Eric took her to the kitchen, once they had finished their soak, promising her first a meal and then a tour of Uppsala, as they put their things away. The kitchen was modern with stainless steel appliances. There was a bar with two stools that separated the kitchen from the main living room. The inside trim was pine, slightly stained, and varnished a shiny golden color that made it feel like they were outside in nature, rather than in a home.
Uppsala was a two story A-Frame log cabin with a living room ceiling that went all the way to the top of the house. There were two bedrooms and bath upstairs in loft that broke into two sections with a stair case in the middle allowing you turn either right or left once you reached the top.
Eric sat her at bar, planting a light kiss on her bare shoulder. As promised, she was missing her undergarments, but she was back in her sleeveless nightgown that she had brought from home. As he kissed her, he closed his eyes for just a moment, reverently.
Then he looked at her with the devil in his eyes and blew her away with a smile. He was shining so brightly that it scared her. She had promised not to look away, though and she wouldn’t.
Finally, he moved around to the other side and started taking things out of the fridge. Looking around, he realized he was missing something, quick as a blink he was out in the living room getting something from his bag. When he zipped back Sookie could see that it was the cookbook he had been using at his house in Shreveport. On the run for his life, and he took the time to stop and bring his cookbook for me.
She felt so much in that moment that she could not breathe. Tears slipped silently from her eyes, and she shuddered trying to handle the depth of emotion she was feeling at the moment. He suddenly turned, looking at her, concern on his face at what he was sensing from the bond. She shook her head, and tried to catch her breath.
I’ll explain, I just need a minute. He nodded, she felt worry through the bond but he resumed gathering the ingredients and consulting his cookbook. She watched and tried to find her way through everything she was feeling, but everything he did pushed her further into a sense of panic and emotional overload. Occasionally, Eric glanced at her, but he kept moving on his task and didn’t ask her any further questions.
He chopped some mushrooms, peppers, onions and strips of ham, and sautéed them in the pan. He carefully watched his timer, since he had no other way to judge readiness. Then he removed them from the pan and poured in the scrambled eggs, to which he had already added milk and shredded cheese while his veggies sautéed.
He’s making me an omelet. This ancient beautifully lethal killing machine, was making her, Sookie Stackhouse, telepathic fairy bar maid an omelet, in Montana, in a house that was named after the sacred place of worship for his people.
She felt her heart expand, again, this time sure it would burst into a million pieces. She would almost welcome the release from this sweet torture. But that is not what’s scaring the shit of me. What is scaring me is not the fear that I have this, but the fear that I am going to lose it. That I will find that this is all another illusion like it was with Bill, or that after the sees me, all of me, he will realize that I am unworthy of him, of his loving me like this.
No! She pushed back at that voice in her head. No! I will not be so afraid of losing something that I won’t even try and have it in the first place! Even if this turns out to be a dream, it’s the best fucking dream I have ever dreamed! If only last for five minutes it will be the best five minutes I have ever had in my entire life. I won’t leave this! I won’t run away. I love this man, and I won’t leave him until he tells me it’s time for me to go!
Good, I am glad to know that, she heard him as, smiling down at her, he set her plate on the bar. She leaned into him, resting her head on his chest as his arms came around her automatically.
I guess you heard all that?
At least some, the rest I felt through the bond. Is it so hard to love me, Sookie? Is it so hard to love me that you have to fight with yourself so hard to just stay?
No! No, it’s not hard to love you, it’s so easy it’s scary. It’s scary to let myself just slide into you and not wonder what will happen if you leave me, or you find something that you don’t like and realize this was a mistake.
You think me fickle, Sookie? Despite my bond to you?
No, Eric! I think it’s that… I think that I am unworthy. This fear has nothing to do with you, though I shove the blame there questioning what would make you leave me, but the true driver is that I am not sure I have enough to persuade you to stay.
Ah, he thought. You mentioned that if you didn’t love yourself then you had nothing to offer me. He was quiet for a minute, and then he sat on the stool beside her and started to cut her omelet up for her, feeding her bites slowly as he had done the first night with the steak.
Does knowing this not change it and allow you to avoid this fear and spiral? She laughed, but there was little humor in it.
Knowing a thing does not change it, Eric. Every time I fall into this well, I have to reason and swim my way back to you. I have to fight my way back, because right now at least, I don’t know how to not get swept away. He fell quiet again.
How can I help, Sookie?
Be yourself for me, Eric. I need that most of all. You being you.
He smiled then. You mean the Eric who came to your house to protect from werewolves and then offered you passionate primal sex?
The Eric one who tricked you into drinking his blood, after saving your life?
The Eric who locked your friend in his basement and tortured him?
The Eric who cried in front of you at the loss of his Maker, falling to his knees and begging him to stay?
The one you saw fucking Yvetta in the basement?
Yes, but now he only fucks me. I will rip that cold detached mask off his goddamned face and smash it on the wall when he comes to me. I want everything. I will take nothing less and anyone who does is a fool.
They have all been fools until you, lover.
You asked me if I wanted all of them, Eric, all of you. I will accept nothing less than everything from you. You inspire me to slough off the shackles and rise to meet you. You command me to do it, just with your very presence. I expect no less from you.
Some of them you hate, and would rather ‘have cancer’ than to have them grow on you.
What can I say, Eric? I didn’t understand then. I could childishly say that you didn’t explain either, but why would you? He looked at her cocking a brow in question. You are Sheriff of Area 5, Eric. You answered to the Vampire Queen of Louisiana. Why would it ever occur to you to give a flying fuck what a waitress at Merlotte’s thought of you, let alone take the time to explain what you were doing to her? She felt his shock at her thoughts through the bond.
I am sorry if my words back then hurt you. As Russell told me, ‘I didn’t really know anything at all.’ I am sorry that I treated you the way I did. In addition, I can only say that I will not make snap judgments before seeking to understand the reasons behind someone’s actions first.
While it is no defense, I can also tell you that I think it was my strong attraction to you and my fear of it that made it easier to always think the worst of you. A defense mechanism to keep me from hanging out at your feet while you sat enthroned at Fangtasia, like every other lowly fangbanger in the joint.
She felt amusement through the bond.
Never at my feet, Sookie. Even the first night, the first time I saw you, I sat you at my right hand.
HA! I knew it! So you were always mine, weren’t you Vampire? She teased him delightedly.
Apparently, from the moment I saw you, Fairy. She had just taken the last bite of her omelet, so he leaned in and kissed her on the nose, teasing her.
Had enough to eat, Beloved? If you are ready I want to give you a tour of our home. Her heart jumped at his words.
Why does your heart speed up when I say that, Sookie? All I am and all I have is yours. Believe this. Forcing herself not to run and not get swept away she stepped closer to him and spoke for the first time in a while. The intimacy of telepathy was not to be underestimated but some words only held true power when spoken.
“Eric, all I am and I have is yours, as well. Believe this. I will not leave you unless you tell me to go. I swear it.” She sealed her offer with a kiss.
Tackling their pile of purchases that they had stacked in the living room floor they started putting things in piles for the loft, the main floor and the underground lair. Once everything was sorted she and Eric gathered the stuff for the loft and headed up the stairs.
Entering the master bedroom, Sookie saw a huge bed with a rough log headboard. The logs that comprised the headboard still had their bark. The bed itself was covered in what appeared to be real animal furs.
There was a fire place in the corner that sat above the fireplace she had noted down in the living room below. When she looked up she saw that the steep angled ceiling over the bed had a sky light. Putting his load down on the bed Eric came up behind her and pulled her to him.
“I made this bed when I first came to Montana, in fact, I built this whole house myself.”
She looked at him oddly, and for some reason he felt, lust and desire sweep through the bond. Raising an eyebrow in question all he got was an image of him naked in a tool belt, followed by more, stronger waves of lust. She was practically purring. He laughed.
“Well, it wasn’t quite like that, but, if it means that much to you, I could make that fantasy come true. I do have a tool belt around here somewhere and I could be naked and looking for something to nail in about two seconds.” More lust came through the bond.
Somewhere a pair of panties just rolled over in their grave, she thought at him, unable to suppress a smile.
Eric, caught in her emotional jet stream swept her into his arms for hugs and kisses as he laughed out loud at her thoughts. Yes, by the time I am done, all the panties in the world will have been destroyed, one nasty remark at a time. He kissed her then, testing to see if she was willing to stop for a distraction or if this needed to build a little longer before she gave herself to him. When she pulled back and smiled at him he knew she wanted to savor the build, so he continued the tour.
Returning downstairs, they gathered up their items for the lair below and stepped through the door in the floor.
Dropping off the extra sheets and clothes in the closet, and the towels in the bathroom, he led her out into the hall and started to open doors for her.
“This, as you know already, is the hot spring.” He smiled at her, and she picked up his feelings of pleasure when remembering their time there earlier. He moved on to the next door, across the hall. “This is our office. Complete satellite hookup for internet access and also for television, which is…” he paused, moving on to the next room which was on the opposite site of the hall, beside their bedroom, “used here in home theatre”. Opening the door she saw a large TV that took up most of the wall, several recliners, and sofas in the room strategically placed to view the screen. “Of course there is surround sound as well.” Casually placing a bag on one of the sofas he continued the tour.
Opening the door on large dojo style room she caught her breath as she looked around. Weapons of all types and ages adorned the walls. The floor was hard dark wood and positioned around the room were posts and poles for attack practice. “I use this room for sword practice myself. I find the patterns of movement calm my mind and allow me to think through problems that I am struggling with.”
“When was the last time you were here, Eric?” He paused a moment and she felt a wave of loneliness come to her through bond.
“I came here for a month while you were gone. All my leads had turned up nothing, and I was…dealing with the idea that I might never see you again, it was…a difficult for me.” She could feel through the bond that he had been inconsolable, and while she knew she would feel that way if she lost him now, she was more than a little surprised that he had been so devastated back then. She moved closer to him and put her arms around him, hugging tightly, lighting up a little. “Show me,” she whispered her command to him.
She saw him come home from her house, still covered in cement after she threw him off her porch. He had said, “I’m sorry to see you suffer like this, but I thought you had a right to know.” She remembered that she hadn’t believed him at the time, but here and now reliving this memory with him she could feel the hollow ache in his chest as he remembered watching her cry. His longing to pull her into his arms and his sadness that he knew she would never let him comfort her. She saw him return to Fangtasia, and realized that Pam had been the one to save him from Bill’s attempted assassination.
She saw him as he realized that he could no longer feel her in the bond, and the absolute terror he had felt at thinking she was dead. He had come back to her house that night, and searched for her until dawn. The next day, anxious he brought in his best people to search. He refused to accept she was dead, even when Bill had given up, and Pam begged him to move on. Like he told her, her first night back, they all gave up on her and he never did.
I didn’t know you loved me, then, Eric.
I didn’t either, until it was too late.
She saw his nights in her house stalking the shadows in the darkened rooms. Felt him sniff for her scent and trying to remember every detail about her. He refused to forget her, and she felt his growing anger that she had turned his whole world upside down and then disappeared.
There was so much emptiness and regret that he had not been able to explain the ruse with Edgington, or the heated kiss in his office, or the seeming betrayal of locking her in the basement. His churning emotions during the kiss made her lean more into him for support. He had been just as swept away as she had, and it was the first time he had kissed anyone since Godric the he died. Sookie whimpered in pain.
This was the first time since the bond that Godric had come up between them, and the intensity of his pain was overwhelming to her. He pulled her closer, and closed the bond down to prevent her from being lost in his sorrow. “I am so sorry, Sookie,” he whispered, kissing the top of her head. “I didn’t think how that would feel to you. I am still learning what it means to be bonded.” She felt more sorrow from him at not anticipating what would happen and closing the bond down first.
Stop, Eric. I don’t want you to close the bond. Teach me how to process your emotion. Don’t protect me, teach me how to be the woman you need me to be.
You are the woman I need you to be. You always have been. He kissed her then, demanding that she understand that no one had ever been better suited to him than she.
He opened the bond again, and for the first few minutes she felt like she had earlier in the kitchen. This feeling was too big to contain, it made it hard to breathe, so she clung to him harder and told him what she was feeling.
When I as a little girl I used to dream that love would feel like this. I didn’t know then how the shades of love would darken as I grew, but I can see now how my pretty images have become the passionate colors you use to paint me. The feeling is so intense that I…she trailed off then, rather than hold on and let the waves crash into her, she let go of everything but Eric, sending her last conscious thought. …I am hallowed out and all that lives in me now is you, and my love for you. Anything you need, Eric… she thought turning into his kiss, and opening up her mind and soul to him. …Everything you need. Tell me how I can take that pain of losing me away.
No, this pain I will keep. It reminds me to cherish every moment with you.
In that emotional turn she saw him then, the layers of him, everything he had experienced while she was gone and it gutted her. In Dallas when she spoke of love, he had told her not use words he didn’t understand. In her absence he had schooled to learn their meaning. She reached up and gently touched him.
As she touched it, her hands began to glow lavender and she felt herself become more confident as she had in her kitchen when she had challenged him about not being human. When this happened it felt like her skull went numb, and someone else was speaking through her, she knew the words, but they are not words that she would have spoken on her own without another influence.
“You hide yourself from yourself in pieces, Eric. I see Loss, Pain, Hate, Anger, Teacher, Warrior, Lover, Man, Vampire, Master, Maker, Child, Leader, Sheriff, Loneliness.” She could see that there many, many more yet unnamed. “You protect yourself because you only allow one part of yourself out at any time. This is how you maintain control. This is how you live in moments stopped in time, disconnected shards of yourself to cut or savor.” Sookie had been looking through him as she listed this Masks. There with him holding his hand, but somehow out of his reach.
“You cannot love in pieces, Eric. When you hate, it must be tempered with love, when you are the Master you must also be the Child. When you are Vampire you must also be Man. You have separated yourself from yourself dozens of times.” She hesitated here, her tone dropping from otherworldly to Sookie again. “Can you tell me why, Eric?”
He shook his head, speechless at being so naked in her gaze. Now he wanted to run, but if she could stand to see him, most of him, because he thought there were still some Masks she hadn’t found yet, then he could do no less than stand before her gaze and let her judge him.
She felt his fear through the bond, and sent him back admiration for his bravery. He shook his head, denying wordlessly her praise. She was reminded of her own denial to him of his pride for saving him when she thought all she had done was risk him.
Do not fight yourself my love, remember that I love and need all of you.
There are pieces you won’t love, Sookie. Pieces that no one can love in me. Pieces I never want you to see.
We won’t make you, Eric. We won’t make you show us, but we need you to show us soon. Echoes of his encounter with Tea Cup Sookie.
She stopped glowing now and just wrapped her arms around him, tightly for several minutes. He let the sound of her heartbeat and her slow steady breathing calm him. She took her time knowing from having been on the other side of this deep self-exploration that what he needed was time to process.
After a long while she stepped back and looked around the room at the weapons adorning the walls. Turning to face him, with a Pixie like grin on her face, bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet in excitement she asked, “So, which one of the badass swords are you going to teach me how to kick your ass with, Viking?”