Disclaimer: I don’t own it, but oh how I wish I did! I’m not affiliated with True Blood or the Southern Vampire Mysteries or their creators. No copyright infringement is intended. I just love to play with the Viking!
A/N: Here you are, my friends. I really hope it was worth the wait. My apologies for the exceedingly long delay.
A sliver of sunlight awoke me as it made an appearance, streaming through the curtains to shine right across my eyes. I squinted at the sudden brightness and sat up. I stretched while my mind began trying to piece together how I was feeling about everything that had happened. Although I still felt betrayed, I wasn’t nearly as angry with Godric as I had been the night before. Shocked? Yes. Humiliated? Abso-fuckin-lutely!
All the feelings were still there, but I knew I was calm enough to talk to him without fear of trying to punch him in the throat, which, let’s face it, would more than likely do more harm to me and that’s only if Eric didn’t get to me first for hitting his Maker. His Maker?! What the motherfucking fuck? I had thought Eric’s Maker was some evil asshole. It was right there in the books! Sweet Jesus! How can you tell how much fiction is fact and how much fiction is fiction in those damn things!?
Yeah, I guessed I was ready to hear Godric out. Eric, on the other hand, I wasn’t as sure. I could see myself smacking him upside the face on principle. Hell, I did just that with the unsuspecting and undeserving Dream-Eric. Who only pulled me close and held me, like I knew he would, before making love with me. Both things I knew I wouldn’t do to the real Eric now that he was back.
Wait! God, I’m such an idiot!! Yes, Eric was in Dallas, but he hadn’t come back, not for me. We just happened to be in the same place at the same time. Tears pricked the corners of my eyes and a sharp pain pierced my heart at my realization. Why had I been thinking any differently? He’s not here for you, Dumbass! To that end, I still couldn’t understand his behavior. It was in complete contrast to what I’d expected if I ever was in his presence again.
If he didn’t want me to look for him, then he obviously didn’t want to see me. So what was with big smile on the roof and what the Hell was he doing at my door? It had been very close to sunrise. Did he think I would really invite him in? For what reason? Was he so self-absorbed that he couldn’t tell I wasn’t fooled by him any longer? Had he thought I would let him sleep in my room or sleep with him in any capacity?
Don’t get me wrong. I wanted to. God, how I wanted to climb him like a tree and lay claim to those soft lips while staring into the crashing waves of his beautiful blue eyes until I lost myself to him, but I couldn’t. Not yet. Not yet? What the Hell am I thinking? I didn’t think I could handle another one night stand. Physically? Absolutely! Fuck, yeah! Emotionally? Not on my best day. Things were difficult enough in my own head. It was best to have the memory. Wasn’t it?
YES, it was. I would only be hurt further to hear him actually say the words that he didn’t want me. I already knew it. Unrequited love is a bitch. But the God damn dreams! I still couldn’t shake the feeling that he was experiencing something similar when he called me ‘beautiful girl.’ Maybe there was a connection? Ultimately, would it really matter? No.
I wasn’t here to find Eric. I had come to find Godric and learn about myself.
He knew who Eric was from the first moment I spoke about him. Hell, he could probably smell his own Childe’s blood in me before we ever spoke, but he had kept it a secret throughout the entire week we had gotten to know each other! I didn’t understand his need to pretend with me. I thought we had been honest with each other about so many other deep, personal things, but this was big. Really big. I told him all about my short, but meaningful, at least to me, time with Eric and he had pretended the whole time that I was speaking of a stranger.
It hurt to think he didn’t trust me enough to tell me, or even think I had a right to know while I cried over Eric and told Godric nearly every detail of my ridiculous feelings. What was his motivation? Surely he knew that Eric would come. Was he just curious to see the fireworks, so to speak? I just couldn’t get over the question of how he could do that and still call me his daughter.
These thoughts continued to play over in my mind while I took a shower and prepared for the day. I finally decided to spend some time outside the room. I needed to get out, not to mention it could use a good cleaning. It was late afternoon and I planned on taking advantage of the all-inclusive services. I mean, it’s not like I brought an extensive wardrobe, and I had been wearing the same worn-out jeans for a couple of days.
I slipped on a pair of jean shorts with a loose-fitting, black tank top over a tight, white tank top and my black chucks. I gathered my dirty clothing that had been accumulating and placed it in a clear plastic bag I found in the kitchen. I dropped it by the door and called the front desk. I wasn’t entirely sure of their process for getting into the room, but since no one else was in the room this time, I asked for maid and laundry service. They told me my clean clothes would be ready and waiting in my room in a few hours.
I poured a generous glass of my never-emptying moonshine jug, chugged it down, then grabbed my phone, wallet, and keycard, and left the room.
I was standing at the elevator and waiting on the car, no longer concerned about running into the massive stranger, when I heard someone call my name. I turned and saw Sookie scurrying down the hall toward me, phone in hand. She was wearing a green sundress and sandals. It had cap-sleeves and hung just below her knees. Even though the dress would have been adorable on little girl, on her it looked very grown-up, hugging her curves.
“Cricket! I was just gonna call you,” she said, breathing hard from her sprint.
“Hey, Sookie,” I said with a smile.
We hugged again and she took a few more breaths, smiling at me. Just then the door opened and we stepped in together.
“Where are you going?” she asked
“Actually, I really just wanted to get out of that room. I’ve more or less been cooped up there for days. I thought I’d get something to eat. Do you want to come?”
“Of course I do! Why do you think I was callin’ ya’?”
We exited the elevator and made our way to the restaurant. I recognized the hostess from the other day, and smiled as she greeted us cheerfully and led us to a table handing us menus.
“Ya’ never came to karaoke. I’m telling ya’, it’s really a good time,” the hostess said with a big smile.
“Oh, Cricket, we gotta come down before we leave! I’d love to hear you sing again!” Sookie said with an excited look on her face.
I looked from one smiling face to the other and shrugged.
“Maybe? I don’t think I’ll be staying in the hotel much longer, so we’ll see.”
“Well, I hope ya’ll do,” the hostess said with a wink and walked back to her station. What the hell? Was she flirting with us?
The server came and took our drink order. I ordered a beer. Sookie eyed me while asking for an iced tea. I looked back at her with an expression that said “What?” and she replied with a small shrug.
“It’s after four and I’m…on vacation,” I defended.
“I didn’t say anything. You’re right. You can do whatever you want,” putting her hands up in a placating manner.
I rolled my eyes. Maybe I had been by myself too much or rather not interacting with humans. I knew I had been drinking quite a bit, but to be honest. Who cared? I sort of was on vacation, and it wasn’t like I was getting smashed every night and waking up with hangovers and, even if I was, so what?
Why did I care what she thought about me? JP would understand. Hell, he’d be sitting here drinking with me. There was no reason to get irritated. It wasn’t Sookie’s fault that I had been on an emotional rollercoaster for days on end. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. When I opened them again, I saw her waving the server over.
“Are you ready to order ladies?” he said as he set our drinks on the table. I hadn’t even looked at the menu, but I figured we’re in Texas so some kind of meat would be in order. Quite frankly, I was getting tired of that salad, no matter how delicious it was.
“Um, yeah, I’ll have a cheeseburger, medium-rare, and some cheese fries,” I said.
“That sounds good. I’ll have the same…and can you bring me a beer, too?” Sookie asked. I raised my eyebrow at her and she shrugged again. The server walked away to place our order.
“What?” she asked innocently.
“Nothing at all.”
“It sounded good,” she said with a small laugh.
I laughed with her, genuinely smiling for the first time in what felt like forever. We sat for a few minutes without speaking, but it wasn’t uncomfortable at all. I really had grown to like her in the time we had been getting to know each other before the filming ended. The server returned with her drink and left just as quietly. Sookie raised her glass. We touched them together and each took a long drink of our beers.
“So, what are you doing in Dallas? Seems like an unusual spot for a vacation. Is JP here?” she asked.
“Um, no. He’s actually with Russell,” I laughed a little as a big grin spread across my face while simultaneously avoiding her question of why I was there.
“Really? What’s with the smile?”
“He’s just…I don’t know… Having the time of his life from what it seems. I’ve talked to him a little bit, but I don’t want to interrupt his time off,” I explained, still grinning. I really was happy for him. Yes, I was a little jealous of how his relationship continued while mine crashed and burned, but he deserved it.
“It did seem like they were gettin’ along pretty good before. I don’t know him too well, Russell, I mean, but I like him and they did look smitten with each other,” she giggled.
“Yeah. I love to see him happy, even if that means I actually haven’t seen him in a while. Well, it’s a while for us. We’ve been together for years. We’re family.”
“Tell me about it. How did you guys get together?”
So I did. I told her about our first meeting, which made her laugh of course, almost to the point of tears. Opal will live on in history! Much like I had with Maggie, I shared several stories of our history together, laughing with each new anecdote.
Somewhere during our conversation the server brought our food and we ordered a couple more beers. Our conversation flew easily. I told her about growing up in Indiana and my study of theatre that had brought me to Louisiana, even if I was still a Hoosier in my head. Most importantly, it brought JP into my life.
She shared stories about her and Jason, and the trouble he got into as a kid. She never mentioned her parents, but way she spoke about him truly reminded me of my relationship with JP. He was as much a sibling to me as he was my best friend. We were always there for each other and it sounded like she and Jason were the same when it counted. He was protective of his little sister just like JP was protective of me and vice versa.
I wondered how Jason really felt about her and Fuckface. Did he like him? Was he accepting, or did he also think Bill was a douchebag, like I did? I didn’t think it was my place to ask, but I was curious to know. There really wasn’t much Jason could do if he wasn’t on board with Sookie and Bill. Then again, maybe he did approve and he was as happy for her as I was for JP with Russell. I wondered how I would feel if JP was with someone I really didn’t like.
We didn’t get into anything too deep or heavy. I supposed if we became closer friends that would come. We just enjoyed our light-hearted and fun tales, and it was nice to have someone to really talk to without all the seriousness weighing me down.
“So, what are you doing in Texas?” I asked.
“Eric asked me to come,” she said.
That was all I heard as once again I felt that surge of jealousy bubble up in my chest. It was the same as it had been the night before. It was an irrational overreaction on my part, but for some reason, it bothered the hell out of me that he would ask her to be there with him when he had made it clear that he didn’t want me when he left. My feelings were hurt and it was ridiculous. They were friends and he didn’t even know me! There would have been no reason for him…
“…and he agreed so quickly. It’s just, if I knew how he felt sooner…and now…everything’s different,” she said the last part quietly with a wistful look on her face.
I realized she had continued to speak throughout my internal monologue, but I had no idea what she’d said. I tried not to let it show. If she knew how he felt sooner? What did that mean? How he felt about her? My heart dropped to my stomach even as I nodded. What about Fuckface? Well, the fact that she was out looking for Eric in the middle of the night said a great deal about that, didn’t it?!
What about the fact that he was at my door? Damn, I should have been listening. It seemed too late to ask her to repeat everything she’d just said, so I just nodded again. My jealousy simmered below the surface and I tried hard to keep my face passive. After all, my feelings were not her fault.
“You OK?” Sookie asked.
“Yeah, why?” I asked, clearing my throat.
“You look pretty deep in thought and a little upset.”
“No. I’m fine.”
“So, you said you’re leavin’ soon?” she asked, sensing I didn’t want to talk about it.
“Yeah, I think I’ll be probably checking out tomorrow or the next day. I need to talk to my friend Maggie first. She was staying here with me, but she hasn’t been around since we checked in,” I said, ignoring the passing hint of guilt. Oh well, Godric would be telling them soon.
“Yeah, maybe you know her? She was one of the casting directors at the, uh, filming.”
“Huh. Doesn’t ring a bell and I thought I knew everyone involved with the show,” she mused, looking as if she was trying to search her out in her mind.
“Hmm. Maybe you know her by Amelia. Maggie’s her nickname. She’s short, dark hair, giggles all the time…”
“Oh! Amelia! Yeah, I know her. I mean, I met her, but not there.”
“Then how do you know her?”
“She was at the…you know…where some of them live.”
“You were at the nest?!” I blurted out.
Thinking about it, it seemed perfectly logical since she was so involved with vampires, but for some reason, I was still surprised.
“Shhh!” she said, looking around quickly. Fortunately, no one was paying any attention to us, “You can’t just shout stuff out like that,” she said, looking around again.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about? I enjoy bird watching. I was just surprised you were at the aviary,” I said, trying to cover my shout about nests.
She smirked, and then giggled, followed by laughter.
“What?” I asked with a smile starting to grow on my face. Her laughter was contagious.
“Aviary!” she practically shouted, “I love that!”
We talked a bit about the nest and Sookie told me about the other missing vampire, Farrell. Initially, the others in the nest thought that both Farrell and Godric were taken, but it was Farrell that Stan was more concerned about. Apparently, Farrell had quite an appetite…for children. According to Eric, he outwardly showed no remorse, but Stan felt protective of him as a member of his nest. The life of the children was only secondary to the need of secrecy, but Stan had confided to Godric and Isabel that they should attempt to rehabilitate him in some way. The last thing they needed when revealing themselves would be for a serial child killer to be discovered. It would not end well for anyone.
Though it didn’t seem believable that an ancient could have been kidnapped, the suspicion turned to Godric. The unspoken concern was that perhaps Godric had done something to Farrell due to his diet and disregard for life, and then disappeared himself. Farrell was slightly older than Eric and Godric would have been the only one who could have possibly done harm to him. Godric’s changing behavior of not wanting to kill humans made him suspect, regardless of the fact that he wasn’t outwardly aggressive to anyone, at least not as he had been in centuries past.
It was Eric who had put a stop to their insinuations and paranoia regarding Godric. He never even entertained the idea that Godric would harm or end another vampire, despite his history and the history they shared. In fact, Sookie said that Eric was more aggressive toward the members of the nest than his Maker probably ever was. So, the search continued to find both of them. Though most of the searching consisted of the group of them sitting around and trying to strategize where to look. We were quiet as I took a few moments to let that sink in while running everything through my head that I knew of Godric. Would he have done something like that? My heart told me no. He had left that part of himself behind a long time ago. Like Eric, I would defend him, not that my opinion would matter to a group of vampires.
“Oh my Gosh!” Sookie suddenly exclaimed.
“What?” I asked looking around.
“It makes total sense now. When I met Amelia, I kept hearing her talk about crickets. It never in a million years occurred to me that she was talking about you. I thought maybe she just had some weird bug collection or something,” she giggled.
“She talked about me?” I asked with an uneasy feeling in my stomach.
She wasn’t supposed to mention me. Did they glamour something from her? Did they ask her why she was there asking to speak to Godric? Did she tell them she was helping to find him for me?!
“Well, no, not exactly,” she said with a smile, tapping her temple.
It was the first time she had actually made reference to what we both already knew that I knew. I let out a deep breath I had been holding, relieved that Maggie hadn’t actually voiced anything out loud. Then something else occurred to me and I figured I might as well ask. I leaned closer to her across the table and asked in a whisper.
“Um, Sookie…can you hear…anybody?”
“Maybe we shouldn’t talk about this here,” she whispered back.
I nodded and waved over the server. He gave us the bill and left us alone. I went to grab for it, but she snatched it up and signed for it before I had the chance.
“Pssh, Eric’s paying for it,” she winked conspiratorially.
Once again, I swallowed down the jealous feelings. Of course Eric’s paying for her! He wants her here with him. I forced a smile and stood. We walked out of the restaurant, thanking the hostess on our way out. I really did like Sookie, but I began to think that maybe lunch hadn’t been the greatest idea after all.
Sookie linked her arm with mine and guided me through a door at the back of the hotel that led to a huge outdoor courtyard surrounded by a tall rock wall. It was hot outside, and we walked along a stone path until we were on the other side before sitting on an iron bench under a tree in the shade. The numerous strategically placed trees, bushes, and flowering plants flourished throughout the courtyard. It was quite beautiful.
She turned to me and sighed.
“No, I can’t hear everybody, at least not the same way. Well, I can’t hear people like Bill or Eric at all. There’s sort of like a blank spot where they should be.”
“You can’t hear anything ever?”
“Well, I thought I heard something from Eric when he was feeling very strongly about…something, but it only happened once and I’m not entirely sure that I really did.”
I took that in while she gathered her thoughts. I wondered what he had thinking about. Probably something about her! It hurt a little and I sighed. After a minute she continued.
“Some…other people are like pictures…”
“By other people, are you talking about Weres?” I whispered.
We seemed to be alone, but you never knew who might be around and what they might know. Her eyes darted around before returning to mine and she nodded.
“Always pictures?” I asked.
“No. It’s kinda like there’s pictures to go along with the thoughts they have. Like a visual of what they’re talking about, as if my imagination couldn’t figure it out, I need a picture book,” she scoffed.
“What about other people, like witches or I don’t know…others?”
“Oh, I can hear them fine. Your friend Amelia, she’s a witch, right?”
“I told you, she kept talkin’ about crickets…or well, I guess you,” she giggled.
“Yeah, I have to admit, I’m glad that was all in her head,” I giggled, too.
Then I looked out into the courtyard at the flowers. When I glanced back at her, the look on her face told me that she knew that I wanted to know what she could hear from me, but I wasn’t ready to tell her anything about myself, so I didn’t ask and changed the subject.
“Um, speaking of that or I guess not speaking exactly, there’s someone here I think you might want to meet. Well, maybe. I’m not sure. I mean, I don’t know how either of you would feel. Anyway, there’s a bellboy here named Barry and I think he might be like you. You know…,” I said, tapping the side of my temple as she had.
Her eyes grew wide and I could see excitement in them as a wide grin grew on her face.
“No way! Really? How do you know?”
“Well, I don’t know for certain, but… I don’t know. I got the feeling that he was trying to listen or something. I mean, when he looked at me it was like he was concentrating very hard and he seemed to hear or sense when Godric was in my room, even though he couldn’t possibly have seen him. I might be wrong, but I had planned on calling you to tell you about him whenever I spoke with you again. Of course, I really didn’t expect it to be here and now,” I laughed lightly.
“I do! I mean, I would really like to meet him. I’ve never met anyone else, you know? When do you think I can?”
“I don’t know. It’s not like we’re friends or anything. He was the one who initially brought us to our rooms and he’s delivered my dinner to me a couple of times. I suppose you could ask at the front desk or order something. I doubt he’s here at the moment, though. I think he works at night. He’s also generally the only one who comes to our floor. I’m assuming you can figure out why.”
“Yeah, he can probably sense the blank spots, too, so he would know who to avoid and all.”
“That’s what I thought, too.”
We sat for a little while longer until Sookie looked at her watch, and then to the sun, which was very low on the horizon. It would set by the time we were back to our rooms.
“I suppose we should head back in. I need to be there when Bill wakes up so he won’t worry,” she sighed.
“Right,” I said as I stood and we began walking back toward the way we came.
We were both quiet, lost in our own heads as we walked to the elevator.
“So, when are you going to talk to him?” she asked, startling me out of my thoughts.
“Barry? I don’t know. I guess I figured you’d find him. Like I said, we’re not friends, but I could introduce you, I suppose. I mean, if that would be easier for you. I’d be happy to help,” I smiled.
“I didn’t mean Barry. I’ll figure that out on my own. He’s bound to be around here sometime and I don’t think we’re leaving yet, since no one has found Farrell yet. I am really glad Godric’s not missin’ anymore. Eric was more upset than I’ve ever seen him, although he was trying to hide it.”
“Well, I’m glad someone other than me was actually concerned for Godric. I didn’t know how to help him and it made me feel terrible that he wasn’t close to anyone,” I said quietly.
“Yeah, Eric definitely was. Everyone just believed he was pissed at them for not finding him already, but I could tell he was worried. He’s always so strong and brave, you know, but I could see it was one of the things tearing him up inside these last few days,” she gave me a look that I didn’t understand.
“Good. I mean, it’s not good that he was worried, but it’s good that they’re here together. Godric was very anxious about him coming. So I’m happy he’s got someone here for him now.”
“I think so, too. I mean, you shoulda seen Eric. We came back from the…aviary last night and we were in his suite, then all of a sudden his eyes went wide, and he bolted out of there before I could blink.”
I laughed because I could picture it. Then I pictured the look of anguish on Godric’s face as he looked at me when Eric appeared so quickly. Maybe he really had been planning to tell me. Then the words sunk in that she was in his room and my stomach knotted. She didn’t mention if Fuckface was with them, and I was guessing he wasn’t since she was walking down the hall alone right after Eric arrived.
“What?” I asked.
She rolled her eyes as we entered the elevator.
“When are you gonna talk to him?” she huffed.
“Oh, um, right away, I guess. I mean, we’ve spent every night together for the last week. I was so pissed last night, but now I think I can see things a bit clearer and I need to apologize. Although I have to say, Godric owes me a pretty big fucking apology as well,” I laughed.
She blew out a breath and turned to face me. When I looked at her, she was practically scowling at me.
“Cricket. I was talking about Eric. When are you going to talk to Eric?”
I opened my mouthed, but nothing came out. Why does she care if I talk to Eric? Did she want to make sure he told me they were going to do whatever the fuck they were going to do? I didn’t want to get into the middle of whatever they were trying to figure out. It was none of my business.
She’d already made it clear that she didn’t know how he felt before, but now she did. She could see past what everyone else saw when he was upset. She knew him. I didn’t need to hear it from him. I didn’t want to hear it from either of them. I just wanted to apologize to Godric and go home. Eric was there now and I would be, too, if he needed me, but I didn’t think he would anymore.
“I don’t know. I need to tell him some of the things Godric told me before I go. I’m not sure he will do it on his own and Eric is his Childe. He needs to know, you know?”
“Cricket, when I went up on that roof last night…” she trailed off seemingly trying to find the right words.
“What?” I snapped a little harsher than I intended.
I was feeling very guilty about my behavior and how upset I must have made Godric, spitting hateful words at him, but I still felt my words were justified. I just probably could have said the same thing without as much venom. I was still looking at her, but instead of the irritated look I expected, her eyes softened, and she sighed. She reached out and grabbed my hand giving it a slight squeeze.
“You need to talk to him.”
The doors opened and I stepped out letting go of her hand. She stepped out, gently grabbed my arm, and turned me toward her.
“And you need to listen.”
I jerked my arm out of her grasp. As much as I liked her, I didn’t want to hear her to tell me what I needed to do. Her feelings may have changed about Eric, but I didn’t need to listen to him tell me about it as she had. I needed to tell him about Godric’s plans. If he deemed me worthy of an apology then I would accept it graciously, but I wasn’t expecting one. I was just about to tell her so when we heard a booming voice and we both turned to see Fuckface standing there.
“Thank God, Sookeh! I was so worried! Where have you been? Anything could have happened and I wouldn’t have been there to help you,” he cried and grabbed her upper arms, causing her to gasp in surprise.
His words may have dripped with concern, but the way he was holding her was anything but tender and it pissed me off
“Bill…” she started, but I interrupted her.
“Jesus! We were having lunch! She doesn’t need to give you a fucking play by play of her day. Now let go of her, you fucking asshole,” I snapped as I shoved him.
He let go and stumbled back a step when I pushed him. Obviously, he was caught off guard or I never would have been able to move him at all. His shocked eyes snapped to mine as if realizing for the first time that I was there, too. They narrowed as he grabbed me by the wrists shoving them into my chest. My back was against the wall before I realized he had moved. The wind was knocked out of me when I hit the wall.
Oh, Hell, no!
“Bill! Wh…What are you doing?” Sookie stuttered out in shock.
“Everything’s fine, Sookeh,” he growled low, never taking his eyes from mine.
His tight grip reminded me of when Pam had held me by the arm, but my wrists were more fragile and I was sure if I taunted him again I would feel and hear them snapping possibly along with my sternum, but I couldn’t help myself. In that moment, I didn’t give a fuck and I was pissed! Besides, I’d had broken bones before, so fuck it. I didn’t think he’d kill me right there in the hallway, but then again, what did I know? I glanced at Sookie and she seemed to be in a state of shock. Her eyes were glassy and she was staring at us.
My attention was brought back to him when he snarled, putting more pressure on my chest. He pushed my wrists harder against it until I could feel his knuckles that would probably leave pretty purple and green bruises. It made it difficult to take a deep breath, but I was too angry to care. We were almost the same height so we were standing eye to eye when I raised an eyebrow and smirked at him.
“You know, this is called assault, and even if she doesn’t leave you for domestic violence against her, I doubt she appreciates you trying to cop a feel on another woman. Now, stop trying to feel me up, and get your fucking hands off me,” I sneered between shallow breaths.
“What did you say to me?” he asked low and menacingly with his eyes boring into mine.
“She said take your fucking hands off of her!!”
I heard Eric’s furious shout an instant before I was sliding down the wall, pulling in deep breaths, but not before I felt my left shoulder pop and blinding pain shot down my arm and across my back. Fucking son of a bitch!
I heard shouting and growling from Eric, Bill, Sookie, and another familiar voice, but my eyes were clenched shut. After a minute that felt like a year, I was finally able to breathe again and everything was quiet.
I felt the familiar peace wash over my body when someone touched my left shoulder and I bit my lip to keep from crying out. My tear-filled eyes shot open to see Eric kneeling next to me. His hair was wild and his eyes were red-rimmed. Other than that, he looked perfect. Actually, he looked better than perfect.
You know, basically how he always looks.
In fact, the messy hair had a freshly-fucked look and it made me want him even more. As if that’s even possible! His eyes looked pained, but there was a soft, small smile on his delicious lips. I looked at him for a moment and nodded with a small smile of my own.
“Can you help me up?” I asked in a quiet, shaky voice.
“Of course, Min Sǫngr,” he said gently.
He looked at my left arm where my right arm was holding it to my chest and moved to the other side. He started to reach down and pick me up, and I shook my head.
“I can stand up. I just need you to help me get there.”
“Anything you want,” he whispered.
Gently and carefully, he helped me stand and we walked to my door with his hand on the small of my back. As we approached, I saw a bottle of my new favorite wine and a note attached on the floor. I looked up at Eric and he was staring at it.
“It’s from Godric,” I said with a small smile.
I heard a tiny growl almost like a grunt come from his chest. We stood there for a moment until I realized I couldn’t open the door by myself.
“Um, Eric? Could you help me with the door, please?”
He nodded, still not taking his eyes from the bottle or maybe the note. I wasn’t sure.
“The, uh, key is in my back pocket. You’ll, uh, have to get it,” I said in a timid voice.
I couldn’t think about the fact that he was about to touch my ass. I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that he was about to touch my ass. God, I’m an idiot! The pain in my arm didn’t take away from the anticipation of feeling his hand on me. Then I saw the card in his hand. He had removed it from my pocket without me even noticing. I sighed and looked up. He had a smirk on his face and his eyebrow was raised.
“What?” I asked with a smirk of my own.
“Just waiting for you to tell me your code,” he winked.
I could feel my face heat up and I looked down.
“I have missed your blush.”
I raised my head to look him in the eyes.
“Humph, well I haven’t thought of you at all. 845464 is the code,” I said smugly.
I was fairly sure he knew I was lying with the way my body reacted to him, but for a second a flash of hurt crossed his eyes before he started laughing as he punched in the code and shook his head.
“What is so damn funny about my door code?” I asked at a loss. I remembered Godric laughing when he learned as well.
I glared at him, and he grinned trying to hold in a chuckle.
“You say you have not thought of me yet, your code spells out ‘Viking’,” he said as a wide smile spread on his perfect, smug, beautiful, cocky, fucking face.
“Bullshit!” I said and looked up at the telephone style keypad. Mother fucker! 845464 – VIKING
He laughed as the realization hit my face.
“What the fuck? I didn’t even know where the numbers came from when I picked it!” I groaned.
“Ah, it was subconscious. You were thinking of me, even if you did not realize it,” he smirked.
We had waited too long to open the door and he couldn’t help but laugh when he had to enter it in again. He turned the knob until it clicked, but didn’t push it open and didn’t make a move. I looked up at him in curiosity.
“You have not invited me in. I cannot enter, remember?” he said cockily.
“Right,” I said.
Now it was my turn to be cocky as I pushed the door open with my foot and stepped inside. I turned around and placed my foot next to the bottle of wine and scooted it slowly and gently into the room. Looking up into his now, not-so-cocky face, I saw his eyes were wide open in surprise as he watched me, his mouth hanging open.
“Thanks for your help, Eric,” I smiled sweetly before making a show of starting to push the door shut with my foot.
“No, wait,” he tried to reach out for the door, but he couldn’t get past the barrier.
“You… You need assistance.”
“I believe your shoulder is dislocated.”
“Don’t worry about me, Eric.”
“You know I can fix it or do you not recall the pain before I mended your fingers?”
Little fucker! He knew I did!
“You’re right,” I blew out a breath.
His smile grew wide.
“I’ll step back out and you can fix it, if you don’t mind.”
He sighed and looked down. I saw him close his eyes, and watched him have what Maggie and Octavia would call a ‘conversation with himself.’ Then he took a deep breath, raised his head, and locked his gaze with mine. There were no lusty storms, no heavy-lidded eyes. They were clear, hopeful, determined, and breathtakingly blue.
“Chelsea, may I come in?”
“Of course, Eric. Please come in.” I said.
His smile was blinding as he stepped over the threshold, picked up the bottle and note from the floor, and placed them on the kitchen counter. He closed the door softly and stepped to me. He looked down at my shoulder for a few minutes from the back, side, and front. It appeared that he was calculating the best way to approach the situation.
“Are you ready?” he asked.
“Can you get me a drink, please?” I nodded my head toward the moonshine and he quickly grabbed it and poured some in a glass.
I shook my head and he poured more into the glass until I nodded. He handed the glass to me when I reached out with my good hand and I gulped it down quickly enjoying the burn as I closed my eyes.
“Ready now?” he whispered close to my ear.
My lip trembled slightly and I nodded. I remembered how much it hurt when he popped my fingers back into place. As much pain as I was in, I knew it would hurt much, much more before it felt better.
He turned my body so my back was against his chest, then wrapped his right arm across the top of my chest, wrapping his hand around the top of my shoulder to stabilize it.
I whimpered when I felt his fingers on my shoulder, but the coolness of his skin helped. I turned my head to the right and he kissed the top of my head. I was too caught up in my fear to wonder why he did it.
“Do you trust me?” He whispered above me.
“Do I have a choice?” I snorted.
He chuckled softly and it was comforting to feel his chest rumble behind my back. To feel him, the real him, again, so close to me, it almost took away the pain, both physical and emotional…almost.
“You always have a choice, Min Sǫngr,” he said in a serious tone
I took a deep breath and nodded.
“With this? Yes, I trust you with this. I know you wouldn’t hurt…my body.”
He went still for a moment, then kissed the top of my head again. I felt his arm brace me, and his left hand gently took my left arm near the shoulder, and… Pop!
It was different than the last time. Don’t get me wrong, it was painful as fuck, but even as all the curse words I knew flew through my head, none came out of my mouth. After a few seconds the pain was gone, well, except for the soreness in my shoulder, chest, and wrists from Fuckface, but they were bruises and would heal. Lord knows I’ve had worse.
A few ibuprofen or a half of a jug of moonshine and I would be fine. And no hangover from the moonshine!
We stood there in silence, immobile for a few moments. The only sounds were my breaths. Slowly I moved forward from his chest and he released me from his arms. I could feel how close he was, but I still felt the absence at once. It was best. He helped me, and wouldn’t it be worse if he continued to hold me? It was over.
I was grateful and maybe we still would be friends. I could probably hide my feelings, right? It’s not like we would really see each other. It’s not like he came back for me. I would forgive him. Hadn’t I really already decided that before he arrived? That was what it was to love someone, you know, set them free and all that shit? Unconditional. All of these rational thoughts became resolute in my mind in mere seconds as we stood there.
“Better?” he asked quietly.
I wanted to say yes. I wanted to tell him everything was fine, that I was fine. I wanted to tell him it was OK and I hoped we could stay friends because I loved him and that I didn’t hurt all the fucking time.
I wanted to, but I didn’t. I couldn’t.
Instead I slowly shook my head, because it wasn’t better. It was awful.
Aurelia Gliwiski as Chelsea ‘Cricket’ Kerrigan
Alexander Skarsgård as Eric Northman
Anna Paquin as Sookie Stackhouse
Stephen Moyer as Bill Compton
Thank you for reading!