This is my entry for the Valentine`s and Carnival contest at the Alexander Skarsgård Library Forum (www . alexanderskarsgardlibrary forum). You have to sign up as a member to read the stories or to post one, but that`s only so that mature stories can be posted without us worrying about kids reading them.
This story is not mature. I`ve only written one non-mature story before so I`m pretty nervous about you guys liking it.
It`s pure fluff with a little drop of pain. Enjoy!
The beta on this story is, as usual, the sweet and smart Rascalthemutant.
Before you read this story:
A central part of this story is a tradition we have in Denmark and large parts of Sweden and Norway, when we celebrate our Carnival, or Fastelavn as we call it. We dress up in Carnival costumes and hit a wooden barrel filled with candy. We use a baseball bat and it usually takes quite a few blows. I remember it could take up to an hour when I was a kid. Which was good because then we all got to hit the barrel many times. The one knocking out the bottom of the barrel, thus making the candy spill out, is the King or Queen of the day and can name his/her mate.
Here is what it looks like:
I was yawning slightly when my eyes caught her. I had been listening to a full lecture from a boring representative of a pharmaceutical company endorsing their pills and ointments, and was half asleep, when I suddenly spotted a familiar person.
It was 14, no 15 years since I had seen her last, but I would recognize that voluptuous body and the blond hair anywhere. Only, the hair was longer and the body had filled out even more since the last time I`d seen her. She walked closer to where I was sitting and I cringed when I saw the scar on her forehead. It was huge and red and made her look like a blond, female Harry Potter. No, she looked the opposite of Harry Potter, but the scar was similar.
I had made that scar. With a baseball bat.
She hadn`t seen me, which gave me a few moments to decide how I wanted to react to Her. We had parted just after I had made the scar and we had never talked since. Which had been hard considering we had been like Siamese twins all through our childhood.
I decided to take the lead here, just as I had when we were kids. I got up and waved at her. She looked surprised, no, she looked as if the moon had landed in the room and I was a green alien, but she came over to me.
I quickly put a piece of chewing gum in my mouth and kicked myself for not having dressed better that day. She had that effect on me. Still. But then I saw her straightening out her hair and smirked. So the effect went both ways.
“Eric?” she said, her voice full of surprise, but I also thought I detected a little hint of joy. Maybe I just wanted to hear the joy in her voice.
“Sookie,” I stated. “What are you doing here?”
“I was about to ask you the same thing. I didn`t even know you were a doctor.”
She smiled at me. “Fancy that. We are both in the noble profession of Hippocrates.”
“Yeah, fancy that.” I was apparently not at my most eloquent.
“So what lectures are you here for? Not the silly pill-pushers, I assume?” she asked.
I laughed. She certainly hadn`t lost her charms.
“No, I`m here to listen to the lecture about facial-scars and the mental traumas of having them.” I swallowed my breath just as I had said it. Scars weren`t what I wanted to bring up in her company. I glanced at her forehead.
“That is exactly the same lecture I came for,” she smiled.
“Of course,” I looked down. Why had I made that huge scar on her? Why hadn`t I been more careful?
“For professional reasons, not private,” she said and her hand was on mine to comfort me. I looked down and noticed there was no wedding ring on her finger. I quickly checked the other hand. Some people have wedding rings on the wrong hand, but she didn`t wear any rings at all. I looked up and saw her checking out my hands as well.
“No, I`m not married, Sookie,” I couldn`t help smiling at the faint color she got in her cheeks. “Or engaged or otherwise tied up. I don`t even have a girlfriend.”
“Really?” she said.
“How about you? No wedding rings on your hands?”
“Ah no. I don`t even have a dog,” she said.
“So you compare having a husband to having a dog?”
“No, not really. I wouldn`t want the dog to feel bad about the comparison.”
I couldn`t help chuckling. This was just as when we grew up. I hadn`t seen her in ages and she was already teasing me.
“So how is it better to have a dog than a husband?”
“A dog is faithful and likes nice long walks. A husband just sits there in front of the television and stares at whatever football game they are showing,” she started, but I interrupted her.
“No, not true. I have not seen a football game in years and I love walking. Only, I don`t want to be on a leash.” I never mentioned the faithful-part as that had not been my strongest suit over the years.
I could see the little devil in her eyes. “So we are talking about you as a husband? Not husbands in general?”
“Well, of course! Who else would you want to marry?”
She laughed out loud and I laughed with her. “I haven`t seen you in years, Eric, and the last time I saw you, you made this one,” she pointed to her forehead and my laughter died.
She looked as if she could have bit off her tongue. “It wasn`t as if you made it on purpose, Eric. You just hit the barrel a little too hard and I was in the way.”
I remembered that awful day as if it was yesterday. Every year in February, Sookie and I had always met up and arranged what to wear to the Carnival. If she was Tinkerbell, I was Peter Pan. If I was Superman, she was Wonder Woman. If I was Dracula, she would paint two red wounds on her neck and be my glamoured victim.
We were inseparable and Carnival was our favorite time of the year. I would always do my best to knock down the barrel so I could be King of the Carnival and then I would appoint Sookie as my Queen.
She was my best friend and later on, my first crush. She was the most important person in my life – up until the last Carnival we celebrated together.
“You didn`t want to talk to me afterwards,” I said and immediately regretted it. I didn`t want to accuse her of anything.
“You never visited me at the hospital.”
“I was 15 years old and terrified because of what I had done.” I glanced at her sideways. “But I was very sorry and I really wanted to visit you. Of course, when I finally worked up my courage…” I trailed off.
“My parents had died and I had moved away.” Sookie finished my sentence.
“Yeah,” I said with a heavy voice. This was still something that brought a big lump to my throat.
Sookie took my hand. “I`m sorry I never tried to contact you.”
“And I`m sorry I didn`t track you down. I could have taken a train or something. Or at least I could have called.”
“Yeah. I could have used my best friend back then.”
“I know. I`m sorry.”
The speaker walked up to the podium and people quieted down. I coughed slightly and noticed that my hand was still laced in hers. I didn`t do anything to remove it.
I had looked forward to this lecture the last two months, but now I hardly heard anything but Sookie`s breathing and my own heartbeat. I was surprised with myself. Ever since Sookie moved away I had kept my emotions in check and worked hard. In school, in sports and later at work. No one was surprised when I started medical school and it was also expected I would have a great career.
I had had women in my life, of course, but they were more for nightly fun than for companionship and sharing. I was good looking. No doubt about it. And being a doctor didn`t exactly hurt my chances with the opposite sex. Names and faces I hardly remembered had passed through my life. Some with the hope of becoming Mrs. Northman and some just for the thrill of what I could offer.
And now I was a teenager again, all giddy about holding hands with the girl I was in love with when I was younger, but also full of anxieties and self doubt. A lot of water had passed under the bridge since Sookie was my entire world and I was hers. We had grown up and become different people.
I decided to retrieve my hand. I needed it to write notes, or so I told myself, but as it turned out, I had no notes to write. My focus was elsewhere.
I placed my hand on her thigh instead which made her stare at me a few seconds. I smiled at her as if it was the most natural thing in the world to grope the thigh of a girl you hadn`t seen in years.
She paid me back and placed her hand on my thigh as well, only higher up than mine was on hers. I squirmed a little and I couldn`t help noticing her triumphant smile.
She should have remembered who she was dealing with. Eric Northman might squirm a little, but then he would up the stakes instead of bow out. My hand travelled upwards on her thigh and I gave her a little squeeze too.
She tried to look as if she was paying attention to the lecture. I should have too, but I couldn`t. The speaker was a highly esteemed doctor and the subject was essential to my work, but right now Sookie`s thigh was so much more interesting. I coughed lightly and noticed that Sookie`s attention to the lecture had slipped again. I snickered and she kicked my foot.
“Stop it, I want to hear this,” she whispered into my ear. That made me laugh quietly. People around us stared and Sookie blushed. I probably should have been embarrassed too since at least a couple of them were colleagues I wanted to maintain a serious working relationship with.
“I have missed winding you up like this,” I leaned over and said in her ear. The double meaning was intended and her face stayed red. “And the lovely color of your face.”
She squeezed her fingers hard on my thigh and that stopped my laughing. I might have a few marks on my thighs the next day. Sookie certainly had muscles in her fingers. Was she a surgeon?
My attention was again on the lecture. The professor was talking about children with large scars that made them hide inside and how it changed their personality. I listened, but couldn`t help peeking over at Sookie`s forehead. I had given her that scar. Her face was perfect – apart from the mark I had put on it.
Sookie caught my eyes and hers turned dark. I looked away mortified. And sad. She was still mad at me.
The lecture was almost over and I was starting to get anxious. What were we going to do afterwards? We had been best friends, but that was ages ago. And yet, here we were, hands on each other`s thighs.
The professor said his thank-yous and everyone applauded. When Sookie took her hand from my thigh, I immediately missed it. And I missed my hand on hers.
We got up and were both taking our time gathering our things. Sookie had the advantage of a purse she apparently needed to pick up and rearrange and even if I spent a lot of time getting back the ringtone on my cell phone, I was still ready to go before she was. And so I had the initiative.
“Do you want to go somewhere, maybe grab a coffee or something and talk about old days?” I asked, a bit nervous.
She smiled. “Sure.” I was relieved.
We put on our coats and crossed the street to a café, went in and sat down. Now that we didn`t have a professor to keep us from talking, the silence was awkward.
“So have you been hitting more girls over the head?” Sookie finally asked while laughing.
Even though her question gave me an instant knot in my stomach, it also eased the tension between us. “Nah, I reserve that privilege for my best friend,” I answered.
“And have you had many best friends after me?”
“Not really,” I laughed.
“I can`t imagine why.” Sookie looked amused. “If you use that caveman approach on them.”
“Hey, you weren`t the only one traumatized here. You may have a scar on your forehead, but what about that little boy who just wanted to show his best friend how strong he was? Then the girl walks into the batting zone and he cracks her scull by accident? Do you know what it`s like to hit your best friend over the head like that? It`s a recurring nightmare,” I said in an exaggerated tone.
I was joking, but there was a large bit of truth in it too, as there often is with jokes. It had run me completely down to have hit Sookie over the head. And of course with her parents dying just afterwards, and her moving away leaving me with all my guilt and pain and no one to say I`m sorry to, this incident occupied many nightmares.
“Why were you showing off your strength?” Sookie asked in a serious tone.
“If you don`t recall it, you were filling out in all the right places and had boys drooling all over you. I was a skinny 15-year-old watching my first love wanting other boys. And I was just brother material to you.” I had never planned on being this honest with Sookie, but it just fell out of my mouth.
“Oh, you were flirting with the girls, all right. At least as far as I can recall.”
“But only to get back at you for wanting Bill over me.”
“I never wanted Bill over you,” Sookie squealed.
“So why did you give him your first kiss?”
Sookie rolled her eyes. “We are 30 years old. You want to be jealous over my first kiss?”
I thought it over. “Yes.” I couldn`t help smiling to myself. I was actually jealous of Sookie`s first kiss.
Sookie couldn`t contain her laughter. “Well then I am pleased to announce that you had my first kiss.”
I tried to recall. “I definitely remember you saying you had kissed Bill and that was at least a week before you kissed me.”
“Yeah, I told you I had kissed Bill, but it was just to get you jealous. You were treating me like your best friend. I wanted to be something else.”
We both sipped our coffee for a few moments. Then I tried to piece it all together.
“So we both wanted to be more than friends and apart from that one kiss, we never were. What happened?”
“Well, you hit me over the head with a baseball bat for starters.” Sookie looked very serious and the knot in my stomach started to tie itself up, then she started giggling.
“You should have seen your face.”
I hissed. “I don`t think it`s funny. I mean, when I look at you, all I see is what I did to you.”
“Really?” Sookie asked.
“Yes. No, of course not. I see you, of course.” Beautiful and sexy you, I wanted to say. “But I also see the scar.” Then it hit me. “You know, Sookie, I can remove that scar. I`m a plastic surgeon now.”
“You`re a boob-enhancer?” She screamed with laughter.
“Thank you for that vote of confidence. I can certainly alter your breasts, but why change perfection?” Sookie stuck her tongue out at me. “But actually I`m a specialist in scars. I fix kids with huge birthmarks in their faces and people who`ve been in fires. This was why the lecture was so important to me.”
“And you could make the scar disappear?”
I brushed her bangs away and looked closer. “Yes, I`m pretty sure I can make it invisible.”
“Ok.” She looked at me.
“Yes, fix my scar.”
“Just like that? If you wanted it fixed, why didn`t you consult someone before?”
She looked out of the window and then back at me. I thought she was going to say something, when the coffee mug apparently was more interesting. She then studied her fingers and the table. After what seemed like well over an hour, but probably just was minutes, she sighed and looked back at me.
“I wanted the scar to remind me of you.”
“I don`t get it.”
“I was going through a painful time. First the hospital, then my parents dying and me moving and then … well, I had some tough years. I guess I wanted to remember …”
I took her hand over the table. “I`m so sorry, Sookie. I`m so sorry for not being there for you.”
If I had myself as a 15-year-old standing next to me, I would have kicked myself very hard. What had I been thinking, letting Sookie be so alone?
Sookie looked at me.
“You know, I can help you with your scars too.”
I frowned. “What scars?”
“You obviously feel very guilty and I can help you with that.”
“You`re a plastic surgeon. Guess what I am.” I shook my head and she continued. “I`m a psychiatrist.”
“You`re a shrink?”
“Yeah, if you`re a boop-enhancer, I`m a shrink.”
“So you are saying I book sessions with you and you put yourself on my operating table?”
We both smiled.
The afternoon turned into evening and the evening turned into night. We had eaten dinner together and we had talked a lot. I knew I was never letting Sookie out of my life again. I wasn`t a 15-year-old who had just swung a baseball bat and hit his sweetheart anymore. I was adult and had finally found the woman I had been looking for ever since that terrible day 15 years ago.
I wanted to take her home to my place and make love to her all night long, but knew it would be wrong. So I looked at her instead.
“You know what day it is tomorrow, right?”
She turned her head at me and took a few moments to remember.
“Valentine`s,” she finally answered.
“Yes, it`s Valentine`s AND Carnival. It`s not often they are on the same day, but this year they are.”
She smiled at me and I took a breath to gather courage.
“So will you be my Valentine and my Carnival Queen?”
She got up on her toes and gave me a chaste kiss. It was the second kiss I had ever gotten from Sookie Stackhouse. I hoped it wouldn`t take another 15 years before I had the third.
“I will. If you will be mine.”
“Your Carnival Queen?” I teased.
She slapped my arm and gave me a deeper kiss. I kissed her back and felt some of the scars healing already.