Chapter 18: Raw

ERIC POV

Appius was chasing me—for fun. He often liked to toy with me during my earliest decades with him.

“If you can elude me for an hour, I will set you free,” he said.

“I won’t even use the bond,” he promised.

I flew as fast as I could. Hid as well as I could. But he always found me in the final minute. And then he would hurt me.

Pain.

Pain so intense that it reminded me of my maker—made me remember him even though I was barely conscious.

Even though I knew that Appius wasn’t really there.

Was he?

Had he not eventually tired of me and sent me from his side?

With the pain I felt, I couldn’t tell.

From my maker, I’d learned that there were three kinds of pain. One kind cut the flesh. One kind cut the will. And one kind cut the heart.

In the end, Appius had owned two of these parts. He’d owned my body; there was nothing I could do to stop him from taking it at will. And he’d also owned my will, for he could order me to do anything his sadistic mind desired.

Eventually, I’d learned to do as he wanted—to be as he wanted—before he even had to ask.

I learned to take pleasure in being fucked because Appius wanted me to.

I learned to take pleasure in inflicting pain onto others because Appius wanted me to.

And I learned to take pleasure in my captivity because it was the only way he would ever let me go.

And—eventually—he did let me go.

After declaring that he had no more to teach me.

Yes—he’d taken my body and my will, but he’d never found my heart.

I’d hidden it so far away that I’d begun to wonder if I’d lost it when I was transformed from human to vampire.

After all, my heart was dead. Un-beating. Useless. Rotted.

Cold—like me.

But my heart felt warm as a warm hand firmly held above my cold knee. Everything else hurt, but that hand felt so good that it seemed to drive the pain away—though it brought a different kind of ache with it.

An ache of the heart.


OCTOBER 9, 2005—ONE WEEK LATER

SOOKIE POV

“He could reject you.”

Pam’s words echoed in my mind. Of course, they were in stereo. Sophie had said that same thing. And Dr. Ludwig.

And my own mind.

Still—I was trying to be positive. I was trying to remember the other things Pam had said to me too—as well as the sense she’d tried to slap into me. She’d been right about a lot of things. I had always tried to hide what I could do. Even with Gran, I didn’t want to speak about my telepathy—not that she’d ever encouraged me to do so. I suppose I took that to mean that she didn’t like that part of me any more than my mother or father had, and I didn’t want Gran to start to resent me—as they had.

So I’d tried to hide it.

Even when Uncle Bartlett began to think horrible things about me, it had taken me a long time to tell Gran what I’d “heard.”

I shook my head to shake my memory of that monster away. I took several breaths and let the feeling of Eric’s cool skin comfort me.

As for the positive things Pam had said about me? Well—I was trying to believe them. But—regardless—I’d decided to strive for them.

“Hi,” Olivia said tentatively as she walked into the room. When I’d learned that the doctor and Pam were limiting Olivia’s time with Eric—I’d been pissed off at them both. Yes—I’d decided to tell Eric how I felt, but I didn’t want them to stack the deck in my favor!

I’d insisted that she be allowed to come whenever she wanted—even if that took away from my time with him.

“Hi,” I said as I stood up. My leg was a lot better, and I could manage without the crutch now. Plus, Dr. Ludwig no longer thought the portable baby monitor was needed. “I’ll just give you some privacy.”

“Stay for a minute?” Olivia asked.

I nodded and retook my seat somewhat tentatively. “Sure.”

After she took the seat on the opposite side of Eric, the atmosphere in the room quickly turned awkward.

“You’re in love with Eric—aren’t you?” she asked.

“Yes,” I admitted.

“You are the reason he held back with me,” she said with a sigh.

“I hurt him,” I shared. “He tried to love me, but I rejected him. And—by the time I realized I’d made a mistake . . . .”

“He was with me,” she finished.

“Yes,” I confirmed. “And I honestly thought he was better off with you, too.”

Olivia contemplated for a moment. “What do you think now?” she asked.

“I still think you are the better person,” I said honestly. “But I want him, so—when he’s better—I’m gonna tell him how I feel and beg for another chance to make him happy.”

“I should instigate a cat fight for those words,” Olivia said—though I could tell she wasn’t serious.

“Pam would be pissed if we did it without her here,” I chuckled.

Olivia lightly touched Eric’s newly pink cheek. The bandages had come off of it only the day before. “He still loves you—you know?”

“Sometimes love isn’t enough,” I sighed, shaking my head.

“You’re right,” she said knowingly.

“I’m sorry,” I told her. “I’m sorry I’m messing up your life.”

She chuckled. “Sookie, you saved my life. And Rhodes changed a lot of things.”

“I know,” I whispered.

“Life is too short to spend with a man who cannot love me—even though I love him,” she sighed. “I want a partner in my life—not a,” she paused, “perpetual boyfriend.” She smiled at me and we both chuckled at that label for Eric.

“I want someone who loves me more than anything or anyone else. I want someone I can raise children with,” she said, smiling at my belly. “And—vampire or not—I’d hoped that Eric would be that someone. I still hope that. But—once he recovers from his injuries—I’m going to insist that he take a long look at himself and decide if he can be the man to give me what I want—if he wants to be that man. And if he can’t,” she paused, “then I’m going to walk away.”

I didn’t know what to say.

“I love him enough to want him to be happy, and—just as importantly—I love myself enough to want to be happy too,” she said. “In fact, if he can’t give me what I want, I hope he ends up with you.”

“I admire you,” I observed.

“And I admire you too,” she smiled. “He’d be lucky to have either one of us.”

“Very lucky,” I said, actually believing what I was saying.

Probably for the first time.

Yes—Olivia was a good woman.

But I still wanted my vampire back.


ERIC POV

I felt the groan that escaped my mouth throughout my whole body—the vibration of it causing me further pain.

“Eric,” a voice said.

It was feminine and familiar, but I felt as if I were hearing it from underwater. Was it Pam? The queen? Olivia?

Would it be impossible to hope that it was Sookie?

The mystery didn’t seem solvable in that moment, and I forced myself to ignore my pain as I turned my mind toward assessing my condition. Clearly I’d been burned—badly—in the sun.

Likely, my hearing was off because the hair in my ears—or maybe my ears themselves—had been burned. Growing back or healing complex systems always took longer, and the ears were quite complex.

I couldn’t open my eyes. Had my eyelids been burned? I knew that—if they had been—the healing of them would force my eyes closed for several days as the nerves repaired themselves. I tried to inhale, but again I was stifled. In fact, all my senses seemed completely useless.

Except for touch. Something was touching my leg—still right above my right knee.

A hand.

It felt—good.

If felt right.


OCTOBER 16, 2005—ONE WEEK LATER

SOOKIE POV

As odd as it might have been, Olivia and I had become friends. We often laughed together or talked for long hours as we sat vigil over Eric, who’d still not woken up. Dr. Ludwig assured us that he was progressing “normally” and that his body was accepting the blood she was giving it and healing itself as it could. According to her, the burns and the missing “bits” were “competing” for the blood, even as the magic which had barely been enough to keep him alive was trying to recoup. It was the replenishment of that magic which was causing Eric to stay in his coma-like state.

Of course, there had been more positive signs. At night, he would groan if he tried to move. And he’d actually uttered a few words—though none that I could understand. However, his eyes hadn’t opened.

I suppose that Olivia and I had bonded over the fact that we both loved the Viking. And I’d learned that she was an even more amazing person than I’d thought she was. In fact, I would have been truly intimidated if she hadn’t been so likeable!

Oddly enough, I found myself more jealous of the belief she had in herself than even her relationship with Eric.

Olivia knew exactly what she wanted. And she wasn’t the kind of woman who would settle for anything less than that. Being around her made me realize just how much I’d “settled” during my life. But I was determined not to do so anymore. Even if Eric rejected me, I was done settling—in any part of my life.

According to Pam, rumors had circulated around the Supe community that I’d been the one to notify the Pyramid of Gizeh manager that a bombing was imminent. And—honestly—it made me feel good to know that my actions had helped to save hundreds of lives. Sadly, hundreds of others had died, but I knew I’d done my best. The story of my going after Eric had also been widely told—thanks to Matthew, who seemed to be the origin of all the information about me. Part of me was pissed off that he’d talked about me at all, but a larger part of me was grateful that he had survived.

Predictably, when Sam had heard about my latest near-death experience, he had called me on my brand new iPhone (which Sophie had insisted upon and which had my same number as before). Sam had wasted no time in lecturing me about the dangers of vampires. And then he’d followed that up by implying that I’d been a bad mother by risking my child’s life to try to save Eric. He’d finished up by suggesting that the happenings in Rhodes clearly proved that I should settle down with him so that he could keep me from getting myself killed.

My first inclination had been to hang up on him.

However, I supposed that much of Sam’s lecture had come from a place of concern. And I listened to every word of it, happy that it was over the phone so that Sam couldn’t witness my tears as he laid into me. I suppose that I also felt guilty. After all, I had risked my daughter’s life by going after Eric. But I knew that I could have made no other decision—not if I was to retain my soul.

In the end, I once again thanked Sam for having given me my job, and I reiterated that I had quit and I was staying that way!

Given Amelia’s experience as a property manager, I asked her to manage mine, too. I was done with Bon Temps—finally done. I’d called my brother to make one last try of a relationship, and he’d just echoed what Sam had said before telling me that “everyone” would have been better off if I’d never been born.

Well. Fuck. Them!

The only person in town that I was determined to maintain a relationship with was Tara; however, I knew that friendship would likely consist of only a few exchanged cards each year and maybe getting together in Shreveport once in a while. That fact made me sad, but I couldn’t stay in my hometown just for the single friend I still had there—not when most of the thoughts directed at me were hate-filled.

Indeed, Olivia had been right. Rhodes had changed everything.

It had made me braver. It had taught me that I needed to fight for the life I wanted.

Though I was still stuck at Ludwig’s hospital, I was determined that I was going to make a brand new life for my child and myself once I was out. I now hoped that life would include Eric, but I was prepared if it didn’t.

I sighed as I took Eric’s newly healed right hand. His left arm had begun re-growing but it would be a while before his hand came back in.

“You were right,” I whispered to him. “I gave everyone else in my life so many chances—and then second chances and then third chances—just hoping they would love me. I’m sorry I couldn’t do the same for you. But I was so scared—scared of what would become of me if you couldn’t love me. I wasn’t even brave enough to really give you any chances. But I am now—if you’ll let me.”

I rested my other hand on my child. “Maybe things happen for a reason. Maybe I needed to get my ass kicked so that I could teach her how to be the one who kicked ass.” I shrugged. “Maybe I needed to lose you so that I would understand how blessed I was to have you. Who knows,” I said.

“But here is one thing I do know: Bill’s blood is gone,” I whispered, lying my head as near to his body as I could without touching him.

According to Dr. Ludwig, there were still certain places on him which were still “raw.”

In fact, I’d just gotten the okay to hold his hand only that morning.

“Bill died when the pyramid collapsed,” I whispered. “I suppose that’s a blessing—really. I’d been prepared to break the blood bond with him as soon as my pregnancy was over,” I shared, even though I was certain Eric couldn’t hear me since it was daytime. “Anyway, I’m pretty sure that Sophie meant to ensure that Bill died one way or another, despite my ‘human ethics.’ Between you and me, I think that Sophie has a lot more human ethics than she says she does!”

Her treatment of me was evidence of that.

One hand over my daughter’s insistent kicks and one holding Eric’s hand, I rested. When she visited, Amelia thought I must be terribly uncomfortable, sitting up as I lay my head onto Eric’s bed, but—truth be told—my little girl had been giving me heartburn from hell, so the position was nice. And—away from Eric—I simply couldn’t make myself sleep.

No matter what I did.


ERIC POV

The soothing hand was on my own now—or at least on the hand I had left. I could feel the skin on my left forearm knitting itself together. I could feel bone trying to grow. These things—and the pain that went along with them—told me that I’d lost my left hand and my arm up to almost the elbow.

Had it burned off? Had it been cut off?

I tried to remember.

Rhodes. I could recall being there.

Russell and Barty’s wedding.

My decision later that night to tell Olivia—for her own good—that we needed to end our personal relationship as soon as we returned to Shreveport.

Sookie.

Bombs.

“You were right,” I whispered.

“Eric!” an excited voice said.

I still couldn’t tell who was talking though.

But I did know that Sookie was right. Everyone in her life had been right. Being around vampires only endangered her. It made her vulnerable to attack.

“Why did you come?” I asked angrily.

“Eric?” the voice asked.

“You stupid woman!” I mumbled as I relived the moment when I woke up, only to find Sookie risking herself and her child for me. A part of me had celebrated. She’d come for me. She cared for me!

But at what cost? I’d barely been able to get her and her daughter to safety.

But were they still safe?

“Fucking idiot,” I mumbled.

In my mind, I heard and felt the bomb blasts.

I’d wanted to say so many things to Sookie in that moment.

I love you!

Thank you for coming for me—and not Bill or Quinn.

I shook my head. She was in danger because of me! She and her daughter were going to die—because of me!

“Stay away from me, Sookie!” I yelled out, the pain of the movement against my burned lips causing me to cry out in pain.

I heard crying.

Was I the one weeping?

“Get away, Sookie,” I whimpered, not able to yell again.

I wanted her so badly to get to safety. I shook my head and felt my whole body convulse. It wasn’t safe—not with me.

“Get away, Sookie,” I muttered again before all conscious thought drifted away.


A/N: This was a difficult chapter to write. Given Eric’s words, how do you think Sookie will react? That was a big question for me as I was writing this story. You’ll find out next time.

A lot of you thought that Pam shouldn’t have slapped Sookie. But—it was one week after Sookie’s concussion, and Pam held back a lot. I thought about taking out the slap(s)—just so you know. But then I rethought it. I actually liked the idea that some readers would feel like it was too much here—even though lots of people wanted to slap Sookie themselves after reading the first two chapters. So—if you have gone from wanting to slap her to wanting to protect her from even Pam’s “medicinal slap”—then I have accomplished what I wanted with Sookie in this fic.

Thanks so much for reading!

Kat


Many thanks to Sephrenia and Kleannhouse!!!


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32 thoughts on “Chapter 18: Raw

  1. Wow, wow and wow…
    I hope that Sookie will be strong and ask Eric what those words really meant!
    No more running away Sookie. ..
    Anxiously waiting for the next installment
    Jackie69

  2. Noooo that last part of the chapter. Oh my ghosh! Please don’t run Sookie! He was just coming out and wants you. Poor Sookie. This chapter was great! Interesting that Sookie and Olivia became friends. Even more interesting that Eric was going to end thing. I will so be waiting …I’m nervous!

    1. Oops. Just to clarify. Eric made the decision to break up with her once they were back in Shreveport. Olivia and he haven’t talked about it yet. He’s just made his decision. Sorry for the lack of clarity on that point, but I wanted to clear it up.

  3. Oh my, poor Sookie. Even if she realises that Eric is not quite all there at the moment, hearing all of that is still going to hurt. I wouldn’t be surprised if everything she’s gone through in the last few days/weeks doesn’t cause her to go into premature labour. I forget how far along she is.

    I’m kinda in two minds about what I think/want her to do. On one hand, I want Sookie to stay strong and not let Eric’s words chase her away. She’s come so far to walk away now. Especially considering that she’s finally decided to walk away from Bon Temps and all the bigots who live there. I really want to hit Jason and Sam.

    On the other hand, I want Sookie to take a step back, go back to her own room, and let Eric come to her. She’s fought for him, literally. He only survived because of her, so it’s time he did a little bit of fighting.

    Damn, this story twists me up. I can’t believe it’s almost over.

  4. Olivia is looking at Sookie with everything she wants. A child and Eric. How do cope with that? She is a strong women. I would be so jealous ! How could you not be? Olivia is still giving Eric blood. I hope Pam is also.
    Now Eric is having really bad dreams. Now he’s starting to remember and yelling out for Sookie to get out! Oh, I just don’t know what to make of that. Sookie is thinking the worse for sure. She better not give up yet.
    I can’t believe this story is almost over!

  5. Oh no! I bet that Sookie heard him say that and thought he meant her in his room to get away from him. Not her in his dream of reliving the explosions. Poor Sookie. Well at least Eric remembers he was planning to break up with Olivia! At least that is something! I like that Olivia and Sookie are getting along and that Olivia will not settle for second best! Loving it!

  6. Sookie deserved each one of those slaps IMNSHO. If she didn’t she wouldn’t be Sookie. She’s deserved a lot more than that through the course of 13 books.
    I’m hoping Sookie takes Eric’s words in the spirit which they were given…a coma state. A state where he’s reliving some horrible moments. I hope she understands that he IS reliving those moments and telling her to get to safety, to forget about him and live for her daughter. I’m hoping her newfound bravery will hold out and she will at least wait until he fully wakens to go haring off to lick her wounds. I’m hoping even more fervently that she doesn’t run off once he’s up and actually talks to him about what he said–in other words that she goes so far OFF canon that we won’t recognize her.
    This Sookie has me of two minds. I DO like this newest incarnation of her. For the most part. Her second guessing everything about herself drives me up a wall and it doesn’t matter who’s writing her that way. I do like that she’s found some sort of inner metal and is trying her hardest to hold out and let Eric make up his own mind about whether he wants to risk himself once again.
    I’m also happy that she and Olivia are becoming friends. Perhaps a human friend who isn’t afraid of her and what she can do will be just what the doctor ordered to set Sookie’s priorities straight, aside from her maternal instincts for her daughter.
    Off to get laundry from the dryer *sigh*. The never ending battle continues.

  7. Seriously, my heart is beating so fast, reading this story. Crazy, how much this story has me on the edge of my seat. Man, o man, poor Sookie. She is so going to think , he doesn’t want her, and is indeed rejecting her , no doubt. I wonder if she’ll still stand by until she can be sure , or just think that’s the end of them. I knew, it wasn’t going to be easy with them the road to true love never is. Yes, I do believe that Eric and Sookie equal true love. Even , if I lose faith in one of them . You, know I agree about Olivia indeed being a good person , but the difference is that Sookie is a great person. I also don’t want her to be hurt, and am glad she is ready to walk away. Especially, since I don’t believe glamour to be an option since her and Eric had such a public realtionship. O and Kat if Sookie does leave believing he’s rejecting her and Eric let’s her stay in that belief. Well, I truly expect Pam to full slap the shit out of Eric, for his wake up call. Lol …I’m just saying. Thank you, again Kat.

  8. *sigh* I will go with the assumption that Sookie will misunderstand the mumbled words – but I hope (with 2 chapters left) that the crying is Olivia (cos Sookie has gone to the loo!!!) and Sookie knows nothing of his mumbling!!

  9. Glad to hear that Eric was planning on breaking things with Olivia. I kept thinking that Sookie is the one who is crying but what if it was Olivia and she hears Eric telling her to get away while calling for Sookie? I can’t wait for more!

  10. Glad Sookie has decided whatever happens she is cutting out the poisonous judgemental assholes of Bons Temps from her life. Sad that she couldn’t repair relationship with her brother though.
    Glad Olivia and Sookie were honest with each other in this chapter.
    I love that Eric felt reassurance with Sookies’ hand on his unburnt flesh.
    I’m hoping his outburst was just him reliving a nightmare from his past and that Sookie v continues to fight for him.

  11. Eep! Oh no! Poor Sookie. I hope she doesn’t take those words at face value thinking they’re directed at current her. I hanging in the edge of my seat here.

    I’m thrilled that she has wisened up and is leaving Bon Temps behind. That town is just poisonous. And Sam. Ugh. What an asshole. She needs to stop giving him the time of day, much less listening to him.

  12. Sookie is so much stronger now and I think confident. Of course those words are going to hurt her initially but I don’t think they are going to scare her off for good. I just hope Olivia wasn’t in the room to hear them, it might give her false hope. Sookie’s not going to run away like she would have before. She’s going to stay and fight for her Viking and she’s going to win!! Only two more chapters!😩 How about a bonus chapter today? Ending this story on a Sunday sounds like a great idea😃😃

  13. Another great chapter, thank you! … I really really like this story, I’m hooked actually and checking my inbox all the time waiting for an update! I’m hoping Sookie will not misunderstand his mumbling because Eric says ‘get away’ but not ‘go away’ – I’m hoping she will realise that he is dreaming by your choice of words. But English is not my native language so I could be completely wrong … Anxiously waiting for next update! 🙂

  14. Wow, what a place to end the chapter – Poor Sookie – hope she has the strength to stay and still tell him how she feels. Don’t run Sookie!! Thanks giving us something nice to read on this day.

  15. That was some chapter…I imagine that was difficult to write, even knowing the direction you were going. Sookie may be able to tell the difference just by Eric’s words and the way in which he’s saying them, enough to make her realize that he’s reliving his near-death experience while he’s regaining consciousness. Perhaps her initial reaction will be incredible hurt, but I don’t imagine her leaving his side. I can envision her hearing those words, reacting, and then realizing what’s happening. Her tears are that of joy rather than pain because he’s coming back to her, to all of them, really. Now she’ll have her chance. I really admire Olivia. To let go of someone you love so deeply takes an enormous amount of love and strength. I enjoyed the way you wrote Sookie & Olivia becoming such good friends because they had so much to learn from one another. Now, did I read somewhere else in the comments about an extra chapter today and ending the story on a Sunday? Sounds like a great plan! I’ll beg!! Great chapter, ladies! 🙂

  16. Awesome chapter. Sookie leaving BT is a really good choice. A new life with her girl and her Viking is around the corner. I’m soooooo ready for the reunion.

  17. I too am torn about what I think Sookie should do. On one hand I want her to stay with Eric and chalk these statements up to his extreme pain. On the other hand, I don’t want to see all this new found self confidence go down the tubes, if Eric continues to send her away. Sookie doesn’t have the glimpses into Eric’s thoughts that we do. What Sookie heard was: “Why did you come?”; “Stupid Woman”; “Fucking idiot” and “Get away from me Sookie”. In the last few months Eric has not only ignored / avoided Sookie, but now is yelling at her to leave him alone. On face value, that would indicate to me that he doesn’t want her near him. If she really is set on not settling in her life, based on what is before her, it’s time to go. Since Amelia is able to manage Sookie’s property, maybe it’s time to head for NOLA.

  18. NOOOOOOO!!!! Oh that poor girl!! Of course she’s gonna think that he said that meaning in their present time. I am very happy though that she’s moving on from Bon Temps and everyone in that town.

  19. I think the slaps were necessary. She may have gotten smarter but she is still self hating, or was, the talk/slaps with Pam forced her to listen to Pam and think about her own self. As much as Erics words here will hurt her I wonder if leaving and living in NOLA by herself for a while won’t be the best thing for her. That can give Pam some time to perform her medicinal slaps on Eric.

  20. Not sure how Sookie will react. Was it even her in the room? Could it have been Pam? Could that be what inspires some “slaps” from Pam! I hope someone makes Eric aware of all the time Sookie spent with him and that it was her hand on his leg.
    I hope, if it was Sookie listening, that she sticks it out and waits for him to be conscious again. It was still a sad chapter.
    Hoping you’ll be generous and give us another chapter to finish off Sunday 😉🙏🏻🙏🏻

  21. I’m glad Sookie and Olivia got to talk on a friendly level. Those taught Sookie about some choices that she needs/needed to make. Eric speaking was a godsend to Sookie until she actually listened to what he was saying. She had no idea Eric was still in the pyramid, well his mind was. Sookie thinks Eric was berating her and sending her away, but Eric wasn’t. Onto next chapter😉

  22. poor Sookie and Eric and Olivia , there will only be 2 winners and 1 loser after he is healed. but his words at the end even though he was delusional talking is still going to hurt her to the core. KY

  23. That was heartbreaking, but brilliant! It wouldn’t work for me if he’d woke up and they immediately had a HAE, they have too many issues to resolve and I believe Eric would feel he owed Olivia more respect than that. I’m finding it hard to put words together at the moment but this is top rate, even by your standards. You’ve had to put a lot of thought into how Sookie’s life would have been effected when Eric wasn’t there to keep picking up the pieces.

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