Chapter 22: Shoulder Slump

Disclaimer: I don’t own the characters in True Blood or the Southern Vampire Mysteries. So neither copyright infringement nor offense is meant. I simply want to make the characters do what I wanted them to do for a while. I am especially “unownerly” when it comes to this story. You will recognize a lot of the dialogue throughout as being quoted from Season 5 of True Blood, though I’ve tried to use Eric’s thoughts to make this story “different” from its source. That said, I claim no ownership to the quoted material and have placed it in bold so that it is set apart from my own words.


c22_Inner

My shoulders were slumped as I walked into my office.

I thought about the various reasons I had slumped them throughout my many years.

I had been a tall child; in fact, by the time I was eleven, I was taller—by almost a head—than any other child in my village. And I was as tall as most of the men. However, I was also slight—scrawny.

Magra.

Translation? Meager.

Despite the training and the hunting I did, my muscles just didn’t grow like the other boys’.

I’ve come to notice that children from any time can be cruel to those who are different from the norm. As the chieftain’s son, I was already different enough. But the other children also ostracized me because of my “nonstandard” size.

Ironically enough, very few humans now questioned my tall height when they learned that I was a Viking. They had the misconception that all Vikings were tall, but the truth was that people were shorter in general during the days of my human life. About 5 feet 6 inches was the average height for the men around me, though my father was taller than that—maybe 5’8″ or so—and my mother was just shorter than most men. However, neither of them was seen as abnormal.

Not like me.

I can still remember the first time I purposely slumped my shoulders. I was eight winters old, and I wanted to be included in a game that the other village boys were playing. They never sought me out for play. But—that day—I approached them and asked to join in. I had slouched in order to “seem” more like them. And they’d let me join—but, mostly, because my father was king. The experience had been humbling.

Over the next several years, I did this many times—when my loneliness became too much for me to bear.

During this time, I also learned to slouch around the men who advised my father. At first these men seemed to admire me and my father for producing such a tall boy, but it was not long before the men began to look at me with doubt in their eyes—given the fact that I remained scrawny. I could not blame them—not fully. As my father’s only son, it was I who was to take over. What if I was weak?

Yes. I slumped in their presence too, trying to look younger so that they would allow me time to grow broader.

The boys in my village began to learn the sword when they were five winters old, and I was not excluded from this tradition. My father had arranged for Torstein, the best swordsman in our community, to train me. My father told me that I should be honored to be Torstein’s pupil.

And I tried to be, though I soon learned to hate the man.

Torstein enjoyed ridiculing me—publically—as I trained. He would call me a weakling, and he was likely the originator of the doubts against me, as well as the other children’s isolation of me.

My father knew of Torstein’s treatment—of course. And he allowed it, likely hoping that Torstein’s words and actions would compel me to work harder.

Torstein taught me for seven years, and I did learn much from him. Seen with unbiased eyes, my progress was actually quite noteworthy. Because I was the son of the chieftain, more was expected of me. Yet—because I was “scrawny”—it seemed as if nothing that I did provided adequate enough proof that I was “becoming a man.”

Year after year, I prayed to the gods that I could be the same as the other boys—or, at least, not be so “meager.” Yet, year after year, I grew taller, though not wider.

With each growth spurt, I slumped even more.

When I was twelve and my body seemed to be changing with each hour, I lost hope that I could do anything to please Torstein and—by extension—my father.

To make matters worse, to practice the sword hurt. There was no other way to say it. My very bones hurt with their growth, and it was whispered that the gods had cursed me for being too arrogant. Of course—at that time—I was not arrogant at all.

Still, I practiced every day, and—though my head understood all that was expected of me—I could not make my limbs cooperate.

During a particularly difficult training session, Torstein finally lost all patience with me. He said that I was purposefully screwing up. Afterwards, he went to my father and told him his theory, and—without speaking to me about it—my father gave Torstein permission to take a firmer hand. After that, I was on the receiving end of many strikes from my instructor.

When my father left with many of the other men to go on a raid, I began to dread my sessions with Torstein more than ever. Moreover, Torstein had been left in charge of the village.

During our first training session after that, Torstein struck me when I failed to move as he instructed. My left eye did not open for many days after that. Still, I practiced. However, my efforts were clearly not paying off, as was evidenced by the fact that Torstein struck me again during our next training session—this time with the hilt of his sword. He hit my left shoulder when he deemed it too high to complete the move he was trying to teach me.

That time—when I slouched—it was because of pain.

After that day, a man named Ulf approached my mother and asked to take over my training. My mother, having treated my dislocated shoulder, agreed, and Torstein did not challenge his elder.

I learned that Ulf had been the man who taught my father how to wield his sword. He seemed so old to me at the time—though, looking back, I figure that he was only in his early fifties when he took notice of me. Age, however, was different back then, and—if memory served—Ulf was the oldest person in our community.

Ulf’s hair was gray, and he wore it in a single long braid. He’d married and had seven children, but—when I knew him—he had no family left. His wife and two of his daughters had died of a fever. His three sons had died in battle. And his other two daughters hadn’t survived their childhood.

Initially, I’d been intimidated by Ulf, even as I’d been skeptical of him because of his age. But I soon learned that I should be neither. Ulf’s first move had been to change the location of my training to a field near his own home, which was located just outside of the main village.

He trained me in private. And, though he worked me as hard as Torstein ever had, Ulf did not deride me when my body could not cooperate. On the contrary, he would adopt the moves to fit my body.

Within a month, I was carrying my shoulders more confidently.

Ulf’s first lesson? To own my height when it was to my advantage.

Finally, I began to “fill out” when I was fifteen. As muscle stuck to bone, my body began to obey the commands of my mind, and, by the time I was sixteen, I was the best swordsman in the village—better than even my mentor or my father.

With my mass, it was natural that my arrogance grew too. In addition to winning any sparring matches I participated in, I excelled during raids. I could also win any woman I wanted. For three glorious years, I fucked whomever I wanted and thought myself stronger than anyone.

Until the Weres and Russell killed my family.

Again, I learned my weakness, and again my shoulders slumped.

They had slumped even more when I discovered that Ulf had been hurt badly by the Weres. He’d lived for another two years, but he’d never walked without a stick to help him again.

During those two years, however, he helped me to become a leader of men in a way I’d never learned before. From Ulf, I learned that slumping could be useful to me—even as a king. When I did it, my advisors would feel more “equal” to me, and that was advantageous at times. It fostered partnership and mutual respect.

However, if they began to question me, I could stand straighter and use my height to intimidate.

Since I have been vampire, I have slumped my shoulders too many times to count—for a variety of reasons. To be inconspicuous, I slumped to appear smaller. When I disappointed my maker, I slumped to demonstrate my contrition. I also bowed my shoulders in deference to my maker. And—of course—on the Dallas rooftop, my shoulders had dipped as I’d pled with Godric.

And then again as I’d despaired the loss of him.

22.1Now my shoulders were slumped because I’d hurt my child; I’d damaged our relationship irrevocably. Because of what I’d done to her—and because of what she’d tried to do to my beloved—we would never be the same. And I knew that I would, indeed, need to release her. And I also knew that it would hurt us both.

Once upon a time, Pamela had chosen to be made—asked to walk the world with me—but it was time she learned to walk on her own, especially now that she had her own child.

22.2Speaking of said child, Tara Thornton was occupying my chair as I passed by Bill. To her credit, it took only a look from me to get her out of it. I could sense her “sensing” my superior strength. And she quickly vacated the office.

22.3That was a good sign that she would be easily taught to understand vampires’ ways. I looked at Bill; clearly, he’d not had that kind of intuition as a whelp, but—eventually—he’d learned.

At least well enough.

I sat down heavily in my chair.

“Not Pam,” I said simply, though our confrontation hadn’t been simple at all.

22.4You’re certain?” Bill asked. From his tone, it was clear that Pam had been his chief suspect. Given how much she hated Sookie and resented my regard for her, I couldn’t blame him. It was why I’d needed to “test” her, after all.

She knows nothing,” I said firmly. “What did Tara say?”

Nothing to suggest that she or Pam knew anything about Russell.”

22.5I shook my head slightly. Bill and I both knew that I had asked my question because I wanted information about Sookie, and it was clear that he did know some news of her. But he wasn’t telling.

There was that douche again. I sighed. Maybe the bromance was waning.

You certain there’s no one else you’ve told? Not even your sister?” he continued.

22.9I rolled my eyes. Yep, the days of our bromance were definitely numbered if he was going to ask such idiotic questions.

You mean the one who was in the Authority? I’d hope you think more of me,” I answered somewhat snidely.

22.10Russell’s the great martyr to the opposition,” Bill said passionately as if he were now “mini-Roman.” I scoffed.

If she were planning a coup, he could be very useful,” Bill added.

I resented the insinuation, though I figured it was true in some ways. However, I doubted that Nora was the source of the opposition. “If Nora were planning a coup, I would’ve known about it,” I responded. “And I still wouldn’t have given her Russell. I’m not suicidal.”

22.8Bill looked like he wanted to question me further, but then he thought better of it. Of course, he didn’t know that Russell had been my enemy for even longer than Nora had been my sister, so I gave him a little slack.

And you’re sure you didn’t tell anyone? Jessica?” I asked, turning around the questions onto him.

If I had, we would’ve gone to her first,” Bill responded in a way that led me to believe him. “We need to go to ground. And tomorrow, we’ll have to cast the net wider. There’s a leak somewhere.”

Didn’t I fucking know it! And now my chief suspect was one Alcide Herveaux.

22.12


On rare occasions, I’d forced myself to stay awake during the day. During the last year, I’d done so quite a bit—relatively speaking.

I’d stayed awake the day after I’d killed Talbot, trying to figure out what my next move might be.

I’d stayed up for an hour after dawn in order to trick Russell into the sun.

I’d stayed up two hours just that morning in order to monitor Sookie through our bond.

The older a vampire got, the easier it was to fight the day, though we could never compete against its light. But that fight was never comfortable. Even for the oldest of us, the bleeds would come after only half an hour or so. And the longer we fought, the more sluggish we would become.

Pain, of course, would keep us awake. I’d spent more than one day wrapped up in silver during the previous weeks in order to avoid the necromancer’s spell.

As an older vampire, I also woke up earlier than most others of my kind. I was termed a “dusk riser”—one who woke up about 20-30 minutes before sundown.

But never—never in a thousand years—had I been pulled from my sleep during the day.

Until Sookie.

I’d awoken when she’d returned from Faerie, but then I’d immediately fallen back into my death-sleep.

Now, however, I was jarred by a strike of intense fear—powerlessness.

Panic.

And then pain.

“Fuck!” I yelled into my coffin, slamming my fist against the padded lid.

“Fuck,” I repeated, this time more softly as Sookie’s pain waned.

And then her fear abated only to be replaced by utter despair.

No. Despondency.

I kept my eyes open and felt her agony along with her.

She did not know that I was “with her,” of course, and she could receive no comfort from me. Still—I stayed awake.

The blood began to drip from my ears, nose, and eyes right around the same time that her despair began to become numb.

And then more numb.

And more.

She was drinking—and drinking heavily.

And Sookie Stackhouse was no heavy drinker.

I sighed. I could not blame her for her actions. Many a time had I taken up the bottle when I was a human—hoping to escape from my responsibilities. I’d get drunk and then fuck away the pressures that my father placed upon me. And then—after my family had died—I’d get drunk and fuck away the pain.

That impulse—to disappear for a while into a bottle or to forget using physical pleasure—was not uncommon. And—even at more than a thousand years old—I would try to fuck away any pain I felt. After Godric had killed himself, Yvetta had been a means to that end. And, only a few nights before, I’d fucked Nora because I’d been hurt by Sookie.

It was what Oprah would call a defense mechanism—not that I watched Oprah. At least, not that anyone knew.

But—even though I still tried—I knew that neither mead nor sex could take away the sharpest of pains. They would always return.

Always.

There was not enough fairy blood in the universe to cover the death of one’s maker or the loss of one’s beloved.

No matter how soft a woman’s thighs, no mere fuck could undo the wounds inflicted by those for whom we truly cared.

As I felt Sookie lose her awareness more and more, I felt the bleeds stop. It was almost night. Soon I would feel Pam again, and Sookie’s numbness would have to compete with my child’s pain.

I sighed as I felt my shoulders slump even in my coffin.

I knew that something would be dying soon—a bond I’d had for a hundred years.

However, as I thought about my beautiful progeny—min dottir—I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’d made the right choice in turning her. Maybe I’d not felt “the pull” as Godric had with me or Nora, but Pamela was a fine vampire. I was proud of her.

A bloody tear slipped from my eye—this one not from the bleeds.

I chuckled ruefully, wondering if Sookie would let me drink from her after I’d severed one of the most important bonds of my life. It would be nice to feel numb afterwards.

Despite the fact that I knew the numbness wouldn’t last.

It never did.


A/N: So you might remember that Sookie’d been having a horrible night. As Eric had confronted Pam, many others were deriding Sookie. She’d told Alcide the truth about Debble (of course, Alcide took no responsibility for abjuring Debbie and not warning Sookie that she’d gone batshit crazy), and Lafayette had told her that she was the angel of death (conveniently deflecting from the fact that Lafayette had been the one who initially wanted Tara turned). Then, Sookie’d gone to Jason-trying to get him to arrest her; she was trying to take responsibility for her actions. He told her no-that they’d cover things up. The next day, she drives home from another taxing day at work (because of everyone’s thoughts) and her car, which had been tampered with by “demonic” Lafayette, went crazy and she had to bail out. I think I’d get drunk too! I see the whole Sookie/Alcide episode as being a lot like the Nora/Eric ones-an attempt to forget pain that doesn’t ultimately provide comfort. And, though I didn’t like Sookie’s actions ’cause I “ship E/S,” I can’t say that I haven’t done dumb things to try to forget pain.

22.13

22.14

On another note, for this chapter, I really enjoyed thinking about that shoulder slump of Eric’s and wondering about how many times he’d slumped in order to be more equal in height to someone. And then I thought about how Vikings really weren’t gigantic people. The average male height really was about 5’6″ according to historians and scientists who have studied human bones from that time period. So if there had been a man almost a foot taller than the others, what would it have been like? Would have his people felt that he was blessed by the gods? Or would have they thought something else? And just what made Eric so arrogant in some of those flashbacks? Had there been some issues we didn’t know about? Had he been “acting out” as Sookie is about to? Anyway, once I started thinking, I let me imagination go.

The moment in Eric’s office is also the first time that we see the “bromance” that was shown between Eric and Bill dissipating. I always thought it was interesting that, even when the “fit hit the shan” later on in the season, Eric tries to retain some loyalty to Bill. But the closer bond that seemed to form between them because of their common interests is fading (because, in my opinion, Bill’s ultimately the egoist-and the douche. God complex-much?)

Anyway, hope you enjoyed this chapter, especially the “added” bits.

Kat


 

Banner for Kat's Page

Eric Notman

Bill_inner

Tara

Cast


 

inner_backInner_next

15 thoughts on “Chapter 22: Shoulder Slump

  1. 50 chapters, wow..and ending on a cliff.. You are a terrible tease. It is heartening to learn you will be quickly giving us a sequel. The back story you created for Eric as a boy and young man is intriguing.

    1. I think the back story came to me b/c I wanted to show that Eric is capable of real empathy and connection w/ Sookie. His past is one of the reasons he understands her. Of course, most stories portray his human life as being carefree and him as being a “god” in that life. However, I wanted to complicate this a bit.
      Thanks for the comment!
      Kat

  2. I love Eric’s backstory! And right now he is slipping his shoulders due to feeling overweight of the world on his shoulders, sigh

  3. I adore the history you’ve created for Eric –so much more than TB…..so much more interesting and “filling” that the SVM books –ah……wonderful! I need to re-examine TB seasons 5-7. I had to admit, I was so disappointed that I only saw the episodes once, not viewing them over and over like i did the previous seasons, so I’m sure I’ve missed some of these “tells”…..
    Sigh….love that this will be another long CK story –ending on a cliffie? When have you ever NOT? 🙂

  4. 28 more chapters and it ends with a cliffie? Meanie… 😛😉😄
    But I wondered how you’d end it as the season ended on a cliffie!
    I hope the sequel is ready to go after the ending. Lol! Can’t wait!!!

  5. You give the depth that was sorely lacking in the show . Looking forward to Eric and Sookie’s up coming reunion and how you will spin it .

  6. I agree with everything you said about why Sookie got drunk. People deal with pain in different ways. Sometimes, like Lafayette, they forget they contributed to the general pain.

    I like your analysis of Eric’s personality. And I agree with your assessment of Bill. Great chapter.

Please comment and tell me what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.