**A/N: Beware emotional growth, self-realizations, and potential acts of potential plotting; also, beware potential pleas to the Universe…**
Eric rose from his dayrest and as usual checked to see if he could sense Sookie’s return. When he did, he smiled. Although the tie between them was faint, he was thankful it existed at all.
Immediately following his relief at her return came a swell of worry about Compton and the fact that he, too, could sense the fairy-hybrid’s whereabouts.
Something had to be done about that dangerously annoying bastard. During Sookie’s disappearance the issue of Compton hadn’t seemed as important. They had each left the other alone for the most part except for silently monitoring the other for news about anything having to do with Sookie.
Had Eric been certain of her return and had he been certain of her disdain for the ill-bred asshole upon said return…and had he not minded taking over kingship of Louisiana, he would have easily ended The Asshole King and been done with it.
But, much as he hated admitting it, he hadn’t been sure that she would return to the location of so much heartbreak, and even if she did, he was loathe to admit that he had even then worried over her feelings for Compton. He didn’t think she would want anything further to do with the brown-haired walking sideburn, but considering how she’d been in the past, he wouldn’t have been surprised.
Now that he and The Asshole King were both certain of her feelings, he had no reason to suffer the continuing undeath of that piece of charred filth.
He smirked as he remembered Bill’s less than dignified exit from the hotel and had to wonder how the regrowth of his body parts was going. He hoped it was all…stunted.
As he rose for the afternoon, showered, and drank his meal, he considered different scenarios and options. There was a conference coming up and he as well as Compton were expected to attend. As far as he could tell there was no actual reason to have the damn thing – there usually wasn’t considering that such “summits” were little more than a chance for the Powers That Talked A Lot to gather and flaunt their riches and prized underlings.
A feeling not unlike human indigestion rose at the thought of how Compton would parade around trying to fit in with those far more powerful, experienced, and sophisticated than he would ever be.
Before seeing evidence of Sookie’s powers, he would bet his collection of safe houses that Sookie would be “required” to attend. Now, however, he wasn’t sure if Compton was stupid enough to attempt to order Sookie or not.
He wouldn’t put it past him, and knowing Sookie’s temper and abilities these days, she’d fry his stupid ass. While that wouldn’t be a bad thing, it could cause problems between the Vampire and Fae nations, and she didn’t need that kind of hassle.
Eric could see the headlines now: “Fairy Princess Chars Vampire King in Domestic Dispute”.
He snorted. If only… He was certain Niall would be able to smooth it over, but the backlash against a fairy-hybrid would be troublesome.
Compton needed to visit the sun but not by Sookie’s fireball. With all the humans entering that overblown “estate” on a daily basis, surely someone was dissatisfied enough with his treatment to be influenced…
The Asshole King’s reputation sucked for a reason. No one who worked for him remained in his employ very long, and after being hired, many were often never heard from again anyway. Word had quickly spread amongst the vampire population to keep their favored humans away from the King in any way possible.
Eric nodded to himself; it was time for Compton’s reign of terror to end.
He then quickly tidied up his home on the very faint chance that he’d have a fairy-hybrid visitor sometime soon. With Sookie he had learned to expect the unexpected, and they were neighbors after all. He wondered if Cataliades had informed her of this fact and was immediately sure that the old Dae would. His elevated position in the three worlds – Dae, Vampire, and Fae – depended on his solid reputation for providing excellent and all-encompassing service.
Once his house was as tidied as he deemed necessary, Eric began pacing. He could sense Sookie’s location to an extent and knew her to be in her nearby home, and that knowledge gave him a warm sense of peace.
Not too much later he stilled as only a vampire could when he sensed the feeling that was “her” approaching, and with strong concentration tracked her to his rarely used front door.
Sookie, dithering at the front door as she wondered if it was too soon to knock, would have blushed if she’d seen the feral grin on Eric’s face.
After she’d showered off the fairy and dressed in what she hoped was “casual but nice” jeans and a pink top, she’d wandered around in her suite for a bit trying to decide what she wanted from the upcoming meeting with Eric.
She figured she should at least know what she wanted before knocking on his door. The problem, of course, was that she had no firm idea.
Friendship? Sure, she guessed. Somehow that didn’t seem like it would be enough, though.
Romance? Romance with Eric would be…yeah, but could she trust him enough for that?
She had sort of trusted him before and look how that had turned out.
Well, she scolded herself, I never totally trusted him but I had felt…something…for him.
At some point during the days and months since then she had come to understand that the reason his actions toward her had hurt so badly was because – whether or not she’d been aware of it at the time – she had already started feeling much more for Eric Northman than she’d realized…or wanted to acknowledge.
Despite her feelings for Bill and despite the fact that she hadn’t actually known Eric all that well, she’d let him in deep, therefore when he’d turned on her so painfully, that betrayal had gone deep, too.
She wondered if he had been aware of how deeply he’d wormed his way into her heart back then and if he’d used that against her, but decided that he probably hadn’t really thought all that much about it. He hadn’t seen her as much more than a pretty moving object, someone whose talents he could use toward his own ends, whose nicely-scented blood and pants he wanted to get into, and whose actual life he cared very little about.
Well, she’d amended, he’d cared about her life to an extent, but not so much about any other aspect of “her”. The fact that she was her own complete and individual person probably hadn’t even registered to him, so he hadn’t known her well enough to actually care about her. Most of that failure was his, but a small part of it was hers, she concluded. If she’d ever made him sit down, shut up, and listen to her, he’d have known that she was her own person, that she had her own hopes and dreams, strengths and weaknesses, quirks and ideologies.
Of course, she didn’t know those things about him, either, and that was something she wanted to rectify.
During a moment of odd clarity as she ate a small snack of corn chips, salsa (the non-garlicky kind), guacamole (ditto), chicken salad, donuts, iced tea, and pecan pie, Sookie realized that the almost instinctual need to question Eric’s every single motive wasn’t nearly as strong as it used to be. She wondered if some of the negative feelings she had toward him were anything more than habit at this point.
Bill used to whisper in her ear at every opportunity about how Eric wasn’t to be trusted, that he was a user and a manipulator, and Sookie wondered why it never dawned on her that “it takes one to know one”.
Regardless of Bill’s constant attempts to undermine Eric’s character, though, Sookie knew herself well enough to recall how in the past she wouldn’t take someone else’s word about a person over her own knowledge and feelings about the person in question. Just because a friend told her that so-n-so was bad didn’t mean she would automatically believe it – she’d far rather make up her own mind about people.
With her “gift” she’d always been able to tell when someone was lying or what they really meant when they said something, so she knew that a lot of times people weren’t as bad as other people thought, although of course sometimes they were far worse.
Either way, though, she liked to make her own mind up about people.
So why hadn’t she with Eric?
Her fork clanged as it hit the table.
Along with his self-important opinions, Bill had fed her his filthy, disgusting blood at every opportunity.
Vampires could control humans with their blood.
Sookie was part human.
How much of her mistrust of Eric was directed by Bill’s nasty blood? How many times had she questioned Eric’s motives and actions because Bill’s fucking blood told her to?
Sure, his voice was constantly telling her to doubt and think badly of Eric, but his blood was doing the same thing inside her brain.
And probably her heart, too.
That filthy disgusting motherfucker.
So, she forced her mind to think rationally about the current status of her feelings toward Eric, how much of her mistrust of the blond vampire was left over from Bill’s blood and constant monologue, and how much of it was from her own personal experience?
True, offering her up like that to Russell Fucking Edgington was a shitty thing to do, but far before then she’d made a point to question pretty much everything Eric did.
Not a bad practice to be in, she thought wryly, but it was the mindset of that questioning that counted.
Clarity was good but being predisposed to think negatively of him and his actions would automatically cloud the results. And, thanks to Bill, she had automatically seen Eric in as negative a mindset as possible since meeting him.
As the sun slowly set, somehow the day seemed even brighter.
As she’d walked the short distance from her new house to his, she automatically used her abilities to detect the species of the local residences, and sure enough, there were very few humans in the area. The few detectible Weres and vampires seemed to be the variety of the day, and there were a few Dae scattered here and there. Most of the houses felt empty and she concluded their Were or Dae occupants were out and about.
When she stepped onto Eric’s property she felt what she thought were magical wards and figured he’d had a witch in to protect the area. She wondered if Mr. C had done the same for her house and made a mental note to ask him. If not, surely Eric would give her a name and number.
If she did write the tell-all about vamps she’d need as much protection as she could get. Her stomach gave a lurch at the thought of the premise of her book. Now that she was coming to know different vampires, she was beginning to see them in different ways. She couldn’t imagine Godric treating her like shit, but then, she could remember how Sophie-Anne hadn’t thought a thing in the world wrong with basically stealing her from her life, and Bill was the same way.
As she stood before Eric’s door, she considered that maybe she should write a “vampires are just as strange and different as humans are” book instead.
She debated knocking. The sun was down enough that he could open the door safely. Granted he couldn’t come out on the porch yet, well, she dithered, he could but he might not want to. If he didn’t want to then he’d be forced to invite her into his house and what if he didn’t actually want to hang out with her? What if he just wanted her to give him Godric’s reply and go home?
What was she supposed to say to him, anyway?
“Hi, Eric! Just wanted to give you Godric’s letter and ask you to tell me all about yourself”?
“Hi, Eric! Just wanted to give you Godric’s letter and play 20 Questions”?
“Hi, Eric! Just wanted to give you Godric’s letter and ask you how you really feel about me now”?
Sookie surreptitiously popped herself a glass of cold tea into her hand, drank deeply, then popped it away. It didn’t help her thoughts but did soothe her suddenly dry throat.
Why did she feel as though she was about to step blindly off a cliff?
A wry expression crossed her face. At least she could pop to safety now if she had to.
The lights on his porch clicked on as the sun’s rays finally fell behind the tree line, and she knew her daylight excuse had waned.
It was time they got to know each other, she strongly reaffirmed to herself as she raised her hand and knocked on his door.
She could detect his void as he moved through the house, and a moment later she heard the locks click on the door before he opened it.
To his unsurprised but welcoming expression she announced cheekily, “So I’m your new neighbor, huh? Can I borrow a cup of sugar?”
Eric’s grin, far warmer than his usual smirk, brightened the gleaming blue of his eyes as he opened his door wider.
“Come in,” he invited. “Welcome to my home.”
**A/N: So…did Sookie get a clue or what? (It should be mentioned in the interest of full disclosure and all that I can’t STAND a Stoopie… Faulty Sookie? Sure. Realistic Sookie? Absolutely. Mary-Sue Sookie? No, not ever on purpose at any rate. Stoopie? Hell no. Just…no. That dumb bitch drives up my blood pressure…) Now for the important part: Dear Universe, can I have Eric or Alex either one as a neighbor, too? Please? I’m not picky and I’ve been good…no, I won’t define “good” either, dammit… Oh, well, have to wait and see if the Universe will answer that plea… It’s a good one, though! In the meantime, so – what did you think?**