my fairy zap isn’t to your standards of ass-kicking.”
“Hate me, fear me, loathe me, feel whatever it is you need to feel to get me to the other side of this field.”
With that, she stood for a second, and she was not really focusing on me as much as she was her shoes. They were running shoes, scuffed up now because of all the dried mud in the field, but not that interesting that she needed to stare at them. It took me a second to realise that she was internalising whatever her hate was, summing it up so she could channel it through her, something changed in her eyes then and for a split second, I didn’t recognise the woman standing before me.
A split second later, I was tossed on my ass again, this time about twenty feet into the air and a few dozen feet away from where she stood. I hit the fence on the other side of the field, my body burning up, and a light flying through me so strong I could physically see it. There was ringing in my ears, and screaming, her screaming.
“Jesus Holy Christ, Eric!” She screamed at me when she finally reached me. “That’s it, enough.”
“It’s fine.” I said, struggling to find words, the pain still vibrating in my chest.
“No it’s not, you lit up like a damn Christmas tree and landed all the way over here, I’m done. I’m so done. We’ve tested me and look I can make things fry and fly, we’re done.”
I pulled myself up into a sitting position and she was on her knees next to me, her face full of concern. It was more than concern there was something… else. Lust, certainly but this time it was as if she intended to act on it.
I was proven right when she moved in a nudge, leaning her head down to me and I just could not go there, not like this. So I moved and ignored it, she bit her lip but pulled herself up as I did and we both stood in the thickening air around us, both pretending what almost happened did not happen.
“It’s funny, I never noticed that house the other night, I wonder if they think we’re crazy.” She began as I noticed a soft blush to her cheeks that wasn’t there before. God I wanted to kiss her.
“The people living in that house, I mean we’ve been throwing light balls and a vampire around for two nights in a row, they’ve bound to have noticed.”
“I don’t think they would notice.”
“Really? I would think it was pretty weird.”
“No one alive lives there.”
“How do you know?” She asked as she quickly climbed over the wood fence that surrounded the field.
“Eric, is that your house?”
I looked at her then, and grinned.
“Maybe it’s my house.”
She narrowed her eyes at me.
“ Did you bring me here to bring me… there?” She pointed.
“Not necessarily, I brought you here because I knew for certain we would be uninterrupted. No one knows I live here, only Pam.”
“Does Pam live there too?”
“No, she lives elsewhere.”
“Oh. Is… Is Tara with her?”
I nodded. Tara was with her maker, learning, grieving, still undead.
“Good, I mean… you know… good.”
We both stopped in the middle of the dissertated road, we had two options and I knew it. One, I took her home, or two; I took her to my home.
She made the choice for me.
“Well do I get to see it?”
“If you want we can go…”
“I want.” She requested, sort of, walking backwards facing me with a smile before turning to walk forward by my side.
“I mean, it’s not really what I expected of you.”
“Yeah.” We got closer to the house, and when we got to the gate I keyed in the code that opened it up. She looked impressed.
“What did you expect then? Dracula’s castle? Maybe a black cave?”
She giggled as we walked up the large driveway that wrapped around the entire house back to front.
“Maybe? I don’t know, I mean I always figured you just lived at Fantasia for some reason, but other than that, maybe the castle thing. You seem like a castle kind of guy, with a moat.”
She was being sarcastic, so I smirked as we reached the side door, it took us straight to the kitchen.
She looked surprised again.
“Clean.” She whispered, I don’t know why she whispered.
“Well I am a Virgo.” I admitted making her smile again as she took the place in. In truth, I had little need for a kitchen; I used the fridge for blood and the microwave to heat it, that was it. But the house came with all mod cons back in the eighties, and it seemed a shame to let the house fade to time just because I didn’t use it. So, I redecorate every few years to keep things fresh, as things stood now it was all very modern. Minimalist, but modern and comfortable. At least, I thought so.
“You think I would keep an unclean home?” I balked as sarcastically as I could, she just rolled her eyes.
“No, I meant it’s really new…shiny.”
Chrome, shiny like silver with none of the pain, it was a bitch to clean if I sparked blood on it though.
“Are there other rooms?”
“Well I am Southern, what did you expect.” She sassed walking from the kitchen to the living room through the double glass doors. I watched her from the large island in the middle of my kitchen floor as she peek into the living room. What she would find there was simple, bookshelves after bookshelves, two overly large dark tan leather sofas, and a huge fireplace. There was artwork and things of mine around, most of which I had had for centuries. My house had an impeccable alarm system for those reasons.
“You like to read.” She commented after I finally followed her though, she was fingering the books on the shelf as she passed them, taking mental note of some of the titles no doubt. “My Gran loved to read, I wager she got through at least a book a week. I think she would have had a field day here.”
I smiled. I had never met this ‘Gran’ of hers I had heard mentioned so much over my time in knowing Sookie, but I wish I had. She sounded every inch the rebel her granddaughter was, but with a much more level head.
“I wish for you that she could have seen this as well.”
She nodded, with a rather sad look in her eye.
“I would ask to see the bedrooms but I don’t want to give you the wrong idea.”
“Why whatever do you mean?” I lied and she knew I was lying; she took a seat on the couch with a tired sigh. “This is nice, this place. It is very you, but normal too if that makes sense.
“Upstairs is three bedrooms, a library, and an entertainment centre, my light tight bedroom is downstairs, several feet underground.”
“Would you like some water? I don’t keep food here for obvious reasons, but there is a water filter in my fridge, it has ice too.” I offered not liking the strained silence we had somehow fallen into as she quietly looked around the room from where she sat.
“That would be nice, thank you.”
I got up to go get it, but by the time I had poured it into a glass for her, she was behind me in the kitchen.
“Thank you.” She said looking at the glass as I handed it to her, polite even when it wasn’t necessary.
“No, not just for this… for a lot of things,” she began quietly. “I mean I know I probably owe you more thanks than I realise, for things I have yet to process properly. I know that, and hopefully one day I will be able to see things… all the things that have happened between us a little bit more clearly. Without the aid of Bill’s blood or even your blood in my system I hope to soon feel like myself again.” I stayed silent throughout her speech, it seemed like she needed to get this out as she had been holding a lot of it in. “I just don’t want you to think that I’m not grateful.”
I narrowed my eyes at her then. This was never about her piling on the platitudes of thanks toward me.
“Sookie, I just want you to be prepared, to stay safe. The rest… is just details.”
She sighed but then smiled.
“And thank you for not treating me like I’m a child, or that I’m made of glass. I know in other circumstances… people…” she meant Compton. “Would have been a little slower to keep me informed or to try and teach me to keep myself alive.”
What was I to say to that? I am glad you have found the self-awareness you have needed to see your worth? Hurray, for not wanting to be spoon-fed lies any longer. Instead, I played it safe and did not speak at all.
“Basically, what I’m saying is I owe you. And that’s not something I say to you of all people easily.”
“Because you know I like to settle my debts?” I smirked.
“Yes. But I say it because I… well I trust you.” With that, she flattened her palms on the island and pulled herself up next to me, her butt on the shiny black marble. What she was admitting, to me now as I stood as my whole-self was rather huge for her, I knew that. Before she had told me that I, as my whole-self never had so much as a snowball in hell’s chance with her, now that she had seen things, gained perhaps a lot of perspective, it was seemingly changing and fast. So fast that when I moved to put her empty glass in the sink, her legs caught me, keeping me in place, pulling me closer, her heart was beating so fast I could feel the beats it was skipping even from where I stood. She was nervous and scared, but she still wrapped her legs around me, keeping me in place.
I refused to break eye contact with her even when she would look away from my eyes; I needed to know why she was doing this. Libido aside, mere weeks ago she refused my love, refused … me… and done so in front of Bill Compton, ugh. I needed to know that the reason behind her need for me was more than just my body, or the amazing sex we could and would be a part of together. A year before it would have been enough for her to just want me, to fuck me, to be with me in the ways that I wanted – which at the time were mostly primal. Now, things and I … well we had changed and now that I had felt what it was like to be loved by her, to be cherished by her, the idea of merely being her sexual satisfier was not enough for me. So when she moved in closer, and put her hands on my face so softly, I was waiting and hoping to feel what I felt wit her back at her home during our time together. To feel that love again. Instead, all I felt was her lust, and her need for me but in an entirely different way. We kissed, slowly, carefully, and I wanted so badly to give in and just take her right where she sat, but something held me back. Feeling her lips just there, just so soft and willing and warm and knowing just exactly what we could be like together right now if I just gave in to my desires – to her desires. One’s I had longed for her to acknowledge for so very long… and yet I could not. I would not.
I hated whatever that little voice was, the one that was never there before. The one that before the witches curse would have been busy coming up with inventive ways to make her come, now though, all it screamed at me was this wasn’t right.
To not screw it up by screwing her.
Therefore, when I pulled back and out of our rather intense kiss, taking her hands from my face and holding them, she looked surprised and I cannot say I blame her. No one was more surprised than I was.
She blinked and then smiled, thinking I was joking, she dipped in again to kiss me but I moved away. This time I felt her heartbeat slow, as her face turned from happy and lustful to annoying and angry.
I did not answer her.
“You’re ACTUALLY serious? Eric you have spent… a long time trying every trick in the book to get into my pants and I am giving you a goddamn invitation here, and it is a ‘No’? Really?”
“We shouldn’t be… it wouldn’t be –“
“It wouldn’t be right? Is that what you’re telling me?” She puffed air from her mouth in an exaggerated sarcastic gesture; clearly, she was not dealing with this very well.
“That’s rich coming from you; it wouldn’t be right coming from Mr Bangs Strippers, in his basement!”
She hopped off the island, pissed off beyond anything I had ever seen from her, and that is saying something.
“This is just great, you know that. I mean here I am taking a chance and putting myself out there, something I never really do, because you know I figured of all people I could turn to for some good old fashioned distraction sex, it would be you. But now even you don’t want me.”
She was heading for the door, where she was planning on walking I had no idea but I knew I had to stop her. I would not have her leave to go anywhere with that in her head.
I grabbed her arm to swing her back to me to explain, to make sure she knew that I wanted her more than I had wanted any woman. But something happened then, there was a bright light and a lot of pain that radiated from my head through my whole body as I was whisked from my feet through the kitchen, to the living room and landing only with a loud smack against the hard brick wall. Whatever she shot me with was strong and painful, and enough to make me lose consciousness.
When I woke up but she and one of my cars was gone.
Great. Just, great.