Chapter Nineteen: Rebirth Realizations
Trent stood motionless at the mound of earth. Captain Kleinman stood at his side along with two other Were officers. The four men watched the grave intently as the sun began to set.
“She’ll rise soon,” Trent spoke out hoarsely as the sun grew nearer the horizon.
Kleinman shook his head, “Not as soon as you think. The first rising takes longer. Her Bloodline will be here well before she’s aware enough to rise.”
Trent nodded jerkily in understanding, “It’s been weird… Not seeing her for three days, not hearing her voice. Even when she was on administrative leave, she still called to check in.”
“Drove Silva nuts,” Lieutenant Greggs chuckled, shaking his head, replying in a gruff voice that spoke of his amusement and woe.
“But she’s not gone,” Kleinman reminded the men. “We’ll just not see her during the day is all, and we can’t get her drunk.”
“When have we ever gotten her drunk?” Trent teased, brushing away a tear.
“I saw her drunk once,” Kleinman replied slyly, “at the police fundraiser a couple weeks ago.”
Trent chuckled, “Wish you’d taped it.”
The levity ended there and the men went back to standing in silence. Waiting… As the sun kissed the horizon and the moon began to glow greeting the night sky, Kleinman frowned, “I did not expect that.”
“What?” Trent looked at his captain in confusion.
“Listen,” Kleinman whispered.
Shutting his eyes, the deputy listened closely. “Are they moving already?” He looked to the horizon confirming it was not yet true dark.
“She’s trying to move. Northman’s keeping her down,” Kleinman explained. “She’s panicking.”
“How can you tell?” Trent demanded.
“I’ve been to an early rising before,” Kleinman explained, kneeling down toward the grave. “Stackhouse, this is your Captain speaking. The sun has only just set. I know you’re disoriented and Northman can’t explain this to you, so I’m doing it! It is too early to come up. Just close your eyes, let him hold you, and relax! We’re here guarding you. You’re safe! You don’t have to come up yet,” he called to the ground.
“Is she calming down?” Trent asked worriedly.
“She’s stopped moving toward the surface. I think she heard and understood,” Kleinman reassured him.
Letting out a relieved breath, Trent crossed his arms over his chest.
It felt like an eternity to Sookie while she lay in the cold earth with her vampire’s arms around her. After a few minutes of trying to remove herself from under the ground, she heard her captain shouting the reasons as to why she needed to remain buried, and why her mate was keeping her there. Soothed for the time being, Sookie stopped struggling and returned to Eric’s arms. The Bond was singing with Reassurance and Love, and Sookie could not help but allow it to surround her.
Rather than become bored, Sookie began testing her gift. She could clearly hear the words of her colleagues and after a few minutes, she was relieved to discover that she could still also hear them.
‘I’m still a telepath!’ she thought with a sense of comfort. An even greater relief was that Eric’s mind remained blessedly silent.
After listening to the Weres for some time, sudden panic struck when Sookie began to fret over what had become of Mags and Junes. Who was taking care of them? Were they okay? Did they miss her? Would they still love her when she returned to them as a vampire? Unbeknown to her, tears began trickling down Sookie’s face, and she sobbed against Eric’s palm while she worried over her canine companions.
Sookie sobbed even harder while Eric tried to soothe her through their Bond. His thumb rubbed her wet cheek, and his palm continued to prevent dirt becoming pulled into her lungs after she took a few instinctive breaths.
Finally, after what felt like forever, Sookie felt Eric urging her toward the surface. It was almost a bit like swimming through mud, but with Eric tugging and digging the way, it was not as difficult to break the surface.
“There she is!” Trent shouted happily when Sookie wriggled the remainder of the way out of her grave.
Sucking in that involuntary breath when she reached the grassy side of the Earth, Sookie sprawled on the cool blades while she took in all of the sounds around her.
“Sookie,” Eric’s voice brought her back from exploring the insect noises and heartbeats of the Weres around her.
“Yeah, Darlin’?” Sookie asked sweetly.
“How are you feeling?” Eric whispered, kneeling beside her.
“Dirty,” she answered, frowning at all of the mud covering her.
The four Weres chuckled in harmony with Eric. “Pam has not arrived?” the older vampire asked in surprise.
“You guys rose really early,” Kleinman explained. “It’s only just turned true dark. Ravenscroft will only just now be able to leave her resting spot.”
Nodding in understanding, Eric helped Sookie to her feet.
“Ben,” Sookie looked to her cadet friend, “where are Mags and Junes?” she asked.
“Oh,” Trent grinned, “I left them with a shifter friend of mine. He’s actually from your hometown, Sam Merlotte?”
Sookie shrugged, “I don’t know him.”
“Oh, well, he has a bar and grill. They serve TrueBlood. I’m sure you could hop over there and get your dogs,” Trent suggested.
Sookie looked to her Bonded and asked, “Will it be safe for me to go there?”
Eric nodded, “I will be with you. You will not cause any massacres with me nearby.”
“I’d like to think I won’t cause any massacres period,” she told him pointedly.
“Babies have temper tantrums,” Eric shrugged as Sookie rolled her eyes. “You are merely a baby capable of leveling a small town, exactly what that shithole of Bon Temps is.”
“Are you guys good to go?” Trent asked, gesturing to a patrol car. “We figured we’d drop you off at Northman’s place now that you don’t need security.”
“Oh!” Sookie beamed at him, “Thanks, that would be great! I want to shower somethin’ awful,” she admitted.
“There’s some bottles of TrueBlood in there, too,” Kleinman told them while they walked to the car. “I’m sure it’s pretty uncomfortable for a baby vamp to rise without a drink.”
“She is controlling herself remarkably well. Most newborns would have attacked you, even though you are Were,” Eric noticed as he monitored their Bond and found his mate rather at ease.
Kleinman snorted, “Well, if there’s anyone who would have that level of self-control, it’s Stackhouse. I’ll see you later, Sookie, and we’ll talk about your standing with the department,” he called to the departing couple.
“Thanks, Captain!” Sookie called back as Eric opened the back door for her. She slid in and curled into Eric’s side once he was seated beside her. “Okay, Ben, give me the skinny. What’s happened over the last three days? Where’s Jason? What happened with Chlebowski? How did you get into Eric’s place to take my dogs to Merlotte’s?”
“Easy, Tiger!” Trent had not even turned the key in the ignition. Once the engine was running, he began answering her questions the best he could in the order she had asked. “First, a lot happened the last three days. Your brother took off once you started nursing on Northman’s arm. He had some real shitty things to say. I caught up with him at your Gran’s funeral and gave him a piece of my mind,” he growled darkly. “I told him that the only reason you didn’t call him about your Gran was because you were shot on your way to do just that! He told me to mind my own business, and that he didn’t need any excuses from his ‘blood sucking sister’, as he put it. Sorry, Sooks, but your brother’s a real ass hat.” Sookie sighed in agreement as a pang jolted through her at having missed her Gran’s funeral. “Chlebowski is being held by Ms. Ravenscroft. He’ll be interviewed tonight for your case against Sophie-Anne. They’re calling in the Ancient Pythoness to adjudicate the hearing. Ms. Ravenscroft has been organizing all that evidence while you’ve been under,” Taking a deep breath, Trent wrapped up, “And Ms. Ravenscroft was also how I got your dogs out of Northman’s house. She brought them to me, I took them to Sam.”
“I see,” Sookie replied, flinching when Eric pushed a bottle into her hand.
“Drink, Dear One. This reserve will not hold out for long,” Eric told her.
Making a face, Sookie brought the bottle to her lips. At the first taste, Sookie knew why Eric hated the stuff. It was like trying to pass tofu off as steak. There was no comparison, or at least Sookie figured it to be true, having yet to taste genuine human blood.
“This stuff is horrible!” the telepath grimaced between gulps.
“Such a refined palate at a young age,” Eric teased, taking the empty bottle from her and handing Sookie a second, “Try O neg, the universal donor has the mildest flavor.”
Sookie took the offered bottle and chugged it. “Still disgusting,” she complained, handing the empty over. “Don’t you want one?”
“I drained the remainder of your blood three days ago. I will not need to drink again for over a week or two,” Eric admitted, feeling more than discontented that his Bonded could no longer nourish him.
“For real? I thought I was already almost tapped out by then!” Sookie laughed.
“I am glad you feel such levity over your death, Sookie,” Eric teased.
Shrugging, she took Eric’s hand into hers, “Well, it’s not exactly when or how I wanted this thing to happen, but I’m still in existence and I still have you. It’s much easier to feel lighthearted over the matter when all I lost was sunbathing and a pulse.” Squeezing their linked hands, she admitted, “This will take some getting used to though. You feel kind of warm to me now.”
Eric nodded, “You are actually considerably warmer than me still. Strange…”
“Am I?” Sookie asked in surprise. “I can’t tell ’cause I’m used to the difference being so much more extreme,” she admitted with a laugh. “Is that bad?”
Eric shrugged, “It is curious, although it could very well have to do with the fact you are also Fae. A question later for Ludwig. We shall wait to see if there are any more peculiarities before summoning her again.”
“How long?” Sookie asked.
“A few evenings. Two, perhaps three. I do not wish to allow any abnormalities to go unchecked for very long, however; I also detest summoning Ludwig more than required.”
“She seemed rather rude,” Sookie agreed.
“She also charges an arm and a leg for every call,” Eric muttered.
“Wow, Croesus is worried about money!” Sookie taunted.
Pretending to pout, Eric gave her hand a playful, warning squeeze, “I am not one to throw money around carelessly.”
“Yes, you have Pam to do that for you,” Sookie pointed out.
Sighing in defeat, Eric conceded, “I do at that, but Pam also contributes a great amount to our Bloodline’s wealth in her own way. She is much more adept at determining trends than I am, and has made some very cumulative investments in areas where I would not have thought to allocate my money.”
“I thought you had the best business sense of the Bloodline,” Sookie asked in wonder.
“I do, but Pam is the best at predicting the next big fad fashion-wise.”
“Oooh,” Sookie finally understood, “You let her invest in designers?”
Nodding to herself, Sookie leaned her head against Eric’s shoulder. “I hope I can become just as lucrative for your future financial gains.”
Eric laughed softly to himself, “We do not have any expectations. Pam did not start contributing to the Bloodline’s finances until the 1960’s, and we never had any requirements that she do so. Of course, Pam is Pam, and though you may see her swipe my credit card rather than her own, she only does so because she is well aware that it is money she has earned as well. Despite her desire to portray herself as the spoiled Child, she is actually not spending nearly as much as she contributes.”
“I see,” Sookie replied thoughtfully. “What does Emily do to contribute? You said she’s a pretty hefty contributor.”
“You will like Emily. She has a knack for finding things, people. She has made a business out of finding things for others. During her century she has reunited several families with their loved ones,” Eric told her.
“Maybe we can open a private investigating firm,” Sookie chuckled.
The pair remained quiet during the remaining drive to their house, thanking Trent in turn as they exited the car. When they reached the threshold of the front door, Eric swept Sookie into his arms and carried her over, making her laugh.
“You’re such a goof!” she said, running her hands through his hair while Eric carried her to the master bathroom. Finally setting her down, Eric began tugging off her bloodied and dirty clothes. “Oh, I’m wearing what I died in!” Sookie realized in sudden shock. “I’m surprised you didn’t change my clothes!”
Eric flinched at the memory, “I wanted to get us in the ground as quickly as possible. I did not want to run any risks.”
“Oh… Is that a thing? Going to ground quickly after turning someone?” Sookie asked as she shimmied out of her underwear.
“It can be with those who were turned during a trauma they sustained. Also, with your being part-fairy, I was hyper-diligent,” he admitted while leaning around her to turn on the shower. As it warmed, Eric stripped out of his own clothing, and then ushered his mate into the falling spray. While streaks of dark water ran in rivulets over her skin, Eric noticed the unexpected luster of her tan. “You stayed quite golden,” he commented. “Usually those with a tan appear more pallid than this after being turned.”
“We’ll chalk it up to another thing to mention to Ludwig,” Sookie sighed, running one hand down Eric’s chest while reaching for the soap with the other. They took turns lathering and scrubbing one another before moving on to their hair. Each put a glob of shampoo in their hands and then worked a lather into the other’s golden locks. Eric was forced to crouch so that Sookie could reach his scalp, and she chuckled at his awkward stance. “You look like a gargoyle,” she laughed.
“You look like a water nymph,” he commented, planting his hands on her hips and tugging her toward him.
“Hold your horses!” Sookie swatted his hands away. “I need to finish rinsing my hair and so do you.”
Eric groaned at the torture of having to wait for her to finish rinsing her hair, but he dutifully tilted his head directly beneath the shower spray and quickly rinsed away any suds. Sookie’s longer hair took a bit more time to clear the lather, but once she was done, Eric turned off the water and carried Sookie to bed.
She giggled excitedly when Eric threw her onto the bed, her body bouncing on the mattress as her arms and legs opened invitingly. Gracefully slipping into her offered embrace, Eric ran his tongue up the length of her body until his mouth found hers. When his pelvis ground against hers, Eric heard the sound of fangs descending and felt the sharp slice on his lip.
Groaning in pleasure, Eric pulled away in time to see Sookie’s hand cover her mouth self-consciously. “No, Dear One,” Eric encouraged, “let me see them!” Sookie pulled her hand shyly from her mouth and he could see the uncertain tremble of her plump lips when she displayed her fangs. “You look so lovely, Sookie,” Eric whispered, reaching for her mouth with his own. Now that her true teeth were shown, he snaked his tongue up along the ivory points toward her gums. As he did this, Sookie gasped, and her hips flexed beneath him. “Feel good?” he teased.
“Oh, yes,” she whimpered into his mouth. “Almost as good as that tongue between my legs!”
“You are getting ahead of me,” he groaned before kissing her again, pulling her body closer to his. She could feel his hardness growing against her thigh and she rocked her limb to encourage his stiffness. “It seems you are not in the mood to play…?” He inquired at the half-hearted attention she was paying him.
“I just feel easily distracted,” she admitted guiltily. “It feels as if I’m thinking about so much more all at once than I did when I was human.”
“You are,” Eric agreed. “Though unlike a normal newborn, I can keep you in the mood as long as I like…” With that statement, Eric flooded the Bond with Love, Lust, and Desire. New to the overwhelming susceptibility to her emotions, Sookie immediately arched under Eric’s motivating forces, moaning loudly as the space between her thighs began to throb as if he had been licking the area the whole time. “Mmm,” Eric whispered into her ear, “much better.”
Purring with the sudden change in mood, Sookie wrapped her legs around Eric’s hips and drew them against her core. Her hips rocked, coating his staff with her moisture, but not quite managing to slip him inside her depths. As Eric moved himself around the churning motion, he slid between her folds and let out a loud moan.
“You are even hotter here,” he remarked against her throat. “How are you still so warm?” he wondered, frantically rocking his pelvis against hers. His hand drifted between her thighs and began rubbing at her hard little nub just as urgently as his hips pumped against hers.
“In a hurry, Darlin’?” Sookie gasped, her thighs tensing while her hands clutched at the bedding. Before he could answer, the young vampire shivered and began to sob with an unexpected climax. As she fell over the edge, Eric thrust toward his own completion, filling Sookie with his seed. Though it took little time for Sookie to recover, her inner walls were still trembling around Eric’s semi-hard member. “What was the rush?” Sookie asked breathlessly, trying to run a hand through her wet, sex-tousled hair.
Eric shrugged, “I could feel you losing your concentration. Rather than force you to keep fucking, I finished us off.”
“You realize you can’t force me to want to fuck you, right? I’m pretty much always up for it!” she teased.
Eric smiled softly at her admission, “I am sure that is true, but fledglings are quite scatterbrained. It takes them a few years to stay focused for any length of time. Their minds wander, they get distracted. I have seen newborns stop mid-fuck to go hunt, read, or watch television. We have a saying for screwing newborns; ‘Cum before they go’.”
Sookie laughed, “You think I could want anything more than you?”
“There is nothing you feel pressed to do at the moment?” he tested.
“I do kinda want to go get Mags and Junes… I want to know if they still love me,” she whispered sadly.
“They may do as they did with me and jump when they first scent you. When you begin talking to them, they should begin recognizing you again,” Eric warned her softly.
Taking a deep, shuddering breath, Sookie nodded, “Can we drop by Gran’s grave while we’re in Bon Temps? I,” Sookie took another long inhale, though it did nothing to calm her nerves as it had when she needed to breathe, “I want to say goodbye.”
“Of course, Dear One,” Eric kissed the top of her head as he held her tightly to him. “I was curious if you wanted, but I did not want to press the matter considering your current volatile nature.”
Smiling up at him, Sookie kissed the underside of Eric’s chin. “Thanks.”
Now that they were alone, that constant state of uneasiness was finally lifting its troubling weight off her chest. She was His now, completely, irrevocably His. He could control her, manipulate her emotions however he wanted. Despite her love for him, she had fears that he would not be the same Viking she had fallen in love with after her turning. To have this warm and intimate happiness was a relief. He had not been pretending. Eric Northman truly wanted to be everything and anything she needed, and it made her love for him increase past the point she had ever believed humanly possible.
‘Then again, I’m not human anymore, am I?’ Sookie thought wryly.
Eric’s breath caught as he rose from their bed. A surge within their Bond made him gaze at his mate in wonderment. The love pouring out of her end of the Bond was awe-inspiring, completely eliminating all it had been before this moment. Whatever dam she had built before had finally crumbled, and he was experiencing unconditional love for the first time in his very long existence.
The couple quickly dressed and climbed into the Escalade to begin their journey to Bon Temps after their silent musings of one another. They went to Adele Stackhouse’s grave first, not wanting to leave the dogs in the car, nor bring them into the cemetery.
“You know where it is?” Eric asked, breathing in the night air to taste freshly turned soil.
“Yeah, she had a plot right next to my Granddaddy. I know where it is,” she answered him quietly, leading Eric through the maze of headstones; a path Eric realized she knew well. As they came to the fresh grave, Sookie lamented softly, “I just realized… I didn’t remember to bring her flowers!” Looking around frantically, Sookie glanced up at the old farmhouse perched on the hill overlooking the graveyard. “Be right back, Gran!” Sookie said swiftly before standing, turning, and darting up the hill.
Eric waited patiently, knowing that she had simply gone to the farmhouse to pluck some summer blossoms from the plentiful bushes by the house. When she returned, Sookie knelt beside the grave, and placed the colorful bouquet next to the marker.
“Sorry about that, Gran,” Sookie sighed. “I’m sorry I couldn’t come to your funeral, too.” Swiping at a bloody tear, the young vampire brought her hand back to her lap, fisting it in the material of her skirt. “So much happened that day. I’m not trying to make excuses, but let’s just say I’d be buried right next to you otherwise. When we spoke in the in-between… I wonder if you knew what was going to happen to me before I did? The way you spoke to me? It was almost like you were trying to prepare me for becoming a vampire.
“It’s pretty neat so far!” she told her conversationally. “I’m super-fast and strong. You’ll probably be angry… I absolutely hate synthetic blood, but it’s disgusting! You know how you hate kidney pie? Ugh! Synthetic blood is just as bad! Worse, if you ask me!”
Eric smiled softly to himself while he listened to Sookie converse animatedly to her deceased grandmother. If he had not known better, he would have thought Adele was sitting atop her headstone, holding a conversation with his newborn Bonded.
“I promise to visit lots and lots!” Sookie said while rising, “and I’ll remember flowers that I don’t have to steal from your-” the fledgling paused. “Gran… Did you leave me the house?” Her eyes looked to Eric, “Can we see if I can enter the house?”
Eric nodded in reply, “I suppose that we could. Did your grandmother intend to give it to you?”
“Yeah, but now that I’m a vampire, I don’t know what that will do with the barrier,” she admitted.
Eric easily explained, “Well, the police department was filing a Certificate of Vampirism on your behalf. That means anything that was bequeathed to you would be held until after you rose. It is actually quite convenient being out of the coffin. It saves much of the paperwork and red tape for you youngsters.”
Sookie chuckled, taking Eric’s hand in hers while they walked back up the hill. As they took the two steps onto the porch, Sookie reached out her hand to try the door. It was locked.
Quickly extracting his lock picks, Eric had the door open in a matter of seconds, and Sookie reached past the threshold, more than pleasantly surprised to discover she still had access to her childhood home.
“Well, I guess she did leave me the house after all!” Sookie gleefully remarked.
“Is there anything you need here?” Eric asked.
“I just want to do a quick walkthrough to see if Jason’s nicked anything while I was underground. I’ll need to get the locks changed, too,” she noted.
“I will call someone to handle that. You go ahead and take your walk through the house,” Eric encouraged while he took out his cell phone.
Leaving her Bonded in the entryway, Sookie quickly zipped through the house, delighting at the speed in which she could move in such close quarters. It was one thing to run at the speed of sound in the open, but to find she could maneuver just as swiftly in a building was even more exciting.
“Everything looks sound,” Sookie announced once she returned to the front door.
“A security company will arrive shortly to change the locks and install a system on the house. They will drop off the keys tomorrow along with the code. Is there anything you want to take with us now that you will not have access to until tomorrow night?” Eric asked.
Sookie shook her head, “There’s nothin’ here I haven’t lived without the past eight years.”
“All right then, shall we go get Mags and Junes?”
“Absolutely! I miss my girls!” Sookie grinned.
Back in the Escalade, the two made their way to the bar and grill Trent had told them about. Sookie remembered the decrepit building from her childhood, but nodded in approval at the way in which Sam Merlotte had restored it.
“I’m impressed this Merlotte guy didn’t have to bulldoze the whole building,” Sookie remarked while they walked toward the entrance.
“It is still a shack,” Eric remarked dryly.
“It’s no Fangtasia,” she teased, giving his side a pinch.
Eric snorted, “Considering your history with Fangtasia, I would not be surprised if you preferred this place.”
“I dunno, the first couple times I was there were real nice,” she said, giving him a wink. “That third trip was the killer!”
Eric rolled his eyes at her terrible joke, “You are the most unfunny creature I have ever met. Your puns are terrifying.”
“Uh, you know the saying, ‘people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones’?” Sookie raised her eyebrows, “I mean, ‘Fangtasia’?!”
Sighing, Eric pushed open the bar door and quickly scanned the room. There were three men sitting at the bar, and three tables where people were seated. Sookie found herself having to swallow hard with the temptation their pulses brought forth.
“You are fine, Sookie,” Eric whispered. “Keep it together just a little longer and I will take you to Fangtasia tonight for a donor.”
Nodding stiffly, Sookie walked up to the bar where a fire engine redhead was wiping down glasses.
“Excuse me, Ma’am, is Sam Merlotte here?” Sookie asked, a bit of strain coming through her voice due to the multiple tempting heartbeats in the room.
The redhead looked up, and Sookie noticed the name ‘Arlene’ on her tag. She also noted the slack-jawed appreciation Arlene gave her Bonded before stammering, “H-he’s in his office. You a vendor?”
Sookie shook her head, “No, he’s been watching my dogs.”
“Oh! The shepherds?” Arlene asked, surprised out of her fantasizing of one mouthwatering Viking.
“Yeah, Mags and Junes,” Sookie nodded in confirmation.
“Such sweet dogs! I let my kids play with them, I hope that’s okay?” she nibbled her lip nervously.
“That’s fine,” Sookie assured her. “They love anyone who plays with them.”
“I’ll go grab Sam,” Arlene told her, walking out from behind the bar and through a door by the kitchen service window.
Shortly after the redhead disappeared, a shout of, “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!?” could be heard from the back, and soon a man in a plaid shirt, grubby jeans, and shaggy, reddish, dirty-blonde hair emerged. He approached the two of them and immediately glared at Eric. “Northman! How the hell could you bring a fledgling in here!?” He demanded through clenched teeth with a forceful tone, but his voice was not raised; in fact, had they not been vampires, Eric and Sookie would not have heard him at all.
Snarling under his breath, Eric swiftly closed the distance between him and Sam Merlotte. “She is under perfect control, shifter,” he hissed authoritatively in the man’s face, clearly the dominant of the two.
“I just want my dogs,” Sookie interrupted, attempting to ease the animosity. “I’ll leave real quick, I promise!”
Eric snapped his attention back to Sookie before sighing in defeat. Sookie was not at all the confrontational type, avoiding it at all costs, only getting her dander up when her walls were intruded upon. It was apparent to Eric that his Bonded was not the sort to become defensive with those who viewed her negatively. A pang of sorrow ran through him while he considered the reasons.
That was enough for the bar owner. He might not have been the smartest man, but he knew better than to get on the bad side of the Area’s vampire Sheriff. Sam rolled his eyes, tilting his head toward the door, “C’mon, then. Let’s get this over with.”
The vampires followed the shifter out the back door and past his office to a little trailer planted a few yards away. Excited, Sookie called out, “Mags! Junes! Mamma’s here!”
A duet of harmonious barking broke out at the sound of Sookie’s voice, and the young vampire recognized it as happy yelps. They had missed her!
“Stay here, I’ll open the door, an’ let ’em out,” Merlotte requested, jogging the rest of his way to the trailer.
After the door was opened, Sookie flung her arms wide, “My girls! Come! I missed you so much!”
Junes came barreling out the door first, lunging straight for Sookie. The dog scarcely hesitated to jump into her arms. Mags, on the other hand, paused halfway to her mistress and waited several seconds until she closed the distance, kissing her mother just as eagerly as her sister.
“Oh, my girls!” Sookie sobbed, burying her bloody tears in their coats while she hugged and kissed them. “I was so worried you wouldn’t love me anymore!” she cried, reminding herself not to squeeze too hard as she embraced them. The dogs cleaned her face and Sookie blanched while they did so. What would vampire blood do to dogs?
When the dogs did not appear to show any effects after drinking her blood, Sookie let out a sigh of relief.
“Thanks for taking care of my dogs, Mr. Merlotte. I’m sure taking them in at the last minute was not easy on you. Is there anything I can do to thank you?” Sookie asked.
“Uh…” Sam looked at her uncomfortably. I know she’s a baby vamp, but she’s so nice! Wonder how long that’ll last? “Nah. They were good girls. Cried a lot, but that was OK. I understood. They didn’t know what happened to ya. Trent brought their food and stuff, so I wasn’t out no money watchin’ them.”
Nodding, Sookie rubbed her dogs’ ears while she said, “Well, if there’s anything I can ever do for you, just let me know. I owe you a huge favor. Mags and Junes mean the world to me!”
“Oh, thanks,” Sam replied hesitantly, and Sookie could hear in his mind how uncertain he was of her cordial nature. Usually even a fledge vamp don’t like us two-natured folk, and she’s with Northman? Surely she’d be quick to look down on us with that kind of Bonded…?
“I was a cop, you know,” Sookie told him. “I’ve been around Weres a long time, and I would never be mean to a two-natured just cause they’re two-natured, no matter if I’m human or vamp.”
Sam processed that a moment before accepting her explanation and changing the subject, “Trent just said they was a friend’s dogs. I didn’t know it was a friend from the force. Hey! You’re Sookie Stackhouse, ain’t you? Adele’d talk my ear off ’bout you at the butcher!”
Sookie’s smile faltered with the mention of her Gran, “Did you, umm, go to her funeral?” she asked.
Sam nodded, “Yeah.”
“It was beautiful, right? They sent her off good and proper?” she asked while she held back a sniffle.
Sam’s expression softened, “They sent her off just right, Stackhouse. It was a real nice service… So, this why you missed the funeral?” he gestured to her transformed body.
“Yeah,” Sookie answered him, “I was shot the morning she died, but I managed to survive it, although something else happened later that night. My wound reopened and I began to bleed out. Eric had to turn me.”
“Sounds to me like you was havin’ a pretty shitty day,” Sam crossed his arms over his chest while he thought about the young vampire’s appalling exit from mortality.
“Could have been worse,” Sookie shrugged, not wishing to dwell in that moment.
“I take it then your brother ain’t too happy about the vampire thing? I seen him and Ben having words at the funeral.”
Sookie frowned, “No, he’s not happy at all. He said he’d rather me be dead than vampire, only that wasn’t his decision to make.”
“No, it was not,” Eric agreed, snarling. “Merlotte, if you will excuse us. Sookie has just risen this evening and is in need of another meal.”
The shifter nodded in understanding, “Yeah, sure, I hear ya.” He waved at the couple as they lead Mags and Junes back around the bar to the customer parking area. “Don’t be shy ’bout bringin’ those girls back for a visit!” he called, “We had a good time!”
Sookie’s back tensed, “Not sure how to take that…”
Eric laughed, wrapping his arm around her waist, “They probably all went running together. Shifters are particularly social with the species into which they often transform. Actually, they tend to have better kinship with familiar animals than other shifters or Weres.”
“Merlotte turns into a dog?” Sookie asked, only a little stunned.
“That’s cool,” she answered, opening the door of the Escalade to herd Mags and Junes into the backseat. “Good girls,” Sookie cooed to them before closing the door. Eric had her door open as she turned around, and she smiled at him when he held out a hand to help her inside, “Still such a gentleman.”
“Only for you,” he replied, closing the door and heading to his own side.
The drive back to Shreveport was short to Sookie because she was paying so much attention to Mags and Junes, and discussing some of the modifications she wanted to make to give the dogs maximum comfort while she was dead for the day.
“-and some kind of doggy door so they can get outside during the day, and maybe we could fence in part of the yard just so I know they aren’t wandering around? Oh! Maybe I should get them a bigger water bowl? And one of those timer food dishes?”
Eric laughed while she rambled on, “If I had realized the best way to spend money on you was to spend it on the dogs, I would have started spoiling them much sooner.”
Sookie rolled her eyes at her Bonded’s statement, “I can’t help that I want my babies comfortable while I can’t be watching over them!”
Nodding in agreement, Eric pulled up to the house and they took the dogs inside. Sookie quickly fed them, and then let them outside to run around. Afterward, Sookie filled their water bowl and the couple left for Fangtasia.
As they pulled up to the club, Sookie frowned when Eric helped her out of the vehicle.
“What is it, my Bonded?” Eric asked after feeling her confusion and seeing the expression on her face.
“Full house tonight?” she asked, perplexed. “It’s much noisier than usual,” she commented, pointing to her head.
Eric frowned as well. The parking lot had not shown a surplus of patrons, and his own enhanced hearing had not identified more heartbeats than were typical for a weeknight. As the confused couple entered the club, Eric monitored his mate closely while she took in the sights, scents, and sounds with her newly enhanced senses. Suddenly, he noticed her eyes begin to dart all around as they widened and an overwhelming panic rose within the Bond.
“What is it, Sookie?” Eric asked, seriously concerned.
“Eric, I can hear everyone!” she hissed, making the ancient vampire laugh.
“Of course you can, Dear One. Your superior sense of hearing can now differentiate sound frequencies clearly, and this allows you to hear everyone despite the music being so loud,” he explained.
Sookie shook her head violently, “That’s not what I mean!” she insisted.
Eric stilled, comprehending what she was attempting to say without actually saying it. The realization came quickly, and it shook the ancient to the core. “Everyone?” he asked pointedly.
“Everyone except you,” she replied, pulling her lip between her teeth.
“We must call Ludwig,” Eric responded quietly, dragging Sookie toward his office. As he made the beeline, his eyes scanned the room looking for a quick meal for Sookie. He saw an unassuming brunette standing uneasily by the bar, and he knew she would be perfect for his telepathic Mate. “You,” he pointed to the woman who jerked, and then became instantly entranced by his blue stare, “do you wish to feed my Mate?” he gestured to Sookie.
“Uh, umm… okay?” the woman tripped over her words, not having anticipated becoming a meal for a vampire on her first trip to Fangtasia, especially not the snack for a pretty blonde one. However, curiosity was on Sookie’s side and the brunette followed the pair to Eric’s office.
Eric gestured to the couch, taking Sookie and the donor over to be seated. “Ready for Glamour 101?” he asked.
“Let’s do it,” Sookie nodded.
“First,” Eric began his instruction, “capture her eyes in your stare and draw in her mind as though it is the only one in existence. Become void of anything that is not her.”
Sookie trained her eyes on the brown orbs of her meal, though she could not clear her mind as Eric had instructed. The thoughts of all the other patrons and vampires penetrated her mind. The distractions were both great and overpowering. Aggravated, Sookie pushed at the distractions, and then was greatly surprised when the world around her silenced. As a human, the only time Sookie experienced silence was in Eric’s arms.
“Do you feel her, Sookie?” Eric’s voice was fluid, forcing the telepath to focus harder. “Sookie?”
The telepath shook her head, distracted by her mind being hers and hers alone for the first time in her existence. “Sorry, I got lost in my own head,” she admitted.
Eric chuckled, “That is normal. Now, try again to empty your mind.”
Oh, gosh, the brunette beside Sookie thought nervously, I didn’t realize she was a new vamp! They’re supposed to be a lot more dangerous when they’re hungry! Oh, God, am I going to die!?
“You’ll be perfectly fine, Darla,” Sookie crooned, reaching out to brush a lock of hair off the young woman’s face. “There’s nothin’ to worry about.”
Darla’s shoulders relaxed visibly, and Eric’s brows rose in confusion once he realized the donor was not under the influence of glamour. She was merely comforted by Sookie’s assuring tone and gestures.
“Sookie, focus,” Eric coaxed.
The youngling shook her head, “There’s nothin’ to focus on, Eric. There’s no pull. There’s not a hint that I’m doing it right. I can turn off everything, but I can’t turn on the glamour,” she tried to explain.
“Yet another curiosity. Some vampires are more adept at glamour than others, but I have never heard of a vampire who could not do it,” Eric was frowning to himself as he leaned over to capture Darla’s gaze to glamour her. The woman’s body went limp. “She is under. You may feed at any time now and not injure her.” Sighing, Sookie pulled the woman against her chest. “Find her pulse point with your tongue… Hmm, your fangs have not dropped yet. No matter, they will once your tongue is on her carotid,” he assured her. Eric was quickly finding that Sookie was not responding as a normal fledgling, not even a Bonded fledgling. Even Emily, with her sweet and protective disposition, did not have the same resistance to her nature Sookie appeared to be having.
Sookie’s tongue traced the donor’s neck, finding the fluttering pulse beneath the thin membrane of skin. Instantly, her fangs descended and pierced Darla’s neck like a needle though silk. Sookie’s mouth rapidly filled with warm blood, but the telepath found herself not compulsively gulping it down. To her, the action felt rather mechanical, like eating salad until she had been full as a mortal. It was easy enough to consume, but she only did so to keep herself nourished. There was no pleasure, and the flavor was only moderately more palatable than synthetic blood had been.
Drinking her fill, Sookie then laved her tongue over the injury as Eric had done for her so many times to seal the wound. When Darla was gently pushed away, Sookie looked to her alarmed Bonded.
“What?” she asked. “Did I not do it properly?”
Eric’s surprise was in the expression of his tightly-drawn face, “You did it perfectly. That is what is so surprising. Newborns have a tendency to drain.”
Sookie shrugged, “It’s like eating healthy food, you eat until you’re full. It’s not chocolate ice cream,” she explained.
Eric’s frown became deeper before he caught Darla’s stare once more, and then dismissed her. “I am calling Ludwig,” he announced once the human was gone.
“Is it that serious that I’m not a blood-lusting psychopath?” Sookie demanded while Eric took his phone out of his pocket and made the call.
While the phone rang, Eric listed, “You have no bloodlust, your gift has expanded to include everyone with the exception of me, you have no true desire for blood, even your dogs barely paused at accepting you. I must have done something wrong-”
“I will appear immediately!” Ludwig’s voice chimed excitedly over the phone. Eric had no time to warn Sookie before the POP of Ludwig’s entrance announced her arrival. “There are several abnormalities?” she demanded with impatient exuberance.
“Apparently,” Sookie muttered.
Ludwig appeared ready to do a tiny hobbit-like version of a happy dance, refraining only on account of her distaste for anything resembling pleasant or overly-ecstatic expressions.
“When you were bleeding out at the police station, I thought it might be my last chance to get a decent blood sample,” Ludwig began in her regular terse tone only to change it dramatically in the very next sentence. “I have been examining that sample over the last three days and I must say, Young One, for such a fraction of fairy blood in your veins, you sure are a whole lot of fairy!”
“I don’t understand,” the baby vampire tilted her head curiously.
Ludwig answered her, now practically gushing, “From what I have traced through your genetic line, you should be only one-eighth fairy. That would mean you have little to no direct Fae heritage. Unless you are not biologically Michelle Stackhouse’s daughter, you should not have nearly as many fairy markers in your blood as you do. As a third generation hybrid, your gift could have been an understandable occurrence. However, your blood has far more DNA of a half-breed fairy than that of a thrice-removed fairy.”
“I really don’t speak Supe all that well, Doc,” Sookie admitted, completely baffled by the explanation she had just been given.
Ludwig flung her hands in the air, exasperation and a scowl prominent upon her face, “It means that you are the closest we have come, and potentially will ever come, to seeing what a vampire fairy will be!” At Sookie’s continued confusion, Ludwig elaborated further, “Your blood is the purest I have seen of a hybrid who was successfully transformed into a vampire. Vampires cannot turn fairies. They do not have the control to do so without draining them.”
Sookie’s confusion quickly turned into terror, “So what does this mean?”
Ludwig’s grin widened, “I can’t wait to find out!”