AN: I promised the angst would be short lived, and I meant it. This is the last chapter of Dead Ever After the RIGHT Way. I thought about adding the next two parts to it, but I loved the way this chapter ended, and thought it was a great way to end this story. So instead, the next 2 chapters will be a two part story called “After Dead the RIGHT Way”. Expect lots of lemony goodness.
~“I’m here to see the king.”
Looking up from her computer the receptionist gazed upon Sookie with confusion. Two months ago the blonde telepath had left the king’s private quarters on the top levels and had not returned, nor had the king made any attempt to seek her out. No one was sure what had happened between the two, but whatever it had been had definitely affected the king. While he still ruled his kingdom fairly, there was no doubt he was not happy. His children Pam and Karin had tried to speak to him about it, but he had only said it was none of their business.
However despite the distance the King and Sookie had kept over the past two months, the total lack of contact, he had not rescinded Sookie’s security clearance. She did not need permission to go up to the upper levels, and as far as the receptionist knew, she still had a key to the private elevators, so the woman at the front desk couldn’t understand why Sookie was asking for permission now.
Clearing her throat, the receptionist said, “Um, Mrs. Radke, you still have your security clearance and if you have your key you can go right on up.”
Shaking her head, Sookie insisted, “I want you to contact the king’s assistants and have them alert him that I am here to see him. If he says I can go up I will.”
“You don’t just want to go on—“
“No. Please have the king alerted to my presence. I will wait here.”
Sookie moved to take a seat in one of the benches in the waiting area and clutched at her purse nervously. Since she’d walked out of Eric’s apartment two months ago he had not contacted her once. No phone calls, no letters or emails, no flowers or gifts. Nothing. Marcus had returned the week before, and they’d sat down and had a very difficult conversation. Even now Sookie wasn’t entirely sure what to make of her conversation with her soon to be ex-husband. She felt so many conflicting emotions from what they had spoken about that it was hard for her to make sense of anything, but the only thing she knew for sure is that she had to see Eric. She had to finish telling him what had happened. Marcus had blindsided her with his admission last week, but he’d been right about one thing: Eric had a right to know.
A few moments after she sat down, the receptionist drew her attention and told her the king was in his suite and she could go on up. Sookie wasn’t sure how this discussion was going to go, but she could only hope that Eric would hear her out. Making her way towards the elevator she swore to hold nothing back. She would give Eric the answers he deserved, and if he still wanted nothing to do with her she would honor his wishes.
The short ride up the elevator did nothing to alleviate Sookie’s nerves, and it was with a shaky breath that she stepped off the elevator into Eric’s private top floor suite. It wasn’t hard to spot him as he was standing with his arms crossed over his chest looking out one of his massive floor to ceiling windows and perusing the city below him.
“Sookie,” Eric said by way of greeting.
Noting the coldness in his greeting, Sookie knew he had no intention of making this easy on her and replied, “Eric, we need to talk.”
“Shouldn’t you be at home with Marcus? He did return last week, did he not?”
“He did, but he’s not who I need to see right now.”
Releasing a very human sigh, Eric forced himself to turn around and face Sookie as he began. “Sookie, I think you may have been right those many months ago. I think it is time for us both to move on. You have obviously chosen to live a life that holds no place for me, and I am tired of being the only one trying.”
Sookie’s eyes widened in shock before she rushed forward to stand directly in front of Eric and beg, “Eric, please! Please don’t say that! Not yet, at least!”
“Sookie, I don’t think—“
“No!” Sookie had reached up to place her fingertips on Eric’s lips to keep him from speaking as she pleaded, “Eric, I know you don’t owe me anything, but please! you have to let me finish telling you what happened back then. You don’t know the whole story!”
Pulling away from Sookie, Eric asked, “What more is there to know? You had a chance to save me so we could be together again, and you decided I was not worth the risk.”
“Eric, there is more to it than that!”
Refusing to let go of his anger, Eric asked, “Why are you here? Why are you not at home with the husband and family that means so much to you? You have them, and you are happy with them, so go back to them. Let me find my own happiness without this cloud hanging over me anymore. I—I cannot do this with you anymore.”
For the first time Sookie saw the true depth of Eric Northman’s vulnerability, the soft parts of himself he kept buried so deep so others could not use them against him. She saw his need for love and companionship, she saw his hope and love, and worst, she saw his pain. The pain she feared she was very much responsible for.
Tears building in her eyes, Sookie beseeched, “Eric, please, just hear what I have to say, and afterwards if you want me to leave I will. I promise—just—just please hear the rest of the story. It’s not what you think. Please, Eric.”
Eric was silent a moment before asking, “Where is Marcus?”
“At home packing.”
“Yes, we’re getting a divorce.”
Eric’s eyes widened before narrowing as he hissed, “Are you only here because he is leaving you? Am I your second choice yet again?”
“No! Not at all! Marcus and I are getting divorced because we both realized we were living a lie and it wasn’t enough anymore.”
When Eric remained silent, Sookie couldn’t help but remember her conversation with Marcus two days after he’d come home. It had been a very emotionally draining talk, and while she still didn’t know what to make of it, she was glad they’d finally addressed so many of the problems in their relationship that they’d never wanted to take on before.
“Sookie, we need to talk,” Marcus said as he made his way into the bedroom he’d shared with his wife for over a hundred years. While he was sure that Sookie was going to agree with much of what he had to say, he knew it was still going to be painful for the both of them. While they may not be in love with one another, they were best friends, and they did love each other. You did not live and make a family and life with someone for over a hundred years not to care for them greatly. However, despite the love and affection he felt for Sookie, it was not the passionate love he’d felt for his late lover, nor was it the passionate love he knew Sookie had for Northman. For both their sakes, he knew what he had to do.
Sookie looked up from the book she was reading, and said, “Yeah, I think we do.”
While Sookie was entirely uncertain how things were going to work out between her and Eric, especially since he had not contacted her in two months, she knew it was time to face the truth about her life with Marcus. She was playing it safe because she was afraid to truly love again. It wasn’t fair. To her or to Marcus. Before he’d come home she’d already decided it was time to end her marriage. Marcus certainly didn’t need her to keep him alive anymore, and she was tired of being afraid to love.
They both stared at each other for a moment before Marcus offered softly, “It’s time to end this.”
Tears filled Sookie’s eyes as she whispered, “I know.”
When Sookie broke into tears Marcus rushed into the room and gathered his wife up into his arms, as he soothed, “Shh, shh. It’s ok. Everything is going to be ok, Sookie.”
“Oh Marcus! I didn’t want any of this to happen and now I don’t know what to do!”
Knowing what Sookie was talking about, having heard her story about her falling out with Eric, Marcus offered, “The truth, Sookie, the truth is what all of us needs to move past this.”
Stroking Sookie’s hair back from her face as she cried into his chest, Marcus offered, “Sookie, the truth is Sam and I were both only ever placeholders in your life. We were the safe choice so you didn’t have to risk truly falling in love again.”
“Marcus, no! You were so much more than that,” Sookie cried as she drew back from his chest to gaze earnestly into his face.
Offering Sookie a soft smile, Marcus agreed, “I know. I don’t mean to belittle the places we’ve held in your life, or the lives we’ve built with you, but you know as well as I do that your heart has always belonged to Eric Northman.”
“Not all of it,” Sookie sniffled.
“Perhaps, but certainly a large portion of it. A larger portion than Sam and I could ever hold.” Smiling gently into Sookie’s tear stained expression, Marcus continued, “Sookie, you saved my life. Hell, you gave me life. Without you I would have been dead, and our children wouldn’t be here. I can never thank you enough for that—but it is time for me to move on, and it is time for you to stop staying in one place.”
Beginning to rock Sookie gently as she continued to cry for the loss of their life together, and the fear that Eric would never forgive her, Marcus continued, “You stayed here in Bon Temps, and lived the same life over again after Sam died because you were too afraid to venture beyond what you knew. The one time you tried all those years ago with Bill and later Eric it led to unimaginable heart break for you, so I understand your fear, but it is time to move beyond that pain and fear. You’re not that girl anymore, and you have everything you need to take hold of the world with your own two hands and make a new life for yourself, and I’m not going to hold you back anymore.”
“Marcus, you’ve never held me back before. It was my own fear and weakness that did.”
“Again, perhaps, but it is unimportant. What is important is that it is time for us to both stop running and hiding. Well in your case standing in place and hiding.”
Sookie couldn’t help but laugh as she finally sat up and wiped the tears from her eyes and asked, “What are you going to do?”
“I’m not sure yet. Linda is still in school, and I certainly don’t want to move far away and shuffle her back in forth, so I think first thing on my list is to find someplace else to live—unless of course you move to Shreveport and allow me to rent this one.”
Wincing, Sookie whispered sadly, “I don’t think that is an option anymore.”
Reaching out to caress Sookie’s cheek, Marcus argued, “Of course it is. The kind of love you and Northman share doesn’t die easy. He’s hurt right now, Sookie, hurt and angry, and much of that is due to the fact he doesn’t know the whole story.”
“He wouldn’t let me explain!”
“Then you need to make him. Tie him up and make him listen to you if necessary, but you have to tell him, Sookie. He has to know what you did in order to free him.”
“What if I tell him and it doesn’t change anything? What if I tell him what I did to try and free him without endangering my children and he still wants nothing to do with me?”
Shaking his head, Marcus argued, “I doubt that will happen, but if it does you have the strength to move past it. You are the strongest person I know Sookie Stackhouse, and it is time for you to stop running.”
She and Marcus had stayed up all night talking. They’d reminisced about the past and made hesitant plans on how to tell their children they were separating, but most importantly Marcus had continued to remind her she had to seek Eric out. Marcus had pointed out Eric had done enough chasing, and it was time for her to do some chasing of her own. At the very least she owed it to the both of them to make sure Eric knew the whole story, and that is why she was here in his suite begging for him to listen to her.
Stepping closer to him again, Sookie pleaded, “Eric, you didn’t let me finish telling you everything last time. There is more to the story.”
“I fail to see how it could matter. You had a chance to save me, to give us another chance at a life together, and you decided not to take it. What more is there to say?”
“Eric, I decided not to take it at that time.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
Indicating the couches, Sookie asked, “Can we please sit down? It is kind of a long story.”
Spinning around Eric strode to the couch and waited for Sookie to take a seat on the one opposite him before demanding, “So finish your story.”
Sookie refused to cow to the accusatory glare Eric was leveling upon her. “After Marcus told me about Freyda hiring him to kill me, and after he had come to live with me, we tried to gather evidence to prove she was the one who hired him. We both knew the Council would side with me simply to get me under their control, but I was so afraid that if I joined them to free you then it would put my children in danger. You know what my life was like before you left for Oklahoma. I was kidnapped, beaten, raped … and tortured on a regular basis. My life was always in danger, and so were the lives of those closest to me. I couldn’t put my children in that kind of position.”
“You’ve told me this already, get to the part I don’t know about. I have work to do tonight.”
She didn’t appreciate his harsh tone, but she also knew she deserved it. Continuing on, Sookie explained, “So I wanted proof to provide the Council that Freyda was behind my assassination attempt, and therefore in breach of your marriage contract so they couldn’t force me into working for them in exchange for you release.”
Eyes pleading, Sookie said, “I tried everything! I used all my contacts to try and get satellite surveillance of the night and location that Marcus’s meet with Freyda happened. I thought if I could prove she was there on the night Marcus was hired along with his testimony it would be enough. But by the time I started looking the data files had already been dumped by the government to free up memory space. After that I tried to track the serial numbers on the money Freyda had given Marcus. I was hoping if I could prove all the bills came from Oklahoma it would add to Marcus’s testimony, but the bills were untraceable. They ended up coming from practically every state in the country. We were pretty sure that they were used from Freyda’s casinos, but again, we couldn’t prove it. After that, I tried to trace the drugs Marcus had gotten from her. He only had a little bit left by the time we called a truce and got him into detox, but it was enough for the lab to use. I was trying to prove that the drug strands Marcus had were the same kind of strands used in and around Oklahoma, but it turns out that they matched markers from cocaine and heroin strains mainly used in California. It was another dead end.”
Eric refused to be swayed by her words. “So at this point you decided again I was not worth the risk or work you would have to put into freeing me? You were not willing to risk your perfect life in Bon Temps to make a deal with the Council to free me?”
Sookie ignored the bitterness in his tone. “No, it was at this point I came up with a plan to put a layer of protection over my children that the Council and any other supernatural in this world wouldn’t ignore.”
“I do not understand.”
“In order to free you I did something that the Sookie you knew 200 years ago never would have done.”
“What are you talking about? What did you do?”
“I had a child to seal a political alliance.”
When Eric’s eyes widened, Sookie explained, “Eric, my and Marcus’s oldest child Matthew was not born because we got involved in a romantic relationship. He was born because I made an agreement with Marcus to have him.”
“Sookie—I—I don’t understand.”
“Once I realized I would not be able to free you with the truth, I decided I would free you by making a deal with the Council. I would work for them in exchange for your freedom, but first, I needed to make sure my children were safe so no one could use them to force me to do anything with my new position in the Council.”
Looking down at her lap, Sookie finished, “So I approached Marcus about forming an alliance. I asked him to father a child with me. I knew that as soon as I had a child with him it would extend the protection of the Royal Demon house over all my family and me. I knew once I had that I could accept the Council’s offer to work for them in return for freeing you without fear some vampire or other supe would go after my kids to try and manipulate me.”
Eric was all astonishment as he demanded, “Are you serious?”
Nodding her head, she explained, “I’m not proud as a mother for what I did. On paper Matthew sounds like a bargaining chip, but at the time it was the only way I could think to free you. So I approached Marcus with my plan and he agreed. Of course I made sure he understood that I would not simply give the child up, that we would parent together. I may have agreed to birth a child for the sake of an alliance, but it would still be my child. Marcus still agreed and our plan was set. We’d have a child, have him or her logged with the Royal Fire Demon house, gain a royal decree of protection for the child and the rest of my family from his demon family, and then I would go to the Council and demand your release.”
“And Marcus agreed to this?”
Sookie nodded. “He was very pleased with the idea. He thought I was a good mother, he thought Bon Temps was a wonderful place to raise a child, and he thought having a child would give his life meaning. As much as I needed the child to protect my other children so I could free you, Marcus wanted something to look forward to. He wanted something to truly live for like I did. My children were my life, and Adele was the only thing that got me through the first few years after you left. Marcus knew this and he wanted that for himself. You know how hard it is for demons to breed with humans, so I was his best chance at having a child any time in the near future if he didn’t want to breed with a demon.”
Looking at Sookie now, Eric couldn’t believe what he was hearing. The Sookie he knew from 200 years ago would never agree to this. Ever! And yet the Sookie before him had done it. She had conceived and birthed a child with a man sent to kill her, a man she didn’t love, simply to gain the protection of his people and family so she could free him! He was nearly in awe of her until her remembered that she had not, in fact, come for him.
With this in mind he asked, “So if you had the perfect plan why didn’t you come for me?”
“Sookie, I stayed married for another hundred years so obviously you didn’t.”
“Eric, do you remember the Summit in 2109?”
“Yes, what about it?”
“I was there.”
“You were there?”
She nodded. “Yes. I had given birth to Matthew the year before and had the royal protection I needed from the demons. I came to the Summit with Marcus to confront Freyda in front of the Council and get you back.”
Eric didn’t understand, and said as much. “If you came for me than what the fuck happened?! Why were Freyda and I never called before the Council? Why was I not freed?”
Tears filled Sookie’s eyes as she said, “Because I saw you with your girlfriend.”
She didn’t say it, but it was the sight of him with that woman, the sight of him so loving and caring towards her, that had fostered so much of her anger and resentment over the years. It was the primary reason she’d slapped him when he first appeared to her in the mall so many months ago. She couldn’t help but think that Eric had replaced her with another blonde, and now that he was free from Freyda he’d decided to try again with the original.
Eric froze as his memories of the Summit resurfaced. He knew who she was talking about, and, as usual, she had it entirely wrong. Realizing that it was a huge misunderstanding that had kept him and Sookie apart yet again had him dropping his head into his hands as he groaned, “Oh fuck.”
“Yeah, oh fuck. I saw you with her, saw how happy you were with her, and decided you didn’t need me to save you. I could see you’d moved on and were happy in your new life, so I decided to leave you be. Well, I thought you were happy. Until you told me what your life with Freyda was like I truly believed you were happy in Oklahoma.”
“Fuck, Sookie! Why do you always have to jump to conclusions?”
Flinching back at the harshness of his words, she defended, “Eric, there wasn’t much to misinterpret. You were obviously in love with that woman, and if you had found happiness and love with someone I didn’t want to intrude on it.”
“It was an act.”
Raising his head from his hands, Eric explained, “Rebecca was not my girlfriend. Well, not in the way you think. I fawned over her excessively, and yes, I did my absolute best to make it look like I loved her, but it was only to hurt Freyda.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I wanted Freyda to feel rejected every night of our marriage. I knew how much she pined after me, how much she wanted me to love and desire her, so I decided the best thing I could do was make sure she believed I was giving everything she wanted to someone else. So every five years or so I would choose a twenty-something blonde girl that resembled you and make her my ‘girlfriend’. I would shower these girls with gifts, attention, romantic dates and vacations, and keep them by my side night after night to drive Freyda wild with jealousy. Then when they were approaching 28 or 29 and it was time for them to move on with their life, I would cut them a check, provide them with a good job opportunity in a city far away. I’d glamour them into thinking they broke things off before sending them on their way before finding a new one to taunt Freyda with. I was never in love with any of them. I don’t even remember most of their names.”
There was a stunned silence. Absolute silence as Sookie’s mouth dropped open in shock while she stared unblinking at Eric. All he could do was stare back at her with a frustrated and tired expression. They both realized that the only thing that had kept them apart the past hundred years had been Sookie’s misconceptions and Eric’s stubborn need to lash out at Freyda in any manner he could.
Finally, Sookie muttered, “Oh my God. All these years ….”
“Wasted,” Eric finished for her.
They lapsed into silence again before he asked hesitantly, his voice full of hope, “You really got pregnant and had a baby just so you could come after me?”
“Yes, and Matthew doesn’t know that’s how he was conceived. Marcus and I both made the decision to never tell him.”
“I will not break your confidence.”
Again there was a moment of silence before she asked, “You really didn’t love her?”
“She was actually very annoying, but she looked so much like you it drove Freyda crazy. I kept her around for seven years just because of that. I never loved any of them, Sookie, I swear it.”
“This is so fucked up.”
Eric let out a short bark of laughter as he concurred, “I was thinking the same thing myself, lover!”
“So what happens now?”
Thinking for a moment, Eric asked, “What happened with Marcus? Why are you two getting a divorce?”
“We both realized it was time to stop hiding. Our whole marriage was based around the fact we were too afraid to love, like really love, again.”
“And that has changed?” He knew what he wanted, but he wasn’t going to move forward with this if she wasn’t ready to commit fully. He was done carrying their relationship. She had to be willing to meet him halfway and carry her fair share of their burdens if they were going to make this work.
Sookie nodded, explaining, “I’m tired of being afraid of the world outside of Bon Temps. I’m tired of being afraid to love anyone not my children wholly and freely. I’m tired of running and hiding, and Marcus wants to find someone he can love the way I love you.”
A boyish grin spread across Eric’s face. “You love me?”
“You know I do. Just like I know you love me.”
Of course he loved her, but he couldn’t help but tease, “You sure about that?”
“As sure as I am that the sun will always set, and the moon will always give you back to me.”
Pleased by the emotion he could see in her eyes and hear in her voice, Eric replied, “Who knew you could be so poetic?”
Getting up from the couch, Sookie moved to sit beside Eric. “I have made so many mistakes with you, and I know I don’t deserve a second chance, but I’m here begging you for one. Please, please don’t give up on us. Give me one last chance to love you the way you deserved to be loved. I promise to do it right this time.”
He was silent a beat before he admitted, “I don’t know if I can give you a second chance.” When her expression fell he added, “But maybe it is time for us to begin again.”
He was silent a beat before he admitted, “I don’t know if I can give you a second chance.” When her expression fell he added, “But maybe it is time for us to begin again.”
“Yes, from the very beginning our relationship has been plagued by the lies of others, and our own silence and misconceptions. I don’t want to go back to that. Let’s begin again. No Compton to color your perception of me, none of your own mistrust, and none of my—what were you so fond of calling it?— ah yes, high handedness.”
Skeptical, Sookie asked, “And how do you suppose we just begin again?”
He held out his hand with a bright smile on his face and offered, “Eric Northman.”
Her smile was just as big as she took hold of his hand to shake and replied, “Sookie Stackhouse.”
“Well, aren’t you sweet?”