It was good that I didn’t allow hope to encumber me.
“Care?” she asked bitingly. “You just want things from me, Eric. You want my telepathy. You want my blood and my body. Well—you’ve had all of those things now! Can’t you just be satisfied and leave me the fuck alone? Or do you want me dead, too?” she finished almost hysterically.
“I do want many things from you, Sookie,” I said evenly. “However, I will take nothing from you.”
“Except Tara!” she accused, wiping away her angry tears.
“I was not misleading you when I told you that your friend will be fine,” I said quietly.
“How? How do you know?” she asked, her voice thick with doubt.
“Trust me—just this time,” I entreated.
She shook her head. “I don’t.”
And there is was. The spoken phrase to match Sookie’s anxiety from the blood tie. The words that proved just how much she regretted opening up her heart—even to the amnesiac “me.”
I moved slowly until I took a seat in one of the uncomfortable chairs at the tiny table in what passed for a dining room in the small apartment. In truth, it was just an extension of the living room—or the kitchen.
Depending on how one looked at it.
“Have I ever told you about my mother?” I asked Sookie. Oh—I knew I hadn’t. I had perfect recall—except for those four days. However, I had no idea if the “other me” had remembered my human life and told Sookie about the woman she often reminded me of.
Sookie scoffed and sank down heavily onto the couch. “Eric—as much as I appreciate finding out anything about you—do you really think it’s time for a history lesson?”
“Perhaps not, but it will be my last opportunity to tell you about her,” I shrugged. “And—I just wanted you to know how strong she was, despite the things that happened to her.”
“Eric,” she said with exasperation, “what are you talking about?”
“I was young—maybe four years old,” I said softly. “Our village was attacked while the men were out on a trading voyage to the south. My mother—in trying to ensure that all the women and children were hidden away in the underground bunkers my people had designed for such eventualities—was, herself, taken. It took my father three months to track her captors and to get to her. In that time, she was . . . .” I stopped for a moment and looked into Sookie’s eyes. “My mother was a fighter, Sookie. She was abused in ways that I cannot even imagine, despite . . . .” Again I stopped midsentence.
“Despite?” Sookie asked.
Regardless of her reluctance to hear about ancient history, she was now looking at me with compassion, and the affection I felt from her in the blood tie almost made me change my mind about what I’d resolved to do.
But I didn’t change my mind; I couldn’t—not if I wanted to keep my sanity. Instead, I told her the answer to her question. “My mother survived extreme labor, whippings, and rape. She was but a shell when my father brought her home. However—in time—she smiled again. She lived again.” I paused. “My maker is a man; he has an insatiable thirst for other men—those who look just like me,” I emphasized.
I watched as a tear streaked down her cheek. On any other night, I would have gone to her and wiped that tear away before erasing it forever.
But tonight I did not. “Like I said, I was young when my mother was taken. Of course, I could tell that something bad had happened to her, but . . . .” I stopped for a moment, looking back out the window. “But I did not truly understand how she had suffered until many years later.” I stood up. “What I am saying is that I would never knowingly allow any being—human or otherwise—to remain trapped in such a situation. So—even if you do not trust me right now—trust in my memory of my mother, and know that I will ensure that your friend is not harmed again by Mickey.” I got up slowly and walked to the door before turning to face her once more.
“I am sorry, Sookie—more sorry than I can ever say—that I was not in time.”
“In time?” she asked, her voice sounding small.
“To keep you safe. Especially—in Jackson—from Bill,” I said, feeling myself stopping and starting again in my speech as if I were a child learning the words to say as I went along.
“Eric,” Sookie whispered, looking down at her hands.
“I failed you,” I said—prepared to drive all the necessary nails into my own coffin.
And—in that moment—I felt as if I deserved every single nail. But Sookie deserved a nail or two as well. After all, it already seemed as if her eyes had been sealed shut by them.
For she couldn’t see that I loved her. She didn’t want to see it.
She didn’t want to feel it.
I knew in that moment that she trusted all of them more than she trusted me.
I just couldn’t understand why.
“Eric,” Sookie said again, this time louder, as if she were trying to interrupt my thoughts, but I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t.
I was too busy thinking about Sookie’s other suitors. I thought about how she must have ranked us. I closed my eyes as that reckoning cut into me.
Merlotte—who had kept his true identity from her for years—even though she’d told him about her own gift.
Herveaux—who had lied in Jackson when insinuating that he had a sexual relationship with Sookie, thereby spurring Debbie into her murderous rage. Oh—and he’d also taken the bitch back—when he would have been able to smell her scent in that parking garage and around that trunk just as much as I had.
Compton—who had taken Sookie for granted, lied to her, pensioned her off, cheated on her, and, ultimately, raped and almost killed her.
The fact that I knew—without a fucking doubt—that Sookie trusted the man who had raped her not two months before more than she trusted me was almost too much for me to fucking bear!
I scrutinized her eyes, but she looked away as if holding my gaze hurt her more than the gunshot wound which had injured her shoulder.
Suddenly, I felt very angry that I ranked so goddamned low with Sookie.
I had never been too chicken shit to make my feelings known—as the shifter had been for years.
I had never chosen one of Debbie Pelt’s ilk over her—as the Were had.
And I’d certainly never ignored her—or “pensioned” her off—as Compton had.
No. I had tried to win Sookie Stackhouse. I’d put myself into positions to look out for her—first in Dallas and then in Jackson—and I’d been there when danger befell her.
But—then again—maybe it was the fact that I’d been unable to keep her unscathed which had caused her to distrust me.
I would likely never know the answer to that question.
But I did know one thing: I couldn’t continue on as I’d been living. I needed to move on—to grieve the loss of the “possibility” that had been Sookie Stackhouse and me.
Especially since the possibility had dwindled down to improbability.
Plus, I needed to prepare myself mentally if I was to continue into my second millennium. Before Sookie had come into my life, I had found a kind of contentment to fuel my nights.
And I was determined to find contentment again—even though I knew that going back to how I was before her wouldn’t suit me.
Even though I knew that I would miss her.
But, as a vampire, I’d learned an important truth: time could be the great elixir. One day, I would simply become used to her being a part of my memory.
Meanwhile, the part of me that was hurting because Sookie had actually thought that I would use Debbie Pelt’s death—of all things—against her needed to be heard.
So I let that part speak.
“Earlier, when you told me about our nights together, you claimed that you wouldn’t allow yourself to take me up on my offer because it wasn’t fair for you to do so—while I didn’t have my memories.”
“That’s right,” she confirmed.
“So you did everything you could to help me get my memories back; you even faced a battle against witches and Weres.”
“That’s right,” she repeated.
“And we won,” I said, my voice breaking like an adolescent boy’s.
“And I forgot our nights together.”
She nodded this time, unable to utter a word.
“But you wouldn’t help me get back my memories from those nights. Not even when they clearly meant so much to us.”
“To me,” she whimpered to correct me.
“Us,” I returned.
She shook her head as if to un-hear my words.
But I continued. “By your own logic,” I paused and closed my eyes tightly, “your behavior since I forgot us has not been logical.”
“Eric,” she whispered.
“And earlier, you didn’t tell me anything about how we were together.”
She frowned. “What did you want to hear about? Positions we had sex in?” she asked bitterly.
I sighed; I didn’t have any anger or bitterness left in me. “No. I wanted to hear that I was,” I paused, “good to you. I wanted to know why my feelings for you are so much more amplified than they were before. I wanted you to,” I paused, “tell me at least as much as Pam did.”
“What did Pam say?” she asked suspiciously—nervously.
Another nail in the us coffin.
“Many things. She said that I clung to you at first—like a child. However, she noted in subsequent meetings that we seemed quite content together—as if there was a deep connection between us. She told me that I was a bit unsure of myself in everything but two things: my desire to be with you and my confidence in battle.” I sighed. “She also told me that you would never want me as I am now.” I chuckled mirthlessly. “Of course, she tried to find someone to bet with. But no one would take her up on it but me.” I turned away from Sookie, not able to look at her glistening blue eyes in that moment. “Pam will be happy when I pay her tonight. Of course, Bubba felt I was a fool for betting on myself.” I shrugged. “But—then again—I doubt if he will ever think of you as anything but Bill’s girl.”
I reached for the doorknob. “You have my blood inside of you, so—for some time—I will still know if you are in trouble, but Bill is closer. Plus, I imagine that you would prefer his help.”
“Eric?” Sookie asked, her voice uncertain now.
I mustered the strength to turn around to look at her again. “You should feel free to call Pam about anything you might need. If you ask for something within my power to give, it will be yours.”
“For what price?” she asked, skepticism clouding her expression once again.
I couldn’t stop my fangs from clicking down in anger—in desolation really. “You truly see no redeeming qualities in me at all—do you?”
“Eric, I didn’t mean to hurt you,” she sighed loudly. “It’s just been such a long day—and night. A long year.”
She sounded tired—worn to the bone.
“And I just want my life to go back to being,” she paused, “normal.”
I chuckled mirthlessly. “Well—I am the opposite of ‘normal’ to be sure.” I felt my body tense a little as I drove in another nail. “You need not worry about my requiring anything in return if you ask a favor of me. And I will no longer avail myself of your telepathy, Miss Stackhouse.”
Sookie seemed to cringe at my formality.
“What are you saying?” she asked.
“I think it’s time that I cut bait and move on—as the locals would say.”
“But Eric . . . ,” she started a protest.
I interrupted her. “It’s clear to me that you don’t trust me. I had thought that you were beginning to; however, even the nature of your coerced summary of our nights together tells the tale perfectly.”
She frowned. “What tale?”
“I had thought you might have been embarrassed over the fact that we’d had sex—that you were worried I might use that fact to try to seduce you now that I am back to myself. However, when you told me about the sex part of our time together, you almost seemed to be,” I paused, “having fun. And then you offered me only a scrap—just hinting at what you’d come to mean to me during those four nights—and I felt regret from you. Then, instead of telling me how you’d come to view me—instead of telling me anything about us, which was what I was hoping to learn about—you went on to speak about Debbie Pelt. And do you know what I felt from you then?”
“No,” Sookie whispered.
“Liar,” I observed. “You felt guilt—even for killing someone who had already made multiple attempts on your life.” I paused. “Including trapping you in a trunk with a starved vampire.” I shook my head so that I could shake away the memory of finding Sookie as Bill had his fangs and cock inside of her.
“Of course, I feel guilty,” Sookie cried. “That’s what’s supposed to happen when you take a life.”
Ah—yet another nail for our coffin. Clearly, Sookie thought that I would feel no guilt if I killed someone of Debbie Pelt’s ilk. And she was right about that.
“That’s not all you felt when you told me about Ms. Pelt,” I said. “Tell me, Sookie, why did you feel worry—fear.”
“Because you could use the information against me,” Sookie said immediately—not doubting for a second that I would do just that.
“And so I have,” I whispered.
“I have used the information against you—or, more specifically—against us. Tell me—why didn’t your summary include more about us?”
“Eric, I don’t want to keep rehashing this,” she whimpered.
“One cannot rehash something that one has never ‘hashed’ to begin with,” I reminded.
“What do you want me to say?” she asked, sounding more tired than ever.
“I feel love in our blood connection, but I feel regret and grief, too. Will you tell me why?”
She laughed mirthlessly. “That’s it? That’s what you want? For me to admit that I loved you?” She took a long breath. “Fine! I did love the version of you who stayed with me. He was kind and sweet. And I think he was close to loving me back. And—as for the grief?” she asked, sounding angry. “Well—that’s because the man that I loved? The one who cared about me? He’s gone forever—dead!”
“I am not dead!” I insisted, just as angrily.
“No—and you are not him either!”
“You don’t know that,” I responded.
She scoffed. “Oh, please! That Eric was willing to give up everything—to put me first! We both know that you would never do that! That Eric would have been faithful to me.” She shook her head and practically spit out her next words. “I doubt you even know the meaning of the word, ‘faithful.'”
“Condemned without even getting a chance?” I returned sarcastically. “I thought your grandmother taught you to be charitable.”
“She taught me to be a good judge of people!”
“Apparently,” I said sarcastically. “Judge and jury and executioner.” I smiled wryly. “Perhaps, you should rethink your past judgements of the people in your life. If you did, perhaps you would reassess some of the punishments—or the lack of punishments—you have doled out.”
She rolled her eyes. “Come on, Eric. You and I both know what would happen if we ever gave us a try.”
“We’d have sex—probably quite a bit of it,” she said clinically. “But here’s the thing: you’d be in it for the physical pleasure and my blood. Meanwhile, I could never have sex without caring about someone, so my heart would be broken—again—when you inevitably got tired of me. But the worst part of it all is that you wouldn’t just stomp on my heart! You’d ruin my memories of those four nights that you wanted so desperately to know about! You’d kill my Eric all over again!” She was now crying tears of both sorrow and anger. “And the funny thing is that I couldn’t even blame you! I know what you are! And I know what you want from me. And I also know that I wouldn’t be enough to satisfy the ‘Great Eric Northman!'”
I could feel my shoulders slumping. “Well—since you have so definitively elucidated our future relationship, it seems clear that we should skip to the ending of it.”
I turned around again and gripped the doorknob.
“You know, Sookie, it is bad enough that you sell me so fucking short. But the real tragedy is how you sell yourself short.”
I opened the door to the sound of her gasp and the scent of fresh tears.
But I didn’t turn around.
It was time to move on.
A/N: First—thanks to everyone who has already jumped onboard with this new story! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I have the best supporters I can imagine!
I must admit that I had Eric say a lot of the things to Sookie that I’ve always wanted to tell her. Still—I always feel bad for Sookie at this part of the “SVM” narrative, though I do want to slap her.
But think about it: She got with Bill, and almost immediately her grandmother was killed by a vampire-hating serial killer who really wanted Sookie dead. Not long after that, Bill seems to get tired of her, which must have made Sookie feel like shit (even more than most people would when they are “disregarded” by someone they love). After all, in Sookie’s head, she must believe that Gran died because Sookie wanted love so badly. But then that man basically leaves her—emotionally first and then literally to return to a relationship with another woman: one who eventually tortures him. Given that Bill was her “first everything,” it doesn’t surprise me that this all screws with Sookie’s mind. And then that same “first” almost drains her and does rape her. Before the “trunk,” Sookie is moving toward being with Eric; after it, she is understandably battered.
Yet she still picks up Eric and takes care of him when he’s got no memories. And I think that it’s because he has no memories and is “safe” that she lets herself fall for him. I think her biggest error is not being brave enough to give Eric and her a chance after his memories come back. Her second biggest error is to think that Eric would be anything like Bill—to never believe that she could hold his interest. But when she initially makes those mistakes, it is less than a month after her rape. So—yeah—I hate her actions here and wanna slap her, but I also wanna hug her (because I know what’s coming in this story). She is going to have to live with the consequences of her lack of confidence (something a lot of us have had to do, I think). And—unlike in the books—she is going to have to live through those consequences without Eric “around” and willing to come to her rescue.
Anyway, I know a lot of people don’t like Sookie, and I get it. But—when I put myself in her shoes—I wonder if I would have done better? After all, I once pushed a really great guy away because I’d been recently hurt badly by an asshole. And the “good guy” had done nothing wrong. What was wrong at the time was my own lack of self-worth. I think Sookie is going through that kind of thing even more profoundly since she’d been raped by her first love, and she refuses to allow herself to “blame” Bill. I cannot imagine enduring that kind of violation but having no one to “hate.”
So—yeah—I think what I’m saying is this: I want to slap some sense into our girl, but the main sense I want her to have is a sense of self-worth. I think if she’d been able to have that, then things would have fallen in line with Eric. She wouldn’t have been afraid to talk to him about things—afraid to be with him. And—as Eric suggests at the end of the chapter—she wouldn’t have sold herself short either.
Anyway, once again, so many thanks for reading! I hope you will take time to leave a comment!