She saw it all come rushing back to him. Every memory that was locked away in his mind hit him full force. His human life, being turned, making Pam… it all came back at once. But the thing that hit him the hardest was her. His feelings for Sookie were what pushed at him the most. It wasn’t just lust anymore, or some obsessive curiosity. Before the spell he had questioned what it was, exactly, he was feeling because he was reluctant to give it its proper name.
Now he knew for sure. He loved her. He was in love with her. He hadn’t thought it was possible but when he played back the days he’d spent with her he knew it was true. He would do anything for her, anything at all. He was willing to make sacrifices for her that he wouldn’t make for any other, except, perhaps, for Pam. Even more important, in many ways, Sookie had come to love him back.
He’d known it the instant his blood entered her body. Eric didn’t know much about love but he couldn’t believe it would take root as deeply as it had in Sookie. He could feel her desire to protect him and take care of him. All those things she’d said to him before he’d fallen under the necromancer’s spell had been about protecting her own heart. He couldn’t really fault her for that after what Bill had put her through.
Had the little rodent not ascended to the position of king, Eric would have killed him. As it was, he would just have to bide his time and wait for the right moment to strike. The good thing about vampires like Bill is that they inevitably fucked up. Bill would let his hunger for power and obsession with Sookie carry him away from rationality and reason. He would act impulsively and without covering all his bases and eventually, he would put himself into a checkmate position. That was when Eric would strike.
For the time being, he was content to sit back and watch the stupidity unfold. Keeping Pam under control would be his focus. It was easy for Eric to forget that Pam was still young, in the grand scheme of things. She still retained the ruthless impulses of a baby vampire and while she could control them most of the time, there were moments when the bigger picture failed to find her. He understood the urge to kill better than anyone, but picking the right moment was crucial to minimize the collateral damage.
Eric leaned in the entryway of the king’s home, watching Bill and Sookie argue with one another over going to war with Marnie or Antonia or whatever the fuck she was calling herself. As much as Eric hated to side with Bill, something had to be done to stop the witch. Until she was dealt with, she would remain a threat to vampires everywhere and that was something Eric couldn’t allow as long as he had the ability to fight. For what Antonia had done to him alone she had to die. What she’d done to Pam… well, that was really Pam’s decision to make and Eric didn’t need to ask how she felt about it.
While Sookie argued for her traitorous friend’s life, Bill completely disregarded Sookie’s feelings. How Sookie could claim to still love Bill after all the disrespect he’d shown her, Eric would never understand. When Bill stomped up the stairs like a spoiled child, Eric slipped out of the house to talk with Sookie. As far as he was concerned there were still more things to discuss and he could just as easily silver himself in Sookie’s house as he could at Bill’s.
In spite of having all the right in the world to enter the house anytime he wanted, Eric knocked when he reached Sookie’s front door. He could hear her crying softly in the living room just as he could feel her sadness and frustration. There had to be some sort of compromise, or at least a way for Sookie to be of use in all this without getting her killed. He knocked again and hoped he wouldn’t have to let himself inside.
There were soft footfalls inside the house and moments later Sookie was at the door. Her cheeks were wet with her tears, which she tried to wipe away when she opened the door. “You don’t have to knock,” she said to him and stepped back.
“Because you can’t rescind my invitation?” Eric asked tentatively.
“Is that how it is now?” Sookie looked hurt. “You said you loved me a couple of hours ago. Is that gone already?”
Eric growled and said, “I tell you that I love you and your reaction is to tell me that you still love Bill. I don’t think you get to play the victim card this time, Sookie.”
“I didn’t ask for any of this, Eric! I was perfectly fine with the way things were. I was getting my life back together. I was moving on just fine and then…” Sookie trailed off when emotion clogged her throat.
“And then what?” Eric asked softly.
“And then you were there on the side of the road all dazed and lost. You could have killed me that first night and you didn’t. You didn’t know who you were but you knew you couldn’t hurt me,” Sookie stared him right in the face as her tears fell and she knew there was a sting in his chest as he watched her cry. He’d told her once that her tears made him feel ‘disturbingly human.’ She’d thought that was just a line but now she knew it was the truth. “I called Pam to come get you and I should have insisted she take you away from here. If she had, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with you and I wouldn’t be feeling like this.”
“Feeling like what?” Eric asked her, not quite following her, even though he could feel exactly what she was feeling. He wanted to hear the words. When she hesitated, he stepped closer to her and slowly lifted his hand to touch her face. His thumb brushed away some of her tears and the warmth of her skin flowed into him. The warmth was addictive.
“Like I lost something,” Sookie whispered, looking up at him through her wet lashes. “I can still see you, Eric, but it’s not the same.”
“And what about Bill?” he had to ask because he couldn’t understand it.
“What about him?” Sookie pulled away.
“You said you still love him. I’m trying to understand how that’s possible after all he did to hurt you. He betrayed you in the worst ways he could ever possibly betray you. How can you forgive him for those things?” Eric asked her.
“You mean like how I forgave you for the things you did to me? Tricking me into drinking your blood, offering me to Russell Edgington, fang raping me and then buying my house out from under me so I could never make you leave if I didn’t want you here. You didn’t forget all that, did you?”
“There is one key difference between Bill and I that you should take into consideration, Sookie. When I did those things to you, I didn’t owe you anything. I wasn’t the one telling you I loved you and that my life was nothing without you. Bill, on the other hand, would have done anything to silence the people who told the truth. Or did you forget that he tried to have Pam and me killed? What he calls love, I call obsession. He is content to keep you dependent on him for protection when he should be teaching you how to protect yourself. Instead he lets you get in over your head, which gets you hurt. Whether that’s because he’s an incompetent vampire or because he likes to feed you his blood… maybe it’s both.” Eric paid attention to the steady rise of Sookie’s anger.
“Bill doesn’t let me do anything. I have a mind of my own. I don’t need vampires making choices for me,” Sookie said defiantly.
“But you do need us to save your life every time you overstep your bounds. How, exactly, were you healed after you were shot?” Eric questioned her.
“Bill gave me his blood,” Sookie shrugged and Eric growled at that. “What? He saved my life, Eric!”
“And it never occurred to him that medical care could save you? It would have been easy for him to glamour you right out of someone’s memory. No police had to get involved with it and he certainly has the sort of financial resources to pay the bill. Instead he took the first opportunity he had to get his blood inside you again.” Eric pointed out to her.
Sookie shook her head like she was throwing off a trance she’d been under. Her mind reeled back, recalling everything she could about the night before last when she’d been shot. She vaguely remembered a pair of strong arms that were too big to be Bill’s lifting her. It wasn’t until she woke up with that tangy metallic taste on her tongue that she saw Alcide standing over her, looking as concerned for her as ever. She had no idea how he’d ended up in the woods but that was a conversation for another time. She knew it was Bill’s blood that had saved her and all of a sudden, she felt a little sick to her stomach.
She hadn’t been wrong when she suggested to Eric that her love for Bill was a chemical thing. It was obvious the effects of a vampire’s blood differed depending on the vampire. Never had she fallen into that high, dreamlike state she fell into with Eric after taking Bill’s blood. They had fallen into a Scandinavian winter wonderland where all she could feel was how much he loved her. Sookie never felt anything like that with Bill. His blood changed her, made her need him much more than she would on her own.
“Oh God,” Sookie covered her mouth and ran for the bathroom.
Eric was right behind her and even though Sookie only wretched a little, he knelt at her side, gently rubbing her back in attempts to soothe her. This was the vampire she had fallen in love with. When he was like this, gentle and caring for her, it was easy to love him. Even though nothing came up, he got her a glass of water anyway and brought it to her.
“Drink this,” he urged softly.
Sookie took the little plastic cup with a small, shaky hand and took small sips from it. “How do I… how do I get rid of this blood?”
“Is that what you want?” Eric asked her, his eyes searching hers.
“I didn’t choose him. I’m grateful for what he did but I… I meant what I said to you that night you came back to me-”
“The night we made love,” Eric’s eyes were intensely focused on hers and she nodded.
“Yes. I told you I wanted to still feel the way I did then and I still do. How do I get rid of Bill?” Sookie’s voice didn’t rise above a whisper at that last part.
Eric refrained from making a joke about silver bullets, sunlight and staking. Truthfully, sending Bill off to his final death would probably be the best solution but he knew Sookie wouldn’t approve of it. She wouldn’t kill Bill to get away from him and she would never forgive Eric if he sent the king to his true death. Not to mention, the Authority would probably take issue with him having the blood of a second regent on his hands. The true death had no more appeal to Eric than it did to Bill, or any other vampire.
“The easiest way I know of is to take the blood of another vampire. Because you were injured at the time you took his blood, it served mostly to heal you. You may have reacted differently because you’ve had his blood so many times in the past,” Eric explained to her.
“There’s no way to do this without blood?” Sookie looked, and felt, uneasy with this option.
“It’s the fastest. Your other option would be to undergo a blood transfusion with fresh human blood,” Eric told her and she groaned.
“That won’t work. First of all, no health insurance. Second of all, my blood type doesn’t match any other human’s on account of the fairy in it. Besides, it’s not like I could just walk into a hospital and demand they give me one,” Sookie sighed and sat back on her heels.
“I will give you my blood, Sookie,” Eric reached out and put some of her hair behind her ear.
“And what happens to me after you do? I’m healthy as a horse now, Eric. What’s it going to do to me?”
“If you consent to this, things will change between us. Your feelings will still be your own but you will have the same advantages that I have now. You will be able to feel me, locate me and read my emotions. It’s what we call a blood bond. It’s similar to what I share with Pam, but I couldn’t command you the way I can her.” Eric explained, carefully monitoring the changes in Sookie’s blood and gauging her reactions.
“What about summoning me?” Sookie asked, which was a complete surprise. “You sent Pam out here to bring me that check you owed me after Dallas and while she was here, you called her. My whole house vibrated.”
“Truthfully, I don’t know,” Eric admitted. “This would be new territory for me, Sookie. I have lived a very long time and you would be the first human I would be bound to. We would learn a lot of it together.”
Sookie exhaled loudly and set down the empty cup she was holding. It occurred to her that Bill would never have a conversation like this with her. She only knew the effects of his blood because she had asked. Otherwise she had no doubt she would have been left confused about her enhanced senses and miraculously clear skin. Eric, on the other hand, was an open book and he was offering to let her help write new chapters in his life. He was giving her the choice Bill never did.
“And how long does it last?”
“A blood bond?’ Eric asked and Sookie nodded. “It’s forever, Sookie. Although since you’re party fairy, perhaps there would be a way to kill the magic involved.”
“I want to think it over. Can you stay here for the day?” Sookie asked and while there was a part of Eric that was disappointed that she hadn’t said yes right away, he also respected her for taking it seriously enough to think it over.
“Bill can try to order me out but I’m not leaving,” Eric reached for her hand. “Will you stay with me?”
There was that pleading, sad puppy face of his that always suckered her in. Her head told her staying with him was probably a bad idea, that she should take some time to really think things through without Eric’s silent influence. If Sookie was the kind of girl who was led by her head, she might have listened, but she wasn’t that kind of girl. Her heart cried out for Eric and jumped at the chance to spend just a few more hours with him. She thought, in terms of war, this could very easily be his last night on earth.
He had already fallen victim to Antonia not once, but twice. Perhaps while they were hunkered down in his cubby they could come up with a plan. With that in mind, Sookie nodded her head, giving her agreement to stay with Eric. He looked at her like he wanted to kiss her, but he didn’t make a move. When he started to stand, her hand shot up and touched his cheek. He stopped moving and let his eyes meet hers.
“I still see you,” she whispered and he could feel her happiness. Sookie pulled his face to hers and kissed him softly.
The kiss was different this time. Not that the other Eric hadn’t been passionate when he kissed her because he most certainly was, but this time she was getting everything he had been holding back without knowing he was doing it. This Eric was powerful in all ways and he wasn’t afraid of giving her everything. But then he hadn’t been in his office either, the first time they had kissed. She remembered the hunger in that kiss, like he had been waiting a thousand years for it to find him. His hand went to the back of her head, grabbing onto her hair in the sexy, possessive way of his.
Before she knew it she was off the floor and wrapped around him. Sookie started to tug at his shirt and Eric set her down on the vanity. He gently removed her hands from his shirt and she looked up at him with confusion in her eyes. He pulled the bloody shirt off and dropped it on the floor. With warm fingers, Sookie traced the bloody stains on his chest.
“I need a shower,” Eric smiled at her.
“Yes, you do,” Sookie agreed. “Why don’t you take one and I’ll change the sheets on the bed down in your cubby? They’re still all gross from when I had to silver you the last time.”
Eric bent and kissed her forehead before Sookie slipped down from the vanity. She pulled a fresh towel from the cabinet for him, although she wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he walked out of the bathroom completely naked. In fact, she would probably enjoy that quite a bit. Eric was certainly a sight to see when he was naked and it was one she wouldn’t be erasing from her memory anytime soon.
She left him alone to shower and went upstairs to change clothes herself. After putting on a cute little chemise that was trimmed with lace, Sookie grabbed her pink robe off the back of her bedroom door and slipped that on as well. She grabbed a pair of creamy knitted slippers from the back of her closet and pulled off her jewelry, except for a pair of pink pearl studs she kept in her ears. Just to be on the safe side, she grabbed a link silver bracelet from her jewelry box.
She trusted Eric but she wasn’t stupid. If, by some chance, Antonia was able to curse him again she wanted to have some sort of protection. Silver wouldn’t save her life but it would buy her some time. Sookie took her hair out of the braid it was in and brushed it out, relieved to see it wasn’t too wavy. She grabbed an elastic hair tie just in case she needed it and slipped it around her wrist.
Downstairs, she grabbed a set of fresh sheets from the closet, along with one of Gran’s knitted throw blankets. The blanket had miraculously survived all the damage MaryAnn had done and perhaps even more impressive, Eric hadn’t thrown it away either. Whether or not he knew the blanket had been made by Gran, Sookie didn’t know. Carefully, she climbed down the ladder to the cubby to strip the bed of the bloody sheets.
She recalled the pain Eric had been in when she silvered him and didn’t think she would ever forget his screams of agony. Every little move he made after that cause him nothing but pain and she hated the idea of having to do it all over again, although it beat watching him walk out into the sun and fry. By comparison, silver was nothing. Sookie dropped the clean sheets and blanket on the mattress once the dirty ones were removed and carefully balled them up to take them upstairs.
She was coming back from the washing machine when she heard the water turn off in the bathroom and there was a knock at the door a few seconds later. Without even looking through the window she knew who was standing there and she really didn’t want to see Bill. What was his aversion to the telephone anyway? She could just as easily tell him over the phone that Eric had decided for himself that he didn’t want to spend the night chained in Bill’s basement.
“Bill,” Sookie blocked the door, keeping it open just enough for him to see her standing there alone.
“Where’s Eric?” he asked, skipping the usual pleasantries. He was all business.
“In the shower.”
Bill’s face was surprisingly unchanged by her answer but she knew better than to assume that meant he didn’t have a reaction. “He needs to come back with me. Antonia might-”
“He’s been through a lot, Bill. He needs a little space. I still have the silver from last time so I’ll make sure he’s covered just in case,” Sookie told him.
“He’s dangerous to you now, Sookie,” Bill spoke softly, his eyes boring into Sookie’s.
“No more dangerous than you are. I trust him, Bill, and I don’t need to explain to you the reasons why and I don’t really care what you think. This might be the last night any one of you is alive. Don’t you think he should get to choose where he spends it?” Sookie pointed out.
The bathroom door opened and Sookie turned to look in that direction. Thankfully Eric had wrapped the towel around his waist but water was still dripping down his chest. He smiled in Sookie’s direction but that smile faded quickly when he caught Bill’s scent in the air. Eric was standing behind Sookie in the blink of an eye, much to Bill’s disappointment. It was obvious the younger vampire was fighting desperately to keep his fangs in his jaw where they belonged.
“You should come with me, Eric,” Bill advised.
“Are you ordering me?” Eric smirked, slightly amused by the child who was still playing lord of the manor.
Really, the whole thing was ridiculous. Eric had no idea what sort of deal Bill made to get himself into that position but he must have had something pretty big on Sophie-Anne in order to ascend the throne like he did. The title of ‘procurer’ didn’t amount to much. In fact, it was a position the queen had invented, most likely because it made her feel richer, more important. The queen had quite an ego on her and it seemed Bill’s wasn’t much smaller.
“Eric,” Sookie elbowed him in the stomach but he barely felt it. “Bill, it would mean a lot to me if you would let Eric stay. He’ll be at your house at sundown and you know it only takes ten seconds to get there,” Sookie pointed out.
Bill looked from Sookie to Eric, both of them waiting for his decision. Finally he relented and said, “Fine, stay here, but I expect to see you as soon as the sun sets.”
Eric nodded but said nothing. Sookie, on the other hand, said, “Thank you, Bill. Have a good rest.”
Bill nodded as well and then disappeared from the porch at vampire speed. Sookie closed the door and locked it, making sure to slide the chain into place. Eric swept Sookie’s hair to the side and kissed the pulse point of her neck. She shivered as he said, “You’re too generous with him.”
“Just because I don’t want to be his doesn’t mean I have to be a bitch,” Sookie turned her head toward Eric’s.
“You were to me,” Eric teased and Sookie narrowed her eyes at him.
“Maybe I wouldn’t have been if you weren’t so irritating,” Sookie said in her own defense.
“Perhaps you wouldn’t have been so irritated if you had given yourself to me long ago,” Eric suggested and that shut her up for all of ten seconds before she changed the subject entirely.
Down in the cubby, Eric was surprisingly helpful and had the bed made in a matter of seconds. Sookie stood back, impressed that he knew what he was doing. He felt her watching him and when he was finished, he flopped back on the fresh sheets and his towel flew open. Sookie gasped and turned her head while Eric laughed quietly.
“You’ve seen it all before. Why are you turning away?” Eric asked her without making a move to cover himself.
“It’s different now,” Sookie said in a slightly strained voice, her eyes still trained on the cinderblock wall.
“How so?” Eric failed to see the difference but for Sookie’s comfort, he moved the towel. “I’m still me, Sookie.”
“I know,” she turned to face him again, clutching the soft blanket to her chest. “It’s just… I need some time.”
“I can be patient. I waited 1,000 years to take revenge on Russell for what he did to my family,” Eric pointed out. At the mention of Russell he felt her emotionally flinch. “You haven’t forgiven me for that yet have you?”
“I’ve forgiven; I just haven’t forgotten,” Sookie set the blanket down on the foot of the bed. “How long until sunrise?”
Eric thought for a moment and said, “I would guess about two hours.”
She nodded and slipped off the robe and slippers she was wearing. When she went to put her hair up, Eric stopped her. “Will you leave it down?”
Her arms dropped and she nodded. “I can do that.”
Sookie grabbed the blanket from the foot of the bed and lay down beside Eric. She was a little unsure of how close to get to him but he solved that problem by moving over and resting his head on chest just like he’d done the first night they made love. Sookie inhaled deeply and smiled when Eric spread the blanket over her legs for her. The pose was familiar and comfortable but not too intimate for her.
“If I fall asleep, will you wake me up in time to silver you?” Sookie asked, her fingers gently combing through Eric’s hair.
“Yes,” he promised and let his arm stretch of her stomach.
“Thank you,” she whispered, her eyes closing.
oOo ~ oOo ~ oOo
Two hours later Eric was waking Sookie as gently as possible. Her eyes fluttered open and she smiled to see him hovering above her. It was a sight she had been afraid she would lose for good when the spell was broken. Eric leaned in and kissed her gently but didn’t linger. He hadn’t put a shirt on but he was wearing jeans. Sookie sat up and slowly swung her legs over the side of the bed.
“Are you hungry?” she asked over her shoulder.
“I’m fine,” Eric lay back, making himself comfortable.
Sookie turned to face him again and said, “I can feed you, Eric. You don’t have to-”
“After you remove the silver,” he cut her off and she nodded.
Right then—time to silver him. Sookie got off the bed and went across the cubby to pick up the lengths of chain Bill had brought by a few days before. There were still bits of Eric and dried blood stuck to the links and Sookie cringed, knowing it was only going to be worse come sunset. Sookie returned to the edge of the bed and looked down at Eric with sad eyes.
“I’ll be fine, Sookie,” he promised her.
“I’m doing this because I love you,” she leaned down and kissed his lips and when he held the back of her head to kiss her in return, she nearly dropped the chain on his chest.
“I love you too,” he said when he released her.
Coming from Eric, the real Eric, the words still sounded strange to her. She recalled the first dream she’d had about him back in Dallas after she’d had his blood and she told him about that dream while she rolled the legs of his jeans up to expose his ankles. After silvering him the first time, she’d learned it was better to aim carefully and drop the chain so she didn’t have to move it around on his skin. The second the silver touched him she heard sizzling like she would if she dropped butter into a hot skillet. The smell, however, wasn’t nearly as pleasant; nor were the screams of agony or Norse curses that fled Eric’s lips like they were running from the law.
When he quieted down she mouthed an apology before moving up the bed to his stomach. “Back then I never gave it much thought how different my dreams were when I dreamed of you. I thought it was just the blood but it didn’t mean anything. But the feel of the dreams was different. When I used to dream of Bill I always felt some sort of fear or anxiety, but I never felt that when I would dream of you.”
“What… did you… feel?” Eric asked and then cursed in another language.
“I felt safe, protected… mostly I felt loved,” Sookie admitted with a smile. “In my dreams I got the best of both worlds where you’re concerned. You smiled more. You laughed. You would tell me things about yourself and we could have conversations that would last for hours. Even though we were usually naked or in a bed, it wasn’t just about sex.”
“Intimacy,” Eric said through a clenched jaw and Sookie nodded. “I dreamed of you once.”
“You did?” Sookie’s eyebrows rose. “When? I didn’t think vampires could dream.”
“It was more like a daydream,” Eric didn’t really want to think of that whore Yvetta while he was with Sookie, although he had definitely thought of Sookie while he was with Yvetta. “Can you sing?” Eric asked her suddenly and Sookie stopped what she was doing to give him a strange look. His eyes widened in expectation, waiting for her answer.
“Of course I can. Doesn’t mean I should,” she smiled at him. “Why do you ask?”
She dropped another length of chain over his stomach and Eric let loose another stream of curses in a foreign language. When he got control of himself he said, “Because… you said… in the dream… you… couldn’t.”
“You had a dream about me singing?” Sookie looked incredulous.
“No,” Eric bit his lip so hard he drew blood that he quickly swallowed. He couldn’t afford to lose any more than necessary. “You pushed me… on a bed… I snapped out of it before… before it went much farther.”
“Was this before or after you had my blood?” Sookie asked and laid another length of silver over his right wrist.
“Before,” he gasped and watched her drop another length on his left wrist.
That fucking witch was going to die, whether Sookie liked it or not. He knew there was a place for her in the battle; he just wasn’t sure where she fit in yet. Sookie had proven she could handle herself, although her powers weren’t quite predictable. She needed to practice putting them to use just like she had with her telepathy. That was something they would work on once the witch was defeated.
Sookie stood with the last length of chain poised and ready to drop over Eric’s neck. Their eyes met and he said, “When you disappeared, it wrecked me. I knew you were alive; I could still feel you. I just couldn’t find you. I knew you would return but until then I bought your house so I could feel close to you. I repaired what needed fixing because it was the only way I could honor you. When all of this is over with Antonia, the house will be yours again.”
Sookie smiled and carefully moved the chain out of the way so she could lean down and kiss him again. “Thank you,” she whispered against his lips.
Eric just barely nodded and said, “Sunrise.”
Sookie righted herself and took a deep breath while she lined up the chain again. She laid it gently across Eric’s neck and braced herself through the slurry of cusses that came out of his mouth in various languages. With him all silvered, she got back into bed beside him, curled on her side. He turned his head in her direction and just as it had been those few days before, she pressed her forehead to his and they lay together quietly, hoping Antonia’s spell didn’t take hold.