Disclaimer – I don’t own them and I’m not getting paid. I just want to play with the Viking!
Strangely, I had drifted off to sleep within my dream and that was the moment my mind decided I should awaken. I opened my eyes slowly still remembering how clear the stars were and the comfort I felt lying on the sofa with Eric holding me. I had listened to his deep, soothing voice speaking softly to me as my dream-self relaxed into him and fell asleep.
“I am part of you now,” he’d said.
What did that mean exactly? OH! OH!
OH. MY. GOD!
My eyes were fully open now and I looked around the room for JP. He was sitting in a chair watching what passed for television in hospital rooms.
“JP,” I said my voice cracking from having just awakened coupled with the fact that my throat was dry. No doubt the drugs they had given me had been the cause.
“JP,” I said a little more forcefully, clearing my throat.
He glanced over at me and turned off the TV when he noticed I was actually awake. He greeted me with a very warm smile.
“Hey sweetie, how was your nap?”
“You mean my forced drug-induced sleep?” I said sarcastically in my raspy voice.
He moved over to me and handed me the cup of water from the table. I pushed up onto my elbows, supporting myself on one side while my other hand grasped it gratefully and drank the entire cup, which he promptly refilled. I scooted up in the bed and drank half of the new cup.
“Yes, Cricket. That’s exactly what I meant. How was your forced drug-induced nap?” He rolled his eyes.
I looked at him through narrow eyes. I was still a little pissed, but it wasn’t his fault. There was no reason to be bitchy to him.
“Enlightening,” I said excitedly.
“That’s a little cryptic. In what way?”
I opened my mouth to explain before I stopped myself and closed it again. I wanted so desperately to tell him about the dream and what I thought it meant. What it could only mean, but after what happened earlier I felt I probably shouldn’t. I really didn’t want him to call back the doctor who, I was sure, would promptly put me back to sleep. I was also certain that they would both agree that I should speak to someone regarding the ‘delusions’ I was now having. Was it better to keep those to myself?
Then again, if I fell back to sleep, or was forced to sleep as the case may be, perhaps I could ask some questions of my dream-Eric. For example, why the hell didn’t I jump his sculpted and well-defined body when I had the chance!? Of course, in my dream Eric was basically asking me the same thing, right? Dream-Eric wanted me to jump his bones! I didn’t know if I had the guts to ask the real-life Eric any of my questions, definitely not that one.
I weighed the pros and cons. Would JP listen? Yes. Would he believe me? No. What if I could prove it? He would have to believe me then, right? Could I prove it? No. Did I believe it? That was the million dollar question.
In truth, the possibility scared the shit out of me! Either I really was going crazy or…I couldn’t even think the words of the other possibility, not even silently in my own head.
I knew JP would not call the doctor if I asked him not to. Besides that, JP always seemed to find a way to explain things in a rational and reasonable manner. He would put things in perspective in a way I couldn’t at the moment. He would explain how I was letting my imagination get the best of me. This was only another dream brought on by my hysteria of doubts, right? That’s what I needed, a reality check. I looked at him again to find him watching me expectantly. I supposed I had been silent for too long.
“As usual, I don’t know what it means,” I sighed.
“Another dream or are you still upset about this morning?”
“I’m not upset. Well, I am upset, but not with you. Yes, I had another dream, but before I tell you about it, I want to tell you about what I discovered this morning after my shower. I did shower, right? I didn’t dream that?”
“Yes, you showered and I have to admit that I’m not sure I want to know what you discovered while you were in there,” he laughed, trying to ease my anxiety.
“Shut up. It’s nothing like that, you weirdo.”
“Whew!” he said, wiping his brow in mock-relief.
“After I tell you what I saw, and I’m going to whether you want me to or not, I’ll tell you what I heard or maybe thought I heard, and then what I dreamt. If by that point you still want to hear it, that is.”
He reached over and placed his hand on mine.
“Of course I want to hear what’s bothering you. It should go without saying that I’m always here for you, you dumbass. I’m really worried about you after last night and I know you will feel better after you talk it out. That’s our thing, only one of us in crisis at a time, right, and lately, you’re the one who needs talking down.”
“That’s for damn sure. Have you found out when I can get out of here? I would much rather talk at home. I feel paranoid here, and I don’t want anyone overhearing our conversation, or worse, coming in to knock me out again.”
“That bad, huh? Time to book passage on the train again?”
“That’s an understatement. You might need to buy two tickets after what I tell you.”
“OK. I’ll go tell the nurse we need to speak to the doctor, and then I’ll come back in and pack up your things.”
He puckered his lips and tossed an air kiss at me before leaving the room.
While he was gone, I got out of bed and retrieved the clothing he had brought from the bag. I took it to the bathroom and dressed. I pulled on a pair of shorts, a bra and a tee-shirt. I thought of how I had destroyed my yoga pants. I would need to get another pair soon, not to mention I needed to replace my bra. Eric was right. It was lovely and I was sad it was ruined. Oh well. It could have been much, much worse. I reminded myself.
When I came back in the room, I saw my sneakers under the chair that held my bag. I guess Eric went back for the other one after all. Thinking of Eric gave me a warm feeling in my stomach, but then that feeling suddenly dissipated and was replaced by something I couldn’t quite identify. It was a little like anxiety or fear. I wasn’t afraid of him, was I? He had only ever been kind to me. It was well above and beyond how most people would treat a near stranger. How could I possibly feel anything but gratitude toward that man?
In fact, Eric was beginning to feel like family, despite my unbelievable and uncontrollable attraction toward him. Could anyone really blame me? He’s earned the title of Viking Sex God! He was also in some ways like a big brother always looking out for me. That in itself was strange. Why was he there for me? It was as if he felt the need to take care of me. Why?
On second thought, maybe he wasn’t exactly like a big brother. I didn’t have a brother, but I sure as hell hoped that said brother would not allude to some of the things that Eric had such as saying ‘we didn’t have time’. That would simply be, well, gross! I shuddered thinking of it. Ew!
I continued to remind myself that we were still practically strangers although I had known him now for several days. I could argue; however, that it had only been several days since I had known him as well as the others. Why did JP and I feel so close to them?
I wondered how long it would be before they left and disappeared from our lives. I wasn’t sure how far along they were in shooting the episode. I highly doubted that once they went back to Hollywood, or wherever, we would actually remain in touch as I had known we would with Maggie. These were famous people here to do a job. Yet, at the same time, it still felt as if we had known them forever.
I mused that perhaps they would need to stay on location longer than one episode? It seemed as if this location was in Russell’s Area, monarchy, or whatever. Russell… He was hilarious, and I would miss him as much I would miss the rest of them once they left.
It was crazy to think there was anything beyond the fact that they were simply genuine people. They were friendly, fun, and if they lived here, I’m sure we would be great friends, but they didn’t live here and we would soon need to say goodbye. The thought made my chest ache.
I already loved being around Sookie, Lafayette, and Tara. They were just as I had imagined them. Deep down, I knew these were the characters they were playing, and they had already told me that they stayed in character during filming, but there was something else about them, something that made me want to know them better, something that made them seem real.
Bill, on the other hand, I simply couldn’t figure out. He didn’t necessarily seem disingenuous. He just wasn’t overly friendly. Oh, he was friendly enough the night we’d been drinking, but still a bit standoffish as if he was separate or better than all of us. It was hard to put it into clear thoughts. Maybe he was a great actor and a little too good at playing his character? Maybe I simply had a problem with what he had said in my, not so sure it was a dream, dream of his conversation with Eric?
Had he seriously said he wasn’t concerned if I had died? No, I must have dreamt that part. I had to have put my feelings for his character into my dream version. The more I thought about it, the more I reasoned that no person would ever say something like that about another person, especially in the same fucking room! Unless, of course he was a psycho…or he was really…no, he didn’t actually say that.
Still, my mind was reeling with questions of reality that were causing me to doubt my very sanity. What if? What if Eric? My anxiety spiked again. He couldn’t be. That was ridiculous. It’s just a show. They’re just actors. Get it together, Cricket! He is just an actor!
Yet, I couldn’t get it together. It was too much, the names, the dreams, and the conversations I thought I overheard. Then another snippet of a memory popped into my head, ”You know if I was a vampire, I could heal you.” I hadn’t remembered that before. Did he really say that?
Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Fuck!
I couldn’t deal with these thoughts! I needed to get out of there! I wanted to be home. I needed familiar surroundings to sort this out, and, yes, I needed JP to once again talk me off the ledge.
JP returned accompanied by a nurse who gave me a clipboard with paperwork attached. It basically said that I was agreeing to leave the hospital DAMA, Discharge Against Medical Advice. I could not sign the papers fast enough. She tsked me and shook her head, but took the paperwork with her when she left without an actual word.
JP packed my bag while I put on my sneakers. My hands were shaking while I tried to tie my shoes. Finally, I gave up and tucked the laces into the sides, but I hid it from JP. When I finished, the doctor returned once again with a very concerned look on his face.
“I really feel that you should stay another night or at least the remainder of the day,” he said sincerely.
“I know and I appreciate it, but I’m ready to leave. I’ve already signed the papers. I know you are concerned, and I promise that I will return if I start feeling unsteady or anything. I feel fine right now and I think I will recover more quickly at home.”
“You seem anxious. I would like it if I could take another set of scans before you leave. A brain injury like yours might cause seizures or any number of other complications.”
“Now it’s a brain injury? Why does it feel as if you’re trying to make me worry more than is necessary?”
“Perhaps because I feel it is necessary.”
“Thanks anyway, but no. No more scans. No more being put under sedation. Believe me, I understand what you are telling me and I will be careful. One of us will contact you at the first sign of anything unusual happening, and I’m not anxious. I just want to go home.”
“This morning…” he began before I interrupted.
“This morning I was disoriented, yes, but in my defense, I woke up in unfamiliar surroundings and I have been having some very vivid dreams lately. Even before last night, so I’m going to cut myself some slack for that. We’ve been involved in the filming of that vampire show in town and my imagination has been going crazy. Right, JP?”
“She’s right, Doc,” JP chimed in.
The doctor looked between us and sighed.
“Alright, but I’m telling you that you need to return at the first sign of anything. Anything at all that has you feeling unsettled.”
Yeah, right! As if there was anything at all in my head that wasn’t unsettling right now!
“Thank you, Doctor.”
He handed me his card and looked at me seriously for a moment before he nodded and left the room.
“Ready?” JP asked.
“You have no idea,” I said.
After all the falderal, we finally arrived home in the late afternoon. I saw my car was parked in the garage and I looked at JP in question.
“I don’t know. I was with you. The text said that Eric had your stuff. Your bag contained your keys. Maybe he brought it here and put it in the garage?” he said.
“There’s only one thing wrong with that. How did he know the garage code?” I asked.
“Hello? You have an opener on the visor of your car,” he replied.
“Oh, right.” Duh!
Why was I questioning absolutely everything? I was looking for anything at all that seemed off; when in reality nothing was, or rather, nothing that couldn’t be explained. Nothing, that is, but my crazy-ass dreams.
My dreams. It was time to tell JP everything. I needed his rationale. I needed to be wrong.
I needed a drink.
I looked in the car when I climbed out of his and saw my keys in the ignition. Good. I wouldn’t have to call and find out where they were. I wasn’t ready to talk to Eric.
We entered the house which was, thankfully, still locked and JP went upstairs to put my bag in my room. I went into the kitchen to get a couple of glasses down from the cabinet and a bottle from the rack.
“Do you really think that’s a good idea?” he said when he entered the room.
“No, you’re right,” I replied, returning the glasses to the shelf.
I walked to the freezer and took out a bottle of cherry vodka.
“This would be better,” I said, grabbing the sugar from the pantry.
He just shook his head and opened the fridge to retrieve some lemons and a couple of beers.
“At least you’re not taking any medication.”
“Not yet anyway,” I said under my breath.
We gathered up our paraphernalia, placed it on a tray, and walked upstairs to the living room depositing everything on the table.
“I’m going to change,” I said and went into the bathroom leading to the closet.
“Hurry up, I want a shower,” he called after me.
I changed into a tank top and pajama shorts. I grabbed his pajama pants with a tee-shirt and placed them on the closed lid of the toilet. I reached in the shower and turned on the water for him so it would get hot before returning to the living room and settling onto one end of the couch.
“Don’t start without me.”
“I won’t,” I lied.
In truth, I only had one shot before he returned. He looked at me, and then at the used lemon wedge before giving me the stink eye.
“What? I thought you said ‘Start without me’,” I grinned sheepishly.
“Mhmm. Well, wrack ‘em up, tartlet. I think this may be a long night and we’ve got nowhere to go.”
“That reminds me, I don’t want to see Eric tonight. I mean, I don’t want to see anyone tonight,” I added quickly as I prepared our improvised lemon drops.
“Yeah, I don’t even want to talk on the phone. Eric’s text said he wanted to stop by to talk if I was okay with it. I’m not. Not tonight,” I finished as I handed one to JP.
We touched the glasses together and drank. I started preparing the next round.
“Are you sure? I’m guessing we’ll get a few calls tonight. Everybody was very worried. You didn’t see them in the waiting room.”
“Yes, I’m sure. Just tell anyone who calls that I’m fine, but I’m sleeping or something. Tonight I need to talk, and I only want to talk to you.”
“Cricket, Eric’s been really great to you. I’m sure he’ll only want to make certain you’re all right. I don’t think it’s right, but I’m not going to argue with you. I’m sure you have your reasons, but just this morning you were saying you couldn’t understand why he would need to ask permission to talk to you.”
“Maybe now I know why he asked? Look, I just don’t want to see anyone, okay?”
“OK. Like I said, I’m not going to argue.”
At that very moment, my phone rang. I didn’t even look at it. I just let it ring until the voicemail picked up. JP looked at me incredulously. My response was to hand him the next shot.
“What? I’ll call back whoever it is tomorrow. In fact,” I said while I picked up my phone and turned it off.
I raised my glass and JP did the same before we downed our drinks. I started filling up another round when JP’s phone rang. He glanced at the screen.
“It’s Russell. Should I answer?”
“Do what you want,” I said while continuing my task.
“Hello? … Hey! How’s it going? … She’s fine. She was released early. Well, actually, she signed herself out early.”
He looked at me sternly and I stuck my tongue out at him.
“… No, we’re just going to hang at home tonight.”
I looked at him shook my head, making a ‘sleeping’ gesture with my hands together, laying my head on them.
“Oh, I don’t think so. … She’s, uh, sleeping. … Yeah. … No, not tonight, tell everybody maybe tomorrow, but I’ll tell her you asked after her. … Yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing you, too. … OK, tomorrow. … You, too. Bye.”
He hung up the phone.
“Thanks,” I said.
“Why, of course. “You know I love you more than my luggage,” he said in his best “Clairee” as I handed him the next shot.
“Don’t try to get on my good side…I no longer have one.” I replied, raising my glass.
“OK, “Ouiser.” Do you think I should turn off my phone, too? I don’t want to lie to everyone all night.”
JP looked at his phone and finally decided to not turn it off. He lowered the volume to vibrate. I wasn’t sure what good that would do if he didn’t plan to answer it, but whatever he wanted was fine with me.
“What are we drinking to?” he asked.
We toasted and drank.
“That sounds ominous. Maybe we should have one more before we get into it. This seems like it’s gonna be big,” he said, starting to prepare them.
His phone vibrated and though I ignored it, he had to look. He then mouthed ‘Eric’ to me.
“He can’t hear you, Peej, you can say his name,” He started to reach for it, and then shook his head, just staring at it until it stopped vibrating.
I fleetingly thought about the fact that JP, too, had Eric’s number programmed into his phone. Then that thought drifted away as quickly as it had come.
“I can’t believe you are turning down the attention of your IBF, especially after he saved your life last night,”
“I know, but to do that, I think he… Just finish the drinks.”
He did and we drank.
“You’re not making any sense.”
“I know, but hopefully I will, either that or you can convince me otherwise.”
His phone buzzed again. Again, he looked at the ID.
“It’s him again. Maybe I should answer?”
“I already told you. Do what you want. I can’t just talk to him tonight.”
“Fuck,” he muttered while he reached over and swiped it to ‘ignore’.
After that, he turned it off. We sat quietly for a few minutes while I gathered my thoughts together.
I was leaning against the arm of the couch with my knees bent and he leaned against the other arm with one leg tucked under him. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel drunk at all. I wasn’t even buzzed. I thought it might be easier to have this conversation if I was, but no such luck. I was too nervous about what he would say. I was afraid of what I was about to say. At least JP was relaxed. When I couldn’t stall any longer, I leaned forward and grabbed my beer from the table. I crossed my legs underneath me and sat up. I took a deep breath and let it out, trying to calm myself. In for a penny.
“OK, JP. First, I want you to look at me. Have you noticed anything that doesn’t seem right?” I asked before taking a sip of my beer.
He looked me over before shrugging.
“Other than the fact that you’re bruised all to hell?”
“Am I? Look again,” I said.
Once again he looked me up and down.
“Yeah, you are. You look like you, well, like you fell down a ladder.”
“Look at my arms,” I said.
He looked at one covered in purple and green blotches. Then he looked at the other and his eyes opened wide.
“What the fuck, Cricket?!”
“Exactly. This is the arm where I was grabbed. The one that had bruises so dark they looked almost black in places,” I said calmly.
“This is what I discovered after my shower. My arm is fine. The rest of me is sore as hell, but here, there’s nothing at all.”
“I don’t understand. I would’ve thought that after your accident that it would be even worse or at least look the same as it did,” he said, leaning forward to examine it more closely.
“I know, right?” I leaned forward as well and held my arm out for him to examine.
He turned it and continued to look at it before he grabbed my hand, dragging me into the bathroom where the light was better.
“I don’t see anything!”
“Believe me, I know. I looked at it in direct sunlight and there really is nothing.”
“Seriously, I don’t understand. How?”
“I have a theory. Let’s go sit back down and I’ll tell you. Please hear me out before you shoot it down. OK?”
He took in my serious expression and led me by the hand back to the couch. We sat down and resumed our previous positions.
“OK. What’s your theory?”
“I know this is going to sound crazy, so don’t judge me until I’m done.”
“Just tell me.”
“OK. When I overheard the conversation this morning between Eric and Bill,” I started.
“You mean the five a.m. dream?”
I paused and grit my teeth. I needed to stay calm. I didn’t know if I wanted him to believe me, per se, but I needed him to listen and think about it. Then I wanted him to tell me not just that I was wrong, but why I was wrong.
“Yes, when I was ‘dreaming’ the conversation this morning between Eric and Bill, I heard Eric say she, I guess I, would’ve died if he hadn’t helped me.”
“I believe that. If he wasn’t there to call the ambulance, if you were alone, I’m sure…” he started getting choked up.
Tears were starting to form in his eyes. I reached over and took his hand.
“Hey, everything’s okay. Breathe. I’m fine. Do you need a minute because I need you to listen.”
He took a couple deep breaths, and then nodded.
“Sorry,” he said, wiping his eyes with the bottom of his tee-shirt.
“Aw, honey, don’t ever feel sorry for caring about me. I love you, too,” I said, pulling him in for a hug.
He hugged me tightly for a minute before taking a few more deep breaths and leaning back to his side of the couch again. Maybe drinking first hadn’t been such a good idea. I really wanted him to hear what I was going to say so he could dispel it.
He seemed to have the opposite thought as he poured us two more shots.
“To friendship,” I said.
“To family,” he replied.
We drank and he relaxed a little.
“OK. Go on,” he said.
“As I was saying, at first they were talking, but then they started arguing about something Eric had done. Bill said he shouldn’t have done it and Eric was saying something like he had to or…I don’t know exactly. I remembered it all earlier before I was given that stupid sedative. Basically, he told Bill that whatever he had done was only enough to stop the hemorrhaging and I would never know, but he was wrong. I do know. Well, I think I do.”
“What did he do? What do you know?”
“I’m getting to that. No one actually said what he had done, but it must have been a big deal because Bill was really angry about it, and then Eric got angry with him. Bill mentioned that Eric had done something after my previous accident, but that this was different. It was frightening the way they were speaking, it sounded as if they were almost hissing at each other, they were so angry. Bill said it was a mistake, but Eric wouldn’t back down. Then Sookie came in, and said it was too late because it was done and no one knew.”
“What do you think the dream meant?”
“I don’t think it was a dream, JP.”
“What are you talking about? Of course it was, the doctor told you he was in your room.”
“I don’t care what the doctor said. Maybe they were talking about it earlier than I thought? Maybe I fell back to sleep when I thought I woke up? I don’t know, but I believe it happened.”
“Well, I don’t. You hit your head. I think you are trying to put something together in your mind that isn’t real. What could he have possibly done that was such a secret that you could never know?”
“Look at my arm, JP.”
“I did. I don’t understand it, but I can see it. I don’t see what one thing has to do with the other.”
“He said it was only enough to stop the hemorrhaging, but look at my arm. Are you really not getting it?”
He sat there pondering for a minute. Then I saw when the light bulb went on. His eyes opened wider. I breathed a sigh of relief until he spoke.
“Stop it! No Cricket! Just no! I can see where your mind is going with this, but just no!”
“Then I guess you’re not interested in what else Sookie said about it and me, or what happened in my actual dream?”
“They were both dreams, Cricket!”
We sat looking at each other for a minute. This was not how I wanted this to go.
“OK. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that they were both dreams. What about my arm? How do you explain that?”
“I can’t, but I also can’t buy into where you’re about to go with this. I know you said you don’t want me to judge you and I’m really trying not to. I just don’t think that you are thinking clearly right now.”
“Yeah, yeah, because I hit my head. I know. Damn it, I wish you would just have listened to it all. I wasn’t sure what they meant and maybe I’m still not. Yet, when I was sedated and dreamt about Eric, things seemed to click for me when I woke up. Still, like you said, I was dreaming so it’s moot anyway, right?”
“Yes, exactly! Your mind is trying to rationalize something with an idea that isn’t rational,” he said very pleased with himself and the fact that I was trying to understand his reasoning.
“Just so I’m clear on your opinion of things, you think I had the dream that they were arguing about something Eric did to help my mind explain why there were no bruises on my arm, right?”
“Well, to your point, I agree it isn’t rational. I didn’t say it was, but here’s the thing, JP. What about the fact that I had that ‘dream’ of them arguing before I got up and even saw my fucking arm?”
“Wait, what do you mean?”
“What did I fucking say? I ‘dreamt’ about Bill and Eric arguing over Eric doing something to save my life. In your world, it was my subconscious trying to make sense of the fact that my arm is healed. However, I didn’t know my arm was healed when I had that supposed dream! Do you understand now? Do you understand why I think it really happened? Do you understand why I feel like I’m going crazy? Why would my imagination be trying to rationalize something that I didn’t even fucking know about yet!?”
“No, that can’t be right. You must have known. You must have seen it beforehand.”
“When? When was that? Was it between my x-rays when I was under sedation? You said yourself the doctor said I was sleeping. Was it in the middle of the night? The nurse checked on me every hour, remember? The doctor said so. I didn’t see my arm until after I showered, after you left to get breakfast. So when was it that I supposedly figured it out? Did I look at my arm when I was asleep? Did I dream it, because we know there’s nothing in a dream that could be real, right?”
“I don’t know! I don’t know!”
“Welcome to my fucking world!”
We sat in silence both lost in our own thoughts.
“Tell me about the other dream,” he said suddenly.
“Why? So, you can tell me how fucking crazy I am again? I already know that. Don’t you think I feel like I’m out of my fucking mind?”
“Jesus! Just tell me!”
“Fine! In my actual dream, the one I had when I was asleep, Eric said…” I stopped when the doorbell rang.
We both froze for a second looking at each other. Fuck!
“Who do you think it is?”
“Seriously? Take a guess.”
“What do I do?” JP whispered.
“Answer it. The lights are on. He knows we’re home and at least one of us is awake. I’m going to my room,” I said.
We both left the room and while I stopped at my doorway, JP continued to the stairs. He looked back at me before going down and I nodded. I stayed where I was to listen when I heard him open the door.
“Oh, hey!” I heard him say with a fake yawn.
Aurelia Gliwiski as Chelsea ‘Cricket’ Kerrigan
Alexander Skarsgård as Eric Northman
Sean Hayes as JP
To all of you who are reading this, THANK YOU! I hope you liked it! Please feel free review and let me know your thoughts! Thanks for reading! 🙂