First True Blood fic - the first of five fic requests - written for verbyna from the Godric/Eric community, who gave me the prompt: 'I want people to tell their children terrifying stories about the things we did for love'.
Just a couple of references, for those who want a memory refresh:
- 'You have a lot of love for him' / 'Don't use words I don't understand': This was part of a conversation Eric and Sookie had in season 2, found here.
- 'This is personal for you': This was part of a conversation Bill and Eric had in season 2, found here.
- 'There are centuries of faith and love between us': This was part of a conversation Godric and Eric had in season 2, found here.
- The explanation of Godric's history as to how he may have possibly lived on the coast is found in the True Blood Wiki, here.
Title: In Understanding
Author: Harmony (Silver Harmony)
Characters/Pairing: Godric & Eric, mentions of Eric/Sookie
Word Count: Approximately 2,680.
Disclaimer: Not mine, sadly.
Notes: Set some time after the end of Season 4, assuming a canonical Eric/Sookie progression as opposed to a Bill/Sookie one (judging by the direction the books turn). I intended to explore how readily Eric shows his feelings for Sookie in canon and how his relationship with Godric contrasts with this.
Feedback: Very much appreciated, as I need it to improve. Thank you!
Summary: Don’t use words I don’t understand.
‘I love you, Sookie Stackhouse.’
He's said the words before, and even now the words slip from his tongue so fast, in such an instant, that he doesn’t even think about it anymore; it’s something he’s strangely accustomed to now, along with his firm, unapologetic attraction, something that he doesn't feel the need to question. And Eric knows it takes its effect when, even though the young woman laying bare and sated in front of him doesn’t really smile, a silent comfort gleams subtly in her eyes. She inches closer to him, rustling the crisp cotton sheets, and brings a warm hand up to his face, stroking his cheek with thin, delicate fingertips.
‘I like this about you,’ she whispers softly.
He doesn’t say anything; but he shifts closer too, taking simple relief in the supple warmth of skin, the gentle, sweet aroma of silky hair, the steady rhythm of a human heartbeat. He doesn’t want to think about anything in the wake of solace. He doesn’t want to think right now about whether or not Sookie thinks a part of him may have changed.
‘I'm ... seeing more of Godric in you,’ she continues, and the corners of her mouth dangerously twitch almost-upwards. ‘You still act big and bad. But here you are, expressing such humble, personal feelings.’
He smiles at her sentimentalities, but there is something that feels surprisingly hollow within his stomach, akin to a strange nothingness. He gently takes her hand from his jawline and nestles deeper into the bedsheets. ‘Sleep,’ he only says, and it almost sounds like an indifferent instruction when it leaves his mouth, but he feels no inclination to fix it.
That morning, Eric dreams of cool grains of fine sand and a misty shoreline, the distant echoes of rolling water, the raw smell of salt, and sitting wordlessly next to him: a faint memory of quiet companionship, the familiar marked skin, the dark hair and soft eyes of his father, brother, son.
He loves the fervent heat, noise and bloodlust of Fangtasia at night, the smell of hidden sex and sweat and food amongst the grinding, roused bodies; strangely, it’s as calming to him as when the club is empty and quiet in the daytime. He doesn’t care to push himself to do boring work, but it gives him serenity when he’s able to sit alone in his office, when he can close his eyes and there are just the faintest slivers of music and the ardent murmur of voices penetrating his doors. Sometimes he subconsciously wonders if he actually ends up more rested this way than when he sleeps by Sookie’s side in her house.
‘Good evening, Eric.’
Eric opens his eyes.
It is as if everything had been blanketed with a thin layer of cotton wool: he barely hears the traces of music anymore, and there is an odd tenderness in the room, a fluid sensation he has grown to associate with his maker. He knows that this is his imagination. This is not the same as when Godric had appeared to him, twice, urging him to spare mercy for Russell Edgington; his presence had felt so real then, so peculiarly unworldly and spiritual, whether or not he had just imagined it in actuality. This time, he somehow knows the visualization of the lithe, slender figure leaning against the side of his desk is his own. He lowers his head in respect anyway.
You have a lot of love for him, he can hear Sookie’s voice saying again, in his mind.
And he remembers his own voice, resonating in answer: Don’t use words I don’t understand.
He tries to shake off this thought, saying aloud, ‘I never showed you around here, did I?’
Godric has the faintest trace of what might be a smile on his face, but Eric isn’t sure; as usual, it is touched by an inexplicable sadness. ‘No,' answers Godric, his voice a soft echo in the room, there and not there all at once. 'It’s one of my regrets in our having been separated for decades. But I can see you’ve done well for yourself.’
Eric meets his eyes and smirks. ‘I wish I could’ve shown you.’
And somehow, he doesn’t feel strange saying that even though he’s directing it to a figment of his imagination – who is standing right there by him, at that; even though Godric had, maybe, outlived the passionate heat and mirth and lust of life before he met the sun. Godric had grown too beautiful for the dark, sweaty impulses of Fangtasia, Eric finds himself oddly thinking. Yet, he muses, if he had sat his maker upon his usual throne there, the dark-haired vampire – gentle and fearsome and devastating – would still have fit in frighteningly well. Eric feels a mild regret, then, that he had never had the chance to show him this part of his life, that he hadn't shared such moments with him when there was still time.
Even though his heart is dead inside his chest, he feels an unwelcome prickling there. Or maybe that, too, is a product of his own imagination, just like the figure in front of him. And it unsettles him.
Godric remains still there, next to the desk, watching him soundlessly as if in wait. And Eric wants to tell him something – he doesn’t exactly know what – but he can’t form the words; whatever they might be, they don’t want to come out. The eventual silence is such that he finds himself unnecessarily feeling the slightest touch of frustration.
‘Maybe I should get some work done,’ he finally says, glancing distastefully at the piles of unsigned forms on his desk.
He doesn’t even have to look up to know that Godric’s apparition has vanished; the muted pumping bass and heated voices from outside suddenly fill the quiet of his office again, and a part of him feels illogically guilty that, perhaps, he had been too dismissive.
Eric has no idea how he had ended up casually talking with Bill Compton in his vast foyer; their usual mutual dislike is such that they don’t engage in conversation unless they have to. But Eric had been delivering some tedious Area 5 reports to the King, and Bill had noted, unexpectedly, how uncharacteristically distracted the blond looks.
‘Why Bill, I didn’t know you cared,’ Eric drawls toothily.
As usual, however, Bill has no sense of humor. ‘It’s been a rough year for us all,’ he states matter-of-factly. ‘And I would be more at ease knowing there were no hindrances to the job you need to do.’
Eric simply raises his eyebrow.
‘It’s almost reminiscent of that time when you were so focused on finding Godric,’ Bill continues slowly, as if treading careful steps. ‘Another … personal matter?’
This is personal for you, Eric remembers him saying in the dimly-lit Dallas bar in regards to Godric, what seems like so long ago. And now, he doesn’t answer. It surprises him that Bill can observationally draw such a connection; feeling only the slightest touch of self-consciousness, he wonders vaguely if he is exuding a similar demeanor or making similar facial expressions now as he was back then. Everything in regards to Godric was – still is – a personal matter. But Godric is no longer here; Eric had descended those steps from the rooftop and continued on with his endless life, had kept the wheel of process and action and getting things done turning as if nothing had changed, had anchored himself to an uncompromising solace in Sookie Stackhouse.
All of a sudden, he realizes that Bill is only making a comparison and isn’t even talking about Godric, and yet, his thoughts had involuntarily wandered to him. In that light, he doesn’t feel the need to discern what may be distracting him. For all he knows, he’s an automatic shell with decent reflexes for action in dangerous situations and is showing progress in everything, and during times of hardship, that must surely be enough.
‘Sorry. I shouldn’t have stuck my finger in such a wound,’ Bill apologizes, surprisingly humbly; Eric realizes that he must have remained silent for a little too long. But he eyes the King firmly, and it feels almost like discreetly sliding a mask back on.
‘You’re goddamn right you shouldn’t have,’ he answers jokingly, his expression mock-serious in fashion. ‘My liege.’
‘They’ll tell stories about him for years to come,’ continues Bill in a sincere attempt at consolation, but Eric finds himself suddenly wanting him to stop, just stop and not say any more. ‘You and him.’
He wouldn’t care for that. He left silently, Eric almost replies, but doesn’t; he himself is still unapologetically infatuated with life and with glory, and the thought is heartbreaking and appealing all at once. And there it is again – that unwelcome sensation, prickling unexpectedly beneath layers of essentially dead flesh and skin.
The blond turns around curtly. ‘Right. I’m going home.’
‘Thank you for the documents,’ says Bill. ‘And … take care of Sookie.’
Something inside Eric almost stops at this remark, but he doesn’t bother saying anything else – he speeds off at lightning velocity, and doesn’t look back.
He doesn’t end up going home. Something unnerves him, and he goes and spends the night with Sookie once again, immersing himself in warmth and sex and skin, fucking her indulgently hard until he doesn’t think of anything anymore. He is vaguely aware of maybe saying I love you again in the heat of the moment and, in the fervor of mutual attraction, it had slid out of his mouth just as easily as it had before; a small part of him is faintly aware that it is the same word he had blatantly told her he doesn’t understand, but another part of him bats away these thoughts. The pleasure and desire is everything, he tells himself. All he should need to crave.
When he unexpectedly feels the weight of a peculiar exhaustion, even more than usual, he decides to leave for a night. Pam doesn’t question him at all, and something stirs lightly in him to see such simple devotion and loyalty; she has always implicitly trusted in him, and it makes him wonder all the more whether it's ever been right, all the times that he's lost his temper at her as of late. Then again, every vampire is created tied wholly to their maker, and as his progeny, he knows Pam is unreservedly willing to set unwholesome feelings aside for his sake.
Before he leaves, he hesitates briefly, and curiously decides to try an experiment.
‘I’ll be back tomorrow,’ he says to Pam, sweeping over and pressing his lips quickly to her forehead. And, much less audibly, he adds: ‘Love you.’
It rings true and honest, but it feels simultaneously awkward the moment it leaves his mouth. Pam pulls back and stares at him, wide-eyed.
‘What’s wrong?’ she asks. ‘Something’s wrong, isn’t it?’
He gazes back at her, raising his eyebrow. ‘No, nothing’s wrong.’
‘I never hear you say –’ she starts, and there is the faintest tremor in her voice, almost inaudible; but she stops, and proceeds simply to stare straight at him. And then an interesting look crosses her pale face, as if realizing that there really is nothing wrong. She draws herself in again, and leans up and plants a light kiss upon his cheekbone.
‘Take care,’ she utters softly, an unusual tenderness in her eyes.
Eric nods, and turns on his heel and leaves. No, there is no bond greater than that of a vampire and his maker – Godric was the one who had made him aware of that, long ago – and he knows how deeply Pam lives inside his heart, too. Yet he is also keenly aware of how challenging it had been, how strangely complex it had felt, to say those words just now; the words that he knows, deep down, he still doesn’t fully understand.
And he finds himself at the shoreline without meaning to go there, immersing himself in the crisp scent of salt and the biting coldness of the night air and the steady, rhythmic crashing of the rolling waves, and even though it isn’t really home, there is a faint relief inside him akin to what it must feel like to be home. He knows Godric had lived close to the shore once – the nostalgic story of his markings – and they, too, had spent a little time together by the shore long ago; barely enough time. Eric remembers sitting silently side by side with him in unquestioned consolation and comfort, and it is such a faint memory, so sadly distant, but enough for him to feel familiarity with the soft grains of sand beneath his shoes, the subtle pale mist close to the horizon, the sound of wind and water and nothing else.
He turns his face openly into the wintry air, and there it is again, out of the blue: the apparition of his imagination, the sensation of muted tenderness enveloping him.
‘Godric,’ he greets reverently, with a slight bow of his head.
Godric gives him a heartbreaking almost-smile, and he doesn’t know whether it’s just his own head playing games with him; because all of a sudden it feels so real, as if Godric is really standing before him instead of a vision of his mind's eye, as if it is the same ghostly presence that had appeared to him in the sun as he lay burning – so strangely spiritual and powerful and whole, telling him absurdly that love is all. That prickling swells inside his chest, more than ever. For the first time in months, he doesn’t feel like indulging in nothingness, doesn’t feel like an automatic shell.
There are centuries of faith and love between us, the dark-haired vampire had said, moments before he had given his life away.
Eric fixes his gaze on Godric, who meets his eyes, and suddenly everything starts aching completely, the way it had hurt so wholly that final morning on the rooftop.
‘Godric, I –’
I miss you.
I love you.
Even now, all he can offer is silence, and his tongue still can’t form the words. It doesn’t slide out of his mouth as easily as it does for Sookie Stackhouse, and it dawns on him. Now, seeing Godric standing there in front of him with that expression of surrender, the ache spreads in a gaping hole he hadn’t wanted to know was inside of him and he understands: he understands exactly how it is that there is no bond greater than that between a vampire and his maker, how it can’t just be expressed with simple words so easily, how different his strong feelings towards Sookie and Godric are, how there is absolutely no love in all the world that matches the kind that he reserves only for Godric – such that even Sookie comprehends it. And, for the first time, even though he knows the wet heat may dangerously be threatening to rise up behind his eyes, he feels like he finally understands that word, without even saying it.
Godric comes forward to him at that moment, and places a small, near-translucent hand on his; and oddly, even though Eric can’t feel it, there is a part of him that can.
‘I know. I’m sorry.’
Godric’s voice is always comforting to him, unreservedly loving in its own unique way, and something feels reminiscent of the night he was turned – the reassuring words of Death in the form of a small boy, and that feeling of rebirth, when Eric had felt like he was part of Godric, had felt like Godric was part of him, had felt that he had become one with Godric, father, brother, son.
The corners of Eric’s mouth curve upwards.
He stays at the shore on his own, standing there wordlessly, until just before sunrise. He never feels alone.