Catalyst Ch. 10

Chapter Ten: A Shoulder

Jason’s POV:

IT’S SO FUCKIN’ GOOD TO BE HOME!

Or as much as Eric’s condo is ‘home.’ Whatever. I’m just glad to not have any more needles in my arm or gettin’ woke up all the time for blood tests or bandage changes.

“Remember, we gotta go back for a checkup in four days. We gotta keep your bandages clean-”

Sooks is yammering away, bustling around me like a mother hen cause the hospital’s never released someone so soon after bein’ shot all over so many times. But they said I was stable, didn’t show any signs of internal bleedin’ from the ultrasounds or MRI. They said, except for the holes, no one woulda thought I’d just been shot.

Including the first day in the hospital that I’d been unconscious the whole time, I was only admitted three days total before they said I could go. Four days sooner than they’d ever sent anybody home after a shot to the abdomen, and I’d took four. Part of me can’t help but wonder if Dr. Ludwig’s ‘Miracle Juice’ ain’t what kept the damage from being worse.

After all, three little shots to my shoulder, and a fuckin’ year and a half of excruciating damage was gone instantly. That was bone, muscle, and cartilage. The bullet shots were just a bit of tissue damage.

“Dr. Ludwig,” Sookie looks at me sharply. “That’s the doc that Eric sent ya, right?”

“Yeah, why?” I frown, then remember my sister’s a telepath and probably got intrigued by that stray thought of mine.

“Did she give you more shots on Saturday?” she asks me.

“Yeah. Again, why?”

Sookie shrugs, “You kinda made me wonder if she’s why you’re okay. You just made some really good points.”

“Yeah, well, it just seemed more likely that treatment is what helped, and not my organs and arteries knowin’ well enough to get outta the way of bullets,” I mumble.


“Agreed,” Sookie nods and takes my duffle bag to my room and her own to hers. “C’mon,” she snaps at me, “get back in bed!”

I roll my eyes, but go down the hall anyway. “I’ve been in bed three days already,” I argue.

“Yeah, but ya still got four holes in your chest. Bed. Now,” She points at my door and I shuffle on past her. When I sit on the bed, Sookie drops down and undoes my shoes for me cause I ain’t supposed to bend over. Honestly, I couldn’t even if I wanted. It fuckin’ hurts. Three of the bullets got me in the abdomen, the fourth went through the gap ‘tween my collar bone and first rib close to my left shoulder. They all fuckin’ hurt in their own ways. This one hurts when I lead with my right leg, this one if I lead with my left, that one if I stand too long, all of ’em if I turn at my trunk. The one by my shoulder just never stops hurtin’. Inhale or exhale, it’s all painful.

Once Sooks has my shoes off, I stand up real slow and shoo her outta the room before dropping my pants and gingerly crawling into bed. “All right, I’m under the blankets,” I call and Sooks comes right back in. She brings in the checker board with her and we play a few games, chattin’ about the upcoming New Year. We talk about the classes we’ll be takin’, the things we’d like to do together now that work ain’t pushin’ us apart. I joke about finally teaching her to drive, but she wants to believe I’ll do it.

We pretty much talk about everything to avoid acknowledging the fact we got slammed by reporters comin’ out the hospital. I guess slammed is kinda overkill. I think there was six or seven of them, but it felt like they were everywhere with the way they were barking and pushin’. You’d think they’d have the curtesy not to jostle a guy that’s just been shot up.

It ain’t the media that bothers me so much. I’m a quarterback playin’ college ball. My picture’s been in the paper before, even got quoted one time, but that was something I chose. I chose to play college ball. I didn’t choose to be shot. I sure as hell didn’t choose to have my very private moment with my sister broadcasted all over the freakin’ state. At least no one could hear her end of the conversation. Dispatch’s recording could only pick up my end. Still, it was fuckin’ embarrassing to have the media playin’ that call on an infinite loop. Not only that, but hearin’ myself, remembering how scared Sooks was, how scared I was, thinkin’ ‘This will be the last conversation I ever have with my baby sister. I really did fail her.’ Shit like that hurts worse than all the wounds I could be covered in. For five or ten minutes, I really thought I was gonna die, and leave Sookie all alone.

“Jason,” Sookie’s bottom lip is trembling and her eyes are filling with tears. Shit, she heard all that. “I never woulda thought you failed me. I know you woulda fought as hard as ya could, but none of that matters. You’re fine. You’re gonna stay that way. Hear me?”

I smile at her, “Yeah, Sooks. I hear ya.”

We go back to just bein’ happy to still be together.

Pam’s POV:

There are a few things I have learned to like about humans over the centuries. Their blood, their warmth, and their indisputable ability to bring me amusement. However, the past three weeks have taught me new things to appreciate. Amazingly, those things have nothing to do with how they directly involve me.

While visiting Stackhouse in the hospital the last two evenings, just before visiting hours ended, I observed the siblings curled up, reading children’s books, and just being content to still live. When I turned on the TV to catch the news clip about the Runway Riot in New York, I also forced Jason and Sookie to listen to yet another story about the shooting. The two had been tense, embarrassed, and over all morose, as the one-sided proclamation and apology given by Jason was played for the millionth time in a single day.

I never thought a pair of humans could encourage me to want only the best for them. I completely changed the mock up design for their apartment, as it is still in the structural part of renovation. Changing the scheme from a more modern feel to a rustic one went against my entire core as a designer, but I knew that something more “southern country” would appeal to them better. I managed to blend my modern ideals with their simple ones, and I think the eclecticism will be both a comfort and enlightenment to the Stackhouses.

This evening, their first back in the condo, I am taking Sookie for a trip to the spa. I figure waxing will put her in enough physical pain to keep her mind from wandering to the emotional pain of the last few days. Eric is planning on sitting with Jason while we are gone to see how he is actually holding up emotionally and psychologically without Sookie there to keep face in front of.

I suppose there is a great chance I will end up being the same shoulder to lean on for Sookie once we are on our own. That is not something I look forward to, but for that little blonde, I will make an exception. The Stackhouses need to stay strong for each other, and if falling apart on Eric and I help them grin and bear it later, then we are prepared to do that.

What have they turned us into? I wonder bemusedly.

Sookie is quiet when I pick her up and drop Eric off. He gave her a very chaste kiss when we arrived before heading into the condo, and I watched as Sookie stared at his back before following me to the van.

“Is everything all right, Sookie?” I ask as we drive toward the salon.

“Yeah,” she whispers, staring at her hands.

“There is something on your mind,” I attempt to draw her out.

She is very quiet until we are only a block from the salon. Finally, she utters, “Do you think Eric will get impatient with me?”

“Impatient about what?” I ask in bafflement.

“The kissin’ stuff,” she is still whispering.

I glance at her in surprise. This is not the discussion for which I had prepared myself. “How do you mean?”

She lifts her shoulders noncommittally before elaborating, “He’s so much older than me. I’m sure goin’ so slow will irritate him.”

“Eric enjoys his time with you,” I tell her.

“Enough?” she asks and looks at me worriedly.

“More than enough,” I assure. “I will not lie to you and say that Eric is a patient person. I will not tell you that he is not a sexual person. I will tell you that when he is with you, he is content, and there is not an ounce of impatience within him. He enjoys being with you, Sookie, and if this is the pace you wish him to move at, he is determined to work with that.”

“What about when I do want more?” she asks as I pull into a parking space in front of the salon.

“Then tell him so, but I know that he has already promised your brother that nothing is happening before you are eighteen. He respects your brother, even more so now, and he would not break his promise to Jason,” I inform her of the agreement between my Maker and her brother.

Sookie lets out a long breath, “So I got a few months to figure things out?”

“Sookie,” I roll my eyes, “you have more time than that. I am telling you that if you want less time, you will just have to sit pretty and wait. Eric will not budge on his agreement.”

We step out of the van and walk toward the doors in thoughtful silence. Our personal conversation is put on hold while I walk Sookie through getting waxed.

I cannot wait until I have the same ability as Eric to control the magic of my body from re-growing my body hair every night. Currently I must shave every evening since my hair returns to the exact same it was when I was turned. Apparently I will have no control over this regeneration until I am nearly half a millennium old. Unfortunately, I will need to be Eric’s current age to master power over specific regeneration. Therefore, if I break a nail, my body hair would come back in. At least our magic seems to understand injury and does not undo our beautification rituals when we are wounded and need to heal.

“Ow! Oh my gosh, ow!” Sookie yelps as she has her first wax strip removed.

“Suck it up,” I tell Sookie as I flip through a magazine while Yan rips off another strip of wax. I watch amusedly as Sookie clenches the table. As Yan works her way up Sookie’s legs, she stops, turns, and asks me in her native tongue what Sookie wants for her bikini area. A mischievous grin tugs at my lip and I tell her to remove it all. Even though I cannot annoy Eric with the request at this time, I know he prefers women to at least have some pubic hair. However, I am hoping that if I can get Sookie liking a Brazilian wax now, she will be bald as a Buddha by the time she lets Eric take her pants off.

When Yan moves the sheet to begin waxing Sookie’s privates, the girl sits up like she has been bit, and looks between me and Yan with trepidation.


“She is going to clean up that…
Mess,” I point between her legs. “Dear God, have you ever heard of landscaping?”

“Pam!” Her face is red and mortified, but she flops down like a good girl and lets Yan do her work. I grin at the way Sookie’s body tenses when the first strip tears away that ugly shag carpet she’s been sporting. All the way through the process, Sookie is doing Lamaze breathing, but she does not grant me an actual scream. Here I was expecting bawling, but the little girl sucks it up and gets through the procedure like a seasoned pro.

“You will acclimate to it,” I tell her as Yan plucks away stray hairs, cleans up residual wax, and finally soothes the angry flesh.

“Pam, that was the most embarrassing thing of my whole life,” Sookie whimpers as she dismounts the table and begins pulling her bottoms back on. “Why didn’t you get anything done?” she asks me.

“I cannot wax again yet,” I tell her simply. It just is not worth the effort unless I am attending a big event where I need to be sinfully smooth.

Sookie nods and then hobbles over to me, “Oh, gosh, this hurts,” she exclaims before sitting down next to me. “My jeans feel like they’ll rub me raw!”

“The first few times you have this done it will feel uncomfortable. The results are amazing though,” I assure her.

“It sucks that they have to take it all off to do that,” she frowns. “I feel like a little girl without anything down there.”

I stifle a laugh. Perfect! She has no idea that there is anything other than Brazilian!

“Yes, it is a shame,” I pat her back comfortingly.

Jason’s POV:

“How are you doing, Jason?” Eric asks as I walk carefully to the fridge for some juice.

“Well, everything hurts,” I reply as I get a glass, fill it up, and put the carton back in the fridge. “Other than that, pretty good.”

Eric nods as I come back to the living room. I set the glass on the coffee table, put my hip into the arm of the couch, and sorta slide onto the cushion so I don’t gotta tense my abs none. Once I’m sittin’, I get comfortable and grab my drink.

“Have you had any nightmares since the shooting?” he asks me, and I shake my head. It’s true, I ain’t had any trouble sleepin’ the past three nights. I’m sure I’d get anxious if I had to step foot in that store again, but other than that, I think I’m only a bit jumpier than I was before. “Jason?”

I shrug at his persistence, “It’s nothin’, just a bit jumpy is all. Loud noises make me wanna hop outta my skin sometimes. Sooks tossed one of her books on the table last night, about scared me half to death. I dunno, it was a weird night. The guy shot me… He was off, y’know? Came in, talkin’ to himself, almost sounded like he was cryin’,” I shake my head with pity. “He didn’t say much before he shot me, but just the way he was actin’ got the hairs on the back of my neck standin’ on end. I was just freezing behind the counter because I didn’t know if he was tryin’ to pretend he was in distress or something, or off his meds? I just kept standin’ there, starin’ at him. Then he looked at me, sobbed, and… I didn’t even see the gun. I shoulda been lookin’ him over for weapons, but I was just stuck on his face. He looked so sad and hurt. Then five shots go off, first one hit the register, the rest hit me. I guess the only reason he didn’t shoot me in the head to finish me off was because he only had the six, and wanted to off himself, too. Few seconds before he shot himself, he said he didn’t wanna go alone. Like he was apologizing or something.”

Eric nods again, puttin’ his hands on his knees, “How did being put in such a life or death situation make you feel? How do you think it affects you now?”

Dang, he’s goin’ full psychoanalyst on me!

“Honestly, all I was thinkin’ about when I got shot was Sookie. I just had this image of her plastered to my eyes. Like, just think of who you’d leave behind. There wasn’t much else I could think at the time.”

“Then why did you call her if you were so adamant about not dying?” Eric presses.

I shrug weakly at his question, but I whisper, “Because everyone’s left her without a goodbye or last ‘I love you.’ If I… If I couldn’t make myself live, I could at least give her that. I mean, I was scared, but I was more scared for her, y’know? Sure, I bet you woulda stepped up and thrown money every which way to keep her safe and taken care of, but she needs me. She’s just lost so much so young, and she ain’t ready to not have me anymore.”


“You are only three years older than her, Jason. Do you not feel like
you have had too many taken away from you, too?”

“Of course I do,” I confess. “I ain’t sayin’ if the roles weren’t reversed I’d be any better off. I need her just as bad. I’d never deny that. I think I’d kill myself if I lost her,” I admit. “It ain’t so much about bein’ alone… It’s more about not seein’ any good anymore. Sooks and I didn’t deserve what we got dealt, but we’ve rode it out the best we could, and we never blamed anyone or asked ‘why us’. Not once. But, if Sookie were killed or got sick, like real terminal sick, that’s when I think I’d just give up. God can’t exist, or he can’t be a very loving God if he got nothin’ better to do than to fuck me over so hard every few years. Misfortune’s one thing, builds humility, but that shit is a fuckin’ tragedy.”

Eric’s noddin’ his head in understanding, and honestly, I’m just grateful to get all this off my chest. I ain’t suicidal or nothin’, but if I said this shit to the trauma counselor, they’d probably have told Social Services and then Sookie might’ve been yanked outta my custody. Maybe mine and Sookie’s relationship is kinda unhealthy. We’re super codependent, and we know that. Shit, I’m almost twenty-one and she’s almost eighteen, and there’s still nights we sleep in the same bed cause one of us just had a really bad fuckin’ day.

“Sooks and I still share a bed sometimes,” I confess to Eric quietly.

“Oh?” He sounds surprisingly curious without bein’ judgmental.

“Yeah. Usually it’s her who can’t sleep right, and she asks me to stay in bed with her. I’ve had my nights, though, where I just gotta hold her and listen to her breathe. Know she’s still with me, that I ain’t alone. Is that sick?” I ask him. I’m not sure if Sookie knows I’d slip into her bed with her sometimes for a few hours between the graveyard shift and school. It kinda felt healing, ’cause I didn’t get to see her all day, maybe if I held her while she slept, she wouldn’t miss me so much?

Eric sighs and shakes his head, “I think you are both emotionally injured children, and that no one can possibly know the damages that have been done to you other than each other. You have both been put under great stresses. I do not think you two sharing a bed is sick,” he assures me. “I hope that with the stresses relieved from you that you and Sookie might progress to a more traditional role of brother and sister. Perhaps your childish comforts will not be necessary after Sookie turns eighteen and you know that she can no longer be taken away.”

“Maybe,” I nod. “Thanks again, for helpin’ us out. Really, you’ve just come in and fixed everything for us like our problems were so simple!”

“They were simple, Jason,” Eric tells me. “But simple does not mean they cannot be damning. Money is always a simple thing. You either have enough or you do not. Food is a simple thing. Sleep, another very simple thing. When you have none of them, things do not seem very simple, do they?”

I laugh, “Yeah, I guess that’s true…”

“I am glad that you do not seem too much worse for wear after your taxing Christmas morning. You seem in surprisingly good spirits for a man shot four days ago.”

“I am,” I nod. “I’m gonna make a full recovery. No lasting injuries once they heal up. I don’t gotta work for the next eighteen months, so I can rest up, put weight back on, work out, and come back my senior year like I was a Freshmen again. Tell me that ain’t somethin’ to boost some shitty morale! Tell me that ain’t something to lift Sookie up!”

“It sounds as if you are very ready to start the new year with a clean slate,” Eric’s grinnin’ all big.

“That’s the truth,” I nod with enthusiasm. We are a bit quiet for a while, both of us just cool with sittin’ around in silence. That is till I open my big mouth, “Y’know, I never got to speak my mind about you and Sooks….”

“We did not cover all of this the other night?” he asks me in surprise.

“Nah, you kinda had to put words in my mouth ’cause I was all in shock about it. Not shocked that someone noticed my sister, y’know? Just shocked that I never really thought ’bout havin’ to deal with that.” Eric nods in understanding, and I feel brave enough to keep going, “Ya put some nice restrictions and stuff on the two of ya. Stuff a big brother or daddy would appreciate, seein’ as I’m kinda both to her, I was real relieved that you were gonna take it real slow with her,” I’m lookin’ at my hands while I talk, too uncomfortable to look him in the eyes. “The thing is though, the time don’t mean nothin’ to me. I ain’t gonna like it whether she’s eighteen or thirty. That’s just the way it’ll be. The thing I couldn’t stand is if she gave ya something real special, and you just treated that like nothing. So, whenever whatever happens between you happens, just make sure your heart’s in the right place, okay? It doesn’t matter what age she is, just so long as it’s love.”

Eric’s lookin’ at me with surprise written all over his face. “Jason,” he says quietly, “I can tell you with complete honesty that my heart is entirely in the right place.” My body tenses because I was hoping he wouldn’t try and cajole me none right after lifting his own deadlines. “However, I will not tell her how I feel because she needs to know me in ways much more important than physically. I want her to know exactly who I am before bedding me. It will take time to introduce Sookie to the different faces I wear, and prepare her for knowing exactly the type of person I am. You will know, too, because I feel a camaraderie with you, and I respect you. I cannot tell you everything all at once, and I request your patience as it is spoon fed to you.”

I stare at him a good, long while before I blurt, “Are ya some kinda arms dealer or something?”

Eric laughs and shakes his head, “No, nothing like that. However, I will tell you that I have, on several occasions, performed less than legal actions. Most of the time I am not forced to do things illegally because I am wealthy enough to buy and sell most of my problems. There are situations that need to be dealt with less publicly at times, but that is all. If you find yourself guessing at who and what I am, I would encourage you not to ask me. It may force me to lie to you more often than I would like. These truths about Pamela and I must be… dispensed carefully. Do you understand?”

I’m frowning, not because I don’t understand, but because I do understand. Northman’s in love with my sister. Like, really, head-over-heels, honest to God, in love. I know he is ’cause whatever it is that Northman’s hiding is fuckin’ huge. Like cartel smuggling, assassin, some kinda illegal thing without bein’ illegal. I don’t think he was lyin’ to me about that. He’s said he won’t lie about what he tells me, only what I force him to answer.

What kinda fuckin’ secret that’s got nothin’ to do with illegal shit is such a big fuckin’ deal?

Instantly Sookie’s telepathy comes to mind. What if Eric and Pam are special like my sister? Am I the only boring, normal guy of the bunch of us!? Shit! That sucks!

“I get it, Eric,” I tell him. “I don’t know what your secret is exactly, but I know it won’t matter. It won’t matter to Sookie and it won’t matter to me. If ya still feel like ya need to hold our hands through this, fine, that’s your decision. Just don’t think we would run screamin’ for the hills. There’s plenty we’ve seen already. We don’t scare off easy.”

Eric laughs and shakes his head, “Screaming for the hills is not far off from my expectations of your reactions.”

“We’ll see,” Already I’m resolving myself that no matter what Pam and Eric’s secrets are, they’ll still be two of the best friends I’ve ever had.

“I will keep my fingers crossed,” he murmurs.

After all the heavy shit’s outta the way, I turn on the TV and we just hang out like two buds watchin’ ESPN. Around ten, Pam and Sooks come back from their “girl time,” and I ask what happened ’cause Sooks walks in like she been sucker punched.

“Her legs are tender,” Pam tells me. “The first couple waxings can be quite shocking to the system.”

I make a I-don’t-wanna-know face because I really just don’t wanna hear about my baby sis gettin’ waxed. Gross. Eric is glarin’ at Pam and she’s got a devil-may-care grin like she got when she dropped in the middle of a sidewalk and sucked me off. I don’t know exactly what that exchange means to them, but Eric seems annoyed that Pam got Sookie to wax. I don’t know why he cares; he’s said he ain’t gonna get in my sister’s panties any time soon. And I officially want to stop thinkin’ ’bout this…

Pam’s POV:

Ooh, Eric’s mad! Fun!

“What’s wrong, Eric?” I taunt as we are driving to the meeting area where he conducts Sheriff’s business.

“Did they take it all, Pam?” he snarls at me and I cannot help but cackle. “You made them take it all!” he accuses.

I shrug at his ire, “What do you care? You will not be seeing it any time soon.”

“That is beside the point,” he snaps.

“You really need to embrace the changes and evolution of the beauty industry, Eric,” I tell him.

“I do not need to embrace bedding grown women with prepubescent genitalia!” he argues right back.

“You know you love the smooth skin,” I taunt further. “I know I do. Especially when it is kept up on. Smooth, velvety, wet skin. Not to mention I don’t spend the next five minutes picking pubes from between my teeth,” I tell him with distaste. “You should really let me clean up the disaster you have going on down there.”

Eric rolls his eyes at my suggestion, “No one has ever complained about my pubic hair.”

“Probably because there is a mighty oak overshadowing the damn forest you have in there,” I retort. “I promise I will not shave you. Just let me do some trimming and thinning out?”

“Pam, I will throw you out of the car while it is still moving. Stop it,” he warns.

Once we are pulling up to the warehouse in which we conduct our vampire activity, I start in on him again, “Just think about it! You let me shorten your hair!” I tug at his shoulder length blond which, once upon a time, had been nearly as long as Sookie’s. He finally let me take it up to his shoulders when I explained that in this era, he would need to buy a Harley or Indian to warrant such lengthy tresses. I promise, one day, he will let me cut his hair like a modern man’s.

“If I see a razor, Pam, I will throw you into Cross Lake out of a moving vehicle,” Eric tells me adamantly.


I clap my hands excitedly. However, I have to temper my enthusiasm until we are home. Our first appointment has arrived.

“Tallis,” Eric greets the tall, dark-haired female. Tallis is one of us vampires who really looks the part. Waist length, straight black hair, blood red nails, smoky eyes, and a delicate, pale face. She is a little over a hundred years my superior, and she can do things with her tongue that I still fantasize about on occasion. “What seems to be the problem?”

“I am having issues with a local coven,” Tallis’ voice is husky and warm, like an exhale of perfumed smoke. “They have put up wards within my neighborhood that are making it extremely difficult for me to traverse. If I were one of those gifted with flight, I would not bother you with this matter. However, if they put up one more ward near Fox Ave, I will be effectively boxed in or out of my residence,” she explains, frustrated and scowling.

“I see,” Eric nods in understanding. “I will talk to their High Priestess about the wards. This would be the Dark Moon Coven, yes?” Tallis nods and Eric dismisses her. I know Eric hates dealing with witches, but he has some of the best negotiating tactics since he can acquire many “in demand” Wicce paraphernalia, which just happen to be extremely illegal in many countries.

Our next meeting is a business dispute between two vampires. I am rather uninterested in the situation, but find great pleasure and enjoyment to see Eric practically maim the plaintiff. Apparently the accuser was being greedy, attempting to secure more profits from his partner than what he was entitled.

By four in the morning, Eric is in a poor mood. Sophie-Anne has called, informing Eric that a new body has been discovered in the bayou of Baton Rouge. It seems that Eric has a vampire body count to raise as punishment. I would not be surprised if he ends more than just one vampire. The bayou down there is teeming with vampires, and a culling of the herd might not be a bad idea.

When we arrive in Bon Temps, Eric and I both freeze at the scent in the air. I look up at Eric guardedly, but his back is straight, shoulders squared, and he is storming for the door. “Stay here, Pamela,” he commands me, and my feet stick to the spot. When is the last time Eric commanded me like this?

And why is he afraid of me going in with him? Why am I not allowed to see Godric, too?

On To Chapter Eleven!

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Catalyst Ch.09

Chapter Nine: Christmas Blues and Reds

Sookie’s POV:

I am on a mission.

After alerting Jason that I plan to steal a little of our savings to go shopping for our Christmas Eve dinner, as well as a few trinket-like ‘thank you’ gifts for Pam and Eric, I am now on the streets of Shreveport intent on givin’ us the best Christmas we’ve had in three years. Of course, Christmas Eve shopping is always a chore. A lot of shops close early, and the ones that contain the sorts of things I’d like to get Eric are shut down by noon.

So, here I am in an antique shop with a frustrated crone of a shopkeeper tailing me like I might steal somethin’. After nearly an hour, it’s roundin’ on eleven, and I finally find what I’m lookin’ for. I look at the tag, suck in a breath, and let it out slow. Pricier than I would like, but with all Eric’s given us, I’m prepared to make the leap. It’s a replica, of course, but it’s definitely older than something I could find at a hippy or new age store.

Pam’s not quite as hard to shop for, in the sense that I know she’s more about fashion. She’s difficult in the sense that Jason and I couldn’t afford a darn thing that she would wear. Thankfully, I find somethin’ I think she’ll find amusing, if not practical.

My last stop is the grocery store, and I’m one of hundreds of people tryin’ to get last minute ingredients for Christmas Eve dinner. On the bright side, me and Jason have a different tradition than most when it comes to food on this holiday, so I don’t run into trouble findin’ what I need. I just gotta stand in line forever till I can get rung out.

When I finally get home, I set to work startin’ dinner. It’s a little after one in the afternoon, Jason’s still asleep, and I only got a few hours to get our feast prepared. Eric and Pam told us to eat without them ’cause they had their own traditions they were gonna do before comin’ over. Thinkin’ about it, I don’t think I’ve seen either of them eat before. They’ve sat around with a drink every once and a while, but I don’t recall ever seein’ them actually take a drink.

Weird.

I shake off my strange observation and buckle down. By the time the chicken’s startin’ to make the condo fill with mouthwatering goodness, Jason comes outta his room, practically bein’ dragged by his nostrils.

“Hey, Sleepyhead!” I grin up at him.

“Hey,” he comes over and dips his finger in the mashed potatoes before I can get them in the pan to bake and crisp up. I mix in heaps of butter, sour cream, crumbled bacon, chives, and cheese. We ain’t had twice baked potato casserole since the Thanksgiving before Gran died. She didn’t make it for Christmas that year.

“I’m gonna go change real quick,” I tell him after the last of the food is finishing on the stove or in the oven. “You should grab a shower and change, too.”

“What for? I gotta go to work tonight,” Jason points out.
“Jason,” I whine. “C’mon, it’s Christmas! I want ya to dress nice with me for dinner. Nothin’ fancy, just somethin’ that’s not your sweats and t-shirt.”

“Fine, fine,” he grumbles and starts down the hallway.

I quickly run to my own room and change into a snug pair of white jeans that Pam got me the other night. I put on the red top, hoping I look like I got the Christmas Spirit.

When we meet back up in the kitchen, our early dinner’s ready, and I scoop everything into the nice serving dishes before bringin’ them to the dining table. Once we’re all settled in, I take Jason’s hand and we bow our heads.

“Thank you, Lord, for the food we are about to receive,” Jason begins after a moment to collect his thoughts. “We are blessed to be together this holiday season, and grateful for the many gifts you have given us in overwhelming abundance these past weeks. Thank you for bringin’ us new friends, and strengthening us through their generosity. We pray that we remain strong and grateful for all the days of our lives. We pray you watch out for us and our new friends. Amen.”

“Amen,” I give Jason’s hand a tight squeeze, and then we start loadin’ up our plates like we ain’t eaten in weeks. We’ll have plenty of leftovers, but maybe I can convince Pam and Eric to take some home.

When we’re through with dinner and our dessert of peach cobbler, Jason and I run to our separate rooms and retrieve the gifts we scrounged up for one another this year.

We quickly hand each other the packages, and I tear into the mine excitedly. I squeal at what I find. The first volume of “The Boxcar Children.” This was my favorite book when I was little. When I was only three, I remember Jason readin’ it to me. When Mamma and Daddy died, he read it to me every night for a month. Over and over and over. When Gran died… We couldn’t find the book, but he would try and retell it from memory, me piping in at details he had forgotten.

It’s a used book. The spine is cracked and well-loved and read. The pages are bloated and fan wide from age, but still cling to their spine with surprising integrity. I open the book and look at the familiar silhouette of the children gathered with Watch over a picnic blanket. Between the picture and the title, I see Jason’s handwriting scrunched in:

~ “Then Henry began to think of winning the race. He knew how much the twenty-five-dollar prize would mean to Jessie and the rest of the children.

“I am going to win this race!” he said to himself.”

“Oh, Jason!” I sob, flingin’ my arms around his neck and squeezin’ him like my life depended on it.

“Hehe, you like it?” he asks, pattin’ my back and kissin’ my head.

“I love it,” I tell him.

“Good. Now, let’s see what ya got me,” He’s grinnin’ while he sets the package on the table.

He tears it open, looks at it confused, and then his grin returns.

“’Tough times don’t last. Tough people do,’” he reads the quote I have written within the old window frame. It’s also got as many pictures of us as I could pull together. There aren’t many from the last three years. The coach found a few that got taken of us at the game, but most are from when we were young. The ones of just the two of us. Jason teachin’ me how to throw the kid’s size football with a perfect spiral. The two of us fishin’ in the pond behind our parents’ old house. Me mashin’ a fistful of flour in Jason’s face. Jason readin’ the very book now in my hand in Gran’s rocking chair. There are more, but lookin’ at it makes me tear up again, so I look away.

As we’re both tryin’ to wipe up our eyes, the doorbell rings. I quickly go over to let Eric and Pam in.

“Merry Christmas, Sookie,” Eric leans down and kisses my cheek.

“Merry Christmas, Eric. Merry Christmas, Pam,” I smile up at Eric’s sister and she gives me a big grin. “What?” I ask.

Pam’s grin widens further and she reaches out of my field of vision. Next thing I know, there’s this great big Santa Bag bein’ pushed through the door.

“What is this!?” I cry as Eric takes the bag into the condo.

“Your Christmas presents!” Pam’s grin could make the Devil relent his throne to her.

“No!” I object. “I don’t even know what’s in here, and I know it’s too much!”

“Really, guys,” Jason’s behind me. “This is too much.”

“It is all practical,” Pam assures us and shoves her way inside.

“Well,” I scratch the back of my head before admitting, “I got you guys some stuff, too.”

“Sookie, that was not necessary,” Eric protests. “We want for nothing.”

“I know,” I nod. “It’s nothin’ impressive, just stuff I thought you guys would like. It’s from the two of us, and I promise I didn’t spend too much.”

I dash out of the livin’ room and retrieve their presents. When I return, I hand them each a package. Eric takes the small box from me and looks at Pam nervously. She’s already rippin’ hers open. She laughs at what’s inside.

“Is this your way of saying you do not wish to go to the salon with me again?” she teases at the mani/pedi kit.

Eric laughs and finally opens the little box with his gift, “Oh, Sookie, this is perfect.” He pulls a small leather chord from the box and a small, iron, Norse serpent dangles from a small ring.

“Well, when we were talkin’ the other night, you seemed to fixate on Vikings, so I figured it was your favorite historical topic,” I explain.

Pam cackles at my observation, “Yes, Eric, you do have a certain fixation with that era, don’t you?”

Eric shakes his head at her comment. He leans in and gives me another kiss instead of replying to her. “Thank you, Sookie.”

“You’re welcome.”

“What did you two get for each other?” Pam asks me.

Jason and I proudly show off our gifts. Pam and Eric smile softly, nodding, but sayin’ nothing. I don’t know what to make of their silence, but part of me thinks that they’re humbled?

“Sorry we don’t all know each other better yet,” I find myself apologizing. “If we did, maybe I coulda figured out somethin’ more personal.”

“Sookie, I like my gift very much,” Pam announces. “It is a very nice set.” She looks super uncomfortable, like being this reassuring is foreign to her, and she’s lookin’ at Eric as if she’s wondering if she said the right thing.

“I love my gift, Sookie,” Eric tells me and reaches behind his neck to tie the chord of leather. The serpent settles right in the notch of his throat. God, that looks sexy!

We all stand awkwardly a moment before Pam starts walkin’ toward the couch like a silent indicator that we need to leave the unpleasantness behind us.

Once we’re all gathered around on the couch, Pam opens the big bag ‘o’ gifts and starts sorting through them. There’s several long, narrow packages that I’m guessing are clothes.

“Well, go on,” Pam insists once the bag is empty. “We do not stand on ceremony. Start opening them!”

Tentatively Jason and I start opening our gifts. Mostly it’s clothes, and I’m thankful Pam didn’t shove tons into each box. When I go to open the next one, Pam frowns, takes it from me, and says, “Wait until Jason leaves to open that one.”

I stare at her in bewilderment and Jason’s face goes real red.

“It is very generic, basic undergarments, Stackhouse,” Pam rolls her eyes at him. “However, considering how bashful the two of you get, I thought it inappropriate for her to open them in front of you.”

I nod appreciatively and put the box under the couch for later. Looks like I’ll spend my Christmas day doing laundry, I think amusedly.

We each receive two small boxes which turn out to be cellphones. They’re already charged and have each other’s number programmed in them as well as Eric’s and Pam’s.

“Oh, open those two at the same time!” Pam points to one more narrow package and another that is slightly larger. Jason takes the big box and I take the little box. Mine is a laptop and several reams of paper, his is a printer.

“No more late night library trips!” Pam claps her hands.

“No!” Jason and I say in unison, making Eric and Pam laugh.

“Every college student should have a laptop,” Eric tells him.

“But-” we say in unison again, and are again cut off.


“This is much more about your sister’s safety than generosity,” Eric tells Jason firmly.

“Yeah, I guess that’s true,” Jason mumbles, lookin’ at the gifts. I can tell he’s overwhelmed, but even though there are a lot of boxes, the amount of gifts is reasonable. I don’t think the labels on the clothes are anything that’ll turn heads. The laptop, though expensive, is very practical.

“Thank you, Pam,” I break the silence. “Thank you, Eric.”

“You are very welcome,” Eric answers.

“Y-yeah! Thanks. Thank you very much, guys,” Jason regains his manners and reaches over to shake Eric’s hand. He gives Pam a small smile that actually reaches his eyes.

We talk and hang out until Jason has to leave, a bit bitter after being schooled on several historical events by Eric. Even Pam managed to site some key points about the Civil War. Once he leaves, Pam retrieves the gift of underwear from beneath the couch, leans in, and whispers, “I lied.”

My eyes widen as I take the package, and nervously open it. There is nothing generic about the underwear in that box! Laces, satins, bras, panties… Lingerie I don’t even know the names for! I quickly shut the box and look apprehensively at Eric who is sittin’ across from me smirking.

“What?” I grouch, shoving the box back beneath the couch.

“Nothing,” he raises his hands innocently. “I just thought the look on your face was adorable.”

I run my hands up and down my leg anxiously as Pam stands up and starts to wander around the condo. I can hear her in the kitchen and wonder if she’s gonna raid our leftovers.

“I really like all the stuff you got us,” I mumble.

“I am glad… That book your brother bought you, does it have a special meaning to you?” he asks.

I explain mine and Jason’s connection with the book, and Eric is nodding as I tell him about the comfort it’s brought me over the years. “Have you ever read it?” I ask.

“No,” Eric shakes his head.

“It’s a good book… Well, I guess it would be pretty silly to you readin’ it for the first time at your age, but when I was a kid it was real great. Even though it’s very simple to me now, it’s just… Comfort.”

Eric smiles and nods like he understands, and I find myself rising from the couch and goin’ over to the loveseat he’s occupying. I sit next to him and take his hand in mine, playing with his long fingers. They’re always so cool.

After a moment, Eric raises his hand, effectively bringing my hand to his mouth and kisses it. His mouth grazes the inside of my wrist next, and his eyes are starin’ into mine. When he leans in and his lips touch mine, my heart starts racin’. My face gets warm. Then his tongue brushes against my bottom lip, making me take my hand from his and twirl it in his hair. His tongue brushes my lip again, then the seam where my lips meet.

He wants you to open your mouth, Sookie! my brain finally informs me.

Immediately I part my lips, and his tongue is caressing against mine. It’s like a wave, lapping over me again and again. It’s hypnotic and soothing, but it gets my heart beatin’ hard. I’m gasping against his mouth, holdin’ his hair tight as he’s kissing me. All I want is to kiss him till Christmas!

I don’t know how long we’re making out, but at some point I’m in his lap. His hands remain on my sides or shoulders, never venturing any lower than my hips or higher than my third to last rib. I’m relieved he doesn’t tempt me at all, cause I don’t know I could resist him if he did. Even when he’s just touching me all simple and unassuming, I can feel myself desperate for more. My ‘wait for marriage’ mentality is caving quick, but I don’t have the nerves to go any further myself. If he made the move, though, I’m almost positive I’d follow.

“Let’s watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’!” Pam announces suddenly, only a couple feet away from where Eric and I are enjoyin’ our holiday.

Eric glares up at Pam, which makes me giggle, but I think he’s a little relieved. Oh, he wouldn’t try anything in front of his sister! Is he glad she grinded us to a halt?

“You are maddeningly sweet, Sookie,” Eric rumbles under his breath before standin’ up with me in his arms and taking me back to the couch. Pam hops over to the TV, pops in a DVD, and then takes our previous spot on the loveseat.

Eric sidles back into the couch, pullin’ me back against his chest, and huggin’ me close.

I manage to catch the time of eleven o’clock when the TV turns on. I don’t even make it to George’s sore ear before I fall asleep.

“Sookie, your cellphone is ringing,” Eric whispers from somewhere nearby.

I jerk awake and Eric is standing in front of me with my new phone. I take it from his hand and need a moment to find the button to take the call. It’s Jason, and it’s almost one in the morning.

“Hey, Jason,” I yawn.

Sookie, I love you so fuckin’ much,” Jason is gasping into the phone. My spine goes ramrod straight at the sound of his voice. He sounds labored or hurt. “I’m so sorry, Sooks. I’m so sorry-”

“Jason!” I stand up and Eric is already running to the door. I follow him without thinking. “Jason, what happened!?” I’m shouting into the phone, chasing Eric. He’s in his car, the passenger door flung open.

Sook, I’m hurt really bad- I’m-Umm. I’m shot,” I choke on a sob when he says that and his breathing is gettin’ so harsh that I’m panting with him. “I-I’m so fuckin’ sorry, baby sis. I’m so fuckin’ sorry. I love you so much.”

“Jason,” I’m paralyzed, but some sane part of my brains blurts, “have you called an ambulance?”

Y-yeah, I’ve got… Dispatch. Ambulance is comin’… I’m just…” When he pauses a long time I start crying.

“Jason! JASON!?” I shriek. “JAYCE!?”

I can hear him sniffling now and I let out a relieved breath, but I’m cryin’ so hard, I don’t know what to do.

I don’t wanna leave you, Sook,” Jason tells me and that just makes me sob harder. “I love you.”

“I love you, too! You’re gonna be all right! You can’t die! You’re my brother! You can’t die! Don’t leave me alone! Don’t leave me!” I’m screamin’ and babbling, guilt tripping, bargaining. Anything I can think of while the world stops turnin’.

I can hear sirens on his end of the phone and I hold my breath as my chest is contracting with hiccups. I wanna throw up. Then I hear the EMT’s through the phone.

Looks like four GSW-”

Get the guy’s phone. Dispatch said he was talkin’ to his sister-”

Is that it?”

Is this Sookie?” A new voice comes over the phone.

“Y-yes,” I sob.

This is Officer Mitchell. EMTs are takin’ Jason to St. Augustine’s,” Before I can answer, Eric takes the phone from my hand.

“We are right on top of you. We will follow the ambulance,” He says into the phone before handin’ it back to me.

“Is my brother okay? How bad is it? Who shot him? Will he be okay? How-How-”

He’s bein’ put in the ambulance right now. We’ll have to ask your brother what happened exactly, but it looks like the guy who shot your brother killed himself right after. We don’t have to look for him-”

“IS JASON GONNA BE OKAY!?” I scream.

He took four rounds to the torso. EMTs are gonna do everything they can to make sure he gets to the hospital okay, Sookie.”

Hunching over in my seat, I drop my head between my knees and try to calm my labored breathing. A full blown panic attack is wrackin’ my body, and the little catch breaths between inhales are makin’ my lungs ache. Despite the pain, I can’t stop cryin’ to alleviate the ache of my ribs or the sickeningly heavy feelin’ in my stomach.

When I flop back into my seat, clutching my phone like a lifeline, all I can think is, my brother would never leave me… God wouldn’t take Jason, too! God doesn’t hate me that much, right?

Eric’s POV:

I am sitting in the waiting room. Sookie will not let me take her hand. Instead she stands at the doors we are prohibited from passing. There is only just enough space for them to swing without hitting her, and she is standing like a bouncer in a nightclub. Waiting.

I rise from my seat and go to stand by her. Though she will not let me touch her, I at least try to offer the consolation of my nearness. She is breathing hard. I want to ask a doctor to see if she is in shock, but she will not let anyone touch her.

After four hours, a surgeon finally arrives to speak with us.

“I am astounded,” he announces, “Jason is going to be perfectly fine. It’s like all of his vital areas jumped away and made room for the bullets!”

Sookie falls toward the ground in a dead faint, and I only have a fraction of a moment to catch her. She is not out long, only forty-five seconds.

The doctor is checking her pulse, respiration, and then her blood pressure. “Got a little too relieved there, huh, Kiddo?” he teases.

“Jason’s okay?” Sookie begins crying, and she finally accepts my touch as I smooth her hair.

“Jason will be perfect. There is some irritation around his lung and small intestine and the wounds themselves, but not a single organ was impaled. His aorta should have been severed, but, like I said, it’s as if everything important bent out of the way.”

Sookie is nodding numbly, “C-Can I see him?”

“Yes, he should be coming around in a few hours,” I help Sookie from the floor and we walk toward the door. “I’m sorry, are you family?” he asks me.

“No.”

“Only family outside of visiting hours,” the doctor tells me apologetically.

“Sookie,” It is getting close to dawn, and I need to leave, but I cannot bear to leave her.

“I’ll be okay. You go home and get some sleep,” she tells me, squeezing my hand.

I lean in and kiss her, vowing to suffer through the bleeds so that she can call me at any point, “Call me if you need support,” I tell her.

“Okay,” She nods and follows the doctor out of my sight.

I decide to take refuge beneath the condo this evening with Pam. Neither of us wishes to return to Bon Temps under these circumstances. As I leave the hospital, all I can think in regard to Jason’s good luck is, thank goodness he was injected with my blood yesterday.

When I arrive at the condo, Pam is pacing anxiously. Once I tell her that Stackhouse will be okay, she nods, and starts for our chamber. Pam is not one to dwell, and now that she knows all is well, she immediately accepts that and goes back to her usual self.

I, however, am not so easily placated. Instead of going on with my evening, I am dwelling on the fact that I abandoned Sookie in one of her darkest hours. My heart is screaming in my chest, aching, and wailing to tell her I cannot stay because it would destroy me. That I would stay and die a final death if that would do her any good. That something as inconsequential as sleep is not what keeps me from maintaining a vigil for her and Jason, but the inescapable sun that locks me into shadows in exchange for my immortality.

Before I can follow Pam downstairs, I see the copy of ‘The Boxcar Children’ sitting on the dining room table. I taste the air and know that I can make it to the hospital and back before sunrise if I fly.

Grabbing the book, I take to the sky. I am over the hospital shortly, descending as quickly and discretely as possible. When I run up to the nurse’s station, I glamour the nurse at the desk, commanding her to take the book directly to Jason Stackhouse’s room. When she leaves to do as I have ordered, I run back out of the hospital, and am once more in the sky.

My chest is heavy, Godric’s presence of Concern and Alarm is weighing on me. The sun is rising. I can feel my exposed skin prickling. I am on the ground. I am running. My skin feels as though boiling water has been splashed across it.

I am in the condo. The burning is now only a warning. I am underground. Pam is already dead for the day and I am grateful she was not aware to panic over me.

The pain is still reminding me of my stupidity, but Godric’s presence within me has calmed to that of Concern and Curiosity. I collapse onto the floor, and cannot resist the sun now that I have exposed myself to its early morning rays. I die to revive.

Sookie’s POV:

I’m shocked when a nurse wanders into our room and hands me a book. When I see which book it is, I smile, and then I’m shocked again. This is the book Jason gave me… like the book. I read the quote Jason left, runnin’ my hand over it softly. Eric must have run back to the condo and brought it here.

I frown and look at the clock. Even if he blew every stoplight and was goin’ 60, he couldn’t have made it home and back to the hospital this quick.

Rather than dwell upon another peculiarity surrounding the Northmans, I open the book with one hand while holding Jason’s hand with the other.

“’One warm night, four children stood in front of a bakery….’”

{†}

“Hey, Sooks….”

I jerk awake suddenly and find Jason starin’ at me in his bed.

“You’re awake!” I choke, standin’ up and huggin’ him real careful. “How are ya feelin’? What can I get ya?”

“Just some water,” he rasps and I nod frantically. I run out the door with the empty pitcher and tell a passing nurse that my brother’s awake. She smiles, nods, and tells me she will go tell the doctor.

By the time I’m back in the room, a doctor’s already come to see him.

“You are one lucky man, Jason,”

“Look, Doc, I just wanna go home,” he’s complainin’.

“We need to monitor you a while, Jason,” the doctor tries to explain, but Jason’s already tryin’ to rip IVs outta his arm.

“Jason, it won’t be so bad,” I come in with the water and pour him a glass. “We’ll hang out, watch TV. It’ll be great. I already called in to both our jobs, and in a really nice way they said not to worry about comin’ back. So, let’s just hang out. I’ll leave Eric a voicemail and ask him to bring us some clothes. It’ll be fun!”

Jason snorts at my suggestion, but begrudgingly agrees.

I call Eric’s cell, but he doesn’t pick up. I’m not surprised though. Jason told me Eric sleeps all day….

Sookie, you’re bein’ paranoid. Cold hands, doesn’t eat, sleeps all day, pale as a ghost, and a huge history buff. Strange combination? Sure, why not? Impossible combination? Of course not!

“Hey, Eric, it’s Sookie. Jason’s awake and doing’ well. Upset he’s stuck in the hospital a few days, but good. Can you or Pam bring us some clothes, though? I don’t wanna leave him. He might try and make a break for it. Hope to see you soon. Bye!” I quickly hang up and turn back to Jason. He’s scooted to the far side of the hospital bed, makin’ room for me to join him.

I grab the TV remote, sidle into bed next to him, and hit the power button.

“… Shooting at the Route 20 Buy’n’Bag-”


I quickly change the channel.

“… heart wrenching call to his little sister while lying wounded in the store-”

I switch again.

“… Shot four times-”

I give up and turn off the TV.

“Boxcar Children?” Jason suggests.

I reach for the book and start at the beginning.

On to Chapter Ten!

Catalyst Ch. 08

Chapter Eight: Transformations and Confessions

Jason’s POV

“Oh, shit… Fuck… God that feels so fuckin’ good,” I am pushed up against the side of Pam’s minivan, gettin’ the best head of my entire life. I knew she was good at this from the preview she gave me last time, but now she seems hell bent on makin’ me cum in her mouth. My knees feel like Jell-O, and Pam’s kneeling on the sidewalk, suckin’ me off like we were alone in a hotel or somethin’. What’s gotten into me? I never woulda done shit like this, out in the open a few weeks ago, and that was when I was still in the middle of that five-month dry spell. Now I’m screwin’ strangers on the job and gettin’ blowjobs on sidewalks. The fuck is wrong with me?

“Fuck! Stop, I’m gonna cum,” I try and push Pam’s head away, but she grabs my ass, pulls me in deep, and starts fuckin’ swallowing around my junk! My eyes practically cross when I feel this perfect, tight rhythm all around me. Holy shit… Then I’m fisting my hands in her hair and tryin’ my best not to scream like a bitch when I come undone. Instead, this choppy, ragged exhale chokes through my throat and I just throw my head back against the van.

Pam stands back up, grabs me by the front of my shirt ’til I’m not leanin’ anymore, opens the door of the van, and pushes me in. The door’s barely closed again when Pam straddles me. She’s got my cock in her hand, stroking it with this very greedy look in her eyes that makes me get hard all over again.

When she sinks down onto me, I grab her hips and hold her steady. I’m still not used to bareback sex and I need a second to calm myself down. “God, I ain’t even touched you and you’re so fuckin’ wet, Pam,” I groan, giving a heated buck of my hips. Pam’s reply is to begin moving her hips in this crazy swivel that drives me insane. I’m movin’ underneath her, gripping one of her hips with one hand, and playin’ with her clit with the other. She feels so good, smells so good, and tastes so good. I let go of her hip, grab the back of her head, and pull her mouth to mine until I’m completely lost in her.

I think we’re both kinda lost in each other for a while ’cause all of a sudden Pam makes this real hot whimpering sound. Then she’s clenchin’ around me like a boa constrictor and moanin’ like she just realized she was gonna cum. Fuck, she’s so hot when she cums!

Next thing I know, I’m thrusting up to meet her, and her orgasm just keeps going and going until I can’t take it anymore. I’m pumping myself empty and practically sobbin’, it feels so good.

After I catch my breath, I look down as Pam starts to lift herself off me. She hovers just above the head of my cock, one of her hands holdin’ it up while the other spreads her pussy open. I watch, completely stunned, as my spunk starts drippin’ out of her and drizzling over my cock like icing. She lowers herself a bit and rubs my cock against her clit, over and over, until I’m panting and gettin’ hard before I even got the chance to go soft.

Shit! Fuck! I can’t go three fuckin’ times in a row, right!?

She’s already sinking back down on my dick, but this time she ain’t swively hips and languid kisses. She’s ridin’ me like I’m a bronco and she’s a Texas rodeo star! I actually splay my arms out and stabilize myself against the seats ’cause her moves are makin’ my head hit the door.

“Fuck, Pam,” I grunt as she pounds me from above.

Her hips are rockin’ and I can tell the van’s movin’ with us. I don’t give a shit. I grab her hips and start surging upward so we make a nice, solid collision. She reaches between her legs and starts rubbin’ herself all frantic. I can feel her body contracting around me again, and I swear I don’t have anything left to spend. I’m tapped out, but my body tries to cum anyway.

When I blink again, it’s from this sharp, brief pain in my neck, but it’s gone as soon as it started. I groan and grab Pam’s ass, squeezin’ it tight as we recover from our second fuck of the night. I think she likes biting me or somethin’. I think she did that the first time we had sex, but I didn’t see no bruises the next day, even though it felt like she bit me pretty fuckin’ hard.

“Hey,” I mumble at her when her tongue starts wiggling ’round where she just bit me, “that tickles. Stop it.”

“You don’t like it?” Pam looks at me all amused.

“Didn’t say that, but it’s real sensitive when ya bite me. Then you start movin’ your tongue over it and it tickles,” I tell her.

“Isn’t it nice, though?” she presses and starts rubbin’ against me like she thinks we’re gonna go again. She’s definitely opened my eyes about sex being over after the first time I cum, but if she thinks she’s getting me four times in a row, she’s gonna be real disappointed.

“Yeah it’s nice,” I murmur and she looks up at me slowly. Her blonde hair is wild around her face, and her eyes are large and bright. “Y’know, you’re kinda beautiful, Pam.”

“Thanks,” She rolls her eyes at me.

I realize that my statement might sound like I never thought she was pretty before and try to explain what I mean, “Nah, I mean like that rare beauty. Y’know? Like the shit you read about in those epic poems Sooks is always pourin’ over. Ladies with long plaits of golden hair, and big doe eyes that you can just see how they feel.”

“What is it you think I feel, Stackhouse?” Pam asks me, sounding ironic like she don’t think she feels nothin’ at all.

“I think ya feel pretty cool with me. I’m a decent enough fuck, and I guess I make ya laugh in your own ‘Pam Way.’ It always feels like you’re laughing at me,” I tell her.

“Does that bother you?” She raises her eyebrows at me.
“Nah, cause it’s not condescending laughter. It’s like fun, amused stuff,” I try to elaborate.

“You do make me laugh, Jason,” she says and starts to shimmy off me. She finds her panties on the floor of the van and pulls ’em up her long legs in an effort to end our conversation.

Arching my hips, I pull my pants the rest of the way up and start fastening them. “I ain’t tryin’ to make you think this is more than just a fuck to me, Pam. We both said it wasn’t, and if you said you changed your mind and you wanted more, I’d tell ya that can’t happen. I’m sure you’d do the same to me,” I say, buckling my belt and sittin’ up next to her.

“I would,” she confirms, but her voice is sour.

“What is it?” I ask, giving her a nudge with my elbow.

“Nothing,” she snaps back.

“What, you think because I said you think I’m fun and a decent fuck, that means I think you want more?” I ask, completely confused by her attitude.

“Doesn’t it?” she seethes, and now I’m floundering again.

“Pam,” I groan, “it doesn’t take a genius to see you’re smart, sexy, and confident. Sure, your age makes me wonder if you’re gonna try and get some claws in me, but I’d never assume to know how you actually feel.”

“It is getting late,” Pam ends our conversation. “You need to be rested for your final tomorrow.”

I sigh, climb out of the van, and head into the condo. Pam’s squealing outta the space we were parked like she can’t get away fast enough.

Well shit, I think, feelin’ a bit depressed. Pam’s a good lay, and I find myself hoping our conversation doesn’t keep us outta each other’s pants.

When I get inside, I go straight to the bathroom and shower. I’m probably gonna sleep late, and I don’t wanna be rushing to clean up before my last final. After I’m all cleaned up, I wrap a towel around my waist, go to my own room, and change into a pair of sweat pants before climbing into bed.

It’s nice havin’ my own room. At least I can change my clothes without havin’ to walk back and forth to the bathroom.

Wakin’ up the next day, Sookie’s in the livin’ room eating a waffle while watching some TV. That’s somethin’ we gotta make sure we don’t get too used to the next six weeks. We don’t have a TV at our apartment.

I go to the kitchen and make myself some frozen waffles, too. They smelled good. It’s only a little before eleven, so I got an hour before I gotta leave for campus.

Where’s the peanut butter?

“Cabinet by the dishwasher,” Sookie calls from the couch.

I frown, look in the cabinet by the dishwasher, and voila! Peanut butter.

That was weird, I think. It’s one thing when she calls me out for losin’ my shoes all over the place, but that was some paranormal, psychic shit right there. I smear some peanut butter across my waffle and then pause again. Syrup.

“Same cabinet,” she calls and now I’m starin’ at the back of her head.

“Sookie,” I call, walking toward her with my plate.

“Yeah?” she cranes her neck and watches me come sit beside her.

I look at her a long time and shake my head, “How was school yesterday?”

“Good,” She shrugs and goes back to eating and watching some documentary on dolphins and the fishing industry.

“Anything happen?” I ask.

Sookie stops eating and stares at me now. “You’re bein’ weird,” she accuses.

It’s my turn to shrug, “I guess I’m just tryin’ to put off askin’ ya about the arrangement you made with Northman.”

“Jason,” she moans, flinging her head back against the couch, “two grand a month, a car for you to drive, and a pair of cell phones. That’s it.”

“That’s it?” I look at her in bewilderment. “That’s huge!”

“Well, yeah, but you’re already tense. I thought maybe being blasé would calm ya down,” she blushes and goes back to eating.

“Fat chance,” I grumble and start eating my own waffles. “Northman told me he kissed you last night.”

Sookie’s mouth slings open and she looks mortified. “I can’t believe he told you!” she shrieks and sets down her plate on the coffee table before coverin’ her face in her hands.

“He didn’t give me details. He just said that the relationship between the two of you was romantic now, and he said that ya kissed. That’s it,” I try and calm her down. “He was just respecting that he’s in a position that he could take advantage of you, and wanted me to know what was happenin.’”

Sooks is still grimacing into her hands.

“It ain’t a big deal. Ya got kissed,” I try for nonchalant, but I can feel my ears burnin’. “Just… Y’know… Take things slow. You’ve only known him a little over a week,” I remind her.

“What, you think I’d jump in bed with him like you did with Pam?” she snarls at me.

“You know ’bout me and Pam?” I ask, shocked.

“Hard to miss a van rockin’ in front of the condo at 4:30 in the mornin’, Jason,” Sookie growls.

“Aw, shit,” I throw down my own plate now.

“I don’t care, Jason,” she assures me. “It’s just a friendly thing between you guys. If that’s all the two of you want, that’s cool. That’s how you want to live right now, but I don’t,” she insists. “I want to just be with one person, and only them. I’m not about to throw that away on a guy I’ve known two minutes.”

“I know,” I run my hands through my hair and groan. “I know you’re a good girl, Sooks… It’s just, Northman-”

“Call him Eric, Jason,” she pleads. “You’re tryin’ not to like him too much, and I want you two to get along. Maybe even be friends? You both like each other. Why are you tryin’ to distance yourself?”

“Cause he wants to date my baby sister, and if it doesn’t work out, I don’t want a shred of myself to be on his side over yours,” I tell her truthfully. “I can’t keep a guy in line if he thinks he’s my friend, Sooks.”

“Eric doesn’t need to be kept “in line”, Jason,” she tells me confidently. “And you should know that if he did pressure me, I’d just as soon walk away from him and his money. You and I have proved we can limp our way through this crap and make it to the other side. We’ll suffer, we’ll hurt, but we’ll make it. Right?”

I let out a long sigh and nod, “Yeah, you’re right. We can make it.”
“But let’s still let Eric in, okay? He wants to help us, and I think it’s actually him now that wants to do that. Let’s just enjoy life for the first time in a really long time,” she begs, and I can’t resist those eyes she gives me. All I ever want is her to be healthy and happy. She can’t be happy if I’m starvin’ and workin’ myself into a grave. She can’t be healthy if I ain’t workin’ myself into a grave neither.

“Okay,” I finally reply.

“Okay?” She looks at me again with those big eyes and I sigh, nodding. “Yay! Then we should all go out and do something fun! Or… Oh! We should have them over for Christmas Eve!”

“Sookie, we’re livin’ in the dude’s condo. Technically, they’d be havin’ us over,” I point out and she laughs.

She sticks her tongue out at me, and we finally lighten up enough to finish our breakfast. I practically shove the whole thing in my mouth so I can leave on time for school.

I can swallow my pride for you, Sooks. If all you really wanted was me this whole time, I woulda found a way.

Pam’s POV:

I do not like the way Eric is looking at me.

Instead of replying to his curious, amused look, I glare instead and wander around the light tight chamber, waiting to escape from being his entertainment.

Since arriving back at the hovel he calls ‘the farmhouse’, ‘pig sty’ would be more accurate in my opinion, he has been giving me this knowing look. He knows that I care about Jason Stackhouse. Obviously not in a romantic way or any particularly needy way. Merely, I would be very unhappy if he died.

Stackhouse was accurately navigating my feelings for him last night, and it pissed me off to the point where I kicked him out of my vehicle and tore off to Eric’s place before sunrise rather than use the lightproof room below the condo. Now I am to deal with my nerve-searing Maker staring at me for several hours on end, waiting for me to break.

With a resigning groan, I tell him, “I would be greatly displeased if Stackhouse died.”

“I see,” is all Eric offers and I glower at him angrily. “You expected more?” he asks, eyebrow nearly to his hairline.

“I expected more gloating,” I confess.

Eric rolls his eyes at me, shakes his head, and flops back against the mattress, “Pamela, there have been several humans that I was unhappy to see die. That does not mean very much. The difference is you are the only one I bothered to turn. Do you feel that way? That you would be so terribly unhappy if Stackhouse died that you wish to keep him forever?”

“I am too young to take on a Child,” I snap.

“I would not stop you,” Eric sits up and is staring at me again. “Sometimes the worthy ones appear when we are least prepared. If Stackhouse is someone you do not wish the world to lose, then that is your decision to make no matter your age.”

Coming over to the mattress, I sit down beside my Maker and stare at my hands, “I wish to keep him, but he has too many important attachments to this world,” I confess. “I do not want to bring him over carrying regret.”

Eric stares at me strangely before sighing and uncharacteristically patting my back. “I know how you feel.”

“Sookie?” I guess.

“She is so earnest and good,” Eric tells me. “She is challenging enough to be entertaining. She is smart, beautiful-”

“And that aroma!” I add, making Eric nod. “Her brother tastes delicious as well, but Sookie smells even better than Jason tastes.”

“She cannot be glamoured,” he tells me and I look at him in shock. “We cannot slip up in front of her, Pamela. There is no recovering from exposure. I would urge you not to do anything that might lead you to requiring to glamour her brother. If he has the same immunity, we will be in trouble.”

I nod before considering this even further, “Perhaps that would be a good thing,” I comment. “The Great Revelation is only another five years from now. What would telling her early really stir up? Hell, if she knew, she might just want to be a vampire.”

Eric shakes his head, “I do not think so.”

“After you are through wooing her? I do not believe I’ve ever seen you in this level of self-doubt,” I confess.

“It is not self-doubt, Pam,” he insists. “She does not have the temperament for vampirism. It would take decades, if not a century, to chisel her attitude into a viable progeny. By then, the Sookie I enjoy would be nothing but a shell that looks like the creature I…” Eric’s brow pulls together, and his jaw forms into a scowl.

“Please do not tell me ‘love’ was the final word of that declaration,” I groan.

“No, it is not love,” Eric assures me. “I was merely surprised that I actually want to keep something sweet and loving. That is what she is, I believe. I think she is Love.”

I make a gagging noise in the back of my throat, “That is disgusting.”

Eric laughs at my response, “Aside from that one despicable human that tried to mug her, have you seen a single individual who has yet to dislike her?” he asks me.

His inquiry makes me shrug because, to be honest, I do not spend enough time with Sookie Stackhouse to determine whether or not she is all that likeable. The stories my Maker shares about her keep me entertained, but he could be embellishing to keep me interested enough to pay attention while he goes on and on. “Perhaps I should spend this evening with her instead of you,” I suggest. Eric glowers and I laugh, “Or perhaps not?”

“If you wish,” He shrugs, unperturbed by my suggestion after recovering. “Maybe you could take her shopping,” he continues.

I snort at the proposal, knowing that he is merely trying to tempt me with access to his credit card. “From what you have said, she is putting weight back on. I think a shopping trip should wait.”

“It is a Wednesday, she is off work,” Eric tries again. “I am certain you could find something to entertain a seventeen-year-old girl.” When I raise my eyebrows suggestively, he growls, making me cackle. “Pam,” his voice is a warning.

“You are certainly jealous enough to be in love,” I retort humorously. “Oh! Mani/pedis! I have not had one of those in so long!”

“That will give you girls plenty of time to chat and get to know each other,” Eric nods in approval, and I push his phone into his hand to force him to make the call to Sookie and then my usual salon. I indulged so often in body treatments for the five years I had stayed with Eric, purely to get the hell away from him during his mood swings that he ended up setting up an account with my spa.

I wait impatiently for him to call the condo, and listen as Sookie answers, “Hello?”
“Sookie, it is Eric,” my Maker announces. “Pam was hoping you would be interested in having a “girl’s night” this evening.”

She wants to hang out with me?” The girl sounds surprised. I don’t blame her. She and I have never really interacted.

“She wishes to get her nails done. You would be doing me a great favor accompanying her and saving me from my own manicure,” Eric responds easily enough. I have, in fact, dragged him with me to the salon before.

I could paint her nails for her. I got a pretty steady hand,” Sookie offers.

“Tell her I want an airbrush,” I hiss in Eric’s ear and he bats me away with a wave of his hand.

“Apparently she wishes to have something more ostentatious than a simple coat of paint,” he tells the girl.

Like what?” Sookie sounds entirely confused. “I think they sell press ons at Walgreens-”

I snatch the phone out of Eric’s hand and snap into it, “Have you never gotten a mani/pedi in your life!? What the hell kind of person do you think I am!? Do you see me walking around with those tacky pieces of shit glued to my hands!?”

Eric yanks the phone from my hand and apologizes, “As you can see, my sister is quite particular about her nails.”

Sookie is whispering self-consciously when she asks, “Are mani/pedi’s more complicated than puttin’ polish on?”

Oh, I think with bemusement, she has no idea how to do her nails.

“I think you will enjoy it,” Eric assures her. “Pam will make sure you have fun.”

Okay… Tell her I’m sorry for bein’ presumptuous. Our family never got stuff like that done. I ain’t ever been to a salon. Gran always cut my hair, and I always cut Jason’s. So, nails were never anything more than somethin’ ya cut from time to time,” she is still whispering shyly.

I am seething now, and rip the phone out of Eric’s hand once more, “Prepare yourself, Little Girl! You will respect the art of cosmetology by the end of this evening! I will pick you up at six!” With that, I press the ‘end’ button on Eric’s cellphone and hand it back to him. He is shaking his head in amusement.

“Well, it would seem my night is clear,” He sighs and looks at his watch. “You will have to fly like a bat out of hell to meet her up at six.” He begins scrolling through his phone and finds the number for my salon, making appointments for Sookie and I. Admittedly, I am actually excited. Though I am certain I will need to hold little Stackhouse’s hand throughout the evening, there is always an extreme pleasure introducing a young woman to the splendor of luxury bodyworks. Currently I am ticking off all the treatments I will subject her to, choosing what will be the least shocking, but balancing it with necessities. There is a slew of uncomfortable procedures that bring results well worth the annoyances. Perhaps if little Stackhouse does not annoy me too much this trip, I will schedule her a beauty regimen. It might be nice having someone other than Eric accompany me to the salon.

Not soon enough, I am able to leave. I hop into my Odyssey and make my way to Shreveport for my mission.

Sookie is ready and awaiting my arrival. I have barely parked when she runs out of the condo and to the passenger door. When she sits down, I frown. “First,” I tell her, “we need to get you something nice to wear. We have enough time before our appointment.”

“But-”
“Trust me, after what they do to you, you will appreciate having a nice set of clothes,” I insist.

“But-”

“You do not wish to get your hair and nails prettied up, and then be showing them off wearing your brother’s clothes, correct?”

“But-”

“Of course you don’t!” I slam my foot onto the accelerator and cut off another motorist. Sookie grabs at the handle of the door and the center consul as I weave through traffic in a way no minivan has a right to.

The girl does not have enough time to acclimate my driving before I pull up to the mall. I am around the vehicle and yanking her toward the shoppers’ haven before she can utter another protest.

“Pam,” Sookie whines as we arrive in front of our first shop, “I’m still puttin’ weight back on. This is a terrible time to buy clothes.”

“I could not agree more,” I reply. “That is why I will buy you a size that fits you now, and the next size up. You do not plan on turning obese on me, do you?” I glower.

“Of course not! I-I just weighed myself after Jason left for work, and I’m at 117 again,” she tells me.

I stop dead in my tracks, “You put on fifteen pounds in a week? Show me your stomach!”

Before Sookie can comply, I yank her shirt up in the middle of the store. There is a small pot belly greeting me. God, I love a good, little pot belly on a woman!

“Oh, look at that,” I grin.

“Stop it!” Sookie whispers frantically, trying to push her shirt back down as several customers look at us with confusion.

“Let me see…” I cinch her shirt tightly to see her dimensions better, “We will get you a two and a four in pants.” I stare intently at her breasts a moment, gauging how much of her weight gain has been stored there. They are considerably bigger. Apparently her body likes to store fat in generous areas. “And my goodness, those titties will need a C!” Her face turns a bright crimson and I turn away laughing to myself, and begin searching through the store. I am an efficient shopper when necessary.

I come back to Sookie with four pairs of soft, denim jeans that I can tell will hug her returning curves perfectly and six different tops that are made from a material that will stay tight around her torso, but will expand to accommodate her breasts. Top heavy women with narrow waists are usually slighted by blouses in this regard. However, I have become a master of determining the proper garments to adorn such bodies when I am forced to buy off a rack.

“Here, put these on,” I thrust a pair of size two jeans and the cream colored top into her hand. While she is in the dressing room, I run across the mall, purchase a bra from Victoria Secret in her size, and come running back to throw it over the top of her changing room, “And that!” I yell.

“What the heck, Pam!?” Sookie yells at me, but I am already at the counter paying for her purchases. When she emerges from the stall, I want to pat myself on the back.

“I knew these would look perfect on you,” I announce proudly, bustling around her and yanking off tags and stickers. The saleswoman comes over and takes the security tag off the hem of her pant leg, giving me a good view down her blouse. Yum… I wonder if I can convince Jason into a threesome? Shaking my head at the distraction, I turn back to Sookie, “Let’s go to our appointment.”

“But-”

“It is all paid for. Let’s go. We will be late,” I start pushing her toward the exit.

“But-”

The saleswoman is looking at me, stunned, still crouching near the floor from where she removed the security tag. I do not believe she has sold so much in such a short period of time.

“How do you like the clothing?” I ask as I am still guiding her out of the mall.

“I have no clue,” Sookie seems shell shocked by the abrupt and almost violent manner in which she was redressed. “I thought you were just throwin’ me in there to make sure everything fit. I didn’t even look in the mirror,” she confesses.

“Perfect!” I crow. “Now you will get the master effect once you have had your hair and nails done!”

“Hair, too?” she asks in alarm

“Yes,” is all I reply.

“Pam, I need my hoody back,” she says before I shove her out into the December air.

I snake my hand into the bag and pull out the worn leather half-jacket I found in the store. It is a pleasant enough quality without being too expensive. I throw the jacket over her shoulders and almost want to lick my lips. She looks sweet and delicious in this! Images of her straddling a motorcycle, her arms wrapped around my waist, flit through my head, and my cell phone begins ringing.

“What, Eric?” I snap at having my fantasy interrupted.

Pamela, what are you doing?” Eric asks coldly.

“I wanted Sookie to have a few nice clothes to go with the new look she will have,” I explain innocently.

I do not like the level of arousal you are experiencing. Is one Stackhouse notched into your bedpost not enough?”

“You cannot blame a girl for dreaming,” I tell him. “That notch is all yours, Eric,” I assure him.

Cut it out,” he seethes.

“Yes, Eric,” I try for contrite, and Sookie looks at me in shock. Oh, she has never seen me play nice. “Perhaps you should meet up with us after our trip and you can tell me what you think of my handiwork.”

I may do so just to be assured that the poor girl is still able to articulate a full sentence after being subjected to you for such a long period of time, not to mention your driving,” Eric snarls.

“No need to say such cruel things, Eric,” I am shoving Sookie into the passenger’s seat again. “I must go now, or we will be late for our appointment.”

I will drop by at ten,” he tells me.

The trip to the salon is a memorable one. Sookie chats at me animatedly, talking about tests and finals. She is surprisingly bright about many things, not just books. Her insight on human behavior is inspiring even. She is courteous in drawing out my end of the conversation, asking questions without being nosy.

When she is asked about the treatments she wants by the nail technician, whose accent is so thick I am forced to speak with her in Mandarin just so we can communicate at all, Sookie gives me a wide-eyed “what did she say” look. I quickly tell the technician all the treatments we are wanting done. Sookie looks back and forth between us, completely stunned into silence.

I prompt and explain everything as it is done to her, and she leaves the nail side of the salon with perfectly shaped and painted French tips. The hair stylist is an American named Ashley, and when Sookie asks for nothing but a trim, I quickly interrupt and give new instructions. Ashley looks at me, and then Sookie, who shrugs.

“Whatever,” Ashley utters and gets to work.

After the styling is finished and Sookie’s hair is falling in soft, cascading layers, I have to admit that my mind’s eye has been spot on this evening. Sookie looks like an entirely new girl. She looks healthy, sexy, and well kept.

Per my instruction, Ashley kept Sookie’s line of sight out of the mirrors and I stand Sookie up, take her to a full length mirror, and stand her in front of it.

The shock on her face is all the praise I need. Now, if only I could have gotten some make-up on her face! Although her skin is quite beautiful, and she is still young and capable of going natural. Amazingly, she has no pimples or blackheads, which leads me to believe she takes some interest in her appearance.

“Now that is a beautiful girl,” I whisper in her ear, causing Sookie to blush and look down at her feet. I nip her chin, forcing her to look back at her reflection, “Say it, Sookie.”

“That’s a beautiful girl,” she mumbles and looks back at her feet.

I laugh, “You will get used to it.”

Once we are back in the van, Sookie sits quietly for a time before saying, “I hope I didn’t annoy ya too much tonight. I just didn’t know what they were askin’ me or tellin’ me to do.”

“You were fine,” I assure her. “I had a very good time. In fact, I was hoping you would accompany me again next week.”

“Hair and nails don’t grow that fast,” she reminds me.

“No, but there are plenty of other treatments you could have done. We could have your eyebrows cleaned up, get you waxed. Then you would not need to shave all the time,” I explain.

Sookie’s blush returns at my suggestion. “I don’t know. Ain’t it real expensive? Gran and Mamma always used to say, “why spend money on somethin’ ya can do at home?”

“Your mother could do this,” I point at her hair.

“Well, no,” she mumbles in embarrassment. “But, Pam, y’all aren’t gonna be wantin’ to throw your money at us forever… And Jason and I wouldn’t want ya to. I don’t wanna get used to this. It was real nice to try it out and get the new experience, but… I-I don’t think it’s a good idea to rely or expect or-”

“Sookie,” I silence her, “that statement alone makes me wish to give more to you. What if we just did this once a month? Girl’s night out,” I suggest.

The girl looks at her hands, and I see her finger itching to pick at her fresh manicure. I slap it in warning.

“It feels wrong,” Sookie whispers. “Graspin’ at the hand that feeds you. Wantin’ more like that… Jason and I haven’t been ones for luxury, y’know?” She looks up at me, probably hoping to read understanding in my expression, but all I give her is indifference. “I just don’t want to be greedy.”

“Eric and I have more money than we could hope to spend. Our tastes are not nearly as lavish as you would think. We do not hold large estates. Our additional homes, while there are many, are usually small, and merely for function when we travel. We have our indulgences, of course,” I stare out at the road a moment, smirking at the thought of some of our indulgences. “The point is,” I shake myself from my line of thought, “we could give and give to you two, and it would never affect us.”

“I don’t like it,” Sookie admits. “It’s scary.”

“Because it is too easy to get caught up in the lavishness?” I guess.

“Yeah,” she murmurs.

“Then give back in your own way,” I shrug. “Become teachers like you two planned. Shape the future minds of the world. Donate extra time to students who need it. Hell, donate your damn paychecks back to the school!”

“Pam,” she moans, “I only just agreed to let Eric help us out the next eighteen months! Stop tryin’ to make this a lifetime commitment!”

I pout a bit petulantly. Of course she is right, but after only a single evening in her company, I want to spend more time with her. She is sweet and sexy in that girl-next-door kind of way, and she has absolutely no idea! Part of me is excited to show her just how beautiful she is, and amazingly, it has nothing to do with desiring to get in her panties. I bet they are white cotton. I swoon at the very thought before quickly batting it from my mind. I feel as though I could have a true “sisterhood” with this girl, and that is neither something I have sought out nor yearned for in the past. Eric was right. She is a girl you cannot help but fall in love with.

When I pull up to the condo, Eric is standing, leaning casually against the building. As he sees me park in front of the curb, he goes to Sookie’s door and opens it for her. She looks up at him in surprise and blushes in that same adorable way I have enjoyed all evening.

“Sookie,” he gasps in surprise when he takes her hand and she steps out of the van, “you look breathtaking!”

Her eyes cast down modestly, and Eric cups her chin, kissing her gently on the lips. This is the first time I’ve seen him give a closed mouth kiss! It’s unnatural.

Eric pulls away and holds her arms out to take in her new clothes and hair. She is biting her lip bashfully, but finally attempting to meet his gaze.

“Look at you!” he laughs, drops her arms, and kisses her again. His tongue briefly touches her lips before he pulls away again, and Sookie’s face turns several shades of red before she bows her head once more.

Fucking adorable, I think ruefully.

Jason’s POV:

I’m dog tired.

By the time Pam drove me home, crowing the whole time about how she took my sister out to get “prettied up”, fucked my brains out, and I finally crawled into bed, I was spent. So, wakin’ up Thursday mornin’ and feelin’ like I ain’t slept in a week is kinda why when I walk into the living room, I scream, “WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU!?”

It’s when my sis looks up with wide, surprised eyes that I realize Pam hadn’t been stretching the truth.

“Oh, God, Sooks!” I can’t stop starin’ at her. “You look so beautiful!” She’s got on a pair of jeans that actually fit, and this pretty blue shirt that looks nice on her, but ain’t too revealin’.

“Thanks, Jason,” she laughs, stands up from the couch, and gives me a spin.

“Your hair looks good,” I compliment her.

“Thanks. Pam told the stylist what to do,” she explains. “I thought they was makin’ up words.”

I chuckle and take her hands in mine, holdin’ her arms wide to really look at her, “Did you put on more weight?!” I ask excitedly.

“Back at 117!” She grins up at me and I lean down to hug her tight. “Wow! I never thought you’d get all excited over a haircut and a new set of clothes!”

“You just look so good!” I’m startin’ to cry, and I squeeze her even tighter. This huge fuckin’ boulder is bein’ lifted off my chest, seein’ her look so healthy and beautiful. Maybe it’s because we’ve just been fading away slowly these past three years neither of us noticed we were about to disappear, but seein’ her with her hair cut so nice, and wearin’ clothes that actually fit, and all them smiles and good stuff makes me so thankful. Thankful for Eric Northman. My baby sister is healthy and happy at last. The thing I’ve wanted so badly the last three years.

I know I made her happy a lot of the time, but I’ve also caused her guilt and concern. I know I ain’t looked too good neither the past few years. I seen myself in the mirror and watched my muscles turnin’ soft. I’ve felt my clothes slidin’ down or swallowing me up. It had to have been just as hard on her to watch me fading away as it was for me to see the same happenin’ to her.

“It was,” she whispers in my ear.

“What was what?” I mumble back, sniffling back a wave of snot at tryin’ not to sob.

“Watchin’ ya fade away. It was real hard,” she’s real quiet now. I almost can’t hear her.

I pull back, wipe at my eyes, and look Sookie straight in the eyes. She looks guarded, scared almost.

Suddenly all these things start clicking all through my head… It’s like my life’s flashing before my eyes, but it’s all Sookie stuff.

All the unasked questions bein’ answered. All the times I’d bargain with her over chores as a kid, makin’ her pick a number between one and ten, writing it on a paper, and then her always guessing the right number till I gave up and started flipping a coin. Always knowin’ when my shoulder needed ice. Always never sayin’ the wrong thing unless I really needed to hear it. Tellin’ me over and over how proud she was about doing well on a test or assignment when Daddy only praised me for my sports. Shit, if it weren’t for Sooks, I don’t know I’d have done so good in school. Probably woulda just focused on sports thinkin’ it was the only thing that mattered, or the only thing I was good at.

These things are flying through my brain a mile a minute until I finally stutter, “Sooks, can you really read my mind?” Sure, it’s been an ongoing joke between us, but now it don’t seem so funny, not with her lookin’ all scared and upset!

“Everyone’s,” she replies. “Well, almost everyone. There’s a few people I can’t. Like Pam and Eric. I think it’s genetic or somethin’… But I ain’t ever cheated on a test, I swear! Or-or used things I hear to hurt or embarrass anyone! I promise, I only ever used it to protect myself. I can mostly ignore it, and I don’t listen to-”

“Shh, Sooks,” I put my hand over her mouth to stop her rambling. “It’s okay. Okay?” Her eyes are big as she nods, her mouth still hidden by my palm. “Anybody else know?” She shakes her head negatively. “Let’s try and keep it that way then. Just you and me on this one, Sooks,” I tell her. She nods again and I take my hand from her mouth. “I don’t think we should say another word about it… Just cause you don’t know who’s listenin’ right?”

I start thinkin’ about the government takin’ her away. What if they think she’s a security risk? Worryin’ about some asshole stealing her and takin’ her away to Vegas or underground poker tournaments. It’s all crazy cloak and dagger shit, but the sort of thing my sister can do is just the thing that could inspire a criminal.

“You aren’t scared or angry?” she asks all quiet still.

“’Course I’m not. I mean, maybe in some weird part of the back of my head I suspected. You always just knew what and when to say things,” I shrug. “I mean, I never thought all that much about it, but when you did what you did just now, all these things kinda clicked in my head.”

“So, even though I hear things from you I shouldn’t sometimes, you aren’t mad?” She’s sniffling now and I pull her up in my arms again.

“No, I ain’t,” I assure her. “You’re my Sooks,” I tell her, kissin’ on the top of her head over and over. “Nothin’ changes that.”

“You ain’t mad I never told you before?” She wants reassurance that I’ve thought about everything.

“No, I ain’t,” I continue to assuage her worries. “You told me when you thought you could. Honestly, I couldn’t’ve dealt with it when we were kids. I probably woulda been all paranoid and shit. Then with all the shit with Gran and Social Services and… God, so much shit, Sooks… Now was the time. Now was good. We’re finally good… I’m just so sorry you’ve had to hide this so long. It’s been your whole life, hasn’t it? I got memories of when you couldn’t’ve been more than four or five. God, how did you hide it even back then?”

Sookie shrugs and pulls away to wipe at her eyes, “I don’t know,” she admits. “I guess even then I could tell the difference between which I was hearin’,” she points to her head, then to her mouth. “I just knew never to acknowledge this,” She points to her head again.

“Well, whatever it was, you’re one strong, brave little lady!” I laugh and pull her in for another hug. “So is that it? All our secrets are out? Nothin’ else you need to tell me you been holdin’ back?” She shakes her head against my chest and I sigh. “Then we can really have a good eighteen months, Sooks. The best.”

{†}

It’s Saturday. The eve of Christmas Eve. Sooks and I were super-stoked to find out one of the Christmas holidays fell on a Sunday this year because it was the day we got to spend the most time together. I called Pam and Eric, askin’ if they wanted to spend some of it with us and they agreed to come by around 6:30 to celebrate. Eric’s planning on stayin’ over at the condo for a while so Sooks will have someone to hang out with. I said he had to leave when Pam did, and he laughed, but agreed.

It’s crazy to think I only got seven more days of workin’, and then I’m done for the next year and a half. I think I’m gonna get a bit antsy at first with all the down time, but I might slip into a coma to catch up on three years’ sleep. Every day since I learned of the arrangement, I’ve gone back and forth about tellin’ Eric I just can’t do it. Only, every time I pick up the phone, I see Sookie in my head. Her hair all pretty and smooth, her body healthy and full of life, and that big ass smile on her face. It makes me put the phone back down every time. Seein’ my baby sis like that is worth swallowing a boulder size of pride any time.

A hard knock at the door makes me jump outta my thoughts, and I hop up to answer it. There’s a moment I’m starin’ at the wall across from me, but then I feel a bump at my legs and little Dr. Ludwig is shoving her way into the condo.

“I take it you forgot about your follow-up?” Ludwig snaps at me.

“Oh, yeah, sorry,” I mumble guiltily. “It’s been a real crazy week,” I tell her.

“Fine, fine,” she waves off my excuse. “Take off your shirt. Let’s see that shoulder.”

I strip my hoody off, shove the coffee table against the couch, and sit on it. Ludwig crawls onto the couch and starts looking my arm over.

“Good, it looks like you’ve been putting on weight… Impressive…” she’s mumbling to herself. “That serum did wonders for this.”

“Yeah, it ain’t hurt at all, but I’ve been makin’ sure to favor it so it could heal up proper. Was that the right thing?” I ask her.

“I am sure it helped accelerate the repairs,” She nods and hops off the couch to stand in front of me. She takes out a clipboard and a pen. “Now, a few questions before you receive your next series of injections.”

“But it doesn’t hurt anymore-”

“Shut it,” she snaps at me. “I told you this was a three series treatment. You will get another dose next weekend, too.”

“Sorry, Doc,” I mumble.

“Now, have you been having any strange dreams since last week?”

“Nope.”

“Any changes in senses of taste, hearing, sight, or smell?”

“Nope.”

“Paranoia?”

“No.”

“Difficulty sleeping or eating?”

“Nah, the opposite actually.” She nods and scribbles that down. “But we got food in the house now, so that might be why I’m eatin’ more, and since my shoulder don’t hurt, it’s not wakin’ me up all the time,” I explain why my habits might have changed other than her miracle drug.

“I see…” She looks concerned by my explanation, but I shrug. “Increase in sex drive?”

I blush, “Yeah, I think I got that one.”

“How often are you having sex?”

“Um… Maybe three or four times a night, sometimes every other night,” I confess and my face feels hotter and hotter.

“How often have you been masturbating on top of that?” Doc asks, and I swear I could fry an egg on my face.

“Like, once or twice if I get laid. Maybe three or four if I don’t,” I tell her and put my face in my hands because I just can’t look at her anymore. It’s like talkin’ to a shorter, sterner version of Gran.

“Have you found you can lift heavier objects with little to no effort?” she asks.

“I’ve been tryin’ to go easy on my shoulder,” I remind her.

Ludwig frowns, digs through her big ‘ol bag of medicine, and pulls out a weird contraption with a thick ass spring. She looks around, goes to the fireplace, and hooks the device into the ember screen mount.

“Give this a tug,” She points. I take the bar in my hand, pull, and Ludwig writes down some notes. She looks happy. “Excellent! It seems as though this treatment is working well for you!”

After she has her happy moment, it’s time for the moment I’ve been dreading. She does her three sticks, I do my best to man up and not throw up. We both accomplish what we set out to do.

I don’t feel any relief after the shots this time. The pain from the injections fades super quick like last time, but other than that, there’s no life altering experiences like the first treatment. That’s more of a relief than not, cause I think it means I’m healing up real good, and the pain and injury is gone.

I thank the doctor and walk her to the door, lockin’ it behind me before going to my room and passing out until my shift at the stadium.

As I start to fall asleep, thoughts of football, fun, and Sookie are my lullaby.

On to Chapter Nine!

Catalyst Ch.07

Chapter Seven: Unloading

Eric’s POV:

“Good evening, Sookie,” I greet the little blonde waitress at the restaurant just as she is clocking out.

“Hey, Eric! You’re right on time!” She grins at me. “I just gotta call Jason real quick and tell him I’m leavin’ work,” she explains before hopping toward the diner’s register and picking up their phone. Sookie speaks with her brother quickly, hangs up, and turns back to me, “Can I get ya somethin’ to eat before we head out?”

I shake my head at her offer, “No, thank you.”

“So,” she pulls her hooded sweatshirt over her head and flips her long blonde hair from beneath the collar, “what are we gonna do till I gotta be back at the condo?”

“Is there anything in particular you would like to do?” I ask Sookie, taking her hand.

“Not that I can think of,” she admits bashfully, and an adorable blush stains her cheeks when she looks at our joined hands. I do not miss one of the waitresses stopping dead in her tracks and staring at us as we walk out the door.

“Have you eaten?” I ask.

She nods, “Yup, brought a sack lunch to school and made another for my dinner here.”

There is a lingering silence as we approach my car, and once we are seated, still without a destination, Sookie carefully looks at me and asks, “Is there somewhere we could go and just talk? I have something on my mind that’s been buggin’ me all day.”

“Certainly,” I agree, pulling into traffic. There is a new Starbucks down the street, and I have discerned that both Stackhouses enjoy their coffee.

Once we arrive, I quickly find Sookie a comfortable place to lounge and buy her a cup of coffee. When we are both seated beside each other, I urge her to speak her mind.

“Well,” she looks terribly uncomfortable, “I guess I should ask you something first… Have you ever had a real big secret that you’ve never told anybody? Not even the people that are supposed to be the ones who love you no matter what?”

I cannot say this has ever been an issue for me. Of course I have my secrets, but they are secrets because the information could be used to harm me physically. Sookie is actually one of those very secrets. My interests in her have had to remain entirely covert while I attempt a rare interest in courting. However, I have a gut feeling that Sookie is more concerned about emotional hurt or abandonment.

“Sookie, whatever your secret is, your brother loves you more than I would have believed possible. There is nothing you could have done or said that would keep him from loving you,” I tell her soothingly.

“I-I just’ve kept this secret so long from him,” she whispers fretfully. “I’m scared he’ll be mad I didn’t tell him sooner.”

I consider her argument a moment before asking, “What has stopped you in the past?”

“Well, when we were younger… I can’t explain it, but there was somethin’ in me that said we weren’t old enough to deal with it, you know? Like we needed to be more mature so it wouldn’t rip us apart. Then, well, Gran died, and we’ve been going years now just strugglin’ to hold our heads above water. You’ve thrown us a life raft now, and the pressures are down, and all of a sudden that voice in my head goin’ “not yet, not yet” has gone quiet.”

“Sookie,” I take her free hand and look her in the eyes, “did someone hurt you?”

She shakes her head frantically at me, “No! No, nothin’ like that.”

I frown, trying to discern what it is she could possibly be hiding. It is difficult to imagine a dark secret she could have from a young age if it did not center around some sort of abuse. A rather uncomfortable possibility strikes me, and I find myself asking, “Are you experiencing romantic feelings for your brother?”

What? NO!” she shouts in alarm. “NO, no, a thousand times no! Ew, Eric! Gross!” She shoves at my chest in disgust. “How could you think… Ew!”

All I can do is shrug, “I apologize, but it is difficult to imagine that there is some big secret you felt you could not share with your brother now that you are adults. Those were the only taboo situations I could think of. It is not something as mundane as accidentally killing his goldfish, is it?” I try for levity to dispel the lingering awkwardness of my inquiries.

“No, it’s big,” she tells me, oblivious to my lighthearted attempts. “I plan on tellin’ him about it once Christmas break starts and he’s done with finals… I’m just scared.”

“What if you told me your secret, and I would try and react as your brother would?” That seems like a good plan. It cannot be something that would affect me. I can look at it objectively and then consider how a man in her brother’s position would respond. It would also temper my needs to solve a good mystery.

“No,” she refuses, her expression stern.

“No?”

“No. It’s a real secret. If anyone knows, it can only be Jason,” Her expression is now serious and unmoving.

“I see,” I can always glamour it out of her. That would be breaking Godric’s little rule, but he has lifted his command… I focus my eyes on the girl before me and impose my will over her. “Sookie, tell me your secret.”

“No!” she hisses vehemently, and I am stunned into silence. I can feel my eyes widen at her complete resistance to my glamour. “Don’t push me, Northman!” She is glowering at me from across the table, clutching her coffee hard enough to push the fluids dangerously close to the brim.

Perhaps she is adamant enough that she can resist the magic? “Sookie,” I try an easier route. If I work her through smaller commands, I should be able to pry the answers I want from her, “throw your coffee away.”

“Is it gettin’ late?” She looks at the clock on the wall and frowns when she sees that there is plenty of time for her to finish her coffee before I must return her home. “What? I can’t finish the coffee you got me ’cause I won’t answer your stupid question?” she demands haughtily.

Great. Now she is mad at me, and still not under glamour. Is she immune to it? How?

“No, no, I misread the clock. I apologize. I thought we were running late, and did not wish to upset your brother by not getting you home on time,” I try to recover, but she is glaring at me. Her eyes create a pang of regret in my chest. I tried to steal her secrets, I think with that newly discovered emotion- guilt.

However, despite those regrets, I now know I will have to tell Pam to be extra careful with Jason Stackhouse. If he has the same immunity to glamour, Pam could unwittingly reveal the secret of our vampirism.

“Actually, ya know what? I think I would like to get back early. I have homework,” She rises from the couch and throws her coffee in the trash. I watch while she storms toward the door and does not even wait for me to follow. I deserve that.

When I catch up to her, she has walked past my car and is heading toward the nearest bus stop. “Sookie,” I call after her, chasing her down, “I did not mean to be so persistent. I am sorry. I sometimes become deeply obsessed with mysteries, and I overstepped.”

Her shoulders are stiff as I make my plea. After a moment, she relaxes and lets out a long breath, “It’s okay. I’m sorry I got so defensive, and I guess I was layin’ the suspense on pretty thick. You just make me impatient. You’re very frustrating, ya know?”

I cannot help it when I smirk, “I have definitely been called frustrating before.”

“I just can’t read you, Eric. It scares me. I usually know people pretty well, and you’re a mystery to me, too. I guess we can be frustrated with each other together.” I begin leading her back to my car to drive her home, and we fall back into the same easy conversation we have enjoyed the past few evenings.

When we arrive at my condo, we sit in the car talking about her day. She tells me about the perfect score she received on her history report and I congratulate her on the hard work and effort. Then we are discussing her brother and how she wishes he did not have to work so much where she was only able to spend time with him an hour a night until Sunday when they had more time together.

“What if I had a job at one of my companies for him?” I ask conversationally. “He has a college education. I could probably find something that pays more.”

Sookie shakes her head, “He needs somethin’ flexible for school and football. If his shoulder’s really better, he’ll need a really flexible schedule come August. We have to dip into our savings every autumn to get through football season.”

“I see,” I frown and begin considering other possibilities. If only there were a way to supplement their income without them noticing. However, with how closely they watch their budget, it would be impossible to funnel money into their accounts unaware. Also, considering how easily Jason spotted my attempt to lighten their load by purchasing the duplex, they would be suspicious of any unexpected windfall I could have staged.

“Thanks for the offer, though,” she smiles at me sweetly and I feel a strange warmth in my chest. I suddenly have a very strong, urgent desire to kiss her.

Before I realize what I am doing, I am already leaning in to touch my lips to hers, but I regain my head and aim for her forehead. That was surprisingly close, I think in bafflement. When was the last time I made such an uninformed judgement?

Sookie gives me a disappointed smile now and leans in to kiss my cheek. Her lips burn my skin in a desirable way I cannot recall ever experiencing.

“Good night, Sookie,” I tell her quietly.

“Good night, Eric,” she responds and climbs out of the car.

What are you doing to me, Sookie Stackhouse?

Sookie’s POV:

I’m in a daze the remainder of the night. I’m lucky I even remember to call Jason after I’ve locked the door behind me.

The condo’s so foreign and big compared to what we’re used to. Bold contrasts, a little cold, and empty feeling. Nothin’ like a home.

Despite our apartment bein’ literally cold, it never made me feel so alone. It was run down and sad lookin’, but we did our best to bring a sense of comfort about it. Hanging family pictures, coverin’ the crazy uncomfortable couch with afghans Gran had crocheted, and always a candle burnin’ when someone was home and awake to make the place smell like cookies. That was our monthly splurge. A three-dollar candle that smelled like sugar cookies. A three-dollar comfort masking how home sick we are.

I curl up with my homework in front of the gas fire place. If I stay by the fire, it doesn’t seem so big and empty. If I wrap Gran’s afghan around me, it doesn’t seem so lonesome.

“Did ya finish your homework?” a voice whispers in my ear and I grumble, swattin’ at the interruption to my dreams. “Sooks, did ya finish your homework?”

“Uh huh,” I mumble and feel my body leave the ground. Instinctively I curl into Jason’s chest as he carries me to bed. “Don’t go,” I whisper when I’m in bed and I feel his weight lift from the mattress.

“What’s wrong?” he asks, sitting back down and makin’ me roll to his side.

“It’s lonely here,” I tell him tiredly and wrap my arms around his middle to keep him close.

“Ya want me to sleep in here for now?” he asks, stroking my hair softly and pushin’ it away from my face.

“Uh huh,” I tell him with a sleepy grunt. The bed rises again and I hear my brother kick off his shoes and empty his pockets onto the nightstand. Then Jason’s crawling under the covers with me and holds me against his chest.

“You’re gettin’ too old for this, Sooks,” he teases me and I turn over to push my face into his chest. He smells like stale coffee and donuts.

“Don’t care,” I speak into his chest and he chuckles. “Night, Jason.”

“Night, Sooks.”

When I wake up again, Jason’s sitting on the edge of the bed, rubbin’ his eyes. I sit up on my knees and thump him on the back, “Mornin’.”

“Mornin’,” he replies with a yawn.

“Make sure to take some naps between your exams, okay?” I tell him.

“Uh huh,” He stands up and stretches. “You only got the two finals left today, right?” he asks with another yawn.

“Yeah. You just got the three today and then one tomorrow?”
“Yup,” He starts walkin’ toward the door.

“What time’s your final tomorrow?” I ask. Today’s my last day of school, and then my Christmas break begins.

“Hmm, one? Yeah, Wednesday is at one,” he confirms.

“Okay, well, since it’s my day off at the diner, ya wanna hang out?”

“Yeah, till I gotta go to the stadium,” he tells me. “I’ll sleep in tomorrow since I got Northman’s SUV and don’t have to find a ride.”

I beam at him as he leaves to grab a quick shower, and I quickly dress and go about makin’ us some breakfast before we each go to school. When Jason arrives in the kitchen, he stands next to me over a skillet of eggs. Before his hand can even move to steal a link of sausage, I elbow him in the ribs, “It’s just off the skillet. You’ll burn your tongue.”

Jason gives me a bemused grin, “It’s like ya can read my mind sometimes.”

Try all the time if I wanted, I think wryly. I told myself I’d tell Jason the truth about my telepathy by the end of the week, but I’m really nervous still. Now I’m intentionally doing little things to make him suspicious. Maybe I can make a show of it? Get him really thinkin’ it’s possible until he eventually cracks and flat out asks me himself?

“Sookie, you seen-”

“Next to my bed,” I call, already knowing he’s lookin’ for his shoes. That wasn’t telepathy, just a sister who knows her brother can never find his shoes.

It’s a miracle he ain’t barefoot at school half the time.

Jason gives me a ride to school before takin’ off toward Endene University. He kisses my cheek goodbye, and I roll my eyes at the girls who don’t know me or Jason and think he’s my boyfriend.

Finals are easy enough. I speed through my last test of the semester and hand it in to the teacher who gives me a suspicious glare. My math teacher doesn’t like me. He thinks I cheat and to his credit, I easily could, but I don’t. Jason proved you don’t need to be a telepath to make good grades in school, and I’ve always looked up to my big brother. Once he knows about my telepathy, I have a sinking suspicion he’ll ask if I’ve ever cheated in class. I want to be able to tell him honestly that I never have.

When I get home, Jason is asleep on the couch, a football game playin’ on the TV. It’s real nice, him havin’ a car. He doesn’t have to wait for someone to give him a ride from school, and he’s been gettin’ a lot more sleep. That and all the food Eric’s been planting in our home has really brought the color back to Jason’s face. He’s even bulking back up! That’s a relief to me.

Our first day in the condo, Jason was excited to find there was a gym available to tenants. This was exciting for him, not just cause he likes to work out, but because there was a scale. First thing he did was throw me over his shoulder, carry me to the gym, and weigh me. When he saw that I now weighed 112, he picked me up again and hugged me. I was momentarily terrified. I’d put on ten pounds in five days!

It’s a good thing,” he’d insisted. “You’re eatin’ good stuff. Northman didn’t put any crap in the house.”

But… Ten pounds in five days? That can’t be healthy!”

Ya know what’s not healthy? Bein’ 5’6” and 102 pounds! You ain’t got a narrow body, Sooks. Ya got birthing hips, and 102 looks anorexic on you!”

I’ve got what kind of hips!?” I’d stormed over to the mirror by the free weights and pulled the tail of my shirt up. Even with the extra notches in Jason’s belt, his pants were still hangin’ off me like I was a pole. My hip bones were stickin’ out in such sharp reliefs before my ten-pound gain that hardly anything’ would keep them on. With the extra meat, the points of my hipbones were less prominent and my jeans were actually stayin’ well above my pubic bone.

I pat my belly thoughtfully as I walk into the kitchen to grab an apple. Maybe I should weigh myself the day before I tell Jason about the telepathy. If I’ve put any more weight on, it might take his mind off the fact his sister’s a freak.

“Hey,” I hear from the living room and peek beneath the cabinets to see Jason’s head hangin’ off the couch. “How were finals?”

“Good. Go back to sleep,” I tell him softly.

“Naw, I never get to see you on Tuesdays,” he rolls off the couch and comes to the kitchen. He breaks a banana off the bunch and begins peeling it. “I know that calculus final was making ya nervous. How’d it go?”

“Actually, I think it went really well. I’ve been studyin’ for it like crazy, and Coach Murphy was helpin’ me with it on Wednesday,” I tell him.

“Coach is a good guy,” Jason smiles.

“Yeah,” I agree. “How were your finals?”

Jason shrugs. “Fine. Felt easy, but that makes me nervous,” he jokes.

“You fell asleep, didn’t you?” I frown.

“Only a few minutes,” he confesses and I sigh. “What? I still finished with plenty of time.”

“Jason,” I moan, “we can’t do this another year.”

“What would you suggest we do then?” Jason sighs.

“Take Eric up on his offer. It’d be like an interest free student loan!”

“Sookie, it ain’t proper,” he argues softly, but I can feel his resolve being chipped away.

“Y’know what ain’t proper?” I demand. “A man workin’ himself to death ’cause he’s too proud to accept kindness. We’re gonna pay him back, Jason… Jason, don’t ya want one year of college to be all about you? Doin’ schoolwork, going to parties, playing football, and just enjoyin’ it?”

“I don’t give a shit about parties, Sook,” Jason groans and finishes his banana.

“OK, but you do care about school and football. What if that was all ya had to do? Actually get seven hours sleep more than one night a week?”

“Sookie,” Jason puts his hands on my shoulders, “I just can’t… I can’t go up to another man and ask him for money.”

“What if I did?” I ask gently. “What if I went to Eric and told him I really want you to focus on your senior year and finally get to sleep at night?”

Jason’s face contorts with dislike, “I don’t want my sister askin’ a man for money!”

“The ledger is already there, Jason. Eric’s book of numbers is open, just waiting to have something jotted down. I won’t be asking, I’ll be accepting.”

Jason sits at the breakfast bar and puts his face in his hands. “Sookie,” he stops and considers his thoughts another moment, “if you wanna talk to Eric ’bout this… I won’t stop ya.”

I let out a long breath, “Thank you.” I wish he knew that this hurt my pride, too, but I love my brother. I want him to be happy and healthy just like he’s always wanted for me. Pride can take a backseat for once in our lives. I don’t care if I’m called a kept woman or anythin’ else just as unsavory. This is my chance to give him something back for the last three years he’s sacrificed for me.

After Jason and I leave for work, I spend my shift thinking about how best to ask Eric to start penning us into his ledger. By the time my shift is over, I still have no clue what I’m gonna say. He’s standin’ by the counter waitin’ for me after I call Jason, and I shyly let him take my hand and lead me to his car.

“You are very quiet this evening,” Eric comments as we begin driving.

“I got something I wanna ask you again,” I whisper. When in doubt, be direct!

“Is it about last night?” he asks.

“No,” I shake my head. “It’s about the ledger you had on our kitchen counter… Back at the apartment.”

“Yes? What about it?” I swear he looks almost hopeful.

“Eric,” I start nervously, “I want my brother to be happy. I wanna actually see him more than the skimpy couple hours a week. I wanna be able to spend more time with you. I want Jason to go out with friends and have fun and-and sleep!”

“Shh, Sookie,” I didn’t even realize my voice was rising with my emotions until he hushes me. He pulls up to the curb and parks the car, looking at me. “Are you asking me to help you?”

“Yes,” I whisper, completely embarrassed.

“Does your brother know you are asking me for help?” he presses.

“He knew I was goin’ to, but he’s embarrassed and frustrated, and… I’m makin’ him feel like a failure, but he isn’t!” I’m wiping at tears. “I’ve tried over and over to tell him it ain’t charity because we plan to pay everything back!”

“Sookie,” Eric takes my face in his hands and looks me straight in the eyes, which are probably bloodshot and still filled with tears, “you would not have to pay me a cent back. Being in need is not a sin. You both have worked hard enough these past three years and jumped every hurdle. Let me give you the next eighteen months of freedom. I will give you both a modest allowance for the next eighteen months. Two-thousand dollars a month, free lodging, a car, and a pair of cell phones. All of that will be yours for eighteen months. After that, your allowance will end, you will pay rent again, you will need to buy your own vehicles, and purchase your own cell phone plan. You can squirrel away parts of your allowance for those eighteen months and put it toward a contingency or car. Whatever you like, but I do not expect you to pay me back for any of it.”

I can already feel myself shaking my head in denial. Not denial of his proposition, but denial of any possible good fortune. “I-I don’t feel we deserve that kinda generosity,” I whisper.

“I do,” he tells me firmly. “That is the plan I have for you. On January first, you begin your eighteen months of freedom. That will give you both time to put in your two weeks’ notice. You can tell them that Jason received a job offer that requires he leave his other jobs, and that allows you to stop working.”

“What if people ask about the job?” I press.

Eric shrugs, “He can tell them that he was hired as an athletic consultant for a publishing company… I believe I own one… I will have to double check,” he actually laughs when he realizes he owns so many things, he isn’t sure what they all are anymore. “It is either a publishing or marketing company. If it is publishing, it is magazines.”

“Are you sure you wanna do this for us?” I ask, just to be certain. “You won’t treat us any different?”

“Sookie,” he whispers my name in such a way that I feel my entire body heat up, “I would give you anything you asked for. You are asking me to help your brother, and I am doing just that.” His face is so earnest, and his eyes are burnin’ into mine like I never thought blue eyes could. Intense, bold, raw…

“Kiss me,” I tell him softly and with more passion than I think I’ve known my entire life. The next thing I know, his hand is in my hair, he’s pullin’ my face to his, and his mouth is on mine. His lips stay sealed, but just the feel of them melding against mine sets my blood on fire. Now my hands are in his hair, and I’m kissin’ him back so fiercely that I’m almost crawling into his lap. When my knee slips on the seat, Eric pulls his lips from mine and chuckles. “S-sorry,” I mumble.

“Never apologize for wanting me to kiss you,” Eric sighs and presses his forehead against mine. “In fact, tell me immediately.”

I giggle shyly and settle back into my seat. “So, do you, umm, have a better idea about whether or not you’re good enough for me?” I tentatively ask, staring at my fingernails.

“I have a better idea of how hard I am able to try,” Eric whispers, “and I am floored by how much effort I am wanting to invest.”

I chance a glance at the man in the seat beside me, “So you’ll give me a shot?”

“I believe the one giving a shot is you,” and then he leans in and kisses me again. He still doesn’t try to put his tongue in my mouth, and I’m grateful because I don’t know if I could do that without pulling away and giggling like a crazy person. He’s just so freakin’ beautiful, and he’s kissing me!

When our kiss begins to soften, Eric pulls away an inch then kisses me quickly. Once. Twice. Three times, before settling back once more in his own seat. I start playing with my hair and looking at my knees with this stupid blush covering my cheeks.

“Was that your first kiss, Sookie?” he asks quietly, and I bite the inside of my lip.

“Y-yeah,” I finally confess after a moment of silence.

“I am honored,” he murmurs and I risk another quick glance at him. He’s starin’ at me, lookin’ ridiculously proud of himself.

“It’s not that big a deal,” I mumble.

“It is to me,” He takes my hand and gives it a squeeze.

“Your hands are cold,” I comment and he takes his hand from mine. “Oh, I don’t mind,” I take his hand back and bring it to my lips, kissing the backs of his knuckles.

He smiles softly at me before awkwardly reaching around the steering wheel column and starting the car. We drive around Shreveport holding hands and just talking until it’s time for me to go home. He and Jason would have a blast talking. I think Eric is a closet history nut ’cause he tells me all these stories about different eras. There’s so much detail in his knowledge that it’s like he was there experiencing it all first hand. Jason would love that. I wonder who could school whom?

Eric’s POV:

After I walk Sookie to the condo, I make my way to Booker Stadium. Per my promise to Stackhouse, I am now obligated to admit that the dynamics between his sister and I have changed. I could, of course, wait until I see him tomorrow evening, but I am a vampire of my word.

“Let me in to see Stackhouse,” I glamour the guard at the entry booth. His eyes glaze over and he nods. “Turn off the cameras,” I order further and watch as the security professional moves to disable the recorders. I catch a glimpse of Stackhouse on the west end of the stadium before the screens turn black and immediately make my way in that direction. With no cameras to record me, I am moving quickly through the stadium, and soon I am rounding up on the man for whom I am looking. “Stackhouse-”

“HOLY FUCKIN’ SHIT!” Jason yells, turns, and swings all in the same instance. I lean back and effortlessly dodge his punch. “Fuck me! Eric, what the fuck!?” he shouts at me, clutching his heart now that he finds there is no danger.

“My apologies. I did not intend to sneak up on you,” Actually I did. Giving humans a good scare is entertaining. Now that Godric’s orders have been lifted, I am merely trying to enjoy myself a little more.

“How did you get in here?” Jason asks now that he has calmed down.

“I told the guard I had to speak with you, and that it was urgent,” I explain and watch as Jason’s body tenses. “Sookie is perfectly fine. She must have just called you?”

“Yeah, she did,” Jason relaxes. I suppose the word ‘urgent’ immediately sets the boy on edge about his sister. “So what did you need to see me ’bout that couldn’t wait till tomorrow night?”

“I told you if anything changed between Sookie and I, you would be the second to know. Tonight I kissed her, and I told Sookie I would court her,” I admit to Stackhouse, crossing my arms over my chest and giving the truthful impression that I do not need his permission.

Jason shifts his weight uncomfortably, “Er, okay?” He scratches the back of his head with further uncertainty, “I ain’t never done this, so it’s gonna sound awkward. All right?” he looks horribly embarrassed.

“Jason,” I place my hands on his shoulders, “I will not advance our physical relationship beyond kisses until she is eighteen. Perhaps some of the more juvenile levels of groping, but not sex or blatant sexual acts. Our kiss this evening was entirely within the realm of innocent. I will walk her through the steps of relationships, and I will not pressure her to do a damned thing.”

“Uh, okay,” Jason looks at me dazedly. “Um, anything else?”

“Yes,” I nod, laughing internally at our role reversal. Traditionally it would be the father laying down the law to the “boyfriend,” and the brother would merely parrot his father’s threats. However, I can see that Jason is floundering, searching for the script of speaking to the boyfriend about dating his “daughter.” It does not help that I am older, taller, and stronger than him either, I think ruefully. “If I hurt her, I am a dead man.” Or a finally dead man, I add mentally.

Jason nods as dumbly as he has been since this conversation began. “Well, uh, thanks for keeping your promise and lettin’ me know so quickly that things between you two have changed. I’ll give Sooks a good talking to.”

I merely nod in response to that. Jason will regain his authoritativeness when talking to Sookie, and he will feel less helpless in this new situation. “I suppose that while I am here, I should encourage you to put in your two weeks’ notice for the stadium and convenience store. I will support you two until you graduate. Sookie knows the specifics about what that entails. You may discuss it with her in the morning.”

Jason stares at me blankly and I can see a storm of resistance brewing in his eyes. I am certain his brain raged against the word ‘support’. “Northman-”

“Jason, Sookie was in tears over you,” I cut him off. “She feels miserable and guilty that you are killing yourself trying to keep your promise of graduating college, supporting her, and keeping her out of foster care. You have worked far more than enough these past three years to keep her safe. Let me give you the next eighteen months. For her. So she can have her big brother back, and he can help her navigate her first relationship. Go back to being her brother.”

“So, what? That make you our Sugar Daddy?” he grouches at me and I laugh.

“I thought I already assured you that I would not solicit your sister for sex?” I can feel frustration building in me at Stackhouse’s resistance. Though his accusations are amusing, they are just as annoying.

Jason clutches at his hair, takes a deep breath, and looks at me in defeat, “Yeah, I know. I guess I’m smarting a bit at having no fuckin’ clue how to deal with any of this. You ain’t giving us a lot of money, are ya? Nothin’ too crazy?”

“Two thousand a month,” I tell him, ignoring the way his eyes widen and jaw slackens, “and a couple add-ons for convenience. Like I said, Sookie knows the details. You can ask her about it in the morning.”

I am still gloating that the Stackhouses have caved to my offer. No longer will I have to bother sifting through their CPS reports, discerning who is to blame for missed interviews or incomplete forms. Did Stackhouse have to work or attend classes, forcing him to miss the interview? Did the office forget to inform him of an interview? As far as I can tell, their caseworker had filed most of the paperwork needed for them, but Jason’s signature was missing on one of the forms. Honestly the most absurd problems will derail such simple things.

“Yeah, okay. Hey,” he stops me from leaving once more, “when I get my wits back, you and me are gonna have a talk about Sookie. All right? Be ready for it.”

“Yes, Sir,” I taunt him and wave as I turn once more to leave.

Once I finish with Jason Stackhouse I head back to my house in Bon Temps. Its public purpose was to be my escape from the traffic and noise of Shreveport, but with Sookie and Jason staying in my usual accommodations, I have been forced to remain in my secure chamber beneath the farmhouse while its renovations continue.

Pam is waiting for me, pouring over several ledgers until I arrive in my study.

“Oh, you were with the Stackhouse girl,” she remarks, not even glancing up at me.

“Yes. She finally caved and asked for financial assistance,” I admit. “I need you to find a company for which I can “hire” him as a consultant. Do I own a publishing company?”

“Yes,” she sighs, digging through the multiple colored coordinated ledgers until she pulls up a large blue one. “LAP House. I suppose we could list him as a consultant here. Let me check their productivity and see if they can ‘afford him.’” She rolls her eyes and I chuckle as I walk past my desk and begin looking for the Stackhouse Ledger. “How much are you planning on paying him?”

“Two thousand a month,” I tell her, marking the allowance into their ledger. “We also need to lease a vehicle for them and obtain a cell phone plan. Keep it modest, and keep the vehicle in my name on the lease with Jason listed as an insured driver of the vehicle. Sookie does not even have a driver’s permit.”

Pam looks up from the books incredulously, “Anything else? Shall I buy a house for them as well?”

I tilt my head at her attitude, “No, no house. Perhaps you would like to buy a new wardrobe for Sookie?” Pam’s ire relents and she lights up with enthusiasm instead. Nothing brightens Pam’s evening the way spending my money does.

“Really? I always wanted a life size Barbie,” she gives me a salacious grin.

“Please keep her labels in the realm of middle class,” I request. “I want them to live comfortably. Not be overwhelmed by luxury. It would turn them into lost children on the ocean.”

“And here I thought you wanted to shower that girl with jewels and money,” Pam leers, once more with the attitude she is well aware pisses me off.

“Pamela,” I enunciate her full name as a warning, “my interest in Sookie Stackhouse is none of your concern. And while we are on the topic of excessive interest in the Stackhouses, might I remind you that I am not the individual between the two of us who has fucked a Stackhouse.”

Pam makes a purring noise in the back of her throat at my point and it catches me off guard. She does not usually emulate that sound for men. “Yes, thank you for that delightful reminder. He really was something else. Big enough to enjoy and appreciate without the excessive ego,” She looks pointedly at my crotch.

“I guarantee that my ego is well-deserved and is not excessive in the least,” I reply.

Pam pouts, but concedes my point. “So I am being banished to the likes of Wal-Mart and J.C. Penney?” she finally asks.

“That would be a good place for you to start. She goes to a good school, and I do not need her classmates recognizing designer labels and catching her off guard. Do your best to purchase clothes within the class that they are accustomed. You may also purchase a few things for Jason though he would probably resist accepting them. I assume you remember his… Measurements?”

A wicked grin lifts Pam’s lips, and her only reply is to nod, “Should I catch him after work again tonight and soften him to the new arrangement?”

“I doubt anything will be soft about that man with those sort of intentions, Pamela,” I reply.

“Damn right there won’t,” she purrs, rises from my desk, and saunters out of the office.

That poor boy will not know what hit him.

On to Chapter Eight!

Catalyst Ch.06

Chapter Six: Home Again

Sookie’s POV:

Oh boy, I am trying desperately to block Jason’s thoughts while I cook us breakfast. Unfortunately, I am more than aware that he had sex not only with some random woman who works at the stadium, but also PAM! Eric’s Pam! Oh my gosh, I try really hard to block any further information, but Jason is so caught up in the memories of last night that his thoughts are hammerin’ at my mental shields like a deranged woodpecker.

“Your shoulder still feelin’ good, Jason?” I try to distract him with conversation.

“Yeah,” he replies, still too engrossed with his conquests the previous night.

“That’s good,” I taper off and decide to focus on breakfast and not keepin’ his attention. He deserves to focus on someone other than me for a change. I’m glad he got to be with someone…s… Two someones, but I’m not a girl who would have appreciated knowin’ I was with a guy who then went and banged another girl shortly after bein’ with me. I think it would break my heart. But they are not me and Jason obviously is not someone I would ever date, so what does it matter?

I guess it upsets me because I know what a sweet and honest guy Jason is, and to know he could do something so intimate as that with two different people in such a short stretch of time? It makes me worried about bein’…close… With anyone. Maybe I’m bein’ too girly about the whole sex thing, but I really want my first time to be special. What if I meet a sweet, honest guy and he does that to me?

“Hey!” Jason is standin’ next to me with big eyes, “Why you lookin’ like someone just died?”

I swallow hard and shake my head, “I just worry about you.”

“Aw, you ain’t got nothing to worry about with me,” he pats my back and steals a piece of bacon from where it’s coolin’. “So, what do you wanna do today?” he asks me.

Let’s see, it’s winter, it’s a Sunday and we are broke. “Well,” I begin hesitantly, “since this is the last Sunday before Christmas break and all your friends will be headin’ home for the holidays, could we ask to borrow someone’s car so we can go visit Mom, Dad, Gramps, and Gran?”

Jason smiles softly at my suggestion, “Yeah, Sis. You finish making breakfast, and I’ll call some of the guys and see if anyone will let us borrow their car.”

“Thanks, Jason,” I give him a soft smile and turn back to breakfast, pancakes and bacon.

After Jason secures a car for 2 p.m., we settle into breakfast, both a little melancholy about our plans. Of course we want to visit our family plot, but at the same time, it’s very depressing. Holiday cheer is scarce when your family get-togethers are in a cemetery.

At two, Harley, the team’s starting tailback, arrives with his pick-up and we drop him off back home before catchin’ the 49 South to Bon Temps. The trip is pretty quiet as both of us are a bit distracted about what we’re doing. We go twice every year ’round Christmas and Easter. We tried to go at Thanksgiving, but between football, work, and school, we just can’t swing it. Also, we try to make it a point to go on birthdays and anniversaries… It’s just really hard… Neither one of us really wants to go and be depressed all day.

Every trip is like some glarin’ reminder that we’re all we got. I think Jason worries a lot ’bout Hadley OD’ing, or Aunt Linda havin’ a stroke of bad luck like the rest of the family. Sometimes I wonder if we got some sorta curse or target on our backs. Maybe I just want someone to blame, or some sorta explanation for why Jason and I have to go through this. I find myself tellin’ myself that it could be worse, but it’s hard to imagine how.

Jason pulls up to the big fence around the cemetery and we take each other’s hands while we make our way to where our family is laid to rest. We’re very quiet as we look at the markers, and I wonder if Jason is thinkin’ the same thing as me, that everyone who ever loved us is in the ground beneath our feet, and if they could, they would dig themselves out to be with us.

They didn’t want to leave us, right? I wonder sadly, immediately feeling guilty that such a thought came from my head. Of course they didn’t wanna leave us behind. They loved us. If they knew what we were going through, and they had the power to help us, I know they would.

My dark musings are diverted when I hear very loud claps of debris smashin’ around. When I look up, Jason is starin’ up the hill at Gran’s old farmhouse. His jaw is tense, and then he looks down at me worriedly. I suddenly realize what I’m hearin’. Someone bought the farmhouse and is tearin’ it up!

My throat burns with anger at this realization. Someone is tearin’ apart my history. Our history! It ain’t bad enough we gotta come to a cemetery to visit our family, now our ancestral home is under attack as well.

Before Jason can stop me, I’m runnin’ up the hill and he’s chasin’ me. I don’t even realize how hard I’m runnin’ ’til I’m doubled over, pantin’ and starin’ at the mutilation of my childhood home. What I find is a large dumpster and construction workers throwin’ piece after piece of my past into it as if it’s trash. That’s all I am to the world. Trash, I think miserably

“Th-they’re guttin’ it,” I choke around my gasps for breath. When I manage to suck in a good lungful of air, my voice tears across the hill, “THEY’RE FUCKIN’ GUTTIN’ IT!”

Jason’s hand clamps over my screamin’ mouth before I can get another breath out. Several of the workers look at us after Jason picks me up, with his hand still covering my mouth, and carries me back to our borrowed truck. I’m tryin’ to breathe, but my nose is filled with snot, and his hand is over my mouth. The most I can do is hiccup against his palm, and sneak a few molecules of oxygen through my congested nasal passage.

When Jason has me safely inside, he removes his hand and closes the door. By the time he’s behind the wheel, I’m a sobbin’, hysterical mess. The anxiety of oxygen deprivation has me chokin’ on my breaths and I cry the entire way home, feelin’ just as useless and unwanted as everything in the old farmhouse.

I cry all the way up the stairs to our apartment. I cry all the way to my room and into my bed. I cry because all I have left is Jason, and I selfishly want to keep him forever. I selfishly want him to give up the entire world, all of his future happiness, and just stay with me. I cry because I’m a horrible, selfish person.

Eric’s POV:

“Good evening, Stackhouse,” I already know something is not right. Stackhouse looks as if he is prepared to burst into tears, and I could easily hear Sookie crying from the first floor landing. “Has something happened?” I ask.

“Me and Sooks had a really bad day,” he rasps hoarsely. His red eyes brim with tears and now that I am listening properly, I can tell that Sookie is actually asleep and crying intermittently in her dreams.

“May I come in?” I gesture to the door.
“Yeah, sure. Don’t know what kinda company I’ll be… Sooks is passed out, but yeah. C’mon in,” He steps aside, allowing me to enter. “We went and visited our family today.”

Ah, that would explain the heavy emotions and atmosphere. “That must still be difficult for you,” I nod in understanding.

“Yeah, well,” Stackhouse runs his hand through his hair tiredly, and I have a strange compulsion to pat his back. I awkwardly do that and he shakes his head, seemingly amused by my attempt at comfort. “This ain’t your thing. I get it. You don’t have to try and do the comfort thing.”

“I am trying to work on it,” I admit begrudgingly and am surprised when his small, consolatory smile causes my chest to tighten. When did I start giving a damn about this broken family?

“Well, the cemetery was hard. Y’know, the holidays make shit rough regardless,” he tells me softly when we go to the sofa and sit down. “We were doing all right, but then we heard hammerin’, and,” he looks lost. “See, our old house was on the hill overlookin’ that cemetery. We heard construction. Sookie freaked out, ran up the hill, and saw them gutting our old home. She hasn’t stopped cryin’ since.”

I close my eyes and take a deep breath. “Was your old home in Bon Temps?” I ask, dreading the answer. Suddenly, that initial scent of ‘home’ I breathed when Sookie’s fragrance first wafted past my nostrils makes much more sense. Even after several years of vacancy, her aroma would have still been infused in parts of the house.

“Yeah… Why?” His tone tells me he is already suspecting what my reply will be, and he is very unhappy.

“You must understand that I bought it almost eighteen months ago, before I ever knew either of you,” I tell him quickly. “I only just found an architect who was sympathetic to the original-”

“I don’t give a fuck,” Jason spits at me, but pauses, takes a deep breath, and collects himself. “Sorry… Sorry, it ain’t your fault. You have the right to buy whatever you want.” He stands up and begins pacing. “You gotta understand,” he begins to beseech me, “to me and Sookie, seeing that house broken down is real sore. We didn’t wanna give it up. We got fucked hard up the ass when Gran died.”

“I understand that,” I nod, gesturing for him to continue.

“We had no idea Gran wasn’t paying her property taxes. Apparently our daddy did that for her, and when he died, she had no idea she was supposed to be doing that. Granddaddy did it till he died, daddy did it till he died. Next thing we know, Gran’s dead and the government’s saying we owe eight years back taxes plus all these fuckin’ penalties-” Stackhouse cuts himself off, clutching his hair in frustration. “When they seized the house, Sookie had a meltdown. Seeing it getting gutted like that just killed her.”

“Jason,” I urge him to sit down, “perhaps if Sookie could see what I am doing, it would ease her emotions. The renovations that are being done are entirely sympathetic to the original design. It is merely updating plumbing, electricity, and HVAC. What your sister saw was probably very extreme because, yes, the plaster had to be ripped out to do all of the updates. There was asbestos in places, and my Gods, with all of that lead paint, I am surprised either of you had the mental capacity to finish school, let alone excel.” That comment earns me a watery laugh that eases some of what feels suspiciously like guilt within me. If only I had given more interest in the house than its location. I would have known the former owner and deduced it was the Stackhouse’s home upon our first encounter! “However, aside from a few areas that sustained water damage, all of the woodwork is original. It is a very sturdy, persevering home.”

Jason nods as if he is understanding what I am telling him. Unfortunately, he is still holding his head in his hands as though he could break down crying at any moment. I want desperately to soothe his spirits, offer some sort of balm to his emotions. I would give them the fucking house right now if I knew they would take it!

“Do I have permission to take Sookie back there tonight and show her what is being done?” I ask carefully.
Stackhouse considers this a moment before deciding that, against his better judgment, Sookie needs this. He nods his consent.

“Hey, Eric,” Jason whispers softly. “When Sookie sees the house, no matter what you did or didn’t do to it, she’s gonna be real emotional. She might do or say something she wouldn’t normally. I don’t know what it is, but you handle it however is best for Sookie. You handle it knowing she’s a hearts and flowers girl. If you can’t be a hearts and flowers guy, you break her heart now, okay?”

His comment surprises me. It makes me wonder if he believes Sookie may become so emotional that she would seek some sort of physical comfort from me. That likelihood is minimal at best. I have already pegged Sookie as a shy innocent. She would not seek physical comfort like that, being so inexperienced.

Instead of mentioning that Jason’s fears are unwarranted, I nod and rise from the sofa, heading to the bedroom. Sookie has cried herself to sleep, and I find that it would be better to let her rest. Sleeping through the drive back to Bon Temps might also alleviate the building anxiety over her distraught anticipations. Therefore, I scoop her into my arms and carry her out of the room. Stackhouse is holding the door open for me and follows me down the stairs to my car so that he can help me situate his sister into the seat.

On the drive home, I find myself holding Sookie’s hand gently in mine. It must have been more of an emotional day than I could comprehend because she has not even stirred since being put in the car. The half hour drive to Bon Temps is long and quiet aside from the occasional whimper of my unconscious companion. When I arrive up the gravel drive, I lift Sookie from her seat and bring her to rest on the sofa in her old living room. This is the only room completed thus far as it was only in need of rerunning the electricity and new drywall. It looks remarkably similar to its former incarnation. I even managed to find a nearly identical wallpaper. What a chore that was for Adriana Metcalf!

I go out to the front porch and pluck a pansy to place in her hand. The gardens already existed when I took possession of the house, and I had found them charming. So I hired a gardener to bring them back under thumb, and they have flourished in his care.

Sitting on the sofa at Sookie’s feet, I stroke her ankle soothingly until I feel her finally begin to stir. When she does, she blinks several times, confusion and recognition in her eyes before finally looking at me.

“How? Why am I home?” she asks in confusion.

“I bought this place a little over a year ago. I had no idea it was your childhood home,” I tell her gently. “When I arrived at your apartment this evening and your brother explained why the two of you were so distressed, I thought I could offer you comfort by showing you what it is I am doing to the farmhouse.”

“D-does Jason know I’m here?” she asks worriedly.

I smile, “Of course he does. I would not steal you away into the night. What sort of dark denizen do you take me for?”

Sookie gives me an apologetic grimace. “So, is this the only room you haven’t touched yet?” Sookie asks miserably and plays with the petals of the pink pansy in her hand.

“This is the only room that is completed,” I tell her. “I did not wish to destroy the character of the home, merely update its bones and repair damages.”

“I-I like the wallpaper,” she admits reluctantly, having apparently realized that the pattern is different than what she remembered.

“Yes, the floral pattern that was in here had a very nice, country, timeless feel to it. It took Adriana, the designer, some time to match it. I did not wish to change that,” I tell her. “Now, keep in mind, this is my residence now, not a family home. Therefore, some rooms that were once bedrooms serve a different purpose. All right?” Sookie nods at me and accepts my hand when I offer a tour.

I show her the kitchen, which is still quite in shambles, but the new tiling is down and the paneling has been repainted. The back splash is going up tomorrow, which I tell her. I show her the tiling I selected for that and she comments that it is “very pretty”. I explain how Adriana and I both agreed that the kitchen layout needed to be reconfigured. As the room had been slowly built in with modern appliances, choosing the easiest method of installing new fixtures rather than the most practical, the function had taken a great blow.

Next, I show her the upstairs where I have converted one of the bedrooms into a study and the other into a guest bedroom. Neither of the rooms has changed all that much, removed wall paper, repainted. When we arrive back downstairs she begins to head to the master bedroom, but I stop her.

“I do not think you should go in there,” I warn.

“Why? It’s just another bedroom,” she shrugs.

“Because it is my personal room,” I try to explain without giving too much away. She would wonder why the window has been blocked up and why the room appears smaller than she remembers. That would be because the walls and ceiling have been reinforced for fire protection. She would also wonder why it appears un-lived in since it is not my primary resting place while construction is still underway. I have not died for the day in that room a single time since buying the house.

“Are you nervous you won’t be able to control yourself if I’m in your bedroom?” she asks softly, looking at me from beneath her eyelashes.

Surprisingly, no, that thought had not crossed my mind. She is constantly difficult to control myself around despite location, especially now that I can see her body is once again putting on weight. It has only been several days and she already looks much healthier.

“You wound me by saying you believe I am that undisciplined in my control over my own body, Sookie,” I tell her instead. She plays with her long blonde hair, looking at her feet and blushing. I touch her chin and urge her to look at me. “I am anything but without control where you are concerned, Sookie. A beautiful young woman deserves more than a man who thinks only of himself,” Her face flushes further at my words, and I feel her trying to turn her head from me shyly. “That said, I am not certain yet if I am able to be the man you deserve, and beg your patience while I endeavor to find out.”

Her head tilts, her eyes big with confusion at my proclamation. “I don’t understand what that means,” she admits.

“It means that you deserve a lover who holds you above all else. I am a very selfish man, Sookie, and I must discover if there is a chance that a miscreant like me can meet the standards you should have,” I explain bluntly.

“What if I told you I’m willin’ to find out the hard way? Find out with you?” she asks softly, her eyes large and trusting.

Bending slightly, I stoop down to meet her eyes and cup her beautiful chin in both of my palms. She is staring at me hopefully, but to do right by her and her brother, I cannot kiss her lips. Instead, I kiss her forehead and pull away, “Then I would say that we should head back to Shreveport now because it is getting late, and you have school in the morning.”

“Eric,” she whispers and tries to steal a kiss, but I have already risen to my full height and her lips press into my chest. Her arms wrap around my waist, and she rests her cheek into my chest. She holds me tightly, and I find my own arms tangling around her shoulders as I nuzzle into her crown of golden hair.

“For now, I will offer you companionship, Sookie. You are young-”

“Seven years ain’t that much,” she protests, her voice trilling through my chest, waking some sort of stirring I cannot recall experiencing before.

Try one-thousand, one-hundred and fifty-nine, Sookie, I think bemusedly. “Even still, let us merely get to know each other for now. All right? You know that I am interested and receptive to future relations. I know that you are receptive as well. There are no games, merely waiting.”

“It’s still a game, Eric,” she tells me in a foreign, husky tone. Gods, that sound is an aphrodisiac. “A game of wills. Let’s see how long you can keep those lips to yourself.”

Vixen.

Sookie’s POV:

Bold words from a meek girl, I think with embarrassment. I can’t believe I just said that!

Instead of dissolving into a puddle of girly-goo at making such a forward statement, I take Eric’s hand and he leads me back to his car. He holds my hand all the way back to Shreveport. Even while he’s shiftin’ gears our hands are laced together.

His hand is very cool in mine, but startin’ to warm up as his thumb grazes back and forth over my knuckles. My face goes tomato red when he brings my hand up to his lips and kisses where his thumb has been rubbin’. He does this five or six times between Bon Temps and Shreveport, and I blush like a little girl each time.

“Sorry I was such a wreck tonight,” I offer an apology when he pulls up to my building. My curfew is only a couple minutes away.

“I understand,” he tells me and kisses my hand again. “And you wished for me to kiss your lips! You cannot even stand to have your hand kissed,” he teases me when my face burns red again, playfully kissin’ my hand over and over.

“Yeah, well,” I mumble, gettin’ my dander up, “it’s all black and white movie romantic. I never seen guys kiss a girl’s hand like that in real life.”

“Is that it?” he asks, taunting me further, but in a sweet way that I like. “Romance or not, I cannot think of anything more masculine than wanting my lips on a beautiful woman.”

“Is that so?” My head turns away so he can’t see that I’m overwhelmed by how such a beautiful man is showin’ any interest in me. The absence of his thoughts only fuels my unease and desire in extreme directions. Not knowin’ his motivations or intentions is terrifying, but not havin’ to overlook stray thoughts is a relief that allows me the chance to appreciate all the little things.

I can appraise his beauty without immediately recoiling at the mind behind the mask. I can appreciate how he talks to me so patiently, but sweetly without worrying over condescension. I can enjoy the way he’s seemed to want to touch me innocently, as if his hands want nothing more than to be in contact with my skin, and not worry about ulterior motives. I don’t know that his hand has left mine once since I woke up in Gran’s house….

“Then this is where I leave you, Sookie,” Eric whispers as he gets out of the car and comes around to open my door. I’ve already opened it and am steppin’ out when he offers his hand. Wow, guys still get the door for girls? Then he’s walkin’ me up to my apartment door and the level of old school chivalry has me reeling. “Tomorrow renovations on this building begin. I apologize in advance if you find it frustratingly noisy for the next six weeks. Do not worry if you come home from school to find that your walls have been torn to shreds. They are rerunning the electricity and plumbing.”

All I can do is nod, my hand poised with the key at the lock. I don’t know that I’ve really absorbed much of what he’s said yet.

“If you need to get out after dark, call me. I will make sure you are safe,” he says quietly. Then he cups my chin and tilts my face to plant a kiss again on my forehead. His lips are cool. “Your brother has my number.”

With that, Eric steps away and waits long enough for me to enter the apartment and lock the door behind me. I go straight to the phone and call Jason at the B’n’B.

Route 20 Buy’n’Bag,” Jason’s voice greets me tiredly.

“Hey, Jason, it’s Sookie. I just wanted to let you know I was home safe with the door locked.”

A sigh of relief comes over the receiver, “Thanks.”

“Eric said the apartment’s reno starts tomorrow and that it could be pretty noisy around here durin’ the day. Sorry, that’s gonna really screw you up,” I give him a heads up that he might want to try gettin’ his naps in somewhere else.

I’ll see if I can crash a couple hours at Dave’s place,” Jason groans. “Shit, I’ll have to figure out how I’m gonna get you home from work tomorrow, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.”

“What if Eric picked me up?” I suggest, crossing my fingers hopefully.

There’s a long pause over the phone, “He ain’t allowed in the apartment when I’m not there.”

“Fair enough,” I consider the restriction a moment before asking, “Am I allowed to stay out with him before he brings me home?”

You call me when he gets to the restaurant, you’re home before 9:30, and you call me as soon as you’re locked in the apartment. If I don’t hear from you at 9:30, I’m callin’ the cops.”

“Message received!” I am grinning hugely, and hang up to let Jason get back to work. In an hour or two he’ll be studyin’ at the counter. As soon as the phone is hung up, I snatch it back from the cradle and look around for Eric’s business card. I know I saw it this mornin’?

I find it on the fridge and quickly call Eric, all but expecting to get the answering machine. When he picks up, I’m surprised.

Sookie?” he sounds just as surprised to hear from me as I am to find he picked up.

“Hi, Eric,” I play with the phone cord nervously. “Um, I talked to Jason about the reno, and since he usually sleeps durin’ the day in spurts, he’s gonna be crashin’ at his team mate’s places for the week.”

Ah, I forgot about his schedule,” Eric sounds regretful. “Would you two like to stay at my condo for the duration of the renovation?”

“Oh, well, I was gonna ask if you would mind pickin’ me up after work this week to put Jason at ease, but I can call my brother back and ask if he’d like that better. Where’s your condo, cause I know he’s gonna ask. We’d need to figure out the bus routes.”

Eric tells me the address and informs me that he keeps an Escalade at that location that Jason is free to use durin’ the our time there to minimize the inconvenience. I’m happy to hear that his condo is only a stone’s throw away from my school, so I could easily hoof it. The only bus I would have to catch is to work.

I quickly call Jason back, and though he’s a bit reluctant to accept so much, he admits he’d be imposing just as much on Dave in the other scenario.

After I hang up with Jason, I call Eric back, “Jason says we’d love to stay at your condo, and thank you for use of the car.”

My pleasure,” he replies smoothly and it makes a pleasant shiver go up my spine. “However, I feel as though I have cut myself off at the knee. Allowing your brother so many accommodations has taken away the opportunity for me to spend more time with you, Sookie.”

“Well, Jason didn’t say I couldn’t still go out with you on my work nights,” I find myself whisperin’. “I’ll double check with him, but I don’t think he’d begrudge ya somethin’ I already bargained out with him.”

I hope you can persuade him to keep our arrangement,” Eric’s voice is soft, promising.

“Me, too,” I tell him breathlessly.

There’s a long pause over the phone, as if he’s considering what to say next. Instead of some revealin’ proclamation, he simply says, “Good night, Sookie. Sleep well,” and hangs up.

Hanging up the phone, I walk to the bathroom in a daze. I shower and dress for bed, but before climbing under the covers, I pack up mine and Jason’s clothes and toiletries, except for our toothbrushes and deodorant since we’ll need them in the morning.

I dream of Eric again tonight. He is holding my face in his hands, and instead of kissing my forehead, he presses his lips to mine. They’re cool, soft, and full against my mouth. His tongue tangles with mine, dancing playfully as if we have rehearsed it over and over. When he pulls away, I taste a metallic tang. I touch my fingers to my swollen lip and look at the red stain of blood. I look up at him in surprise and he is smiling apologetically at me, his incisors elongated into sharp, pointed fangs.

When I awaken from the dream, I stretch languidly, pleasantly well rested after such a peculiar fantasy. Do I dream of Eric being a vampire because the living dead are immortal, and that would mean death could not steal him from me? Is it because I’ve only ever seen Eric at night? Maybe it’s because his skin is so cool compared to mine, or because he speaks so eloquently?

Whatever the reason, the dream did not leave me troubled. If anything, it fueled entirely new fantasies and musings. As I lay in bed a moment longer, savoring the warmth of the blanket, I laugh at myself. Who dreams of their crush being a vampire and doesn’t freak out? There’s so many different suggestions about dream theory and what an acquaintance being a vampire in a dream can imply. My subconscious could be telling me that Eric could cause trouble, grief, or anxiety. The only thought that banishes these unwelcome possibilities is how I felt waking from my dream. I felt relief, excitement and longing. There was not an ounce of anxiety within me when I woke.

After spending those final minutes examining my dream, I finally crawl out of bed and dress. I pack the clothes I had worn and quickly run to the bathroom to brush my hair and examine my face. The bruises are already beginning to fade, and I’m relieved that only one bold line from where my cheek smashed into the wall remains.

I have a quick breakfast of fruit and Cheerios before brushing my teeth and gathering my schoolwork. My grade for the history report that introduced me to Eric should be available, and I’m excited to see how I scored.

{†}

Why can’t I concentrate?

I keep thinking about that kiss in my dream, not so much the vampire part, but the actual kiss. Every so often I catch myself biting on my lip, and my thighs squeeze together without me even realizin’ it. I’m squirmy and achy, and I don’t know how I’m gonna see Eric tonight without blushin’ the whole time.

Amidst my daydreams, I catch myself about to moan and quickly cover it with a cough. I listen to the thoughts around me, but no one seems to notice that I’m sittin’ in the middle of class gettin’ turned on by a dream about a kiss.

I shift in my seat and can feel the slickness in my underwear. This is so embarrassing!

Stop it, Sookie! Stop thinkin’ ’bout that freakin’ kiss! It was just a dream. You’ve dreamed about him before and didn’t react like this! Now stop thinkin’ about it and you won’t be so turned on!

His tongue was so cool and…

What did you just tell yourself! Knock it off!

Fine, fine. I hate when I argue with myself. It just brings on the paranoia that I am actually insane. I wish I had someone to just talk it over with, someone who could confirm that I’m not crazy.

Not for the first time in my life do I contemplate tellin’ Jason that I’m a telepath. It would be easy enough for me to prove to him. All I have to do is parrot his thoughts back to him long enough for him to realize it’s no coincidence.

For the first time in my life, my inner “grown-up” voice doesn’t tell me it’s a bad idea. However, my inner “child” voice is terrified of her big brother rejecting her. I really can’t handle losin’ him, too.

Part of me wants to go back to daydreaming about Eric to avoid contemplatin’ this lifelong dilemma, but the other part wants to stay on the tormenting topic of my telepathy.

Maybe I should wait ’til I’m eighteen? Then if he wants nothin’ to do with me, at least I won’t go into foster care.

I’m angry at myself for havin’ such uncertainty toward Jason. He’s never given me a reason to believe he’d stop loving me for anything.

I’ll tell him after finals. Two days into Christmas vacation at the latest.

I resolve myself to stick to my deadline, but I can already feel myself mentally bargaining about prolonging the big reveal.

I wish I had someone to talk to about it.

Eric immediately springs to mind, and I consider the possibility of givin’ him a very hypothetical and vague description of my situation. Maybe he can help me steel my resolve some…

On to Chapter Seven!

Catalyst Ch.05

Chapter Five: A Weight is Lifted

Jason’s POV:

Ugh, that couch looks so good right now, but Sookie won’t shut up. She’s goin’ on and on about somethin’. Oh good, she’s talkin’ soft now and slowin’ down.

“Jason,” Sookie whispers, “why don’t you take a nap ’til the doctor gets here?”

I grunt out a reply and flop onto the lumpy couch, wincin’ as a spring pokes into my ribs. Don’t care. Fuckin’ sleep!

Next thing I know there’s this loud poundin’ on the door, and I’m jumpin’ off the couch like it bit me. ‘Course, with all the springs, it probably was.

I shuffle toward the door, expecting to find some sort of burly sports therapy doc, and what do I find? A four foot nothin’ biddy, who looks about eighty.

“You the doc?” I ask in surprise.

“Got a problem with that?” she snaps at me like I’m a huge asshole. Yup, this has got to be the doc.

“Not at all. You’re good enough to come to me. I woulda come to your office, but Eric said he’d send ya over. Sorry if it’s messin’ with your day,” I apologize.

Her pissy glare tones down a bit after I apologize, so I figure if I’m cordial without layin’ it on too thick, she’ll be easier to deal with.

“First, take off your shirt,” the doc commands, lookin’ for somewhere for me to sit I imagine. Only two places she could probably check on my arm is the bedroom or the bathroom. Somethin’ ’bout havin’ this little, ancient doctor in bed with me gives me the shivers, so I tell her we can do this in the bathroom.

Soon I’m shirtless, sittin’ on the edge of the tub, and she’s standing in the tub feelin’ at my shoulder, pressin’, pullin’, and makin’ it sting like a bitch! “How long have you been benched?” she asks me. When I look at her all confused, she looks taken aback. “You haven’t been playing with your arm like this, have you?” she demands.

“Well, last game of the season was the last Sunday of November,” I tell her. “So, what, I’ve been out since two weeks or so ago? Had a practice night before last, but that was all fun and games, not a real practice.”

Doc’s mouth tightens into a real thin line and her face is all red, “Do you realize you have a nearly severed infraspinatus!? You mean to tell me you have been playing like this!?” She is PISSED!

“I guess… I just manned up and ignored it,” I shrug. In reply, Doc thumps my shoulder in just the right spot with such accuracy and power, I actually lurch forward and puke into the toilet. I felt that pain shoot all the way up into my fuckin’ head!

“Idiot,” she grouches at me. “A torn rotator cuff muscle, and I can hear bone on bone in this shoulder. You are a fool,” she scolds me over and over while she bends into the tub and I flush the toilet. “I was hoping I would have something other than this to fix your problems, but you have completely destroyed that arm!”

I look behind me to see her holdin’ a red vial and the biggest, fucking needle I have seen in my entire life. I look at her like she’s crazy if she thinks she’s stickin’ that in me!

“You will need three injections of this serum. Here,” she points to the front of my shoulder, “here,” points to the back, “and here,” She raises my arm and points to my armpit. Fuck, that’s gonna hurt the worst! “Hard one out of the way first,” she tells me while she’s already swabbing my armpit with rubbin’ alcohol. That fucker of a needle is jabbin’ into me next, and I scream in surprise, pain, and a bit of anger. Warn a man, God damn it! “Man up, Stackhouse. You are apparently good at that! Two more to go.”

I grit my teeth and resolve myself not to strangle this fuckin’ bitch. Then, just as I’ve decided I won’t kill her, she sticks me again. Deep! Third time’s a charm, and by the time she’s made the final injection, I’m all but runnin’ out the bathroom door!

As I’m fuming, pacin’ ’round the livin’ room, I suddenly notice that my arm doesn’t hurt for the first time in about four months. It’s hurt on and off the last year, but since September, it’s been a constant hurt. I mean, always, when I’m awake, asleep, using it, or not. It always hurts! Now, it’s like it never hurt before in its twenty years attached to my torso. The fuck she give me?

“I will drop by next Saturday to see how the treatment is working for you,” Ludwig announces when she comes out of the bathroom, all her gear stowed back in her movie prop of a doctor’s bag. “Aside from discussing how your arm feels, we will also discuss how you feel overall. There will be several embarrassing questions, but I need answers. Be prepared for that,” Ludwig warns me.

“Ain’t ya s’pose to talk to me ’bout side effects and shit before givin’ someone drugs?” I ask dumbly.

Ludwig smirks at my question, but answers… Kinda… “It is an experimental mixture. I have used it several times for multiple sorts of injuries, but never this specific injury. Side effects should not occur in the application.”

“A miracle drug with no side effects?” I know I look doubtful. “Why ain’t it used all the time?”

Doc crosses her arms over her chest and replies, “The compounds for this serum are extremely difficult to obtain. Most of the time it is needed, it is like pulling teeth to acquire. That is all I will tell you about it. Now, as I said, I will return next Saturday to see about your progress.”

I can only nod as she leaves. Once she’s gone, I go to the fridge, pile together a lunch, and sit with my schoolwork at the coffee table. I got most my homework done at the Buy’n’Bag during the first half of my double shift, but I have Finals startin’ on Monday. I can’t take a break from studyin’.

After I’m done with lunch, I stretch a bit, still blown away by how easy my right arm swings. Even those shots with that porn-sized needle don’t hurt. I decide it’s time to see if I can actually sleep for a few hours straight now without the pain wakin’ me up. Optimistically, I set the alarm clock for 7 PM, just in case I actually manage to pass out a whole seven hours.

BEEP*WHOOP*BEEP*WHOOP*BEEP*

“FUCK!” I shout at the sound blastin’ beside me. It’s 7:00 o’clock and the alarm I set did what I asked of it. Holy shit! Is this what bein’ well rested feels like?!

I slap the alarm and quickly start pullin’ myself together. I change clothes for work ‘cause Sooks always does laundry on Saturday night after work, and the jeans I was wearin’ definitely need a wash. I’m just puttin’ together a sack lunch when Sookie comes through the door.

“Hey, Sooks,” I greet her in a fashion I haven’t in over eighteen months. I scoop her up under her arms and lift her over my head.

“WHOA!” she laughs, and when I set her back down, she’s cryin’ and huggin’ on me. “Your arm is feeling better!?” she asks hopefully.

“Yeah, Sooks. It feels great, and for once I’m not just sayin’ that,” I tell her assuredly. “It feels like a whole new arm.”

“Oh, Jason, I’m so glad!” she’s actually sobbin’ now while she hugs me around the middle.

“Hey now, don’t go crackin’ a rib!” I tease, pattin’ the top of her head. “I made you a grilled cheese. I gotta leave,” I tell her as I point to the plate on the counter. I grab my thermos and my bagged lunch, kiss her on the head, and run out the door.

As I catch my bus to the stadium, Hank, the bus driver, looks at me like I’m a stranger, “Wow, Stackhouse! You look good! What happened?”

“Finally saw a doctor about my shoulder and got a full seven hours’ sleep,” I tell him, sittin’ directly behind his seat. “My arm feels amazin’. Don’t know exactly what the doc gave me, but it’s nothin’ like that one time I took Vicodin. No nausea, no excessive sleeping, no fog. It’s amazin’.”

“You ain’t seein’ pink elephants on parade now, are ya?” Hank teases.
“Nope. No hallucinations that I can tell,” I laugh. “It don’t feel like a drug, y’know? I just feel… healed.”

“Well, don’t push it. Usually when you get treatments like that, the pain comes back just as bad if not worse,” he warns me.

“Yeah,” agreeing with him makes me gloomy, but I’m also optimistic. I don’t have any physically taxin’ shit to do until next fall. That’ll hopefully be enough time to rest up my shoulder and let it heal good and proper. Probably shouldn’t have picked Sooks up like I did, but I was just so excited. She’s been worryin’ so much over me, I just wanted to show her how good I felt. Make her stop feelin’ so guilty.

All the guys at the stadium comment on how alive I look tonight. They all say how I’ve never looked better, now all I gotta do is fill back out. That shouldn’t be a problem with all the food Eric packed into our kitchen. I can already see the color comin’ back to Sook’s cheeks and eyes. It’s only been four days, but the shadows under her eyes are already gone. I guess puttin’ weight on ain’t so hard when you actually got food in the house.

I got my uniform on, my Batman Belt, flashlight, radio, and I’m actually pretty energized for work tonight. I’m whistlin’ and grinnin’ as I walk the halls. Mallory is clankin’ by in her usual heels, ready to leave, but she stops suddenly when we’re about three feet away and watches me walk by.

“You look good today, Stackhouse,” she tells me.

“Oh, uh, thanks,” I’m a bit surprised. I don’t think she’s ever acknowledged me the last three years I’ve worked here. Sure, I’ve caught her checkin’ me out every so often, but I don’t think she’s ever spoke to me. “You look nice,” I add after an awkward moment.

“Thanks,” she smiles at me in a way I ain’t had a woman look at me in almost five months. I feel Little Jason wake up from his hibernation, and I’m kinda surprised. I ain’t even got mornin’ wood in the last two months, I’ve been so fuckin’ exhausted.

“So, got any plans tonight?” I ask, knowin’ I should be workin’, but another part of me is wantin’ for attention.

“No,” she pouts, all girly. Her bottom lip is juttin’ out, and she looks up at me from beneath her lashes. “I have to be back here tomorrow morning early. I hate getting ready for tax season,” she complains in this playful, sweet voice, all with that thick bottom lip pokin’ out at me, and Little Jason ain’t so little no more.

Fuck, I need it bad! And with that thought, I swoop down and mash my mouth against that plump lip. It’s like crash landin’ into an airbag, I’m so desperate for some physical connection. Then her arms are around my neck, and she’s tryin’ to climb me like a tree. I grab her hips and push her against a wall as my mouth keeps pushin’ against hers. My tongue’s twistin’ and dancin’ with her tongue. It’s hot and impulsive and I just can’t stop!

“Tell me to stop,” I pant against her mouth. “Ya gotta tell me t’stop,” I insist.

“Don’t stop,” she groans, flexing her legs around my hips and digging my cock right up against her center. Fuck me!

“It’d just be sex,” I tell her. “I don’t want anythin’ but that from ya. Tell me to stop,” Even as I’m begging her to make me stop, my hands are sliding up her thighs, kneading them, pushing up her skirt.

“That’s all I want from you,” she assures me.

“I don’t gotta condom,” I tell her.

“My purse,” she points to the ground, and if there’s one thing every guy’s ever told me, it’s ‘be wary of girls who carry condoms.’ But I’m so hard up at this point that I could smell chlamydia, and still go for it.

I set Mallory back on her feet, hand her the bag, wait as she digs through it, and finds a rubber. Next she’s opening my pants and rollin’ it down my cock like a fuckin’ pro. I don’t even think I can put a condom on myself that good.

I pick her back up by her hips, push her back against the wall, and use my hand under her skirt to push her panties to the side. Then I’m in her, and it feels too fuckin’ good. It’s been too long, and all this energy has been cooped up, and fuck. Hold on, Stackhouse, hold on. Ya gotta savor it. It might be another five months. Savor it!

I push my hips tight against hers and stay in real close, but hard. Her panties ain’t goin’ nowhere now, so I use that same hand to reach above where we meet and start rubbin’ at her clit. She jerks at the attention and I gotta hold her tight as her hips start churnin’.

Fuck, fuck fuck fuckfuckfuck! I don’t know how long I can hold out.

She feels so good, and she’s gettin’ wild as I keep rubbin’ at her. Mallory starts to cum around me, and as she does, I start losin’ control of my hips. I’m slammin’ her pussy so hard, I’m surprised she don’t hit me. Instead, she starts really moanin’. Like, loud. Loud enough that I’m almost nervous Ross might hear us.

“Oh, God,” Mallory groans in my ear. “Oh, my fucking God. I’m gonna cum again,” she tells me, and sure enough I feel her pussy start squeezin’ me again.

“I can’t hold it,” I warn her as she starts to cum again. As she lets out another loud moan, I feel my cock start pulsin’ and jumpin’ inside her. I hold her real close and tight as I finish. “Thanks,” I gasp against her ear, not sure what else to say.

“Thank you, too,” she pants as I start to slip out. “Maybe I’ll stay late on nights you work more often,” she comments once I set her back on her own feet.

As I pull the condom off, knot it, and shove it in my pocket, I watch Mallory collect her things, straighten her clothes, and walk away. Rather than the usual clack, clack, clack of her heels, it’s more of a cu-lack, cu-lack, cu-lack. Do all women walk so sexy after a good fuck? I wonder as I fasten up my pants again.

I’m practically running to finish my circuit on time, my head whipping back and forth when I hear over the radio: “Damn it, Stackhouse! If you’re gonna fuck on your shift, could you at least do it off camera? Y’know there is a video blind spot ten feet away!” Larry reprimands me.

My face immediately goes red while I grab at my radio and respond, “Sorry, kinda got lost in the moment.”

It’s cool, Kid. I’ll take care of the footage.”

“Thanks.”

Did you just fuck Mallory, Stackhouse!?” Ross’s voice comes over the radio now. “I’m so fucking proud! You’ve needed some action for months!”

“Thanks, Ross,” I roll my eyes.

How was it?”

“This isn’t what the radios are for, Ross,” I tell him.

Aw, C’mon. Was it good?”

“It was pussy, Ross. Yes, it was good.”

At 3 AM, the relief security shows up and they are already ribbin’ me ’bout Mallory. Apparently Larry spilled the beans about my quick ‘n’ dirty fuck in the hallway. Whatever, I don’t care. It’s what I needed.

I change back into my street clothes and start heading toward the bus stop when a minivan pulls up along the curb.

“Stackhouse,” I turn and see Pam in the van. She’s smirking at me, “I will give you a ride home.”

What the hell is this?

Pam’s POV:

The boy is looking at me stunned, but eventually clambers into the passenger seat.

“How was your doctor’s appointment?” I ask, gaining intel, per Eric’s request.

“Good. My shoulder feels great,” he tells me happily. “Even managed to get a whole seven hours sleep after.”

“You have not been having any adverse reactions?” I ask, knowing that Eric has not sensed a new presence within him since rising.

Stackhouse shrugs, “Nothing that I’ve noticed.”

He smells like sex. I wonder if it is because of the blood he was injected with, or because he is feeling better. Regardless, he looks good. Thin, but good. Almost as if a weight has been lifted from his shoulders both literally and figuratively.

“You look better,” I offer.

“Thanks,” he nods, looking uncomfortable.

“You look like you got laid,” I comment, causing him to sputter and look at me guiltily. “You needed it.”

“Uh,” Stackhouse’s discomfort entertains me. “So, how’s your brother?” He is changing the subject, trying to get the spotlight off himself.

“Well. Not as well as you, apparently,” I taunt him further and earn a blush. Mmm, he smells quite delicious. Especially smelling like sex and pussy. As I am pulling up to his street, I decide to cause him further embarrassment. “Would you like more?” I ask, pulling up to the curb.

“More of what?” he looks dumbfounded and guileless.

“Sex,” I tell him.

“What!?” He pushes against the passenger door in surprise.

“I wouldn’t mind fucking you,” I shrug. It is true. He is attractive, and maybe I can sneak a taste of what promises to be a delicious sample. If I do it just right, I will not even need to glamour him.

“Listen, Pam,” his voice has raised an octave, “I don’t think that’s a good idea. My sister has a little crush on your brother, and I don’t really date, and I like your brother and I don’t want to get on his bad side and-”

“Quiet,” I tell him as gently as I can manage. “First off, I do not date either. Second, what you and I do will have no effect on your sister and Eric. Third, Eric could not care less if he walked in and saw you fucking me.”

“But, but- I-I just had sex, like six hours ago,” he tells me.

“You can’t get it up again after six hours?” I ask while smoothly reaching for his shaft. He is already hardening beneath my hand. I squeeze him gently and he swells further. “I would not think a fuck six hours ago could stop you.”

“Pam-”

“Stackhouse, do you want to fuck me or not? It feels as if you do,” I tell him in a low, seductive voice. I want his blood, and I want to taste the pussy on his cock.

“I don’t have any condoms,” he tells me.

“I am on birth control and clean,” I tell him. Nothing more 100% effective against accidental pregnancy and venereal disease than being dead.

“O-Okay,” he whispers, almost frightened, but I am already unzipping his fly and quickly have his cock in my mouth. “Oh shit!” he cries out while I work my tried and true techniques. Eric spent a great deal of time training my mouth when I first became vampire, and now this boy is reaping the benefits. I can taste the residual lubricant from the condom he used earlier, and when I take him to the back of my throat, my tongue captures some of the flavor of the woman he had. Her flavor, though preferable to the precum now coating my tongue, is not the best pie I have sampled.

When I feel that he is on the verge of climax, I disengage his member and crawl into the backseat. He awkwardly follows me and is soon on top of me. Stackhouse kisses my neck and works his way down to the buttons of my blouse. His hands are a bit clumsy, but his touch is enjoyable. He is a bit rough, which I do not mind, but I chalk it up to his inexperience. When he shoves the cups of my bra out of his way, his mouth is suckling and nibbling at my nipple while his hand plays with the other, twisting and plucking. I find myself quickly dissolving from judgmental to enthralled. He is captivating me with his attention, and when he has paid equal attention to each breast, he begins opening my shirt further, kissing down my belly.

Needless to say, I am shocked and maybe a bit impressed when he pushes my skirt up, yanks my panties down, and starts licking and stroking my slit. Apparently he is a tit for tat man, and since I gave him head, he wishes to return the favor. Since he is not doing a poor job, I situate myself to give him better, more comfortable access, and then I just lean back to enjoy.

Normally I am unimpressed with mortals going down on me, but Stackhouse has definitely raised my expectations. I had always believed it was merely a chasm between our races that made human men unappealing lovers, but Stackhouse is proving that theory incorrect. He spreads me as wide as the backseat will allow and is alternating between snaking his tongue into my hole and assaulting my clit with quick, steady flicks. I give him an encouraging moan and find myself clutching at his hair. What is this boy doing to me?

He knows to find a speed and stick with it, but he also knows how to keep a girl on a precipice, wanting. He has me. I am on the verge, but he keeps backing down right as I feel my orgasm about to explode. Son of a bitch.

“Do you want it, Pam?” he asks from between my folds, and the little bastard gently tugs one of my labia with his teeth.

“Of course I want it, Stackhouse!” I snap at him.

“You made me uncomfortable. I figured I should return the favor,” He tugs at the other nether lip and I actually groan at his teasing.

“And how long are you planning on keeping me in suspense?” I ask him.

“Long enough that one orgasm will be worth it for you. I’ve never fucked without a condom. I don’t know I’ll last long enough to get you off again,” he confesses, and then torments me to the edge of oblivion before easing me back down. I have to admit that his forthcoming is rather admirable. “God, you’re so fucking wet,” he groans and starts licking me clean. He looks up at me from between my legs and his pupils are so big in the darkness and desire. I watch as he sucks my clit between his lips once more and chooses a quick, steady speed until I find an unwanted scream erupting from my mouth.

As I recover from the surprisingly good orgasm, Stackhouse is on top of me, pushing inside of me. He thrusts deep and stays still a long moment, moaning and groaning above me, burying his face into my shoulder until he can regain control.

“Fuck, you’re so tight,” he tells me, pressing his teeth into my shoulder. “You’re so fucking wet and tight, Pam,” he chokes out and I begin undulating my hips beneath him. “No, don’t move. I ain’t got the control not to cum if you start doing that.”

I still beneath him while he starts kissing and sucking at my throat and shoulder. He kisses up to my chin and eventually my lips. His tongue is far clumsier with my mouth than it had been with my pussy, and that amuses me. Apparently he finds kissing more intimate than going down on a woman. I disengage his lips and kiss over to his ear, giving the lobe a slight tug.

“You have to start moving some time, Stackhouse,” I tell him. He wraps his arms beneath my back, cradling my shoulders as his hips begin to move. “Yes, harder,” I command, and revel when he easily complies. He picks up a hard, punishing speed and I am arching beneath him. Something about the animalistic movement makes up for the fact he can’t move with the speed or strength of a vampire.

One of his hands leaves my back and is between my thighs. Oh, good, he knows how to play with a girl’s clit while he’s fucking.

“Fuck, Pam, I can’t,” he gasps in my ear. I sense that my opportunity to taste him is coming, and I lie in wait as he pumps into me over and over. Before I can seize my opportunity, my body begins convulsing in orgasm, and I feel him explode inside of me. He is roaring in my ear, and I manage to collect enough of myself to pierce his shoulder and sneak a sample of his blood.

It is sweet and hot, and I would drain him dry if I knew I could get away with it. I want to bottle his blood and save it for special occasions. I want to bathe in it and lick myself clean. Instead, I lance my tongue against a fang and coat his injury in my blood.

He’s still jerking fiercely against me, and I find myself screaming with a multiple climax that overwhelms me before I even notice its possibility. Maybe it is his exquisite blood, or maybe human men can be better lovers than I thought, but one thing is for certain. Jason Stackhouse can fuck me any time!

Jason’s POV:

My legs are jelly when I leave Pam’s van. I don’t know that I’ve ever fucked that hard before in my life.

When I make it to the apartment, I’m beat. I worked a fourteen-hour shift at one job, an eight-hour shift at the other, and fucked two different women. That is one full-ass day.

So, I brush my teeth, pull off my shirt, yank down my pants, and climb onto the couch in just my boxers with an afghan. Thankfully, Sookie’s dead to the world in her bedroom, and didn’t wake up and come lookin’ for me when the water started runnin’. God, I smell like sex and sweat.

Instead of fallin’ asleep like I should, all I can do is lay on the couch and worry over how bad I might have just fucked up. Pam said Eric wouldn’t care if he found out we had done it, but I feel like I just stabbed the guy in the back. If Sookie had told Eric I wouldn’t care if he had sex with her, she would have been lyin’. What if Pam lied? Oh my God, what if she lied!?

I get off the couch and sneak into Sook’s room, goin’ straight to the dresser where Sookie always sets all the shit I leave in my pockets before doin’ the wash. I find Eric’s business card and go to the phone in the kitchen.

Northman,” Eric’s voice is surprisingly alert for almost five in the mornin’.

“Hey, it’s Jason Stackhouse,” I tell him nervously.

Is everything all right? Is your sister well?” he asks and my heart about leaps outta my chest when he asks about my sister.

“She’s fine. Asleep. I just had to call ya,” I tell him quickly.

What is wrong?” Eric sounds frustrated, probably ‘cause he can hear that I’m anxious.

“I fucked your sister in her car tonight. I am so sorry. I won’t even pretend like it meant anythin’ to me ‘cause that would be even more disrespectful. I am so sorry. I don’t know why I did it. I knew better. I shouldn’t’ve took her at her word that you wouldn’t care-”

I do not care,” he flat out tells me. “Pam is a mature young woman. She can make her own decisions without me vetting all of her potential partners.”

“But I don’t feel the same way you do when it comes to my sister!” I tell him.

Stackhouse, you have already set your terms in regard to Sookie. I respect them, and I will uphold my promise to tell you if anything between her and I changes before any action is taken. Though Pam is technically the same physical age as your sister, she is not the same mental or emotional age at all,” Eric is surprisingly calm for a guy that’s getting a 5 AM call from the person that just fucked his sister in the back of a minivan. “I never put any boundaries on you in regard to Pam, and you should not be feeling this guilt. Relax. Go to sleep. As I have heard, you had a very long day.”

I swallow hard, “Did she tell you?”

In her own ‘Pam Way,’ yes, she did. I should tell you congratulations. She normally does not enjoy sex with men so much.”

“Pam’s gay!?” I ask in a confused whisper.

Eric laughs at me, “She leans one way more than the other, but could go either. Is that all? Can you sleep now knowing I do not harbor any resentment, and that I have no intention of revenge fucking your sister?”

My jaw tenses at that statement, but I relax when I realize he’s not exactly wrong about what I was worried about, “Yeah. Sorry if I woke you.”

I tend to work throughout the night and sleep throughout the day,” he tells me.

“Why?”

I am far more productive at night and I have enough money that my eccentricities are accommodated.”

“Oh, well, sleep well when you finally do,” I tell him.

You as well.”

I hang up the phone and slowly make my way back to the couch. Pam was right. Eric really don’t give a shit what she does. Personally, I don’t get it. I woulda beat Eric’s face in if the circumstances were reversed. With or without me drawin’ lines in the sand where it came to my sister.

Lookin’ down the hall at the bedroom Sooks is sleepin’ in, I sigh and then look up at the ceilin’. God, if you love me at all, or even if you think you might owe me a favor after all the shit we’ve been through, just make sure Sooks is loved, okay? Don’t let her get used. Don’t let nobody hurt her no more. Ever again.

On to Chapter Six!