Chapter Thirteen: April 2001
I can’t believe Sookie’s birthday is next month… It’s been the craziest five months of my life in one of the best ways. Me and Sooks have put on healthy weight, I coulda done without her fillin’ out where she did, but weight is weight, I guess. She looks amazin’; healthy, beautiful, and happy. Two of those things I’ve been strugglin’ to get her, the third, well… I woulda been happier if someone’d come and beat her over the head with an ugly stick.
It could be worse, though. She could be dating horny teenage boys instead of Eric Northman. I’ve kinda dug into Pam a lot, tryin’ figure if they’d been gettin’ handsy at all, but she said it was none of my business. Said if I wanted to know, I should ask them. I don’t think I wanna know, but at the same time I worry about her. Scared that she might do stuff she thinks she has to, worry they ain’t bein’ safe, and God forbid she get pregnant!
She ain’t changed none, though. You’d think I’d be able to tell if she went and done it. She doesn’t have the best poker face for that kinda stuff. I get the feelin’ I’ll know right after it happens ’cause she’ll probably be nervous about it and change her walk or posture. I don’t know. I don’t know that I wanna know.
“Hey, Stackhouse!” I wave at Jeremy, our second-string tailback.
“Hey,” I call back, headin’ to the Ranger Eric’s leased for me. I’ve been teachin’ Sooks how to drive it. She ain’t been behind a wheel since she was thirteen and I liberated Gran’s little station wagon. I took it out to an old country road and put her behind the wheel. She was doing good until an opossum crept out and she swerved off the road. Took me almost two hours to work it out and get the car back by four A. M. First thing the next mornin’, I was washin’ it up, no sleep, tryin’ to get the scuffs out. I don’t think Gran ever figured out we’d taken it.
Sook’s doing okay at drivin’, but the city makes her a bit nervous with all the pedestrians and people honking at her for poor mergers or accidentally cutting them off. I keep tellin’ her it’s a longer car than Eric’s little Corvette and needs more clearance than she’s allowin’, but it’s like it goes in one ear and out the other!
Still, she gets better day by day. She ain’t been honked at for over a week now. I think she might be ready for her driving test before she starts college in the fall. She applied for Endene and I know she’ll get in, but I got a sinking suspicion she might not have applied anywhere else. That kinda bugs me. Mostly ’cause I don’t think Northman’s why she’s only applied there. I think she doesn’t want to leave me. I mean, I don’t want her to go, but if she could go somewhere more prestigious, I’d want that for her more.
When I get back to our apartment, the windows are open and there’s a nice breeze comin’ in. Sookie’s on the couch with her homework and another pile of books ready to study for her finals. I can’t believe she’s graduating high school in less than a month!
“How was school?” I ask, leanin’ over the back of the couch and kissin’ the top of her head.
“Good. Borin’, mostly,” she tells me. “They keep givin’ us busy work on top of studyin’ for finals,” she complains.
“Goin’ out tonight?” I ask.
“Yup. Eric’s pickin’ me up after dark. He said we weren’t goin’ too far though. Just to the park before it gets too late,” she explains, snapping a book shut.
“Yeah, Pam’s comin’ over with him and stayin’ with me,” I frown. “Think tonight’s the big reveal?” I ask.
Sookie snorts, “It better be.”
“Do you think it’s weird that we’re, like, one hundred percent sure they’re gonna tell us they’re vampires?” I flop onto the couch and crack open a soda. I’ve been twenty-one since February, but I don’t like havin’ booze in the house. Aside from my twenty-first birthday, and the team takin’ me out, I ain’t been out drinkin’ since. Sooks was beside herself when she saw how hungover I was. I hardly remember shit. I think Pam took me home, but I doubt I had sex with her. I don’t think my dick knew what it was by that point.
Sookie snickers at my question, “I don’t know. They might not think we made that leap with so much certainty. I mean, if I weren’t what I am, do you think we would have genuinely entertained the thought?”
“I doubt it,” I confess. “It’s cool though, right? Knowin’ you’re not the only special thing out there? Maybe you won’t feel so alone in it… You thought much about if you’re gonna tell ’em?”
Sookie bites her lip thoughtfully, “I’m still stuck on it, Jason. I mean the fact I can’t use it on them might be comforting and easier for them to swallow, but, at the same time, more people knowin’ is a huge risk. If they confirm what we suspect, that might be a much bigger world than we know. I’ve felt a lot of voids just here in Shreveport. Could you imagine how many there are worldwide? Think about the culture that goes along with it!”
I nod in agreement, “Yeah, it’s a tough call, but if they’re planning on tellin’ us… But it’s your secret, not mine. So, it’s your decision.”
“I’ll keep thinkin’ about it,” she tells me sullenly.
“Do you ever feel like you shouldn’t? Y’know, like how you did with me all them years?” I ask.
“Not like that,” she confesses. “Back then, it was my heart tellin’ me not to tell you. Right now, it’s my head.”
“Well, every time you’ve followed your heart, it’s worked out,” I tell her.
“I guess,” She’s still moping.
“I didn’t mean to bring ya down none,” I frown.
“I know. It’s just, I don’t want any secrets between me and Eric. I mean, even as he’s keepin’ this from us, he let us know it was there. They probably have no idea about me, and I’ve never warned them otherwise.”
“Difference is, Sooks,” I remind her, “anyone figures out their secret, and they can just disappear ’til the person’s gone. Shit, who knows what other ways they got to protect themselves?”
All in all, we still don’t know what bein’ a vampire really means. We don’t know if they got powers other than immortality, or if the worst of what they do is suckin’ a bit of blood from humans now and again. I got the feelin’ Pam’s knocked a pint or two outta me the past few months, mostly ’cause she bites me when we fuck, and it hurts enough it should be leavin’ at least a bruise. It never does though. Can’t explain why there ain’t no puncture marks neither, but maybe she’ll tell me tonight if it turns out we’ve been right.
If we haven’t, at least whatever it is won’t seem nearly as dark or crazy as what we’ve built up in our heads!
I break out our laptop and start gettin’ to work on my materials. Sooks disappears to her room while I study, and a few minutes later I hear the shower goin’. I frown and look up. She usually showers before school. Whatever, I think and look back at my book.
What the hell is takin’ her so long? I’m a bit anxious. Sooks was in the shower forever, it’s been another forty-five minutes on top of that, and she still ain’t back in the kitchen to start up dinner. Shit, I think as I leave my books on the coffee table and head to the fridge, she’s gettin’ dressed up for this. My heart is hammerin’ as I start preppin’ dinner. If she’s gone and really got herself lookin’ nice, I don’t want her to mess up her clothes, but another part of me wants to dump balsamic vinegar all over her, so she’ll reek all night. Maybe string a clove of garlic around her neck…
“I’m not doin’ it with him tonight, Jason!” Sookie shouts from down the hall as I pour a heap of rice into the steamer.
After the rice is started, I go to her room and see her puttin’ on the make-up she hardly ever wears. “Yeah? Skirt, make-up, fresh shower,” I tick off on my fingers. “You gonna put on those ‘fuck me’ heels, too?”
Sookie sets down her powder brush real hard on the vanity. “Jason,” she purses her lips at me like Gran and Mamma used to, “I want to look nice. That’s all. And I’m sorry you think they look like ‘sex me’ heels, but the fact is, I’ve been dating Eric for over four months now. The guy deserves to finally get a lead offa first.”
I grumble a bit to myself. “Sorry,” I finally offer.
“Apology accepted. Just… Calm down, okay? You’re gonna drive yourself insane worryin’ about this,” she chastises me, and I got the good graces to look contrite.
“Hey, I’m your big brother,” I shrug helplessly. “I ain’t never gonna want a guy all over ya. Even a guy like Eric, who I get along with better than I ever thought I would with your first boyfriend.”
She smiles at me, comes over, and wraps me up in a big hug. “I know this is tough. You’ve been like a daddy to me since I was seven. Back then you were only ten. That was some big shoes to fill, but you’re doin’ a great job,” she whispers. “A girl couldn’t have a better brother or daddy than you, Jason.”
“Thanks, Sook,” I mumbled into her hair, holdin’ her real tight. It feels like when she leaves my arms next, she won’t be back in them again. Is this what it feels to give your daughter away at the altar?
Sookie laughs and swats my chest, “I ain’t elopin’!”
“I know, I know,” I grumble. Eventually I manage, “I started some rice. You down for a stir fry? Other than a Kraft dinner, it’s just about all I can manage.”
“You used to grill real well,” she points out.
I shrug, “Meat and an open fire ain’t really cookin’. We don’t gotta grill here.”
Sookie just laughs and goes back to her vanity. I stand and watch her put on her make-up. She looks so much like Mamma when she does that. All grown-up, and it kills me. I wish she was still little string bean Sooks. No boys gawking or cat callin’ at her. Still playin’ tag, not kissin’ boys. I smile, remembering her shoulder checkin’ my old buddy on the playground ’cause he shoved at one of Sook’s friends. Why’d you have to grow up so much?
“Jason,” she frowns and leans away from the mirror, “stop or you’re gonna make me cry, and I just put on mascara.”
“Okay, okay, I’ll go back to my books,” I offer, leavin’ the room.
It’s weird, havin’ my own space still. Sarah, our Social Services caseworker, nearly lost it when she saw our new digs in the main floor apartment. We explained that the building was under new ownership, and the new landlord had bumped us down here ’cause they felt we needed more of the room. She had only nodded dumbly and wrote somethin’ on her notes. Sarah had also been impressed with Sookie’s weight gain and that she had her own clothes now. I told her a bunch of our friends got them for her for Christmas. Mostly, I think Sarah was just relieved for us, and herself. Given Sook’s age, I know Sarah didn’t wanna be forced to pull her from my custody, but it really was gettin’ pretty awful for her with me.
After awhile, Sooks comes out to the livin’ room and goes back to studyin’. We work in silence, only speaking every so often when Sookie has a question on her homework. Mostly she doesn’t need my help, but I think she likes to humor me sometimes.
Next time I look at the clock, I get up and go to the kitchen to finish gettin’ things ready for the stir fry. I chop up some peppers and fry up some cubed chicken. Throw in some spices, and splash it with some soy sauce, and I’m finished by the time the rice is.
As we’re eatin’, I wonder if Eric and Pam notice Sooks and I don’t use garlic in anything? Do they just think they’re the luckiest vamps in the world, or are vampires not effected by garlic? Man, I’m actually startin’ to hope we’re not wrong and that our friends are vamps. First, how cool would that be? Second, now I got so many questions about bein’ a vamp, I wanna pick their brains. I wonder how old they are? Shit, the history lessons alone if they were older than two-hundred would be amazin’! I could keep my students reeling, never tellin’ the same story twice for years!
“You really need to calm down,” Sookie laughs.
“Y’know, you’ve been eavesdropping on me a lot lately,” I glower playfully.
“No, you’ve just been uncharacteristically loud lately,” she sticks her tongue out at me. “Just like after I found out about you and Pam, and all the sudden I wasn’t just catchin’ the van rockin’ on the curb, but havin’ to listen to you guys in your room.”
I blush at that. Shit, hope she didn’t hear nothin’ too embarrassing!
We’re just clearing the dishes when there’s a knock on our door. Northman don’t need to be buzzed in ’cause he’s obviously got keys to the building.
I go to the door and open it. Pam automatically slips in, but Eric stays in the doorway. “Hey, Eric,” I shake his hand.
“Good evening, Jason,” he smiles at me, but it doesn’t meet his eyes for the first time in a long time. Yeah, it’s gotta be tonight. “How are you?”
I shrug, “Good as ever. Wanna come in for a bit?”
“No, thank you,” Eric shakes his head. “Sookie and I have a great deal to discuss tonight.”
“Okay,” I pat his shoulder, wishin’ I could just tell him we think we already figured it out. If we’re horribly wrong, I don’t wanna get the guy’s hopes up. “Good luck, Eric.”
“Thank you,” Eric sighs.
Sookie comes bounding outta the bedroom with her purse flyin’ behind her. She’s got those God damn ‘fuck me’ heels on, and I wanna puke. Just as she’s comin’ to the door, she almost breaks her freakin’ ankle on those stilts she calls shoes, and me and Eric both throw out our hands to catch her.
“Sooks, go put on some real shoes,” I plead once she’s stabile.
“I’m fine, I just can’t run in them,” she grumbles. “You hear that, Eric? Anythin’ chases us, you better man up and beat the crap outta it, ’cause I ain’t runnin’!”
Eric actually laughs at that, leans down, and gives her a soft kiss. “Loud and clear, Sookie,” He gives her another quick kiss, shakes my hand goodbye, and they leave.
Once they’re gone, I turn to Pam, cross my arms over my chest, and ask, “So, you got any secrets to tell me tonight?”
Pam looks uneasy, but she doesn’t answer my question. Instead, she walks into the living room and sits down on the couch. I follow her, sittin’ next to her quietly. We’re probably sittin’ in silence a good five minutes before she turns and looks at me all serious.
“Jason,” she starts.
“Jason,” I begin nervously. We never did find out if he could be glamoured. After Eric discovered Sookie could not, and then had to scramble to recover the situation, we decided it was best not to take the same risk with her brother. “I do have something important to tell you, something that Eric is probably telling your sister very soon. Before I tell you what it is, I want you to know that she will come back to you safely just as she has every night Eric has taken her out these past four and a half months.”
He nods in understanding, and I am surprised that my comment did not cause him to stand and begin pacing. Jason usually worries much more openly about his sister’s safety, and that statement should have at least earned a frustrated head scratch.
“All right,” he says. “Let’s hear it.”
I place my hands on Jason’s arms to keep him from running from me. Slowly I tell him, “There are things in this world that you probably have never wanted to believe were possible, stories that you found only to be fables. I am going to tell you that mythical creatures do exist, and that Eric, Godric, and I are vampires.” His expression does not change in the slightest. “Jason, I just told you that I am a vampire.”
“Yeah, that’s cool,” He shrugs off my hands and reaches for the TV remote. “You wanna watch ‘True Lies’? It’s on FX in, like, fifteen minutes.”
My jaw slackens at his reaction before I realize that he probably believes I am making a terrible joke. “Jason, I am serious. Look!” I turn him to face me again, part my lips, and allow my fangs to descend.
“Dude! That’s badass!” Jason crows, throwing the remote to the side. He is cupping my jaw, tilting my face from side to side. “You have real fangs! Look at that. Can you make ’em retract again?” I draw the points back into their façade at his request. “Too cool! Hey, do they just snap up and down like that, or can you make ’em go up and down real slow?”
Absolutely disarming! Is this really happening?
I answer his question by slowly letting my fangs drop to their points. “You are taking this surprisingly well, Stackhouse,” I tell him. “I can only pray your sister responds as well.”
“Aw, me and Sooks figured you guys out back in January,” he tells me flippantly.
“Are you serious?” I ask in shock. Then again, I do not recall a time when we had spent so much time with humans without ever having glamoured them.
“Sure. That story about bein’ more productive at night wasn’t gonna fly for long, Pam,” he shrugs. “Besides, you bite me a fucklot.” I grimace. “Which reminds me, why hasn’t there ever been a mark on me?”
“Vampire blood has healing properties. After I bit you, I would lance my tongue and coat my blood on the wound so it would heal,” I explain, still reeling at the level of acceptance I am receiving.
Jason frowns a moment, “Was that doctor injecting my shoulder with vamp blood?” he asks and I am surprised he immediately picked up on that.
“Yes. It was Eric’s blood. He is older, so his magic is more potent,” I tell him. “Vampire blood heals better and faster when it is consumed, but Dr. Ludwig has found that it is still capable of being injected or administered topically for certain injuries. Your shoulder was not a known affliction we could cure by that method, but you seem to be a good model for it.”
“I gotta thank Eric again for the treatment then,” Jason mumbles to himself. “So, does garlic bother you? ‘Cause me and Sooks have been keepin’ it outta the house since we figured it out.”
“Garlic is a loathsome thing to smell. It is irritating, but not dangerous.”
“So, what can you tell me about vampire stuff? Is there stuff you can’t say?” he asks me curiously.
I ponder his question a moment, “We do not like silver. It burns,” I do not tell him it also steals our strength. “Vampires can be killed by beheading, a stake to the heart, or fire-”
“What if you got shot in the head?” he asks and I laugh.
“A single bullet we could recover from. If the skull is destroyed, then it would kill us, but say the bullet penetrated, but did not exit, we would heal. Of course, then we have a bullet in our head until it is extracted,” I explain carefully.
“Dang, that’s pretty badass, too!” he laughs excitedly.
I nod in agreement, “Yes. As far as our secrecy, mostly that is to keep from being discovered. We have our own form of government, which I am not supposed to go into detail about. Eric is part of that government. He keeps the vampires of Shreveport and Bossier under order, as well as a few stragglers within this parish. Bon Temps would fall under his jurisdiction if a vampire were to reside there other than him.” Jason is nodding and taking in all the new information. “He is responsible for disciplining vampires who do not adhere to our laws in that area. I will tell you that he is forced to kill other vampires on occasion, but has not taken a human life in several years. In the years prior to that, he had been known to sneak into war torn areas, choose a side, and perform assassinations of humans at war.”
“Holy shit,” Jason wiggles in his seat excitedly. “How old is Eric?”
“A century or so over one thousand. He used to be a Viking,” I tell him and watch his historian’s eyes light up with further exuberance.
“How old are you?” he asks, then flounders, “Is that all right to ask since you’re a woman?”
“Vampires are quite proud of their age. I am around one hundred and sixty,” I divulge.
“Oh, man, you guys are gonna have to come over all the time! This is awesome!” Jason is ready to bubble over with excitement. “Where were you during The Civil War?” I ask.
“Hmm, that was 1861… Let’s see, at that time, we were in Pennsylvania. I was still a fledgling then. We arrived in the U.S. in 1845, shortly after I was turned…”
I spend the evening telling Stackhouse all about my glorious fledgling years, flushing out his historical facts. He asks me about how I became a vampire and why. That is a more delicate subject, not that I have a problem talking about it, but I feel that Jason would become emotional. He is a very sweet man, and to hear about the brutal way that I was raped and left for dead as punishment for seducing several men’s wives would more than likely upset him.
Instead I tell him, “It was a very violent event. I was left for dead. Eric saved me.”
Jason’s brow frowns with his lips, “Does it hurt?”
“Does what hurt?” It is my turn to frown.
“Remembering it?” he asks.
I shake my head, “No, but you are my friend, and the details would upset you.”
“But I’m your friend,” he repeats my claim. “Friends tell each other the bad shit, too, right?”
“I do not wish to upset you like that,” I confess.
“Okay, so we can do it in doses,” he encourages. “Just start tellin’ me the story. When it gets to be too much, I’ll tell you to stop. I’ll process and digest it, and then you can tell me more ’til I know it all.”
“Jason,” I sigh.
“When’s the last time you talked about it with anyone?” he asks me softly.
I frown again, “I suppose, Eric? When I was first turned. He took great pains to help me resolve my anger.”
“Was that all? Just the anger part?”
“Of course that was all,” I am now the one floundering.
“If it was so violent and upsetting, how’d you work out the emotional part?” he asks me. I blink several times. What emotional part? “C’mon, Pam, let me have it.”
I take a deep breath and collect my memories. It was, after all, very long ago.
“I was never a lady before I met Eric. I slept with countless men and women. It was all well and good while I was only spending my time seducing men, but when I was nineteen, I started to become curious. Men were easy to know, easy to manipulate for me. Then, one evening, a government official prodded me to make love to his wife and let him watch. I was excited. I’d been fantasizing for awhile about bedding a woman.
“After that, it was practically my mission to seduce every last woman in London. In only a few months, I had slept with countless, but that upset many a husband. Former lovers, husbands of wives I had slept with, burst into the apartment of one of my lady friends in the dead of night. Her husband stayed behind and beat her nearly to death. I was dragged into the courtyard. One of the men broke my jaw. They stripped and beat me. Then they raped me repeatedly, taking turns-”
“Wait,” Jason holds up a hand. It is then that I realize I had almost gone into a trance, recalling the moment that had led to my immortality. I stare at Jason as he is holding his hair tightly in one white fist, and holding a bloodless palm as a signal to stop. “Just hold on,” he takes in a deep breath. “Shit, Pam. Just… Shit,” He stands up and walks back and forth in front of the coffee table several times before returning to the couch. “Okay, okay… Go on.”
“I can stop,” I assure him. I knew this would upset him, and I feel almost guilty for putting him into such a stressful state.
“No, I’m okay. It’s just… I mean, I know you in a lot of ways. I ain’t sayin’ I like the whole adultery thing ya had goin’ on, but it doesn’t mean I’d ever think you deserved somethin’ like that!” he tells me.
I nod in understanding. “You are certain you wish to hear the rest?” I ask him. When he nods, I return the focus to my memories and continue, “After they were done with me, I could hardly move. They dragged me into the open street, kicked me in the gutter and walked away. I did not even have the energy to cry, not in fear or pain or sadness. I just lay there, cold, broken, and completely destroyed. The… damage was what Eric called some of the worst he had ever seen, and that is saying something coming from a Viking. The degree of my violation was complete. I was so far gone; vampire blood could not heal me. Therefore, Eric transformed me instead. Usually it takes a newborn three evenings to rise. It took me five. That was how completely my human body was destroyed.”
To his credit, Stackhouse does not shed a tear. I thought he would bawl, but then I remember that I am not his sister. However, I cannot quell the indignation that swells at not earning his sadness after my past has been divulged.
“Pam,” he looks at me, “it’s real hard to hear that, but knowin’ you experienced it? Shit, I think I’m moved beyond comprehension right now. My stomach feels it could split in two, even when I’m tryin’ real hard not to think about any of it at all.”
“I hope you are not too despaired over it,” I look at his eyes and see that even though they are dry, they are red.
Jason shakes his head, “Despaired? I’m mortified! I mean… I just wanna hug ya. Is that okay? Can I hold ya a minute?”
I look at him in surprise and find myself shrugging my consent. His arms open immediately and my head is against his chest, his heart beating against my ear. His hand is stroking my hair, and my fingers begin twisting the material of his shirt while he holds me. This must be the most peculiar situation I can recall in some time. The last time I was comforted by a man, it was Eric. He rarely indulged, and I rarely requested it. Godric tried at times to encourage me to open up, having known his own violation, but I had resisted. Unlike Godric, I had brought my rape upon myself. I did not deserve to hurt from it beyond the physical because it was justified.
“It’s bullshit, Pam,” I hear Jason mumble over my head. “I know what you’re thinkin’, and it’s bullshit.”
“How do you believe that you know what I am thinking?” I challenge.
“’Cause you’re that kinda chick,” he laughs. “You killed all those guys when you first woke up a vamp, didn’t ya?”
“I did,” I admit.
“Tit for tat and it’s over?” he guesses.
“Pretty much,” I agree.
“You think you deserved what happened to you, don’t you?” he asks quietly.
“I brought it upon myself,” I tell him. “Those were the times.”
Jason pulls away from me, stares in my eyes, and says, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but that’s like if they’d drained the ocean when women started goin’ to the beach. Wasn’t the ocean’s fault others wanted to play in it. All of them were adulterating fucks who got pissed when they weren’t the only ones cheating. So, stop it. Stop thinkin’ ya got what ya had comin’ to ya. So, you slept with a fuckton of people. They all wanted it. You wanted it. I hope ya gave ’em all syphilis.”
I actually burst out laughing at that. “Oh, Stackhouse, you are the only man who has ever made me laugh about that time.”
He gives me a rueful smile, leans in, and kisses me very softly, as if comforting me. Have I ever received a kiss of comfort? When he pulls away from my lips, he tilts my head down, and kisses my crown as I have seen him do to Sookie on countless occasions.
“I’d do anything to make you laugh,” he says, and then I realize that the reason he has shed no tears from my tale is not from indifference. I had told him I did not want to hurt him. Therefore, he shows no pain.
Oh, Jason, I think sadly as I find my arms moving in a foreign, but needful motion. I draw his head to my chest and hold him tight. My hand is stroking his hair comfortingly. I am kissing the top of his head. Don’t hurt for me, Jason…