DISCLAIMER: Characters and setting from Charlaine Harris. Portrayal elements borrowed from True Blood/Alan Ball.
If you don't know the song, "Fairytale of New York" by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, STOP READING RIGHT NOW AND GO LISTEN. There's a link on my profile. Also see the "Story Setting" link. The story unfolds like a play, so I put together a little diagram of the scene. I hope you enjoy the story.
A cold Christmas Eve in Bon Temps, Louisiana…
Sookie Stackhouse stormed up the steps of the Bon Temps police station. Surprised to find the door unlocked, she flung it open and rushed inside. She ignored the clamor as the door banged heavily against the side of the building before slamming shut behind her.
It was Christmas Eve and Sookie was not in a good mood. Having left work in a hurry, her red coat—a past Christmas gift—remained unbuttoned. Worried, she hadn't taken the time to change out of her work uniform. The fact that she was still wearing a long sleeved tee that smelled of grease and beer and a pair of black ketchup-stained slacks fueled her overall sense of irritation.
Once inside, Sookie glanced around the station. A counter separated the public entrance from the area that housed the officers' desks. In addition to the desks, metal file cabinets and shelves were positioned along the walls. Directly in the back were the evidence and meeting rooms. To the right, in the rear, were the restrooms and a back door. Off to the left, there were two short corridors. The one at the rear of the building led to two interrogation rooms, the kitchen and the storage room. The one at the front led to four windowless holding cells.
Realizing how empty the station seemed, Sookie wondered where the heck everyone was? She knew someone had to be there to keep an eye on their idiot suspect (or was it suspected idiot?) Besides, she thought she could hear rustling from one of the back rooms. Impatient— and anxious to get the hell out of there—Sookie called out.
"Hey! Andy? Kenya? Kevin?"
"Hello?" she tried again.
"Where the hell is everybody?" She mumbled into the silence.
Then she heard a familiar voice.
Sookie took a deep breath.
Her initial thought of Thank God he's okay was immediately followed by I'm gonna kill him.
"Yes. In here."
"Yeah, well, I need you out here." Standing in front of the counter, she leaned her body far over the countertop to project her voice down the holding cell corridor. "I came to get you outta here but I was planning on doing it the old fashioned way! BAIL!" She snorted in frustration. "Afraid I need to talk to Andy or somebody 'cause I just don't have a nail file on me."
"Wouldn't expect anything else."
"Yeah? That right?" Quietly seething, Sookie could feel the adrenalin spreading throughout her body. His calmness only served to agitate her further. "Not sure what you expect, Eric. I certainly didn't expect to be bailing you out of jail," she paused, "AGAIN." No, she amended that. She wasn't surprised to be bailing him out of jail a second time. She was, however, really fucking surprised she was doing it on Christmas Eve! "AT LEAST NOT ON CHRISTMAS EVE!" she hollered down the corridor.
Sookie took another breath. She knew her anger was the only thing keeping her from succumbing to tears. What the hell? she thought. She wanted to understand. Really. Maybe—just maybe—there was a good reason for her to be bailing his gorgeous ass out of jail on Christmas Eve. Maybe.
She sure as hell hoped so.
Staring blindly ahead of her, she bit down on her lower lip. She figured it wasn't going to get any easier.
"Eric, can you tell me just why I'm bailing you out of jail on Christmas Eve?"
"Sookie," he started and then stopped.
She waited a few seconds before speaking again.
"Do NOT fucking say it's complicated, Eric. Don't. Just. Don't."
"What do you want me to say?"
"Oh, I don't know," she huffed. "Maybe you could tell me the truth."
"Sookie," he paused. How could he possibly explain? "It was a miscommunication."
Sookie felt her jaw drop open. 'Catching flies' is how her dead grandmother would have described the look. 'I'm gonna kill him with my bare hands' is how she'd come to regard it over the past year.
Miscommunication? How did a fucking miscommunication land him in jail on Christmas Eve?
Unable to speak at first, she let out a sigh of frustration.
"Miscommunication?" Hearing the high-pitched tone of her voice, she hated how squeaky she sounded.
What the hell has he done to me? she cringed. She inhaled deeply.
"Miscommunication?" She was proud her voice sounded more solid the second time. Unfortunately, for him, his excuse still sounded fucking ridiculous.
"ERIC!" She cried out in frustration. "You got into a fucking fight on Christmas Eve! You're sitting in jail. I had to take off from my shift to come and bail you out of jail and the best you can do is 'miscommunication'?" Pausing for a moment, her next words sounded strangled. "What kind of fool do you take me for?"
There was no response at first. Then, in a low voice, she heard him reply.
"Not a fool, lover."
Hearing the old term of endearment—one that hadn't been uttered much lately—Sookie felt herself buckle.
Be strong, Sook, she told herself. You are bailing him out of jail and then you're going home. Alone. Do not fold.
"Eric." Anxious to get through to him, she attempted to channel all her pain and frustration into that one word. "I know what you do sometimes turns into situations, but it's Christmas Eve." She was pleading. She felt the tears welling up. "What happened?"
After a moment, he responded.
"I was just doing my job, Sookie."
"WELL, WHY ISN'T YOUR FUCKING BOSS HERE BAILING YOU OUT? Huh? So, where are they?" she called down to him. "Why didn't they arrange for your bail? You're here because of them, right?"
His silence cut at her. All she could think was: Please give me a real answer, Eric. Please.
When, at last, he spoke—and offered something more than a platitude—Sookie felt a wave of relief.
"Yes. I'm here because of them. Sophie shot her mouth off at one of her business associates and I got into a pissing match with the other bodyguard."
Sookie was quiet as she digested this piece of information. Afraid of the answer, she had to push herself to ask the next question.
"How come you're the only one here? Why wasn't he arrested?"
"He will be. When he's released from the hospital."
No. No. No. No.
"What…?" She couldn't even finish.
"I broke his nose."
Closing her eyes, Sookie took another deep breath. Initially comforted by the fact that the other guy walked away with only a broken nose, her relief was short-lived.
This time, she thought. The other guy walked away this time.
When her blue eyes opened, there were tears streaming down her face.
"Yes?" He was wary. He could hear the tears in her voice. He knew that that part of the story would upset her.
"What happened?" Her voice cracking, she paused to collect herself. "I mean to us. Not tonight. What happened to us? You taking that job with Sophie-Anne was supposed to be temporary. I mean," pausing, she darted her eyes around the police station. "We agreed. I don't like what you do. The violence. The hours." Frustrated, Sookie could no longer keep the pleading tone out of her voice. "You know what she is, Eric! Don't let her tell you different."
Even though he couldn't see her, Eric could hear his girlfriend's sobs from inside his cell.
"Why are you doing this to us?" she asked. Blinking away tears, she could hear the incredulity in her voice. And it was incredible. She still couldn't believe the turns their lives had taken.
It started when a budget crisis cost Eric his job as an officer on the Shreveport Police Department. He'd landed on his feet with a too-good-to-be-true position as a bodyguard to the beautiful and enigmatic Sophie-Anne LeClerq. Eric wasn't long on the job when Sookie realized why the pay was so high. Sophie-Anne's business dealings were as crooked as a dog's hind legs. The icing on the cake was that, even if his position were to be reinstated, with his stint in Sophie-Anne's employ, Eric couldn't go back to the force. If not an out-and-out dirty cop, he was at least a cop who somehow managed to land near trash an awful lot. This was his second arrest since starting the job.
From inside his cell, Eric was quiet. Sookie, of course, had every right to be upset that it was Christmas Eve and that they were arguing across the bars of a jail cell. He did not agree with her that he was entirely to blame.
Suddenly a brusque voice could be heard as someone emerged from the evidence room.
"Hey, Sookie. Come to bail out lover boy?"
Sookie, quickly wiping her eyes on her sleeve, lowered herself to the floor and looked up to see Andy Bellefleur coming towards her. Formerly a detective, Andy had recently become sheriff when the old sheriff, Bud Dearborn, retired.
"Hi, Andy," she greeted him with a somber smile. Figuring a cheery holiday greeting was in order, she manufactured a gaiety she was far from feeling. "Merry Christmas!"
"Merry Christmas to you," he nodded. "It's gonna be $5,000 to get him out this time."
Sookie's eyes shot open.
"WHAT? $5,000? I haven't got that kind of money in my account. Why so much? It's only—like his second offense?" As she said these last words, she cringed. Somehow she knew, as she said them, that they were wrong.
Andy grunted and fell silent. Turning his head, he shouted down the holding cell corridor.
"Hey, Rambo! Your girlfriend seems to think it's only your second offense. I'm not one for throwing folks under the bus. One of us is going to have to tell her," Andy paused, nearly imperceptibly but Sookie caught it, "the truth. I can do it. Or you can. Either way—until further notice—your bail's $5,000."
Sookie heard Eric sigh.
"I'll tell her, Andy. Do you think we could have some privacy?"
"Oh," Andy nodded. "You two need a moment?" he asked, glancing at Sookie.
Holding her breath, Sookie just looked pleadingly at Andy. She nodded.
Andy, realizing his sarcasm was completely lost on the couple, snorted in frustration. Finally, he snarled out a reply.
"What's wrong with you two?" he grunted. "This is a goddamn police station. Not the Oprah Damn Winfrey Show."
Debating his next step, Andy's visage displayed a mix of emotions. Staring at Sookie's tear-stained face, he relented with a sound of disgust.
"All right!" he barked.
Lifting up the countertop that separated the entrance from the interior of the station, Andy gestured for Sookie to walk through. He pointed to the holding cell corridor.
"There he is. Cell 3. Only one we got," Andy shook his head. He liked Sookie Stackhouse. He was sorry she kept getting herself caught up with jackasses, although he had to concede Northman wasn't the jackass caliber of a Quinn or a Compton. Maybe just a bit of a hothead. Truthfully, Andy didn't know what went down that night. Somebody fucked up. That's all he knew. "Stupid as the morons in this town are, your boyfriend here was the only one stupid enough to get himself arrested on Christmas Eve."
Sookie met Andy's eyes. Always rather grumpy, the man certainly knew how to rub people the wrong way. She usually chose to look for his good qualities. Since it was Christmas, she saw no reason to deviate from her usual routine.
"Thanks for letting me back here to talk to him. I promise we'll be quick."
"Yeah, well. With him here, it's not like I can go home," he shrugged. "You might as well take all the time you need."
"Oh, Andy! I'm so sorry!" She really was. It hadn't occurred to her that Eric being in lockup was the only thing keeping Andy there. No one deserved to have to work on the holiday. Not when they had something better they could be doing.
"It's okay. I didn't have anywhere else to be."
Sookie nodded, smiling at the gruff sheriff. Andy lived with his sister Portia, a rather shrill and uptight lawyer, and their grandmother, Old Caroline Bellefleur, who'd been at death's door for the past 20 years. Sookie figured he probably welcomed a little quiet time out of the house every now and again.
Sookie started down the corridor. The Bon Temps Police Station, although small, was new and clean. As she made her way to Eric's cell, it crossed her mind that it was like starring in a Susan Sarandon movie.
I wish, she sighed.
Stopping a couple of feet in front of the cell, Sookie looked up at her boyfriend. Eric studied her through the bars. Their eyes met and held. She felt moisture pool around her rims and then everything went blurry.
"Eric—" she took the remaining steps to the cell and reached out for him through the bars. Eric grabbed her hand, and, turning it over, he brought it to his lips and gently kissed her palm.
Sookie flattened herself against the bars, and Eric did his best to kiss her forehead. Comforted by his presence, she allowed herself a moment's respite. Without meaning to, she started to sob. Soon silent tears wracked her body.
As much as it pained him to see her like that, Eric knew his lover was made of tougher things. Sure enough, she soon ceased crying, and, yanking her hand away, she accidentally slammed it into a bar. Letting out an exasperated "Ouch! Fuck!" she proceeded to glare at him.
And there's my girl, he thought, not unpleased. She was a fighter and he wouldn't have her any other way.
"Okay, Eric—" she stopped. "Tell me what the fuck happened. Now. No more of your damn lies!"
"Sookie, you know I don't lie to you—"
"Foof, Eric!" She interrupted him. "Semantics. Whatever. There's something called 'lies of omission.' Look it up! I know you don't want to get me caught up in whatever criminal shit Sophie-Anne and that insane lackey of hers are involved in, but guess what? I'm in a fucking police station on Christmas Eve bailing your ass out of jail. Again. So, the time for thinking you're not involving me is long past." She stopped. "Well?"
Six feet, four inches and broad-shouldered, Eric carried himself with a grace unusual for a man of his size. He ran his fingers through his hair. Since he'd been released from the force, he'd taken to wearing his blond hair—nearly the same shade as Sookie's—at shoulder length. Recalling his concern when he'd decided to let the military cut grow out, he grinned. Sookie hadn't complained. It turned out she liked to run her fingers through his longish hair. She also liked to grab it once in a while.
His mind so wondering, he ached for her touch. Seeing the murderous glint in her eye, it occurred to him that perhaps he ought to be grateful for the bars that separated them. Studying her face, Eric thought it looked like nothing—in that moment—would please her more than to kick him in the nuts.
Standing with his hands on his hips, he cast his eyes downward and stared at the floor tiles as he considered what to tell her. Looking up, he saw she was quietly watching him. She raised an eyebrow, silently challenging him to tell her the truth.
Fuck, he thought. What if I tell her and it puts her in danger?
Somehow his face masked his internal debate. From her vantage point, Sookie saw only her stubborn boyfriend trying to decide whether or not he was going to share his big secret.
"How many times have you been arrested? Huh?" He didn't answer. "Who bailed you out? Sophie-Anne? Franklin?" Still he was silent.
Sookie's anger was rapidly turning into frustration and despair.
"Eric," her voice was softer, insistent. Don't let this be the end. Please. "Please tell me what's going on." Sighing, it came out as a half-sob. "If I can't trust you—." She couldn't even finish the thought, which was: If I can't trust you, how can I stay with you?
How could he throw everything away like this? Everything they worked for? Everything they planned for? Everything they'd dreamt of? At a loss, she fell silent. Finally she realized she had to say something, anything.
"You…" she sighed. "It's like you're taking all my dreams from me…and…" Her words died on her lips as her soft voice was lost to the echo of the overhead lights.
Eric flinched as if she had slapped him. Although her thoughts lost their verbal transmission, Eric knew from her eyes what she meant. It took him a few moments to regain his composure.
"Lover, I've kept those dreams. They're here." Putting a hand through the bars, he took one of hers and placed it on his heart. "I put them with my own." With his other hand, he caressed her cheek.
Sookie closed her eyes. His words opened her heart like no others ever would. Yet, in that moment, they also tore at her soul like no others could.
"Eric, if you don't tell me what's going on," choking on tears, she stopped. "If you don't tell me what's going on, we're done. The truth. Now. And not some edited version of the truth. You tell me what's going on! Right now!"
Glancing blindly down the corridor, Eric considered the matter. She was right. She was involved. Not telling her might cause her as much or more danger than telling her. Was it worth losing her? Was anything worth losing her? Knowing the answer to that, he made his decision.
"I do not work for Sophie-Anne LeClerq." Eric nodded at Sookie's stunned face. He continued. "When I was let go from the force, the FBI picked me up. I've been undercover since then. So, yes, I'm there as her bodyguard, but really I'm there to keep my eye on her."
Sookie knew her face had that 'catching flies' look on it again.
"But…" What exactly was she supposed to say next? She wondered absently if there might be an appropriate episode of Dr. Phil she could watch: 'Questions to Ask if You Find Out Your Boyfriend is a Secret Agent.' "But the arrests?" Glancing over towards the desk area, she looked for Andy. She lowered her voice. "Does Andy know?"
A loud voice, carrying over from the other room, interrupted their quiet conversation.
"Well, if I didn't know before, I sure as hell would now. Didn't they teach you anything at 'Secret Squirrelly School'?" Andy paused. "If the Feds courted you, they must've been desperate."
Sookie, startled, stomped over to the end of the corridor and glared at Andy.
"Andy? How is it you can hear us whispering like six yards away? You got vampire hearing or something?"
Andy, looking up from his desk, threw her a disgusted look.
"Geez, you're 'bout as sharp as your boy-toy over there." Shaking his head, Andy stood up. Walking to the cell corridor, he grabbed Sookie by the arm and pulled her a few feet into the corridor. He pointed to the ceiling.
"Oh," he mimicked her voice derisively, "a camera." He nodded. "And an audio recorder. Plays on my monitor," he jerked his head gesturing back towards his desk. "This is a jail, Sookie. Not your love nest."
"Bellefleur, can you please dispense with the sarcasm?"
"What, Northman? You say something? Not only do you Feds manage to fuck up your investigation, but you manage to do it in Bon Temps. You couldn't somehow rein in Operation: Fuck Up until you were back on home court, huh? You know Shreveport's got a 24/7 lock-up. How is it I gotta be stuck here on Christmas Eve with you two? Blonde and Blonder? Huh?"
Sookie made a face at Andy. Apparently he was more annoyed at working on Christmas Eve than he originally let on.
Unexpectedly there was a tapping at the front door. Andy, who had locked it before settling down at his desk, frowned as he eyeballed the latest visitor.
"Jesus. Another blonde." Dropping Sookie's arm, he walked over to the counter. "You expecting more members of ABBA?" he called out to Eric.
Eric decided to ignore the second part of Andy's commentary and focus on the first.
"You said blonde? Not red-head?"
"Red-head?" Andy's face took on another disgusted look. "Northman, you think I don't know what Sophie-Anne LeClerq looks like? For fuck's sake, you may be a graduate of the Keystone Kops Police School, but I'm not." He grunted. "Woman outside is definitely a blonde. Designer clothes. Four inch heels." Andy paused. "Aw, great. Now, she's waving a Glock."
"That would be Pam Ravenscroft. She's FBI."
"Of course, she is. Well, it would be more helpful if she waved her goddamn badge, instead of her gun."
"She's a bit of a character."
"Yeah, I see that, Northman."
Lifting the countertop up, Andy walked over to the front door, unlocked it, and opened it slightly.
"Yeah? Can I help you?"
Pam Ravenscroft gave Andy a once over. Head to toe, pausing slightly at his midsection. Finally she answered.
"Highly doubtful." She smiled coldly at the sheriff. "I'm looking for Special Agent Northman. Is he here?"
Andy grunted. His face squinted as he restrained himself from giving her a piece of his mind. Then he just decided 'why the hell not'?
"I'd be a pretty sorry excuse for a cop if Northman wasn't here, now wouldn't I? Oh, I know. Maybe I'd get a job with the Feds." He pushed the door open for her. "Jesus, lady, what the hell kind of operation you folks running over there? You were supposed to do this shit in Shreveport. You know we're barebones out here. Unless maybe you're on LeClerq's payroll, too, and the goal all along was to fuck it up."
Pam, meanwhile, had wandered past the counter into the station and was surveying the facility with a critical eye.
"I am sorry. I did not get your name?"
"Andy Bellefleur. I'm the sheriff."
"Sheriff Andy?" She smiled. "That's rich."
Andy's face turned beet red. He'd had enough of that comparison to last a lifetime.
"Listen, up. Folks either call me Sheriff or Andy. Nobody calls me 'Sheriff Andy.' That goes for you G-Men, too. I don't answer to you. Especially when you're running Operation: Fuck Up and putting my people in danger."
Pam set a bemused gaze on him. She actually did find him amusing. But she wasn't there for amusement. She was there to get Northman.
"Right here, Pam. No need to shout."
"Yes, well. I'm afraid I have disturbing news and I want you to hear it loud and clear."
As Pam made her way past Sookie, she stole a glance at her. Sookie had, with Pam's arrival, positioned herself at the end of the corridor where she could keep an eye on both Eric and the front door.
Eric, his hands on the bars, was leaning forward in his the cell.
"Before you tell me the news, you think we can get me out of the cell?" Eric asked.
"Sure, Northman." Pam turned to Andy who was now standing at the end of the cell corridor.
"Sheriff An-" she started and stopped. She gave him a professional nod. "Sheriff."
With a silent scrunch of his face, Andy took out his keys and walked over to unlock Eric's cell.
Eric, free for the first time in hours, made it over to Sookie in two steps, taking her in his arms.
"Eric." It felt good to be in his arms again. Even if he was a big lying a-hole.
Pam, watching, smirked.
"Eric," she interrupted. "Are you going to introduce me to your friend?"
Eric glanced over at Pam, a frown on his face.
"Pam Ravenscroft, Sookie Stackhouse."
The two women nodded perfunctory greetings, before Pam turned her attention back to Eric.
"Eric, there's good news and bad news. The good is we picked up LeClerq. Between the conversations on the last few tapes and what you got, we should be able to put her away."
That's really good news, Eric thought.
"Bad news is Mott got away and your cover was compromised."
Eric's immediate reaction was a slight raise of his eyebrow.
"Hm, not good," he said thoughtfully.
"Eric?" Unsure of the implications of Pam's revelation, Sookie gazed uncertainly at her boyfriend. "Eric? What does she mean?"
"Sookie," he held her hand, "it's possible Mott will seek me out—"
"Seek you out? Why? What for?" Sookie's eyes opened wide as realization hit. "To kill you?" Stunned, she couldn't keep the disbelief out of her voice. "He can't do that! Can he?" Sookie gasped. "That crazy, pasty-faced nutjob! Even my gran would've called him one fry short of a Happy Meal!"
Out of the blue, Pam smiled.
"Eric, she's quite the charmer. Where've you been hiding her?"
"Pam..." Eric shot a death glare at his colleague.
Pam responded with a quirked eyebrow.
Eric turned back to Sookie.
"Sookie," he figured honesty was best at this point, "I'm certain he will be apprehended in short order." He turned to his colleague for confirmation. "Pam?"
"Eric, let me put it to you this way: how would you like to transfer to New York?"
"What?" Eric and Sookie replied in unison. "New York? What the heck is in New York?" Sookie squawked.
"Just an idea."
Thoughtfully, Eric looked at Pam.
"No," Pam responded. "Not at all. Just a transfer to the New York bureau." Pam was silent for a moment before she spoke again. "What do you think of the name 'Niall Brigant'? You like it?"
Eric just repeated, "Nye-all?"
Pam nodded before looking at Sookie.
"Hm, I don't know where you got your name, Sookie Stackhouse, but if you're fond of alliteration, how about we call you 'Claudine Crane'?"
"'Claudine Crane'? What the hell?" She turned to her boyfriend. "Is she serious? Eric, what the hell is she talking about?"
"Sookie, calm down," he caressed her arms, trying to soothe her. "This is the first time I'm hearing of this as well."
Appalled by what he was hearing, Andy injected himself into the conversation.
"Jesus! I was joking with you all about being the Keystone Kops. Wasn't far off, was I?"
With slanted eyes, Pam gave Andy a cold look. Deciding to ignore him, she turned her attention back to Eric and Sookie.
"Sookie, what do you do?"
Stunned and on autopilot, Sookie answered.
"I work as a waitress and take classes at LSU in environmental studies."
"Environmental studies, huh? So you like the environment?" Pam leveled a curious gaze at the younger woman. "Maybe we could get you a job at the EPA. They take bleeding heart types. Or even FEMA!" Pam nodded her head thoughtfully. "Both agencies are in the same building as the Bureau. You two could take the subway together." She looked back and forth between the couple, who had fallen silent. "So? What do you say?" Silence. Eric and Sookie just stared at Pam, puzzled. Piqued by their hesitation, Pam let out a sound of exasperation. "You know some would regard moving to New York City as a dream come true. A fairy tale ending, even."
At once, Eric and Sookie both responded to Pam.
"Uh? That so? Not me…" Sookie said, shaking her head.
"New York? Perhaps…"
Sookie shot around to look at Eric so fast, Andy instinctively took a step back.
"ERIC! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!" Eyes wide, she found herself furious at her boyfriend. Again. "No fucking way am I moving to New York! I don't care what…" Disgusted, she waved a dismissive hand at Pam. "What…Donatella over here says. You can move to New York but I'm not going anywhere!"
"Sookie, please." A hand on each of her shoulders, Eric attempted to calm her by gently stroking her arms.
Sighing, she closed her eyes. For a split second she almost forgot to be mad at him. Almost.
"NO! Eric!" She shrugged his hands off her. "Get your hands off me! I'm not moving. I can't believe you had all this crazy shit going on and you never felt like you should tell me," she hissed at him.
"I didn't tell you because I was protecting you," his eyes begged her to believe him. "I love you, Sookie."
Caught in each other's gaze, blue eyes locked onto blue eyes.
Without warning, the lights flickered. Soon after, darkness filled the police station.
"Aw, hell!" Although it was unseen in the darkness, Andy threw an irate glare at Pam. "Don't suppose you checked to make sure you weren't followed? Huh, Blondie?"
"I don't suppose you forgot to pay your Podunk electric bill?" she snapped back.
Andy grunted and, grabbing a flashlight off a shelf, left to check the fuse box in the storage room.
With Andy's departure, Sookie held on tightly to Eric's hand.
"Eric, I have a bad feeling about this."
Apparently so did Pam, whose voice was the next one to ring out in the darkness.
"Northman. You carrying?"
"Pam, I was just sitting in a jail cell. What do you think?"
Pam hiked up her skirt and pulled a second Glock from her hip holster. She handed it to Eric.
"Don't say I never gave you anything."
"Don't worry. I won't," Eric rolled his eyes as he took the gun.
All of a sudden the sound of a gunshot and simultaneous glass shattering exploded in the darkness.
"What the hell?" Sookie cried out in surprise.
"Mott! Get down!" Eric shielded Sookie and pushed her down to the floor. Pam advanced toward the front, crouching low and taking cover behind the counter.
Just then the back-up emergency lighting kicked on and the room was awash in a dim yellowy glow. Andy picked that moment to return.
"I got the emergency lights on. Not sure—"
A second popping was heard and Andy wordlessly slid to the floor. He crawled to position himself behind the counter, to the right of the opening.
"Jesus," Andy gasped. "I can't believe I got shot because of you idiots."
Pam, passing by the opening in a flash, crawled over to tend to his wound.
"Chins up, Sheriff Lobo. It's just a graze. You'll be fine. Well, if you lose 20 pounds. Otherwise, all bets are off."
"Geez, princess," Andy retorted, "I suppose the guys are just lining up to hear that mouth of yours."
As she finished tying her scarf around his shoulder as a tourniquet, Pam gave him a look. Even in the dim light, Andy would've sworn she looked hurt.
"Yes, well," Pam huffed, "fortunately, that is nothing you need concern yourself with, Sheriff Andy."
Annoyed at Pam's use of the detested term, and annoyed at himself for briefly feeling sorry for insulting her, Andy made a face.
Silently observing their heated exchange, Eric's impatience boiled over.
"When you two have finished eye-fucking each other, can we get on with business?"
"Seriously!" Sookie injected. "Remember the crazy guy with a gun trying to kill us? Speaking of…Andy, I can handle a shotgun if you got an extra one?"
Andy looked over at Sookie. He figured between her daddy and brother she was at least as good a shot if not better than that namby-pamby Kevin. With his good arm, Andy dug his keys out of a pocket and slid them across the floor to where Sookie and Eric were huddled, on the other side of the counter opening.
"Shotgun on wall in storage room. Yellow key."
"Sookie, be careful."
"Of course," Sookie paused long enough to give Eric a reassuring smile. Keys in hand, she quickly crawled to the back. She hid herself behind desks, chairs, and file cabinets as she made her way.
Suddenly the sound of more glass shattering and crashing to the floor echoed around them.
"Hallo. Here's Frankie!" a high-pitched English accented voice greeted them. "Started the party without me?"
Although loud and obnoxious, Franklin Mott was also quite affable and eerily reminiscent of a cartoon villain. It would be easy enough to dismiss him as harmless. However, doing so might be a the last mistake of one's life.
Eric, hidden behind the left section of the counter, gradually made his way backwards into the cell corridor. Once obscured from Mott's vision by the corridor wall, Eric stood up drawing his weapon. Pam, still on the floor next to Andy, leaned forward to peer through the counter opening.
Mott, putting his head up against the door's broken glass pane, peered inside the station. Catching a peek of Eric's head as he stood, Mott smiled.
"Is that Eric Northman?" Franklin sounded like he'd just encountered an old high school friend. "How are you? I haven't seen you in forever! It's been what? Five? Six hours? You should text me! So we can communicate! It's important to stay in touch with one's friends!" Franklin laughed. "I've learned how to text quite fast. Why? Because it helps me stay in touch with friends! It's so important! Wouldn't you agree?"
Eric stepped forward to meet Franklin's eyes.
"Mott," Eric nodded.
Franklin Mott nodded.
"Wouldn't you agree, Eric?" Franklin's eyes never moved from Eric's. "That it's important for friends to stay in touch?"
"Friends, yes," Eric nodded.
Pam whispered to Andy.
"Would not security be alerted by the break-in?"
"Guess you didn't hear my pager. Huh, Blondie?"
Pam's initial response was an arched eyebrow.
"What about your colleagues?"
"Kevin was out of town this weekend. Kenya maybe. Stackhouse is a 'Dick On' kind of guy. Don't expect he'll make it out here unless he happens to drive past on his way to get beer," Andy shrugged. "Or rubbers."
Pam's eyes slanted as this information registered.
Hearing the sound of more glass falling, Pam and Andy peered through the counter opening.
At the front of the police station…
"Eric, I'm going to come in so we can speak more easily."
Franklin put a hand through the hole in the glass pane and unlocked the door from the outside. Gingerly pulling his hand back, he then opened the door and walked inside.
"Speak more easily?" Eric grinned ironically. "You mean you want a clean shot to my head."
"Ah! That too. See?" Franklin smiled brilliantly and then shook his head, feigning disappointment. "That's why we were such good friends! You are so very smart! I like smart!" Franklin was nodding, a Smith and Wesson now visible in his hand. "You showed such promise. Sophie-Anne adored you. It was 'Eric did this' and 'Eric did that.' You were her new housebroken puppy! It'll be such a shame when she is released and realizes she's returning to a broken home!"
As an indicator of just how loose his jingle bells rang, Franklin actually sounded genuinely regretful that their little "family" was breaking up.
"I don't think Sophie-Anne will be coming home any time soon, Mott." Eric replied.
"Ah-hah-hah! Don't be too sure. It's amazing—truly amazing—how life has a way of changing on a dime. Especially when there are no witnesses," Franklin paused before completing his thought, "remaining."
Franklin raised his pistol and aimed it at Eric. "Really, Eric, you're much too pretty to waste. It's such a sha—" In a blink of an eye, Franklin was on the floor. "WHAT?" he cried out. "My leg! Who shot me?"
A second bullet clipped Franklin's hand, sending his pistol flying. Eric wasted no time in catapulting himself over the counter to where Mott now lay huddled in front of the door. Without taking his eyes off Mott as he retrieved the injured man's pistol, Eric acknowledged the marksman for their fine shot.
"Thank you, lover."
"Of course, honey," Sookie lowered the shotgun. "Can't let someone else shoot you."
Eric grinned at her words. She was still pissed.
My girl's a unique one, all right.
Behind the counter…
Sookie remained standing, shotgun in position. Franklin Mott was, as Sookie had once described him to her friend Amelia, pale—almost pasty, gawky, pockmarked, and floppy-eared. Recalling how she'd told Ame that Franklin looked "like something the dog's been keepin' under the porch," Sookie almost let out a nervous twitter. She'd just shot him. Twice.
She inhaled and exhaled, willing her body to calm down. She reminded herself of one of her gran's favorite sayings, "pretty is as pretty does."
Sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.
At the front of the police station…
Eric's eyes were glued on Mott.
"Give me the one from your jacket, Mott. I know you carry a second gun."
Eric advanced toward the injured man, now lying prone on the floor. He placed Mott's Smith and Wesson on the counter.
Pam, meanwhile, rose to her feet, Glock firmly in hand.
"Don't try anything, Mott. I've already broken a nail and snagged my hose. I have no patience for this type of shit."
Andy, from where he sat on the floor, glanced up at Pam, an incredulous look on his face.
"What the hell kind of cop are you, anyway?"
Pam nudged him with the toe of her Christian Dior pump.
"The bullet-free kind," Pam smiled.
Andy, startled by her retort, stared at her. Then he let out a snort of laughter.
A slight smile twitching around her mouth, Pam kept her gaze steady on Franklin Mott.
Sookie, still holding the shotgun, approached the front of the station.
"I've got you covered, Eric!" she called out.
"Thank you," Eric replied.
"Ah, so it's the girlfriend, again," Franklin sneered as he pulled his second gun from his jacket pocket and laid it on the floor. "Did your boyfriend tell you about he and Sophie-Anne? How I found them together?"
"Eric, please. Give me some credit for having a brain." Directing her next words at Franklin, her voice was hard. "Listen to me you ugly piece of shit. If Sophie-Anne did have a thing going with Eric, you wouldn't still be around. She would've kicked you to the curb a long time ago. You just don't measure up. Nobody does."
Eric felt a little misty-eyed at her words.
"Sookie," he stopped and took a breath. He'd been meaning to ask her to marry him for a while now. He wasn't sure why he was having such a difficult time asking her. Maybe it was the fact that he hadn't been able to be honest with her about his job. But that time was, thankfully, over. "Sookie, I have been in love with you since nearly the moment we met. I..." taking his eyes off Mott briefly, he focused them on hers "meant what I said before. It goes both ways, Sookie. I've built my dreams around you. I can't live without you. I don't even want to imagine what it would be like to try."
"Eric," Sookie, taken aback, smiled. "I love you, too."
"Will you marry me?"
"Grgh," Franklin moaned. "I hate public displays of emotion! Can't you people learn how to text?" Mott let out a groan of frustration. "Would someone please shoot me? Please? "
"You know," Pam replied with a chilly smile, "that can easily be arranged."
A smile frozen on her face, Sookie's initial thought was: I can't believe he's asking me to marry him NOW! This thought was quickly replaced with YES!
"Yes, Eric! Yes!" Sookie cried out enthusiastically. "Baby, I'd come over there and throw my arms around you but I got the Benelli. You got the Glock," she giggled, "and Franklin's lady gun."
"It's a Beretta! It's not a lady gun."
"Whatever, Franklin," Sookie, smiling, replied.
Everyone started as a new voice abruptly called into the station.
"Hey, Kenya!" Sookie greeted her friend. "Guess what?"
Deputy Sheriff Kenya Jones looked around cautiously as she entered the police station, gun drawn. Gingerly stepping around broken glass in her heels and long skirt, she quickly assessed the situation.
"Sookie Stackhouse, I don't need to guess anything. I've got eyes. The station's been shot up and a bunch of crazy armed white folks took over!"
"You said it sister!" Franklin agreed with her.
"Shut up, white boy!" Kenya nudged him with her foot as she stepped over him. "Who shot pastey?"
"Sookie" Andy called out. "Idiot drew his weapon."
"Yeah, idiot drew his weapon with a Sheriff and a former cop—" Kenya nodded acknowledging Eric.
"Don't forget Pam, Kenya. She's FBI." Sookie threw in. "Oh, it turns out Eric is, too! How about that? Huh?"
"You don't say? Sheriff. Cop. FBI. The barmaid shoots the perp. How you people gonna look at yourselves in the mirror?"
"Right on, sister!" Franklin guffawed at Kenya's chastising her colleagues.
"What did I say to you?" Kenya turned to look at Mott again. "Shut it. I'm not here to amuse you," Looking up at her colleagues and Sookie, Kenya shook her head. "Three cops and the waitress shoots the perp. Damn shame."
"Aw, Kenya! You're being a little hard on 'em, I think," Sookie giggled. "I'm sure someone else would've shot him if I hadn't."
"Maybe," Kenya shrugged. "Good girl, Sook. Glad our time at the range paid off."
"I know! Me too!"
"Sookie, you've been going to the shooting range with Kenya?"
"Why? The better question might be why I didn't do it sooner! Bon Temps isn't like it used to be. Seems like every week somebody's getting strangled or shot. Besides, you workin' all those long hours," she shrugged. "Girl's gotta have a hobby."
Eric, marveling, just shook his head. Kenya kicked into police mode.
"Yes," he replied scornfully. "I don't see any other master criminals here."
"Now, is that a nice way to talk?" Kenya shook her head in disgust. "You going to mouth off to me? On top of shooting up my station? Making me leave my family holiday dinner? My sister had a baby. You know that? This is the baby's first Christmas. You think I wanna be on the floor taking care of your sorry ass? Or would I rather be playing with that baby?"
"Uh, playing with the baby?" Franklin guessed.
"Yeah," Kenya nodded. "Playing with the baby. I can put perps away any day of the year. Christmas only comes once. My sister's family only comes in once a year. That baby's only having one first Christmas."
As she spoke, Kenya was replacing her gun to her holster and taking her handcuffs off her belt.
"I'm sorry, ma'am" Franklin looked mournful.
"Uh-huh," Kenya nodded. "You should be sorry. You have the right to remain silent…." Snapping the cuffs on him, she proceeded to read him the Miranda rights.
Done with the suspect, Kenya realized she needed to check in with the Sheriff. She walked over to the counter.
"Andy? You hurt? Or just napping?"
"Got shot." Andy muttered.
Pam, standing over the portly sheriff, rolled her eyes.
"You were grazed," Pam clarified. "Kenya," Pam nodded a greeting. "I'm Pam Ravenscroft. FBI. His wound is the equivalent of a salad as compared to what he normally consumes for lunch."
Kenya just stared at Pam and then snickered.
"That's pretty funny," Kenya leaned over the counter to see Andy. "Heya, Andy," she looked at him. "Aw, I think you'll live. I'm calling Shreveport for back up. We can't hold anyone here with a hole in the door. And you shot. And I'm planning on getting back to my party. And I'll call Tray to take care of the door."
"Help me up, Kenya," Andy grumbled. "I should probably talk to the Shreveport Sergeant."
Kenya glanced at Eric. "Keep an eye on Mott. If you're worried you can't handle it, have your girlfriend help you." Kenya walked around to the other side of the counter to help Andy up. The two then made their way over to Andy's desk.
"I need to call in," Pam announced. Pulling out her cell, she walked toward the holding cell corridor.
"Please don't leave me with these two! No!" Franklin whined.
Eric, staring at him, kicked his leg. "Shut up."
"Is that some of that American police brutality I've heard so much about? Are you projecting your anger onto me because," making a face, Franklin opened his eyes wide, "perhaps you're feeling a sense of inadequacy in my presence? Hm?"
"Don't talk to my fiancé like that, you stupid jerk." Sookie exclaimed.
"Ah, what're you gonna do, lover?" Franklin mocked.
"What? You've got to be kidding! Are you a total burnout, or what? I'm the one who's already shot you! Twice! You think I won't do it again?"
"Oh, yeah," Franklin frowned, a confused look on his face. "I forgot."
Sookie, still holding the Benelli, walked through the opening in the counter to stand next to Eric by the entrance. Shotgun in her left hand, Sookie wrapped her right arm around her fiancé's waist. In response to Sookie's big grin, Eric bestowed upon her a brilliant smile of his own.
Watching yet another public display from the lovebirds, Mott rolled his eyes.
"Ugh," he groaned.
"Shut up," Eric and Sookie replied simultaneously. Laughing, the couple looked at each other.
Turning to stare at Mott, Sookie shook her head. Bon Temps really was changing. Seemed like each week it was something different. Not necessarily in a good way.
"I've been thinking..."
"Well... maybe we should consider the New York thing," she bit down slightly on her lower lip as she spoke. "Not the name-changing bit—I don't know what your friend was talking about with that shit—but maybe we should consider moving?"
Eric snorted in surprise.
"Whatever you like, lover. Wherever you like."
"As long as you're there..."
"I'll always be there."
"Good. Me too."
A/N: The funniest thing about this fic? Aside from I'm getting closer and closer to giving Sook my job - I finally shipped Pam and Andy! (Well, it's gonna happen off-screen, but it's gonna happen!) Pamdy lives! YAY! I've been wanting to do that since April.
Fairytale of New York: I hope you gave the song a listen if you didn't already know it. Interestingly, the often-intoxicated Shane MacGowan is still alive, yet Kirsty MacColl was tragically killed in a boating incident off Cozumel in 2000. Married at one point to Steve Lillywhite (U2 producer), Bono and many other musicians fought for justice for her untimely death. See link.
Arsenic and Old Lace," a wonderful 1944 Brooklyn-set film starring Cary Grant, Priscilla Lane, and 1944 Brooklyn, was inspirational in the writing. I didn't purposefully parallel the film, but about mid-way through, I realized the one-set staging, madcap tone, and onslaught of Characters with a capital "C" totally reminded me of the film. So I figured my ever-integrating mind was subliminally pulling influences again.
Last but not least: Thanks to my always-delightful beta, A Chuisle A Chroi, who doesn't hesitate to call my writing "shit" when warranted. (If you don't believe me, see her "Ishtar" review.)
As always, thank you for reading!