“I’ll take him,” she whispered in offering, gesturing a quick reversal of positions. “You must want your rest, too.”
“It’s okay,” he shrugged. “Don’t need it.”
“You do,” she pointed out knowingly. He could hide his injuries pretty well from the excited toddler who had climbed him like a tree, but Sookie had seen the wince and the slight discoloration of his shirt. “Have you fed?”
He nodded while she nervously shifted her feet, unsure where to stand in what were usually such familiar surroundings, whether she should stay or go. Sensing her indecision, he patted the small empty space beside him and, to his utter surprise, she took him up on his offer, and lying by his side, her hands coming to finger the hair of the softly snoring child on his chest. Carefully, he shifted to give her more space, only to find her head suddenly on his bicep. They regarded each other questioningly and when neither one commented on it, she whispered, “It’s good to see you back safe and sound.”
“It’s good to be back,” he nodded in agreement. “This,” he said, resting his hand atop hers that was still fingering unruly hair, “was worth it.”
“I know,” she smiled, a smile he was unsure of how to interpret anymore; however, her next words made it clear enough, “I know you’ll do anything for our little Bug.”
He hummed in agreement, letting go of her hand in the process, and swallowing the sigh of annoyance in her failure to understand what he’d just declared. “I should get some rest, too,” he announced, closing his eyes.
“Sure,” Sookie nodded, momentarily distracted by the twin set of contented smiles before her as sleep set in. Carefully, she tried to disentangle herself from her constricted position, only to find the arm around her banding her in tighter. A hissed name went ‘unheard’ by a very ‘asleep’ vampire. Her attempt at pushing off against his ribs halted when she came into contact with the crusted blood and visible bruising she could faintly make out through a tear in his shirt. With a sigh, she pulled up the blanket, assured he really was very much asleep now, and snuggled up into his side, allowing her own tired eyes to fall closed. “I missed you,” she whispered right on the brink of consciousness.
Only when he was sure she was asleep did he reply, “Not as much as I miss you.”
Sookie’s face scrunched up, waking to a set very observant blue eyes. “Where’s-?” she gasped, realising it was just her and Eric in the very small children’s bed while the sun was very high in the sky, indicating it was much later in the day.
“I called the nanny,” Eric answered. “Figured you’d need the rest.”
“You should have discussed that with me,” she bit back, suddenly very much awake.
“Didn’t want to wake you for that conversation,” he noted coolly. “Looked like you hadn’t slept that well for a long time.”
Her eyes narrowed, not willing to admit how right he really was about that. She’d almost forgotten what a sense of peace sleeping next to a vampire brought in this highly populated city. “I’m not sleeping with you.”
“Well, not anymore, no,” he replied with an amused grin, a grin that usually set to make many women, and the odd man, instantly relinquish any previous objections, never mind remember them. Sookie, of course, was rather immune to that grin.
“I’m serious,” she huffed. “It’s not happening.”
“Keep telling yourself that,” he chuckled, stretching languidly, so his shirt would just allow her an enticing perusal of his abs. As planned, her eyes were drawn in, but, rather than lust rising in her face, he saw concern. Tenderly, she placed her hand on the bruises, tracing the extent of damage sustained.
“Just exactly how involved did it all get?” she whispered, gazing up at him through her lashes and seeking permission to explore beyond the visible slit of naked skin. With a nod, he helped her move his shirt further up, letting out a small hiss as she encountered a deep flesh wound. “Eric!” she hissed in concern.
“I’m fine,” he insisted, shoving his shirt down again, moving her hands off his body. “I’ll heal.”
“Let me patch you up,” she offered. “I might have some blood in the freezer, too.”
“You don’t need to,” he insisted. “I don’t owe you anything.”
“You owe it to our son to be healthy and sound for when he gets home and wants to play,” she informed, knowing exactly how to wield his emotional Achilles heel with finesse, “In turn, you can tell me all about why you needed to go start a war over some little spat and sustain all these injuries in the first place. I damn well hope it was worth it!”
He groaned, not looking forward to that conversation one bit, “Can’t believe I fell for that.”
She grinned back, “Always happens when you have sex on the brain, of which there will be none, Mister.”
“If you say so,” he returned with a chuckle.
“I mean it!” she huffed, rising from the small bed and gesturing he follow her out to the kitchen.
“Of course you do,” he winked.
“And you’re insatiable.”
“Am not,” she pouted.
“So are,” he spoke lowly and suddenly very close, lips not far from closing in on hers had she not determinedly stepped away from him.
“I mean it, Eric,” she reiterated in all seriousness. “All we ever do is fuck and fight. I’m not interested in either right now.”
“Ah,” he sighed. “Things are serious with the shifter, then.”
“I told you, they’re not,” she replied coolly.
“Trouble in paradise,” he grinned, perhaps a little too eagerly, only realising his mistake once he caught the look of pain on her face.
“Jake-” she started, struggling to finish what she needed to say, settling instead on, “He won’t be around anymore.”
“What did he do?” Eric demanded, barely suppressing the accompanying growl.
“None of your business,” she informed while slapping the frozen block of blood against the stone countertop with a loud clang. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Eric,” she interrupted. “My love life is exactly that, mine. It doesn’t concern you.”
“When you introduce them to our son, it concerns him, therefore, it concerns me,” he retorted. “Just like any woman I’d be seeing concerns you.”
“Right,” she replied with a roll of her eyes, turning her back on him while tossing the vacuum-sealed blood into the microwave with a thud, knowing full well he preferred it reheated in some warm water. “As if you ever bother to give me that courtesy.”
“Would,” she laughed, spinning round. “Funny that.”
“I don’t understand,” he replied, genuinely bemused.
“Nothing,” she shrugged, turning her back on him once more as she started pulling out breakfast for herself.
“Sookie, what have you heard?”
“Sookie!” he cried out, irritated, appearing right in front of her, so she could no longer actively avoid looking at him. “What have you heard?”
“Why’d you go to war, Eric?” she demanded. “Come on, out with it!”
His eyes narrowed, tracing every little muscle of her face, gaging as to what it was she might be hinting. “Why don’t you tell me why you think I went to war?”
“Why didn’t you think you could tell me?” she asked softly, her eyes slightly glossy with wetness. “You knew I was ‘dating’ Jake, I’d be okay with it. We’ve been divorced for years.”
“Okay with what?”
“That you have someone, too,” she sighed, leaning her shoulder against the refrigerator door. When he continued to look at her in bewilderment, Sookie added. “You know, the one you’re in love with so much that you went to war with a vampire Queen in Oklahoma because you didn’t like what she said about her. I mean I’m happy for you Eric, I’d like to meet her-”
“You already know her.”
“Well, that’s good,” she stuttered nervously, wondering exactly how this had gone unnoticed by her. The microwave beeped and she was happy for the distraction, dashing over to yank open the door, only to find the blood boiling and overcooked. With an apologetic shrug, she gestured towards the table, “Sit, I’ll try again on the stove.”
“I’m not really hung-”
“Sit,” she growled, smiling when he obeyed with some reluctance. “You’re a guest, I’m not letting you go hungry.”
Eric’s eyes roved over the display on the breakfast table, arranging the coloured pencils back in order in the box they came from. “It’s scary how good he is at this,” he noted.
“They’re stick figures,” Sookie snorted.
“He’s only four!” Eric pointed out, still supremely proud at the scenes in front of him, recognising himself easily by the blonde hair and oversized fangs. Where the cape from, he had no clue. “These are masterpieces! Our son is a Master Artist in the making!”
“Uh-huh,” Sookie chortled while stabbing a straw into the blood bag and presenting Eric with his very own vamp-flavoured Capri-Sonne, “Here, have some of that, and let’s hope you come back to your senses.”
“You could have warned me,” he growled, without any of the intended hostility making it out as his eyes fell heady with the taste of fae-laced blood flooding his palette.
“That our son is a prolific genius at anything he sets his mind to?” she laughed. “You’re the only one convinced of that at all times, Eric. Added to that, I think you only want to believe it because that flatters your giant ego as his father, I mean, it can’t possibly come from me, can it?”
“I wasn’t saying that,” he sulked, “and I was talking about the blood.”
“Ah,” she nodded. “That’s a Princess Pammy special.” He merely raised a brow at her in question, allowing her to expand, “She’s a lot more tolerable after her juice pack.”
“You’re treating her like the Bug,” Eric grinned, somewhat disappointed he’d never thought of it himself, then suddenly becoming angry, “and now you’re treating me like a four-year-old!”
She could barely contain her laugh, considering that the childish indignation on display all but validated the statement. She parked her breakfast bowl across from him to sit down, demonstratively keeping quiet while he continued to glower at her, eyes firmly following every small move she made. When she swallowed her first bite, she smiled broadly, “No, not a four-year-old.” Before he could retort in a series of profanities that would fill up the swear jar and cover their child’s college fund, she elaborated with a far too-wide grin, “A master artist four-year-old.”
“Bitch,” he grumbled, his mouth latching onto the straw again, pretending to ignore her altogether, which only seemed to further her amusement at his expense. He grabbed the most impressive drawing of the lot and held it up admiringly, “Shouldn’t make fun of his skills. Look!”
“Well done, Eric,” she smiled, her tone holding the same indulgence she often afforded her son. “It’s very nice.”
“I’m being serious,” he growled. “He has talent.”
“Maybe,” Sookie shrugged. With his continued look of disbelief, she explained, “If he shows an actual interest in becoming an artist, I’ll fully support him at any age. Right now, he’s just drawing for the fun of it, make him an artist, and that’ll be lost. Let him be a kid before he has to be whatever a child born to a vampire and a faery princess will have to be.”
As ever, her measured argument evaporated his strong sense of righteousness, and silently he stared at the drawing again, disregarding the aptitude for skill, and seeing the fun clearly had on the piece of paper that had extended far beyond the edges and bounds; things that could be seen as mistakes, rather than the joy of wielding a brightly-coloured pencil beyond the edges of what was considered proper. He had to admit, that like Sookie, he preferred that child, not the genius master artist. He could become whatever he wanted. He never, ever spoke the words that she was right, a small nod was conceded, though given in the direction of the illustration. “What do you think he was drawing?”
Sookie took a quick glance, making out the different shapes and crude adornments, equally bemused. She reached for it, only for it to be snatched out of her reach, Eric proclaiming, “I’m holding it!”
“Sheesh,” she huffed. “I just wanted to see the back.”
“Why?” he spat. “I’m not interested in the back, I want to know what this side is about.”
“Turn it around,” she replied with an eye roll. When he seemed all the more determined to never, ever turn around the drawing, let alone acknowledge the drawing had such a thing as a back to it, she explained, “At school, they always write down the little kiddie babbles on the back for the parents to decipher at home.”
“Huh,” Eric replied, genuinely surprised to find the nanny’s neat script chronicling something about a party. He smiled, seeing his name and Sookie’s, “F-ed it up?”
“Let me see that!” Sookie demanded and, without hesitance, it was promptly handed over. With no hint of a request, she informed, “You’ll be having a word with Pam about this.”
“How do you know it’s Pam? It’s much more likely to be Jason!”
“It was Pam,” Sookie informed, matter of fact. “He’s been asking her about us again. When I came to collect him she’d just gotten to the party part.”
“I told her to not talk about it,” he bristled.
“You might wanna try that commanding thing next time,” Sookie suggested slyly, hoping to alleviate some of the tension. Instead, all Eric did was heave a big sigh.
“Why’s he so interested in that?” Sookie had barely heard the question that flew out in a whisper, finding her hand suddenly resting atop his in comfort.
“He just wants to understand. We’re not like the other divorced parents in his class.”
“Not exactly like the married ones either,” he added.
This time Sookie heaved the big sigh, “Maybe we should try to explain it to him.”
“Explain what? I can barely understand it.”
“Yeah, yeah,” he dismissed, removing his hand from under hers and picking up her now-empty bowl along with his ‘juice pack’ from the table. “I’ll leave it alone.”
She stared after him with a sympathetic pang of pain as he proceeded to clear away their shared breakfast, failing to come up with a proper response. “There’s things I need to do today, will you be okay in here? Leo will be back in a few hours.”
“I’ll entertain myself,” he nodded, somewhat despondent.
“Stay out of my closet,” she warned with a warm smile.
“Once!” Eric cried out. “It was just the once! Will you ever shut up about it?”
“Yeah,” she grinned, pleased to see him riled up again. “When I can erase the sight of you wearing my Spanx from my mind.”
“I was just testing if they really did smooth down your curves,” he replied defensively. “I had a baby bump to hide, you know.”
“Yeah,” Sookie smiled warmly at the memory. “I know. See you later, Eric. Call your girl, let her know you’re safe and sound.”
“She already knows. First one I came to see,” he replied, watching her intently, but failing to see recognition spark in her eyes and, with a polite nod, she set off for her day.
A/N: Oh Sookie, when will you ever catch on… I’ll be taking bets down below and award a woolly cock cosy sock thingy courtesy of Adele to whomever guesses when 😉
Thanks to msbuffy once more.