**A/N: Sookie…gains perspective.**
Sookie woke up early the next afternoon, and at first didn’t know where she was. She was warm, and the mattress beneath her was the perfect balance of firm yet soft, unlike the hard, heavy log wrapped around her waist. Eric’s arm, she finally realized, was curled around her waist and holding her snuggly into his firm body as he rested on his side behind her. She could feel his chest against her back, and somehow his knees were tucked in behind hers. She wasn’t sure but she thought that maybe his chin was almost touching the top of her head.
Eric, she thought with a smile, Eric must have brought her down to his Cubby. She waved her free arm in the air and just as she suspected, the motion-sensitive lights illuminated the small space. As she inhaled deeply to enjoy a post-awakening yawn, she detected his clean, masculine scent of musk, salty sea air, and a hint of old leather. For a few moments she allowed herself to simply relax and savor his familiar scent.
Eventually, with a grin and after a stretch that travelled down to her toes, she realized that she felt…magnificent. Sticky and stale, of course, from having been so sick, but physically? His blood seemed to have even more healing power than ever before because not only were the cold and the itchy hives gone, but she truly could not think of a time when she had felt more alive, more rejuvenated.
Wiggling her toes in satisfaction and comfort must have shifted her body a bit more than she thought because Eric’s heavy arm suddenly tightened to pull her even closer into his hard body.
Unfortunately at about that time nature decided to call, and she couldn’t ignore that kind of demand. She tossed the comforter back but, even with limited movement available, she still managed to keep him covered. Slowly she tried to wriggle out from under his heavy arm, but quickly discovered that mere squirming wasn’t going to work. She then moved her body while gently trying to lift the dead weight, but that only served to have him suddenly tense his arm almost painfully tight. With a yelp from both her mouth and her bladder, she grabbed the arm she was starting to consider a tree trunk and finally managed to heave it off her.
Just as she sat up to move to the edge of the bed, she heard, “Sookie?” Eric’s voice, soft and gravelly with day-sleep, startled her.
She swung her head around and saw his deep blue gaze focused on her face, his eyes heavy and slightly unfocused. He was barely awake, but aware enough to notice that she was leaving. She felt a strong sense of reluctance and an odd sense of fear that she couldn’t explain. The bond, she suddenly realized, that’s right, they had restored it last night… She remembered feeling comfort, lots of lust, too, of course, however it was carefully subdued. But the waves of comfort he sent her were mixed with concern and a soft sort of satisfaction.
“I’m just going to the bathroom, Eric,” she answered quietly as she turned toward him, hating that her needs had woke him up. Bracing on one arm, she reached out to smooth a few strands of his silky blond hair back from his forehead. “I’ll be right back.”
It mildly astonished her that her mere touch seemed to comfort him, but not enough. She strongly wished she knew how she could send him feelings. She’d have to ask him about that later.
The longing and uncertainty in his voice and in his gaze bled through their bond, and laid to rest any lingering doubt she may have had regarding the depths to which he had mourned her absence. The raw pleading in his eyes almost broke her heart.
Her own human needs temporarily forgotten, she continued running her fingers softly through his hair trying to soothe him back to sleep, occasionally pausing to stroke her thumb across his forehead.
“I promise, Eric, now go on back to sleep. It’s still early yet,” she whispered, a sad smile gracing her lips. She detested seeing her powerful Viking, massively strong in body and spirit, so clearly and utterly vulnerable. Although things were so different between them now, echoes from the past still seemed to haunt him, too.
“You will come back to me? This isn’t a dream,” he entreated with the barest of whispers as he turned his head to see her more clearly.
The faint reddening at his lower eyelid caused her own tears to spring forth with a vengeance. “No, Eric, this isn’t a dream.” She bent down to gently kiss his forehead, and wiped away her own tear that landed between his brows. “You are mine just as I am yours. I will always come back to you. Now rest while I go to the bathroom and then take a quick shower. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
She kissed his cheek again then reluctantly gave into the call of nature as her bladder started screaming at her again. After scrambling up the ladder and dashing for the bathroom, she reveled in the kind of relief that can only come with the total relieving of one’s bladder after having held it almost too long.
Fifteen minutes later she descended into the Cubby again, her hair was still very damp, but she was extremely relieved to have clean skin under clean clothes – a short, thin-strapped nightgown she’d splurged on a while back but hadn’t worn until now, and a clean pink thong. As much as she hated wearing “butt floss”, this was Eric, and she was tired of waiting for him to make the first move.
She didn’t know what would happen when he woke up this evening, and she didn’t know what he was waiting on, but she knew what she wanted to happen. She also remembered his usual “condition” upon awakening and definitely planned to make the most of it.
Once at the bottom of the ladder, she picked up the towel she’d tossed down and went over to the backpack in the corner for a bottle of water and two of the energy bars she’d had the forethought to stock a while back.
Just as she sat back down on the bed, she heard Eric heave a small sigh, and felt a massive tide of warm relief flow through their restored bond. She reached over to haul his heavy arm over onto her lap, drank half the bottle of water, then finished drying her hair. That chore accomplished, she downed one of the energy bars, but while she was still hungry, she didn’t exactly want another one.
On impulse, she opened her hand, and “called” for an apple from the bowl of fruit on her kitchen counter above. Almost instantly, the exact apple she’d had in mind appeared in her hand. She had no idea what had made her think to “call” for it, and was astonished when it worked. All she could figure as she hungrily devoured the apple was that thousand-plus year old vampire blood was very powerful indeed.
After she finally nibbled the apple down to the core, she looked around for a non-existent wastebasket. When she didn’t find one, she thought for a moment, then focused on the slowly browning apple core…and it disappeared. She automatically clapped her hands a couple of times in excitement, then grimaced at how sticky they were. Thankful that she’d thought to stuff a packet of handi-wipes in the backpack, she gently moved Eric’s arm from her lap and crept off the bed. Logically she knew that she wouldn’t wake Eric up, but his wakeful episode was too recent for her to want to risk it happening again. He might be a vampire, and it might be his “day rest”, but still, he needed his sleep.
Once on her feet, she hung the damp towel on one of the ladder rungs, dug out the wipes, and cleaned her hands. While they weren’t the overly-sweet “baby powder” scent, they still left a strong “unscented” odor on her hands, so she grabbed her bottle of water and proceeded to just wash her hands and dry them with the towel as she should have done in the first place.
Missions accomplished, she crawled back under the comforter, and somehow managed to cover Eric’s arm back up. She wiggled back into his hard body as best she could, then brought his arm back around her waist, and relaxed. As she rested, she reviewed what she could remember from the monumentous night before.
The rebonding – well, there was no way she could ever forget something like that, she silently chuckled to herself. The exchange had been nothing at all like their previous times. Nothing. She was still surprised at how brave she’d been in demanding that he take her blood when she took his. She’d known full well that doing so would result in reestablishing a first bond with him, but had no idea that things would end up like they had. The force of the tie between them taking place again…she shook her head minutely against her pillow. It was as if the bond itself was striving – determined to reunite the connection between its two people, that it was waiting in the ether for just the right opportunity to come back to its rightful place.
She knew that neither she nor Eric had held any idea that their new bond would so quickly and effortlessly surpass their old bond.
After they had both eventually caught their breath, Eric had kept her secured against his chest, as close to his non-beating heart as he could without causing her discomfort, and for the longest time had simply held her without speaking. Meanwhile the bond had seemed intent on immediately beginning its ethereal duty, and both delighted in sharing their mutual bliss with the other.
Throughout what seemed like hours his arms had remained strong and inflexible as steel yet as gentle as she could ever wish. Finally, with his forehead still resting against her hair, they had slowly started speaking quietly about the bond, each softly stroking the other with sweet, adoring emotions. She smiled as she remembered how, well after she had ingested his blood, he was still overtly concerned with her health.
Then at some point someone from “work”, as he called it, at the palace had called and disrupted the cloud of bliss they’d both been quite happily floating on, and she’d taken the opportunity to hop up off his lap. As she went to the kitchen to grab something to drink other than orange pond water or cold chicken broth, she’d heard him barking orders in another language. He had obviously not taken the interruption well at all.
When she had returned from the bathroom, he had been standing near the sofa with his phone darkened on the coffee table. Although his blood had rid her of both the cold and the hives (she’d checked in the bathroom), she had been unpleasantly surprised to find that she was still tired. As she had started to sit back down on the couch, with a bark of laughter she had realized that she was suddenly sitting on Eric’s lap again. He had used his vamp-speed to place himself under her while she had been in the process of sitting.
He had laughed with her, stating quite plainly, “Well, can you blame me? You have an exquisite bottom.” From the corner of her eye she had glimpsed him raising and lowering his eyebrows comically.
She had blushed, of course, and playfully slapped at his arm. “Eric, now cut that out.” Her scold had lost much of its effectiveness when she couldn’t stifle the accompanying grin.
As he had situated her across his thighs so that her back was once again resting against the couch arm, he had asked, “But why? I enjoy complimenting you, and I believe you secretly enjoy it as well.”
Sookie had primly lifted her nose in the air and elegantly replied, “Hrumph.”
As if in retaliation, he had held her to him so that he could lean toward the coffee table without pushing her off his lap, and had grabbed the orange liquid.
“You still seem tired, Lover, so perhaps you should finish this anyway.”
“But…” She really didn’t want to drink any more of it; the orange color unnerved her a bit because it sure as hell didn’t taste like any oranges she’d ever eaten.
“No, my darling love of my undeath,” he had quipped with a lopsided grin, “I know you’ve taken my blood, and you have no idea of how very grateful I am that you have,” he paused again to kiss her temple, “but I refuse to take any chances with your health.”
Knowing he was right and wanting to do as he asked were two entirely separate entities, but she had reluctantly agreed in hopes she would be fully recovered by the next day. A new medical clinic for the uninsured was opening up, and since it was named in honor of her deceased grandmother who had never had insurance, she wanted to be there. The bond had slyly revealed his worry and hope, which had tipped the scales that finally tipped the glass toward her mouth so she could choke down the rest of the foul liquid.
She didn’t remember much after that, just that she’d spoken with Eric about the call (“Nothing important,” he had assured her with a Pam-perfect eye-roll, “just McAlister, Pam’s Child, being a brat just like his Maker.”), which had led to the story of how Pam had inadvertently but, eventually, happily Turned the solid, according to Eric, male. The last thing she remembered before waking up was whining about being scared to eat even canned asparagus any more.
Frowning as she wondered what all else might suddenly provoke another allergy attack, she wriggled a bit closer into Eric’s body and crammed her pillow a bit further under her head. Even more comfortable now, she allowed her thoughts to wander.
During their past evenings together she had come to realize that Eric actually had, well, not so much ‘changed’ – it was more like he had realized she was her own person. He could, and would, be just as arrogantly commanding as he’d always been, but he no longer seemed so…dictatorial, even if he was a king. He seemed much more willing to talk to her about things now than he ever had before, but then again, she was much more willing to actually listen than before, and these nights she even asked truly relevant questions as well.
Last night when she was so sick, even before the bond between them had reformed, she could very plainly that it was all Eric could do to stop himself from biting his wrist and jamming it into her mouth, but to her shock, he refrained at what she had to guess was a great cost to himself. But, for her, he did so that she could have the choice of whether or not to accept his blood, to accept…him.
Her Eric never could stand to see her in pain for any reason, she thought with a fond smile that quickly fell. Well, except that final…her heart clenched and she hurriedly brushed those thoughts away… but then she stopped herself.
No, she had to think those horrible, terrible words through so that she really could see past them to the other side when the memories would naturally resurface. If she thought about them in depth now, then the next time maybe she would see the happier conclusion rather than only the painful beginning and middle.
While she wouldn’t – couldn’t – excuse his behavior, she could better understand its cause. He might have been incredibly cruel during that time – mistress? forced turning? – but now that she knew more about what he was thinking and enduring, she could… somewhat… understand where he was coming from. Even if she couldn’t understand or excuse it all, she did love him, and she loved the idea of a “them”, so maybe it would be enough to finally forgive him – completely – anyway.
Hate the action but love the man, she reminded herself.
With a deep breath slowly blown through pursed lips, she let it go.
Her heart suddenly impossibly lighter, she realized that this was their first time sleeping together since their reunion.
**A/N: As some of you may know, this chapter was supposed to contain that gracious plenty, but…things happened. I had to decide between keeping it back and adding “that” (which would either have been rushed which I hate *or* would have taken another week or two to finish with the way my time is going) or going ahead and releasing this chapter to y’all as is. So, yeah, you see which way it went. Next chapter? I think you’ll like it…**