Chapter 11 – You Took my Hand
Warnings for some of you:
Sookie’s eyes pleaded with Eric as she waited for him to agree. Only a few seconds passed, but given the imminent rise of the sun it felt like hours. Finally and much to her relief, he nodded and sighed while taking her hand. “Ok Sookie; you get to save me this time.”
Sookie didn’t wait for Eric to change his mind. While he was compliant, she pulled him towards Pam’s partially destroyed house while she called for Cory. Cory, having heard every word, pulled the car around quickly and approached them. “Can we stay at Pam’s for the day?”
“I don’t think it’s safe. Get in; I’ll drive you to Eric’s.”
“Eric, you can’t fly?”
Not wanting to waste any time, Cory answered for Eric. “He lost blood Sookie, he shouldn’t try.”
Cory drove them to the main house. After the Jeep came to a stop, Eric picked Sookie up, ran through the main floor to the stairs, and opened the locks to his chamber. As they had been approaching the house, Sookie noticed the tiniest wisps of smoke coming from Eric’s exposed skin and started to panic but the smoke stopped as soon as they were in his chamber. In the safety of his chamber, Sookie finally took a good look at him. His shirt was in tatters and what had survived was covered in blood. She tugged it off and offered, “Let me get you cleaned up before you need to rest.”
“No, I want to get into bed.” He truly wanted to go into downtime followed by his day rest. His thoughts and feelings had taken a toll on him and while he never physically tired, he found himself mentally drained.
For her response, Sookie chose a bit of tough love. Her tone was firm without yelling when she responded to him. “No, you’re too messy for us to sleep in the same bed and snuggle. You definitely need a bath right now. Let’s get in the bathroom so I can take care of you.” Just as on the beach, Eric allowed Sookie to hold his hand and lead him to the bathroom. “Do you have time for a bath?”
“Yes, I should have about an hour, maybe a little less since I lost so much blood.”
Sookie leaned over and started the tub for him and prepped the soaps and a cloth to use. Before the tub was full, she heard Cory yell from the top of the stairs. “SOOKIE! Can you hear me?”
“I’ve got some bloods for Eric; water and snacks for you. ”
“I’m coming up.” She turned to Eric. “Be right back.” He simply nodded as she left and ran up the stairs. “Thanks Cory,” she said appreciatively to the Were at the top of the stairs and grabbed the bags in his hands.
“Thank you Sookie. Your instincts were right; he needed you. Are you staying with him?” She nodded and he continued. “One of us will stay here and guard for the day – in case.” He didn’t add that Eric would likely need a donor later; the True Bloods in the bag wouldn’t be as restorative as real blood. “The chamber door opens from the inside but will lock automatically when shut. If you come out and the door closes, you can’t get back in without a code while the sun is out.”
“Got it. See you later.” With a last wave, she ran back down the stairs and stored the food in the small refrigerator. “I’m back,” she sang out to Eric on her way to the bathroom. “Oh, you got in the tub.”
“I’m not helpless.” The tone he used wasn’t angry, more matter of fact. Still, she thought she was intruding so she handed him the bloods and turned to leave. “Sookie, don’t leave.” He took a big unneeded breath and continued. “I got in figuring you’d be more comfortable if I did it without you. Can you keep me company?”
“Sure.” She watched as he gulped down the bloods, feeling guilty that she couldn’t help him personally due to the silver in her system. Instead, she offered what she could. “Do you want me to wash your hair?” She chewed on her lip out of nervousness. “I’m not trying to force myself on you, but when I was really hurting over something, my Gran always took extra care of me like this and it helped.”
“I appreciate the offer Sookie, I think it will help.” She expected a smirk or some kind of sexual response and it really worried her that she didn’t get either. He quietly leaned forward as she approached him so she could use the hand sprayer without the water going everywhere. It took three washes to get everything out of his hair; and they both enjoyed every bit of it. The closeness and caring really were helping Eric.
While she was spraying the top of his head for his last rinse, she got his face and shoulders, rinsing off the rest of the blood and sand. He was going to need a shower after the bath he was so dirty. Gingerly, she started washing his upper body. “Your cuts aren’t fully healed, am I hurting you?”
“Not really. If I were human you would be, but vampires have a higher tolerance for pain.” It was subtle, but she pulled back a bit. “Don’t worry Sookie, it really doesn’t hurt.” Even if it was hurting he would’ve told her to keep going. Being bathed was soothing and he could feel he was coming back somewhat.
Sookie hated that Eric was suffering over his maker but she was enjoying this bath – even though she felt like somehow that was wrong. Wanting to break him out of his mood, even for a short while, she decided to try teasing him a bit. She scoffed as the water turned pink and a layer of sand built up on the bottom. “And you were going to get in bed this dirty?”
Finally, she got a smirk. “Being dirty in bed is better Sookie.” He even shook his head and acted a bit put out. “I can see I have much to teach you. For example, I bet you think you need to wear something to bed today while we rest.”
She almost cried happy tears hearing his naughty comeback. “There’s my Eric.” She paused from rinsing his back to look at him directly. Using an almost scolding voice, she held his face and ordered, “Don’t ever try to leave me like that again.” Her thumb brushed across his cheeks and she stared at him trying to force her words into his head.
When she backed up a bit and started to move her hand away, he grabbed it quickly. “I’m not out of the woods yet Sookie. I’m still struggling with what to do next; but something in you pulled me back from ending everything. Promise me you’ll help me through this.”
“I won’t leave your side Eric. Not until you’re ready.” This time he let her go so she could finish washing him. “But, if you really believe I’m getting in a bed with you while either one of us is naked, I’m having you checked out by Ludwig for mental illness; maybe at your age it’s dementia.” She put the washcloth on the side of the tub and announced. “I’m rooting through your drawers for another tee-shirt. You need a shower since the bathwater was so dirty. I’ll meet you in the bedroom.”
“I don’t think so.” With that, he pulled on her arm and she landed in the tub with him, clothes and all.
“ERIC!” Part of her was mad that Eric did that, the other part was cheering that playful Eric had made an appearance.
“You said you wouldn’t leave my side; the other room is further than my side.”
“I believe there are some obvious exceptions. Do you plan to sit with me while I take care of my human needs in the bathroom? Which by the way, I’m thrilled to see a toilet here.”
His face scrunched up like he was sniffing vinegar. “You’ve made your point. I will allow some exceptions. What you need to do in here behind closed doors can remain a mystery forever.” He toyed with the straps on her sundress. “But for now, it seems we are both dirty, we’re locked in here safe and sound and there’s only one shower.”
“Safe? With you?” Her hands started batting at his while he tried to pull down her straps. “Behave Eric. You promised me perfect firsts, and this situation doesn’t justify a perfect first shower.”
“So you recognize that we will be showering together soon? Good.”
Choosing to ignore his last statement, she moved to stand and he helped her get steady on the side of the tub. “I’m going to rinse off quickly while you turn away and then I’ll go in the other room to change. You can shower when I’m done.”
“Yes ma’am,” he smirked. “I love it when you get bossy. Will you be like that when we’re . . . “ She literally put a hand over his mouth and told him to hush. Of course, he licked her.
While Eric showered, Sookie rooted through his closet and drawers to find something for him to wear. They’d already had a discussion about sleepwear in Dallas; she knew darn well that Eric rested in the buff, but she’d insisted on boxers or something to cover his private parts. It was an argument she won in Dallas, and she intended for him to comply here as well, at least for now.
Since several hours had passed since she last ate, she took advantage of the fruit and muffin that Cory brought her and then settled on the bed to wait. That’s when the morning’s events really hit her: Eric had almost killed himself. Knowing how close it was to dawn when she found him on the beach, she was sure he really would have gone through with it. Uncontrollable shaking started to overtake her body as the adrenalin from the events ran its course. Of course, the shaking could have also been caused by the fear of what came next. Sookie knew his depression wasn’t necessarily over but she also knew she wasn’t a trained grief therapist. The idea that she would need to help Eric through this scared her. Knowing that he could still meet the sun scared her more, so she would do whatever it took to help him. She didn’t want Eric to see her while she didn’t have control of her nerves so she worked to calm herself. Now she regretted never taking up yoga or meditation. she knew breathing was a big part in both exercises, so she simply focused on inhaling deep breaths and blowing them out. By the time the shower stopped, she was in much better shape, and even able to joke with him. That kind of banter always worked between the two of them. “You need more boxers or sleep pants Mister.”
Eric laughed at her comment as he came out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist. “Why do you say that?”
“I found three boxers – one for you, one for me and a spare – but no sleep pants!” As she spoke she pointed to the bureau at the boxers she obviously wanted him to wear.
He obliged her request and put them on while she turned her head. “We’re on a private island Sookie. I frequently don’t even dress if I’m here on vacation.” He lifted the blanket to get under with her. “Why do you have on my boxers anyway?”
“First, this vacation – you will be dressing. Second, all my clothes are with Thalia and you got my panties soaked.”
“I made you wet already? Well, things are progressing nicely.”
“I should be mad at your lewd comments, but I was so worried before that I’ll refrain this time.” She moved to be on her side facing him. “How long?” She didn’t need to elaborate, he knew she wanted to know how long before he died for the day.
“Maybe twenty minutes.” He tucked some hair behind her ear before he spoke again. “You ate something?” She nodded. “The door is secure; from when you went up for food?”
“Yes, and one of your team will be upstairs guarding, just in case.” She mirrored his action and toyed with his hair. “Vampire speed doesn’t work on drying your hair I see; it’s still damp.” Without thought, she continued to run her hands through it and he seemed to relax even more. “Eric, do you want to talk?”
She raised a single eyebrow in Eric Northman fashion and responded. “We don’t have to talk about anything. I’m offering to listen if you want to tell me how you went from being upset when I left you two nights ago to feeling ready to end it all today.” She sighed. “How much have you been holding in since that morning?”
“Practically everything Sookie. I’ve been holding on, simply waiting to get here and unload. Admittedly, I had no idea how bad it would be when I finally let go. I still feel hollow; I can’t simply get up and smile and go on.”
“I understand. That’s why we’re here. Don’t give up on me Eric. That’s all I ask.”
“So, why did you pick on Pam’s house? Did you finally have it with the pink house on your island?”
“You could see it was pink?”
“Thalia told me ahead of time, and you’re changing the subject. I won’t push.” Figuring that he would want to rest she started to roll over but he stopped her with a hand to her shoulder.
“It was a letter.” She resumed her position of facing him, but his eyes were closed. She didn’t say anything; instead she took one of his hands in hers and remained quiet. “Godric and I each made a box for the other in the event one of us met our final death. I got through some of the items first; then went for the letter.” There was a long pause as he thought about what to say. Sookie remained silent while still gripping his hand. “The letter said many things but what set me off were his comments about missing me when we parted.” Now he opened his eyes and she could see the pain was back. “Sookie, I . . . I parted to make Pam.”
In that instant, Sookie put it all together. For Eric, it was a simple math equation. Eric left Godric to make Pam; Godric was alone in Dallas; Eric should have been there to save him; since he left to make Pam, it was Pam’s fault. He was completely incorrect, but she could see where his brain went. He confirmed it right away.
“I couldn’t bear the pain any longer and I flew straight up in the sky. I’ve never flown so high. But no matter how far up I went, the pain remained. That was the instant I gave up; I see that now. I didn’t fly back to the earth; I was in a free-fall. I saw the area of trees behind my house and aimed for it.” She touched one of the marks on his chest, healing but still pink. “That’s where all the cuts came from; I tried to hit the trees to cause physical pain believing it would be better than the pain in here,” he said as his hand went to his heart. “I can’t even keep these marks to remind me of the wounds. No scars to distract me from the pain inside. The dead can’t scar.” Sookie wanted to interrupt but she refrained; thankful that he was talking it through.
“After I flew into one of the trees so hard it knocked over, I pulled more out and threw them into the ocean. At this point, I’d made it to the area in front of Pam’s. Once I saw the house, it became the subject of my rage. Like somehow her turning was the cause of Godric being alone and vulnerable to attack. I know that’s not right – I do – but it was all feelings that I couldn’t stop. By the time I had ripped through half her house, I was sure I didn’t want to live any longer so I went to the beach to meet the sun.” Bloody tears started to leak from his eyes and Sookie joined in the crying when he continued. “I watched my human father die in battle and the other morning I had to watch Godric die for nothing Sookie. My heart is broken from losing two fathers; fathers that I loved very much. I don’t know how to go on. I don’t ever want to feel this pain again; I don’t want to be vulnerable again. I want to end it now.”
Many moments went by as they both wept quietly and they took in Eric’s words. Finally, Sookie broke the silence. “Your time with Godric is here,” she said as she touched his chest where his silent heart resided. “It’s marked on your heart and in your head. You’re wrong about one thing, Eric: the dead can scar. Maybe I can’t see it on your skin, but it is there – that’s the pain you’re feeling.”
“I don’t want this pain.”
“Years ago, I saw this movie called Shadowlands. In it, the woman in the couple knew she was dying of cancer and the husband refused to talk about it. She said, ’The pain then is part of the happiness now.’ Eric, the happiness you had with Godric or anyone, includes the pain from this parting. I can’t imagine what you’ve lost – I’ve only been alive for a portion of your life. But even in my few years, I know that loss is part of life and moving on from loss is necessary for survival. Godric made you because he believed you could withstand the burden that comes from living so long. Granted, this is a big hardship, but I know he wanted you to go on without him. Immortal doesn’t mean forever, you know this. It’s going to hurt; but every day, every month, it will slowly get bearable and eventually you’ll be filled with the happy memories and less pain.”
“You can take the pain from me, even if only for a while. Distract me Sookie.” She raised an eyebrow at him and he smirked. “Not that way – well unless you want to distract me with a blow job of course.”
“ERIC!” She tried to look mad, but she wasn’t. “Don’t talk nasty like that.”
“Yes ma’am. Will you talk to me though? Tell me about your trip here.”
“Sure.” She moved a little so his head was more at her torso and he accepted being almost held by her as she spoke. Her fingers were rhythmically running through his hair as she talked about their first night apart and Dr. Ludwig’s visit. “That cabin was so cute Eric!I loved eating breakfast and watching the water.”
“We can go back sometime.”
“I’d like that. Anyway, Ludwig drew blood and checked me out in general. I guess we’ll hear from her when she has a plan for the silver. She wanted to know how much silver was in my blood first.”
“That makes sense.” He reached across her to grab her free hand. “How did you get along with Thalia?”
“She’s great. She told me stories from her life. Oh! She told me about a drawing she had of you that I can’t wait to see. In fact, she promised me a trip to some location where she keeps her treasures from her life so she can share them with me.”
“Do you know how many people she’s told about her collection?” Sookie gave a simple uh uh. “Sookie, she’s told the two of us and that’s it.” Eric was dumbfounded. He knew Thalia was dedicated to protecting Sookie but he thought it was simply out of respect to him and his sheriff role over her. To share this very personal information meant that the older vampire really liked Sookie.
“Really? She does seem pretty cold; you only need to get to know her.”
“That’s the thing Sookie, Thalia never lets anyone get to know her. You really are something special.”
Sookie waved her hand around as she responded to his compliment. “Pfft, I’m a barmaid from Louisiana, nothing special. OH! That reminds me.” She giggled at her own thoughts. “This is the part you’ll love.” She paused for effect. “I quit Merlotte’s.”
“Yes. Not a leave as I had originally planned, I quit. I don’t see the need to work there any longer. Do you?”
He moved to look at her face, startled by this news. “I never did Sookie. You were always too good for that bar; too good for the whole town in fact. I didn’t think you’d actually do it.”
“The past few days have been life changing Eric. I mean, it’s a bar. Besides Sam and my brother, who was really even my friend there? And I mean a ‘worth it to stick around’ friend.”
“You liked Arlene.”
“Yeah, until her fiancé tried to kill me; that kinda changed things between us.”
“Well, she didn’t work at the bar but we haven’t seen each other much. She didn’t approve of Bill. She’d been running with a bit of a different crowd, and that’s fine, but that makes it easier to not see her often. That only leaves Lala.”
“LALA?” He laughed at the name. “Who is Lala?”
“Lafayette Reynolds, he’s a cook at Merlotte’s. Him, I’ll miss.”
“Maybe you can find a place for him in your business.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Eric resumed his place on her stomach and her hand went right back to his hair. “Eliane is setting up some caretaker for the farmhouse. I don’t know what to do about that property. I can’t think about it now. As much as I hate to admit it, it’s really only wood and paint. I know there are memories, but many people need to give up their childhood homes. I won’t stifle my life based on a house.”
Eric couldn’t be happier with her words. Sookie was so much more than that town. Her potential knew no bounds. With Godric’s money, she would easily be able to setup some kind of charitable organization, live off of the remainder, and never want for a thing as far as he was concerned. He continued to think about the future, their future, for a few moments when it dawned on him: not even an hour ago, he was ready to give up everything. This small fairy had saved him from his depression. Oh, he wasn’t a fool, he knew the despair could easily come back, but with Sookie at his side, he would make it. After moving so he was face to face with her again, he shared his revelation. “Thank you Sookie.”
“For telling you about my house?”
“Thank you for saving me tonight. Your talk got me thinking about the future – what OUR future could be. This is what will keep me going. I’m still going to struggle . . . “ His words trailed off.
“But you have me.” He welcomed the kiss she gave him to confirm her words; it was a small peck but he enjoyed it. She added her own thoughts though. “You scared me today.”
“I know. Did you have some kind of breakdown while I was in the shower?” Her eyes looked down at the question. “Sookie?”
“It was more like my adrenalin rush left me. Why do you ask?”
“The scent of your sweat overpowered me and you’d just taken a shower.” As soon as he saw her horrified face he amended his statement and pulled her close. “Sookie, your sweat smells delicious – I don’t mean you smelled of body odor or anything foul. I could tell you’d been sweating. Why are you looking away from me? Are you embarrassed?”
“I wanted to be strong for you and it took me almost your whole shower to gain control again.”
“You were and are strong for me Sookie. You’re probably the only person to whom I would admit this: Sookie, I need you.”
“We need each other.” She yawned. “We both also need sleep. You’re void is getting that murky feel it has when you need rest. We have to move though since you’re half on me now; I might not be able to free myself later.”
“Maybe I want you trapped with me all day.”
“Not if I pee myself. Get on your side and assume our spooning position.” Sookie was shuffling them and the blankets around for a moment when Eric suddenly burst out in laughter. “What’s so funny?”
He pointed to her shirt. “That shirt was a gift from Pam; I’ve never even worn it.” He rubbed his chin like he was thinking something through. “Is it a guarantee?”
She sniggered and told him, “I laughed as soon as I saw this in your drawer. I thought it would give you something to look forward to.”
As she snuggled into position, he lifted one of her hands and kissed it. “I am looking forward to it Lover.”
A/N: I really wanted to get this out before the whole week went by – but it’s too hectic at home and work. Sorry!!!