She woke to an empty bed, however, judging by the indentation beside her, he hadn’t been gone for long. The sun wasn’t up yet and she heard voices by her front door. It took little for Sookie to recognise the mind belonging to Bobby Burnham who clearly wanted to be anywhere but at her door.
”Whatcha doing?” She asked; surprised to find him awkwardly shuffling things in her kitchen when she was assured the dayman had departed.
”You should be in bed,” he answered, making a clear effort to hide what he’d been working on behind him. ”Please?”
”Fine,” she huffed, not all that happy with the random mess he was creating in her kitchen, however, he’d said ‘please’. She was still tired, barely having gotten a few hours sleep, making the appeal of the bed all the greater. The presumptuous vampire was probably filling her fridge to the brim with bags of donor blood, but she was simply too tired to care at this point. She fell in and out of a light sleep as soon as her head found the pillow again while she desperately tried to ignore the noises coming from the kitchen.
True to his nature, he was eerily silent creeping in. His void, however, betrayed him and despite his best efforts not to, he woke her. ”What’s that?” she asked with a squint.
”Breakfast in bed,” he answered, jutting the tray out in front of him apologetically. ”I can’t provide for the sunshine, but I can do breakfast as long as it’s not cooked. No children either, unless you’d like to adopt Pam?”
”I think I’ll pass,” she grinned while lingering on the smell of the rich breakfast pastries. ”This is a bit much though. Do you have to go now?”
”No,” he replied, coming to sit beside her. ”I can stay.”
”This doesn’t mean we’re…” she said, pointedly gesturing a finger between them and alluding to the rest of her fantasy ’perfect’ day that continued with a bout of lovemaking post-breakfast.
”I figured as much,” he chuckled. ”Though I dare say I hoped.”
”Of course you did,” she snorted before tossing him the newspaper again. She sipped politely at the coffee before putting it back with a hidden grimace.
”Make three true “we” statements each. For instance,‘We are both in this room feeling …’.”
”Emotionally raw?” His eyebrow soon raised on his forehead before she amended, ”Fine. “We” come from different worlds.”
”I don’t think that’s a true ’we’ statement,” Eric disputed. ”It’s merely a stating of fact.”
”What do you want me to say, Eric?” She bit back defensively. ”We drive each other insane? We always feel wronged, as if the world is conspiring against us purposefully? We can barely make it through five sentences before arguing? It’s all true!”
”Or, it’s what you want to be true,” he retorted calmly.
”How could you say that?” She cried out, any previous fatigue instantly dissipating. ”Like I would want that!”
”Well, it certainly feels like it,” he replied coolly, his head finding the headboard as he stared up at the ceiling. ”We are both in this room feeling scared. We’re scared because we don’t know how this is supposed to work. We’re scared it won’t work, and it scares what’s left of us when that happens. We are scared to risk it all.”
She moved towards him on the bed, coming to sit beside him on her knees. ”It scares me how well you know me,” she whispered.
”It’s not just the bond,” he sighed as her fingers found his to twine with. “I know you, what makes you tick, what buttons to push.”
”And yet you push,” she noted with a hint of disappointment. ”Why?”
His face turned towards hers. ”Because,” he started. ”Because in that moment I’m all you care about. For that moment I’m your world and even if it’s for the wrong reasons, it feels right.”
“I am pretty hard on you, aren’t I?”
“That’s putting it mildly,” he chuckled. ”I like to think you hold me to a higher standard than others.”
”I do,” she said with her head staring at their hands where they lay in her lap. ”Despite your devious ways, I do consider you honourable, and it pains me when you’re not.”
”I’m not perfect, Sookie.”
”I know.” Her gaze came to find his again, fingers tucking away a few unruly hairs from his face. ”My track record with other men,” she paused for an extended breath before continuing, ”it hasn’t been good. Is it so wrong of me to want more from you?”
”No,” he agreed. ”However, is it fair to assume I’m the same? To make me pay for their mistakes?”
”Not when you put it that way, no,” she sighed. ”I’m sorry.”
”Thank you,” he spoke lowly before moving in for a surprisingly chaste kiss. ”Next question.”
She looked a little dazed with a single-squinted eye, she’d expected more, but was surprised at his restraint. ”Complete this sentence: ’I wish I had someone with whom I could share …’.”
”Eternity with,” he answered before amending carefully, ”or whatever lifespan equivalent.”
”Is that something you always wanted?”
He shook his head, ”Not really, but things change. I gained a new perspective.”
She frowned after being a recipient of another chaste kiss. He knew her so well, and now Sookie wondered if she knew him at all. In that moment, all she could do was stare at him, dumbfounded. ”So what do you wish to share with someone?” he asked when she remained strangely silent.
”My burdens,” she answered without really thinking about it. Sighing with the thought that she now had to explain herself. ”When you were here without your memories, it was nice not to be the only one responsible for everything, to share the load, the way you asked how my day was.”
”I can be that again, Sookie.”
”Can you, Eric, really? Can I be the one you put before everything else?”
”I don’t commit easily, Sookie, but when I do, I take that seriously. I treat it with the respect it deserves.”
”I believe you,” she said softly before tapping on the next question.
”If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.”
”Telepath meet vampire,” she shrugged. ”Do we really need to answer that?”
”I don’t think that’s what’s being questioned,” he noted, though he had little to offer what was being asked. She took the paper from him to reread the question instead of accusing him that he read it wrong for a change. ”I need space now and then,” she said after contemplating long and hard at what would be an appropriate response. ”I’m hardly ever alone in my own head so sometimes I need that. Sometimes I need to be left alone, but I need to know that you understand that. That you’re not simply ignoring me, but knowingly giving me space.”
”I need to be told things,” he answered. ”I don’t always understand what’s expected of me if it isn’t chartered in a set of rules or customs that have shaped me for centuries. It’s been a long time since I was human, and even then it wasn’t the same. I need help understanding things now and then.”
Sookie nodded sensibly, taking a sip from her juice, and smiling a little when she saw the next question, ”Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.”
”I like your spirit, that you let nothing stand in your way.”
”I like your butt,” she giggled with burning red cheeks to the perplexed vampire. ”What? It said be honest, saying something you wouldn’t otherwise say to someone you just met.”
”I want to change my answer!”
”Oh, no, you had your chance! You only got one.”
”Fine,” he pouted, and that only seemed to infect her laughter more. ”Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.”
”It involved me and Tara in a talent show with little knowledge of how short our outfits were, and that’s all I’m gonna say.”
”You’ll have to re-enact it for me some time,” he leered.
“Nuh uh, Mister! Besides,” she huffed with flushed cheeks, ”it’s your turn.”
He thought for a moment, ”It’s hard to embarrass me, but there have been some outfits Pam forced on me.”
”Enough said,” Sookie supplied with a shudder in memory of a certain aqua-coloured leotard. ”When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?”
”In front of my Maker,” he confessed, his closing fist tightening the tendons of the muscles of his forearm. ”I can’t remember by myself. In front of my Maker was the last time.”
”You were witness to both tonight,” she reminded of the many times tears had shed from her already, alone and in front of him.
He shook his head. ”Tell your partner something that you like about them already. I guess this is a question for the strangers.”
”We can make it about what we liked finding out about the other tonight,” she proposed and with his nod, she supplied, ”I like that you listen to me, really listen. You hear what I’m saying.”
”I like that you allowed me to,” he answered in return, his face hovering dangerously close to hers again.
”We’re nearly at the end,” she spoke softly, her warm breath landing on his cool skin.
”You’re right,” he mumbled, putting distance between them again wanting nothing more to reach that end, the paper firmly placed between them again as a boundary. ”What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?,” she read.
”Not a thing for me, you?”
”Anything that could hurt someone’s feelings,” she answered. “No jokes at the expense of another.”
“Pam will be disappointed,” he grinned. ”According to her, that’s the entire purpose of humour.”
”It’s a good thing she’s not here then,” she quipped. “Come on, we’re nearly done.”
”You’re awfully excited to get to the end,” he noted, wondering if he was of the same mind. Part of him wanted resolution, but another part of him didn’t want this to be over yet. Despite the grief, he had thoroughly enjoyed being with her like this. ”If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?”
”I’d regret not telling you that I loved you, that I mourned the loss of you when your memories returned.”
”Loved?” He whispered with a hint of disappointment. She nodded, not wishing to add any more pain with that confession.
”I wanted you whole, no matter the repercussions that had for me,” she explained. ”But just as often I think what it would have been like if we’d just run off. Start somewhere new with just the two of us.”
”You did the right thing,” he acknowledged. ”It doesn’t mean the other option is off the table.”
”You’re not him.”
That statement silenced him and for the first time it became uncomfortable between them.
”I love you just the same,” he finally confessed, and the heavy breathe she was inhaling nearly caught dead in its track.
”I see that now. I also see that’s it not a bad thing,” she acknowledged, and for the first time that night she initiated a kiss far deeper than his chaste pecks had been so far. ”I could love you again, if I truly ever stopped.”
He smiled, though Sookie had seen him laugh plenty, she’d not seen this face of happiness since he lacked his memories. She cleared her throat, grabbing for the list of questions, ”Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?”
”I’ve started over often enough,” he shrugged. ”Plus, highly flammable, I wouldn’t risk it.”
”That picture,” she answered pointing to the portrait of her, Jason, and her grandparents in the back yard. He picked it up, observing it carefully. ”When was this taken?”
”The summer after the death of my parents.”
”I’d like to see you this happy more often,” he noted with a lingering finger over her face in the photograph.
”Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?”
”I survived through Gran,” she sighed, somehow through the night it had become comforting to of speak of her, rather than her tragic death. ”I know I’d make it through losing Jason, but it wouldn’t devastate me since he’s the last real family I’ve got left.”
”Pam,” he supplied unsurprisingly. ”Knowing I failed her as a Maker would pain me greatly. I’d feel responsible and it would be long before I ever considered making another Childe.”
”Last question; Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.”
”There’s this girl I like,” he grinned. ”I’ve made it clear to her in every way possible and she even likes my ass, but it seems that’s all she likes about me and resists my undeniable charm. What would you do?”
”Mmmm,” she pondered dramatically. “Have you ever considered letting her come to you? Or here’s a novel thought, ask her out on a date?”
”I’ll have to remember that,” he grinned, his thumb caressing her cheek. ”I’ll ask her next time I see her. Your turn.”
”I have trouble letting go, not being in control of the situation. I want to stop being the pawn in everybody else’s scheme.”
”You want control,” he pointed out. ”Unlike me, it isn’t going to come knocking, ready at your will. You want it, you take it.”
”You make it seem so simple-“
”It is,” he cut her off. ”If anyone is capable of it, you are, Sookie Stackhouse. You’re capable of that and so much more.”
”We’re at the end,” she whispered, startled how quick it had come.
”Not quite,” he pointed to the final instruction. “Stare into each other’s eyes for four minutes.”
”Easy for you, Mr. No Need to Blink,” she whined while he pulled her to his gaze. ”Is this what it’s like to be glamoured?”
”Shh, it’s a silent four minutes.”
Silent it was, for the first time intentionally that night. For the first time it wasn’t uncomfortable, it was simply terrifying. Searching eyes roamed back and forth, what exactly they hoped to find wasn’t clear to either of them. She contemplated letting out a little cough just to break the intensity of the moment, but instead all she managed was to close her eyes longer than necessary now and then.
The timer on his phone set off at exactly four minutes, though they continued to stare as with a swipe of his finger the interfering sound was silenced. In the distance he could sense the sun would start its ascent soon, but he couldn’t care, the room was safe enough and nothing save the true death could possibly move him from his spot. The hold he held on the bond was relinquished and for the first time since it formed, they were completely in sync.
“What is that?” she whispered against his lips, the sensation that coursed through them feeling foreign to her, neither one knowing how they had come to close the distance between them.
”I did it,” he replied hoarsely, his hands moving in her untamed mane of hair. ”I led you to love.”
A/N: That really does spell the end. I hope you enjoyed this quirky little detour of mine and I’ll be reverting my attention back to my works in progresses. Thoughts welcome as always and an extra special thanks to msbuffy and her editing work on this!
As before text in italics and dark blue are the original questions from the study and they certainly don’t belong to me but I made good use of them 😉