Deid til its daurk
Summary: Inspired by the Home Sweet Home contest but NOT an entry. After her parents die, Sookie is sent to live with friends of her Gran in Glasgow, Scotland. As soon as she hits 18, she returns to the quiet life of Bon Temps to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. But Glasgow isn’t a place where Southern Belles are bred, the women there are hard and loud and sympathy for strangers is rare.
Disclaimer: Charlaine owns all characters, thank you to her for letting me play in her sandbox.
A/N: Due to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, a timeline was established for the books making Sookie’s birth date 1st July 1978. In DUD it’s mentioned that Sookie’s Aunt Linda died when she was 23 and (In OWA) that Hadley disappeared two years before that (when Sookie was 21). Vampires came out of the coffin in 2002. So, although I’ve taken some liberties with the months noted in this, the years where things happen should be in line with canon.
February 1986 – Sookie age 7
Sookie Stackhouse was a damaged little girl. Her hair was a blonde, her eyes were blue and she had all of the energy you would expect a seven year old to have. But there was always the hint of a frown on her face and she was painfully shy. When her Gran took her on the plane to Scotland, it was a nightmare for her. Sookie wasn’t damaged in any physical way, or even mentally. In fact, she was an extremely smart little girl. Some would say she knew too much but then, a telepath would. Wouldn’t they?
Adele Stackhouse spent almost 20 hours on aeroplanes and in airports with her traumatised granddaughter. The poor mite had only lost her parents two weeks beforehand and now here she was, being dragged through some of the busiest terminals in the world on her way to her new home. Her mind was assaulted by the wandering thoughts of others as she was taken from her brother and thrown into a strange city. It didn’t matter how many times her Gran told her that the people she was going to live with were nice. It didn’t matter how many times she was told that they were the best people to deal with her ‘condition’. All that mattered to Sookie was that she didn’t have a Mommy, or a Daddy, or her brother Jason and now her Gran was giving her away to strangers.
Jim and Betty Paterson almost cried when they saw Adele carry that little girl through the arrivals lounge. Betty and Adele had been pen pals since the 70’s, they begun writing to each other through a church activity. When Sookie was 3 or 4 years old, Adele had written to Betty explaining the problems her youngest grandchild was having. Betty had shocked Adele by describing how she had had the very same issues as a child. Betty was also a telepath; which is why Adele thought it would be best for Sookie to go and live in Scotland, to be brought up by someone who had gone through what she was going through.
Sookie didn’t see it quite like that.
August 1990 – Sookie age 12
Sookie hung up the phone after her one of her bi-weekly chats with her Gran and entered the ‘quiet’ room. She had learned so much since coming to live with Jim and Betty; she tried not to think of everything at once so she wouldn’t become overwhelmed. The quiet room was one of the first things that she learned about from Betty and Jim. At first, Sookie didn’t question why it was quiet. She was just glad it was. It was a haven from the thoughts around her, a place to centre herself and calm her. It wasn’t specially decorated. It didn’t need a special key. In fact, unless you were a telepath, it seemed no different from any other lounge in any other house.
Betty was waiting for Sookie on the couch, knitting something small and pink. Sookie guessed that Jim’s daughter, Catriona, had had her baby. Her first few months of living with the Patersons were quite confusing, but Betty was happy to answer when she asked questions about Jim. Why couldn’t she hear him as clearly as others? Why didn’t he live with his children? Why did he have to take trips to the Campsie Fells every month? Sookie had been 8 years old when she first witnessed Jim’s pack shifting in the hills north of Glasgow.
Sookie flopped onto the couch next to Betty and waited until she’d laid her knitting aside before she settled her head on the older woman’s lap.
“Hard day at school?” Betty closed her eyes and placed a cool hand on Sookie’s forehead.
“There’s so many people there. The headaches are gettin’ worse.” Sookie sat up and rubbed at her eyes.
Betty sighed. “When I was wee, school wasn’t geared up to educate girls. We got arithmetic and housewifery and that was about it. I didn’t have to worry about learning new languages or understanding the works of Shakespeare or what the square on the hypotenuse was. There’s a teacher in the pack, we’ve asked if he’ll tutor you.”
“For a price.” Betty patted Sookie’s hand. “But don’t you concern yerself wi’ that chookie! Everything in this world comes for a price.”
Sookie instinctively knew that Betty wasn’t talking about the human world; she was talking about the Supernatural world. “Betty … before, when I asked why I couldn’t hear anyone in here, you said the room was spelled. Can we talk about that tonight? I’m really no up to trying to block ye.”
Betty nodded. “Witches, to put it plainly. A ward’s been put on the room, nothing – no thoughts, sounds or even smells, can get in or out. No-one can come in without an invite from me or Jim.”
Sookie sat eyes wide with interest as she learned of Betty’s witch friend. Every night in the Paterson house, there was a different tale to be told. And all of them were true, no matter how fanciful they sounded.
August 1994 – Sookie age 16
Betty sat in the quiet room, her knee bobbing up and down with dread and trepidation. Sookie was due home from her part time job in the local paper shop. She had been ecstatic when Mr. Gillespie offered her a promotion of sorts when she turned 16 at the beginning of the summer holidays. It was a heavy job, stacking shelves and tidying the stock room but Sookie was always the type of person who preferred a physical job to a mental one, that’s why her paper round had suited her. Betty ran her fingers along the edge of the envelope; the ‘Scottish Qualifications Authority’ stamp was highly visible in the top left corner of the brown card.
Like every other teenager who had completed their 4th year at secondary school, Sookie had received her Standard grade exam results. Betty had a feeling that they would be less than glowing. Despite the tutoring for her education and Betty’s efforts to strengthen her telepathy (and by extension her ability to block people), Sookie had no interest in academic pursuits. Like so many other guardians and parents, Betty and Jim wondered where they had gone wrong. Sookie was a hard worker, but respect for her elders and authority came grudgingly. Although the teenager didn’t seem to have as much of an attitude as some of the kids she hung around with, it was clear that Sookie had gotten in with a bad crowd. Betty knew Sookie only really had Anne, but Anne was a popular girl. Especially with the boys. Sookie’s best friend may have been the daughter of a witch, but she was also bad news and had far too much influence over Sookie’s actions since they met at Shawlands Academy.
Sookie placed her key in the lock, reaching out with her mind, trying to determine what kind of mood she was coming home to. Her best friend, Anne, had come into the shop to tell her that her exam results came through that morning. Sookie was hoping the postman had somehow mislaid her own results, Jim and Betty (not to mention her Gran) would be highly disappointed. It wasn’t because Sookie was dim but she just didn’t try. Going to one of the largest secondary schools in the south side of Glasgow had shown her she’d never have a normal life. So why try? Why knock her pan in getting great results when she’d never use them further? Why try to make friends when all they wanted to do was use you? Why try to attract a boyfriend when every time a boy touched you, you heard all his dirty fantasies or how he thought your thighs were too big? Sookie knew the only reason Anne was her friend was so Sookie could ‘read’ potential boyfriends for her but it was better than being alone.
All Sookie wanted to do was live her life with as little attention as possible. She saw how Jim’s pack treated Betty. Every now and again, Betty would have to go and do a job for them. The last time, she’d acted as shaman for the pack; it took Betty days to recover. And in return she got nothing. Well, that wasn’t entirely true; she got favours which she banked. She never used them, but she could have used some money for her trouble. Sookie saw the way the pack master looked at her, like she was the next generation. Sookie had no intention of letting them use her like that. So she planned to get a job. She’d save all of her money and go back, back to her Gran, back to the small town that she barely remembered. Sookie would go back to Bon Temps where, hopefully, no-one would remember her.
When she entered the house, she couldn’t sense anyone. Entering the quiet room, she spotted Betty and the ominous brown envelope in her hands. Sookie took it from Betty and ripped it open, pulling the glossy ivory certificate out and thrusting it towards the woman who had tried to be the best Mother-figure she could. Betty read the results on the paper and sighed.
“It’s no as bad as it could’ve been Sookie. You got 3’s and 4’s. I know ye think this is useless, but ye never know when ye might want to go back to education. There are loads of college courses ye can do, if ye like, when yer older.”
“Betty. Ah’m no stayin’ here. Ah want tae go back tae mah Gran.” Betty sat back down, shocked and proud at the same time. Shocked because nothing could have prepared her for the statement but proud that Sookie was making a decision for herself.
January 1997 – Sookie age 18
Sookie walked through the arrivals lounge, wheeling her suitcase behind her. Looking like any other confident young woman going on an adventure. Adele spotted her and marvelled at how the pictures Betty had sent hadn’t done her Granddaughter justice at all. Sookie noticed the old woman waving and waved back, picking up her pace to greet her Grandmother happily.
“Oh, Gran! I’m so glad I’m home at last!” Although Adele had gotten used to Sookie’s harsh accent over the phone, it just seemed odd to hear it in the heart of Louisiana.
Adele smiled into Sookie’s hair as they hugged tightly. “I’m glad you’re home too. It’s been hard seein’ you grow up through photos.”
“It’s been hard for me too. But I know why ye sent me there an’ I appreciate it. Betty helped me a lot an’ after bein’ in a city o’ 600,000 people, I’m sure Bon Temps’ll be a breeze!”
Adele and Sookie walked arm in arm towards Adele’s car, ready for the last leg of Sookie’s trip, the long drive back from New Orleans. They stopped at a payphone in the airport to call Adele’s daughter, Sookie’s Aunt Linda, to let her know that they were starting their journey north and then they were on their way.
Adele was wound tight as she dialled Betty’s number. It rang. She wanted to know what had happened to Sookie in Scotland. Ring ring. Adele had handed over the sweetest little girl and what was sent back to her? Ring ring. A foul mouthed woman with the propensity for violence! Ring ring. And the stories Sookie told had kept Adele up at night! Ring ring. Betty taking her to see a pack of shifters run in the wild. Ring ring. How Sookie had hung around in a graveyard with the shifter kids because there was nothing else to do. Ring ring.
Adele hung up, angry that Betty or Jim hadn’t been at home to take her call. She knew that Sookie had had problems at school and that Betty wasn’t happy about the other girl she hung around with but if Adele knew that … this … is what would have come back to Bon Temps, she would never have sent her. In Adele’s opinion, Sookie was marginally better than Hadley; she held down a job and seemed to have concern for her family at least. But Hadley never got into any fights, especially with men!
September 1999 – Sookie age 21
Sookie swayed and dodged the full tables at Merlottes, a tray balanced on each hand and her mental shields wavering at the drunken shouting going on at the TV screen. Just as she was placing a tray on a table, she felt a hand grab at her behind. Snarling, she turned around and punched a young man in the face, bursting his nose and shocking his friends at the same table.
“Dinnae touch whit ye cannae afford ya dobber!” The same line she used in school remained more than effective in Louisiana, mostly due to the hard Glaswegian accent she exaggerated for occasions such as these.
Sam was at her side immediately; Jason sauntered up to the table with interest but knew that Sookie could take care of herself better than some of the guys in the bar. Seeing that the offending party was bleeding rather heavily, rather than throw them out Sam simply suggested that he might want to see a doctor. The group of men, most likely college students, left the bar without argument and Sam asked Sookie to come back to his office.
Sam sighed and ran his hands through his shaggy red and gold hair. “Chere, you gotta stop just hitting those guys. Give them a little slap by all means but … leave it to me to get them out okay?”
Sookie narrowed her eyes and nodded reluctantly. She didn’t like the idea of Sam coming to her rescue, but she knew him well enough that he wasn’t insinuating she needed help taking care of things. He was just sick of Bud Dearbourne asking him about alleged assaults in the bar.
“You really did a number on that guy and saying he touched you first is getting real old with the Sherriff’s department. Do you want your Gran to have to come and bail you out again?”
Sookie looked at her feet and huffed. “No. I’ll try to keep a cool head next time, I promise.”
Sam smiled; he preferred Sookie’s calm voice. It was still far from Southern, but over the last couple of years the clipped Scottish lilt she had had turned into something softer and incredibly interesting. He had no doubts that this was one of the attractions for her customers; Bon Temps seemed to swarm on anything new as soon as it hit the city limits. Sookie opened the door to leave but turned back as the phone rang. Sam answered, frowned and held the phone out for Sookie.
“Sookie, have you heard from Hadley recently?”
“Umm … not since she asked you for the rehab funds.”
“Linda is beside herself. She hasn’t seen her for six months and it was three months ago since she called home. She’s already called all her friends and checked the places she usually hangs out but …”
“Gran, Hadley isn’t a little girl. She’s 24, if she wants to run off then it’s her business. It’s just like her to be a selfish cow and not bother telling anyone where she’s going!”
“I know, I know. If you see her or hear anything, could you let Linda know?”
“Sure Gran. I’ll do that. I’ll be home in a few hours okay?”
Sookie handed the phone back to Sam and went back to work. It was four days later when one of Hadley’s old friends came in, and even though she didn’t say where Hadley was, Sookie heard that her cousin was in New Orleans to try and make money from her charms. It didn’t bother Sookie; she’d walked or had driven through Anderston (One of Glasgow’s red light districts) and saw the wretched souls that stood on the corners. If Hadley wanted to do that to herself, maybe Aunt Linda was better off not knowing where she was.
April 2002 – Sookie age 23
Sookie watched everyone in Merlottes as they gossiped about the latest news. It may have been news to them, but for Sookie, vampires informing the world they existed wasn’t a surprise to her at all. Jim and Betty had schooled her in those things and after finally getting her boss to admit he was a shifter of some sort, she was glad she had knowledge of that world. The TV was blaring and some cheery interviewer was talking to some Goths about the revelation. Sookie snorted internally, remembering her cousin. If Hadley was anywhere, Sookie would place money on a Vampire bar or some other establishment where the humans filed their teeth into points.
Since returning to Bon Temps, Sookie had found the lower population made her telepathy much easier to control. Sure, there were still some of the older ones (and her family of course) that knew she wasn’t ‘right’. There were whispers of her being some kind of psychic but her reputation for flying off the handle and either balling someone out or plain smacking them into next week was what got her the ‘Crazy Sookie’ moniker. She didn’t mind so much. She’d prefer people called her nuts because she told her Uncle Bartlett to fuck off at her Aunt Linda’s funeral than suspecting she had ‘extra’ abilities.
Sam smirked at her behind Arlene’s back and Sookie gave him a wink in return. She was pretty sure that while the town gossiped into the wee hours, she could find something fun to do with him. They’d fallen into bed when Sookie found out her Aunt had passed from cancer, she needed a friend and Sam took it a step further. When they woke up the next morning Sookie was regretful. Not because she didn’t like what they had done, or that she didn’t like Sam in that way. But Sam wanted even more, a relationship. Sookie balked at that. She was only 23 and even though she’d mostly grown up on a different continent, there was more world for her to see before she settled down. So Sam took what Sookie could offer him, a bed mate when the loneliness got too much for both of them. As a result, Sam now knew exactly what Sookie was and trusted her when she told him that the town had no idea what they got up to together.
June 2004 – Sookie age 25
Sookie slammed the beer jug on the counter. “Refill for the road crew, Sam.”
Sam glared at her as he grabbed the jug and started filling it up. Things had been strained between them since that afternoon. Sam had, once again, brought up making their ‘relationship’ a little more official and once again, Sookie had told him she had no interest in the long term. She was tired, pissed off and feeling hateful towards most of the male gender when the door to the bar opened. Sookie cursed under her breath, she knew that glow anywhere. Merlottes was in the presence of its first vampire. He was around 5’10 with brown hair and possibly brown eyes, but Sookie wasn’t too keen to get close enough to find out.
She had been hanging out with some of the Were-kids in the cemetery one night when they witnessed a vampire rising. It was awful. The elder vampire, the maker, had dragged some poor hypnotised girl out there and when her child dug himself up out of the dirt he was on her like flies on shit. The maker grabbed the girl and told her to stop screaming, and she did, but her eyes cried for help. And wouldn’t you know it, this vampire sat right in Sookie’s section. She puffed out her cheeks and tightened her ponytail. Her argument with was Sam forgotten for that moment, he laid a hand on hers, his eyes were concerned but Sookie smiled and nodded to him. Sookie walked over to the table and stood a few feet away, not that an arm’s length meant much to a vampire.
“Hiya, I’m Sookie. What can I get for you?”
The vampire looked uncomfortable for a moment before he spoke. “Do you have any of those bottled synthetic bloods?”
“No. We haven’t had any vampires come in here and the stuff we got went bad.” Sookie took a step back and leaned against the back of an empty chair. This vampire may have been asking for synthetic, but the fact he didn’t ask for a brand like Trueblood made Sookie wary. She didn’t want to give him any indication that he would be welcome to her own blood.
“Well, I’ll have a glass of red wine then.”
Sookie laughed at that request but cut her giggles short when she saw the look the vampire was giving her. “Sure thing.”
Sam was already pulling a glass out from under the bar as she approached. Shifter hearing might not be as good as vampire hearing, but it was still an upgrade on human. Mack Rattray leaned over from the booth next to the vampire.
“Don’t mind Sookie Mister, she’s crazy!”
She glared at Mack and his smug smile. He was in Merlottes every night with his wife, Denise. They had come to Bon Temps unexpectedly and Sookie hoped that they would leave the same way … soon. Denise didn’t like that Sookie wasn’t intimidated by her and as such, tried to annoy Sookie as much as possible. Her husband aided her as much as he could in her quest to goad the waitress into a real fight. Sookie always referred to the couple as ‘The Rats’ and hoped something bad happened to that beaten up old trailer they lived in down at four corners … preferably while they were inside. Due to her ability, Sookie knew more about the Rats than anyone else in Bon Temps. She knew they had both been in prison, although she didn’t know what for. She knew that Denise had abandoned a baby that wasn’t Mack’s two years ago. She also knew Mack fantasised about her, she didn’t want to know that but such was the life of a telepath.
Sookie put the full glass on her tray and walked over to the vampire. Setting down a napkin and placing the drink on top.
“Here ye go. Enjoy!” She bit her lip to keep her from sniggering. Sam shook his head at her and smiled.
The next hour or so passed just as any normal night would. It was a Saturday, so it was busy. Jason came into the bar; scoping for a date for the evening but making sure he paid some attention to his sister beforehand. Sookie noticed that, at some point, the Rats had moved to sit at the same table as the vampire. Denise was tossing her hair around and stroking her neck, Mack was watching the vampire’s reactions avidly. Sookie took a peek inside Mack’s head only to find that the reason they’d been in jail was for vampire draining. She sighed internally; it made sense when she watched their interactions with the visitor. Vampire blood, known as V, was one of the most sought after drugs since the vamps had went public. It was like LSD and Viagra mixed together according to the papers and Mack and Denise had a queue of customers waiting for their next high. Not only that, but they were addicts themselves.
While Sookie was aware that vampires who were drained took a long time to recover, and that’s if they lived long enough to make a recovery, she didn’t have a lot of sympathy for them. In her opinion, the vampires got themselves in that position. There were plenty of donors that could be found, Sookie and Sam had even saw advertisements for website where a vampire could order a donor to be sent to their home within an hour. But some vampires, well if they picked up people to feed from in strange bars then they reaped what they sowed. Sookie compared it to a human getting food from a greasy stall when they could drive 20 minutes further and eat in a clean restaurant – when they got food poisoning it was their own fault.
When she saw the vampire get up from the booth and follow the Rats, she leaned on the end of the bar and looked at them. Mack stared at her, daring her to say something. So she did.
“Have a nice trip.” She snorted and turned around, walking back to her section of tables. When she looked back at the door, the vampire paused and glanced at her before following the Rats outside.
Sookie signalled to Sam that she wanted to speak privately by pointing to his office. Neither of them spoke until they were inside the room and the door was firmly closed behind them.
“Sam, what happens to vampires when they die? I mean, do they leave a body or …”
“They burn, I think. I remember talking to someone who seen it. They said that they turned to ash and all that was left was a scorch mark on the floor.”
Sookie nodded. “You should probably check the car park tomorrow morning then, you might need to hose it down.”
Sam frowned for a second before realisation dawned on him. “Are the Rats gonna do something to that vamp?”
Sookie nodded then shrugged. “They’ve been inside for vamp draining before. It’s no so much as jumpin’ tae a conclusion, I just kinda bumped against it. If they drain him it’s his own stupid fault.”
Sam chuckled. “Natural selection huh?” Sookie nodded. “Well, I don’t have a lot of love for vamps but I sure as hell don’t want my bar being the last place he was seen alive … or undead … or whatever. Vamps look after their own, and disappearances get investigated sometimes.”
Sookie snorted. “Hey man, if you want tae go oot there, have at it. I’ve got tables to see tae.”
The waitress walked back out to the bar area. She was worried about and pissed off at Sam at the same time. She had been drawn to him because he was harder to read and she eventually managed to get rid of that pesky virginity but she also liked that he wasn’t part of a pack and the politics that came along with it. But tonight she realised that he was a bigger part of the supernatural world than he had let on. Sookie knew he had been hiding things from her; she caught flashes of guilt from him from time to time. He knew too much for a loner and that concerned her.
But Sookie also knew he was kind hearted and loyal. That was why he never pushed her to go public with their dalliances. She cast her eyes back to the small corridor, seeing the back door close over as Sam went to see what was going on outside. Sookie sighed to herself and went to find her brother; a hungry vampire was a dangerous vampire. And she wasn’t going to take any chances.
Sam had deliberated in his office for too long after talking to Sookie; he found the still body of the vampire on the ground by the trees at the edge of the parking lot. The Rattray’s were nowhere to be seen but the vampire still had the thin silver chains across his ankles and neck.
“Well, ain’t you in a pickle?” Sam pulled a cell phone from his pocket along with a small fake leather bound address book. “This is one number I never thought I’d need to use.”
He made the mistake of sitting down and turning his back on the vampire. Before he could even think of what to shift into, the vampire was ripping at his neck and guzzling his blood. On the ground beside them the light from the cell phone cast a strange glow on Sam Merlotte’s gruesome death.
“Hello, Fangtasia, where our bite is worse than our bark … hello … get Eric he needs to hear this.”
Sookie and Jason crept out of the back door of the bar. Spotting a fallen branch, Sookie picked it up. It was about the size of a chair leg, which wasn’t much but she saw Jason flip open the back of his truck and pull out a length of chain. She felt a little better when she saw that. Jason heard grunting and pointed in the direction it was coming from. The Stackhouse duo tip toed around the few cars, using them for cover until they were at the closest car to where the noise was coming from.
Sookie spotted the back of the vampire and saw he was feeding on someone. Her head refused to believe … until she spotted those worn cowboy boots. She heard Jason’s sharp intake of breath and slapped a hand over his mouth, pointing at the vampire with her stick and making a lasso motion. Jason nodded and stood up. He swung the chain around his head a few times and almost lost his nerve when the vampire turned around. Almost. He threw the chain and it wrapped itself around the vampire’s neck, Jason pulled and dragged the vampire onto his back.
Seeing the condition Sam was in made Sookie’s vision cloud with red rage. The vampire was still on the ground and she took her chance. Running forward and stabbing the piece of branch into his chest as hard as she could, yelling like a banshee during her attack. Jason dropped the chain and ran over to assist his sister, holding down the vampires arms as Sookie started stamping on the stick.
“Die ya fuckin’ vamp bastard!” She screamed but it was already done.
Jason grabbed Sookie under the armpits and dragged her away as the vampire’s body collapsed in on itself, turning to ash. Sookie shrugged out of Jason’s grip and ran over to Sam, pulling his limp body to her chest and wailing in grief.
Bud Dearbourne shook his head at the sight before him. He was a tolerant man, for his generation and upbringing. But this … this made him hate vampires. The grizzled Sherriff removed his hat as the body bag was loaded into the coroners van and nodded at Mike Spencer. After checking with Andy Bellefleur that the bar patrons had been ushered away from the vicinity and someone had locked up the building, he went back to the patrol car. Sookie was crying into her brother’s t-shirt in the back seat. Bud hated having to question them when they were so upset, but it was vital to get the information while it was fresh.
“Sookie, Jason, we’re gonna go down to the station so you can give your statements okay?”
Jason looked at his sister and nodded. It was going to be a long night for everyone.
Sookie was woken by her Grandmother in the early afternoon. Adele had been more than shocked at the information Bud had given her when he dropped Sookie back at the house at 5am. Being saddened by the news herself, Adele done what she did best. She cooked. But eventually she got sick of staring at all the food that wasn’t being devoured and decided to try and coax Sookie into eating something. She watched as her Granddaughter picked at some of the dishes littering the family dining table.
“Sookie, I know you … found Sam and … dealt with the vampire that attacked him but you seem so lost. Is there something you’re not telling me?”
Sookie dropped her fork into the pie pan and sniffed. “Sam and I are … were … lovers. We kept it quiet because I didn’t want the whole toon plannin’ a wedding when I still had things I wanted to do.” The telepath’s face contorted in grief. “I’m such a selfish cow!”
Adele was stunned by the revelation but immediately went to Sookie’s side to comfort her. “Shh it’s alright. You didn’t know sweetheart. You thought you had forever.”
It took a long time for Sookie to calm down, finally when she had; Adele took a deep breath and broached the next subject.
“Sid Matt Lancaster was on the phone.” Sid Matt was the most affordable lawyer in Bon Temps. “He’s been in touch with Sam’s family in Texas and they’ve asked if you could take the reins at Merlottes until things get hashed out with the will.”
The newly crowned acting manager nodded. “Okay, I can do that. It’s what Sam would want right? His business to continue and thrive?” Adele had been stroking Sookie’s hair but was almost knocked off balance on the sofa with the speed Sookie used to stand up. “There’s no-one there! The food, Gran! All the food will have been left out, the place’ll stink!”
Sookie pulled on some sweats and ran outside. Fortunately, some kind soul had brought her car home for her. Her purse and keys were waiting for her behind the unlocked driver’s door. It didn’t take long to drive the four miles to the bar, Sookie was glad she not only had a key to Sam’s trailer but keys for the bar too. She unlocked the front door and went inside. She could smell that some shrimp had been left out over night as soon as she walked in.
It was so quiet in the bar. Sookie had been inside before opening and after closing before but this was a different kind of quiet. She dumped her purse on the end of the bar and went in search of some garbage bags. Her first stop was the kitchen; any food that had been left out was thrown in the bag. Including the shrimp. She filled the sink with hot soapy water and started washing everything down methodically. As if cleaning Merlottes would make the pain of losing Sam in such a violent way lessen.
She stayed there for hours, scrubbing, mopping and buffing until the whole bar was spotless. She even cleaned Sam’s office. It was dark when she looked out of the window, she could see the full moon disappear behind a cloud and her heart broke all over again. Sookie was tempted to pour a glass of Jim Beam, Sam’s drink, and drown her sorrows but the thought of dirtying a glass after all that hard work seemed illogical to her.
“Fuck logic.” She sniffled and unscrewed the lid, drinking straight from the bottle.
The room took on a different perspective after a while and Sookie had to sit down for a spell. She replaced the lid on the bottle and tentatively put it on the bar before sliding it across the polished wood so it became out of her reach unless she stretched. The roaring in her ears made her wonder how such little alcohol could have such an effect, but it stopped all of a sudden. In her haze she eventually realised that it had been a car she had heard. Heavy footsteps sounded outside the door and Sookie turned in the bar stool ready to find out who was intruding on her reflective time. The door opened and a very large man with long blonde hair walked in.
“We’re closed. We’ll open back up tomorra mornin’ at ten.”
“I’m looking for Sam Merlotte.”
“He’s deid.” Sookie slipped off the stool and reached for the bottle again. “He wis murdered, last night, by a vampire.”
She looked at the visitor closely, for the first time, and she noticed that tell tale glow. She curled her lip in disgust, which seemed to amuse that particular vampire.
“My condolences.” Sookie snorted at that. “Was the vampire who committed the crime local? A regular at the bar perhaps? Were the authorities able to apprehend him?”
“Naw, naw an naw. Last night wis the first time he walked in tae the bar an I killed him maself when I saw he wis drainin’ Sam.”
The visitor raised an eyebrow. “And you are?”
“Sookie Stackhouse. Dae ah get your name?”
“Eric. I go by Eric Northman, these days.” He smiled at her, it wasn’t a welcome gesture.
“Well, Eric Northman, Ah suggest you stay far away from this bar. Vampires will certainly no be welcome here … no after whit happened tae Sam.”
Eric nodded. “One last question, if I may?” Sookie gestured for him to get on with it. “You didn’t happen to catch the vampires name at all?”
“Don’t know, don’t care.”
“Of course. Well, I will leave you to … your drinking.”
Sookie nodded and heard another car drive up. As Eric was leaving, her brother barrelled through the door, calling her name. His thoughts hit her like a freight train and she dropped the bottle, holding her hand to her head. Her shields had been down the whole time and she hadn’t heard a peep out of Eric’s head. That gave her even more to think about.
Three weeks later
Sookie was drying some glasses behind the bar when she heard the door open. She turned to smile at her customer but her expression soon turned to a frown. The vampire in front of her was young when he was turned, probably around 16, but his eyes told her that he was ancient. His baby blonde hair was cut close to his head and his watery blue eyes took in every detail of the room. Sookie cleared her throat to get his attention, leaning across the bar so she didn’t have to speak very loud. When the vampire walked over he placed both hands on the bar, Sookie noticed he had gloves on. That annoyed her; she put silver plating on the handles so vampires would know that they weren’t welcome. She hoped that the combination of the handles and the big sticker telling patrons they didn’t stock Trueblood or donors would ward off any undead passersby.
“Can I help you?” Sookie kept her voice low, even if she recognised a vampire at first glance, she didn’t want any of the regulars attention being drawn.
“Yes, I’m looking for someone. A vampire.” He pulled a photograph from his pocket and showed it to Sookie. “His name is Bill Compton, he was moving back to this town … his ancestral home, to mainstream and work in peace.”
Sookie plucked the picture out of his hand and blinked back the stinging in her eyes. “He’s finally dead.”
The visitor eyes widened and his voice lost its inquisitive tone in favour of a harsh snarl. “How and why?”
“He was staked as he attacked and killed the owner of this bar.” Sookie met the vampire’s gaze without flinching.
“I see. May I speak with you privately?” The vampire put his polite voice on again. “I have some questions.”
Sookie shrugged and called Terry over to the bar so she could go back to the office. “Come with me.”
As they walked down the corridor, Sookie became uncomfortable with the vampire’s proximity. She could hear him inhale, which struck her as odd considering vampires don’t breathe. She opened the door to her office and gestured for the visitor to enter. When she turned around from closing the door she found him lounging in the chair behind the desk. Even though she had been left the bar in Sam’s will, and technically it was her chair, it would always belong to Sam.
“So what kind of questions do ye have?”
“You are the manager here?” Sookie nodded. “Are you Sookie Stackhouse?”
She nodded again and then gasped as she was pushed against the door. The vampire had a firm grip on her neck, but not enough to bruise. She felt a pressure in her mind as she looked into the vampire’s eyes. Once again she remembered the poor hypnotised girl all those years ago. The pressure increased and Sookie wondered why he was trying to hypnotise her, in the end she realised that it might be a good idea to let him think it worked. She let her body relax and continued to stare into those watery pools.
“You will tell me the absolute truth.” Sookie nodded. “Are you a telepath?”
Her brow furrowed a little before she answered. In her mind, denial seemed like the best action at this point. Call it gut instinct or perhaps women’s intuition. “No.”
He snarled and let go of her neck. “Are you a psychic?”
“No.” Sookie was finding it hard to hide her fear now. She wanted to know why this vampire was here asking these questions. How did they know about her abilities?
“Are you related to Hadley Delahoussaye?”
“Y … yes.”
“Why would she tell my master that you had a gift?”
“I … I don’t know. She’s a drug addict. She doesn’t like me.”
It didn’t hurt Sookie, that her cousin hated her. Hadley had good reason to hate Sookie. Because of her ability, she was sent away but Hadley remained in Bon Temps and was subsequently abused by their Uncle Bartlett. That was the reason she took drugs too. It wasn’t rare and Hadley wouldn’t be the last soul to sink into oblivion due to child abuse.
“I see. You will have no memory of this conversation. We came into this office to discuss Bill Compton’s demise.”
Sookie nodded and moved out of the way. She couldn’t help but feel that she had dodged a very large and very dangerous bullet.