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

A/N- This story follows "Desiderata". If you haven't read it, this one won't make any sense. This story is a further departure from the Sookie Canon.

**Strong violence warning in first chapter.**

Understanding



But, dear, cling close to me; since you were gone,

My barren thoughts have chilled me to the bone.

-William Butler Yeats, from Reconciliation



I.

It had been a peaceful Saturday night, that last day of September. When the Fellowship people came in, I was engaged in final party planning for Pam's welcome back party with Felicia, while preparing cocktail shakers. They weren't on my radar right away, but the energy of the bar had shifted and eventually, I locked in on their thoughts. I headed over to Eric to suggest they be asked to leave. Before Eric could even call Clancy, the younger of the three set down his drink and began to advance on Thalia, the smallest vampire in the club. I saw the mental flash of the silver knife. He would attack her to draw Eric and Clancy, who would then be attacked by the other two. As I spun to look toward Thalia I realized, heart pounding, that we would be too late to intercede and it just rushed out of me in a moment of panic. The voice rang out like a roar, an energy like a dark stream shot out in a focused wave from me. He literally flew into the wall, crumpling to the floor. But my anger spun out of control as I turned on his companions, who would have gone for Eric and I felt my entire face, pulled long and eyes wild, change as I focused on them. I saw the color drain from their faces as they realized there might be worse things than vampires in this bar. Things that had been better hidden. The energy seemed to possess me. The bracelet glowed icily on my arm and I became aware of hands restraining me, pulling me, struggling to hold me back, calling me. The words started to form in my mouth and they were foul, sounding like a dark droning chant. A hand clamped over my mouth in an attempt to silence me. I bit down, desperately wanting the words to escape my lips. The familiar clarion bell rang in my head, but this time not enough to shock me into lightheadedness. Not enough to make me stop. But a commanding voice caught my attention.

Now you have done it, my child. Now we have no choice but to move forward. Always so full of emotion, of will. You simply cannot go on without guidance. You will do yourself harm. You have started a chain of events that cannot be altered…

The cold bracelet seemed to burn me, waking me up. I gasped for air.

Both Eric and Clancy were restraining me. They had pulled me back toward the booth, but still, everyone was staring. Eric finally had me and told Clancy to get the Fellowship people out. Eric's hand was bleeding. His blood coursed through me, absorbed quickly from my mouth.

Clancy led the two at the table away and came back for the third, who was just recovering his consciousness. He probably just glammed them I thought loosely, to myself.

I wasn't very focused in the present. I was stuck in the moment of my wanting to destroy them. My anger surged through me like waves crashing on the cliffs and was unrequited. The bracelet's cold metal still burned me. I looked at my wrist and saw it had changed to a peculiar glowing metal. My wrist felt like it had been burned. And there were marks… tracings which appeared to glow from the inside out through my skin on my arms and hands. That brought me back to my reality. What the hell? They looked like trails of light in arcs and circles a complex pattern.

I sat in the booth with my back to the patrons. One hand was over my mouth, where Eric's had been. I'd bitten his hand. Hard. I couldn't meet his eyes, which I felt looking at me. I tried to avoid feeling any his emotions because my own were already too much.

Felicia quickly brought me a gin and tonic and tried not to stare at me. She scurried back to the bar.

My arms began to throb with the pain of Eric's and Clancy's strong grips.

Thalia walked over to me and pushed me further into the booth, sitting next to me.

"Sookie, thank you. I am grateful." Then she took up my hand and stared. The strange trails and patterns glowed in faint ice blue on my forearms and hands. They seemed to be fading. She examined my bracelet. "But I think, if you don't mind, you need to be careful. This could cause problems for you." She spoke with an accent, her phrasing awkward.

Clancy came back to the booth. "Is she okay?" He looked at the tracings on my arms and gasped. I was aware of his turning to Eric and whispering in amazement "She's one of the Tuatha Dé Danann… A genuine member of the tribe. They're so rare now… I haven't seen one in a hundred years. And she's got the Morrígan's mark. She's like a warrior, like one of the Cimbri."

Eric was intent upon distraction. "We need a double round free for the house. Get them drunk. Clancy, get Indira to start working the crowd. She'll know what to do. Tell Kira to rope off. No one in, no one out. Then I want any vampire not ours to report to me in the office. I counted four. Follow up with me after you have all of them in the office. Thalia, stay with Sookie."

I heard him on the phone to Maxwell as he walked away, calling him to the bar.

As if to comfort me with her own bad times, Thalia told me about her history, which was dark and sad, much like Sophie-Anne's. But she had not been as lucky in that her sire lived for hundreds of years after she was turned. She was enslaved to him and not released for four centuries. She had been very abused. She did not like men much at all and barely liked women. She just wanted her meals.

"You are lucky to live in a better time Sookie. To live here. This is why I moved to Shreveport. To live here free, to work for someone reasonable. You are lucky to live now. You can have a life, even if you have some problems. You can have choices. I have had few choices."

Someone had come over to take my photo and Thalia glammed him and then slapped him several times then broke his camera, snarling at him. She kept me distracted with stories of Greece in the 1100's and how miserable women's lives were in those times.

By the time Eric came back fifteen minutes later, Thalia and I were just sitting silent.

Eric nodded and she got up and went back to her table. He took her place next to me.

"Are you okay?" he asked quietly.

I just nodded.

"I called Niall. I don't know how to reach the Pythoness. I think…"

"She already knows," I said in a whisper.

"It's interesting that it's only when something bad is happening to someone you care about," he commented. "It's never happened when we argue."

"I will never hurt you Eric," I said, still in a whisper. I really hoped it was true. There was something just so wrong in me, I thought. That voice inside me, still in my head, so dark. Eric seemed to pick up on what I was thinking.

"Hopefully, you can just learn to control it… It's going to be fine."

"How much trouble is this causing you?" I whispered.

"It's costing a couple of rounds of drinks and a few threats, Lover. Not much. I'm more concerned about what kind of trouble it can cause you if you really hurt someone. We can cover up almost anything that would be a legal problem from tonight, though. Don't worry about it."

Something on his shirt cuff caught my eye. There was a streak of blood. But there shouldn't have been blood there, on that side of his shirt, from where I bit his other hand. It was odd.

I looked up at him, suddenly grasping something.

"What have you done? What have you done, Eric?"

In a sudden, forceful flash into his mind, I saw Eric and Clancy staking four vampires near the storeroom. I trembled.

"A few threats? You lied to me. You flat out lied."

"I did what I had to do to protect you. I don't want another word of complaint out of you."

I was trapped in the booth with him. Trapped in the club. But most of all, trapped in myself. I turned to see several humans still staring at me, and Thalia and Indira sweeping through the bar clearly glamming anyone who looked like trouble or looked my way. I stewed in silence, too weary, and wary, to speak to Eric about his lying or what he'd done.

Pam and Maxwell walked through the back door about 20 minutes later.

They closed the bar, emptying it within half an hour, making sure that everyone who left was drunk or glammed or both. The waitresses were also sorted.

Eric spoke to Pam and Maxwell off on the side. Pam glanced nervously in my direction.

And then Eric gathered his seven vampires nearby. He stood with arms crossed, fangs run down and eyes that glowed with intensity that showed he meant business.

"What has happened here tonight stays within our group. If any one of you reveals one iota of information about what you have seen or heard about, I will give you as long and painful a death as my very large imagination allows. And for any of you who are under the false impression that I am not prone to cruelty, I was one of those entertaining Francis Highland for Sophie-Anne after he was caught only ten years ago. And I can still think of far worse things to do to any of you than were done to him."

Felicia, ever the simplest of vampires, asked simply "What is she, really? She's not really human after all, is she?"

"FOOL!" Eric roared, bowling her over and knocking her, and Indira who was standing too nearby, down as well.

I didn't want to witness this, I got up to go to the bathroom.

"Stay put, Sookie," he said, modulating his voice, turning around with eyes glaring at me, pointing toward the seat in the booth. I paused and then sat down again.

He paused to regain control. "There will be no further discussion of this event, even between yourselves. Are we clear? This is none of your business. All of you, except Clancy, can go back and help clean up in the storeroom and hall and be glad it isn't you on the floor."

Indira stepped forward with a basket containing cameras and cellphones.

"Destroy them" Eric said firmly, waving her off. He turned to Clancy and said "Close out the registers and finish up." Clancy went to the front of the house behind the bar.

Eric made his way back over to the booth, and pushed me back into the booth so he could sit close to me.

"I want you to read each of them, right now, and tell me if any of them will be planning to use or sell the information," he said in a low voice.

I turned to him in shock. "So you can do what to them? No, I will do no such thing. How dare you even ask me to."

He leaned closer to me, and said menacingly "I'm asking you to do it nicely right now. But however we get there, you will do it, Sookie."

"I won't and don't you dare threaten me." I said bitterly.

He grabbed my arm where it was already bruised and squeezed. I gasped.

"What is wrong with you? Let go of me Eric!" I hissed. I tried to keep it quiet but I was so angry.

"These are called survival skills, my Love. Now DO IT!" he said in a low growl.

I slapped him and he slammed me against the back wall of the booth. I struggled and tried to rise up as he forced me back down. I heard a dull crack as my ribcage hit the table edge as I came back down into the seat. I cried out in pain. Eric pushed me back away from the table and grabbed my neck.

"You will do it Sookie," his eyes boring into mine.

I trembled in his hands and felt faint from the pain in my ribs. "No, I won't, Eric, I won't" I squeaked in a whisper.

He growled in a low voice nearer still to my ear "Don't make me teach you to be afraid of me, Lover" his fingers clenching my throat. I hurt everywhere. I was already afraid.

With a sob, I closed my eyes and did as he asked me.

Indira, frightened but pragmatic. No thoughts other than the mess of ash and blood and her beautiful sari being ruined.

Kira, admiring the handiwork, no thoughts of betrayal.

Maxwell Lee, sorry not to have seen it, curious, but no thoughts other than his Sheriff's edict.

Felicia, disgusted by the cleanup, angry to have been shouted at, wondering if I would tell her privately. Likes me anyway, would never tell, Sheriff's command or no.

Thalia, refusing to clean because it is beneath her, wished she could see it again, loved the sound of the man hitting the wall, thinks I am worth the trouble because of the power I have that I have used to protect her, her boss and the boss's child. This is good for us, she thinks clearly. The boss was clever to have found this woman. We must keep her very safe.

Pam, not clear about what has happened and what it means. Always loyal. To me, to Eric, it is all the same, we are bound as one and the same in her mind. Worried, sensing that Eric and I are arguing.

Clancy… Clancy…. I froze. Thinking about the Tuatha Dé Danann and how useful they could be. So few, so rare, so valuable… yes, such a valuable piece of information…

I gasped under Eric's grip.

Eric's eyes followed my every expression while I read them. Staring at me, he flicked his eyes in Clancy's direction and then back to me. I couldn't breathe. My chest, already so painful, constricted even more and I began to tremble. In a flash Eric was out of the booth and on Clancy behind the bar. There was brief struggle and I heard snarling and then a brief scream, gurgling and a dull sawing sound that seemed to go on forever.

Eric emerged from behind the bar with Clancy's head. He walked calmly back to the storeroom and hall area and threw it in toward them.

I shuddered, feeling ill. I was now in the center of the snake pit that I had always feared. No soft surrounding to shield me or help me lie to myself about what he was. I had married this man. I had tied my life to him.

"Maxwell, you have been promoted. Unfortunately, there is more to clean."

He walked back to the booth and pulled me carefully to the edge of the seat, swinging my legs over the outside of the seat.

He looked at my arms, then my throat and then he lifted my top to examine my ribs.

"This should all heal quickly because you had my blood when you bit me. And I can give you more at home," he said gently. He brushed some stray hair out of my face and tucked it behind my ear. It was completely incongruous with what I had just witnessed.

I didn't answer. I felt numb.

He lifted me out of the booth and hesitated as if he couldn't decide if I could walk. He decided to carry me. He was gentle, and careful not to hurt my ribs further.

Without saying anything further to the other vamps, he kicked open the employees door and loaded me into the car, buckling my seatbelt. Pam came out with my purse. She glanced at my face and I saw her eyes dip to my throat. She looked at me as if I'd done my job, but sadly, as if she knew just what that had cost me. She closed the car door and went back inside. Eric paused outside the car, leaning against the driver's side roof, standing inside the area created by the open driver's door. I heard his fingers drumming on the roof of the car. He stood there for several minutes, then got in the car.

"You are upset now, but you will thank me. You will come to understand it. My first goal is to keep us safe. Sometimes, the means is less than palatable, but our need justified what was required."

I turned and pressed my forehead into the cold glass of the car window. The trail of tears down my face was reflected in the glass as we drove past streetlights.

I didn't remember walking up the stairs to the bedroom when we got home or getting undressed. It was all a blur by then.

The next morning, I awoke, got dressed, and drove away.