Song Inspiration –
I was having a particularly shitty day.
Merlotte’s, the bar where I worked as a waitress, was especially crowded, with the drunks more annoying than usual, the regulars nastier than they were on their best days, Preston Pardloe – my stalker slash suitor – was again at the bar and the pack of grown up kids my brother called ‘his friends’, were getting on my nerves.
It was one of those days when I would foolishly wish for a small blessing, a fresh breath of air, like a look of his face again. He was – Oh wait, back up there! I haven’t said anything about him as yet have I?
Well, it had been years since I last saw him. Eric. And though I just saw him from afar, three or four times during a hot humid summer three years ago, his was not the kind of face someone easily forgot. Especially when that someone was stuck in a kinda hick town in the middle of nowhere, deep South. A town where every familiar face grew old after a while and new faces never showed up.
He showed up, though.
I was eighteen. He was maybe in his mid twenties, very tall and so much more handsome than the guys I regularly turned down. He was a Swede, with an accent I’d never heard before but one that made my palms sweaty. More extraordinary was the fact that he was a part time European student and part time researcher, just passing through while he was writing his paper on the Occult. What better place than Louisiana for a witch hunt (as my brother liked to say!)? He looked so… so worldly, so different, so…out of my league.
Once – just once – I got near enough to him to hear him speak to a group of my older brother’s friends, when Dawn, Tara and I dressed up all grown-up-like and sneaked into a grown-ups’ bonfire party by the bayou. My brother caught us before we could have any kind of fun (maybe sneak a beer or talk to the charming foreigner every one was going on about), and took it upon himself to drag us back to Gran’s in his road crew truck, lecturing our heads off all the way. In our defense, we went kickin’.
So, I never got to talk to Eric. Never even got introduced actually. Call it a teenage, hormonal crush, but I never forgot him either.
He must have spent around two weeks in Bon Temps, our town, before moving on. In those two weeks, every red blooded female in our town still capable of feeling their lady parts, set upon the mission to snatch him up before their neighborhood ho’ did. According to Gran’s hushed gossip with Maxine, a few of them married ones too! I never got to know if someone did snag him or not. Not that I wanted to know or anything.
Then one fine day, he just up and left and we never saw him again.
After he was gone a week or so, our old pastor (the perfectly God fearing Mr Parsons who Eric interviewed for his research), took it upon himself to inform the naive towns people that Eric was a blasphemous devil of a young man with no respect for God, human innocence, his elders or the Church for that matter. Of course, that just added to the rumors already circulating in his wake, and the word ‘dangerous’ to the legend of Eric Northman.
The memory of his tanned face, his perfect golden hair and his piercing blue eyes, although the most welcome distraction from my ordinary life, faded with time. I turned to it again and again in a stupid attempt to fill up my boring boyfriend-less existence. For a while, I even day dreamed about him driving back to town in an open top car, in his leather jacket and aviator sunglasses, screeching to a halt in front of my house and whisking me away to travel the world with him… The wonderful dreams of a silly teen. Gradually, the exact details of his face faded from my memory. All that remained with me was the color of his eyes and his hair, which was the exact shade as mine.
I wished I could recall his face that night because I’d been having a particularly shitty day.
Tulane cancelled my admission because of non payment of fees. They sent some kind of condolence letter home that I never read. My brother Jason and my Gran had another fight before Jason left home with his friends. I couldn’t even bring myself to go talk to gran when I heard her quietly crying behind her bedroom door. I just couldn’t. So I came to Merlotte’s instead.
I didn’t know what I was looking or waiting for! Waitressing at Merlotte’s had never been my life’s goal and yet that is all I could ever manage to do, and though I hated it, I also didn’t want to let it go because there was nothing else for me in Bon Temps. I needed to earn a living, take care of gran, and maybe save up for better things. I was hanging in there by my eyeteeth. For better or for worse, I couldn’t let go.
Place – Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Time – 2:45 AM
Night Guard on Duty around the Temple of Dendur Exhibit – Bill Compton
Disjointed whispers in a dark corner…
“Wait for it…”
“We don’t have to do this…I could get you access anyways…”
“Where’s the fun in that?!”
“C’mon! We’ve built it up to this. You can’t chicken out now!”
“This is mad…To think we are missing your dad’s ‘Soiree of the Season’ for – ”
“Shh! I can hear him coming…”
A guard appears beyond the pool surrounding the exhibit. He walks cautiously, occasionally looking over his shoulder and around him, shining his flashlight wherever the shadows are a little too dark for his comfort. He walks to the edge of the pool and peers towards the temple walls glowing eerily in the muted museum night lights.
“Alright.” he whispers. “Here goes nothing…”
He kneels and bows his head before calling out to the darkness.
“Your Royal Highness! My Queen! Your most humble servant is here to do your bidding”
Bill waits, balancing awkwardly on one knee. Minutes tick by and nothing happens. A bead of sweat rolls down his neck but he shivers as if he were cold.
“My Queen! Command your slave of anything you wish and I will do so even with my life!” he calls out again.
Inside the dark temple walls, Eric glares at his companion who rolls her eyes before she responds in a hiss…”Bloooodddd…Brrriiiinnnggg mee the blooodddd of the Roman!”
Bill Compton’s topples in his stance and falls face down, narrowly missing the water, before he hurriedly gets back to kneel again…
“Haw..” he clears his throat, “How do I get the blood Your Highness?”
“Come to the Roman’ssss tomb…Bleed on hisss ssssword….Commme now…”
“Yes. Yes Your Majesty.” Bill bows and beats a hasty retreat, doubling back to the entry hallway of the museum, where the others are waiting for him.
“HOLY SHIT, MANNN! Those were one of the best recordings we’ve had! So much activity! This is GOLD!”, says Zac, the head of Ghost Hunters, the paranormal research team on lock-down in the museum.
“We need to hurry. We will get something in the Roman exhibits. The Queen’s ghost said so!” Bill pants and is already moving across the hall towards the Roman exhibit area.
The three other members of the team hurriedly collect their recorders and EVP instruments and race towards the Roman Exhibits. No one notices the shadows slyly slipping out the door…As soon as the shadows leave, the security cameras start blinking green again.
“You are such a dick!”
Eric just strolls along, with his hands in his pockets, backpack hoisted lightly on his back, grinning smugly at the empty streets of New York.
“You aren’t even going to deign this with a smart ass remark?” the girl huffs.
“Oh c’mon Amelia… They are the dicks. We are just…rolling with it!”
Amelia rolls her eyes.
“What does that even mean?”
Eric sighs and turns to look at the girl. With their difference in height, he has to stoop to look into her eyes.
“It means I was taking out the trash. They don’t know shit about hunting. Dicks like that bring us a bad name. I couldn’t let them anywhere near the actual active portion of the museum. God knows what trouble they’d have conjured up for the rest of the world by trying to psycho analyse and help an honest to goodness ancient demon. There’s no helping that one! Him sleeping is for the best.”
Amelia’s eyes soften a little.
“It’s not your job you know… Saving the world.”
“No, it is not.” He shrugs nonchalantly as they reach his car. “But someone has to do it, Ame.” He says as he gets into the drivers side and cocks an eyebrow at Amelia. “You coming?”
“Yes.” Amelia huffs in resignation. “But I still think Dean Winchester is cuter with the dusty jacket look!” She adds for good measure.
Eric grins and shakes his head as he turns to start the car, finding Amelia already sitting at his side…
“Alright then… Where next?”
A nail filer appears in her hand as Amelia starts solicitously filing her fingernails. “You’re going to get a phone call.”
“You need to take the call.” She answers in a singsong voice.
“Yes, it takes genius to answer a ringing phone.” Eric deadpans, as the car starts moving.
Amelia ignores the sarcasm, continuing the conversation with her never-ending cheer.
“Someone is waiting. They call for you. She calls for you.”
Eric gives her a long, sideways glance.
“Who is this she?”
Amelia smiles sagely and continues to try and tame her nails.
“You’ll see.” She says in a singsong voice again, and before Eric can question her further on the subject, she vanishes into thin air.
“The fuck, Amelia!” Eric yells, “Damn you, nineteenth century witch bitch! I am going to sell your soul to the King of Hell the next time I see-”
His solitary rant is cut short when his phone starts ringing. Eric checks the caller id.
“Of course! An unknown number!”
He taps the green button and puts the call on speaker.
Eric smiles as he recognizes the voice.
“Godric! How are you old friend? It’s been what? A year? Two?”
“Three actually. Since that Louisiana case.”
Oh, yes! The Louisiana case! The one case of his career, which Eric had not been able to solve, even with the help of his long-time friend and mentor, Godric. The matter of the suspected portal to another world! He had seen a man cross it with his own eyes. He still had it on tape, which meant he hadn’t been dreaming. Amelia said there was old magic around the place, but Eric never found the portal or what lay beyond it. The mystery of it all still gave him nightmares. Eric Northman was the kind of man who couldn’t suffer a mystery.
“Still keeps me up some nights.”
“Then I see I have called the right person.”
Eric straightened up.
“What is it, Godric?”
“Well you see… I may have found a lead.”
“Shut. The. Fuck. Up” Eric gasps.
“How soon can you get to Bon Temps, Louisiana?” Godric laughs.
Eric pushes his foot hard on the acceleration, “On my way already!”
The town of Bon Temps was still the same. The beaten down roads, the old houses with paint chipping off most of them, the lonely bayou… Merlotte’s and it’s nosy patrons.
But this time when Eric parked in the far corner of the run down bar, he knew it in the pit of his guts that he was going to get lucky. Somehow, he knew things would turn in his favor. With the satisfied sigh of the man who knows everything would turn out fine, he turned off his precious vintage corvette, rolled the window glass half way down and settled comfortably in the low bucket seat to wait. And watch.
People came and went in twos or threes, wearing their Sunday best, too busy in their gossip to notice the lone dusty car parked halfway in the trees. Eric opened a bag of chips to kill time and think.
“That’s not very healthy you know.”
Eric rolled his eyes.
“Oh joy! Amelia! You’re back.”
She held up her hands, a different shade of pink nail polish in both. “Ok this or this?”
“The left one.” Eric said while stuffing his face with chips.
“My left or your left?” Amelia chirped.
“Shut up Amelia.”
“Your left it is…”
She proceeded to paint her nails and Eric, for once, watched in morbid fascination as the paint first coated and then disappeared from her nails as soon as she painted it on.
“You took the call I see.” she smiled smugly, as she kept applying the useless coats of paint to her dead nails.
“You’ve found something haven’t you?”
Amelia grinned, though she didn’t look up from her nails.
“Dead friend of a dead friend of another circle…Might have known someone who knew someone else, who in turn knew that guy.”
Eric excitedly turned in his seat, bag of chips forgotten, to look at Amelia.
“The guy who could go through the portal?”
“No. Not that one. But the one whose bloodline could.”
Eric’s jaw dropped.
“There is a bloodline?”
“And not an ordinary one either.” she paused for effect.
Eric was affected alright! He was practically shaking with excitement.
“Do they live here? In this town?”
“Oh yes! In fact” Amelia turned to look towards the bar, just in time for a limping shitfaced Jason to emerge from the door, resting heavily on the shoulder of a overly desperate looking woman, “There he is. One of the Stackhouse siblings.”
“Jason Stackhouse?” Eric almost choked on his own words.
“He is part of the bloodline. I am not sure he could cross the portal or not. Wait for Godric to form a plan…”
And just like that Amelia disappeared again, leaving a frustrated but excited Eric in her wake. He watched as the woman loaded Jason into a truck and got behind the wheel to drive away his suspect as well as his lead. Wating annoyed him. But he had no option to wait for Godric and his information.
Eric sighed and picked up his bag of chips again as he started thinking.
Jason Stackhouse! Town romeo…Stackhouse…Stackhouse…Road crew…House at the end of the road…Used to live with his grandmother in an ancient farmhouse, actually really close to the bayou and the suspected site of the portal…The grandmother…She might know…She lived with…with…
Eric banged his head on the headrest as he tried to recall everything about the family.
Stackhouse…Stackhouses…He had a sibling…a sister…weird name…Cookies…Oh yes! Sookie Stackhouse…Cute little blond thing…looked brighter than her brother for sure…She was his only sister, so if Jason was of the bloodline, she was too…Maybe he could investigate her movements too, in addition to the brother…
Something moved at the side and Eric’s hand automatically pulled out his pistol before his eyes even turned to check what or who it was.
A blond waitress; apparently on her break…
She was looking towards his car. Actually she was slowly inching towards the half hidden car as well. Eric carefully watched her move towards him, ready and loaded to shoot, run, incapacitate or charm the intruder, whatever the situation demanded. There was something familiar about her though. Eric was sure he had seen her before. He just couldn’t recall where.
The girl got close enough to have seen him sitting inside. Eric smoothed his face to call out a friendly greeting as soon as she smiled or talked to him. She didn’t do either.
The blond saw his face and froze, wide eyed, slack jawed and open-mouthed. It was as if she had seen a ghost. Eric counted till ten for the girl to speak, but she didn’t. She just stood there and stared at his face.
He opened his car door and stepped out.
“Hello there…Care to tell me about tonight’s specials, sweetheart?” he called out in a carefully constructed, carefree voice as he slowly walked to her. Now seeing her in brighter lights, the girl had more gold in her hair than the regular garden variety blondes of the South. Her eyes, sharp, bright blue, were fixed on him. Her face positively glowed.
Eric paused as he took in her extraordinary face. For some reason, his next practiced lines stuck in his throat and for the first time in his life, Eric found himself tongue-tied in front of a girl.
It was she who broke the silence.
“Eric!” she said in a daze.
Chimes, is what Eric heard!
Eric formulated a number of valid responses in his head. But that is exactly where they remained. In his head.
The girl shifted awkwardly on her feet as she waited for Eric to say something, no doubt getting uncomfortable with the lack of response and his steady stare as he looked her up and down.
“You’re Eric Northman. Right? You’ve been here before.” she said in a small voice.
“I… We…I don’t remember you.” Eric stammered, much to his internal chagrin.
Her beautiful blue eyes dipped to the two feet dirt patch between them. Eric cursed himself for his idiotic response that embarrassed her even more than she already was. He could just have politely introduced himself again and then asked her name, not insinuate that he knew her and then forgot.
“Ummm, you knew my brother. Jason Stackhouse?” she looked up to him, with a look in her eyes that wiped out Eric’s thought process again. She looked at him like he was important; to her and to the world. Eric was not used to seeing that in people’s eyes. “I think you knew him and his friends back then, when you came through here, three years ago. I saw-”
“I’m sorry, do you work here?” He interrupted her in the middle of her awkward rant, kicking himself afterwards for coming up with an even more lame thing to say to her than that ‘don’t remember’ shit.
“Uhh yes I do.” she smiled brightly, pointing at her work T-shirt, with ‘Merlotte’s’ stamped in a corner. “My name is Sookie Stackhouse. Nice to meet’cha!” she adds, bobbing on her feet.
Stackhouse? Sookie Stackhouse!
“Un-fucking-believable!” Eric mumbled, marveling at his luck. “Sookie Stackhouse! Jason Stackhouse’s younger sister. You live at the edge of the bayou, don’t you?”
The hopeful, adoring glint returned to the girl’s eyes and her smile widened.
“You do remember me then” she said shyly, “We didn’t meet when you came last time. But I knew you. Hell! The whole town knew you. You’re quite the legend in these parts, ya’know?”
“I wouldn’t say that exactly.” he grinned back and stuck out a hand for her to shake. “But…It is nice to finally meet you Miss Stackhouse.”
“BREAK’S OVER!!!” Someone yelled from inside, cutting Sookie off.
Another girl, who’d been smoking by the door, snuffed it out and hurried inside. Eric withdrew his hand and thought about plotting to kill the mofo who just yelled. Sookie looked towards the back door and then turned to Eric again.
“When does your shift end?” Eric asked, “Can you meet me afterwards? I think I need your help with something.”
Sookie couldn’t believe her ears. Words failed her.
‘Was this how pipe-dreams came true?’ She thought.
“Will you?” Eric asked again.
“Oh what the hell! No, Eric.” She shook her head, “I won’t meet you afterwards.”
Eric’s face fell.
“I mean…I can leave here right now. If that’s alright with you?” she chuckled.
“That, would be fucking perfect!” Eric replied, surprised but extremely pleased at her response.
“So? What help were you needing from me?” Sookie asked, resuming the bouncing on her feet.
“I am surveying some land around the bayou; exploring some myths and folklore. Near the back of your house actually. Shall we?” he gestured towards his car and Sookie started walking with him.
“Don’t you have to tell someone you are leaving?” Eric inquired, trying to be polite and considerate. Plus, it wouldn’t do if she inexplicably disappeared after having being seen with him.
“Oh no. I was not working today. Just came here out of boredom.” she shrugged, trying to suppress the crazy smile that threatened to ruin her poise any moment.
They reached the car and Sookie hesitated by the door.
“What?” Eric cocked an eyebrow.
“Does the top come down?” she smiled.
Godric tapped his flickering flashlight. It gave out a dim pin prick of light and went out completely. Frustrated, he slapped it against a tree.
“Yours not working either?” Eric called out.
“No! Bloody fucker! I put new batteries. It was working in the car.” Godric replied, still trying to catch his breath. It chaffed him that he was getting old enough to get tired from just a ten minute walk in the wild. He took out his frustration on the flashlight.
Eric noticed his mentor tiring out but chose to ignore it for the moment.
“We might have spirit activity around. They can mess with the electronics.” Eric said, looking around at the eerie hanging branches of the swamp forest. They were nearing that spot by the small lake where Eric has seen the man disappear through thin air years ago.
“I know!” Godric huffed, “I taught you that shit! But the EVPs are silent. I don’t think there are spirits around.”
“I can get a kerosene lamp. It won’t flicker.” Sookie supplied helpfully.
The two men, Eric on her front and Godric bringing up the rear, paused to look at her.
“Good thinking kid.” Godric beamed at her.
“But where would you find a kerosene lamp around here?” Eric frowned.
“We had a tree house nearby, Jason and I. We played there when we were kids. We kept camping supplies in it. Jason still goes there, uses it as a hunting hatch. I bet we’ll find a lantern and a can of kerosene there.” she replied, feeling a little proud of herself for being useful at last. When Eric had asked her to accompany them to the lake in the forest for some investigation, she hadn’t paused to consider the why’s of it. She just went along with them, with Eric in particular, on whatever mission they were carrying out. This was the most adventure she had had in years and she wasn’t going to pass up on it.
“Can you find the place in the dark?” Eric asked.
“Of course.” Sookie beamed, “It’s in the same direction we are going right now, a mile or so further. Lemme show you.”
She stomped ahead, with Eric and started moving confidently through the dark underbrush. More easily than either Eric or Godric, much to both the men’s annoyance.
The tree house, at the bank of the lake, was well hidden in a huge tree. Eric or Godric or both, couldn’t have found it on their own. Without waiting for either of the two to catch up, Sookie quickly climbed the ladder and disappeared in the tree above.
Eric’s flashlight flickered and came back up.
He spun around to look at Godric, who in turn was staring in disbelief at his own shining flashlight. Belatedly, Eric also realized that this was the exact spot where the alleged portal was supposed to be.
Years of training and experience as hunters and protectors of the supernatural kicked in for both the men as they stared at each other, having a silent discussion as to what this meant.
“You guys…” Sookie called out from above, “I found kerosene and a lantern. Does any of you have any matches?”
“Let me check in my supplies Sookie. You look up there.” Godric called out, gesturing at Eric to keep silent as he quickly opened his backpack and brought out salt and an EVP monitor. Eric took out more salt from his bag and the two started hurriedly making a circle around the tree that Sookie had gone up to.
“Found them!” Exclaimed the girl from above.
The men completed the circle and jumped to stand out of it. Godric whispered a quick incantation under his breath.
Presently, the girl appeared on top of the ladder, and started climbing down, carefully holding the lantern in the crook of her elbow. The flashlights went dark again. Sookie finished climbing down and turned to look at the two hunters.
In the dark, with just the small lantern to light the area, they couldn’t see her face properly. They could only see the silhouette of her loose hair blowing softly around her face in the mild breeze and hear the light rustling of her white dress. Standing by the tree, on the edge of the lake, with a lantern in her hands, Sookie looked like a lost girl out of a fairy tale.
“Sookie?” Eric whispered.
She turned to look at him.
“Can you see anything strange around you?”
She squinted her eyes and looked around.
“No.” she shook her head when nothing appeared out of the ordinary.
“Look closely…Right by the tree behind you. Hold out your hand and feel the air.” Eric coaxed again.
Sookie took a deep breath and started waving her hand around. There was a crackle of electricity as her hand touched the air of one spot. She froze and poked the area. Her hand went through. She pulled back her hand with a cry of alarm and backed off, till her retreat was cut off by the line of salt on the ground. She looked down in horror and the lamp slipped from her hands.
“Eric…” she called out to him.
Eric looked at her with pity, shoulders slumped, suddenly feeling a weight over his heart he could not explain.
“Is there anything holding you back Sookie?” Eric asked her gently.
A tear rolled down her cheek, but the girl remained silent as she watched the man of her dreams. So near enough to touch; yet so far away behind the salt line.
“Was there a last wish you couldn’t fulfill?” Godric asked her patiently, voice as gentle as Eric’s.
“Eric. I wanted to see Eric.” she said, looking at Eric with longing.
“You have seen him now.” Godric continued, speaking barely above whispers, “You can let go and be at peace.”
“I can’t. I haven’t been able to move over.” she shook her head slightly, tears pouring down her sparkling blue eyes. “Everyone else goes. I can’t cross. Not until now. Not until here…” she added, as she glanced at the crackling air behind her for a second and turned to look at Eric again. “I think I can go through here. This place feels different.”
“Then go Sookie. there’s nothing for you here.” urged Godric.
She looked at Eric. Eric removed his backpack and placed it on the ground. Then, before Godric could stop him, he crossed the salt line and came to stand in front of the torn Sookie. He slowly brought his hands up to her face and gasped when he could touch her. He cupped her cheeks and pressed his lips to her forehead. Sookie closed her eyes and sobbed in relief.
“In another life. In another world…” Eric whispered in her hair, “We’ll find each other again Sookie Stackhouse. We’ll meet again. I know.”
Sookie clutched his wrists with both her hands and leaned to place her forehead against his chest.
“You promise?” she whispered.
Eric leaned back and tilted her face to look deep in her eyes.
“I promise.” he replied.
Sookie nodded, took another deep breath and stepped back from Eric.
“This is a portal to another dimension. It’s called Fairy. I am descended from them.” she said. “That’s all I know.”
“I’ll research Fairy to death.” Eric smiled.
“You do that! Otherwise I’ll have to come back to haunt you!” she teased between sobs.
“I’ll hold you to that!” Eric said softly.
She cast one last look at the man of her dreams.
“Good bye Eric Northman.” she whispered.
“Until we meet again Sookie Stackhouse.” he inclined his head and whispered back.
Sookie blew him a kiss and stepped into the crackling air, instantly vanishing from sight.
Eric darted forward but all he found was air slipping through his fingers.
He closed his eyes and just stood there, trying to come to terms with the new emotion swirling inside him.
“Guess we have another lead then.” Godric called out, “Fairy, did she say?”
“Fairy it was. Lets find what that fucking means old friend.”
“Ah the joys of the chase!” Godric chuckled and hoisted his backpack to leave.
Eric glanced at the place for a moment, then turned to follow his mentor, out of the haunted Bayou.