Sookie woke up breathing raggedly, covered in sweat and tears, and shaking. She also felt like she was being held against a hard body. It took her a few moments of lucidity to realize that the nightmare she’d had was over and that she wasn’t the one shaking: Eric was, at the same time that he held her tight against him.
“I had a nightmare,” she announced trying her best to not sound breathless. She blinked a couple of times, finally gathering her bearings. She was safe and sound, in her bedroom, in her house.
Just a few moments ago she had been in a strange apartment, alone, and some faceless man had chased her, caught her, and stabbed her numerous times. She had felt each stabbing wound as the man plunged the knife all over her body, sparing nothing, not even her face. She had felt the man’s hands holding her down as she struggled. She had felt the final despair as she was tossed onto the floor like a rag doll left for dead. Her screaming hadn’t brought any help. Sookie remembered lying in a pool of her own blood, her life slowly seeping away, her terror blunted by the fact that she couldn’t scream anymore. She cried and cried and no one came. Sookie took a deep breath to help her clear her mind of the gruesome images.
“We felt your fear,” Eric said and took a deep breath himself.
“We?” Sookie asked, not quite awake yet to understand how deeply tied she still was to Bill as well as Eric. Eric didn’t speak and after a few moments she understood what he meant. She also knew better than to bring up past grievances, but at that very moment she simply didn’t give a hoot. “You left me alone in the graveyard the night we fought the witches, and I was shot; Bill had yet another chance to force his blood into my body. I wish it had been you, but you went all crazy vampire on those witches…”
“I was cursed,” Eric interjected.
“That’s no excuse.” Sookie was tired and not really in the mood for a fight, even though she’d been the one to introduce the touchy subject. “All I’m saying is that for a while you’ll have to deal with the fact that Bill is still a part of me. I hate it, you hate it, and he LOVES it. Either you let it go and stop letting it affect you, or you know where the door is.”
Eric had nothing else to say about the subject, or else he was wisely keeping his thoughts to himself. At some point during their brief conversation he’d stopped shaking and was now not only silent, but also very still. Had he been shaking in fear? That was a strange thought if it was true.
“Are you okay?” Sookie asked, worried for Eric. She herself was feeling infinitely better. It was the first time in a very long time that someone cared enough to check on her after she’d had a nightmare. Eric’s embrace, just that simple gesture, kept her from reliving the frightful episode. It meant even more to her that he was willing to be so sweet now that his memories were back and he was himself again.
“I thought something very bad was happening to you. I almost lost you once tonight and I was scared of a repeat. Your fear and agony were above and beyond what I experienced earlier from you,” he tried to explain. In truth it was the first time he’d lived through someone else’s nightmare. Bill had felt Sookie’s fear and had reacted, but only Eric had panicked, although it wasn’t something he’d shown to the younger vampire. Memories of seeing Sookie at death’s door several times invaded his mind and this time he couldn’t shake them enough to calm down. He thought, perhaps, it was due to the increased amount of his blood in her body. They were connected in a way he’d never experienced with a human before, not to mention the amount of love he felt for her. It was scary and disarming. At the same time he knew that the way he’d treated Sookie before – keeping her at arms’ length so that he didn’t have to admit how much he truly felt – hadn’t worked and had actually harmed his love.
Turning within his arms, Sookie looked up at Eric’s worried expression. “I think what happened tonight made me have the nightmare. Was Bill able to get any help with the Russell thing?”
“No,” Eric answered immediately and sneered. “I think he only made matters worse for us with the Authority, but I do have another means of getting help.” He laid a gentle kiss on her furrowed brow before continuing. “Let me worry about this. Your life is full already and all you have to do is keep yourself safe.”
“How am I supposed to go to school now? I go to school at night…”
“I’m coming with you, remember? I’m still your lab partner,” he said and gave her a wide smile.
“So… what? You’re gonna be with me every single night until we can get rid of Russell?” Sookie shook her head.
“If that’s what it takes. Russell is my fault…”
“Oh, no, don’t start with that. Russell is nuts!”
Eric smiled at Sookie’s flippant yet accurate description of the three-thousand-year-old asshole. “He’s spent a long time on Earth and is very set in his ways. If you think an old man can be cantankerous and stubborn, you obviously haven’t met an old vampire.”
“Does the same apply to you?” she asked without missing a beat and got her ribs tickled for the jab.
When Sookie’s giggles subsided and all was silent once more in her bedroom, it gave Eric a chance to marvel once more at the lovely creature in his arms. How could this tiny human affect him so much that even making her laugh felt like an honor? She was just a simple girl from a simple town. Even with her fairy blood, it was obvious he loved more than just the blood. The feisty girl that could be incredibly sweet now had him in her thrall.
In a way he could understand Bill’s fascination, but he still couldn’t understand why Bill hadn’t truly fallen in love with Sookie. That fact alone made Eric more irate than if Bill had loved her and then fallen out of love. In order to procure Sookie for Sophie-Anne, Bill had preyed upon the innocence of the girl when it came to relationships.
“I made a mistake,” Eric said out loud, giving voice to his thoughts.
Sookie put her head on his shoulder. “Care to be more specific?”
“I should have tried to woo you the right way when I first met you. I shouldn’t have tricked you to drink my blood. I just wanted you so badly that I became what I hate the most: a liar.”
“You didn’t lie,” Sookie offered. “You omitted the truth, which seems to be a vampire trait.”
“No, no Sookie, it isn’t. I won’t lie to you ever again, or omit the truth. It wasn’t fair of me, and I can only say that, in my defense, I didn’t know what to do with what I was feeling for you. It took me getting cursed, going back to a simpler time in my mind, so that I could see what I’d done to you and to understand myself. Can you ever forgive me?” he asked, cupping Sookie’s chin so she would look at him.
“Since you asked so nicely, I forgive you,” she smiled and welcomed his soft kiss on her lips.
“Always too good for me, my Sookie,” Eric whispered and let her get comfortable so she could fall asleep. This time he would guard her dreams.
X x X x X x X x X
Watching Eric do homework was bordering on comic relief. Sookie had to admit he had beautiful and elegant handwriting, and the small circles he made to represent the atoms and electrons in a molecule were perfectly round… but his facial expressions were nothing if not funny as hell. Once in a while he would stick his tongue out just a tiny bit, frown thoughtfully, and start to do math hunched over Sookie’s kitchen table. He was so big that the pencil looked like it might break in his hand, but obviously it never did break: Eric wasn’t ever clumsy.
They studied in silence for about an hour until Lafayette returned home from work. Sookie had yet to tell him about Eric, and figured it might go better if Lafayette could see with his own eyes that Eric wasn’t going to do anything bad to him.
It was too much to hope for.
“What the fuck?” were Lafayette’s first words as he came in through the front door, right before he cowered against the door frame to the kitchen.
“Nice to see you again, Lafayette,” Eric piped up with a wide smile, making matters worse. Lafayette’s thoughts were thrown into chaos. He equated Eric’s smiles with the tears of a crocodile.
Sookie put her hand on Eric’s hoping he would stop with all the smiling. “Eric and I had a study date,” she said, sounding stupid even to herself.
“A st-! Study date!” bellowed Lafayette, not quite believing his ears. He started shaking his head. “I don’t need this, Sookie. I really don’t.”
“I’ll make this easy for you Lafayette,” Eric began. “You keep your nose clean and help by watching over Sookie, and I won’t have any reason to harm you in any way. Deal?”
“No deal, motherfucker. I’m out,” Lafayette said and went right back out the door. Eric could hear Lafayette’s car trying to find purchase on the gravel driveway as he gunned the engine and hightailed it.
“I’ll talk to him later. He needs to calm down,” Sookie said and shrugged.
“Perhaps it is better if Lafayette moved back to his house. I would not want him to revert back to his bad habits while he’s living here.”
Sookie sighed. Eric was partly right, even though Lafayette’s thoughts had been pretty innocent lately. She didn’t want to argue with either Eric or Lafayette. She just wanted peace and it was already in short supply what with the Russell thing.
“How’s Pam dealing with her curse? Did it lift when Marnie died?” Sookie asked, trying to seek peace some other way.
Eric made a face of disgust before he answered. “Pam still needs these injections that Dr. Ludwig gave her. She’s still rotting from the inside, but it’s slowed down some.”
“Do you think I can zap her and lift the curse like I did to you?” Sookie ventured to ask. She barely had any control over the blue light that came from her hands, but was willing to give it a try if it would make Pam hate her less.
“It’s worth a try. It certainly won’t hurt. But I thought your control over the light was… not all that great,” Eric chose his words carefully. Sookie’s control over the light was tenuous at best. She only seemed to be able to conjure it up during times of great duress, and even then it wasn’t guaranteed.
“Just tell her to make me mad and I’ll zap her,” Sookie laughed making Eric laugh along with her.
The laughter subsided as quickly as it began when Eric disappeared from the kitchen table in the blink of an eye. The only clue as to where he had gone was the sound of the porch door swinging shut. Sookie made a run for it and stopped short of leaving the house, glancing through the door to see Eric facing another vampire who was holding Jason by the neck. Her heart sank to her stomach when she realized the other vampire was none other than Steve Newlin.
“Give me Sookie or I drain this one,” Newlin said, shaking a blank-faced Jason. He had obviously been glamoured.
“Drain him,” Eric countered, making Sookie gasp behind him. She was about to set foot outside the porch when Eric turned to stop her with a pleading look. “You don’t know where Russell is,” he growled, trying to convey in just a few words the fact that Russell could simply snatch her the moment she left the safety of her house. He hadn’t smelled or heard Russell nearby, but that meant very little.
“I wonder if his blood will allow me to walk in the sun,” Newlin teased, bringing the attention back to himself.
Jason was in a precarious position. Newlin’s fingers only needed to exert a small amount of pressure to break the man’s neck. Eric was weighing his options when he smelled a second vampire nearby. He wondered just how acute Newlin’s new vampire senses were and whether he was able to detect who was coming at him.
In a move reminiscent of the one Eric had to perform the night before to save Sookie from Russell, Jessica used her vampire speed to steal Jason from Newlin’s grip, overtaking the younger vampire before he’d even had a chance to register she had been nearby. Newlin’s frustration was evident, but he didn’t stick around long enough to find out what Eric would do to him next. Newlin disappeared into the night without either of his intended prey.
“Was that who I think it was?” Jessica asked, helping Jason up the porch steps. Physically he was okay, but his mind was still lost to Newlin’s glamour.
“Who the hell turned Steve Newlin? I don’t know if I should laugh or be shocked,” Sookie said, trying to see if she could dig into Jason’s mind with her own, finding absolutely nothing but a blank.
“I suspect it was Russell Edgington, since Newlin seemed to know about your blood and the only vampires that know that are Russell, Bill, Pam and I,” Eric said, grabbing Jason by the shoulders and lifting the glamour in the blink of an eye.
“I knew it too,” Jessica mumbled, watching as Jason came back online.
“Yes, but you’re not evil,” Sookie said, watching Jessica watching Jason. The girl might not have been in love with her brother, but there was a lot of concern for him.
“I can’t believe it,” Jason said, looking around and taking in his companions. “I thought Steve Newlin hated vampires,” he said, letting Jessica help him settle on a chair.
“He does,” Eric said at the same time that he texted on his phone at vampire speed. The message reached its destination and a moment later he received a response.
“Now what?” Sookie asked, knowing that Eric was spreading the news about Newlin to people that might find it interesting.
“Now we wait for the cavalry to arrive,” Eric said glancing at his phone. His contact was the last resort, but it would help to have someone from the Authority on his side now that things were decidedly out of hand.