So we’re going to need a little disclaimer here and ruining the surprise element somewhat. As lovely and helpful some writers may be inevitably it happens that despite committing to something they can’t deliver. Given the late notice, there were little other possibilities to arrange for an alternate writer so it fell to me, hisviks, to write something in its place to avoid someone going without a gift. So despite having announced my retirement from writing a few months back I felt it important enough to contribute (even with the possibility of misgivings about utilising the platform here for my own works unfairly) because ciasteczko is probably our most prolific contributors with the story locator queries and I didn’t want to see her go without. She regularly checks in on her own accord and having sourced the missing story often far quicker than we’ve even managed to look at the query. She’s an invaluable contributor to this Directory and I do sincerely hope you’ll enjoy this tale, ciasteczko.
Unbetad due to time constraints.
Day 22: A Gift for ciasteczko from hisviks
Get it together, Stackhouse.
Sookie heaved a deep sigh, smoothing out her dress for the third and undoubtedly not the final time. Comfort a foreign thing right now, her dress suddenly felt all wrong when she took in the surroundings enticing behind the velvet rope. A fact confirmed by the blonde hostess as soon as she crossed the impressive threshold seeking entrance, eyeing her distastefully with a demonstrative wriggle of her nose.
“Are you lost?” she posed with a raised brow that indicated it wasn’t much of a question.
“I was hoping,” Sookie started, only to be hastily cut off.
“To snag yourself a fanged sugar daddy? You’re clearly lacking in funds,” the vampiress discerned, releasing a haughty laugh. “You’re not exactly up to standard.”
“Let her in,” a deep voice rumbled from afar, only barely audible to the telepath. A set of pointed glares were exchanged alongside a few hisses in a language she couldn’t understand before that ominous red velvet rope was moved aside, ever so slowly.
“Guess it’s your lucky day,” the vampiress spoke with distaste. “Enter.”
“Thank you,” Sookie replied nervously, only then taking in the luxuriously furnished lounge that was populated by the most beautiful assortment of people she’d ever seen together in her life. It was certainly brighter than she expected and the floors far cleaner than any ordinary night at Merlotte’s.
“There are no guarantees that just because you got in someone will take to you,” the blonde vampiress stated matter of fact. “You are not obliged to go home with anyone just because they ask. No feeding, this is a classy establishment, no sex-“
“I didn’t come here for that,” Sookie interrupted.
“And this isn’t my natural hair colour?” she feigned shock. “If anyone causes you trouble ask for me, name’s Pam. This is a no-glamour zone.”
“Thank you ma’am, but I really was here for something else.”
“Aren’t you’re sweet,” she grinned while undressing Sookie with her eyes briefly, “but I’m not interested.”
“What? No,” Sookie stammered, blushing with sudden realisation. “I really came by with questions.”
“One doesn’t tend to ask too many questions round here,” Pam replied. “It’s how this works.”
“Maybe I should just leave,” she whispered, her nerves suddenly overtaking her.
Pam cocked an eyebrow, and with an aloof tone offered, “Perhaps you should.”
“Not quite yet,” the deep voice that had allowed her entrance intervened, appearing before her. “Follow me.”
Sookie didn’t dare refuse and followed the tall blonde vampire to a room at the back, barely having taken in his face, hoping that Pam’s dictated rules were not a simple disclaimer to absolve them from any liability.
“What can I do for you Ms. -?” he asked after offering her a seat. In a stark difference to Sam’s office, it was bright and clean, administration perfectly organised on shelves in between a few tasteful decorative objects. Just like the man before her, this was the farthest thing she had imagined of this vampire club.
“Stackhouse,” she offered along with her hand. “Sookie Stackhouse.” With a gasp she pulled back her hand in a panic, only remembering in that moment that under vampire etiquette that was considered rude, however, he’d already latched onto the limb depositing a soft kiss to her ring finger while taking an extended sniff that only further compounded her nerves.
“I apologise,” she stammered out when she finally managed to retrieve her hand.
“For my name?” he grinned.
“Oh no, Mr. Northman,” she amended, flushed as red as the little flowers on her dress.
“Call me Eric,” he indulged, the disarming smile only falling wider.
“I’m sorry about the hand, Eric, Sir,” Sookie tried to explain. “I know it’s not considered proper among vampires.”
“Just Eric,” he reminded. “You’ve been reading up on us then? You seem awfully prepared for someone who isn’t here for ‘that’.”
“Eric, listen I’m really not interested in that,” she said, becoming positively flustered in the process.
“And what would ‘that’ be?”
“You know,” she replied with a roll of her eyes, that firmly fell to the floor when she caught his continued amusement at her.
“I really don’t,” he chuckled, thoroughly enjoying watching her squirm.
“Are you going to make me spell it out?” she huffed.
“S-E-X?” he posed innocently. “I assure you, Ms. Stackhouse, we don’t allow anything of that nature on the premises.”
She eyed him sceptically, “Sure.”
His tone suddenly fell official, “We are nothing like those fangbanger clubs you’ve seen pop up all over the country, this is simply a meeting place for like-minded people. A meeting of minds, not bodies.”
She stared at him disbelievingly, indeed she’d read up on vampire clubs all over the internet in preparation, and the man was clearly lying through his fangy teeth, “And what happens when they leave your establishment, none of your concern I’m sure? Whether it’s happening here or not, everyone in that room is thinking one thing, sex, sex, sex.”
“I’d prefer if you didn’t use that word so much,” he spoke like a reprimanding parent, a deep frown creasing his brow. Why the hell would the man with sexual overtones be objected to the word? “Just how do you know this so certainly? We have a lot of scholars seeking an audience here too, vampires have more to offer than a cheap thrill.”
“Call it a hunch.”
“You’re not a scholar though, or,” he interrupted before she managed to get another word of objection out, “one of those.”
She detected a hint of disdain, and couldn’t help but snap, “How would you know?”
“Call it a hunch,” he smiled, discombobulating her further. “You say you had questions? Are you a cop? A journalist?”
She shook her head, “Sam Merlotte told me this was the place to go, Sheriff.”
“Ah, you’re here on behalf of the shifter,” he said with a hint of disappointment. “Is he too frightened to ask for a loan himself?”
“Shifter? No, he told me you’re the one to speak to, there’s been some murders in my hometown, Bon Temps,” she explained while foraging through her bag for the pictures of Maudette and Dawn. “They’ve accused my brother since he’s been with both, you know, but Jason, well it’s just not in him.”
“Not a violent man?” Eric posed disbelievingly. “Man is a surprising creature. Anyone is capable of killing, what makes you so sure it’s not him?”
“Not that smart,” Sookie clarified causing the vampire to break out in a grin again. “This is someone who knows what they’re doing, intelligent, and composed. I love my brother to death and he’s the only family I’ve got left but he can just about order a pizza without incident. The police are blind to any other perpetrator. The victims were both spotted around here, it’s the only lead I’ve got.”
“You’re sure he’s your brother?” Eric chuckled while scanning the two portraits. “This one,” he said pointing at Maudette, “Pam would never allow her in, not up to standard by any means. Unfortunately, our back alley sees some traffic for beings like these, we try to keep it clear but desperate cases like these can get snatched up now and then. You believe a vampire killed her?”
“No, she was strangled to death, not a drop of blood spilled. The fang marks were old, I mean I guess it’s possible but I highly doubt it.”
“Maybe you’re a scholar after all?”
“If you think a high school education qualifies me a scholar than by all means,” she sassed back.
He grinned, “Degree in your possession, or not, you’ve displayed more common sense than most. More than your local police department anyhow, they know to contact me about cases like these.”
“Thank you,” she whispered shyly, not quite sure how to handle such a compliment. Deciding instead to put forth the picture of Dawn. “Would she be allowed in?”
“Yes, barely, and she has been here. Pam took an interest in her briefly,” he said pointing at the smiling face. “She soon left with another prospect, though. I believe he promised to buy her things, it appeared all she was interested in, she mentioned an Amazon wishlist.”
“Do you know who? Never mind,” Sookie sighed, “You wouldn’t tell me if you did.”
“You’re not doing much to disprove my theory that you’re not a scholar,” he spoke, amused. “FBI?”
“No,” she laughed, suddenly her eyes went wide alerting him to attention within the next second.
“Eric we have to get out of here!”
The words were stolen from her mouth with the arrival of Pam who held a sleepy boy in her arms who had voiced the warning before her.
“It’s the cops, Uncle Eric,” he yawned. “They’re being meany pants again.”
“We do nothing wrong here, Hunter,” he smiled reassuringly, patting the mop of blond hair indulgently, kissing his head softly. “There’s no need to worry, Pam will take you home and Uncle Eric will show them nothing untoward happens here.”
“Eric, there’s a vampire named Tarryn,” Sookie spoke lowly in consideration of the little boy, amending her words slightly, “She’s feeding in the bathroom, he’s a cop. Money was exchanged.”
“The new arrival?” Eric demanded of Pam who was quick to nod, panic overtaking her eyes. “Fu-dge.”
It took the vampires a few seconds to catch on where this essential information had just come from, the means of extraction not entirely unfamiliar, eyes instantly zooming in on Sookie who took that moment to gasp as the little boy wiggled his way through her shields, leaving him as confused as her. “Momma,” he whispered softly to Pam, “She’s like me, she tickled my mind.”
The two vampires exchanged a single worried glance and without much warning Sookie was grasped into Eric’s hold and whisked out the back door and all she could see was black.
“Momma, she’s awake!” Hunter cried out excitedly beside her while Sookie slowly regained consciousness in the backseat of Pam’s minivan.
“Where are you taking me?” Sookie stammered against the restraints of her seatbelt, finding herself surprisingly not as constricted as assumed.
“It’s on kiddie lock,” Hunter informed matter-of-factly in an eerily similar tone as his vampire ‘mommy’ while she contemplated yanking the car door open to escape.
“Stay seated, you two,” Pam informed with little patience. “We’ll be home in just a bit.”
“Let me go!” Sookie protested. “You have no right!”
Pam turned around, threatening lowly, “Stay. Put.”
Hunter eyed her funnily from his car seat beside her, offering, “Momma always gives me a treat if I’m good and stay put. Maybe she’ll get you something too? Do you like chocolate, we can share?”
“That’s okay,” Sookie returned sweetly, shaking them back to life from her previously confined position, “I’d just really like the use of my hands, that’s all.”
“Good little kiddies keep their hands to themselves,” Hunter recited cheerily, “and off the walls and off of Momma’s schaaaanelll.”
“SCha-nel, baby,” Pam corrected. “Say it again now, properly.”
“Chanel?” he enunciated carefully, receiving a soft caress across his cheek in reward. The entire exchange confusing Sookie only further. “This is Uncle Eric’s home,” he suddenly complained when the car rolled to a stop, informing Sookie with a pout, “He always hides my toys.”
“I wouldn’t have to if you cleared them away and spare me from tripping over them all the time,” he reminded gently muttering about fucking Lego and bare feet under his breath before removing a huffy Hunter from his car-seat and handing the sleepy boy to Pam. “A word Ms. Stackhouse.”
“Please just take me back,” she pleaded. “I promise I won’t say a thing.”
“Too late for that now,” he spoke succinctly, letting her out of the car when he was assured Hunter and Pam were inside. “You’re in too deep and know too much already.” She eyed him cautiously with his hand out, forcing him to add, “No harm will come to you here.”
She nodded, taking his hand and following him to a dimly lit outbuilding, doing nothing to alleviate her worry. “Your brother, the one accused,” he posed casually. “Is he a telepath too?”
“No,” she stammered while following him into the former stables, “Hunter, he’s Jason’s?”
“You assume you’re family too?” Eric noted, impressed. “His mother was a Hadley Hale, did your brother have relations with her?”
“Good God, I hope not, she’s our cousin,” she said with surprise. “Wait, was?”
“Deceased, unfortunately,” he replied with little sympathy, leading her into a small sitting room. “The investigator indicated she had no living relatives when he was put into our care.”
“You clearly skimped out,” she complained. “Her name was Hadley Hale Delahoussaye. What happened to her, overdose?”
“Sophie-Anne is a bit of a cheapskate, so I’m not surprised the investigator didn’t turn up with much. It was a turning gone wrong, I’m afraid,” he shrugged. “No one knows for sure. They found Hunter in the apartment she rented and he was put into our care shortly thereafter.”
“What government agency would place a human child in the care of vampires?” she cried out incensed. “He should be with his family!”
“He is with family and he’ll continue to stay with family,” Eric warned with a display of fangs. “Pam has nursed him since he was a child. For all intents and purposes, she is his mother.”
“This isn’t right! You can’t just steal babies like that to play dolls and dress up with! Who looks after him during the day? Who takes him to the paediatrician, you’re not even alive during the day!”
“I assure you he’s well looked after,” Eric replied in a clipped tone. “Far better than his biological mother ever did.”
“That’s hardly impressive,” Sookie retorted angrily. “Hadley couldn’t even look after herself.”
“This is not a matter up for discussion,” he growled. “Hunter stays with us.”
“Silence!” he warned, soon falling to a gentler tone, “I’ll give you a choice Ms. Stackhouse.”
“Call me Sookie please,” she interrupted sardonically, “We’re practically family, apparently.”
“Very well, Sookie, since we indeed are family,” he continued, ignoring the bout of petulance that was rather unimpressive in comparison to either Pam or Hunter, “I can drive you home right now, we’ll forget you ever saw Hunter. Come look for us, call the authorities all you want but you’ll never find us. Your brother will go to prison and surely stay there, the new Sheriff who will undoubtedly take my place soon enough, a William Compton, will be inept and waste your time at best, I shall spare you the worst since a telepath is a rare treasure in this world and hope for the best since I like you, however I’m not counting on it, or-”
“Or?” she demanded sceptically.
“You stay with us.”
“I will see to it your brother is a free man whether he is guilty or not, he will join us as soon as able.”
“Join us where? Here?”
“No, not here,” he replied frugally. “We will be leaving. Circumstances greater than I could even attempt to control are forcing us to move.”
“Where?” she demanded again.
“I cannot say unless you come, will you stay or go?”
“Can I think about it?”
“Very well,” he sighed. “You have until sundown tomorrow to make up your mind. You can stay here tonight, please don’t seek out Hunter during the day. I do not wish to see him confused if this will be the last we ever see of you, he is not to know of our plans or your relation for his safety. You can leave the property at any time provided you do not seek out Hunter, physically or otherwise, the consequences would be… unfortunate.”
“What are you asking of me?” she asked nervously. “I don’t want to be some servant or sex slave to y’all.”
“Whatever gave you that impression?” he barked with laughter. “You really have read one too many internet forum Ms. – Sookie. We are leaving with good reason, it’s not something we would do were it not for the small telepath in our possession. Simply put, we can use someone like you with us. Hunter could use someone like you. If you don’t mind me saying so, I do hope you stay.”
“The circumstances you can no longer control, it’s in Hunter’s interest?” she queried, repeating his earlier spoken words back at him, “He’s a rare treasure in this Supernatural world. He’s but a tool to some isn’t he?”
While he failed to truly answer that question, a slight nod seemed to be made. “Not to Pam,” he finally acquiesced.
“Or you,” Sookie stated rather than asked.
“Whatever makes you think that?”
“I didn’t need to think,” she answered, “I saw it clear as day in that little boy’s mind.”
Eric tried to hide the proud smile but Sookie has spotted it regardless. “So you’ll stay with us, the little one vouches for us after all,” he hinted with a wink.
“I’ll think about it,” she conceded warily.
“Very well,” he said, getting up and showing her to the sleeping accommodations in the guest quarters, sharing the necessary security codes. “I do hope to see you here at sundown again, Sookie.”
“So,” Pam drawled leisurely, sipping her blood from an oversized wine glass when Eric joined her in the living room. “We give her to Sophie-Anne, right?”
“One Telepath for another,” he grinned, tapping his fingers lightly against the glass of the window that gave a perfect view to the guest quarters containing their latest boon that simply fell into his lap, well close enough to his lap. “It’s almost as if the gods were looking out for us.”
EHM… THANKS TO ME? I HOPE YOU ENJOY IT ciasteczko! THERE WILL BE A FEW MORE CHAPTERS TO FOLLOW.
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