A/N: This chapter title comes from a song called “I See You” by Mika.
As soon as she was finished with her salad, Sookie began to bubble with excitement.
“What do you have up your sleeve?” Eric asked perceptively.
“Oh, just another little surprise for you,” Sookie said innocently.
“If this surprise has something to do with the smell of peaches I have enjoyed since my waking, I am anxious to see what it is.”
Sookie looked at Eric in mock frustration, “I won’t ever be able to surprise you, will I?”
Eric laughed. “You surprise me all the time, lover, but when it comes to this,” he pointed to his nose, “surprises will be difficult. I smelled the scent of peaches on your fingers in the cubby.”
Sookie pouted as she went to the kitchen to cut herself a piece of pie. Eric was by her side in a moment. He looked down at her sincerely, “I am sorry that your surprise was lost, min kära. But please do not stop your gifts. They make me feel very,” he paused, “happy.”
Sookie’s pout was gone and she smiled up at him. They returned to the table, and he breathed in the sight and scent of her eating her pie.
Sookie had a hard time stifling her smile as she saw the pleasure on Eric’s face. She’d long since given up on the possibility that she would be able to cook a meal for a man that she loved, but here she was―she’d done just that! Although Eric couldn’t enjoy the food the same way she could, from the look on his face, she knew that his enjoyment was no less profound.
“Thank you,” Eric said as Sookie finished her last bite.
As Sookie was about to say ‘you’re welcome,’ she saw that Eric’s eyes were swimming with a mixture of emotions that were hard to isolate or define. “What’s wrong?” she asked.
Eric shook his head. “I do not know why you do all these things for me, min kära,” he said quietly. “I do not know why you absorb the sun for me, why you bring peaches into your home and prepare them for me, why you are considering sharing your life with me.”
“Because I love you,” Sookie said sincerely.
“I can see that you do. I can feel that you do,” Eric said. “But I do not know why, Sookie. All your questions last night made me wish to ask this one of you. Before we commit to each other, I want to know. I need to know why you love me. I admit to feeling,” he paused, “unworthy of your love at times.”
Sookie looked at the vampire before her with an expression of disbelief. “Unworthy of me?” she asked, her voice full of shock and, perhaps, a tinge of anger. “Eric,” she continued, “I am a barmaid from Bon Temps! I have no education beyond high school and no money to speak of, except for what I’ve made working for you or Pam. And, by the way, I know you made Pam pay me too much! Really―if anyone is unworthy in this equation, it’s me.”
Eric interrupted, “But Sookie, you are good. That light in you really is the most lovely thing that I have ever seen, and it has nothing to do with your fairy nature. I, on the other hand, have done many evil things in my long life.”
“Now wait just a minute, mister,” Sookie said, the anger now clear in her voice. “You told me you were never one for random violence, right?”
Eric nodded. “That is true, but I have still killed many, hurt many.”
“Yeah, and you know I don’t like that, but you don’t just go ‘round killin’ Sunday school teachers, do you?”
He answered soberly, “Only if they are also drainers or are threatening my kind, which has happened before, I’m afraid.”
“Oh―you know what I mean!” Sookie said with exasperation. “You may have done evil things, but I know you are not evil. Otherwise, do you think that I would be here with you now? I already told you―and I don’t ever wanna have to say it again, okay? I have always―always―known that you are more than your worst self! So don’t say things like you don’t deserve me or that you aren’t worthy. That’s my man that you’re talkin’ about when you say things like that, buster!”
Eric laughed and put up his hands in surrender. “Fine, min kära. No more talking like that. But I do still wish to know. I need to know.
“Well―just look at you!” Sookie blurted out. “You’re beautiful!”
“Ah,” Eric nodded, somehow managing to look equal parts arrogant and disappointed. “So it is for my body that you love me,” he stated.
“No!” Sookie cried. “I mean, yes―you are beautiful, and hot, and sexy as hell.”
The smile on Eric’s face was widening with each word Sookie spoke.
She blushed, “And I love making love with you, but none of that is the reason I love you.”
Sookie paused for a minute, looking down at her hands. Slowly, Eric’s smile disappeared. “Can you not find a reason?” he asked, dejected.
Sookie looked up and took in Eric’s expression. “Of course, I can think of a reason, you idiot!” she exclaimed. “The problem is that I can think of about a million reasons. I just don’t know where to start!”
Eric’s smile began to return. “Start with one,” he said, mischief making its way to his eyes.
Sookie grinned at him. She couldn’t help it. At that moment, he looked so playful and innocent with his bangs flopping around his forehead.
“Fine,” she said in mock exasperation. “For one thing, you get me.”
“Get you?” Eric asked, not quite understanding the idiom.
“It means that you understand me. You seem to know what I need before even I do sometimes.”
Eric smiled wider, “I do try to anticipate your needs, min kära.”
“It’s not just that; it’s like you know me―know me better than anyone else has or ever could. You know when to be quiet and when I need a minute to think. No one’s ever really gotten me like that before.”
Eric nodded. “Yes, this is quite nice. You ‘get me’ as well.”
Sookie laughed. The slang didn’t quite seem to work coming from Eric. “And that’s another thing. You make me laugh. And you laugh at the things I say that I think are funny, even when no one else would.”
“We do seem to see humor in many of the same things,” Eric observed.
“Exactly!” Sookie said. “We keep each other entertained. We can have fun with each other, just hangin’ out. And then there’s the fact that you respect me. You have never made me feel less smart or less valuable than you, despite the fact that you have one thousand years of knowledge on me. You didn’t bat an eyelash, nor did you seem surprised at all that I’d know about Beowulf or ‘The Seafarer.’ No―you treated me like an equal that you wanted to talk to about those things. And you shared your own knowledge with me. You never try to dumb things down like Bill did and like most of the people in my life have done.”
“You are not dumb!” Eric said fiercely. “You are one of the cleverest people I have ever met.”
See!” Sookie said victoriously. “That―what you just did! That’s another reason I love you.”
She continued, her tone getting more serious. “You also make me feel safe, not just from physical threats like the fairies or other vampires either. You make my heart feel safe. I know you will always look after it―that you truly value it.” Sookie’s voice softened. “You bought this house because you had faith that I’d be back. You had faith just like my Gran always did for my Grandpa Earl comin’ back. Your hand is in every detail in this place now. After the Maenad, I was afraid that I’d lost so much, but you repaired everything. After Bill’s deception, I was afraid that I would never be able to trust again, but you repaired that too.”
She went on, hardly taking a breath. “You may not think that I see you for who you are, but I do. And I love everything that I see. I love that you will do anything to make us safe. I love that the biggest thing on your bucket list before you faced Russell was kissin’ me. I love that you believe in me. I love that you spent months fixin’ all the hand-made furniture that you somehow knew that I’d value more than anything else in this house. I love that you took daisies to my Gran when I couldn’t. I love that you are honest with me even when it’s not easy for you. I love that you are a thousand years old and willing to change and grow―just because you love me. I love that I feel that I can be exactly who I am with you―warts and all.”
Tears now tumbling down her cheeks, she added, “And most of all, I love how you make me feel like I can be the very best version of myself if I’m with you. You make me want to be that Sookie.”
Eric was at her side kneeling by her seat in a flash. He gently used his napkin to wipe away her tears. He looked deeply into her eyes, his own love shining through. “Your love is a miracle to me, Sookie Stackhouse,” he said simply.
“Eric,” Sookie said, her voice low and trembling. “Please―kiss me.”
Just as he leaned in, his phone rang. Eric and Sookie both let out noises that resembled growls more than anything else.
“Bubba,” he answered even as he kept eye contact with Sookie. He paused for a few seconds, listening to the other vampire. “Understood. Keep your position, but be ready to move.”
Eric rose and offered Sookie a hand up. “We will have to wait on that kiss, I’m afraid.”
“You were very wise to have Jesus redo the privacy spell, min kära.”
“Who’s out there?” Sookie asked wiping the rest of her tears away, the anxiety clear in her voice.
Eric smiled. “Bill just crossed his property line. He is walking this way now at human speed. If you wish, we can stay in here and out of sight.”
“No,” Sookie said, her voice rising a bit as anger replaced the emotions she was feeling before. “I have this! Just wait in here. I don’t want him to know you’re here.”
“Very well, min kära. But I will not be able to hear you from inside the spell. I will watch from the window, and Bubba is also close and will be watching.”
Eric gave Sookie a quick kiss on the forehead and stepped out of sight as Sookie took a step out of her front door. He made a note to give Jesus a bonus for the privacy spell, which had already come in quite handy. He also made a note to kick Bill’s ass at the first possible opportunity for interrupting the kiss he’d been wanting to share with Sookie for days now.