She was mute at the sight before her. “Sookie?” he asked again with a frown that suggested she was perhaps a bit slow. Impossibly he’d grown, not in length but in size, no longer the lanky boy foreign in his own body. It fit him well now, muscled, and deeply tanned brown, a testament to a hard-lived life on the decks of ships. “Are you Sookie?”
“Yes,” she finally gasped, and suddenly the words of her brother started to make sense, ‘Not a clue who we were, or him for that matter.’ Her body felt heavy with the realisation, the dread settling in the pits of her stomach, not sure whether to be grateful or saddened that he had no idea who she or he himself was.
“Jason, your brother,” he tried to explain, and having caught her breath she was now able to respond in a more appropriate manner. “He told me to go ahead and find you. You would keep me safe from this town?”
She snorted slightly at Jason’s foresight. He wasn’t always as stupid as he looked or acted for that matter. The whole town would be crawling all over Eric, foolishly seeking the finder’s reward, and forgetting the Stackhouses now had familiar relations with the Norströms.
“Sure,” she smiled, unsure what to do about the added palpitations of her heart. “Sam, is it okay?”
“Go ahead, Cher,” he encouraged, motioning to the back door and with little thought she took Eric’s hand, surprising him with her sense of familiarity and led him out to her busted old car. Only when she had buckled herself in did she afford herself an extended moment to stare as he wrestled with his seat belt in the small confined space. It was him.
“You’ll take me to Jason’s home?”
“Umm, sure,” she replied nervously, fidgeting with the car key until it haphazardly made its way into the ignition.
“Do you say anything else but ‘sure’?” he asked with that long-lost mirth that she’d missed for so long, despite hating it at the time.
“I say lots of things!” she exclaimed, and continued to prove just that in an incoherent ramble the entire drive over. Anything that came across their path became fodder to her strung together sentences, her face suitably red while he silently listened to her ramblings.
At the only stop sign in town, his hand suddenly came to rest on her thigh, the sensory memory of it bringing her back to a moment long lost, and her breath hitched. “You’ve proven your point,” he offered, somewhat apologetically. “You know other words than ‘sure’.”
“I’ll shut up now,” she whispered, thoroughly embarrassed.
“Don’t,” he protested. “I like your voice, it’s strangely familiar. Did we know each other well when I was last here?”
She stared into his hopeful eyes. It seemed as if he was expecting to receive a great gift from her, but all she could manage was a shake of her head, “You were around, that’s all.”
He nodded, the disappointment of a possible memory proving to be false clearly disturbing him. It was probably not the first time and it surely wouldn’t be the last. She didn’t know what to do, confess all and hope for the best? Then Landon trickled into her thoughts as well as the possibility that while that night meant the world to her then, whatever could it mean now? They were so young then and were now something altogether different. Eric continued to gaze at her expectantly, and she answered by putting her foot to the accelerator and letting the engine noises drown out any possibility for conversation after that.
“Have I been here before?” he asked while she showed him into Jason’s home.
“Umm, I think so. Probably,” she replied. “Do you remember it?”
He shook his head and the accompanying ‘no’ silenced all further conversation. An offer of food and drink was made, but he declined before she excused herself to call Pam. He heard her talk softly, a rather energetic conversation at that, and going by the nerves she expressed around him, he wasn’t quite sure what to think. His eyes were drawn to the photographs placed throughout the living room. They seemed about as familiar as anything else in his life.
He’d woken up in a hospital where no one spoke a word of English until they came to collect the bill. With not a penny in his pocket nor a name to attach to himself, he did the only thing that seemed familiar, and found himself back on a fishing boat working his way across many nautical miles; gutting fish, mending nets, and preparing bait. The only thing he proved to be incapable of aboard a ship was to cook the crew a meal; no matter what, it always ended in disaster.
It was a simple life, but satisfying enough. Looking for another ship to board, he’d come across Jason, and for the first time since he could remember waking in that hospital someone recognised him, knew something about him. He’d been wary at first, but Jason Stackhouse proved to be good people and despite his limited knowledge, he now knew more about himself than ever before, though it still wasn’t much. Erik Norström was as foreign to him as the language he supposedly spoke.
His eyes continued to linger on a photograph from some years ago. Sookie was altogether younger, somehow brighter and bursting with life, though still very much the same. Jason appeared to be barely a man, and in between them an elderly lady beamed with pride. “Gran,” he muttered to himself.
“You remember Gran?”
Sookie’s sudden presence startled him, but he managed to reply, “Just the name. Did I stay with her?”
“Yes,” she replied enthusiastically, though somewhere in the back of her eyes he could sense a certain restraint to her answer. It was just as present as when he asked if they’d known each other.
“You think I could meet her?” he asked and saw the faint light that had suddenly burned so brightly in her eyes dissipate with the mention of this Gran, and it dawned upon him that the elderly woman must have passed. “My condolences.”
“Thank you,” she whispered, before holding up the phone. “Pam would like to speak to you.”
He nodded, remembering Jason speaking of her though the description he offered seemed far too idiosyncratic to describe a real person. Tentatively he greeted the woman on the other end of the line who instantly fell to sobs at the sound of his voice, uttering praises to a god she never believed in.
“What language are you speaking?” he asked, startled at his own sudden grasp of said language.
“Swedish,” she answered between deep breaths. “You’ll come home, yes? I’m sending a plane for you.”
“Oh,” he replied awkwardly, letting the stale silence between them grow further as Pam sought composure through her heavily ‘pregnant’ outburst. Suddenly he spoke up, “Jason told me I was Dutch.”
“Jason is an idiot!” Pam fumed, “Listen to his sister, she’s the smart one!” He nodded his agreement and silence overcame them both again, unsure of what to say or ask in that moment. “Just come home, okay, Erik?”
“I told you it was him!”
“Shhh!” she admonished when Eric joined them on the porch, offering her phone back while she muttered a thanks. “I should go.”
“What?” Jason cried out indignantly. “You’re supposed to cook for us! Home cookin’ like you always do! It’s a Stackhouse tradition!”
She shrugged, nervously avoiding Eric’s scrutiny, “Order a pizza.”
Her brother pulled her aside, whispering with a hiss that continued to lose its effect of secrecy as his voice raised with annoyance, “Is it your time of the month or somethin’? What’s up with you? You always make sure the crew gets a home cooked meal when we return! They’ve been talkin’ ‘bout it for days. I promised Eric over there a fucking home cooked meal!”
“She doesn’t have to cook for me,” Eric offered apologetically, only enraging Jason further.
“No!” he yelled at Sookie, “I promised you a home cooked meal, you’re getting a home cooked meal!”
Sookie shoved hard against his shoulder, effectively loosening his grasp on her, yelling back, “Cook it your damn self!”
With the last bit of dignity left, she ran for her car, hoping neither of them had seen the beginnings of her angry tears, driving off and leaving an angry cloud of dust in her trail.
“Sorry, man,” Jason offered apologetically with a slap to Eric’s shoulder. “She’s not usually like that.”
“No,” he agreed with faint recognition. “She’s not.”
Sookie was ready to scream her lungs out by the time she got home. Her bag was flung forcefully towards the table in the hallway, crashing to the floor in a loud thud, soon to be accompanied by her boots, scuffing the immaculately painted walls. Her anger soon deteriorated to sobs, nearly incapacitating her from breathing properly. She somehow made her way to the room she rarely ventured into since her Gran’s passing, the soft yellow paper of her childhood coloured with memories of wall hangings now long gone as it stood empty apart from her old bed. Despite the creak and precarious bindings keeping it together, she never could find it in her heart to replace it or throw it out.
She stared at the small scratch in the wood on one of the sloping beams. Over the years the sharp indent had smoothed by the tracing of her fingers, where, in a moment of panic, his head had collided over a perceived ‘noise’. The reactionary noise they had made instead and subsequent silence instantly reassured them they were, in fact, still as alone as before.
“Poor baby,” she mocked when he continued to pout well beyond the appropriate time for such a small injury. “If only you weren’t so damn tall. Why are you so damn tall?”
Eric grinned, moving far quicker than she anticipated, announcing loudly, “So I can do this!”
She was instantly disoriented, suddenly hanging over his bare back, shrieking with the shock of it all. “Put me down! You freaky giant!”
“Never!” he laughed as he continued to run around the room, heading for the door.
“Eric!” she cried out helplessly. “Don’t you dare!”
“Why not?” he grinned, slapping her ass for good measure before reaching for the doorknob, his grip on her squirming body unrelenting.
“And I must say we look glorious!” he exclaimed as he admired their connected forms in the mirror.
He continued to ignore her cries of protest, instead announcing his suddenly devised plan, “We’re going skinny dipping Sookie! It’ll be fun!”
“It’s cold as hell!” she continued to object. Beyond that physical discomfort, the thought of running around her Gran’s house in the buff was mortifying, and the possibility of being caught outside was downright terrifying. “Eric, please?” she whispered with a wobble as the door creaked open unto the landing. However, he failed to pick up the concern and inherent shame she felt over it all.
“Eric, please? I’ll make it worth your while.”
That did stop his determined movement towards the staircase, a brow running askance at another promise from Sookie. He was intrigued for sure, and she had proved to be anything but an easy conquest after all. “What are you offering?”
“Bed,” she demanded.
“I have no need for a bed,” he grinned. “As you’ll find out soon for yourself.”
She huffed, her draped position over his shoulder making her head heavy with blood and far from producing coherent thoughts and despite her best efforts failing to pull her body up, instead pummelling his back with her small fists while she repeated her demand, “Put me back on the bed!”
He considered it momentarily. He’d quite been looking forward to a plunge into the cool ocean waters after their bout of exertion, but all the naked writhing of their bodies while he paraded her around the upper floor of the house had done enough to make that bed all the more enticing again. With a few well-placed giant leaps, she was unceremoniously tossed back onto the bed, bouncing off the mattress with a shriek, and finding him firmly planted between her thighs by the time her back fell deeply into the tangled sheets, lips hungrily nipping at her throat.
“Again?” she cried out, having barely recovered from the first time, her first time.
He looked up in confusion, backing off carefully, “I thought this was your offer.” He looked remorseful and wounded at the same time, mentally scolding himself, insecurities written all over his face. Now he was thinking he was moving too fast, expecting her to be a voracious sex goddess when he’d just rid her of that inhibiting virginal barrier.
“Oh,” she said with a surprise, showing her unfamiliarity with it all, leaving them both hanging in an awkward vacuum. “I mean we can.”
“I apologise,” he replied, barely registering her last sentence, a sudden politeness coming over him that only ever seemed to surface around her Gran and she had always assumed was fake. “I’ll go. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t,” she protested instantly, holding on to his biceps tightly, giving a small squeeze for good measure. When he still seemed hesitant, her tone adjusted to one of warning, “Don’t you dare move!”
He nodded, coming to lay beside her instead, a hesitant finger carefully tracing the peaks and valleys of her curves as it moved down from her face. She smiled softly, pressing her lips gently against his before resting her head under his chin, humming contentedly while fingering the few blonde hairs on his chest.
“What was your offer then?” he finally asked.
Her head rolled back onto his bicep so she could look at him properly, “A home cooked meal.”
“Can you even cook?”
“Of course I can cook!” she exclaimed, swatting his chest, hard, in punishment for his apparent disbelief. He winced, mockingly, demanding she kiss it and make it better to which she half-heartedly agreed, a hidden smile accompanying her as she moved.
“So you can cook?” he murmured while caressing her hair, her kisses moving up his throat.
“All the Stackhouse women can,” she pronounced between pecks. ”It’s how we know y’all return straight on home from that evil temptress, the sea.”
“Mmm,” he hummed, pulling her face to his again. “I’ll be sure to do that from now on.” A hint of vulnerability travelled across her eyes.
“I don’t want you to go,” she whispered.
“I’ll back before you know it. You’ll see, I’ll be knocking on your door, and demanding my home cooked meal in no time.”
A kiss sealed his promise, but the weariness had yet to leave her system, and another smile was put on for his sake, but it lacked the carelessness that had come to embody that night. She nodded and whispered against his chest, “Sure.”
A/N: Yes, pesky amnesia is here to stay! I hope you enjoyed unravelling this story a little further with a little dive into the past. Thoughts and stuff, please 😀
Much thanks to msbuffy once more for all the hard work she put into this!