It was dark outside. Just that should have made Sookie put her guard up, but it was one of those nights. She had almost decided not to go to attend the Intro to Chemistry class, but it would be a lab day and she couldn’t miss it. So, even though she had already changed into a ratty old T-shirt and Pink sweatpants, she went to the Shreveport campus, parked, and made her way to the Science building.
Sookie would have preferred to take all her classes online, but the requisite science and math classes were too complicated to do online. Besides, her chemistry class wasn’t even offered online. Therefore here she was, having to spend three hours inside a classroom with a bunch of other working adults, twice a week for chemistry, and once a week for math.
From the very first night she learned a few things: the chemistry professor was a pervert. He also taught the younger students, and he’d had affairs with several, most of the time for grades. He’d had several lascivious thoughts about her and about several of her classmates. However, the second thing she learned was that, just like her, these working adults going to school were willing and able to work hard for their grades, and didn’t have time or the desire for any hanky panky with the professor.
It didn’t help, though, to be able to see inside the professor’s head and the encounter he’d had earlier. The girl had been so very young, and the professor didn’t even want to look at her face, just stick his penis inside her. It made Sookie almost physically sick.
She shored up her shields against every single thought in the lab, took her seat and proceeded to carefully avoid everybody. She was not in a social mood. She had witnessed her best friend’s murder. She had broken up with the two loves of her life. Now she had Lafayette living in her house scared out of his wits by the ghosts he could see, Jason coming to visit way too often and harping on and on about his affair with Jessica, and Bill just across the cemetery offering way too much temptation in her loneliness. So, in a way, being in school was a sort of escape. She’d taken the earlier shifts at Merlotte’s with Sam’s blessing, and was now doing something to better herself. It was about time.
Sookie buried her head in her chemistry book and started going over some things, jotting down questions on her notebook, and reading over tonight’s lab. She didn’t notice the vampire that came into the classroom and sat at the back, but he noticed her. He took in her disheveled look, her messy ponytail and lack of makeup. Her scent swirled around the room mixing with other human smells, but he could have found her easily. He could still feel her inside him.
Eric sat without taking his eyes off her. He wanted to gauge her mood before approaching her. He hadn’t seen her for several weeks, and the absence was grating on him. She was in mourning and sad, but she seemed otherwise peaceful except for one thing: once in a while he could feel longing, and it wasn’t his own feelings for her. It was her feelings for him. She longed for him. She missed him. He missed her too.
The professor entered the classroom, smelling of sex and a too-strong cologne, making Eric thankful that he had chosen a seat so far back. None of the other students had yet cottoned on that he was a vampire, and so far he was alone on his table. It would be better this way.
A short woman sat next to Sookie, making her start. She had been completely absorbed in the book. Sookie had seen the woman in the lectures before, and didn’t mind her company. She even offered to get Sookie’s goggles for her, for which she was grateful. She was tired from that day’s shift, and the less she had to move and walk around, the better.
“I’m Amy, by the way,” the woman said, handing Sookie her goggles.
“I’m Sookie,” she said, and smiled as best she could.
They started a friendly conversation while they classified matter by properties, and at the end of the lesson they had completed their work efficiently and had learned a bit more about each other. Amy was a wife and mom, working as an administrative assistant and taking classes at night. She was only a few years older than Sookie. It was nice that Sookie was getting to know new people… human people… since she always felt so lonely, now more than ever that Tara was gone. Maybe a healthy human relationship with a new friend is exactly what she needed.
By the end of the class Sookie was smiling of her own volition, without having to force the smile. Her shields were holding up good and everything was starting to look up. She packed up her books into her Pink tote and swung it over her shoulder. She froze.
How had she not noticed him sitting there for the past three hours? He was staring at her intently, waiting for her to do or say something. Sookie’s knees felt like jelly and her heart started beating wildly. All those days and nights, missing him so much that it hurt, dreaming about him and wanting to keep on sleeping so that the dreams wouldn’t end, calling to him in her mind because she felt so alone… all the bad things narrowed to that one moment when Eric was looking at her across the now empty classroom.
Sookie sat back on her chair, looking like she was out of breath. Eric once again felt her longing, knowing how much she truly wanted to be with him, how much she had missed him. He didn’t want to scare her away again. He had an eternity to do right by her. He told himself that he could go as slow as she needed and love her as she wanted.
Eric stood and walked to his Sookie, feeling how his blood within her still called him. As he approached she turned her back on him. She was trying to keep her word to herself. How could she put herself first if she gave in to Eric?
Oh, but how hard it was to do that! She felt her tears brim and run over her cheeks, expecting Eric to leave now that she had turned her back. But how she wished he wouldn’t! She wanted to feel him, to touch him and kiss him, to make her dreams a reality, and belong to him again. Be one with him.
Like in one of her dreams, she felt his arms circling her shoulders and hugging her tight against his chest. Her hands reached up to touch his arms, caress them, and she bent her head to kiss one, feeling whole for the first time in too long.
“Let’s be friends,” Eric said in his soothing voice. It was exactly what she needed. How did he know?
“Yes,” she answered without hesitation.