It was dark but not the lonely kind of dark. It was the peaceful, restful kind of dark.
Sookie took a long deep breath, taking in the slight perfume lilting in the air. She knew that after a long time of being trapped in the endless mess of dreams inside her head, this time she actually could open her eyes right then, to the real world. But she took her time and took in her surroundings. She could tell she was in her own bed, in her room, covered by her quilt that gran had made. She could tell Gran was sleeping, in her bedroom across the hall. Was it Jason watching TV downstairs? Slight agitation over the play, anticipation for a date tomorrow, bear, pie, hmmm definitely Jason.
Someone was playing lightly with her hair. It felt like a void, a negative space where something should be. Hmmm vampire… Bill…She let herself luxuriate in the slight touch and felt happy, satisfied.
She felt around and noticed another void outside the house, maybe as far as the tree line. There was no reason for a vampire to be standing/spying outside the house. Did anyone follow Bill and her when they came back from Fangtasia?
When did we come back? I don’t remember coming back! What happened? Didn’t I have a fight with Bill? I don’t remember…She stiffened at the thought…Why don’t I remember?
Sookie opened her eyes with a start and immediately felt blind. Oh, the lights are off. She rolled her eyes at herself and tried to sit up. Maybe she had slept a long while, because her muscles were not responding the way she would have liked them to. She was too stiff, just like having slept too long in a cramped place, in the same position.
She was looking around and bracing her hands under her to sit up, when not half asleep anymore, she noticed the silent figure sitting on her bed at her side, playing with her hair and watching her intently. Sookie was immediately flustered by the presence and irritated with the lack of light.
“Bill? Is that you?” she asked quietly.
“Oh so now you ask for him?”
Confusion gave way to alarm and her voice was immediately louder. “Who the hell are y…?
She was shut off mid-sentence, when the stranger suddenly covered her mouth with an unrelenting hand, his other hand at the back of her head to effectively trap her. She hadn’t even gotten a chance to breath. She looked at her attacker and gasped in recognition!
Bill stood stock still, in sight of Sookie’s home, an old farmhouse right across the cemetery bordering his own house, and fought with his instinct. His orders were clear. Glamor, blood tie, seduction, kidnap…do whatever, but bring Sookie to the Queen of Louisiana. In return, he would become her Majesty’s private area investigator, directly under her protection. To be the law himself, was something he was really looking forward to, especially since his ill-fated tryst with the very powerful and very old area sheriff. He wanted revenge and he wanted power. Sookie conveniently presented him with both. The queen would punish the mighty sheriff for losing a telepath from right under his nose even if she conveniently forgot to mention about the said telepath to Eric, and Bill would have tracked and helped procure the telepath for the court. The Queen, Sophie Anne, would be rid of a powerful sheriff who was a threat to her position and Bill would get a lot ahead in his undead life. It was really important for his survival, especially since he was already on Eric Northman’s radar.
Out of glamor, blood tie, seduction or kidnap, Bill was forced to use the harder three as Sookie could not be glamored. He also knew it from the moment she and Eric looked at each other in that accursed bar, two weeks back, that Eric would not give up this human easily now. He would make it an ego tussle. Eric Northman didn’t fall in friendships or keep pets. Love was something he wouldn’t even recognize infesting his hair. But if Eric set his eyes on a female, human or vampire, she was a lost cause from the word go. Insecurity was creeping inside Bill and he had nothing in his hands to lessen it yet. And Eric better not get to know about the telepathy, otherwise even Sophie Ann would have to come up with a really brilliant plan for keeping her from him.
So Bill had to be real quick and real sly now, to make a claim on the girl before his ticket to a better position expired on him. If he failed, the queen would send her trusted second Andre who would get the girl as well as kill him. Standing at the edge of Sookie’s house, he carefully sifted through his options and silently plotted his moves.
Sookie’s eyebrows shot up and her eyes went round in shock as she recognized the stranger in her room. She struggled with his hand on her mouth but it didn’t budge. Eric held her with a vice like grip, staring intently into her eyes. She cringed back from him. If eyes could kill…
“You are going to listen very carefully to what I say.” He said in a low cold voice that raised the hair at the back of Sookie’s neck. She knew in her skin that right now she wouldn’t dream to cross the vampire holding her. She wanted to live after all. Sookie nodded, whatever much she could manage in the evil grip. He kept his intent gaze burning into her skin. Sookie waited for what he had to say but Eric remained silent. If it was possible, his eyes burnt even more into hers and after a long moment, she felt silent tears escaping the corners of her eyes, whether from not blinking or from fear, she did not know. She might as well have had holes in her head by now but Eric didn’t say anything, although he did seem a little satisfied with the tears. Some time passed before the frightened girl could feel the grip loosening slightly. Gradually the blood started circulating again and her cheeks flamed red.
“You are a liar!”
It felt like a slap on her face. Sookie’s fear quickly turned into anger and she forcefully shook her face away. For another long moment, both of them stared at each other, Sookie half sitting, half lying, with angry eyes and Eric, sitting and half bent on her, inches away from her face, looking grim.
Finally the girl broke the silence and sat up. The vampire returned to sitting straight across from her.
The girl whispered furiously, “Just who do you think you are? Spying on and waking people in their bed? Then harassing and calling them liars? Stop staring at me! I am not scared of ill-mannered bullies like you!” she finished with a scowl. It was a small lie but Sookie was too prideful to let him know that he could scare her.
Eric was taken aback. Was she really crazy like the people in her town kept saying? No one talked to him like that…least of all a fucking human. The pathetic creatures were supposed to cower under him, cower and grovel and stammer for mercy. Hell, even vampires cowered under him for that matter. And this tiny girl was practically ordering him to look away! This was unacceptable.
Just like Sookie, anger flared within Eric even if outwardly his expression showed no change whatsoever.
“You cannot hear me.”
“Oh I sure can thankyouverymuch! You just called me a liar!”
This human was getting more uppity by the second but Eric still didn’t show any change in his voice or expression. He said with a deadly calm, leering a little, “I called you a number of things before I called you a liar. You know very well what hearing I am talking about!”
It was Sookie’s turn to be dumbfounded at that and unlike Eric, her face decidedly showed her surprise at this comment. “What exactly are you talking about?”
She looked confused and flustered. She still had tears in her eyes and she was getting angrier by the minute. Whatever reaction Eric knew he should be getting from the thoughts he was projecting, this was certainly not the complete one. The blush and quickening of pulse should have been accompanied by some degree of arousal, or lust. Even he was getting faintly aroused by thinking all the thoughts and images in his head, directed at and played out with the small angry kitten of a girl in front of him. She was infuriating him and she was arousing him. What the fuck!
He took a mental step back to confirm his suspicion that she had not caught what he was throwing at her. “You really don’t know do you? You can’t hear what I am thinking.”
Sookie finally understood what he was going on about and she immediately felt threatened. How the hell does he know? Only gran, Jason and Tara knew, and now, Bill. She did not have to think twice on this one. Sookie knew the other three wouldn’t sell her out. So Bill had decided to gossip like an old lady with his Sheriff. Curiously, this detail angered her much more than the said Sheriff’s intrusion. A part of her annoyance surreptitiously shifted to her boyfriend.
Coming to actually think about it, part of her riled up nerves were coming from her proximity with the huge vampire sitting on her small bed. The whole room looked shrunk a bit with him sitting there. A very uninvited memory of the first time when she saw this cold, hard, handsome face, in a bar full of creeps, came back to her. No, don’t go there…stick to anger…anger is good! She silently reprimanded herself and decided to tread carefully and took the easiest route for her – honesty.
“I can’t hear vampires.”
“At all…You people are absolute voids to me.”
Eric chewed on it for a moment. “What about the others?”
“Other apart from humans and vampires? Can you hear them?”
“I don’t know what you are talking about.”
Eric sighed with mild annoyance and tried again, “Can you hear your boss? Sam Merlotte?”
Sookie was really not expecting to hear this. Sam Merlotte was the owner of the little bar and restaurant “Merlotte’s” where she worked as a waitress. He looked normal enough, though she tried to stay away from his thoughts. Sam had a secret little crush on Sookie and no way was she going to encourage or even listen to his thoughts. But why is this stupid vampire talking about Sam? What has Sam got to do with anything? He doesn’t even know the extent of my craziness yet!
Eric waited patiently for her to answer. “Well?”
“What about Sam? He is just my boss and an occasional bartender.” She said, confused.
“But can you hear him?”
This got Sookie thinking. She could hear Sam a bit, but it was different and not very clear. It was more like Sam thought in pictures and emotions rather than words and sentences.
She answered carefully, “Some people are different than others. Most people think in words and sentences. A few, like Sam, think in pictures and emotions.”
The conversation was going weirder by the minute. In the twenty six years of her life, this was the first time she was discussing her crippling flaw with a total stranger. Weirder still, the stranger was listening with rapt attention, asking questions and curiously seemed to actually believe her crappy secret. It didn’t help a bit that the stranger was a beautiful beautiful man, no vampire! Sookie shook herself again, mentally…
Eric stowed all this information in his head, for future use.
“Can you control it? The hearing?”
“Like turn it off or on?”
“It is not a freaking light bulb!”
Inspite of the sarcasm, she looked mournful at that bit and out of nowhere, Eric felt a pinch of pity for her. “So you keep hearing things people are thinking, all through the day, without any choice from your part, and cannot switch it off?”
“I try not to pay attention…But I am mostly unsuccessful with that.” She was still a tad mournful. It was better when she had been angry. Of all the feelings humans indulged in, he could do anger very well. Eric saw the small drops of leftover tears on her face. He could tell they were warm. He wanted to taste her tears.
Eric did not like the direction his thoughts were taking. He needed to get her angry again. “Well then dear Sookie, no wonder they call you crazy!”
He smirked and was gone before she could even give him the benefit of a snort. Gone means, freaking vanished! She gasped belatedly and looked around for any sign of him. Her window was open. She got up and looked out, but could not see anything in the dark. She could still clearly feel a void across her yard, which had not moved all evening. Freaking infuriating annoying vampires! Angry, embarrassed and addled like hell, she shut the window with a bang and stomped across her bedroom to go downstairs to Jason.