“He’s going,” Sookie informed while slamming the plates on top of each other. “It’s not up for discussion.”
“Why am I not surprised?” Eric volleyed back sardonically.
“They’re my family, Eric!”
“And heaven forbid if you ever say no, or, I don’t know, decide something for yourself?”
“It’s not like that!” she cried out furiously, the stack of plates in her hands crashing to the table with a loud clang. “It’ll broaden his horizons.”
“This is not about broadening Leo’s horizons,” Eric pointed out coolly. “This is about you answering any of their requests with ‘how high?’ Is that how it happened, they told you to break it off with me and you did?”
“What! No! Why would you even think that?”
“Bullshit, Sookie! You always complain about their demands of you, how you can’t not do something, and you do it all with a smile anyway. You’re allowing them to do the same thing with Leo. You might as well just hand him over and if we’re lucky, he’ll come visit us some time when he’s old and grown.”
“It’s not like that at all!” Sookie protested. “They’re not taking him from us!”
“No,” Eric agreed, “that would imply it hasn’t happened already. You’ve given in and sold us out! Very cheaply at that.”
She gasped in shock, “You can’t expect me to go against my family!”
“I’m not expecting you to! I’m just asking you to say no sometimes, to object to a command that comes in the disguise of a request. It shouldn’t be that hard, you seem to manage to shut me down just fine. Leo has two parents, they decide where he goes and doesn’t go, and nobody else. If you give them this much leeway now, imagine what it will be like the rest of his life. It’s his life to live, not theirs.” He managed a deep breathe, restoring some calm. “You know I’m right.”
Sookie remained painfully silent before finally agreeing with a nod. “I said no to Niall once, you know,” she whispered in a tone that wouldn’t be audible to an ordinary human. Eric regarded her with confusion, forcing her to elaborate, “I was to remain married to you, whether I liked it or not. I wanted the divorce, not him.”
Eric didn’t dare ask more, he knew it had cost her something, and he wasn’t quite prepared to know what. “I’ll talk to him,” he promised. “We’ll make it work somehow. Leo’s not going anywhere without us.”
She let out a sigh of relief, mouthing a word of thanks while wiping away at a few errant tears. His hands shooed her erratic ones away to delicately move the tears aside with his thumbs before cupping her face and latching his lips onto hers. “You’re lucky I love you, Sookie Stackhouse.”
He’d told her he loved her, and then, nothing, for two whole months. Well, he had spoken to her since, but it was all practical and respectful, related to business or Leo. Per the usual. Sookie wasn’t quite sure what to make of it all. She’d assumed, speculated on it often enough, and, deep down, she had known, but hearing it from him had confused her more than anything. She was supposed to be delighted, flattered, a great many things, but she felt none of those. It was, of course, all Eric’s fault. That delusion, however, wasn’t holding up all that well either.
Currently, Eric was observing rather intently, a small frown creasing his brow, before, with a small shake, it was dismissed, and the problem was obviously already solved with the small agreeable nod he made next. “It’s not a load bearing wall, but you’d need a steel construction, and you should definitely be able to make the living room twice the size. It would work.”
“I was thinking just a door,” Sookie suggested, pointing at the far end of Mrs. Ogilvy’s wall, “right around here.”
“You’re thinking too small,” he dismissed. “You’ll get the best view over the entire width of the building. That alone would recoup the investment, and then some. A door makes no sense.”
“It makes sense to me,” she replied carefully.
“What’s the point of expanding? It’ll feel like two different apartments,” he argued. “You’ll be ripping out this awful panelling anyway, so why stop there?”
“I like the wood,” she pointed out. “It has charm.”
“It’s old,” Eric scoffed. “Actually, it’s not old at all, it only looks it. If it was actually old and made by hand like it’s supposed to, I’d consider it. This,” he continued to rant with disdain, poking at the classically inspired trim, “is pastiche.”
“Can you stop looking at the decor and focus on the apartment instead?” Sookie pleaded with a tired sigh. “Mrs. Ogilvy wants an answer by morning. It’ll be on the open market after that.”
“So, why ask me? You don’t need me to tell you that an opportunity like this almost never comes along, that owning the entire top floor of a prestige building in this city is a no-brainer. I mean, you don’t need the extra space, is there something you’re not telling me? Is Leo getting a sibling?”
“You know your finances better than me, you don’t want my advice on decor, and Alcide would have been the one to ask about that wall…sorry, door.”
“Will you leave the door alone already?” she huffed. “I’m not ready for the wall to come down.”
“You take Leo away for a weekend to your Grandmother’s house and it’d be done by the time you got back, not a speck of dust in sight, not that you’d notice that dust anyhow.”
“My home is perfectly clean!” Sookie growled out in irritation. “And that’s not the point!”
“Enlighten me then,” he grinned, enjoying the sight of her riled up. There was always a rather alluring promise there when it came to Sookie Stackhouse.
She took a deep breath, trying to put her thoughts in order again. “I was thinking,” Sookie started, hesitating for a moment while he regarded her expectantly. “I’d buy this apartment, and then you could move back in next door. I’ve worked bloody hard these past few years, the mortgage would be extortionate, but manageable, your old apartment would be yours again, like it was always supposed to be, with the door right there,” she said, pointing at the non-existent space once more, “Leo could come and go between us as he pleases.”
Now it was her turn to look at him expectantly, only to have her heart sink to the pit of her stomach when he replied, simply, “No.”
“Well, why the hell not?” she demanded hotly.
“As nice as it would be for Leo, the physical distance between us is what keeps this workable between us right now. This would muddle that.”
“Well, maybe I want it muddled!” Sookie cried out. “Did you ever consider that? You smug asshole!” He barely managed to suppress the chuckle of her rather uncanny impression of their child during a particularly dramatic tantrum. “I thought you said you loved me!”
That made him pause, turning serious again. “Yes, and?”
“And?! That means something, doesn’t it?”
“You once told me something similar, then you ran off.”
“So what? Is this is some cruel punishment you’ve been cooking up for years? Thanks a lot, Eric, lesson learned!”
Seeing her intention to storm or ‘pop’ off, he grabbed her by the shoulders, stilling her shaking body that was desperately trying to stop the already flowing tears trailing her face. “Let go of me!” she spluttered angrily.
“No,” he replied calmly, his eyes demanding the attention of hers. “Not until you hear me out.” She sniffed loudly until finally agreeing with a nod. Seating them both on one of Mrs. Ogilvy’s antique-looking, silk sofas, he spoke gently, “I do love you, Sookie Stackhouse, and, no, it’s not a form of cruel punishment. I’ve long accepted that it is what it is, but also that The Beatles were wrong, it’s not all you need.”
“Why the hell not?” she demanded, lacking her usual indignation.
“How could you have understood this once and forgotten it already? We divorced for a reason, I think we only ever managed to agree on a wall colour for the laundry room and that was only ever from sheer exhaustion. We couldn’t agree on a single thing. Yes, we get on well, there’s chemistry, and we’re good parents to Leo. Did you ever think maybe that’s because we’re not together?”
“You’ve changed your tune,” she noted. “What happened to demanding to know why I changed my mind all of a sudden after Gran’s launch party? Where did the persistent Eric go, convinced we were meant to be or the very least meant to be in my pants?”
He had to grin at that, of course, if only to remind her of that Eric who confused, excited, and annoyed her all at the same time. The presence of him, no matter how intermittent, was comforting, nonetheless. She caught on soon enough and saw it for exactly what it was, he was playing her.
“That Eric stopped looking at the past for answers and found them in the present. You’re not who you pretend to be Sookie Stackhouse,” he paused, gaging her reaction, only to add nonchalantly, “Perhaps I’m wrong, maybe you are just scared.”
“What?” she gasped, indulging his little ploy while wondering where this would eventually lead to. “I’m not scared!”
“You can be fearless, yes, especially when it comes to Leo,” he acknowledged. “It’s a shame you never applied that to yourself.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“That you like to deflect the blame, but you’re a lot smarter than people give you credit for. I thought I knew everything there was about you, yet you surprise me still.”
“I don’t understand-”
“You never wanted Leo to go to Faerum, and you never would have let him go. I wasn’t even aware I was fighting your fight until I discussed it with Niall, and it led me to do exactly what you wanted. Turns out, I was your tool to wield against Niall and his ‘wishes’,” he explained smugly as she clearly lacked any argument to counter his suppositions. “I have to say, it’s impressive. It was only then that I realised the divorce was never about me, or about how you felt about me, or perhaps it was the chief motivator, but I suspect it was Leo you had in mind. You never wanted me to be seen as an extension of you, as something Niall could boss around, for my power base to be something to leverage against him when necessary rather than automatically to be assumed to be ‘his.’ Without me as a separate entity, you had no power to object to Niall. He may be one in possession of many wiles, but you’ve surpassed his manoeuvring long ago.”
“I’m sorry,” she whispered in admittance, shocked by how much he had unfurled all on his own. “I just knew I never wanted our child to be obligated the way I always was and still am. Faeries, they’re worse than vampires. They don’t take because they can, they receive without even having to ask. They’re charming, loved, adored, and worst of all it’s expected and never questioned. I physically can’t not love my faery kin and it’s almost impossible to make them understand this human world where things are earned on merit. Claude warned me at the party, if it had been sacrificing something financial or material, what would it have mattered? It’s replaceable, what Niall would have asked for then wouldn’t be and the assumption that all that is yours is his to wield as he saw fit including our child. It would never have ended as long as there was a ring on my finger connecting us both. I knew it meant letting you go, but I also knew you’d be persistent and with Leo between us, I knew I’d never really lose you. I should have confided in you, but-”
“You weren’t in love with me then,” he finished. “You didn’t know if I was trustworthy enough.”
She gave a nod, mouthing a soft sorry in the direction of her knees. “We knew each other for weeks Eric, weeks! Most of which were spent fighting each other tooth and nail accompanied by a cloud of lust. The pregnancy, I’ve just never been convinced of how accidental that all was. I was starting to fall for you then but that probably frightened me more than anything. The most stupid thing was there was an alternative solution, but it required work, patience, and diligence. It all worked out in the end, but it’s just something Faeries can’t grasp when there’s an easier way.”
“I understand, I’d like to think that in your position I’d done the same. You acted like a lioness, ensuring your cub was safe.” With a suppressed growl he posed, “It doesn’t explain the presence of the shifter.”
She sighed, “I didn’t think you’d take it this well, like ever. The moment I trusted you enough to tell you, I didn’t think you’d be able to forgive me, never mind speak to me ever again. It was selfish, but I didn’t want to lose you and I thought that was all we’d ever be able to have. Risking it all by telling you the truth only ever worked out with us worse than ever in my mind. It’s probably why I said yes to a date with Jake. He came from the right Fae family, shared the mixed genetic quirk that makes us unattractive to the full Fae echelon, and it would stop Niall insisting I meet all those suitors he has lined up for at least another few months. It was never meant to be more than one date. Jake surprised me, that’s all.”
“Well, he was quite the surprise… party… time,” Eric deadpanned, earning him a well-earned slap to the upper body accompanied by poorly contained laughter.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered against his chest, her head tentatively coming to rest against it. “If I’d known, I never considered all the feelings that would be involved. I guess I’m really not all that different to my Faery kin-”
“You are, you know sacrifice,” he replied against the crown of her head, inhaling her unique scent, “I’m sorry, too. For not figuring it out earlier and for letting it piss me off for these past months. Should have known there was more to it. There always is when it comes to you.” He regarded the wall of detested panelling with narrowed eyes before asking, “So, when is that wall ready to come down?”
She looked up at him through her lashes, mischief sparkling through, exciting him beyond belief of the possibilities promised there, “I figured I’d ‘accidentally’ leave a hammer or two and some sparkly hard hats lying about when Jason and Pam are babysitting Leo. With so many holes in the wall, it just made more sense to take the whole thing down, doesn’t it?” she posed innocently, a wide grin betraying her, “Eric seems to be just fine with it, Leo can run his scooter through the living room endlessly tiring himself out, and well it only seemed the polite thing to install necro-tempered glass throughout the new apartment.”
“You realise if Pam ever finds out you’ve been playing her for this long, she’ll kill you.”
“I’m counting on it,” she whispered against his lips, revealing the slim silver chain with a small stake resting in between her cleavage that would do the job in an emergency. He’d never quite noticed it before because, well, cleavage. While admiring said cleavage Sookie took advantage and settled herself over his lap, thighs splayed out wide, her hands shoving his shoulders into the dainty sofa with a little too much force, toppling them both to the parquet floor with a thud. The air was knocked out of his lungs in the process, forcing him to inhale sharply before taking notice of their new position. She hovered over him, the stake hanging perilously close over his defenceless heart, her eyes searching his before kissing him roughly and vowing, “Till death do us part, Lover.”
He grinned back, his hand cupping her cheek to bring her closer once more, kissing with equal fervour so she knew exactly what would be in store for them in the future, affirming with a satisfied grin, “Like that would ever stop us.”
A/N: First off, an enormous amount of thanks to msbuffy who has seen me through this insanity in more ways than one with the very odd conversation or two in between. Unfortunately I never did get my Pam’s rant on crispy kale and all things ‘crispy’ these days in this little fic and the countless other odd brain farts this story induced which I entertained annoyed msbuffy with, but c’est la vie.
It should be noted I did a bit of post-tinkering after the editing process, all mistakes are, as always mine.
This is really the end though, I see no need for an epilogue. The entire story was one giant epilogue considering the weddings, the baby, the weird family moments, pretty dresses, Pam appearances, and whatever else belongs in epilogues. You might cry out for specific details but I shall remind you details were never all that important to this rather plotless fic. When I last left these two before my unplanned hiatus I never saw them making the finish line the way they were going no matter how endearing their tentative first steps were. I can only suspend my disbelief for so long and no matter how out there this fic was it needed some semblance of reality for me. I did see potential in a Sookie who had more Faerie in her than most and a spark with an Eric who caught on soon enough when no cleavage was involved. If only they paused long enough to stop playing their interspecies games I knew there was a way for these two to carry forth together. It took them a bit to find their custom solution, I sincerely doubt it’ll be a perfect happily ever after, but, close enough.
Thanks for reading, this, and everything else you’ve indulged in, commented on, liked, etc. It’s been a privilege to be able to ‘speak’ to you all so directly and have you talk back now and then. Thank you all for your presence on this blog and anywhere else 🙂