A/N: Bobby Burnham appears in this chapter and after his twitter player mentioned in the Fangreaders chat room that he’s originally from Glasgow (no idea if CH knows or cares about that), I decided to go with that … because it’s funny in the context of this particular fic.
Sookie’s eyes darkened. Not with lust; but with rage. Eric noticed the change and pulled back a little, unsure of what the Telepath would do. He realised he had severely miscalculated Miss. Stackhouse. She was no pushover, she wouldn’t be cajoled. Sookie was thinking along different lines, to her it wasn’t cajoling – it was blackmail. And she would not stand for it.
“Do I look like a fucking prostitute?”
“Well, your lack of brassiere sends an ambiguous message …” Eric’s fangs snapped down as Sookie laid another stinging blow against his cheek.
“Just shut the fuck up.” She snarled. “I get that ye want a roll in the hay with me but have you thought maybe there would be more o’ a chance if ye didnae require it as payment for somethin’? Ye could maybe try complimentin’ my outfit or … I dunno … NOT THREATENING TO KILL ME!”
“I was striking a deal.” Eric growled deep in his chest.
“No, ye were trying to get yer end away.” Sookie was done with games; she was done playing things his way. “I won’t use my abilities for ye more than once a month, if ye continue to threaten me or my family; I won’t use them at all. I don’t have a lot o’ family left, what’ll yer leverage be when ye’ve done away with them? If ye touch a hair on any o’ there heids what chances do ye think ye’ve got o’ me workin’ for ye and bein’ truthful and effective?”
The Vampire pulled back and thought on that one. Sookie could see the cogs turning in his mind. He realised that the more he pushed her, the further she got from him. And Sookie knew as soon as he reached that conclusion.
“What’ll it be? Ye can travel all over picking off my family. Or, ye can try bein’ nice to me. The first option’ll wear me down and I might be useless through grief and anger. The second option works. Ye catch mair flies with honey than vinegar.”
Jackie was on her fifth shot of Jaeger and watching Jason hopelessly try to pick up Pam. She squealed as she was thrown over a shoulder and put back down on the dance floor. The Were-Witch giggled as Hoyt pulled her flush against him and bent down to her ear.
“Did I tell you that you look real pretty tonight? You look pretty every night I’ve seen you, but tonight … hot damn!”
“I’m only here for another week, Hoyt, I really like ye but …”
“But nothin’, that just means we only have a week to cram in as much fun as we can!”
Jason caught them out of the corner of his eye. He knew Hoyt had a thing for Jackie but he never figured his friend would act on it. As he watched Hoyt and Jackie practically dry hump in the middle of the club, he decided to focus on his own mission for the night – Pam.
Adele watched in wonder as they drove to where Campsie Runners had their weekly meeting. On the Masonic Halls in Anniesland, she had been fascinated by the shipyards they drove past on the way there, absorbing all of the information Betty and Jim imparted about them. Warships, Frigates, Cruise ships – they had all been built there on the banks of the Clyde. She was excited when Betty suggested a trip to the Gare Loch and Faslane so they could try and do some submarine spotting. Adele had never seen a submarine before.
“What do you do at these meetings, Jim? You don’t all change do you?”
Jim laughed. “Naw, naw, we address pack business, approve matin’s and such like.”
“Approve Matings? So, a couple need to have the pack say yes or no before they can have a baby?”
“Och aye. Because only the first born child of any couple is a Were, only the strongest breed together.”
“What about after the first born? Can they … uh … mate with anyone?”
She saw Jim squeeze Betty’s hand in the front seats of the car and Jim sighed happily. “Thankfully, aye.”
Sookie walked out to the bar area, determined to salvage what she could from the night. She spotted Jackie and Hoyt dirty dancing, and Jason was sitting sadly at the bar on his own. The Telepath made her way over to her brother and hopped onto the stool next to him, holding her hand up to gain the bartender’s attention.
“You look like you’ve been kicked in the nads.” She smiled at Jason.
“I might as well have been. Pam threatened to drain me if I went near her again but damn that’s a pretty girl!”
Sookie snorted. “She’s no a girl Jason; she’s a vampire. Different thing altogether. Besides, I don’t like her much.”
“Really? Why?” Sookie held up her bandaged hand and Jason’s eyes gaped. “Did that bitch cut you?”
“Aye, apparently I smell sooooo fuckin’ tasty she decided to slash me with a razor and then try to drink the blood.”
“Fucking bitch! I oughta tan her hide … but I won’t on account of her bein’ a girl and a vampire and all.”
“I think Eric’ll have a few choice words for her.”
Jason smirked. “So how was your ‘meeting’?”
Sookie snorted at his use of air quotes, she had figured everyone would think she was having sex with Eric rather than talking. She had to admit, he was a handsome Vampire and she was very much attracted to him … physically. Eventually she managed to get a drink from a creepy Native American Vampire at the bar and took a gulp before answering Jason’s question.
“It was fine. We made a deal, he was a dick, we’re all set.”
“Oh! It really was a meeting?” Sookie nodded. “To get you to use your … uh … thing.”
Again, Sookie nodded and looked back to the dance floor. Connie the Corpse called for people to start getting wild and when Sookie heard the opening chords of The Lost Prophets ‘Burn, Burn’ a wide grin settled on her face. Grabbing her brother she charged on to the dance floor. All of the anger, all of the stress and all of her problems disappeared as she let loose.
Eric watched from his booth, she was a whirlwind of energy. So wild and free. He felt her tension release as she jumped, shook and waved her arms while singing along. Pam sat next to him and smirked.
“Did my little plan work better for you than me?”
“What you did was impulsive and stupid, Pam. I expected better from you, I taught you better.”
Pam lowered her head, suitable chastened. “I apologise, Master.”
“No need for that.” He waved off her use of the term, he preferred her to call him by his first name. “But Sookie plays hard ball, she won’t be threatened or blackmailed … it’s very interesting.”
Pam tried to decipher Eric’s facial expression. There was admiration there, and that shocked her. They were Vampires; admiration for their food was … unheard of. She found the changes in his behaviour over the past couple of days to be perturbing. And the way he looked at the part-Fae Telepath as she spun around on the dance floor made her think that there would be more changes to come.
Sookie turned up for her late shift the next day feeling like a new woman. The music on WDED the night before had been fantastic, there were only a couple of songs that she didn’t want to dance to. Jackie and Hoyt had spent the journey home feeling each other up, which made Sookie and Jason decidedly uncomfortable. It wasn’t what they were doing that bothered the brother and sister, but the fact that they didn’t have anyone to do something similar with.
Sookie made sure to tell all the workers at Merlotte’s that they’d be having a small staff meeting the next morning before opening. She needed to discuss the future of the establishment with them and go over the changes she’d be making to the schedules and people’s roles and responsibilities. She wondered why Sam had been able to make it seem so effortless, but when she saw his trailer out of the office window she knew why. He didn’t have to pay for gas to get to and from work; he also had lower property taxes and maintenance on his home. As the Telepath gazed at the site she had a bright idea, one that would expand their customer base and increase profits. But it would cost money and it would also involve getting in touch with Sam’s family. She looked up Sam’s Mom’s number from the battered address book in the desk drawer.
When Sookie returned to the bar to find some trash bags, she noticed Jackie and Hoyt making moon eyes at each other in one of the booths. Lafayette had also noticed and quirked an eyebrow at Sookie as he nodded towards them.
“Loves young dream huh baby cakes?”
Sookie shrugged. “Holiday romance is more like it sugar tits.”
She winked at Lafayette as he high fived her. Suddenly, they stopped laughing as the most wonderful smell wafted into the bar. Sookie spun round and came face to face with a man of average height with mousy brown hair and a stern look on his face. But it was what was in his hand that she was more interested in.
“Can I help ye?”
The man tilted his head slightly and smiled at Sookie. “Hi, I’m Bobby Burnham. I’m looking for Sookie Stackhouse.”
“Well, ye’ve found her. What can I do for ye?”
“You can keep talking for one.” He laughed. “Do I detect a Glasgow twang?”
Sookie’s eyes twinkled as she smiled at him. “Aye, Merrylee. Are ye from Glasgow yersel?”
Bobby nodded. “Baillieston, but I lost my accent long ago. Oh! I have a delivery for you.”
He handed the heavenly scented box to Sookie and she inhaled deeply. “Mmmmm tablet. I’ve tried very hard to keep my accent, drives the guys’ wild.” She winked at him.
“Not just human guys, I’m employed by Eric Northman – he sent you that. Tablet, macaroons, coconut ice and Millionaire’s shortbread. It’s all on the card.”
Sookie opened the gift card that was taped to the top of the box and as she opened it, she dipped into Bobby’s mind.
Merrylee? Folks must be well-off. A Bar Manager to boot, seems like s decent hard working girl. I wonder why Mr. Northman is so interested in her.
Lafayette peeked over Sookie’s shoulder to read the card. “Sweets for the sweet? Oh girl, I knows he ain’t talkin’ bout you!”
Sookie and Lafayette laughed as she swatted him playfully and fluttered her eyelashes. “I’m sweet as can be.”
“Uh huh, an’ did you show some o’ that sweetness last night?”
“I most certainly did not. He’ll need to do better than sweeties to get my legs to magically open.”
Bobby cleared his throat again and held his hand out to Sookie. “It was nice meeting you Miss. Stackhouse. I’ve got other errands to run, so I have to go.”
“Thanks Bobby, it was good to meet you too. Lang may yer lum reek.”
Bobby laughed and clapped his hands. “Oh it’s been so long since I heard that. I’ll have to drop by another time just to hear you talk!”
“You do that Bobby.”
Sookie and Lafayette waited a respectable time after Bobby’s departure before tearing the box open and salivating over the sugary treats. Lafayette picked up a piece of tablet and licked it experimentally.
“Hell girl! That stuff is pure sugar!”
Sookie placed a piece in her mouth and moaned as it melted on her tongue. “Mmmm yep. Nothin’ but brown sugar, butter and vanilla.”
Lafayette shook his head and smiled. “No wonder y’all need free dental in the UK.”
Night fell and Jackie went out on a date with Hoyt, once again leaving Sookie bristling with jealousy and frustration. She mumbled under her breath about the vampire blood wearing off sooner rather than later. When there was a lull in customers, Sookie went back to her office and dialled Eric’s number.
“Stackhouse. Thanks for the sweets, a nice taste of home. It was very thoughtful of ye. What do ye want?”
Eric laughed deeply. “Well, last night you suggested being nice to you. So I’m being nice.”
“And that’s all?”
“Yes, that’s all. May I visit you? A … social call, I think it’s known as.”
Sookie sighed. She really wasn’t sure a social call from Eric would be a good thing. “I’m not sure about that, Eric. I don’t think spending quality time together is a good idea.”
“I find you interesting. I would like to know more about you. We’re going to be working together, after all. Wouldn’t it be better if we could do so without being at each other’s throats?”
The Telepath held the phone away from her ear and made a face at it, sticking her tongue out rudely. “Fine.” She sighed. “I’m workin’ til half one tonight and tomorrow night but Monday I finish at eight.”
“Fangtasia is closed on Mondays; I’ll come to your house at nine.”
Sookie was about to agree to the visit but found Eric had hung up the phone. She went back out to the bar to find it was busy with the people of Bon Temps singing and dancing … and drinking. The Telepath smiled and went behind the bar to help Lafayette.
Sookie slumped in the chair in her office. It had been a good night. It seemed every weekend the take went up and that meant she was doing the right thing. She locked up for the night and went back home, only to find that there weren’t any lights on. She frowned, Hoyt had assured her that he’d have Jackie back before she got home from Merlotte’s and Sookie had been sure they would have wanted to take advantage of an empty house at their disposal. Using her Telepathy, Sookie confirmed that no-one was home. Worried, scared and angry, she called Hoyt’s cell phone. When he didn’t pick up right away, her concerns grew. Just when she was going to hang up and call Jason to find out what he knew, the call was picked up.
“Hoyt? Where are ye?”
“He’s … indisposed right now.”
Sookie’s eyes widened as she heard the gruff voice that didn’t belong to Hoyt. “What have you done to him and where’s Jackie, the girl he was with?”
“They’re … safe, as in unharmed … for now. What’s it to you?”
“Jackie is my guest and Hoyt is my friend. Why do you have them?”
“All wolves know to check in with the local pack master before they can hunt.”
Sookie closed her eyes, this wasn’t good for anyone. “She’s not here to hunt, there isn’t a full moon for another ten days and she’ll be back home by then. There was no reason for her to check in. Which pack do ye represent?”
“I don’t think that’s any of your business sweetheart. They’ll be back before sunrise. Whether they’re in pieces or not depends on them.”
The call was disconnected before Sookie could ask further questions and when she tried calling again the cell was turned off. The Telepath slumped in a chair at the kitchen table and hated herself for what she was about to do. But her choices were limited and she needed help. Help of the supernatural kind.
“Twice in one night Sookie?”
“I need help Eric. My friends have been taken by a wolf pack and I need to find them.”
“Where were they taken from?”
“Uh … they went to the movies in Shreveport, so I’m guessing from there.”
“The only pack in the Shreveport area is the Longtooth pack. I have a contact there.”
“Eric … I really need to know where they are. Jackie will be gone before the next full moon, she won’t need to hunt. If anything happened to them … I couldn’t live with myself.”
“Meet me outside Fangtasia as soon as you can.”
Eric finished his call with Sookie and glamoured the girl he had fed from. Tonight he had ensured the blood tie with Sookie was firmly closed and had found the experience more satisfying. Sexually, he had been pleased with Briana but her blood tasted chalky and stale. He was thankful that he needed only a sip occasionally to keep his strength up but couldn’t help wondering why Briana’s blood was so substandard. He closed his eyes and remembered drinking from Sookie; hers was the most exquisite blood he’d had since he drained a full blooded fairy two hundred years ago. But with Sookie there was no frenzy or desire to drain her dry, she tasted good but not so good he couldn’t stop. The perfect combination. Shaking his head he dialled his Were contact with the Longtooth pack.
“Herveaux, who’s speaking?”
“Eric Northman. Alcide, do you happen to be in Shreveport right now?”
“Whatever job you want me to do can wait, we have very important pack business right now.”
“Important, as in terrorising the guest of my acquaintance and her date for the evening?”
“Shit … you know them?” Eric heard Alcide whisper to someone close by to stop what they were doing. “She didn’t check in with the local pack for hunting privileges.”
“I’m sure if she required to hunt while here she would have, but I understand she will be leaving the USA before the next full moon. Where are you?”
“At the compound where we keep all the heavy plant. Look, we’re just doing our duty.”
“No, you’re looking for trouble where there isn’t any and scaring a human unnecessarily. I will come for them.”
Without waiting for a reply, as usual, Eric ended the call and busied himself with residency applications until he could feel Sookie’s approach. He made sure the building was secure and waited by his car. Sookie stopped next to where Eric stood and wound down the window.
“Do ye know where they are?”
“Yes, you can follow me in your old lady car.”
Sookie frowned; she knew everyone would think it was an old lady car. Despite appearances; the Buick managed to keep up with Eric’s Corvette all the way to a fenced off lot. Sookie saw wrecking balls, cranes and diggers behind the sign that told them the lot belonged to Herveaux Construction. Eric pressed his hand on the horn of his car and revved the engine as the gates of the lot slowly opened. The Telepath cautiously followed the Vampire, feeling her heart rate pick up as her car was surrounded by the snarling minds of Were-Wolves. As soon as her car door was closed she rushed to stand next to Eric, she knew how to take care of herself but she wasn’t stupid enough to think they wouldn’t attack her if they thought she was without protection.
“I understand you have a couple of things that belong to my … friend here.”
Eric’s voice echoed against the machinery, making him sound more sinister than he already did. A tall Were with closely cropped silver grey hair stepped forward and crossed his arms, glaring at Sookie and Eric in equal measure.
“Wolves don’t belong to anyone but their pack, to even joke about one belonging to a human is insulting.”
“She’s my guest; therefore she’s been left in my care. The human with her is my friend. I want to see them.” Sookie walked a few steps and copied the Were’s stance.
There was growling in the group and Eric noticed a couple of the Wolves moving to flank Sookie. He moved to stand behind the Telepath and placed his hands on her shoulders. “And this one is under my care. An attack on her is an attack on me and the Vampires in my retinue.”
The Were’s leader looked shocked, Eric had shocked himself with the statement but didn’t let it show. He wondered what on earth it was about this woman that would make him threaten all out war between Vampires and Were-Wolves if she was harmed. Bolstered by Eric’s presence and words, Sookie raised her chin proudly.
“My name is Sookie Stackhouse, can I get yours?”
“Colonel John Flood, pack master. Your guest has broken one of the most basic rules …”
“Naw, she hasn’t. She won’t be here during the full moon, so she’s no reason to request hunting privileges. I informed whoever has Hoyt’s cell phone o’ that earlier tonight. I want to see them.”
Colonel Flood growled and his eyes glowed but when he heard Eric’s fangs pop into position he beckoned them forward. They were lead to a small clearing amongst the machinery, where Jackie and Hoyt were both gagged and bound to metal folding chairs. Sookie broke away from Eric and ran to Jackie, pulling the dirty rag from her mouth and embracing her before going to Hoyt and doing the same thing.
“You say she plans to return before the next run but where’s your proof?”
The Colonel stood tall next to Sookie, trying to intimidate her 5’6” frame with his much larger one. Sookie put her hands on her hips and narrowed her eyes at him before stalking back to her car and pulling a pile of documents from the passenger seat. She stomped back to the Pack Master and thrust the pile towards him. Flood read through the papers briefly before handing them back and smirking at Sookie.
“Sweetheart, she has a return ticket. That’s all. That’s your proof?” The Were’s that had congregated started to laugh. Sookie smiled sweetly and pointed to an unopened envelope that the Colonel hadn’t looked at. “What’s this? A note from her Mommy?”
“Actually, yes. Jackie’s mother is the Campsie Runners Beta female and Jackie is the pack Shaman there. I’m gonnae take a rough guess an’ say that the contents o’ that envelope willnae be a go ahead to kidnap and beat her daughter.”
Colonel Flood read the letter, which confirmed everything Sookie had just told him and turned to two young Wolves that stood behind him. “She belongs to a pack! Did you even ask if she belonged to a pack when you approached?”
Sookie frowned. “You thought she was a loner?”
Jackie was stamping her feet on the ground to get Sookie’s attention. When Sookie went to her, the Were-Witch tried to stretch out her hand, indicating that the Telepath should touch her. When Sookie placed a hand on Jackie’s knee, Jackie broadcast everything that happened that evening. After reading everything from her friend’s mind, Sookie gently touched her face and Jackie jerked back in an exaggerated move.
“Did they ask if she belonged to a pack before or after they broke her jaw? How many other Weres have been brought to you in this condition and punished when they couldn’t defend themselves?”
Colonel Flood simply looked at his pack, settling his gaze on the two Weres that had brought Jackie and Hoyt to them. “Take these two and hold them. Release the Shaman and the human.”
Sookie went to help the pack untie her friends and Eric watched. He felt very … redundant, he had come here expecting to negotiate for the release only to find Sookie had done everything on her own. The only help she needed from him was to get to where they were being held and gain audience. He knew she was a woman unaccustomed to having others speak for her, and for some reason he felt … proud that she associated herself with him. He wondered if Jackie’s jaw would heal before she returned to Glasgow, Were’s healed faster than humans but not as fast as Vampires. When Sookie and the Weres had placed Jackie and Hoyt in the back seat of the Buick, Eric made his way to the Telepath.
“Will your friend require healing?”
Sookie sighed and rubbed her hand on her forehead. “Yeah, we should take them to hospital. Hoyt will probably need checked over too.”
“Bring them to Fangtasia, I will organise something.”
The Telepath was unsure of what Eric would organise but agreed to go. She didn’t want Hoyt to remember any of the evening’s horrors and she would need Eric or another vampire to facilitate that. While she hated that she was so dependent on Eric for this situation, she completely failed to see how her actions were viewed by the Vampire. While he drove back to Fangtasia, he sent texts to Pam and Thalia.
Sookie got to Fangtasia and frowned at the black van sitting in the parking lot. One thing she knew was that black vans always had something to hide. She got out of the car and as she was about to try and get Hoyt onto his feet, Eric was by her side.
“Let me. I can carry both of them.”
Sookie nodded slowly but stayed silent. She watched as Eric gently laid Hoyt across one shoulder and Jackie over the other and followed him into his office where he deposited both of them on the sofa. The Telepath looked around, they were the only ones in the room, she dropped her shields and counted three Vampires in the direction of the main bar. Eric gestured for her to follow him and she walked in to find Pam and two vampires she didn’t recognise.
“Eric, this is highly unusual. I don’t like it.” The Vampire with black curly hair snarled at Sookie. She was tiny but Sookie could feel power rolling from her.
“It’s unusual, Thalia, but this thief is scheduled to meet final death. Before we dispatch him, we can do some good.”
Sookie was concerned that Eric was about to break some kind of vampire code. “Umm … are ye sure about this Eric? I’ll take them to the hospital, it’s no bother.”
Pam clapped her hands and smiled. “There, see? Sookie will take them for medical attention and we can forget this ever happened.”
“No. This will go on the ever increasing tab that the Weres have with me, they did the damage and I provide the healing.”
With a glance at Sookie, she knew he was also telling her that her debt was also racking up. He stood in front of the bloodied vampire who was chained in silver. Sookie realised he was the bartender from Friday night.
“Longshadow, you’ve stolen $60,000 from me. Did you think it would go unnoticed?” Longshadow grunted. “It has been documented that you have stolen from your employer and Sherriff and used your glamour to attempt to hide your crime. As you know, it is against the law that the humans have imposed on us to use glamour in these types of incidence.”
Pam and Thalia smirked at each other. The human authorities had made a puny law to prevent them using the most basic of vampire talents, although they never thought they would see a time where it backfired. It was unheard of that a Vampire, and a Sherriff at that, would basically snitch on one of his own kind for doing something that came so naturally.
“For these crimes I, Eric Northman, Sherriff of Area Five Louisiana, pass the sentence of final death. You cannot be trusted to work or exist among Vampires or humans.”
Eric nodded to Pam and she handed him a penknife and a bowl, he slashed at Longshadow’s arm and squeezed the sluggish blood from his veins. When the bowl was full, he put it aside and held his hand out to Thalia. She passed him a stake and a mallet. Sookie watched as he hammered the stake into Longshadow’s chest and the Vampire slowly reduced to a scorch mark on the chair. Eric picked up the bowl and handed it to Sookie.
“Take this to your friends. Longshadow was old, they won’t need much.”
The Telepath nodded and accepted the bowl, careful not to spill any as she walked back to the office. Jackie and Hoyt were propped up against each arm; both were awake but obviously in pain. She went to Hoyt first, putting the bowl to his lips and asking him to drink. He opened his mouth, looking in Sookie’s eyes as he sipped at the blood. Sookie nodded and stroked the top of his head as he drank; Hoyt knew that Sookie would never do anything to hurt him. When he had had enough, Sookie pulled the bowl away and went to Jackie. She looked into the Were-Witch’s eyes and nodded, Jackie needed no reassurance. She knew that it was vampire blood and her hearing was advanced enough to have caught on to what happened in the other room. Soon the bowl was empty and Eric returned to his office.
“How much do I owe ye?” Sookie placed the bowl on Eric’s desk and turned to face him.
“Taking you to the site was my payment to you for your reading of Ginger on Friday. Arranging the healing will be used instead of financial recompense for your next reading.”
Sookie winced. “And asking you to glamour Hoyt into forgetting everything that happened tonight?”
Eric’s mouth twitched into a smirk. “Oh, I’m sure we can come up with something.”
The Telepath narrowed her eyes at the Vampire and crossed her arms over her chest. “Just like you, I don’t like bein’ in debt. What do ye want; another free readin’? That would mean I’m clear in two months.”
“Why don’t we get your friends home and discuss this at another time?”
Sookie huffed and checked on Hoyt and Jackie before fishing her car keys from her pocket. “If ye don’t give me a price by 10pm tomorrow night, the slate is clean. You know how to contact me.”
Eric watched as she left his office with her friends, he was stunned at her audacity. When his mind turned to all of the ways Sookie could make up her debt to him, he grinned. If she wanted to play hard ball that was just fine with him … he just hoped she could handle the return throws.