STORY SUMMARY: When a scientist approaches Eric and claims that he has unlocked the key to a formula that will vaccinate vampires from the ill-effects that sunlight brings upon them, Sookie is called upon to put her telepathy to the test to see if the man is genuine. Will he really be able to give the vampires the ability to walk through daylight unharmed? Or should this scientific avenue be left unexplored?
TIME LINE: This story is set sometime after book 4 rather then any episode of the show (as only season one has been aired here!).
STORY RATED FOR LATER PARTS WHICH WILL CONTAIN MATURE CONTENT!!
AUTHOR NOTE: There will probably be about three parts to this story altogether, though maybe more if it is really needed. I really can't estimate it at the moment! As usual, I would love to know what you all think; reviews are always great to read. :-) I thank you in advance.
I was relieved that I only had to work until six and that it had been fairly steady in Merlotte's that day so that the time had passed by quickly. I was planning to go home afterwards and take a nice long bath then maybe read a book for a while before getting an early night. I'd felt so worn out lately that I strongly believed that I deserved some extra sleep.
For once, I'd had a fairly drama-free time this week. I hadn't even seen Bill so I guessed that he must have gone away on one of his trips someplace, working on, or selling copies of his vampire database. But I was glad that I hadn't run into him. My heart was still very sore from his betrayal, and I was hoping that time would be a healer for me.
As my shift came to an end, I strolled out back to Sam's office so that I could retrieve my purse. Sam was sat behind his desk when I entered the room. I hadn't even realised that he was in there, otherwise I would have knocked first as opposed to just waltzing in.
Sam Merlotte was not only my boss, but a really good friend of mine, and it was always a welcoming sight to see him smile at me warmly.
"Hey, Sookie." he said in a pleasant tone, "Finished now, huh?"
"Yes. To be quite honest, I'll be glad to get on home and get some rest." as I said this, he handed me my purse from where I'd stashed it away in his desk.
"Been a quiet week for you, hasn't it." it wasn't a question but an observation. He always seemed to know what was going on in my life.
"Sure has. No vampires with problems. It sure makes a nice change." I smiled back at him.
"Well, you go enjoy your evening. I'll see you tomorrow."
I made a quick exit after that. As much as I liked Sam, I didn't really feel like engaging in small-talk right now, not to mention the fact that once when we'd been in his office alone, we'd ended up kissing which is not really an ideal situation to get into with your boss. Besides, Sam's friendship meant so much to me that I didn't want to jeopardise it by acting out hormonal impulses that I'd regret later.
Without further ado, I went out into to the parking lot and got into my car, slumping in my seat for a moment with a sigh before turning the key in the ignition.
I drove down the familiar roads and turned into my driveway, the tires crunching on the gravel before I came to a stop.
I headed straight for the bathroom once I was inside, plugged the bath and turned the taps on, then poured in some bubble bath which immediately started frothing happily.
I stripped off my clothes and climbed in once the level of the water was high enough and turned off the taps. The water had such a soothing effect on my tired limbs, that I laid back with my eyes closed and stayed motionless, enjoying it's effects for a while.
Eventually, I scrubbed myself and washed my hair. I felt so comfortable after that, that I could have easily stayed in there forever, but I was starting to wrinkle up so I reluctantly got out.
I dried myself off, put on my robe, then went into the bedroom to dry off my hair. Once that was done, I sat at the foot of my bed and brushed it through thoroughly making sure that it was completely tangle-free. I paused for a moment, remembering how Bill used to enjoy doing this for me when I was seeing him. It seemed like such a long time ago to me now, and a lot had happened since then. I shook the memory away with a shudder. I needed to stop thinking about the past. I needed to stop thinking about Bill. The bastard had as good as used me, anyway.
Shirking my own failed romance, I made my way into the living room where I found the romance novel I had started on the night before, to find out if fictional characters would have more luck with such things. I settled on the couch, my feet up and knees brought up in front of me, and resumed it from the book-marked page.
After about half an hour of getting submerged into the plot, there was a knock on the front door. Damn it! I should have known that someone would eventually disturb my peaceful evening.
I reluctantly put my book down and plodded over to the door in my slippers. I opened the door, getting ready to tell whoever it was to go away, as politely as I could of course, but the sight of Eric stood there looking, well, looking totally gorgeous, stopped any of those words from leaving my mouth.
"Hello Sookie." he said, his voice as smooth as silk. My porch light illuminated the blond-haired Viking vampire as he stood against the backdrop of the night. He was wearing blue jeans and a black T shirt which hugged his muscles.
"Eric." I said simply, "I wasn't really expecting to see anyone here tonight. I was going to go to bed early, so whatever it is that you want, I'm afraid it's gonna have to wait." Okay, so that may have come out a little ruder then I'd intended, but hey. Wasn't I entitled to some time-out?
Eric looked me up and down then smiled as his eyes locked back onto mine. "Bed? At this time? Would you like some company?" his smile turned into a mischievous grin, his eyes hopeful.
"Eric! I'm not in the mood to listen to that kind of talk!" I snapped. Though truth be told, there was enough about Eric to tempt me into at least secretly longing to have answered 'yes'.
"Well I'm very sorry to hear that, Sookie." he said looking quite disappointed.
"Why are you here?" I said changing the subject as quickly as I could.
Eric's expression then turned serious, and I actually felt quite surprised at the sudden transformation.
"I need your help. Something very important has come up." he said.
"Well what?" I said, hoping he'd hurry up and get to the point.
"Would you invite me in first so that I might explain?" he asked.
I really should have refused, but Eric's presence was so powerfully overwhelming, I couldn't seem to say no.
"Come in." I said, and Eric walked through the door as I stood back to let him pass.
We walked through to the living room and we sat on the couch.
"So now will you tell me what's going on?" I asked.
"Last night, a man came to Fangtasia to speak to me. A scientist." Eric answered. "What he told me was very interesting to say the least." he paused thoughtfully for a long moment before continuing. "He claims to have worked out a formula from which he can develop a vaccine. A vaccine for vampires."
"What kind of vaccine?" I asked, my interest suddenly piqued.
"He believes that when a vampire is injected with it, they will be immune to the effects of sunlight." he said this cautiously.
"Oh my gosh!" I exclaimed, hardly able to digest what I was hearing. "So y'all would be able to go out in the day? That would be...amazing!"
"It would certainly change things radically. That is of course, if he is telling me the truth. That is why I need your help. He has agreed to meet me again at the club tonight, and I would very much like you to sit in on our meeting and see if you can delve into his thoughts, see if you can tell if this is genuine. As you know, not everyone has warmed up to the idea of sharing the world with us vampires, so it could easily be some sort of trick. Though to what end, I cannot guess."
I thought about this carefully for a moment. I could completely understand why Eric wanted to check up on this guy some more. And I have to admit, I was now very curious to find out more myself. "Okay." I agreed.
Eric smiled and I was relieved to see the seriousness disappear from his features. "Of course, I will pay you for your time."
"Whatever." I said casually, "I'll go get changed." I stood up and started heading for my bedroom.
"Shout if you need a hand." I heard Eric say behind me, and I couldn't help but giggle a little once I was out of his line of sight.
I quickly discarded my robe, pulled on some thongs and jeans, a bra and a navy knit-top, then slid my feet into some black pumps before re-joining Eric in the living room.
As Eric had flown over to my house, I drove the both of us to Shreveport in my car. Once we arrived at Fangtasia and had parked up, I could see that the club was already buzzing with activity; Vampires and Fang-bangers were arriving at the entrance thick and fast for an evening of fun.
Of course, we went in through the staff entrance, finding Pam just inside the door. She was wearing a flowing black gothic gown for the purpose of pleasing the human patrons of the club.
"Professor Simmons has already arrived." she informed Eric, "He is waiting in your office."
"Thank you, Pam." said Eric as we walked past her.
As we walked into the office, Professor Simmons looked up at us from the guest chair. He was a stout looking man wearing a charcoal suit. He had a rapidly receding hairline which was greying, a thick moustache and dark-rimmed glasses which were precariously perched on the end of his nose.
"Thank you for coming to see me again, Professor." Eric said as he took a seat behind his desk. I sat on the other guest chair next to the professor. He gave me a questioning look before turning to address Eric.
"Mr. Northman, I didn't realise that we would have company." he said abruptly with a strong British accent.
I felt this to be rude, but I kept my mouth shut.
"This is Sookie Stackhouse, a trusted business associate of mine." Eric said matter-of-factly.
"I'm sure you do trust her, sir, but you understand, when we spoke last night, you promised one hundred percent confidentiality pertaining to the nature of my project."
"Excuse me, professor." I said sharply, no longer able to bite my tongue, "I can assure you that I will not speak a word about you or your project to anyone outside of this room."
The professor stared at me blankly for a few moments, summing me up with his cold eyes. Of course, he didn't know that I was a telepath and could read his thoughts, and at this very moment he was wondering what a woman as simple looking as me could possibly understand from the conversation that he was about to have with Eric.
"If you remember, professor, you have asked me to fund the project, therefore I hold a certain amount of control over it. This in mind, if Miss Stackhouse cannot listen to what you have to say, then I shall ask you to leave and never come back. Do you understand?" Eric said this sternly, allowing his fangs to run out threateningly.
Now I could pick up a different train of thought from the professor. Fear in two different ways. Not only was he frightened about falling out with, and possibly being killed by a powerful vampire, but he also feared that his project would come to a dead end without Eric's financial back-up.
Of course, as money is always the deciding factor in most cases, for humans and vampires alike, he decided to co-operate though he still glanced wearily back at me for a moment before once again speaking to the waiting, intimidating vampire.
"So be it. If that is how it must be, then I guess I have no choice," he said with a defeated sigh.
I guessed that I would just have to settle with his reluctant tones, after all, Eric had him backed into a corner, and he knew it. He certainly wasn't the first person that I'd come across who had underestimated me upon the first impression, and sadly, wouldn't be the last.
"Maybe you could tell Miss Stackhouse everything that you've already explained to me in order to bring her up to speed," Eric asked the professor.
Much to my surprise, without further protest, the professor turned in his chair to address me directly, "As I was explaining to Mr Northman last night, I have discovered a formula that will allow me to create a vaccine which when administered to the vampire population, will protect them from the effects of sunlight and other ill-effects that they would almost definitely suffer as a result of exposing themselves to the day.
"It started as a theory based upon the process of photosynthesis; that all living things, wether animal or plant, absorb the very light which can aid growth and even create energy.
"I have simply discovered the way in which to completely block out this process, rendering the sun's effects harmless to vampires."
As the professor continued to explain the scientific essentials, which I could luckily just about grasp the concept of, I sat tall, looking confident as I listened to his thoughts at the same time.
I'd long since learnt to be able to listen to what a person said out loud and what they were saying in their thoughts, all at the same time, and without giving them any inclination of what I was doing. Telepaths had to be multi-taskers. It came with the territory.
From what I could tell, the professor was being quite genuine. He figured that once the vaccine was ready for sale, the vampires would pay a pretty penny for it, lining his pockets for the rest of his days.
He was even thinking of the retirement home that he would one day buy. Somewhere quiet out in the suburbs, surrounded by a huge garden and the least amount of neighbours possible.
And of course, there were all the fancy cars that he longed for, none of which would be within his financial reach with the current status of his back account.
He knew that going into businesses with Eric would bathe him in rewards, and how glad he was of being the one to discover the key to aid the vampires. Though quite scared of them himself, he knew that their longer years had meant that the vampires had learnt how to do well for themselves. Maybe they could even ensure his protection should the rest of the human race learn what he'd done to help them.
"Of course," the professor was now saying, "there are other elements that have had to be factored in to the equation, right down to skin pigmentation to optical responses."
"Excuse me," I asked feeling the need to interrupt with an important question, "but has this ever been tested?"
The professor shifted uncomfortably under Eric's intense glare, looking quickly from me to him. Sweat had been building on his brow throughout his explanations, and now it rolled relentlessly down his ruddy face, "No, it hasn't. That is one particular aspect that I was hoping to discuss with you before we are through here this evening."
Eric raised an eyebrow at the professor, "Please, go on."
"Once the vaccine is ready, we shall of course need to test it on a real subject. As it will be the first trial, there are risks involved. Though I am confident I have a winning formula, it may be that it will need to be tweaked further to gain better results."
"In other words, professor, the only way in which we can be one hundred percent certain of it's success, is if one of our kind braves the sunlight after being injected not knowing if it is in fact, a suicide mission?" Eric asked, his tone remaining cool despite the seriousness of what was being discussed.
"As with all such things, there is no way to see all results or even possible side effects until we just go ahead and try it. It is indeed unfortunate, but very necessary.
"The subject would also need to be timed in order to see how long the effects from one dose would last. I believe I have it worked out to exactly a day so far. Maybe in the future with more research, we can develop a longer-lasting potency."
Eric stared silently at the man for a few moments, obviously digesting what he'd been told, while I continued to listen in to the professors head, but there was only what I had already heard. I really couldn't find a fault with him, apart from his initial rude conduct towards me.
Suddenly, Eric stood and started to pace within the small space behind his desk, "Well professor, I shall of course need a little longer to decide, though I believe I'd be able to find a volunteer test subject should we choose to proceed.
"Miss Stackhouse and I shall discuss this further when you leave, and hopefully we will have an answer for you soon."
A nervous smile spread across the professor's face, and just as I thought that his glasses might just slip off his nose, he reached a finger up to push them back, "Thank you, Mr Northman. And may I just ask. The laboratory, will we be able to set it up here if we go ahead? I would of course feel safer in secure surroundings."
"Yes. It would be set up here. If the answer is yes to your project, I will of course want to keep a close eye on you myself. You are not the only one here with trust issues." was Eric's response.
"So?" Eric asked me once the professor had made his exit from the office, "Does he speak the truth?"
I met the closeness of Eric's gaze. He had sat himself on the chair that the professor had just vacated and had scooted it close to me.
"From what I could tell, he is looking forward to the money the vaccine will make for him. He seems to be sure that it will work, in fact, he'd be too frightened to trick vampires. He knows a successful vaccine will bring him far more rewards." I told him.
"Hmmm...." was Eric's simple reply. He looked away from me and gazed upwards thoughtfully, holding his chin in his right hand, his finger tip tapping on his lips as he thought this over even more.
"I honestly think that you can trust him." I added after a moments silence.
"It would certainly be good to walk in the sun again..." Eric said, though it was merely a thought said out loud by accident, from which I could tell meant that Eric had already made up his mind.
"So does this mean you want to go through with this?" I asked, curious to find out for sure.
Eric met my eyes once more and delivered his answer, "Yes. I really think I do."