”Why is this conquest so important to you?” She demanded. His confession was doing nothing to deliver him the affections of the telepath in his arms as he thought it would. She was supposed to swoon, damn it! She should fall into his arms, in which she was already advantageously positioned, and deepen an already deep kiss. Instead she was struggling in his hold of her, and had they been on the ground there was no doubt in his mind that she’d be running away now. ”You’re mine! Just accept it already!” He growled at her rejection of his affection. Why the fuck did she always have to make it so hard!
‘I’m not, damn it!’
”Hold still!” he commanded in a tone harsher than intended while she continued to squirm. ”It’s a long way down,” he adjusted with a gentler tone and she managed to calm a little with that choice truth.
”Take me down!”
”Hold still and I will.”
They didn’t speak after that till he safely deposited her back on solid ground. He hovered by the threshold of her door, not in fear that she rescinded his invitation physically, but whether he was still wanted there at all.
”Let’s just finish this and be done with it,” she said, not noticing his moment of hesitation at all before plopping back onto the sofa with the paper in hand, ”If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?”
He leaned against the door frame, arms wrapped defensively to his chest, ”Nothing,” he spat out with distaste for the question. ”It reeks of witchcraft and I want nothing to do with that ever again. Are you giggling?”
”Sorry,” she snickered, doing nothing to falter the laughs at his expense that had emerged without thought on account of his petulance. Despite his age he could be so young sometimes. ”I just never see you that mad over something so ridiculous.”
Not in any mood to revisit the induced state of amnesia, he simply raised his eyebrows before demanding she answer the question, too.
”No,” she said with a shake of the head. ”I wouldn’t want to know any of it either. In the end, you’d be living towards that instead of simply living. Self-fulfilling prophecies and all that. I’d rather go with the unknown.”
”Agreed,” he nodded before coming to sit by her again. ”Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?”
”Travel the world,” she offered hesitantly. ”Lack of money and the telepathy make that rather hard. Don’t,” she instructed with a raised finger when she knew he was about to offer to take her anywhere, and if she refused to go with him that he’d probably just offer her the money instead. She wasn’t interested in either from him. ”Your turn, what have you dreamed of doing for a long time?”
”This,” he offered, swooping in and pressing his lips against hers, a familiar swipe of his tongue against her bottom lip instantly prying her open to his coaxing tongue. A little moan escaped her, then him, until she had to pat against his chest to let her up for a much needed intake of oxygen.
”Why didn’t you do that before?” She asked once her lungs had re-inflated.
”You know why,” he said pointedly. “It’s only a matter of moments before you turn on me.”
”Well, you can’t just do that and expect me not to react! We’re not together!”
”Why not? Why can’t you just be for a moment?”
”I don’t know!” she cried out in frustration, tears soon prickling the corners of her eyes. ”I wish I could! I wish it could all be that simple, that I could just feel one thing for you! You’re not simple!”
”But I was without my memories?”
”Yes,” she whispered, not daring to meet his eyes. His fingers tilted her chin towards him regardless.
”We come with a lot of baggage, you and I. It doesn’t mean we can’t offload some now and then, too.”
She nodded, ”Isn’t that we’re doing now?”
”Perhaps,” he mused, ”or perhaps, we’re only adding to it.”
”I guess we’ll know by the end of the night,” she sighed. ”We’re almost halfway there.”
”What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?”
”Becoming a Maker,” he replied after some thought. ”Yes, becoming a Maker.”
”Really?” Sookie questioned, despite his own affirmation.
”It’s very rewarding,” Eric offered. ”I’m very proud of her.”
”I know. It’s just…”
”It’s just, what?”
”It’s so human,” she replied. ”You’re a proud pappa!”
”I was very proud of my human children, too,” he said, ignoring the mirth she seemed to be relishing in over his answer. ”Unfortunately, I never got to know how they grew up.”
”Sorry,” she whispered, her hand coming to rest on his forearm. ”With you as their father they must have turned out great.”
”You mean that?”
”I do,” she answered warmly, surprising even herself with the found conviction. ”I always thought in my fantasies where we’re all human and there’s no such thing as the Supernatural that you’d make a great father to my…” He regarded her carefully with her sudden swallowing of words.
She remained silent, despite the coaxing eyes that demanded she finish her sentence. ”Sookie, the husband that feeds you breakfast in bed in your fantasy, is he me?”
”Yes,” she whispered against her upturned knees, not all too comfortable with letting him know that, however, knowing he would think it whether she denied it or not, she figured acknowledging the truth was best this once. ”Maybe I should answer the question now, what was it again?”
”Your greatest accomplishment,” he reminded with a sly grin over her latest confession.
”I don’t have one. Next question.”
”Sookie,” he sighed.
”Don’t Sookie me! I don’t, Okay? I have nothing to be proud of!”
”I can name five with ease,” he scoffed. “You’ve saved my life and others many times over.”
”That’s just being a good person, it’s not an accomplishment.”
”Why do you find it so hard to see what is so admirable about you?” Eric questioned, holding her close as she once again threatened to flee the room, mumbling excuses about water and human needs, all disregarded by him as he blocked her exit. ”Sookie, you are magnificent, and yet you allow the worst of what is said of you to shape the perception of yourself.”
”Unlike you?” she spat. ”Who will simply believe the most sycophantic thing said about him, whether it’s truth or not.”
”It’s somebody’s truth, so why can’t it be mine?”
”I don’t know,” she admitted with her eyes drawn to the suddenly very interesting floor, until a crooked smile started to emerge, ”I thought of one.”
”My greatest accomplishment is driving the Great Eric Northman to madness and back.”
”Very astute,” he grinned, loosening his hold on her. She didn’t move to the kitchen for water or the bathroom for her human needs. She didn’t even move from where he had pulled her to. ”Also, very true. What do you value most in a friendship?”
”This,” she answered before expanding. ”Someone I can laugh with will always be my friend.”
”That explains Pam,” he noted dryly.
“It also explains you.”
“I suppose it does.”
He pulled her tighter to him, her upper body resting on his, relishing the warmth she offered. ”So, friendship? What do you value?” She asked.
”The ability to be told the truth, to allow it to hurt, but only appreciating that person more for offering it.”
”Good answer,” she nodded. ”What is your most treasured memory?”
”I’d rather not say.”
”What happened to Mr. Truth?”
”I don’t think you’d like the answer.”
”Ugh,” she complained with a scrunch of her nose. ”Is it all gory and filled with blood?”
”Just tell me,” she sighed. ”I’ll get over it.”
”It was being with you, here in this house. When our entire world was just us.”
”Oh,” she breathed out. ”A thousand years and that…”
He nodded and she gave him a quick peck, why she wasn’t quite sure, probably for the same reason he had disclaimed his answer. ”You’re not going to like my answer either.” His eyebrows rose expectantly and hesitantly she continued. ”It was meeting Bill.”
The growl was near deafening, despite that she didn’t move from her position, instead using her fingers to run along his hair and chest to calm him down. ”It wasn’t about Bill, per se,” she offered in explanation. ”It was about discovering there were men out there that I couldn’t hear. That I could love, that I could have sex with. It wasn’t normal, but the closest I could get. That was a lot more than I had before.”
”Too bad I didn’t find you first.”
”So competitive,” Sookie admonished half-heartedly, though secretly she rather liked that about him.
”What is your most terrible memory?”
”I guess you’ll be getting your answer after all,” she sighed, her shoulders slumping with the weight of it.
”Means I’ll have to answer, too,” he spoke softly, pulling her closer in the process. Silence enveloped them, she played with a piece of lint on his shirt, and he fingered her hair absently, neither one really willing to speak.
”My uncle molested me,” she whispered before letting silence befall them once more.
Instead of demanding every painful detail he offered, “My Maker abused me in any way possible; when he was done, he invited others to do the same. When they were done, he made me do it to others, and still I can’t help but feel indebted to him.” He paused, had they been in a film it would have been especially dramatic, but instead it was simply a weighed quiet before his tone fell to one of confession once more. ”I came to enjoy it.”
”Came?” She asked, needing to confirm that this was the past tense; that this was a lifetime ago, many lifetimes ago. Consciously, of course, she knew he was exceptionally old, mostly what she was seeking to sanction was that it stopped as long ago. Oddly, his own actions seemed of little consequence in that moment, despite the severity. It was his pain, one she knew intimately as well as her own, but not to the extent of his, that troubled her. What she had endured seemed almost trivial in contrast to him.
He nodded with a gravity she had yet to witness in him before he added, for her sake more than his. ”Time brought me different insight.”
”So there was never joy?”
He startled, stared at her for another uncomfortably long pause, disconcerted how the word he had chosen, ‘enjoy,’ was so different with the loss of two letters. Joy spoke of life, and that period of time consisted of a severe lack of lust for that, though lust itself was present in abundance it was geared towards humiliation and destruction. In its madness, it was the path to a slow death and only in the promise of joy, a promise of self without a limit of time was he able to sustain. ”No, no joy.”
“Next question?” she asked with glistening eyes, not failing to catch the relief in his with those words.
”If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?”
”Truthfully?” He questioned, and she nodded encouragingly, squeezing his hand for emphasis still a little raw from the previous question. ”I’d take you away from here, not caring for whether you wanted to or not. I’d keep you with me till the end.”
”Even if I hated you the entire time?” She asked, not even finding the energy to be enraged any more at this point.
”Yes, I’d rather have you with me, hating me, than not at all.”
”I think we should stop now,” she said through wet tears, putting as much distance between them as possible, hating the cold and collected tone he had taken over his admission of simply kidnapping her and who knows what else he would be willing to do against her will.
”I think that would be the worst idea right now. This is a conversation we need to have.”
”You’ve given this a lot of thought,” she noted.
”Why haven’t you acted on it?” Sookie questioned with a steely resolve. In fact, she was quite proud it wasn’t laden with petty accusation.
”I have time.”
“You’d turn me against my will?”
”No,” he replied. ”For one, I have no guarantees how a hybrid would turn, and secondly I could stand your hatred for a year, but not an eternity.”
“You’re looking into it though? Aren’t you?” She asked in a whisper.
”I plan ahead,” he answered, not even bothering to deny it or be apologetic about it.
”I need a minute,” she said, getting up and moving out to the back porch. She sorted through the laundry pile, piece by piece, in a far slower tempo than she would otherwise. Not until the machine was fully loaded and she heard the water running through did she lose her composure. Tears falling for the third time that night, her body shaking with the machine, and her hands clenched tightly to the sides in fear that her knees would give way.
She didn’t notice him till he was already there with his arms wrapped around her waist, holding her up as her cries fell to sobs. ”I’ve thought about it,” he repeated. ”A lot. I’ve never acted on it and I never will.”
”Unless you knew you had a year to live.”
”Yes,” he answered, holding her even tighter as she threatened to collapse with his admission. ”Would I have to though? If you knew I had a year to live and all I wanted was to have you with me, would you be so cold and say no, forcing my hand?”
”No,” she whispered. ”I’d give you that. Even knowing this, I’d give you that.”
”Come here,” he soothed while turning her around, placing her legs by his waist so he could carry her. He gently placed her on the bed they once shared, thinking perhaps it was best to leave now. He never could stand seeing her cry, and he was determined this was the last time he’d make her cry, questions be damned. Perhaps she did know better and she was better off without him, she’d certainly be in far less pain.
”Where are you going?” She asked when the last of her tears had dried up and wiped away and he seemed to move towards the door.
”Stay,” she managed with some composure. ”If that’s the worst of it, it’s not as bad as I thought. It doesn’t make it any less difficult to hear what you’re capable of.”
”If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?”
”I’d sell everything I own. See the world; if I’d answered first I might have taken you with me as my guide.”
”And now?” he queried with a slight pique to his tone.
”Now, I’d ask Pam,” she answered with a hint of mischief. ”Maybe you could join us at some point. Maybe.”
”You do know how to pull the worst from me,” he sighed, coming to lie beside her at her inviting pat. She turned on her side to really look at him. His beauty was startling, but it had long lost its initial intrigue. She’d seen the worst of him and the best. Amnesia had rid him of a lot of sin, but she had to admit that at his core he wasn’t that different at all. Just more informed.
”Probably,” she noted. “The same probably goes for you, but you also know how to bring out the best in me.”
”You bring out parts of me I didn’t know I possessed,” he confessed in a whisper so low she almost didn’t catch it. ”You make me better than I am.” The smile that came in response was bright enough to bask the room with light.
”What does friendship mean to you?”
”It meant everything to me in the past,” she answered, almost forgetting they were still answering questions from a list. ”I always thought it was the most intimate I could be with someone.”
”The Shifter,” he started before amending to the scorn that threatened, ”Sam, this is why he means a lot to you?”
”Yes,” she answered with recognition, thankful that he seemed to finally understand somewhat her attachment to her boss. ”Being my friend isn’t easy,” Sookie started to explain and he was quick to receive an admonishing glare for the small cry of recognition that escaped his lips with that statement. ”I have to work extra hard for the friendships that I have and they aren’t many. Tara’s life is moving in a different direction, a husband and children are her world now. One I can never compete with. Arlene stopped being my friend when I started up with Bill and it’s not really something I think we can mend, or is even worth mending. Gran was my best friend, that feels a little sad, but it wasn’t.”
“Are we friends, Sookie?”
”I don’t know, Eric,” she answered wearily. ”I’d like to think so, but it’s all so complex. Do you even have any friends?”
”Does Pam count?”
”Not really. No one who works for you either.”
”Doesn’t that make you sad?” She whispered.
”I need trust,” he offered thoughtfully. ”I can’t afford to trust anyone who is not connected to me by blood.”
”We should be friends,” Sookie stated firmly. ”Even if at the end we decide whatever we decide, we should determine to be friends. You can trust me.”
”I know,” he whispered while tracing the side of her face with his hand. ”I’d like to call you my friend someday. More if you let me.”
She smiled encouragingly, nuzzling in his touch for a moment before her eyes fell to the newspaper between them. It was showing its creases by now, text smudging from their continued handling. ”What roles do love and affection play in your life?”
”I love deeply,” he stated simply. ”I’m affected by little.”
She wanted to demand more from him, knowing what he could offer, but she realised he had just said exactly what he could offer despite its brevity. She knew what he was capable of, she was just unsure if the statement stood true with the demands of superiors or power struggles. Where exactly she would fit in.
”I love too easily,” she offered of her own accord. ”I’m affected by everything.”
”You speak in the present tense,” he pointed out.
”What’s that supposed to mean?” She retorted with an air of defence.
”I think it’s a statement of the past and that no longer holds true. I wouldn’t be here practically forcing you to talk to me if that statement still applied. If you could love so easily, you wouldn’t make this so hard. You wouldn’t make it so hard on me.”
She was about to contradict him till she paused to think, hating to admit that perhaps he was right. ”Next question,” she grumbled instead, purposefully looking the other way to avoid the triumphant grin she was most assured he was sporting right now. She wasn’t wrong and he only proceeded to chuckle for added effect.
”Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.”
”You’re always fun,” she smiled. ”Even through the worst, you crack a joke and keep me laughing.”
”You make my life more exciting.”
”I am a bit of a trouble magnet,” she snickered.
”True,” he acceded. ”It’s not what I meant though, you give a new perspective. I’m in need of that now and then. I value your opinion.”
She stared disbelievingly for a moment, wondering if he was kidding, but he remained dreadfully earnest. ”Thank you. I’m sorry I don’t always value yours,” she offered. ”I do appreciate that you always try to make the best of the situation with me in mind, even when you don’t agree with my morals or ideas.”
”You make it easy to look for the best of a situation. Your optimism, though sometimes misplaced, is contagious.”
A small smile grew from her lips and he couldn’t help but infect him as he responded, ”You don’t give up easy, it drives me insane when it comes to me, but it is an admirable quality.”
”You’re kind; you pretend you’re not, but you’re kind and it’s not motivated by guilt. You just are.”
His forefinger came to her lips, as if to silence her. ”That stays between us,” he warned with boy-like charm, revoking any actual threat with it, and causing her to smile wide against the finger. She motioned a key that locked her lips and still in mime tossed it away ceremoniously. A large yawn interrupted them, ”Did we make it to five?” Sookie asked sleepily.
”Close enough,” he decided for them both. ”How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?”
”You already know about my childhood, it was better than some, worse than most.” He nodded, encouraging her to continue with a soft stroke that traced her arm. ”Jason is all that I have left. It makes me sad because sometimes it feels like we’re drifting apart. I fight it so hard, but then I think isn’t this what siblings are supposed to do? At some point we stop being those bickering kids and we should be adults.”
”Never lose your youth,” Eric offered. ”Living by other people’s notions ruins everything if you let it. Just be you.”
”That makes sense,” she nodded. ”Tell me about your childhood.”
”It was nice, different, of course,” he answered. ”We weren’t as unbridled as children are today. Responsibility was bestowed on us when we were young, especially so for us as the Chieftain’s children. We were the example and my mother was insistent that we held a high standard.”
”Are you just eternally mischievous because you couldn’t be as a child?” She giggled.
He grinned. ”I said my mother insisted on it, I didn’t say she succeeded.”
”That brings us conveniently to the next question, How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?”
”I loved her very much,” Eric said with a pleasant glint to his eye. ”She was very fierce, and scary when she needed to be, even to my father. She ran the household with an iron fist and the village when my father was away. She warded away plenty of raiders in his absence successfully, and we were never hungry.”
”She sounds amazing.”
”She was,” he agreed.
”I want to change my answer,” Sookie suddenly said.
”You haven’t even answered yet,” he chuckled.
”Not this question, silly,” she said with another yawn. ”The first question, my dinner guest.”
”You want to meet my mother instead?”
She nodded. ”I’d have to know her name though.”
”Astrid,” he offered. ”It means divine strength, and she would have liked you very much.”
”My mother wouldn’t have liked you at all,” Sookie confessed, the pain of her mother’s apparent disapproval still present, despite the fact she was not. ”She didn’t trust anything that was different. Including me.”
”Sookie,” Eric whispered, pulling her closer and crumpling the paper that lay between them further.
”She tried, Eric,” she uttered between soft cries to his chest. ”To her best of her ability, she tried; she just couldn’t love me for what I am. She couldn’t accept reality for what it was, for what it could be.”
He resisted from uttering, ”Like mother, like daughter.”
”When I told her of my Uncle, she didn’t believe me,” she whispered, her head hanging in shame. ”Gran was the first to believe me when I just moved here after their deaths. I was happy, Eric. It made me glad my mother was dead. What kind of daughter does that make me?”
”A sensible one,” he offered, kissing the crown of her head. ”You were a child, Sookie, freed from a situation you shouldn’t have been in. You would have been happy about anything that made that go away. It doesn’t diminish the love you have for her, even if she isn’t deserving of it.”
”Like your Maker?” she questioned, finding his eyes again.
”Very much so.”
”It’s late,” she noted, diverting the conversation neither one really wanted to have at that moment. It was firmly in the past and deserved to stay there. ”I have to work tomorrow.”
”Do you want me to go?”
”No,” Sookie yawned, his presence, though initially unwanted, bringing her comfort now. ”Stay, at least for a bit. I’m just too tired to do any more questions. I need a nap.”
”Very well,” he said with little protest as she continued to settle herself in his embrace. He fashioned a blanket around them and turned off the bedside lamp when she quickly fell asleep.
Despite it being so long ago, it didn’t take much for him to recall the song his mother had once sung to him. The lullaby he continued to sing in her absence till his brother put an end to it, after that he never thought he’d find need for it again. Staring at precious cargo in his arms he was glad he had now, even if all she’d ever be was a friend, at least he’d have that.
A/N: So are we getting there? One more set of questions after this, I’ll try posting them sometime in the upcoming week. Thoughts welcome as always 😀
Questions in italic and dark blue are the original questions from the study and they certainly do not belong to me.
Countless gratitude to msbuffy and her stellar editing skills.