An SVM what-if—How would’ve Sookie’s and Eric’s fates been different if Bobby also delivered a message to Sookie when he delivered the knife that would pledge her to Eric? What if Eric explained the situation to Sookie so that she wouldn’t feel like he’d manipulated her into pledging? Will she choose to pledge? Or will she get the hell out of Bon Temps to escape all the vampires in her life? (This “SHORT” is inspired by ncmiss12)
This story picks up near the beginning of Dead and Gone. Weres have recently come out, and Sam is in Texas tending to his shot mother. Not surprisingly, Sookie’s stepped up to make sure Merlotte’s stays running, especially since Arlene quit after the second “Great Revelation” made her bigotry boil over. Meanwhile, Eric has kept his distance from Sookie since the takeover by de Castro’s vampires. Thus, the newly bonded pair hasn’t seen each other for more than two months, nor has Sookie heard from the Viking. This story will take some cues from Dead and Gone, but will deviate in many ways. The few quotes from the book will be in bold.
Many thanks to:
ncmiss12 for the inspiration
Kleannhouse for the extra pair of eyes
Sephrenia for the amazing banner
Chapter 01: Priorities
ERIC POV (early morning, Thursday, January 12, 2006)
It hadn’t surprised me that Sookie’d not responded to the several messages I’d left for her—both on the cellphone I’d gotten for her and on her home phone, which I knew had an old, though relatively reliable, answering machine attached to it.
Of course, with the shifter gone to Texas to tend to his injured mother (rumor traveled fast in the Supe community, especially since I had glamoured spies in place to keep an eye on my bonded), Sookie was spending even more time than usual at the bar where she worked—trying to make sure that the place didn’t fold during Merlotte’s absence.
In my opinion, the world—and, most importantly, I—would have been dealt a favor if the hovel did close its squeaky doors.
But Sookie took pride in her work. Thus, the dump hadn’t gone down in “friendly” fire—which I was an expert at creating.
When it served my purposes.
Except that I didn’t want to hurt her.
I growled into my phone as the electronic voice once again encouraged me to leave a message.
“Call me right away—before you sleep! It is urgent!” I said, trying to stop myself from yelling too loudly.
In fact, all of my messages to Sookie had conveyed the importance of her calling me before the night was over—indicating that there was no time that was too late for me. It’s not as if she’d “wake me” during the night.
My last call to Sookie’s home had been answered by one of the witches that my bonded had taken in—I think the older one. She’d groused about “normal folks” sleeping at night and then had hung up on me—before apparently taking the phone off the fucking hook!
As if witches were examples of “normal folks!”
Normal folks didn’t take away vampires’ memories!
I scoffed as I dialed Sookie’s cell phone number again. In my opinion, my bonded surrounded herself with way too many people who felt that “normal” was the way things should be.
And most of them were fucking hypocrites!
None of the people around Sookie seemed that fucking “normal” to me. Her roommates were witches. Her boss was a shifter. Her neighbor was a vampire. Yet—ironically—they didn’t encourage Sookie to be all of who she was. In fact, they seemed to be the strongest voices telling her that she ought to be “normal.”
Again, the electronic voice toyed with me before a secondary message recorded in an even more mechanical tone informed me that the “Sprint customer whom I was trying to reach” had a full fucking mailbox.
I hung up and threw my phone across the room, watching it skip on the bed like a rock in a still pond. I’d learned long ago that there were strategic places to toss phones—unless one needed to see them break. And sometimes I did!
Be tonight I just wanted the motherfucker to ring!
“What’s normal?” I grunted as I thought of the humans in Sookie’s town. From what I could tell, if they were the epitome of “normal,” then I wouldn’t want to be anything like them. Most of them were prejudiced, more concerned with gossiping and judging than having an original fucking thought!
Every time I had entered Merlotte’s Bar, I had been systematically objectified and/or summarily condemned as “evil”—often both. And often by the same people!
Yet I would place my ethics against any other being’s ethics. I was not ashamed of who I was, and I certainly wasn’t a “son of Satan” as Sookie’s redheaded “friend” had mumbled when she’d last seen me. My human father had been a man of honor during a time when honor was difficult to justify or to maintain. But honorable he’d been! And my maker—despite being a bastard that I truly would prefer never seeing again, if truth be told—wasn’t Satan.
Almost. But not quite.
I sighed as I sent another text to Sookie—given the fact that her voice mail had reached capacity.
By this point, I didn’t expect a reply. Why should I? All the others I’d sent had been ignored.
“I got you the damned cellphone so that I could call you when I needed to!” I told the thin air as if it would stir up Sookie if I became frustrated enough. I was well on my way to being just that.
Was the cellphone gift high-handed? Maybe.
But it was also practical!
Indeed, sometimes high-handedness led to upper-handedness. Not against Sookie—never her. For some reason, I didn’t want to gain the upper-hand against her; I wanted us to be on even terms.
A first for me.
But against our enemies? Yeah—I fucking wanted the upper hand!
Undeniably, sometimes a few hours made all the fucking difference in the supernatural world.
And this was one of those times!
One might ask why I didn’t just go to Sookie—why I was counting on phone calls and text messages for communication.
One might ask why I’d not visited her many, many times since the monarchy of Louisiana had changed hands.
Since I’d remembered everything about our too-fucking-short nights together.
Those nights that haunted dreams that I couldn’t quite have—but that felt like possibilities since Sookie Stackhouse was a part of them.
Why hadn’t I gone to her?
The truth was that I had several reasons—all good.
The first was that I had needed to figure out what kind of “arrangement” to pursue with Sookie. Call me cold, but I understood well the way that the supernatural world worked. If Sookie were willing to embrace her status as a fairy and as a telepath, that would be one thing. But I knew that she was not.
At least not yet.
“If she’d answer her goddamned phone, however, she might have cause to reevaluate!” I muttered.
I took an unneeded breath, though it didn’t quell my worry.
Sophie-Anne had pissed me off several times throughout the years of my service to her, the last time being when she’d tried to poach a certain blond telepath from my area. But, overall, our relationship had been downright congenial compared to most sheriffs and their monarchs.
And—truth be told—the fact that she’d sent Bill to “fetch” Sookie had told me something extremely important about Sophie-Anne. Bill was the prototypical Southern Gentleman that a simpleton like Hadley would have thought her cousin would want. It had been hoped that Sookie could live in ignorant bliss with the fuckwit! And maybe a part of Sookie still wanted that. But there was so much more to her that the Southern Belle Compton had wanted to cultivate—so much bubbling right beneath the surface.
Ready to boil.
I’d seen “it” in her the night we’d met. And I’d seen “it” again—time and again.
But she’d resisted the “more” with doggedness and stubbornness; time and again, she’d pushed away the things that might have made her happy because she was afraid of loss.
And why wouldn’t she be? Her innocence would have been lost when she was very young indeed—as she had to listen to the sin-filled thoughts of humanity (or “humanitah” as her Southern suitor so sanctimoniously pronounced it—as if humanity had ever done Sookie Stackhouse a fucking favor!).
Sookie’s parents died when she was very young. Her dreams for love had been decimated because of the betrayal by her first love. Her belief in the propriety of her Gran had been eroded by the truth that Adele Stackhouse had had an affair with a fairy in order to have children.
Why wouldn’t she push me away, too?
No matter how much Pam called her a tease—or a “mistress of mixed messages”—Sookie was the reason Pam was still alive. Hell! She was the reason I was still alive. When the investigators’ report had indicated that there were bombs set in the floor right under mine—in the room right under mine—it became apparently fucking clear that Sookie Stackhouse had saved my un-dead ass!
But it was logical for her to waver in her feelings for me. Hell! I’d done enough wavering for the both of us!
I knew that she didn’t believe that I cared for her as myself—as Eric Northman, Sheriff of Area 5. I knew that she thought that that Eric—me—actually wanted her only for her “assets.”
And she was right. But—because I’d never told her—she had no idea about the kind of assets that I truly craved.
Companionship with a woman I respected.
Sex with a woman who wanted my being as much as my body.
For a vampire, that word was amazingly profound and had meanings beyond any that humans could imagine.
Humans called vampires “dead.” And I suppose we were—in their narrow minds. We did not need to breathe to live. We did not digest food as humans did, nor did we expel waste as they did. Our hearts didn’t beat.
But I felt more alive as a vampire than I’d ever felt as a human. And the times when I’d felt most alive had been with her.
That was likely because she treated me as a living being—no different from her.
No better. No worse.
For better. For worse.
I reigned in my frustration—and my flailing hope—as I sent off another text.
“Sookie, it’s important that you contact me ASAP.”
I hit send.
I hit send again, painfully aware that I rarely uttered that word—let alone put it into print.
I shook my head—both in frustration and in amazement.
The “arrangement” I could have made with Sookie had Sophie-Anne still been alive was straightforward, for I speculated that Sophie-Anne would have left us mostly alone—even if Andre had stayed alive to skulk around. As a matter of fact, I bet that Sophie-Anne would have been pissed to know of Andre’s little power play in the halls of the Pyramid of Gizeh. Clearly—even from the start—the queen hadn’t wanted Sookie to be taken against her will. She’d merely wanted to shape Sookie’s will through Bill. It was a fine line, but Sophie-Anne would have thought it all perfectly acceptable as long as Sookie stayed ignorant to the more manipulative forces that had infiltrated her life.
Ignorance was bliss. And Bill was the fucking King of Ignorance.
Until he fucked even that up.
As a matter of fact, had Sophie-Anne lived, I was prepared to court Sookie—as soon as she’d realized that the ridiculous Were-tiger was not for her, which I had no doubt she would have done.
The takeover just shortened the timeframe.
“The fucking takeover,” I muttered as I tried—once again—to text Sookie.
Any “arrangement” I made with Sookie would now be complicated—much more complicated—especially since Victor seemed determined to crawl up my ass with a magnifying glass!
I sighed and pinched the bridge of my nose as Sookie—once again—didn’t respond. Because Victor had called my hand, I now had two choices when it came to my bonded: all in or fold.
There would be no more bluffing.
I had wanted for de Castro and Victor to determine that Sookie was, indeed, a mere asset to me—one that I didn’t feel the need to call to me often. I wanted them to believe that a thousand-year-old vampire had determined that she was of use only sporadically. Of course, once her heroism in Rhodes had become widely known, that had become a harder fiction to weave. Still, my attempt to do just that had been another reason why I’d stayed away from her since the takeover. If my plan had worked, neither de Castro nor Victor would have coveted her.
But Victor just couldn’t fucking cooperate!
I’d conveyed indifference; thus, he should have deemed her of minimal value. Oh, he might have asked for the use of her telepathy now and again—as may have the king—but an occasional use would likely be all she’d have been required for.
After all, if a thousand-year-old Viking—known for his pragmatism—hadn’t deemed her worthy enough to pull into his retinue full-time, why would they want to?
Sadly, Victor saw through my bluff.
He had figured out that I deemed Sookie too worthy—and not just because of her extra sense.
I wanted her all the time. All of her. I wanted her in my bed and in my home. I wanted her for my wife, and it wasn’t just a week of returned memories that had taught me that.
I was a fucking fighter—through and through.
Yet—when Sookie was endangered, I found myself looking to her first—rather than satisfying my bloodlust.
She was my priority. Time and again.
In Dallas: enemies had been outside and I’d had only superficial injuries that would have healed—quickly. Not only had I protected Sookie with my body, but I’d also refrained from chasing the culprits of the attack upon Stan’s home.
No. A priority.
Mississippi: a Fellowship member tried to stake a vampire. That useless dog Herveaux had jetted off after him—just as Bill had been caught up in the hunt in Dallas. But me? I couldn’t be torn from Sookie’s side as I made sure that Russell and his people took care of her properly.
The night of the takeover: Of course, I had contingency plans to get the fuck out of Louisiana if I was ever threatened. I would have disappeared—in style—for a few years and then resurfaced in a new place. Felipe would have overlooked me as a non-threat by then, and I could have planned a glorious revenge upon the be-caped king. Hell—I’d done such things before.
Or—like Pam had done outside of Fangtasia on the night of the takeover—I could have systematically worked to take out my enemies one by one. None of them would have been able to stop me, for none of them were older than I was. Thus, with a little patience—and maybe a year or so—I could have won that fight, using my familiarity with my area to my advantage.
After all, I was a great studier of Machiavelli. He’d written to his Prince that he should “never raise his thought from [the] exercise of war, and in peacetime he must train himself more than in time of war; this can be done in two ways: one by action, the other by mind.”
I’d used a thousand-year-old, well-trained, and well-honed mind to imagine every way that I might be attacked. And Pam had been such an effective assassin because I’d imparted that knowledge onto her.
I’d drilled her—and a perfect performance was always rewarded with very expensive shoes.
But I hadn’t fought the night of the takeover. I hadn’t lain in wait for de Castro’s army to scatter and search for me so that I could eliminate them one by one.
I had flown like a fucking torpedo toward the one person whose life mattered to me more than my own—even before my memories had been returned to me. Bill fucking Compton could pronounce his willingness to die for Sookie over and over again. And she could fall for his line again and again.
But I didn’t fight—when I’d wanted to. I didn’t fight because of her.
Did I want the yoke offered to me by Felipe and Victor? No.
But I had to endure it—for her.
However, I wanted to endure it—with her.
Priorities or not, I was selfish. I wanted her to be mine. I wanted her to choose to be mine.
My aspirations had always been lofty.
Glancing down and seeing that my texts had still not been answered, I called Bobby. Then I pulled the ceremonial dagger from my safe. I took it out of its protective encasement and admired it.
And then I got out some stationary—old parchment, really. I saved it for important documents. I realized that I was about to write one of the most important letters I would ever pen.
As I wrote, I imagined that Sookie and I were sitting in front of her fireplace on one of her quilts with her hideous afghan wrapped around us. I contemplated her reactions; I anticipated her questions. On sheet after sheet, I “spoke”—and sometimes rambled—to her as I’d never spoken to anyone before.
Knowing that I might never see her again—and needing for her to know me—I bared my soul.
Only for Sookie.
So—this is the first chapter of a new SHORT that I’ve written based upon a prompt by ncmiss12.
Thanks for reading! I hope that you will enjoy the story.