The gentle nature of his face had dissolved instantly along with the feigned innocence, and she became witness to what Pam had described to her on the phone; a maelstrom of anger, frustration, annoyance, and insecurity warring as one. “You think I’d pretend to be this lost for the sake of you? You think I enjoy being this way?” he hissed lowly ending with a cruel laugh, “You really believe you’re that special?”
“That hurt,” she whispered, somewhat taken aback, shock probably the only thing keeping her from bursting out in tears then and there. “You really don’t remember?”
“Little things, and I’m usually not even aware,” he conceded. “Nothing helpful anyhow.”
“I’m sorry-” she started
“Shit,” he sighed, the anger refocusing on himself looking anywhere but at her.
“Don’t,” he interrupted. “I’m being an ass, which according to you isn’t all that unusual.”
“Well, you’ve grown some since then,” she smiled weakly. “The old you wouldn’t have hesitated and kissed me back there.”
He sighed, shaking his head, “It was very hard not to.”
“I know,” she whispered, reaching for his hand to give it a small squeeze. “It was hard for me, too.”
He sank back into the worn leather of his chair, eyeing her with a certain suspicion, “Sookie, what exactly are you doing here? I know Pam concocted some plan to lure you here.”
“It’s not why I came,” she replied honestly.
“So, what? You’re here to mess with my head, jolt it back into remembering everything I once forgot? A winter fling with the amnesiac for old time’s sake?
“Fuck,” he growled, the frustration of it all plaguing him once more while he took in the hurt look all over her face. “It’s not what I meant. I like you being here. Fuck! This isn’t coming out right!”
She sipped her coffee quietly, observing him over the rim of the large cup while relishing its warmth, awaiting his next sentence that never came. A small smile escaped her, “You were never all that great with words. Actions were always your game.”
“I’m so fucking sick of it,” he confessed, angrily twisting the bag of sugar that came with his cup before launching it at the table, landing just short of her. “I’m sick of everyone talking about who I was and expecting me to be that person, to return to that.”
“I’m sorry,” she said with genuine sorrow, “I didn’t mean to-”
“No,” he interrupted, “I know. Sometimes it just feels that everyone is so desperate to get him back that they couldn’t give two shits about who I am now. Where I’ve been, what I’ve done.”
“Don’t you want your memories back?”
He shrugged, “Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. More often than not I don’t.”
She swallowed her bottom lip in response, making her question the entire reason for being here. Maybe they were better off moving on, forgetting a moment of supposed perfect happiness in the past and moving forward. Perhaps it was for the best and all she was doing was chasing a ghost from her past that never was.
“Sookie, tell me something,” he requested, pulling her from her pensive reflections.
“Tell you what?”
“Tell me something about us. You’re not here with no plans just for the sake of it.”
“I don’t know, Eric,” she stuttered. “There isn’t that much to tell.”
“Then tell me why you came. I know it’s not for Pam.”
“I don’t really know what I’m doing here,” she sighed. “Which is also the reason why I’m here. If that makes any sense?”
He smiled weakly, “You sound about as lost as I am.”
“Yeah, maybe I am,” she returned.
“Fuck, Sookie,” he groaned. “Tell me you’re not here because it’s trouble in paradise with the golden boy and you want to test drive some other model that you remember fondly, it’s obvious we’ve fucked in the past. I don’t deserve that. Fuck, he doesn’t deserve that.”
“No, you don’t,” she agreed yet she was unable to deny that it was one of the reasons why she was here, though not in the way he assumed. “Trust me, I’m not here to test drive something else because my relationship with Landon hasn’t been what it used to be.”
“So it isn’t what it used to be,” he noted dryly. “Is that why you’re here?”
“Yes and no,” she sighed, watching his face grow hard with her answer. “You wanted to know about us, but there really isn’t much to tell, Eric. We spent a few days together before you boarded a ship and I never saw you again. We were young and because you were assumed dead, it probably gained more importance in my life than it did, became grander than it was.”
He regarded her silently, forcing her to continue. “We didn’t fuck,” she said pointedly. “We made love, it was special. At least to me. It made us set out plans for a future that was the two of us, you promised to come back to me but you never did. It took me a long time to move past that and when I finally did, if I really did at all, and a little bit of happiness came across my path, there you were again, and-”
She quieted, not sure if she was ready to lay it all on the table quite yet.
“I’m still stuck at ‘and’,” she confessed. “Somehow the past doesn’t seem exaggerated anymore because I can’t deny that I’m still drawn to you and what I have with Landon, I don’t know. It’s just different somehow ever since and he knows it. I guess that’s why I’m here.”
“Did you two break up?” he asked cautiously.
She shook her head, “I guess he gave me an ultimatum of sorts, not maliciously. He’s better at this relationship stuff than I am, unlike me he’s been in more than one. He just knows that if I don’t figure it out the ‘what if’ of it all will hang over our heads forever. It’s not fair to anyone. He’s the one who bought me the ticket, told me to go.”
Eric raised brow in surprise, “He’s either very brave or very foolish.”
“No,” she replied before finishing the last of her coffee. “He’s genuinely a good guy.”
“Yet you’re here,” he pointed out with a sly grin. “With the bad boy.”
“Yeah,” she replied softly. “I guess I am.”
They sat in companionable silence, people watching as the coffee shop slowly filled up with the morning rush. Sookie still marvelled at how different everything was here, and despite the last remnants of his deep tan, for whatever reason Eric seemed to fit in where she felt every bit the foreigner.
“Do you mind if we make a stop somewhere?” he asked when they had started on their way back to Pam’s home. It had started snowing again, her hair crusting with the white crystals and, quite frankly, she would have said yes to any intermittent stop he took her to with the promise of escaping the cold. She was a little disappointed to find their detour was not to somewhere warm and indoors, but rather along a little walkway on the top of a tall cliff that gave a spectacular view of the other half of the city across the water.
“I like coming here to get away from it all,” he explained.
“Thanks for bringing me along,” she smiled, thoroughly enjoying the picturesque view despite the assault of the cold. He watched her vigorously rub at her arms and took position behind her, wrapping her against him, and rubbing some extra warmth in her. She stiffened slightly at the close contact; however, soon foregoing the awkwardness in favour of the offered heat. “The old you would never have taken me here,” Sookie observed. “Unless it was another ploy to get in my pants.”
He chuckled, the reverberations moving through her vicariously, his grip on her tightening before he whispered in her ear, “Maybe I haven’t changed at all.”
She whipped around in a huff, swatting at his arms, but sadly finding a thick layer of outerwear deterring any hard blow, “You’re terrible, Eric Northman!”
Despite her little display he continued to laugh, his hands still firmly clamped around her waist as she squirmed. His laughter, was infectious though and before she knew it, his face was hovering dangerously close to hers again. “Tell me to stop,” he whispered against her lips.
She remained painfully silent, the intrusive stare of those blue eyes paralysing her while he tensely held every muscle in his body in restraint where she continued to melt against him. Breaths puffed against each other, the freezing air capturing it like a white mist.
She didn’t utter a word either way, instead pressing her lips softly against his, depositing a chaste kiss and immediately stepping away to move back down the path from which they came. He waited a beat before following her home.
“Eric,” she whispered in shock. “What are you doing?”
“I’m being an ass,” he whispered in return. “I’m being the bad guy, I’m being me.”
She stopped his intended trajectory, his lips dangerously close to hers. Kissing him that morning was one thing, but there was no doubt in her mind that if she allowed it now, more would follow. “Eric, you can’t just sneak into my bed like this!”
“Fuck,” he groaned when he saw her eyes had started to water. “I can’t do anything right.”
“No. It’s just,” she sighed, scrambling for coherency through her tears.
“It’s just, I did this before,” he supplied, pulling away as he did. “You always get this melancholic look on your face when I do something recognisable. Are you even interested in me, Sookie, in this me? Or is it like everybody else, are you just interested in this trace of my former self? This supposedly great guy that I’m clearly not and never will be again.”
“No,” she assured, caressing his cheek softly. “I like getting to know who you’ve become, just not when you show up in my bed in the middle of the night. That was exciting back then, and Lord I didn’t know better, but not so much now.”
“Would you even be interested in my old self now?” he asked with genuine curiosity.
“Probably not,” she replied with a small smile. “I’ve become a lot more discerning since. I’m not the same girl just as you’re not the same boy.”
“You have no idea how great it is to hear that,” he chuckled. “Thanks for being lost with me today, Sookie Stackhouse, it was nice not having to be anybody but me. I’m sorry about this. It was a stupid idea. I should probably go.”
“No, stay,” she whispered, patting the top of the duvet beside her. “I probably won’t sleep for a bit anyhow. Stay and talk with me. Just-”
“No touching,” he finished. “I get it.”
She moved on her side to look at him, her eyes tracing all the changes in his face where the sun and age had set in. He had always been handsome. She’d always thought far too handsome for the likes of her, but she’d been proven wrong twice now with his instinctive draw to her.
“So I did this before?” he finally asked.
“Yeah,” she smiled at the memory. “You were a bit of a bad boy and I was the quintessential good girl. We were such a cliché.”
“You played hard to get,” he grinned when she nodded her affirmation, noting, “Little has changed then.”
“Hey!” she cried out good-humouredly. “It wasn’t a game to me though, but I always thought you were playing around. I couldn’t fathom what you wanted with the likes of little ol’ me and assumed you were just setting me up for some cruel joke.”
“Was I that much of an ass?”
She shook her head, “A little full of yourself and it was all so new to me and Jason was hardly the best example. You were the first boy I really kissed.”
“The first?” he said with wide eyes, coming to understand the significant role he once played in her life. She gave a small nod, avoiding his eyes momentarily while exhaling sharply. “God, I really am an ass.”
“You’re not that bad,” she denied, a smile creeping up her face again, “Well most of the time, you have your moments.”
“Well, thank fuck for that!” he grinned, despite the no touching rule, he couldn’t help himself, his hand fingering through her hair as they subconsciously moved closer to each other again. “I guess I always was drawn to you, still am.”
“Yeah,” she whispered. “That hasn’t changed. It scares me, Eric.”
He stared at her expectantly. He didn’t dare make another move; the confusion of the entire situation obviously torturing her conscience and morals with every draw and pull that existed between them.
“You should go back to Landon,” he finally said. “He’s been there for you all along and I wouldn’t know what I have to offer you anyhow.”
“You’re probably right,” she agreed, her heart breaking with the pain inflicted by those words. “He’s not an ass for starters. He’s probably one of the greatest guys I ever met, he gets me better than myself.” The despondent look on his face only seemed to etch further while she tried to gather her thoughts. “He’s not you though. He doesn’t make me laugh with abandon, or awaken this carefree attitude I never knew I possessed. He doesn’t make me nervous every step of the way. Push me out of my comfort zone so far it leaves me utterly scared and thrilled at the same time. I should probably call him up right now and tell him-” Sookie paused, inhaling a deep breath with the ramifications of the decision she was making in the moment. “I have to tell him I love him and-”
She never finished her sentence, jumping frantically out of the bed, pulling her phone from its charger and running to another room downstairs for privacy. When she returned her bed was empty, the only trace of Eric visible in a faint dent on the bed. With a big smile her head fell to the plush pillow and she found sleep with ease and without a worry for the first time in months.
“You look happy,” Pam complained when she saw Sookie emerge at the breakfast table. “You and Erik finally fuck?”
“Nothing of the sorts!” she denied while taking a seat beside Pam. “I see you got your nannies.”
“My house, my rules,” she shrugged while lasciviously watching the two young women play with her children. “Henri and I just like to bicker, where else are we to turn for entertainment? Babies are boring as fuck.”
“Pam!” Sookie gasped.
Pam feigned little interest at her outcry, reverting back instead, “So is phone sex with Landon the reason for this morning glow? Heard you talking to him last night.”
Sookie shook her head, “No, we broke up. It’s for the best, we both agreed. We love each other but we’re better apart.”
“Ugh,” Pam complained. “Let me guess, even your breakup was sickeningly perfect?”
She cringed momentarily before admitting, “It kind of was, he already knew it was coming while I was still denying anything was wrong.”
“Moment you boarded the plane, you wouldn’t have left if all you wanted was him,” Pam noted causing Sookie to nod tentatively. “Don’t worry, Landon’s going to make some other girl very happy. Mr Right isn’t always right for you. My wonderful brother, he’s the ‘one’ then? Always knew something happened between the two of you.”
“Found that box of yours,” she grinned with a leer. “Ever consider posing for Playboy?”
“Pam!” she cried out, in embarrassment covering breasts that were already well covered.
“So,” she smirked unapologetically, once again demanding answers that had yet to be supplied. “You and my brother, he the one for you then?”
Sookie shook her head, “I used to think that, maybe mistakenly, maybe not. That picture you saw, it’s no longer us. It’s not helping anyone to try to get back to that, we all have to move forward.”
“So what? You came here for me?” she purred eagerly. “You know Henri really doesn’t mind me fucking other women, there’s a clause in the prenup and everything.”
“No,” Sookie giggled, knowing Pam was joking. “Turns out I came here for me. How can I be anyone’s when everyone else seems to know better who or what I am? I could never win with Landon, he was always going to be more experienced, more mature, and more aware, I thought it would even out with age but I would always be playing catch-up. It’s time I found my own two feet, be my own person for a change.”
“Well it’s about time you did something for yourself,” Pam approved. “Want to go shopping and get a new wardrobe to match?”
“I can’t,” she apologised much to Pam’s disappointment. Despite that they amicably ate the rest of breakfast while Sookie excitedly told Pam of her plans, only asking when her coffee had turned stone cold, “Where’s Eric?”
“He left a while ago,” Pam shrugged. “Who knows where?”
“I think I know,” she replied. While Pam barked at her new staff Sookie huddled herself in her warmest gear and found him exactly where she thought he would be, overlooking the tranquil waters from on high, the special place he’d shared with just her the other day.
“So I’m not the one,” he greeted from his leisurely position on the park bench, a single brow hanging askew and for once it did not remind her of the past, instead making her curious to when exactly he had started to wear that particular look.
“Overheard that did you?” she replied, finding a seat beside him free of snow. “What else did you hear?”
“Wasn’t interested in much after that,” he shrugged. “Should have known yesterday when you got up in the middle of the night to profess your undying love for Landon.”
She eyed him carefully from her position beside him, “I did call to tell him that I love him, but also that it was no longer enough to keep us together.”
She shrugged, “Really.”
“So what does that make you?” he posed, intrigued.
“Lost, I guess,” she replied, “and for the first time I’m perfectly fine with that. It terrifies and thrills me at the same time. Here.”
A stack of papers dropped into his lap, curiously he unfolded them, “What’s this?”
“Read it,” she huffed, watching eagerly as he took in the information before him, two Eurail train passes in his name and hers. He glanced up, carrying a look of surprise. “I’m tired of the cold. Wanna go get lost together?”
Eric smiled, the burden he seemed to be carrying since his return losing a bit of its weight right before her eyes, he answered simply, “Let’s.”
A/N: So a different outcome and reaction to the coffee incident than expected, I assume, but I hope you still appreciated this conclusion despite Eric never regaining his memories. In the end my focus always was on how to move on from the past and not to dwell on it endlessly. Feel free to tell me your thoughts, about this chapter and the story as a whole, it’s what the comment section is for after all 😉
Much thanks to msbuffy for her work on this entire story. It should be noted that much like the previous chapter this saw a few added changes and a few hundred extra words post-edit so apologies for any slipups, they are solely to blame on me.