The skies had darkened ominously, thunder roared in the distance, and lightning danced across the turbulent sea, reminding, cruelly, of all it had taken from her. The pelting rain, amplifying over the corrugated roof suited Sookie’s mood, muffling out the sound of her own tears that once they had appeared refused to let up. It suited her fine, the melancholy and the angered sky. Usually any sight of a storm had her worried, alerting her to the possibility of bad news, but not tonight, Jason and his crew weren’t at the mercy of the sea for once.
She could have laid there happily, revelling in her own conflicted misery till morning were it not for the phone ringing incessantly. Sookie got up, knowing exactly who it was and that if she didn’t answer, there’d be someone at her door instead.
“Hey,” she whispered.
She hummed in response, not really answering either way.
“Jason told me to call.”
Sookie wished she could tell him everything then and there. Honesty was a good thing, but it made the least amount of sense right now.
“He told me what happened. I’m sorry.”
“Why would you be sorry?” she asked, perplexed.
“That you’re having a bad day,” he offered. “That you’re home alone right now. You sound like you’re in need of a friend right now.”
They’d been friends first, and she was in desperate need of a friend now. However, how did you explain to your best friend who was now your boyfriend that in a mere moment everything he meant to you came to stand in a completely different light? She wiped away angrily at another stray tear, breathing heavily while she desperately searched for something to say.
“You never told me there was another him, but I knew there had to be one,” he spoke instead, her continued silence confirming his suspicions. “You’ve always been guarded without reason, there’s always been this presence between us. He’s him, isn’t he?”
“Yeah,” she whispered, and in that moment it proved why she’d been so right in not ignoring him like every other man that had shown any interest in her, why letting him in after mourning Eric for so long had been liberating. “It was tough you know, seeing him, alive.”
“I can imagine,” Landon offered sympathetically before falling to a nervous silence. “Sook, are you leaving me?”
“No,” she replied with determination. “He’ll be gone in the morning and it’ll be exactly like before.”
“I know I’m sure,” she smiled down the line. “He’s my past, you’re my right now. Can’t wait till you’re back home again.”
“Miss you, too, baby,” he returned warmly, and then their conversation carried on over the mundane aspect of their lives before they both hung up with a promise from Sookie that she’d let Jason know she was fine again.
Unaware, she found herself back in the master bedroom she shared with Landon, a place of familial comfort. She perched on her tippy toes to remove the dusty hat box from the top of a wardrobe, taking one last look at the contents, sifting out the rare picture of them showing a little bit too much skin to be decent, glowing rosy and high on the other, she looking contentedly at the lens while Eric looked at her with awe. It was the only memento she had of that night, confirming that it had really happened, that he’d really been there. She slipped the photograph in an old book that rarely got read, folded his sweater into a neater form along with the few items he’d left behind in Gran’s guestroom before setting off with Jason early the next morning.
Determined, Sookie ran through the heavy rain for her car. She knew it was late enough to slip in undetected. Jason, despite his best efforts, never managed to stay up very long after a hot meal on the first night back, if he was in his own home at all. The lights were off, and without making a noise, she managed to carefully turn the key to the back door, getting thoroughly drenched in the process while she desperately tried to shield the cardboard box from soaking. She placed it carefully on the kitchen table, a shaking cold hand hovering a pen over a pad while she tried to figure out what to write.
She cried out in a brief high pitch before registering the voice in the shadow was Eric’s.
“Sorry,” she whispered, reaching for the light switch, but finding it unresponsive when flicking it back and forth.
“Electricity’s gone,” he offered, “came down to check it out.”
“Must be the storm,” Sookie explained while moving cautiously in the darkness in search of the cupboard where Jason kept the emergency lights. Confident she was just about there, she stepped with determination colliding into Eric’s hard chest instead, veering her off balance and finding herself firmly tucked into his receiving grasp.
“You’re all wet,” he said with surprise. A sentence he had once spoken to her with a heavy hint of suggestion in the past, and as her mind travelled back her body didn’t move, completely at ease with his familiar hold and the comfort it provided.
“The rain,” she tried to explain while her head rested against his chest. Her hand trailed over the tautly pulled flannel shirt that by the feel of it was one of Jason’s fitting a little too snug. She stammered out an apology and quickly removed herself, finding the cupboard and lights, fumbling with the on/off button purposely till the embarrassment in her face was gone.
“I found some of your things,” she stammered while gesturing at the box. “You left them at Gran’s. Thought you might want them back.”
He looked at her in surprise, moving towards the decorative box. “You kept it?” he questioned while lifting the lid and rifling through the different items. “All this time?”
“Umm, yeah. I should go.”
“Wait,” he said, her hand already on the doorknob. He moved towards her in the dim light, her eyes finding his nervously. The old fleece sweater from the box was suddenly draped over her shoulders and with a small smile, she moved her arms into the sleeves. “Don’t want you to catch a cold,” he spoke softly while moving the zipper up, his hand softly grazing her chin, forcing her to audibly catch her breath.
“I lied,” she suddenly confessed.
“About the rain?”
“When you asked before,” she explained while moving his lingering hand down. “If we knew each other.”
“So we did know each other,” he grinned with a reminiscent gloat. “How well?”
“Friends,” she stammered while finding a more composed tone. “We were friendly.”
“How friendly?” he asked with a waggle of his brow.
“Don’t be nasty!” she admonished with a laugh, swatting his chest. He caught her hand, holding her tight, his previous levity gone. “You’ve said that before,” he said with sudden recognition.
Her heart skipped a beat, nerves setting in for what exactly he was remembering now. His questioning gaze compelled her to reply, mumbling, “You were always trying to get in my pants.”
A grin replaced his lost look, the hold on her hand tightening again, his tone suddenly leery, “Was I successful?”
She laughed, “You haven’t changed a bit! Memories or not!” She tried to retrieve her hand, finding only resistance and another hand on her body, lower than either one had expected as it firmly cupped her ass instead of her lower back, causing her to jump right into his body. A shared look of confusion moved back and forth between them. She stepped back at the same time as his hand became slack around her.
“I should go,” she exhaled, “It was good seeing you again, Eric. Send Pam my regards.”
He nodded in compliance, opening the door for her, “I will.” She had to move sideways to pass by him and as she did, her heels moved up to reach his tall frame. A whisper of a kiss fell on his cheek, unprepared his face moved towards the sudden sensation and without thought, his lips moved with hers, eyes falling closed to a past kiss that carried the same cautious hesitance. Her hands caressed his face automatically, finding a stubble on a cheek that once barely managed to sprout the few hairs of his ambitious seaman’s beard.
“So, answer me now,” he whispered huskily, a glint in his eye, “Did I ever manage to get into those pants of yours?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” she grinned, moving down the steps into the yard.
“Sookie?” he yelled after her while she only continued to taunt him with her giggles. “Come on! Give an amnesiac man some memories! I don’t even care if they’re real!”
She had reached her car by then, ready to close the door on him once and for all. “Sorry, Eric!” she called back with another laugh before shutting the door, winding down the window slightly. She waved at him while he expressed some added frustration, “Sorry, but you never did get in my pants!”
“How about your skirt?” he yelled out in a last act of desperation. She gave him a knowing smile laced with mischief while shaking her head, leaving him just as confused as before while the window was moving up again and the car roared to life.
“A dress actually,” she whispered against the dashboard while the fans of the heater blew noisily around her at full blast chasing away the condensation. “It was a dress.”
A/N: Right… things got a little complicated which can only mean, things are only going to get more complicated! For those of you who failed to notice in a previous a/n; Landon is genuinely a good guy and will remain that way, I see no use of painting one badly for the sole reason of validating a difficult choice, things simply aren’t that easy. I don’t know if I will post tomorrow considering the day. Anyhow thoughts and stuff welcome as always!
Thanks again to msbuffy for her editing work!