A/N: This is my first foray into Southern Vampire/True Blood fic writing. I have written extensively in The West Wing (though its not posted here) fandom and dabbled in Twilight (which is posted here). I have betas over there, but not here in this fandom, so please forgive any obvious display of that small transgression. I think I can bring one of my betas over to the dark side, but at the moment, he's resisting. Also, I typically have a problem sticking with one POV because it gets boring to me, so this story will likely be told from several POVs.
Merlotte's was busier than I'd ever seen it in the six years I've worked here. Sam, my boss and the bar's owner and possibly my closest friend, had bought two flat screen T.V.s for the bar. The investment seems to have paid for itself in the first football season they were here because Merlotte's has now become the place to watch a sporting event and tonight was Superbowl Sunday.
I've spent most of the evening elbowing my way through the large drunken crowd. Since the additions of the televisions, the younger crowd has increased. Our regulars don't mess with me, but the college students are too drunk and stupid not to know better and I've smacked a lot of hands tonight. In one case, I threw a beer in a boy's face who couldn't take the first hint. Sam escorted him out and only one in his group of friends was loyal enough to leave with him.
"Watch your manners!" I snapped at the boy in the booth as I walked by. His mouth dropped open and everyone at his table thought I was nuts. And why shouldn't they? He didn't say it out loud. I heard him in my head. I know better than to respond to people's thoughts, but there's too much going on inside me tonight.
I'd been feeling pretty annoyed tonight.
But that's nothing compared to what my boyfriend/husband was feeling. In the human world, Eric was my boyfriend; but in the vampire world, he was my husband. And that was the least confusing thing about my life. It's a long story, but suffice it to say, my vampire is very sneaky when he wants to be. Especially if he wants me to do something that he knows I would refuse to do under normal circumstances.
Eric had had very strong and very varied emotions that evening and they were getting stronger, which meant he was getting closer to me.
So in addition to being telepathic, I had a blood bond with my husband/boyfriend and could feel absolutely everything he did and let me tell you, vampire emotions are a lot stronger than human emotions.
The closer Eric got, the more jumpy I got. My hands were shaky and it was hard not to react to people with his emotions. Not to mention, it was making me distracted and worried.
At one point, I slammed the register drawer shut and snarled in frustration, then stormed out the back door into the parking lot. Sam was immediately behind me. I breathed the night air in deeply, taking a few deep breaths. What was wrong with Eric tonight? I didn't usually call him from work, but I couldn't let the night go on like this.
"Sorry, Sam. I just need a minute to regroup." I apologized. "I'm all right; you can go back in."
"Well, no, I kinda can't." He confessed sheepishly and I turned to face him.
"What do you mean you can't?"
"He's on his way." I supplied.
"Did he call your cell too?"
"No. I can feel him; and he's not happy."
"He asked me not to let you out of my sight."
"And did he say why?"
Of course not. Eric didn't share his reasons with just anybody, certainly not Sam a shifter. He just expected his commands to be followed without question. If it had been from anyone else, I'm sure Sam would have asked for an explanation, but under the circumstances, Sam knows Eric enough, and the past trouble I've gotten into well, to understand that Eric has his reasons and they'd eventually be made known.
"It doesn't really matter." I sighed. "He's here."
A car I didn't recognize tore into the parking lot and stopped in front of us. Eric emerged and was flanked by two females; one human and one vampire. The human, Ginger, I recognized; the vampire I didn't.
I took a minute as he moved quickly towards me to appreciate how he looked. A tall, blonde, Viking in dark jeans and a green v-neck sweater; one that feels so good I've run my hands and rubbed my body all over. Yum.
He paused and arched a brow at me. Damn, he felt my lust. Now he was standing there with the anger and the hot and I still had no answers.
"You're coming with me." He unceremoniously announced.
"What?" I shrieked. "I am not. It's not the end of my shift, the bar is insane and I'm not leaving Sam in a lurch."
"Ginger and Alicia are here to step in for you while you're gone." Eric said gesturing to his entourage. While I'm gone? I didn't like the way this sounded. "Ginger can wait tables and Alicia is a bartender. He's getting two for the price of one."
"Why?" I demanded.
"I'm not getting into that now."
"Then I'm not going with you now." I shrugged and turned back to the bar, knowing full well he'd never take that lying down.
He did not disappoint. He grabbed my wrist, spun me around and yanked me to his chest. I rolled my eyes at Ginger's internal wish that Eric would treat her like this, with so much passion. Ginger is an airhead with major Eric worship happening.
"It's not open for debate, Sookie."
Why was he so worked up? "Calm. Down." I warned.
Since he was touching me, I could take the opportunity to push calm through to bond and directly into him. It worked for a minute, until he realized what I was doing and pushed away from me. He turned around and shouted, "Don't fuck with me!" in frustration.
I did it anyway and gave him a double dose to boot. He needed it. To merely say Eric overacts when it comes to me would be an extreme understatement.
He accepted this wave of calm though, ran a hand down his face and then dropped both hands to his hips and looked at me. "There's been threats made against you."
"That old swan song, Eric?" I quipped. There's always some kind of threat to me. Ever since Bill Compton walked into this bar, my life has never been anything but in danger. And Eric has saved it more times than I can count; sometimes by doing things like marrying me without my knowledge, forming a blood bond without telling me what it meant first, you know, typical things like that.
"Is there any other when it comes to you? That band only knows one song." he tossed back and Sam stifled a chuckle. Sam has likewise saved my ass upon occasion.
But don't think I'm helpless here. I've killed a human, a few vampires, a Were or two and a few fairies in self-defense. I'm no shrinking violet.
"I'm always in danger, Eric." I said carefully.
"And you never let me do anything about it."
"What is it you're proposing to do this time?"
Alicia seemed surprised that anyone would speak to her Sheriff in this manner or question his authority and Ginger didn't have a lot of thoughts to begin with. Sam was not exactly the President of the Eric Fan Club, but he could grudgingly admit that Eric only ever acted in, what he believed to be, my best interests and while he was capable of many things, one thing he was not capable of was hurting me.
"You will work at Fangtasia during the evenings and spend your days with me." Oh yeah, like that was going to fly. He could feel my astonishment. "Sookie…" He tried to head me off at the pass but the damage was done.
"It's not negotiable." Now he was pushing the calm at me.
"The hell it's not!" I exploded anyway. "You've been pushing this for months and now you've figured out how to get your own way because God forbid you don't. I'm not giving up my life and my freedom to be your kept woman."
His eyes flashed at me and then everything went creepy calm.
"In the millennium that I've walked this Earth as a vampire, I've had thousands of women and I've kept a fair share, but I haven't loved a single one and I certainly haven't made any of them my wife. They will use me to get to you just as quickly as they'll use you to get to me. So putting that into perspective, in what universe did you think I would not use all my power, which is considerable, to keep you safe! You are not my kept woman; you are my wife, you are in danger and I'd like you to recognize the difference!"
The only sound in the tense silence was that of the back door opening. Holly poked her head out. "Sam, it's really crazy in here. Are y'all coming back in?"
"Uh, yeah, Holly." Sam said clearing his throat. "Alicia, Ginger, why don't you come with me and I'll show you around."
Everyone else disappeared inside and Eric and I were left alone in the parking lot. His desperation rolled through me in waves.
Since the day Bill brought me to Fangtasia the very first time, Eric had been there when I needed him, whether I thought I did or not. It hadn't always been selfless on his part, but he's been there. He was the one man I could count on no matter what. Well, I can count on Sam pretty good too, but Sam didn't have Eric's resources for sure. Eric has seen me at my absolute best and my absolute worst and has loved me all along.
"Baby, what happened?" I whispered, feeling my anger deflate out of me when I felt his pain.
"Barry the Bellhop is missing."
I slowly began to sink to my knees, but before I touched down to the gravel, Eric's arms came around me and he held me up. He stroked my hair as I gasped for breath. People die and go missing all around me and with quite a bit of frequency but Barry is different. Barry is a fellow telepath and in fact, the only other one I know of…
"Hunter." I whispered.
"Hunter. Put someone on Hunter Savoy."
Eric held me up with one arm and dialed his cell phone with the other. "Pam, call Alcide and ask him to put round the clock protection on Hunter Savoy." I rattled off Hunter and Remy's address and Eric relayed it to Pam. "Tell Alcide I will explain later."
He hung up his cell phone and held me again with both arms. "Lover, why did I just request pack protection for your five-year-old cousin? Do you think your brother needs it too?"
"He's…like me." I finally confessed.
"You've never told me this."
"I was always sidetracked when I was going to."
"Uh huh." He is not quite convinced there.
"Well, what, like you tell me everything?"
"I tell you what you need to know. It would take me a hundred years to tell you everything. There's another telepath in my area, Sookie, that's information I need to know."
"I didn't say I'd use him, but it would be nice to be able to protect him."
"Do you think Barry's dead?" I looked up at him and tried to hold back the tears, which seemed more heartbreaking to him than actually shedding them and his face softened.
"No, I don't. But I don't think he's willingly gone, I haven't got the slightest clue who has him and it won't be long before he cracks and they find out about you, if they don't know already." I nodded in acknowledgement. "I'm begging you, Sookie, please." This is a man who definitely does not beg.
"Yes." I said quietly. "Anything you want me to do."
"Until the danger is past?"
"Is it ever?"
"With you? No, never."
"Least I'm not boring, right?"
"You are many things, my lover, but that has never been one of them."
"Well, I don't want to be like all the other girls."
"You never have been."