Chapter 17 – Big Me
“Its skanky, gross, disrespectful … plus it’s unhygienic!”
“Jase I’m a big girl and Eric is my … is my … uh …”
“Companion.” Eric strode forward towering over Jason. “Eric Northman, you must be my Sookie’s brother.”
“Yeah that’s kinda why I called her my baby Sister. What the hell is a companion anyhow?”
“It’s just a fancy way of him sayin’ I’m his girlfriend. Y’know how vampires can be Jase!”
Eric quirked an eyebrow and Jason lowered his gun. “Well, no. I don’t know how vampires can be, that’s your bag Sis, I never met me a vamp yet.”
Jason stuck out his hand and Eric just looked at it. I explained that vampires didn’t do the handshake thing and Jason scratched his head with the torch he was holding. “Well, if you’re done it’d be good for you to come back home and tell me what’s been goin’ on. Especially with your boyfriend here.”
“You go back Jase; we’ll drive round and see you in a minute.” Jason nodded and headed back through the graveyard and Eric and I got back in his car. “Well that was embarrassing.”
“Lover, we were taking part in a completely natural act. Just to clarify, being a companion is so much more than the casual romantic association of being boyfriend and girlfriend. Besides, I am so not a boy.”
“I know that Eric, I know it’s natural and healthy and … good. Very good. I also know the difference between being companions and dating, but Jason doesn’t. Girlfriend is the closest word I could think of to describe what I am to you so Jason could understand.”
Eric started the car at the same time Frank, Tom and Will returned, we watched them unload canisters of gasoline from the trunk, I guessed Bill was really serious about burning his family home to the ground. The drive back to Gran’s was short and we pulled up at the same time Jason was striding towards the porch. He waited at the door for us, holding it open with a serious look on his face.
“Eric, neither me nor Jason live here, will we be able to invite you in?”
“It’s a family home?” I nodded. “I should have no problems entering.”
“Okay, well, Eric would you please come inside.”
Jason went to the kitchen, probably for more beer, and I settled on the sofa with Eric, noting that the glass of tea I’d started earlier was still there. Eric was looking around the room with curiosity when Jason came back in and sat on the armchair closest to Eric, staring at him pointedly before turning his gaze to me.
“Is Gran safe?”
“Yes, the vamps are gone. I’m sure we’ll be able to piece everything together between talking to Bill and Lorena.” Jason’s shoulders relaxed with relief.
“So Eric … what are your intentions towards my sister?”
“Jason! Seriously! What century is this? You have no right to ask …” Eric held a hand up to let me know he wanted to answer my brother’s question. It seemed a little over the top to me but it was nice that Eric wanted to humour him.
“I intend to keep her safe from harm and satiate her appetites.”
“Uh … well just so you know – if you hurt her I’ll come after you myself.”
“I just told you I intend to keep her safe; no physical injury will be imparted upon her unless I am incapacitated somehow.”
I lightly touched Eric’s arm. “He doesn’t mean it like that Eric; he’s not talking about my … body being hurt but my heart.”
Jason nodded and took a swig of his drink. “You make her cry, I’ll stake you. You cheat on her, I’ll stake you. You try and make her do somethin’ she don’t wanna do, I’ll stake you. You get what I’m sayin’ Eric?” Anger flashed in Eric’s eyes and I squeezed his arm and offered a strained smile at him.
“Sookie has already imparted her conditions and I will respect them.” Eric took my hand and smiled at me. “Besides I have become quite … attached to Sookie, I am aware of what human women want and would not knowingly do anything to derail any progress I have made.”
I didn’t have to read Jason’s mind to tell he was a little confused. “What Eric means is that I’ve already laid down the law and he likes me and he’s not a dumbass.”
Jason nodded and smiled, happy that I’d translated things into a language he could understand. An uncomfortable silence crept into the room, Jason chugged his beer and stared at Eric’s hand wrapped in mine. I picked up my glass of tea to take a sip, even though it felt a little warmer than I’d like, when the shrill tone of my phone made me jump and the glass slipped out of my hand onto the floor. Luckily it didn’t break; I picked up the glass and asked Jason to go get a towel while I answered the call.
“Hello?” I hadn’t even looked at the name on the screen it had given me such a fright.
“Sookie, its Bobby. Eric isn’t answering his phone.” I saw Eric take his cell from his pocket and inspect the deep crack across the front of the screen. “Did Eric go to Fangtasia after he dropped you off?”
“What? No, he didn’t he’s …”
“Shit! He didn’t come in with the other vamps, they’ve all gone and I’m stuck outside Merlotte’s with 3 vapid fangbangers while he’s off getting his own meal!”
“Three? Really?” I glared at Eric and he grinned proudly, resulting in my glare turning to a scowl.
“Yeah Pam told me to keep one of each for him, that’s what he likes after a fight.”
“Well he’s been with me the whole time, he’s here right now, his phone got broken. Would you like to speak to him?”
“He’s with you … uh … are you okay?”
“I’m fine, great actually; do you want to talk to him?”
“Uh … yeah sure.”
I handed my phone to Eric and started helping Jason clear up the spilled tea; some of it had soaked into the rug unfortunately.
“No Bobby, I do not require donors … Miss Stackhouse saw to my needs … I urge you to choose your next words wisely Mr. Burnham … she is in perfect health and I assure you she does not feel used … take them back to where you found them … I have keys for the Minden safe house, I will be staying there … very well.”
Eric handed the phone back to me and I looked at the screen and realised the call was still connected.
“Bobby, did you want to talk to me?”
“Yeah Sookie. The Were guards are travelling back to New Orleans as soon as they’ve rested a little, do you want one of them to pick you up or will you be accompanying Mr. Northman back to the compound?”
“Well, I’d like to spend the day with my Gran, make sure she’s recovering okay and everything.” I looked at Eric and he said he would be happy to give me a ride, smirk and eyebrow in place. “Eric has volunteered himself to get me back to New Orleans … even if there isn’t a home left there.”
“Yes I heard about the attack. If you’re in Bon Temps Tomorrow can I come and see you, just to talk?”
“Sure Bobby, I’m usually up and around by 3, do you want to meet somewhere?”
“Merlotte’s at 4pm?”
“That’s fine, see you then, bye.”
I ended the call and took the sodden towel through to the back porch before doing the same thing with the rug. It was a multitude of colours in a Persian style, so I doubted it would stain. It had been a long night, I’d think about the rug tomorrow. I walked back through to find Jason waiting at the kitchen door, he pulled me into a big hug and told me he hoped to see me tomorrow at some point, I said that I was meeting someone at Merlotte’s if he wanted to have an early dinner with me after he finished his shift with the road crew and he thought that was a good idea. I went back into the living room to find Eric in the same position as I left him. I stared at his back, remembering what Bobby had told me. Three women? He usually goes through THREE donors after a fight? Well colour me inadequate! How the hell am I supposed to deal with this?
“Sookie. I can feel your anger and insecurity.” Eric turned towards me and held out his hands, I sat on the chair across from him and saw watched his eyes harden. “This is about the donors isn’t it?”
“Yes.” I folded my arms across my chest. “If you’re still hungry and horny don’t let me stand in your way, I’m sure you have better … things to do.”
He growled and in a flash he was in front of the chair, leaning into my body, his face only a few inches from mine.
“I have no burning need for blood or sex at this moment but I will not have you judge me for my past behaviours. I am a vampire Sookie, I have killed, I have warred, I have ripped my enemies’ limb from limb with my bare hands and, yes, I have fed from and fucked more women than you could probably meet in your lifetime. I have taken part in orgies drenched in the blood of my foe and the juices of my conquests. I. Will. Not. Apologise.”
I whimpered in fear as he pulled away from me. “Eric I … I know what you are and I can only guess what you’ve done over your 1,000 years on this earth. We’ve been … stuck together but I like it, I like you and it hurts when I think I can’t measure up or compete or keep you satisfied.” I set my jaw and raised my head to meet his eyes. “If you don’t want me to get angry at you for your vampire behaviour you have no right to get angry at me for my human behaviour!”
“That will be … difficult.” He placed his hands on my knees and rubbed them gently. “But I am sure that we will come to an understanding … in time.”
“Thank you, for at least saying you’ll try. I’ll try not to let things get to me so much, it was just … a shock y’know, after what we did to find that …”
“You, one woman, were enough to satisfy me and slake my thirsts when it would normally take three … or more?”
“I didn’t think of it like that, before Bobby called I didn’t really think of it at all but …”
“You thought I would fly off to continue elsewhere? Despite the fact I agreed to have you as my only lover and food source?”
“You were in a fight, that changes the rules a little.”
“Not really. I am old and have more control but you are … different. How can I put this?” He looked away from me and furrowed his brow a little before smiling and locking his eyes with mine. “The blood and sex from donors or fangbangers is like … those foul-smelling plastic dishes you put in the microwave and you are like a divine meal in a five star restaurant.”
“They’re okay in a fix but you’d rather eat me?”
“Oh yes Lover.” He brought his lips to mine and stroked me through my jeans. “I would most definitely rather eat you.”
I grabbed his wrist to stop him going too far. “Not here, Gran isn’t far away, she’ll hear us and besides you should get somewhere safe for sunrise.”
“Sunrise is still far enough away for us to have some fun and I know many ways to muffle your screams of pleasure.”
He kissed me and took me over to the couch, while I whispered weak protests. I’ve heard people say that the thrill of getting caught makes everything more intense, now I knew first hand.
I woke up groggy and in desperate need of a shower at 11am. As suspected Gran made her disapproval of my late nights evident by making a drum kit out of every pot in the kitchen. I cleaned up quickly and went out to see if the noise was breakfast related or simply to wake me up. I remembered the chorus of text messages I received just before I got to bed and figured I’d be in a better state of mind to read them after some food and caffeine.
“Sookie darling!” she pulled me into a tight hug. “Now you sit child. I’ve got your favourite blueberry pancakes keeping warm for you and a whole pot of coffee for us to work through!”
I nodded and managed to make it through 2 whole pancakes and half a cup of coffee before she asked me to tell her everything that had been happening. I made it through the rest of the cup and another pancake while trying to put everything into the right words. Timing through pancakes might not be accurate but it’s all I had, I could have been sitting at that table for hours dreading this conversation.
I took a deep breath and started with Waldo wanting to get rid of Hadley, leading onto Lorena and the Nevada Vamps, my companionship with Eric, learning about Waldo’s entire plan, her phone call that made me put the pieces together as to where Bill was and finally what happened last night (minus the graveyard and couch sex parts of course) at the Compton house and in New Orleans. When I was done she sat back in her chair and repeated her shocking words from the previous night.
“Well shit! That would explain the smell around here today if the old Compton place got burned down and with me bein’ the only other soul no-one would call the volunteers. Maybe a fresh start is the best for everyone; the phoenix rises from the ashes after all.”
“If I hadn’t been working for Sophie-Ann this might not have happened. You’d have been safe.”
“What if those vampires moved in anyway and Bill didn’t know who we were? I’d have been in even more danger if I couldn’t get a message to you and if you didn’t know what signs to look for.”
“Well … I guess that’s true. What’s happened has happened, there’s no point in ‘what if’s’ or anything like that. The bottom line is that they weakened you and took advantage of you, now I don’t know what they’ll be doing with Lorena but you can be sure I’ll have a few choice words for her!”
“I bet you will Sookie!”
Gran laughed and slapped her thigh before excusing herself to do some housework, I turned the TV on trying to get some more information about what went on back at the residence last night, the fire department were still trying to douse the last of the fires and the police hadn’t released details on how many arrests had been made yet. Crap! The texts! I grabbed my phone to find messages from Bill, Sophie-Ann, Hadley and Eric.
Seemed like everyone wanted to come and pay us a visit after sunset! Bill wanted to apologise personally to my Gran for using her, Hadley wanted to know if Gran would like to see her, Sophie-Ann would like to apologise to Gran on behalf of the Louisiana vampires and Eric wanted to meet the woman who Hadley and I respected so much. I checked with Gran and she said it was fine because it wasn’t like she’d have to make a big meal for them or anything!
It wasn’t even 2pm yet so I decided to give her a hand, after well over an hour of scrubbing, wiping and dusting, I showered again before mooching a lift to Merlotte’s from Gran. She hummed happily in the driver’s seat but I could tell there was something bothering her, sure enough we’d just turned onto Hummingbird Road when she came out with it.
“Where will you live now Sookie? If the building’s been destroyed where will you go?”
“I’m not sure. It’s something that I guess I’ll need to speak to Sophie-Ann about. It’s not set in stone but the general idea I get is that I go where she goes.”
“Well you be sure and keep me posted, I need to know you’re safe no matter where you are.”
“I know Gran, don’t worry I’ll always keep in touch and try to visit whenever I can.”
“Good, we wouldn’t want you to be a stranger!” She sighed and looked down into her lap as we stopped outside Merlotte’s. “We’ve lost so much time with you child. All those years because my Son and his wife were scared of their own baby. I tried to get you out of there but the doctor’s insisted that you had to be treated, that because of your outbursts you could put the public in danger.”
“I did attack the cheerleading captain with a 2 by 4 but if she hadn’t been thinking about accusing Jason of rape if her daddy ever caught them in his truck it never would’ve happened!”
“I know that. Well I didn’t know the details but I knew it must have been something bad to justify her having to get her nose reconstructed.”
“I should get inside, I think that’s Bobby’s car. Jason will be giving me a ride back so I’ll see you in a few hours.”
“Okay Sookie. I’ll see you soon.”
We stayed locked in a bear hug for a good few minutes before I actually left the car. I walked into the bar and waved to Sam who was filling a pitcher of beer, he smiled and nodded at a booth near the back where Bobby sat. His suit and neat haircut made him stand out in a bar full of rednecks and it was obvious he was uncomfortable. I slid into the booth across from him and smiled, just as I was about to say hello a waitress came over to take my order.
I asked for some chicken fingers and ginger ale, it was the red-headed waitress I remembered from before. Noting her pained expression I looked into her mind, she was punishing herself for letting a murderer like Rene into her home with her children. I wanted to tell her that she didn’t know, that she couldn’t know, that it wasn’t her fault … but I knew that nothing I could say would make her feel better. I sighed sadly as she wiggled away to get my food and drink, so much pain in the world and even if I could see a way to prevent it, what difference could I really make? I shook those thoughts out of my head and tried to focus on the task at hand.
“Hi Bobby. How are you doing?”
“I’m doing okay. Been quiet with Mr. Northman being in New Orleans, I knew he was there for business but he didn’t tell me he was there for pleasure too!” There wasn’t any malice or jealousy behind his words, as we’d discussed, our activities shouldn’t be mentioned in any way, shape or form.
“Well after you guys left Baton Rouge there was a thing, Bill got called by his maker so I was left guard less, Eric happened to be there at the time and took over. When we got back to the residence Sophie-Ann thought it was a good arrangement all round for the interim.”
He nodded and sipped his coffee. “And things just escalated. It happens when you spend time with someone.”
“Uh … kind of. We decided it would be a good idea for him to … claim me. If other vamps thought I was his they’d leave me alone but even though it was an arranged kind of thing we’re enjoying it.”
“Yeah.” He laughed. “I can’t tell you how disappointed those girls were last night when I told them he’d been taken care of. I take it you had a case of Trueblood at the ready?”
“Well y’know Eric’s real old and he wasn’t injured so he didn’t need much.” I desperately searched the bar to see if my meal was coming so I could get out of what was just another uncomfortable conversation to add to all the other’s I’ve had the last 48 hours. “So was there a particular reason for us meeting or did you just want to catch up?”
“Just to catch up mostly, I was pretty shocked when Mr. Northman came in holding your hand last night. Even though you’ve told me that he’s claimed you, I’ve never seen another vampire be so … affectionate with a pet.”
Just then the waitress, Arlene, came with my food. I smiled and thanked her enthusiastically, hoping that having a good customer would make her feel a little better. I took a bite of one of the chicken fingers and thought about how to explain things to Bobby.
“Well, I’m not a pet, I’m his companion. I’m not expected to run errands and he doesn’t have any real need or desire to control me but he does feed from me and there’s a … uh … physical aspect to the relationship. I’ve asked that he be monogamous.”
If Bobby’s eyes opened any wider his eyeballs would just pop right out of his big ‘ol’ sockets. “He … agreed?”
“Yes. He agreed to be monogamous for the duration of his stay in the residence.”
“Wow. That’s pretty impressive! I would say that you must be something pretty special but … anyway I guess things have been … interesting for you since we last met.”
“Interesting is probably the last word I’d use, hectic, terrifying, exhausting!”
We both laughed and settled to sipping our drinks in silence while I finished my chicken. Then Jason came bounding in with the rest of the road crew, yelling at Arlene for a beer and shoving himself into the booth with me and Bobby.
“Hey Sook! You cleaned up nice after your extra-curriculum activities! Who’s your pal here?”
“Jason this is Bobby Burnham, Bobby this is my brother Jason. Bobby works for the same people I do.”
“Cool.” Jason stuck his hand out and Bobby looked at it for a second before shaking it. “Good, I thought you were funny about shakin’ hands too. Seems like a stupid rule ta me, they don’t wanna shake but they’ll screw you in the dirt? That’s fucked up!”
Bobby’s face flushed and he made his excuses, asking me to call him and let him know what was happening in New Orleans. Jason ordered a burger Lafayette and I ordered some fries and another ginger ale. While we ate Jason asked about Eric, what Bobby did for the vamps, how Gran was and if there was something big in New Orleans going down.
“Well I’m not sure what I’m going back to. The Fellowship of the Sun burned down the building we live in early this morning.”
“Hey I saw smoke over by the old Compton place, do you think they caught wind of vamps there and burned that down too?”
“No Jase, that was something else.”
“So you might not have anywhere to live? That sucks, just because they don’t like vamps my baby sister is out on the street!”
“I’m not out on the street Jason, I’m sure Sophie-Ann will find somewhere for me to stay while things get sorted. That being said I’m not excusing their behaviour or beliefs!”
Jason grumbled an agreement and vowed that if he ever saw any Fellowship freaks he’d show them how personally he took the attack on my home. I looked out of the window and saw the sky turning pink.
“You about ready to go brother o’ mine? We got night visitors over at Gran’s; I want to get there before they do.”
“Your man comin’ back for ya?”
“Kind of. I was hopin’ you’d hang around for it, Hadley’s gonna be there.”
“Seriously?” A piece of burger fell out of the side of his mouth onto his lap. “Well let’s get goin’! I’ll stop at my house and clean up real quick first but we’ll get to Gran’s before it’s too dark – there’s no way I’m missin’ this!”