“Love sought is good, but given unsought, is better.”—William Shakespeare
When Sookie finally tells Eric about what happened when his memory was taken away by Marnie’s spell, the vampire notes that she spent more time talking about Debbie’s demise than any relationship they had. And he realizes something: Sookie doesn’t trust him not to harm her with the information about Debbie. Even though Eric is new at love, he knows that it cannot flourish without trust, so he cuts ties with her and eventually develops a relationship with another. What will happen when Sookie realizes that she made a mistake? What will happen when it is she who must fight for love which is unsought?
I would love to read a story where Sookie has to work hard to get Eric. I feel Eric seems to go all out to earn Sookie’s affections. What if Eric gets fed up and moves on (not [too] seriously) with maybe Yvetta or Nora, and Sookie just cannot stand it. Something where Sookie actually has to pursue Eric, instead of the other way around. (Idea from Lajayden1973–March 14, 2015)
This story begins in the middle of Dead as a Doornail (Chapter 13). Sookie has asked for Eric’s help getting Tara away from Mickey. Eric comes to Sookie’s temporary apartment and Sookie tells Eric what happened when he had amnesia. In this fiction, Mickey and Tara don’t come to the apartment, nor does Eric become amorous. Instead, he truly thinks about Sookie’s words, and he finds them lacking.
Dialogue in bold is quotes from the books of Charlaine Harris.
To Lajayden1973–for the inspiration
To Kleannhouse—for your generosity and your “eagle eyes”
To Sephrenia—for always giving me your time as you create art for my stories
Remember that on SHORTS, Sephrenia always “takes the challenge” with me by constructing the banner with only the inspiration text.
Chapter 1: How Porcupines Mate
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2005
Sookie’s voice was matter-of-fact as she finally told me what had happened between us not even a month before—when I’d lost my memory thanks to the now-dead Hallow Stonebrook.
Yes—Sookie and I’d had sex together. Multiple times. Throughout her home. And, apparently, outside of it.
I wasn’t surprised.
She also told me that I’d offered to give up my life to stay with her—that I’d promised to get a job.
Clearly, I’d wanted to take care of her—to be with her.
I wasn’t surprised by that either.
But Sookie had rejected my offer because she didn’t think that accepting it would be fair to the memoryless “me.” In her words, it wouldn’t have been “right.”
Right—it was a word I’d long contemplated where Sookie was concerned.
However, my notion of “right”—too often—seemed to be Sookie’s conception of “wrong.”
By far, Sookie spent the longest part of her “summary” about our time together talking about Debbie Pelt, who had apparently broken into Sookie’s home aiming to murder her. In fact, Debbie would have succeeded if I hadn’t stepped in front of a bullet aimed at Sookie, who had—then—acted in self-defense and killed the bitch. I’d apparently taken care of hiding Debbie’s body and car.
From the blood tying me to Sookie, I discerned that her emotions were mainly guilt and worry as she talked about Pelt; thus, I asked her if her anxiety stemmed from the possibility that the Pelts might try to take revenge.
Sookie waved that possibility off, telling me that the private investigator who’d been hired by the Pelts had spoken to her. The odd thing was that during this part of Sookie’s narration, her worry actually waned. No—indeed—Sookie wasn’t concerned that she would be discovered by the Pelt’s P.I.
And that’s when it hit me: Her worry was being caused by the fact that I now knew about Debbie’s slaying.
I closed my eyes tightly—not wanting to allow myself to look at the woman who had been haunting my thoughts for months. Looking at her only befuddled my thoughts further.
Looking at her had made me willing to stake a vampire during only my second time seeing her.
Looking at her had made me almost lose my fucking mind and go berserker in Dallas when I’d seen all of the cuts and scrapes on her skin following her turn as a spy in the Fellowship church.
Looking at her had made me cover her body with my own when silver projectiles were flying into Stan’s home.
Looking at her after she’d been staked in Club Dead had made me want to kill every fucking Fellowship member on the fucking planet.
Looking at her bloodied and bruised body in the trunk had made me want to tear Bill into pieces.
Looking at her made me want to protect her.
To hold her close to me.
To never let her go.
“How do porcupines mate?”
It was an old joke.
“Very carefully” was the answer.
“Or maybe not at all,” I whispered as I opened my eyes to focus once more on Sookie’s.
On January 5, 2005, I’d woken up in Sookie’s home—inside of a cramped, light-tight enclosure in a closet. It was now February 3—less than a month later. But I’d spent that month wondering what had happened between Sookie and me.
Wondering why her feelings for me had changed so much.
Wondering why I was so scared—and scarred—when it came to my own feelings for her.
Ironically—maybe tragically—less than a month before I had woken up in Sookie’s “cubby,” I’d resolved to give her time and space.
To separate myself from her.
Though I’d been very certain that I wanted her—even then.
No—I didn’t like having feelings, but I wasn’t idiotic enough to ignore them. In fact, I’d resolved to act upon them in the early morning of December 11, 2004.
However, Bubba’s interruption at Russell’s home—while my fingers had been buried in Sookie’s sweet pussy questing to find her sweet spot—had been both a good and a bad thing.
Bad for the obvious reason—I wanted her. Badly.
Good because I wanted to keep Sookie for longer than one night. Or two. Hell—I knew that hundreds of nights wouldn’t be enough. Maybe not even thousands of them. I’d been “living” for approximately 375,000 nights, and I was doubtful that even that number would be enough.
But I’d certainly intended to “test the mathematics” of the situation.
To test whether the undeniable chemistry that had existed between Sookie and me for months would translate into something binding.
Maybe even permanent.
But then—on December 12, 2004—I’d pulled the trunk of that damnable car from its hinges.
Only to find Bill—on her.
Just as I’d been too late to take the bullet which had caused her present injury—a shoulder wound—I’d been too late to protect her from Debbie Pelt pushing her into the trunk with Bill.
Pushing her into what amounted to a death trap with a starving vampire.
Seeing Sookie’s condition as I’d pulled Bill’s dick and fangs from her, three things had stopped me from killing him right then and there.
One—seeing the horror in his eyes. The immediate regret.
Two—knowing that Sookie would be angry at me if I killed him, only hours after she’d risked everything to save him.
Three—needing to get her into my arms. To get her to safety. To—somehow—help her to heal.
“So,” I heard Sookie say with a mixture of tentativeness and firmness, tearing me from my memories of her pain, “I did your favor. Now you do mine.”
I sighed aloud, a sound of weakness—according to vampires. But I couldn’t help myself.
Yes—the only reason why Sookie had finally told me about our time together had been because she wanted me to get Mickey away from her friend Tara Thornton.
And that thought crushed me in a way that I didn’t think I was capable of being crushed.
Sookie hadn’t told me because she wanted me to know.
She hadn’t told me because she recognized just how much not knowing had been tearing me apart inside.
She hadn’t even told me because it had been the “right” thing to do.
No. I’d had to coerce her into the telling of it.
And what a telling it had been!
16.75 seconds had been spent recalling the sex we’d had.
56.67 seconds had been spent recalling Debbie’s death.
56.64 seconds had been spent telling me about the Pelt family’s private detectives.
5.52 seconds—those were the only ones Sookie had spent on telling me anything about how we’d “felt” about each other.
Meagre description though it was.
I would never forget the words from those 5.52 seconds: “You offered to give up your position as sheriff and come to live with me. And get a job.” Those words had been delivered as if she were detached from them. They were about my profession and my residence—rather than about my reasoning for wanting to stay with her.
Clearly, she hated having “feelings” even more than I did. Specifically, it seemed as if she hated having feelings about me.
But she did have those feelings. Even before my amnesia, I’d known that she “liked” me—maybe even more than that. After she’d taken my blood in Dallas, I even knew that she trusted me and was attracted to me.
And after my amnesia? I’d felt four things from her: love, grief, suppression—and regret.
Meanwhile, I was just fucking confused! My own feelings for Sookie were so much deeper than before. Encompassing.
I loved her. Of that, I had no doubt.
But had she let herself love me back? Only to regret that love? Were her feelings of grief about me? Bill? Or was she still dealing with her rape? I couldn’t have blamed her if she was. After all, it had been fewer than two months since “the trunk incident” had happened.
Or maybe I had done something to cause her grief and regret? Had I pressured her? Did she regret letting me stay with her?
Were her feelings of love even for me? Did she still love Bill? Or the Were? Or the shifter?
I had been “lost” on January 1—only to be “found” again on January 5.
Four nights out of more than 375,000.
But—somehow—I knew those four were the most important. I’d waited for Sookie to help me to understand why.
But she didn’t—wouldn’t.
But now I did know several things with certainty.
Debbie Pelt and her fate were not the answer.
The status of my job was not the answer.
My address was not the answer.
Even the sex we obviously shared was not the answer.
But Sookie had given me an answer—alright!
It just wasn’t the one I wanted.
The fear and worry she’d felt when she told me of Debbie Pelt’s death had originated from her distrust—of me.
Did she really believe that I would use that information against her? Blackmail her? Extort her blood from her? Or sex?
Did she really think so little of me?
Did she really believe me to have no honor at all?
“Eric?” she voiced with a hint of frustration. “I told you what you wanted to know. Are you gonna help Tara or not?”
Ripped from my thoughts once again, I dispassionately took my phone from my pocket and dialed Salome’s number. In some ways, Salome was just as unpleasant as her child, for she had an attitude as if the world owed her something; I believed that modern folk called it a “sense of entitlement.” Of course, I happened to know that Salome had “taken” plenty from the world during the long years of her life.
Thus, I couldn’t imagine her being owed a damned thing!
“Eric the Viking,” she answered, her voice slithering with a mixture of promised pleasure and poison.
Let’s just say that I’d spent many years avoiding dipping my sword into her snake pit.
I wasn’t one to believe the conflated stories of history—especially where women were concerned. However, if Salome did once perform a private dance with seven veils, I was pretty sure that it was only because six veils wouldn’t have adequately concealed the dagger she intended for the back of her audience member.
Keeping my voice even, I let her in on my request.
“Salome, do you remember that time in Istanbul?” I asked.
“Finally calling in that favor?” she purred.
“Yes. Your child, Mickey, is an interloper in my area. And he has taken a human.”
“Ah—yes,” she said indifferently. “Franklin Mott owed him, and my Mickey told me that Mott’s companion was enticing.”
“The bartering of humans is no longer acceptable,” I said.
“You and I both know that some of the new mandates are relevant only as a prop for human authorities,” she returned.
“Mickey is mistreating the girl,” I added.
“Then she should work to be more compliant,” Salome responded.
“If that is your position, then let’s get down to my favor,” I said sternly.
“I’d like nothing more than to favor you,” she hummed.
I ignored the innuendo.
“I want you to call Mickey to you—tonight. I want you to order him to leave his human—to free her—without any further harm. Moreover, I want you to order him to give her ten thousand dollars so that she can replace any property he’s destroyed or recover from wages lost because he wouldn’t allow her to work.”
I listened to a growl on the other end of the line as I watched Sookie watching me.
I wanted to reach for her—to hold her.
But I didn’t move.
Instead, I waited for Salome to respond.
“I am not in the habit of limiting my child’s options,” she said after several moments of apparent seething—given the snorting sound I heard from the phone’s receiver.
“And I’m not in the habit of allowing incorrigible miscreants in Area 5!” I growled in return. “Do you know that he’s never checked in—though he’s been in my area for almost a month? For that alone, I could bind him in silver indefinitely. But I’m not going to do that unless my hand is forced. I simply want him out of my area—tonight. And I want the woman he’s claimed—illegally—to be left in peace. Tonight!” I added weightily.
“Who is the woman to you?” Salome asked, obviously trying to get the upper hand in the conversation.
“No one,” I was able to respond honestly, for Tara Thornton was no one to me. However, she was someone to Sookie.
“Then why can’t Mickey bring her with him when he leaves your area?”
“Because I’m not prepared to fill out the paperwork regarding a missing or murdered girl!” I said with deadly calm. “I have heard the rumors about Mickey and his human companions. I’m well aware that whenever he moves into a new area, he takes a new companion for a month or two and then moves on somewhere else.”
“Then you should be unconcerned,” Salome challenged. “Mickey will—as you said—soon move on from your area.”
I growled again, this time eliciting a gasp from Sookie because of the feral nature of the sound.
However, I could no longer allow Sookie’s reactions to matter to me.
“Aye—I know that your spawn would move on, Salome. But he would kill the girl first, likely draining her and leaving her somewhere that would require me to do an inordinate amount of damage control. And I am not going to do that. Actually,” I snarled, “never mind! Your child isn’t worth the favor you owe me!”
Sookie’s eyes widened. And I could see her mistrust for me rocketing into her eyes, unstopped or unquestioned by anything we had been through together in the past—either before or after my amnesia.
If I’d had breath, that mistrust would have robbed me of it. As it was, it robbed me of something else: hope. Sookie truly felt that I was betraying my word to her in that moment.
She had no faith in me.
I turned my head to look out of the medium-sized window in the living room. “Salome, you will call your child to you tonight—as I said before. You will require that he leave the girl unharmed and richer—as I said before. And, in addition, you will make sure that he never steps foot into Area 5 again. He might be strong for his age, but he is a loose cannon. And—let’s face it—most people don’t touch him because they fear you. However, I don’t have that particular phobia.” I paused to let my words sink in for her. “Consider this a courtesy call from one ancient to another. If Mickey is in Area 5 tomorrow night, I will take his fucking head! And—if he harms the girl—I will take his balls, wait for them to grow back, take them again, and then take his head!” The volume of my voice rose. “And if you don’t like it, you can take your chances against me as well, Salome!”
The line was silent for a moment—absolutely silent since vampires didn’t need to breathe. I waited for Salome to back down, even as I felt Sookie’s glare from behind me.
At least with Salome, I had a good idea of what would happen. She was known for manipulation and scheming, not for being a warrior. In fact, though older than I, she enjoyed very little authentic loyalty from those around her, beyond that which she had to command from her child. Meanwhile, I had dozens of loyal vampires at my disposal. Thus, I honestly wasn’t worried that she could harm me or mine.
Moreover, I had shown a willingness to help Salome in the past—when that help benefitted me as well; I’d even saved her life before. And—given the enemies she would likely make in the future—she knew that it would be unwise to make one of me: a potential ally.
On the other hand, Mickey was a thorn in her side—forever causing trouble. She’d tried keeping him with her, but she’d grown just as tired of his being near as everyone else did. It was true that she didn’t want to kill him herself, but I got the distinct feeling that she wouldn’t mind if he had an “accident.”
Finally, Salome spoke.
“Come, Eric, let us talk this through. Neither one of us wants violence for such an easily resolved matter,” she said soothingly, clearly understanding that to play on would be to overplay her hand.
“No talk,” I said gruffly before hanging up the phone.
When I looked back at Sookie, it seemed as if a hornet’s nest had been released in her eyes.
“What the fuck, Eric!” she demanded. “Now—because you’ve alienated Mickey’s maker, Tara will likely be in even more danger! That bastard has already beaten her—more than once! He’s isolated her from her friends! And I’d bet that the sex acts they do together would be classified as rape by any human with a conscience!”
I stood up and used my vampire speed to take me as far away from Sookie as I could get in the room.
“That’s it—isn’t it?” I asked, my voice sounding foreign—almost agonized—to my ears. “At long last—that’s the answer to the riddle.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” she demanded as she stood and placed one hand on her hip. Her injured arm stayed limp in its sling.
“You and me,” I said, feeling defeat carry itself through my body on the backs of the blood cells that were Sookie’s. “The reason you feel both love and regret when I am near you. You loved me only when I seemed human to you. And now you regret everything that passed between us,” I added with defeat.
“Oh—so this is suddenly about us?” she demanded—and deflected. “You made a promise related to Tara! But I’m not surprised you didn’t follow through. I should never have trusted you to keep her safe. Or me safe!” she accused, raising her injured arm to show me her evidence.
I wanted to let my fangs down. I wanted to bite her. To hurt her. To kill her and, thereby, to kill the source of the worst pain I’d ever felt.
But—above all else—I was practical. I always had been.
Even from my earliest days, I could look at a situation and figure out the pros and cons. Though—as a human—I’d not had what today’s world would call a formal education, I was always good at solving problems.
It’s why I’d been a successful captain at 13 years of age.
It’s how I’d figured out a way to survive Appius’s reign over me.
It’s how I’d made fortune after fortune.
It’s how I’d successfully run business after business.
It’s how I knew that harming Sookie would ruin any equation I made for my life from that moment on.
And it’s how I also knew that there was no math that could win her.
As long as she didn’t want me.
As long as she thought the worst of me.
And those things seemed likely to never change.
I spoke in a low, even tone. “Your friend, Tara, will be fine. Even now, I am certain that Salome is ordering Mickey to do as I said. She is too savvy to cross me. And she would have known that I had a stronger vested interest in Mickey’s actions—which might have led her to you—if I would have forgiven her debt for the life of one human female.”
Sookie scoffed. “Because human life means so fucking little to you?”
Once again, I turned away from her and looked out the window. I could still see her reflection there, her accusatory eyes indicting me for sins I couldn’t even fathom. “You think so ill of me.” I paused. “I have tried to give you cause to think better. I do care for you, Sookie,” I tried.
It would be my last attempt to try with her.
However, as I turned to face her again, I didn’t allow myself to hope.
At least, not much.
Many thanks to Lajayden1973 for the inspiration. Given that Eric needed to be at the point of leaving Sookie, given the prompt I was working with, I needed to make her extremely “frustrating.” And it was when Sookie didn’t tell Eric about their relationship following her amnesia that I really started wanting to slap her on occasion, so that’s how I chose my starting point. I have played up Sookie’s “slap-worthiness” in this story—at least for a while.
One final note: This story IS ultimately an E/S story. And I’m hoping that—in the end—you won’t feel like slapping either of them.
P.S. As always, thanks to Kleannhouse for lending me your eyes. And thanks to Sephrenia for the cool new banner. I love it! By the way, I gave Seph the same “challenge/prompt” that was given to me! The only thing I told her that was “extra” was that I wasn’t using Nora or Yvetta b/c I wanted to have the “other” woman be someone we didn’t already have feelings about (either negative or positive). I let her know that I was visualizing Kerri Russell (whom I love in The Americans, by the way) as my “other” woman. But she was “flying blind” other than that! And I love what she did!