Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Warning: M Rating is for violence (some that's pretty graphic) and language...maybe something of an adult nature too, but we'll see. Lots of angst, not much fluff, but I do like a happy ending. This story is completely AU, and rather dark, so please be warned. This story starts prior to the Great Revelation and humans in the vampire circles are not the same as they are in the books. Before the revelation, the vampires did not have to answer to human laws, and humans were more like property of their vampire. Not everyone will like this story, so if you don't like it don't read it.

Thank you jdcoke for your proof-reading/editing skills and encouragement, and thank you to Miss-Beckie-Louise for letting me bounce ideas off of you.

Chapter 1: The Fire

I was barely able to drive because of the tears flowing from my eyes. Another job down the drain. Another failure. I cursed my disability. Gran always said that it was a gift. I was pretty darn sure that I would always consider it a disability.

I pulled into the parking lot of an apartment complex. Southern Oaks. I pulled into one of the back parking spaces and put the car into park. I finally let myself break down. I sobbed and tears flowed down my face and dripped into my lap. I hadn't felt like this since I was a child. It was one big pity party. I should be beyond this. I should be stronger. I am a strong independent woman. I should be able to ignore it, but I couldn't. I didn't want to have to ignore all the thoughts bombarding my head every single day.

I'd finally found a new job with a new boss. I really liked my job. I was working at a large public library in Shreveport. It was a long drive, but I couldn't find anywhere in Bon Temps that would be acceptable and it paid reasonably well. Having lived there so long, I knew so many of the secrets, including those of most of the employers in that small town. The only place in town that seemed like it might work was the local bar, Marlotte's. The owner had just bought and refurbished the place and seemed like a decent guy. His thoughts were also much harder to hear, they were hazy. However, listening to a bunch of drunk people all day long wasn't something that I wanted to do. Plus, I loved to read, so a library seemed like the perfect place to work.

Peter, my boss at the library, seemed decent and he had a reputation as a good boss. What I hadn't known until today was that he was a child molester. You see, I did my best to stay out of people's heads. I didn't want to know people's deepest, darkest secrets nor did they want me to know. But today his wife came by with his kids. I stood there in shock for a minute. My general rule is that I never do anything about the thoughts I hear because, frankly, who's going to believe me? I have no proof. But today when I heard his thoughts and the thoughts of his little girl, I just couldn't let it go this time. So I outed him to his wife.

I couldn't just let it go could I? It just wouldn't be right. I know what it's like to be preyed upon by a family member. I wouldn't and couldn't let that continue in good conscience.

His wife didn't believe me of course. She thought I was infatuated with her husband or something. It wasn't until the little girl broke down and admitted that there was something going on that his wife actually listened to both of us.

Poor little girl. Only five years old. Better for her mother to find out now. At least she knows now. At least the little girl won't have to try to convince her mother, only to not be believed.

That's what happened to me when I was a small child. I tried telling my mother, but she told me to stop making up stories. It wasn't until my parents died and my brother and I moved in with my Gran that I was believed. My Gran was an intuitive lady and even though it was her own brother, she still believed me. She told him to leave and never come back. It was such a tremendous relief for me. I don't think about it much anymore, but sometimes hearing people's thoughts…well, I can't just let that kind of thing go.

I sighed and looked out my window. The tears had finally stopped and I was exhausted from my emotional outburst. I was blankly looking at one of the apartments in the complex across the parking lot, not really even thinking, when some minds started shouting at me. My eyes darted around, trying to figure out what was going on. There was smoke pouring from the building I'd been watching. I had been so zoned out that I hadn't even seen what was right in front of my eyes.

Suddenly there was a deafening explosion and part of the building collapsed. Concrete and bricks went flying. Thick black smoke and dust rose above the debris like a mushroom cloud. I got out of my car and ran toward the building. The fire was raging now and there were screams coming from inside, both out loud and inside my head.

I wasn't an expert by any means but the fire seemed to be spreading quickly. By the time I got to the building, there were several neighbors helping people get out. The front door to the building had been propped open and I ran inside.

"Help me please!" A woman cried out. She was attempting to carry an elderly man, but he was too large for her.

"I'll grab his arms, you grab his legs!" I yelled. The sound of the fire was much louder than I would have expected. It was hard to even hear myself. We managed to carry him together, though it was difficult. Parts of the ceiling above us were falling. The building was falling apart around us, but we made it out.

By the time we got out of there, the police and firefighters were there and they took over. We were told to get back and I watched with rapt attention behind the plastic barricades as they started spraying down the flames. I watched the firefighters going in and out and soon they declared that nobody was left inside, but I could still hear screaming in my head.

I hated letting people know about my gift but this was a child. I flagged down one of the firefighters walking past me with an ax slung over his shoulder.

"Miss, you need to let us do our job. You can't go in and try to save your possessions," he said, exasperated.

I was slightly offended. "Sir, there's someone still in there. A child."

"How do you know?" he asked, looking back toward the building.

"I heard something," I said.

"Where?" Good. Straight and to the point.

I closed my eyes for a second trying to pinpoint the voice. I'd never used my disability like this. "Third floor. There's a man and a little boy in the bathroom," I said pointing toward the center of the destruction. The man was unconscious but I could hear the boy trying to wake him up. I opened my eyes and immediately knew I'd made a mistake.

The fireman was looking at me with suspicion. Unfortunately, so was the policeman that had stopped behind him.

After staring at me for several seconds, the fireman took off with a couple of his comrades. That just left me and the policeman. I did my best to look innocent and demure, but I could hear from his thoughts that it made me look more suspicious.

"Miss, how do you know exactly where they are?" he asked, taking out his notebook.

"I just had a feeling," I said warily.

"You had a feeling."

"Miss, I'm going to need to take you in for questioning," he said. He took out his handcuffs and I instinctively took a step back.

"Do you really plan on fighting me on this?" he asked, getting a predatory look on his face.

"Am I under arrest?" I asked. How would I explain that to Gran?

"You are being detained on suspicion of arson," he said and then proceeded to handcuff my hands behind my back. I was numb with the shock of it.

Several hours later after being asked question after question that I couldn't answer, I was starting to get scared. I was sitting at a table in an interrogation room sitting across from two of the most muscular police officers I had ever seen. They looked like professional body builders. Only one was speaking. The other gave me sympathetic looks now and then. I think they were supposed to be playing good cop/bad cop, but the good cop was a little too intimidating for that to be very effective. I'm an average woman with two huge muscular men hovering over me, one of them yelling, while I'm being interrogated for a crime of which I was innocent. Excuse me for being a little intimidated.

"Look, Miss Stackhouse. We know that you're lying. What part did you have in this?"

I repeated the same answer I'd been giving them all night. "I was upset when I was driving so I pulled into the parking lot and then I noticed the fire. I was just trying to help."

"Eye witnesses have confirmed that you sat in your car for a long time watching the fire before you got out to help. Did you have second thoughts?"

"I was thinking. I didn't realize that the building was on fire at first," I said. I was very embarrassed that I hadn't noticed something like that because I was so absorbed in my own troubles. The detective gave me a skeptical look.

"Did you lock the boy and his father in the bathroom before you started the fire? You know, they aren't sure if the father is going to make it. He's covered in burns and has severe smoke inhalation. "

I blanched. "I…I didn't do anything. I just… I heard something from that part of the building." I cringed because I knew I wasn't sounding very convincing; their thoughts confirmed that.

"Were you getting revenge? Were you angry when you found out he was married?" Good Cop asked.

"I…I don't even know them. I was just trying to help."

I know you are involved somehow. Why were you in Shreveport in the first place?

"I'm not involved. I was in Shreveport because I work there. I was upset because I just quit my job," I answered. After a couple seconds of silence, I realized that he hadn't asked me that question out loud. I kept doing that more and more as I was getting more flustered. I knew that was their goal, which made me even more frustrated.

"How did…"

"I don't'…" I said at the same time.

The quiet one finally spoke up and interrupted us. "Jerry, could you give me and Miss Stackhouse a minute alone?"

"Sure. We're not getting anywhere here. Look, Miss Stackhouse, you need to think really carefully about what you are doing here. If that man dies, you'll be charged with murder. If you start cooperating with us, the judge will take that into consideration. I understand that people make mistakes. It's time for you to own up to yours. Detective Danielson here is a good cop, you can trust him." With that he left the room, leaving me with the quiet one.

"I know you've had a very long day, Miss Stackhouse," Detective Danielson said sympathetically.

"I really don't know anything," I cried. I was so frustrated, so tired, and on the verge of tears. Plus I'd been having a hard time keeping myself shielded. As soon as that thought crossed my mind my mental shields collapsed and the minds of the entire building were talking in my head. I couldn't keep them out.

I took a couple deep breaths and slowly pushed back the thoughts and soon they were at least at a manageable volume.

I know what you are, Detective Danielson said.

"I don't know what you're talking about."

I think you do know what I'm talking about. I don't think you're crazy.

"I'm not crazy," I whispered.

I know you're not. It must be so hard hearing people's thoughts all the time.

"It is!" I exclaimed as I looked back up at the policeman. That was when I realized he hadn't been speaking out loud. Once again, I'd messed up. I was usually so much better than this but I was so upset and tired, it was so hard to keep track of.

"Don't be afraid, Miss Stackhouse. I know you didn't start that fire. I'll get Officer Peterson off your case. The man that was injured wasn't really hurt that badly. The doctors have him intubated right now, but he should be able to answer questions soon," he admitted.

"Oh, thank God," I rushed. "I didn't start the fire, but I was so worried about them. The little boy was so scared and all he could think about was how he didn't want his daddy to die. No child should ever have to worry about their parents dying."

"That's true," he agreed gently. "I'd like to ask you about your gift though, if that's alright with you."

"It's really more of a curse," I interjected.

He chuckled at me and I immediately felt more at ease. "I must disagree with you there. That little boy and his father wouldn't be alive right now if it wasn't for you and your gift." He leaned back in his chair and smiled at me.

I blushed. "I've never really thought about it like that. I've never been able to use it to help anyone before. I usually spend all my energy trying to keep everyone's thoughts out." It was so nice to have someone to talk to about this. Someone who didn't think I was unbalanced or lying.

"Is it hard? Keeping the thoughts out?" he asked.

"Oh yes. It takes so much energy to keep it all out. I have to constantly concentrate on my shields so I don't go crazy, but that makes people think that I am crazy because sometimes I can't pay attention to what's being said versus what's being thought. Then I'm constantly having to keep my body from betraying what I'm hearing. People think awful things sometimes but I always have to concentrate on not letting my face betray the fact that they are thinking about killing their boss or having an affair with their secretary…or so many other things. I try to remember that people can't help their thoughts, but I truly wish I didn't have to hear it."

"I can imagine," he said calmly.

We talked for a long time, so long in fact that he asked somebody to go to a coffee shop for me to get me a latte, which was really nice of him. I explained how I figured out how to shield, how different people sounded differently, and my range. I realized as I was talking that I never really figured out some of the capabilities of my disability. Detective Danielson kept trying to get me to call it a gift, but I know the truth of it and I don't think I will ever call it a gift.

"Miss Stackhouse, this has been a fascinating discussion. Thank you so much for sharing this with me. Now, let me go see about getting you out of here, shall I?" he asked with a big smile.

"Oh, that would be great, detective. It's been a really long day and I'm sure my Gran will be super worried about me," I said sincerely.

I shook his hand and he left me alone in the room. I waited and waited…and then I waited some more. Finally the door opened and a different man came in. He was dressed sharply, in a black suit.

"Agent Dupree, NSA," he said in a sharp voice as he flashed me his official looking badge.

"Miss Sookie Stackhouse, you are being taken into custody for suspected terroristic acts and you are being considered a national security risk. Under the US Patriot Act you will be held in federal custody pending investigation of these charges." He went on and on but I stopped listening. I was in shock. I thought I was getting out of there. I thought Detective Danielson was being nice. I thought he understood that I was only trying to help. I thought…I thought I could trust him. I felt like a fool.

And that was how I became a prisoner, of the federal government, and a slave to that government's whims.

Hope you enjoyed the first chapter! Thanks for reading!