|My Private Eye
Author: random987123 PM
1936, New Orleans. Sookie is a private eye hoping to clear her brother's name in a murder investigation. Eric seeks her services to help him find a thief among his employees. As the mystery unravels, both find the situation more complicated. AURated: Fiction T - English - Mystery/Crime - Eric & Sookie - Chapters: 13 - Words: 39,530 - Reviews: 173 - Favs: 58 - Follows: 103 - Updated: 05-15-13 - Published: 12-26-11 - id: 7675516
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: I was so excited when I heard about the Secret Santa Fic exchange. It was such a fun way to get in the holiday and fanfic spirit! This story was written for Wylis. The idea for this story began when I saw the July 2011 edition of Vogue, featuring an amazing 1930s style photo spread of one Alexander Skarsgård. SVM seems perfectly suited to a noir adaptation, and to my knowledge, it hasn't been done yet. Since it turned out to be way too long to post as a one shot, I'll be posting the rest in weekly installments after the first of the year. Stay tuned to see what happens to our telepathic private eye!
Thanks to the contest organizers, Jan of Arc and Blakes Boogie. I also need to thank my friend Cageyspice for editing for 's amazing!
My Private Eye
In the distance, I could hear the smooth sounds of jazz pouring out of the bars and the laughter of revelers rising up like steam from the cobblestone streets, but I didn't share the jubilant spirits of the French Quarter on this chilly night.
"Hey, Miss Sookie," Lafayette called as I climbed the stairs up to my office in the 900 block of Bourbon Street. The queer, black cook from the dive cafe next door was a sometimes-friend of mine. We didn't have much in common, but we were both outcasts in our own way. "Working late again, I see?"
"No rest for the wicked," I said with an ironic smile.
"Hmmm, ain't that true," he said as he took a long drag of what I hoped was a cigarette, but smelled like it could have been a reefer. "So when are you going to bring around that pretty boy brother of yours?"
"I don't know, Laf. He's a busy man," I said as I fumbled with my keys until I found the one to the front door of my office.
"Very busy, from what I hear," he said. "And I kept tellin' ya, I'da been perfectly happy to keep him out of trouble..."
I snorted, pulling my fur collar closer around my neck to keep the cold January air at bay as I struggled with the secret handshake that made the deadbolt turn on my office door. "Now if that isn't the biggest lie I've heard today; word around town is trouble is your middle name."
"I blame my momma too, even if she didn't give me a name like that," he said with a hoot. "See you around, Miss Sookie, even if it is too late for your brother." He threw his butt on the ground and went back into the restaurant. It was nice that someone was at least getting a chuckle out of the horrible situation Jason had gotten himself into.
I finally managed to jiggle the lock the right way, twisting my wrist and pulling up at that perfect angle. As soon as I was inside, I flipped the lock closed again, set my handbag on the side table by the door, and hung my coat on the rack without pausing to turn on the light. With resignation and fatigue, I sank into my chair and propped my feet up on my desk. A small laugh escaped my mouth as I noticed how perfectly the new incandescent street lamp cast a shadow of the words stenciled on the door onto the hardwood floor.
I opened the evening paper to find the same name in the headlines in reference to my brother, a suspect in a series of murders of local women. Jason had never been very smart, but I'd never thought he'd be stupid enough to get mixed up in a mess like this. Though I knew he hadn't done it, on account of being able to read his mind, I also knew that the gumshoes didn't care so much about guilt or innocence as long as they closed the case. Never mind if more dead bodies piled up later; they'd just find someone else to blame.
I had to do something. It was my fault Jason was here. If he hadn't had the notion to follow me to New Orleans to look for work on the docks after the depression hit, killing any hope he'd had of a job in our hometown, he'd have ended up shacked up with Crystal Norris and eking out a living on the barren land at the crossroads people called Hotshot and would have never ended up in this mess.
But even in that year right after the crash, New Orleans had seemed full of possibilities. I'd naively followed the first man I'd fallen in love with, then been seduced by the bright lights of the city and the freedom after my escape from the town where everyone thought me strange. Little had I known that the cruel people of the city would think far worse of me than the citizens of Bon Temps, or that the man I'd come to love would never be able to commit to me in the way I'd hoped for.
'To Death Do Us Part' doesn't work when half the couple is already dead.
That was five years ago, and though I knew the city's cobblestone streets well, now every alley seemed like a dead end. Not that business wasn't booming; I had to turn clients away. Even though money was tight, people always seemed to find a way to pay for my services, whether it was to find out that their wife was cheating or to dig up dirt so they could blackmail their business partner. And that was the humans.
Given my ability, I was well qualified to provide information that was beyond the reach of even the most skilled detectives. Since my methods weren't consistent with acceptable investigative practices, I was better working on my own than for the police, even if I hadn't been bothered by their corruption.
In theory, I should have been able to clear my brother's name easily. The police had no reason to trust me, but they couldn't deny clear evidence if I were able to find it. I just needed to steer them towards the true killer. The problem was, I was certain that it was a vampire that was responsible for this spree of murders, and vampires were the only creatures I'd ever encountered whose thoughts were dark to me.
At one point, I'd considered that a plus.
My best bet was turning to my friend Amelia for help. Though I wasn't keen on trying out any of her spells—as they tended to go horribly wrong—she was my only other contact in the supernatural world. I glanced at my watch, but it was frozen at 7:15. It didn't matter. Whatever the time, it was too late to seek out Amelia tonight. That would have to wait until tomorrow.
A rap at the door startled me and a shadow of wide shoulders now blocked my name on the floor. It wasn't unusual for me to see clients this late, but it was uncommon for someone to stop by unannounced. A quick scan with my extra sense revealed why I hadn't noticed the figure's approach. All I was registering was a blank void, which meant a vampire was standing at my door.
I opened it with confidence. A vampire couldn't enter without being invited, because in addition to the small room above Bourbon Street being home to my office, I kept a small room in back where I slept. A tall, imposing man in a crisp suit and smart-looking hat stood waiting on the other side of the threshold. The light of the streetlamp silhouetted him, obscuring his face in the shadows.
"Good evening," he said, his voice a low purr. "I'd like an audience with your boss, if you please."
"My boss?" I hadn't had one of those since I'd worked for Sam Merlotte back in Bon Temps.
"Yes. Stackhouse. A friend referred me to his services. I assume you're his secretary?"
I smiled sweetly at him. This cocky vampire obviously had no idea who he was dealing with.
"And you are?" The tall blonde looked vaguely familiar, someone I might have seen in passing, but hadn't had reason to remember. He may have been handsome, and his brain was blissfully silent, but he was still a vampire, and once bitten…
"Eric Northman. I own the club a few blocks down." 'Club' made the place sound classier than it was. He must have meant the former speakeasy people referred to as Death Warmed Over, though there was no sign on the inconspicuous door. For someone who owned the premier supernatural bar in the South, he kept a low profile. Maybe he was smarter than this blunder would lead one to believe.
"So, Mr. Northman. What brings you here?"
"A friend said that Stackhouse had a special way of finding things out," he said. "I have a mystery that needs solving." The way his piercing blue eyes methodically moved from my heels up to my hair, I was sure they were peeling off each layer of my clothing all the way down to my slip and stockings. From the way he licked his lips, I figured he enjoyed his using his imagination. He obviously didn't have a clue that the Stackhouse he sought was a woman. I couldn't resist toying with him, since I was safely on the other side of the invisible barrier that kept me out of his reach.
"Why don't you just figure it out yourself? I'm sure you have your own ways of finding things out." I was the only person I knew who wasn't susceptible to the mental influence of vampires, on account of my quirk. Since they could pluck whatever information they needed out of any human's head or alter their memories as they saw fit, they didn't generally have need of my services. If 'glamour' didn't work, they always had torture to fall back on.
"Ah, that I do. But my methods tend to get messy. I like Louisiana and want to stay awhile. I hear Stackhouse has a very delicate approach."
"You really care about getting messy?" Even Bill, who was quite civilized by vampire standards, had no compunction about doing whatever it took to get what he wanted, even if it meant hurting humans. I had no reason to think this vamp was any different.
"Depends on the circumstances," he said, his words heavy with innuendo. "Some messes can be quite pleasurable."
I smiled, not ruffled in the least.
"Well, Mr. Northman, I'm Sookie Stackhouse. Why don't you tell me why a vampire I've never met is seeking out my services, especially without having a clue as to who I am? That's rather suspicious, if you ask me."
To his credit, Northman didn't flinch when he realized his mistake—or that I recognized him for what he was. He smoothed the front of his tie and answered my question without missing a beat. "Some vampires no longer wish to remain hidden. Technology is advancing rapidly. It won't be possible for us to stay in the dark forever." He smiled at his own pun, wide enough that his white teeth shone in the dim light from the streetlamp. "The day of our revelation approaches; it has already been set in motion. I'm planning to stay ahead of the game. This requires exercising restraint and employing a certain finesse."
There was a hint at an accent in his voice, the origins of which must have been somewhere far away. I wondered how old he was, and what had brought him here. New Orleans was home to a mélange of different cultures. No one batted an eye to see a black man, an Indian, or someone of Northern European ancestry, which with his striking features, blonde hair, and penetrating blue eyes, was certainly where this vampire was from. His name said it all. Eric Northman. Yes, he must find that amusing.
Under normal circumstances, I'd never invite a vampire into my office, let alone consider working for one again—not after what happened last time. But that headline SUSPECT FOUND with my brother's name attached to it flashed in my mind, and I knew that working with him would make it infinitely more likely that I could track down the vampire that was behind the murders the local press was accusing my previously unknown brother of committing. The temptation was too great.
"So, then, why don't you come in and tell me what it is that you need finding out?"
Mr. Northman flashed me another bawdy grin as he crossed the threshold. I took comfort in knowing that I could rescind his invitation and send him flying out of the room should the need arise.
A simple embezzlement job was all it turned out to be. Upon hearing Mr. Northman's dilemma, it sounded fishy. If a vampire thought a human was stealing from him, he'd just glamour or torture information out of him, then exact retribution in any number of painful ways. No reason to enlist the services of a telepathic private eye.
"Tell me again, why is it that you require my special skills?" I shifted in my chair, glancing at the newspaper sitting on the corner of my desk. Was this just the cover for a much more sinister plan? A ploy to entrap me? For all I knew, Eric Northman was the vampire killing girls in the French Quarter, and thought it best to get me out of the way so he could successfully pin it on my brother now that he was a suspect. Pretending not to know whom I was when he first came to my door could have been nothing but an act. Without access to his thoughts, I had no way of knowing his true intentions, but understanding vampire nature the way I did, it would have been foolish for me to take him at his word.
Eric leaned forward, resting his elbows on the edge of my desk, bringing his eyes level with mine. "Tell me, Miss Stackhouse, what exactly are your special skills?"
"Finding out valuable information in a delicate manner. Just as you were told, by my former client whom you refuse to name." Even if he could sense that my heart rate had increased, I wouldn't let him see the fear on my face. I focused on continuing to appear calm, forcing myself to look him in the eye. I felt the tingle at the edge of my thoughts as he tried to glamour me. The skin between his eyebrows wrinkled in frustration when he realized it wasn't working.
"That, Miss Stackhouse, is one of the reasons I believe we can come to a business arrangement that will be quite satisfactory to both of us."
"What reason do I have to trust you?"
"None, whatsoever. And doesn't that make this all so much more interesting?"
I fought the smile that twitched at the corners of my mouth and ignored his question. Not knowing what it was he was thinking or if he was telling me the truth did make doing business with him much more interesting. But that wasn't the reason I was going to agree to work for him.
"I'll make a deal with you, Mr. Northman."
Eric's eyebrow quirked up, and he leaned back, sitting upright, adopting a posture meant to imply his power.
"And what is it that you propose?" Another amused smirk curled the corner of his lips, just wide enough for me to know that his fangs weren't extended, though it wasn't hard to imagine what they looked like when they were. Eric was entertained enough by my proposition to wave for me to continue with an elegant flash of his hand and a nod.
"I'll find out which one of your employees is stealing from you. On one condition."
Eric's blue eyes sparkled with guile. When he didn't immediately demand to set the terms of our arrangement, I knew that he must really want me to work for him. "Let's hear it," he said after a thoughtful pause.
"If it is a human that is swindling you, you'll turn him over to the police. I won't give you any information that will lead to someone's death. If I find the thief, you can't just kill them."
"As I explained, I have no interest in unnecessarily attracting attention to myself or my business, nor do I wish to wish to place myself at odds with humans. Your terms are acceptable." I noticed he didn't agree outright, but I hadn't even expected as much assurance as he had just given me.
"There will also be a considerable fee."
"Of course." His eyes flickered up and down my body again in assessment. "Something tells me you will be worth the price."
I bristled at the implication. But I needed this in to investigate the French Quarter murders and hopefully clear my brother's name, so I swallowed the hesitation that caught in my throat. We spent a few moments haggling over the details. He didn't seem to sense that it was all irrelevant to me. What I wanted was an excuse to infiltrate his club in order to pick up a lead on the Midnight Romeo killing women in the Quarter, and hopefully clear my brother's name.
"That's settled then," he said. "You'll report to the club tomorrow night. We'll discuss a specific strategy after you've had time to feel out the scene, so to say." Eric stood, and I realized just how imposing he was as he reached his full height, well over six feet. But now that he'd offered exactly what I wanted, it wasn't the time to get intimidated.
"Yes. See you then."
He turned toward the door, but before he left, looked over his shoulder one last time.
"See you then, Sookie Stackhouse."