Description: Eric Northman seemed an innocent sort, coming to learn the tricks of the shipping trade. He lived off charm alone, weaselling his way aboard Jason Stackhouse’s boat, into his Gran’s home for room and board, and then ultimately his sister’s bed. A storm at sea ripped apart a brightly painted future for the young lovers with only part of the crew returning, Eric assumed lost at sea forever. Despite the adversity, Sookie manages to rebuild her life, embarking on a different path until suddenly he returns and her life is once more turned upside down.
Chapter 1 – Lost and Found
“I found him, Sook.”
“What in the world are you talking about?” Sookie dismissed, having little time for her brother’s tall tales again, an ocean away before realisation dawned on her. “You’re not trying that again are you? Lafayette might want to move to Sweden, but they are in no way going to believe he is their long-lost son so you can claim that reward!”
“Nah!” he huffed. “It’s for real this time, sis! I found ‘im!”
“He’s dead, Jas,” she reminded. “You said so yourself, no one could have survived that storm or those cold waters.”
“Well, I was wrong, he’s sitting right here.”
“It’s a scam, Jas,” she sighed with a shake of her head though it was of little use over the phone, not that it would have had any more impact had he physically been there. “Everyone wants a piece of that reward.”
“I swear, Sis, it’s him.” The line remained painfully silent so he continued, “We found him, Sook, just sitting there in a port. Not a clue who we were or him for that matter. Had to bring him home.”
She hung up without uttering another word, too frightened to hope or believe the words her brother had spoken. It had been years, long years, since she first met Eric. Lanky and tall, he moved that ill-fitting body clumsily around the docks looking for work and managed his way onto Jason’ boat. He was specific in his search though, and that should have been the first clue that there something was off about Eric Northman. For he both knew too little and too much at the same time, and he was exceptionally bright in a useless sort of way. Boys, never mind men, like that never came begging for work in the Louisiana fishing industry. He had a bit of muscle, but they were obviously honed by the equipment of a gym, not like everybody else, by the force of labour and hard living.
Every couple of years his name would surface again, he’d made an impression despite his brief appearance, not so much for the time spent in their small fishing community, but in the aftermath. No one had looked for Eric Northman. That last name really should have tipped them all off that he wasn’t who he said he was. No Swede would have such a name, but he was charming and that was, after all, his saving grace that opened otherwise closed doors. He charmed his way onto Jason Stackhouse’s boat, into a guest room in Adele Stackhouse’s home, and ultimately, into Sookie’s bed the night before they set off on that disastrous voyage.
“You okay?” Landon asked.
“Yeah,” she smiled back softly. “It’s nothing.”
“Jason starting up that Northman scam again?”
“It’s Norström,” she corrected. “Erik Norström.”
“Yeah, him,” he dismissed while grabbing his bag. “You gonna come kiss me goodbye or not?”
“Of course,” she smiled, though her heart wasn’t in it the way it usually was. She purposely kept her spirits high during moments like these, dreading the goodbye.
“I’ll be back before you know it,” he said with a soft caress of her cheek, kissing her with familiar warmth. She nodded, fighting the pain in her stomach of this continued ritual. She hated having to say goodbye, even though she knew nothing would happen to Landon, not like with her grandfather, or her parents, or Eric. The sea wouldn’t take him as it had so many others in her life. It was, after all, the reason why she had allowed herself to fall for him. Unlike everybody else in this town, he was one of the few that didn’t venture onto the high seas to risk it all. “I’ll call you when I land.”
“I’ll be here waiting,” she smiled sweetly, completing the ritual as they always did. “Love you.”
“Love you too.”
She didn’t give Eric much thought after the phone call, rather, the name followed her to work. Jason’s entire crew had apparently spread the word quite quickly, despite their long distance from home. The promised reward was much needed, if Jason had in fact found him, which Sookie still continued to disbelieve. The entire town would reap the reward right along with him and considering the sad state of everyone’s personal economy, it had everyone spending it before it arrived. Everyone but Sookie was happy to believe in the returning miracle as it polished up the glowing dollar signs in their eyes.
They only found out Eric was ostensibly rich after the search party arrived, his sister, Pam, looking as if she never performed a day’s of hard work let alone soft labour in her life, firmly at the helm. She was only a year older than Sookie, but looked about twenty years her senior with a heavy set of makeup and an impeccable wardrobe. In her six inch heels she braved the ocean for days, then weeks, till months turned into a year. She still returned every year on that date with the idle hope that he would show up on the shore in vain.
The Norströms owned one of the largest fishing fleets on the North Sea, and while Pam had never interested herself much in the business beyond its money making aspects, Eric had immersed himself in its production. He’d come to Louisiana to learn, to look for an expansion of their business without the title of heir to his name, even in this small town the name Norström meant something and without a doubt, it would have been met with hostility.
Thankfully no one asked her about Eric. No one ever did. They never knew that he was the boy to whom she lost her virginity. That he was the reason she’d never dared look at another man till Landon, sweet Landon, came along, leaving much of the town to speculate for years whether or not she was a lesbian. A speculation that, much to Sookie’s horror, Pam had followed up on.
She’d mourned him quietly. The storm that took him was far worse than anyone had expected. Jason’s boat was lost in seconds, a loss he mourned openly. She was thankful Jason had made it home safely through the aid of another nearby vessel that risked life and limb for them. Eric and Tara’s boyfriend, J.B. du Rhone, were the only ones never to return. Tara being the one person Sookie would have told about her loss, however, the comparison of her one night to the years that personified Tara and J.B. made her ordeal seem so small. If she even ever had the chance, at the news, Tara had left and was never heard from again.
“Don’t listen to a word he says, Pam,” Sookie answered automatically as she took the phone from Sam.
“What if it is, Sookie?” she rasped down the line. She took a moment to compose herself. It had been obvious Pam was crying, something she didn’t allow for often and even more rare; allowed anyone to witness. On her annual visits, she had always taken up Sookie’s invite to spend the night in her Gran’s, now her, guest room. It went without saying that the last place Eric stayed made Pam somehow feel closer to her lost sibling, and in the process she and Sookie had become quite close.
“It’s not him,” Sookie answered sternly. “You know it isn’t, you’ve scoured the entire Gulf yourself.”
“I know,” she sighed. “But if it’s him, you’ll tell me, right?”
“Of course,” Sookie assured in a gentler tone, remaining quiet as she heard the onset of tears again.
“Damn hormones,” she sniffed before bidding her goodbye.
Somehow Pam, the lesbian wild child, had gotten married, and most notably not to a woman, but to a very old man. When Sookie had asked her why, the explanation had been surprisingly pragmatic, like the woman herself. Pam quite fancied the double barrelled surname and the estate that came with it. Her primary concern, her shoes, deserved some breathing space that apparently Pam’s spacious city apartment did not offer. The very old man in question needed an heir, describing his well-behaved nieces and nephews about as dull as wallpaper paste, an estimation Pam couldn’t help but agree with, and a contract was soon drawn up alongside an appointment with an in-vitro specialist. By all appearances, all those involved seemed very pleased with the merger as Pam had titled it.
Talk of Erik Norström soon died down with Jason still days away from returning to port. As talk of his return came closer once more, the whispers started up again and for the first time Sookie allowed herself to think, ‘What if?’ Before Landon she had fantasised over this exact scenario many times, a happy ending to replace another tragic one in the string of tragic turns that summarised her past. She’d learned long ago not to play the “What if?” game with her parents or her grandfather. Her Gran had seen to that. The ocean gave and it took away, and that was that.
Sookie didn’t even want to contemplate what it would mean if he had indeed been ‘found’. Their shared night was so long ago and after all, it had been just one night preceded by an inappropriate amount of flirting and charm on his account. He may be firmly locked into her memory, but what if she was just a blip in his? He obviously hadn’t made any effort to return as promised. That thought terrified her more than his possible return.
She contemplated reaching out to Tara. She knew her friend would be hurting, like she always did with the town’s obsession with Eric and the promised reward. No one ever mentioned J.B. with the same enthusiasm. It was most likely the reason why Tara had up and left without a word of goodbye, something for which Sookie had actually been quite thankful. An occasional postcard would drop in her or Lafayette’s mailbox from various places around the world. Her friend seemed better for it.
“You don’t want to go out to port?” Sam asked while Sookie continued to wipe at the tables of the empty diner. “Greet Jason?”
She stopped briefly to look up at him before continuing on with her task. She shrugged, “He’ll end up here anyway, looking to get drunk off his ass and into the most inviting bed our little town has to offer him tonight.”
“Not interested in seeing the town’s saviour himself then either?”
“It’s not him,” she replied monotonously. “Erik Norström is dead.”
It was, after all, that determining factor that had kept her together for most of those years, which had allowed her to part and move on, and ultimately into a happy relationship with Landon. Never had she imagined that with a small creak of the door and a familiar, yet deeper voice, the weary foundations she had built for herself would fall with the single utterance of a word.
A/N: I hope you all enjoyed this little insight and let me know your thoughts it’ll determine how quickly I’ll update next. FYI Landon is not a bad guy, I didn’t find it necessary to paint him in an especially bad light as motivation to trade in one for the other, life hardly ever is like that but this doesn’t mean this is a triangle fic, it’s all very small and contained.
Much thanks to msbuffy!