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.
Once Eric was assured he was alone in his former home, he found himself in her closet, of course. He couldn’t really help it, when Sookie forbid him something, the temptation was all the greater, and it usually meant she was hiding something, probably about that mutt. Eric knew there was more to it and he was determined to find out why she wasn’t volunteering any more about it. Not that he cared much, for she was single again, which meant he had a chance once more. Probably. Probably highly. Probably highly unlikely.
To his disappointment, the closet revealed nothing sinister that Sookie was hiding. Though the disappointment was somewhat mitigated by the fact that he couldn’t scent the shifter anywhere in his, yes, his, Eric couldn’t care much for the actual semantics, Sookie’s bedroom. He was even more pleased to note this in her underwear drawer where he could only discern that heady waft of sexual frustration. He could work with that. Definitely. Definitely maybe. Maybe not.
Sex never had been the issue between them and had formed much of their odd relationship since their divorce. Sookie’s suggestion that they try and explain to their son exactly how they came to be what they were now ran through Eric’s mind again. He perused the racks, not finding what he was looking for all too easily, finally unveiling it from a zipped up garment bag hidden in the deeper depths.
“Knew she kept it,” he grinned, fingering the silk material. Out of curiosity, he peered in the other garment bags. “Not interested in me, my ass,” he chuckled when he discovered the set of pajamas she’d married him in.
“Never said I wasn’t interested in your ass, it’s a very nice ass,” Sookie interrupted. “Didn’t I tell you to stay out of here?”
“I thought you left,” he replied, the guilty look she was hoping for nowhere to be found.
“Forgot something and heard you up to no good,” she shrugged. “You know, if you’re really interested in womenswear I think you’d have more luck in Pam’s closet.”
“Wasn’t looking for me,” he said defensively.
“Uh-huh,” Sookie replied with disbelief. “What are you doing with those?” she demanded, her heartbeat suddenly speeding up at the discovery of exactly what he’d been rifling through.
“Proving you’re a sentimental sap,” he replied with a cheeky grin.
“I don’t like waste,” she retorted lamely, “You know that.”
“You were happy enough to discard me, seems the shifter got the shaft just as easily,” he grumbled under his breath, regretting saying it as soon as it flew out of his mouth while she stared at him in shock. She spun on her heels, failing to even come up with a reply, tears scenting the air as he called out her name in apology. He chased after her, but, despite the vampire speed, he was too late, a faint pop the only indication of exactly where she’d disappeared to. Eric roared in frustration, and a vase or two collided with the wall; they were from Walmart, he hoped.
“What did Pappa do?”
“Ehm,” Sookie struggled, taking in the vast field of flowers that had been transplanted to her living room.
“Was it my fault?” Leo asked in a small voice. “I’m sorry I woke up.”
“No, sweetie,” Sookie assured, hugging the little boy tightly, dropping a kiss to the crown of his head for extra assurance. “He just said something stupid when you were at school. Nothing for you to worry about. Go see if you can find him in this wilderness. I’m sure he’s been waiting all day to play with you.”
“Ok,” he nodded with eager excitement, dropping his backpack on the floor with abandon and doing his best to locate the hiding vampire. Soon enough, Sookie could hear the cacophony of giggles coming from the direction of the play room, but it failed to put the usual smile on her face.
“You must give me the number of your decorator,” Pam grinned through the screen. Sookie didn’t know how the vampiress managed to break into her computer each and every time. She even succeeded in disabling the volume buttons, and every other key for that matter, leaving her no escape. Pam was going to ‘talk’ to her, at her would be more accurate, whether she liked it or not.
“Hmm,” Sookie replied, “He must be seriously contrite if he’s sending you in.”
“Hello to you, too,” she sing-songed. “So, Eric’s an ass, what else is new?”
“Pam, I’m really not discussing this with you-”
“And the Shifter is out of the picture,” she continued, ignoring Sookie’s interjection. “Good riddance, I say. I’m well impressed, I figured we’d be stuck with the stinking mutt for at least a few more months.”
“If all you’re calling for is to kick me while I’m down, Pam-”
“Whatever makes you say that?” she replied innocently, batting her eyelashes for extra measure. When Sookie failed to warm up to her, Pam’s tone instantly fell to that of business, “Fine, tell me what it takes to make this right again. I told him flowers would leave you unimpressed. I’m thinking jewellery, I saw some lovely things at-”
“I don’t want anything!” Sookie spat back, “especially not from Eric. He can just pull his big boy pants up and act like a grown up by apologising to me in person, instead of hiding out behind my son.”
“Your son,” Pam noted. “Interesting that.”
Sookie peered at her curiously, Pam and contemplation never spelt out anything good.
“So you’ll speak to him?”
“Didn’t I just say that?” Sookie retorted, wondering what exactly the vampiress was playing at.
“No,” she pointed out. “You said he can come apologise. There was no mention of you deigning Eric with the lovely sound of you voice.”
“You’re acting very strange, Pam.”
She shrugged, “Jason’s going down on me. You’ll speak to him, then?”
“Gross, Pam!” Sookie grimaced. “Get out of my computer!”
“Only if you promise to hear Eric out,” she urged.
“Fine,” Sookie replied tersely, “When Leo is down for his nap.”
“Go, sis!” Jason yelled, appearing on screen with a huge grin and a rather moist complexion, much to Sookie mortification. “`Bout time you two got back together.”
“We’re not-” Sookie denied, though it failed to reach Jason as Pam started to scold at him for abandoning his task, causing Sookie to see a flash of a naked breast she had absolutely no interest in.
“Hey, this doesn’t count as a threesome, right?” Jason asked Pam with sudden worry. “No way am I wasting that with my sis! We may be Southern, but not that Southern!”
Sookie’s patience thoroughly tested, she left the arguing couple to it, closing down the laptop and worrying about the work she has been attempting to do on the computer moments earlier for later.
In the meantime, it had become suspiciously quiet in the apartment, Leo was off to dreamland for his afternoon nap, sundown was not far off, and there was little doubt in Sookie’s mind that Eric had ‘overheard’ the entire conversation with Pam. Not interested in giving him the advantage of seeking her out, she located him easily enough by his void and with determined steps, sought out the hiding vampire.
“So,” she demanded after the audible pop diminished and the whites of Eric’s eyes had returned to their natural setting from the initial surprise. “You wanted to talk, so talk.”
“I shouldn’t have said that,” he offered up immediately. “I apologise.”
“You said it though,” she replied sternly. “You seemed to mean it.”
“You don’t want me to apologise?” Eric questioned carefully, this couldn’t possibly end well. When she remained painfully silent, he offered, “I shouldn’t have assumed about Jake, and I’m sorry if it didn’t end well. I’m sure it wasn’t the same as with us and it wasn’t like that with us.”
“It wasn’t, no,” Sookie replied tersely, losing the menacing eye contact and biting her lip. Fuck, she was about to cry.
Suddenly there it was, a bit of literal cold comfort, banded around her warm body.
“What happened?” he asked in a surprisingly, soothing tone while barely surpassing a growl.
“It’s Party Time!” she sobbed into his chest.
Genuinely perplexed, he searched her eyes, wondering if she’d completely lost her mind. “A tattoo,” she stuttered. “He had a tattoo.”
“And it said ‘It’s Party Time’?” Eric questioned, trying to retain his laughter. “You broke it off over a tattoo? I mean it sounds like a stupid tattoo, but they generally are.”
“Yes! No! I mean it was right there,” she exclaimed with a fluster, glancing towards his jeans.
“Tattoos tend to be permanent like that,” Eric drawled, trying to contain his judgement of her nonsensical judgement.
“You’re not getting it,” she huffed. Firmly she placed the palm of her hand just above his pubis, surprising him with the sudden warm touch, “It was right there.”
“He has permanently tattooed ‘It’s Party Time!’ above his cock?” Eric asked in all seriousness. Slowly, she nodded her head in accordance, a flush of shame rushing through her cheeks once more. She wasn’t quite sure where to look anymore, yanking her hand back firmly to her side, hoping the floor would just swallow her whole all over again. Then Eric laughed, hysterically.
“See!” she exclaimed, relief flooding her, a small smile resurfacing on her face. “That’s how you’re supposed to react to something like that!”
“Please,” Eric guffawed, “Tell me you laughed.”
“Yeah,” she snorted. “That was kind of the problem. He got all huffy. He was really proud of that tattoo!”
“Stop!” he pleaded, as tears of laughter were threatening to spill from his eyes. “Wait, were there balloons?”
“No!” Sookie exclaimed. “Thank God! There were streamers though… AND confetti!”
She couldn’t help but laugh along then as Eric seemed to completely lose it to hysterics, though her earlier melancholy returned when the laughs subsided and the situation dawned on her once more. He ran a hand through her hair soothingly, requesting without words what happened next.
“Well, it really stopped being funny then,” she whispered with annoyance. “Shifters, weres, you know they’re harder to read for me, right? But when they’re angry, it all comes pouring out.”
With tight lips, Eric demanded, “What did you find out?”
“I don’t want to talk about this anymore,” Sookie replied softly. “Please? It doesn’t take much to guess, now, does it?”
“Sookie,” Eric warned. “Sticking your head in the sand won’t make this go away.”
“It’s just not fair!” she sniffed. “I did everything right, took it slow, really slow. Didn’t introduce him to Leo until all the books said it was even remotely appropriate. Dotted my i’s, and crossed all the t’s, everything was right on schedule. Was it all perfect and storybook romance? Of course not, but it felt promising enough. I’d opened myself up to him, kept myself out of his mind as much as possible to respect his privacy, and now I’m kicking myself for never bothering in the first place and avoiding this giant mess from ever happening.”
“So it was a Brigant Faery Princess with a direct access to the Prince of the Realm he was interested in, rather than the wonderful delight that is Sookie Stackhouse of former Bumfuck, Louisiana,” Eric posited. “Let me guess, he grew to like you while on the job. No, wait, love!”
“You knew!” she cried out, swatting him angrily against his chest. “And didn’t tell me!”
He held her hand still soon enough, though the nervous energy continued to spark through her hands, doing little to scare him off. “I suspected,” he explained calmly while resisting the temptation to rush out and rip the half-baked shifter faery into several furry pieces. Besides, that cheeky fucker Niall would probably beat him to it. Again. “Had I brought it up, would you have listened, or written it off as jealousy?”
She didn’t answer initially, her mouth opened to deny his assumption, but she knew as well as he it wasn’t the truth, so, instead, she kissed him, taking him by surprise, so much so that he barely responded, allowing her to escape his surrounding arms, his lips suddenly meeting cool air. “I’m sorry,” she stammered between tears that had surfaced once more, despite her attempt at furiously wiping away at them. “I shouldn’t have done that.”
“It’s fine,” he assured, moving closer, seeking more of what she’d just bestowed on him.
“No,” she sniffed, her hand firmly against his chest to maintain a modicum of distance. “You’re with someone else now. I shouldn’t have done that. I forgot, you’re just so…”
“Good-looking,” Eric grinned smugly and it only grew smugger when a small laugh escaped her.
“I was going to say familiar.”
“Well, that, too,” he agreed, “but I prefer good-looking.”
Sookie shook her head, “Vanity, thy name is Eric Northman. Just remember who was there for you when you were balling your eyes out over your ruined abs.”
“I remember,” he replied, pulling her snuggly into his chest once more. Kissing the top of her forehead gently, “Now I’m here for you for a change.”
“Sorry I’ve been so on edge, with you fighting some war, Jason insisting to come along, and finding out what a fraud Jake was while pretending everything was hunky dory for Leo,” she sighed. “It’s all been a bit much. Anyhow, I shouldn’t have taken it out on you.”
He shrugged, “It’s fine, I can handle it.”
“It’s NOT fine!” she argued, causing him to raise a single brow and daring her to escalate the two of them into their next argument. “Anyhow, I’m sorry.”
“I don’t think we’ve ever been this civil,” she mumbled into his chest. “Now what?”
“Well,” Eric chuckled, “there’s always sex.”
She glared up at him to check, never could be all that sure when it came to Eric after all, that he really was joking. “So, who is she? The Swedish nanny, right?” It had to be her, it was the only mind Sookie didn’t have access to as she thought exclusively in her own language and she wasn’t very visual either.
“Who is what?” he replied in confusion.
“Your new girl,” Sookie replied. “I mean, probably not so new if you’re all loved up already.”
“Interesting you’d call her a girl.”
“Well, she’s not exactly old, now is she?” Sookie frowned. “Especially compared to you.”
“What’s with you and Pam and the word ‘interesting’ today?”
“Interesting is an interesting word, is it not?”
“Stop deflecting,” she huffed. “Do you and Pam just rehash every single word you’ve exchanged each night, seeking hidden meaning?”
“Only for Sookie,” he grinned.
“Why am I not surprised?” she sighed with a roll of her eyes. “Maybe next time, discuss why you insist on holding onto me for way longer than is socially acceptable.”
“Not really something up for analysis,” he scoffed, reducing her attempt at untangling the two of them to a mere wiggle in his arms.
He scooped down, depositing a soft kiss to her lips, pouring everything he failed to articulate in it all at once, removing his arms from around her to cup her face while she stared at him with confusion, only to be informed, “Because you’re my girl.”
A/N: Okay so not the party but there were streamers and confetti 😀 Now whatever will Sookie respond…
Thankfully I have never laid eyes on that tattoo in that spot myself but I have it on high authority that is out there…
Much thanks to msbuffy for all the extra commas, banishing of dashes (even though I kind of like them) and all that other nice work she does to make this legible.