Disclaimer: The Sookie Stackhouse Series is the creation of Charlaine Harris. Don't sue me Charlaine! I love your books.

A/N- This story takes place in mid February, after "From the Beginning" and "Sookie's Revelation" but before "The Gamble."

Friendship

IV.

I was pretty exhausted on the drive back to Shreveport. Pam drove about as fast as she had on the way to Monroe, so we'd be home soon. I was frankly too wrung out to pay much attention to how fast we were going. Pam was quiet. Thoughtful. She hadn't even made any snide remarks about my being vaguely fairy scented.

"Sookie?"

"Mmmm?" I said, feeling a bit sleepy.

"Were you upset that I told Eric that I knew you could read us? Bill told you first, then he told Eric, right? Eric was mad about that."

"No. Pam, I know your allegiance is to Eric, to… your kind. I understood, don't worry. You've told me before, 'vampires first'. I get it."

"If I thought Eric would have harmed you, I don't think I would have told him," she said quietly. She paused for a few seconds. "I can't believe I'm actually verbalizing that." Last fall Pam had told me before we went to the Rhodes summit that she liked me but that her loyalty was to her fellow vampires. This was certainly a turnabout.

I turned to look at Pam, whose eyes were steadfastly on the road. I had wondered if Pam and I would actually get along less well after I became more involved with Eric. She had lost one of her major sources of irking Eric since we were together now. Less fun to be had and my taking up more of Eric's time, so less time for her. And now Eric was acting like all his vamps, including Pam, owed me fealty and respect that I wasn't interested in receiving just because I was their boss's girlfriend. I had worried that the change in the dynamic would erode our friendship. She seemed to have shifted gears on that pretty seamlessly, though.

I knew that Pam really felt I was her friend and that she really trusted me. I had saved her life at Rhodes. Through the few times I'd actually tried to read her I had grasped that she thought perhaps I was saving her secondarily, because of saving Eric, but part of her knew that I would have saved her whether Eric had been there or not. For two hundred years she'd seen no reason not to be 'vampires first' without question. But now, she has a genuine friend, I thought to myself. I chose to be her friend. No bond. No shared blood. No glamour. My allegiance was to my friends and loved ones. I would have chosen to save Pam over quite a few humans I've met. I'd take a real friend over generic "my kind" anytime. Sometimes the boundaries between our own kind and those of our friends and loved ones seemed to blur these days even for Pam.

"Pam, I wasn't bothered by it, okay? Eric and I had spoken about whether you would figure it out and he thought you would because you're so observant of everything. I also understand what you're saying. We're really friends, you and I. And I'm promising you that I never tried digging around in your head for anything other than simple stuff, like just reading what you thought when I showed up at the club and stuff like that. I was only trying to make sure I wasn't causing problems for you, for Eric's business. And… I was really worried that my relationship with Eric was going to change everything with our friendship."

Looking straight ahead, Pam said "Well it has changed everything. Now it's easier to keep you safe without attracting unusual attention, although now we have to keep you even safer. But it's also easier because you're finally willing to do more of what Eric asks you to do, instead of telling him to 'go fly a kite'. Although, I do miss that part." She grinned, eyes still on the road.

"Pam, you're really my best girlfriend. You know, I can really share more of my life with you than any other woman I know? I'm glad nothing changed for the worse in our friendship when I got closer to Eric. It would have made me very sad if it had."

Pam wrinkled her nose. My other "best friend" was Sam and she knew it, since Eric still fumed about it.

"I suppose that you are lumping me into a special category with that shifter boss of yours? Ugh! I'm trying not to be insulted, Sookie. I'll keep trying."

We laughed and drove on into the night.