I know, I know. I've been very absent. I have been bunkered down to finishing my chapter on the Pantomime and the next DMW installment, when all of the sudden, I realised it's Christmas! I had the idea to write this last Christmas for the Naughty and Nice competition last December but I was living and breathing DW at the time and I didn't have the time to write anything else. I'm writing the last chapter of this already, and I'll publish a chapter a day until Christmas, following in Mr Dickens's original story.
Also, I've started a twitter account for a more interactive platform to communicate with everyone and also to inform everybody of the recent progress (or lack thereof) of my stories. However, please feel free to continue PMing and I live and breathe for everybody's reviews.
As always, forever grateful to murgatroid for her speedy response in betaing this.
See you tomorrow. :)
Sookie stared at the wad of twenties on her table. This is totally unacceptable.
"Pam! You have to stop doing that!"
"Do what Sookie?" Pam said innocently still looking into her compact and touching up the corner of ruby red lips.
"Stop glamouring the patrons into giving me outlandish tips!" Sookie hissed. This was the third time somebody left more than a hundred dollars in tips on her tables tonight and she was worried that this would affect Merlotte's reputation when people discovered they've been ripped off at a bar by a beautiful blonde vampire.
"Maybe they're in a giving mood, it is the season to be jolly after all," Pam said without so much as a glance from her reflection in the mirror. It was because she was fussing so much over her lips in the mirror that Sookie finally saw what Pam was trying to cover up with her powder.
"Pam Ravenscroft! Is that blood on your face?" Sookie found herself saying a little too loudly.
"What?" Pam asked without flinching. "Is it that obvious? I'd hate to have to wash it off and then having to redo my make-up again. It'll be the third time- woops!" Her fangs glistened underneath her guilty smile as she covered her lips coyly with her fingers. "Methinks I've had a bit too much to drink tonight!"
Anger bubbled up in Sookie's chest as she took a step closer to the booth where Pam was sitting for tonight. When Eric said he wanted Pam to keep an eye on things at Merlotte's, Sookie first thought it was because another supernatural event was going to happen this Christmas Eve and they needed the vampires to keep order in public places like when the weres went public. However, when nightfall came, Pam was the only one who showed up at Merlotte's. She sat herself in Sookie's section and warded off all the parties of single men, women and any groups who looked like they would be partying for Christmas Eve. The only patrons she would let through into the area were families and old couples who looked like they would leave at a reasonable hour. When Sookie finally caught on to what Pam was trying to do, she pulled her aside to let her know that by only letting in the tame crowd in her area that her tips would be cut in half and if it was Eric's plan to have Pam here to make sure that she goes home early to start celebrating Christmas with him then he has another think coming because she's not leaving until she makes her usual amount for the night. That was when the exorbitant amount of tips was left on the tables. Between Eric and Pam, she just couldn't win.
"Where are they Pam?" Sookie asked in an urgent whisper.
"Who or what are you talking about Sookie?"
"Don't play coy with me! The customers that you fed off of Pam! What did you do with them?"
"They're on their merry way to whatever synthetic ritual celebration of Christmas they were going to go to. I didn't stop them!"
"Really? Is that before or after you drained them?"
"Where's your Yuletide spirit Sookie? I would never drain someone dry at Christmas! They just think they're exhausted from paying for a quickie with a very attractive blonde at the parking lot. So you see, everybody's happy! Consider your gratuities as a gift from me. Now tell me, do I really need to wash this blood spot off my face or not?"
Sookie was flabbergasted. With the way that Pam had constructed the glamour, there's no way she could return the money to any of the customers who paid her the overly generous tips tonight. They would mistaken her for the hooker in the parking lot. She didn't know what to say, but to tell Pam that she looked great. In fact she looked exquisite. Pam was wearing a beautiful double-breasted crimson red cashmere coat with black buttons and a high black collar. Dangling from the small of her neck was an ornate ruby snowflake tied with a classic black velvet choker. To top off her festive look she had her hair up and neatly tucked underneath her black fur pillbox hat with matching muffs. It maybe the only time Sookie would ever say these words in the same sentence but Pam was the picture of Christmas nightmare chic.
"Can we have the check please?"
"Right away sir!" piped Sookie as turned to acknowledge her table. It was the attractive couple with the matching reindeer sweaters. The couple knew that the sweaters were cheesy and ugly but they thought it would be funny to show up at her parent's place like that. They were betting amongst themselves whether her parents would acknowledge the ugliness of the sweaters or ignore them. Usually Sookie would find such nauseating exhibitionist behaviour sickening but maybe because it was Christmas Eve, people overtly in love seemed normal somehow.
Sookie saw Pam eyeing the boyfriend of the couple in question as she headed towards the counter to get the check.
"No more antics Pam. You leave them alone. I mean it!" Sookie whispered under her breath. She knew it was barely audible but Pam heard her. However, Sookie didn't need to worry about Pam stepping out of line for long, because standing by the bar talking to Sam was the Sheriff himself. As she waited for Sam to tally up the check, Eric took the opportunity to pull her in for a quick kiss.
"I've missed you." He said in her ear as he released her from his embrace.
"You're here early. It's not even eleven!" Sookie and Eric had made rough plans to celebrate Christmas this year. This was the third Christmas she'd had to spend without Gran and it'd been hard. She had Niall visit her last year which was very nice but with him also gone there definitely was a feeling of impending doom as the holiday season approached. However, there was hope as her relationship with Eric progressed steadily through the year that she may not need to spend it alone or like a third wheel at Jason's house. Though she knew that vampires in general didn't celebrate Christmas, she was pleasantly surprised that Eric at least acknowledged the holiday if only to cater for the customers in Fangtasia. Eric had sensed Sookie's anxiety as they were putting up Christmas decorations together at Fangtasia one evening and implied to her that he had no problems extending his Christmas cheer to cater to her childhood beliefs if that was what she wanted. So as things turned out, Sookie was having her first Christmas with a boyfriend! They didn't have anything extravagant planned; just a night in by the fire and exchanging gifts. Sookie insisted on a fifty dollar cap though. Her experience with Eric was that he could afford anything she wanted and she didn't want to be in the situation where she was embarrassed by whatever gift she brought him because he could buy her something worth a hundred times more. Sookie was actually quite proud of her gift. She bought it at the mall in Monroe with Claude last week. It was a special Christmas novelty tie by some designer or other and the mood was just perfect for Eric. The tie was black silk with a blood red Christmas tree and a skull instead of star on the top. Sookie thought that it would be perfect for him to wear in Fangtasia around Christmas. Though the gift could only be worn once a year, but going by the theory that vampires are immortal, it could work out to be worth it. Since both of them had to work, Sookie thought that their evening wouldn't begin until way past midnight, hence her curiosity as to why Eric could show up at Merlotte's before eleven.
"The Christmas crowd is quite fickle over at Fangtasia." Eric declared. "Last year when Christmas Eve fell on a Saturday the younger crowd tend to be in a more of a party mood, but because this Christmas is on a Monday, people tend to stay at home or leave early to be with their families. The human sentiment for this time of year is really beyond my grasp."
"I was telling Eric here that the same goes for us here too. Christmas last year was like a New Years." Sam said as he handed Sookie the bill. Over the past few months the animosity between Eric and Sam had faded. As Sam's feelings for Sookie began to fade, Eric had tried his hardest to overcome his own prejudices and also made an effort to be civil towards Sam. The result is the two of them being able to engage in conversation on safe middle ground topics whenever they met, which happen to be their businesses.
"Since there was no point in keeping an eye on the very sad empty scene at Fangtasia any longer I decided to come here and start our Christmas celebrations early."
"I don't know Eric, things still seem pretty lively around here."
"Get outta here Sookie." Sam said. "I don't expect there's going to be much more happening in your section here tonight if Eric joins Pam at her booth."
"I'm so sorry about that Sam-"
"Don't apologise for being happy Sookie. Go and enjoy the evening."
"Oh goody. You're here Master," Pam drawled unenthusiastically from behind, "Does this mean I can start my celebrations now?"
"You're excused Pamela."
And just like that Pam disappeared as quickly as she had shown up.
"Who is Pam meeting all dressed up? Has she got a date?" Sookie asked out of curiosity.
"Pam loves Christmas."
"Really? Does she celebrate it like humans? I guess Christmas was pretty much a set tradition by the time she was turned-"
"Not like that my dear Lover." Eric chuckled. "Pam's theory is that the holiday season is a time that draws the line between the haves and have nots in society. For those people who do not have a family or anything to go home to on a day with so much stigma attached to it, it leaves them vulnerable to have any type of interlude with other people."
"So you're saying that Pam dresses up as the ghost of Christmas Hope and preys on lonely people for-"
"Blood, sex and whatever in between. She does it every year."
"That's pretty low behaviour."
"Not if she glamours them into thinking that they had a wonderful Christmas for the first time in many of their miserable lives. I'm inclined to think she's actually quite charitable."
"You can't just go rationalizing everything because you are able to glamour people into thinking they're happier because of it. That's like saying Jane Bodehouse should keep drinking because it makes her happy!" Eric has been around the bar enough to know who Jane is by now. Sookie is just outraged that Eric would let Pam run around behaving like a serial rapist every Christmas.
"It's just one of the things that Pam does every year. If it makes you feel so uncomfortable I'll have a talk with her about it."
"Please do." Sookie was still very disturbed at the thought about the lonely neglected abused girl that might encounter Pam tonight, but is it rape when they're only glamoured after the fact about sleeping with but not into sleeping with Pam? That seemed like a problem of a judge in court to decide and not her, so Sookie went back to her section and started rounding things up.
"Think about it! What other option could there be? Super speed and stealth to get presents to all the children of the world in time. Of course Santa Claus is a vampire!" Eric said animatedly in the car.
"Stop talking shit Eric. Santa Claus is NOT a vampire."
"Okay, maybe not now, but you have to admit that Krampus and Saint Nick is one and the same. Did you know that in south Germany that children left a drop of blood to appease Krampus? You have to consider the possibility that there were some vampiric origins to the Santa myth."
"I am not going to let you pollute Santa Claus by dignifying this conversation any further." Sookie laughed as she pulled into her usual parking spot behind the house. Eric could be such an ass sometimes.
When they arrived home and settled down in Sookie's living room. Eric noticed something odd. First was the glowing hearth despite the house being empty all day. Secondly was not the absence of her fairy cousin but most noticeably his scent.
"Where is your cousin Lover?"
"Where's his scent you mean?" Sookie smiled as she proceeded to walk to her bathroom for her ritual shower straight after work shedding her clothes along the way. Eric was taking off his t-shirt and following her into her shower. It'd become a habit for them now, even though he hadn't stepped foot in Sookie's house for months since her fairy cousin had been living there. Sookie didn't want to test his will power and had been visiting him more often in Shreveport to compensate.
"It's like he's never been here." Eric continued.
"I got him to move back to Monroe for a week before we have our little soiree, I don't want you all high on his scent and ruining our first Christmas together." Sookie was naked and stepping into the shower by now and Eric liked what he saw. He was also hit with a bit of nostalgia of when he first climbed into the shower with her almost two years ago and he realized that he himself wanted to celebrate the holidays with Sookie as much as she wanted to with him.
After their shower and a bit of fooling around later, they settled by the fireplace in the living room.
"Here, watch this," Sookie said. She leaned over the glowing coals in the hearth. When she blew into it, the coals glowed warmer and eventually ignited a light flame flickering in the fireplace. "Isn't it cool?" Sookie grinned. "Claude didn't like us burning wood in the winter, something about wood nymphs. He replaced them with these coals and they never burn out and keep the place warm. All it takes is a fairy's breath to rekindle them. Even mine works!"
"Of course it works when uncle Dermot comes over too, but he never sticks around long enough to see me try it."
"How is your relationship going with him?" Eric had always been wary of Dermot, given Niall's dislike of him and that he was a co-conspirator in a lot of the misfortune in Sookie's life.
"Oh. He's still adjusting." Sookie shrugged. "He was over here for dinner with Claude and I a few weeks ago and he left in the middle of a conversation. No goodbye or anything. I guess it takes some time to get used to not being insane." She finished with a deep breath and a slight furrow on the forehead. Eric loves that expression on her when she cared about someone. She had that very same furrow when she stopped him running down Hummingbird Road.
"Your hair is starting to dry, you want me to start combing it out?" Her hair could get so incredibly tangled and he knew she hated it when that happened. Sookie was lying on her stomach by the fire when he returned from her room with the brush. Dressed just in her robe, Eric felt that Sookie was perfectly content. This was as good a time as any to give her his gift.
Sookie woke from having zoned out by a cold sensation around her neck, when she looked down she saw an antique star pendant around her neck.
"Merry Christmas Lover." Eric said as he started to brush her hair.
"Eric! We said fifty dollars!" Sookie said as she jerked away from him, absolutely contrite.
"It is worth fifty dollars!" He smiled.
"In which universe does gold jewelery go for less than fifty dollars?"
"Ebay, and I've got the receipt to prove it." Only because Eric placed it there himself and bought it back for $49 dollars. Sookie doesn't need to know that.
"You're not having me on?"
"Cross my heart and hope for a stake Lover."
When Sookie had calmed down and let Eric finish combing her hair, she gave him his present too.
"I love it! It's perfect for Fangtasia. Do you think we could patron the designer to help us with a Christmas line for next year?"
"Well it's nothing compared to yours. Do you think you can get me something along the same lines every year on ebay?"
That was his girl, already clued in on something fishy about his gift.
"How about we make a deal? I'll get you a pendant that's worth fifty dollars or less every year and if you can get me a clever Christmas tie each year?"
"Deal Eric and don't you regret it!"
"I'll never regret anything with you," Eric said as he unhooked Sookie's robe and she obligingly wrapped her legs around his waist. Eric loved how the pendant shone in the glow of the fire as her breasts moved when he pumped into her. When the moment came he bit and sucked from the nipple of her breast and she came like a tidal wave and the tsunami of their emotions overflowed them both through the bond. It didn't take long for Sookie to fall into a deep slumber when Eric laid her down to rest and he was about to take some paperwork out in the kitchen to do before he woke Sookie up for round two and a cool hand touched his shoulder.
It was Sookie's cousin Claude.
Eric's instincts kicked in. He leapt from the kitchen table to the fridge where he hoped like all good humans Sookie would have some lemons in there.
"Who are you and what do you want?" Eric said with his hand on the fridge door, because the fairy that looked like Sookie's cousin Claude is not. He didn't have a fairy scent on him at all.
"I am Claude. In body anyway." Eric recognized that voice.
"Niall? That's impossible!"
"Yet here I am."
"What do you want with me?"
"So sure and confident a vampire as the day I first met you."
"You wouldn't be sneaking up on me alone if you had any desire to speak with Sookie." This led Eric to think of another point. "Were you waiting for us to finish before you got me alone?"
"It was a beautiful celebration of union. I am glad that my great granddaughter possesses such abundant love in her."
"Fucking fairies," Eric muttered to himself. Sometimes even Eric couldn't wrap his head around their boundaries and etiquettes.
If Niall heard Eric he decided to ignore it. "I am using what little magic that my grandson possesses to take you on a journey tonight."
"What kind of journey?" Eric asked warily. He could never trust a fairy, even when he was once allies with Niall.
"One of personal transformation." Niall smiled showing Claude's perfect gleaming sharp razor teeth.
Eric thought for a minute and tried to understand what this would mean in fairy speak. When the thought struck him like an axe. "Wait a minute. It's Christmas. You're not pulling a Jacob Marley on me are you?"
"What is wrong with Mr. Dickens's portrayal of human self reflection during a holiday that's totally lost its meaning? Charles himself thought it was such a great idea he wrote a book about it."
Eric didn't know whether or not to laugh at the ridiculous situation. "Niall, this is stupid, first of all you and I both don't celebrate Christmas, secondly we're more than capable of communicating with each other, so why don't you just spit it out? Lastly, I'm a vampire! I don't dream! Forget this cheesy after school special and tell me what you want me to know."
"But what would be the fun in doing that?"
Then Eric felt a pain in his head like someone just opened up his skull and pulled his brain out.