Electric Limbo

Summary: Reworked version. Rivalry between two of Bon Temps oldest families ends when they team up to keep their businesses alive ... but the rivalry with others in the same business just begins. Geek-centric fluff with a large side order of comedy. Warnings for Star Trek quotes, WoW references and Eric being a huge Thundercats fan. :o) AH/OOC.

A/N: There will be some references to Geek pop culture throughout this story – some of you might get the humour that comes with them, some might not. I'm happy to answer any queries about them. This fic was inspired by BEGreen – who, after reading The Guilded Cage, informed me that there was a distinct lack of geek fics :o)

It's taken a very long time, but not only is this fic reworked to my satisfaction – it's also complete! Now if I could find the inspiration to complete the other in-progress fics I have then I'll be ecstatic! As usual, reviews are not required but if you feel you want to leave feedback it's much appreciated.

Chapter 1 – Dreams unaccomplished and dreams shattered.

Bellefleur's Electrical Emporium – Bon Temps

Bill Compton sipped at his coffee and gazed longingly at the delivery truck that was being unloaded two stores down. His heart ached as he watched Hadley walk in to Stackhouse Computer Creations with the latest Dell XPS. His eyes welled as Sam followed behind her with a box of Intel i7-990x processors.

It should be me working with all that hardware. I would be almost finished with my degree if I hadn't been so damn...

"Bill!" His Uncle Andy's voice interrupted his thoughts. "You better not be moping about losing your scholarship again. There's a stove and a refrigerator ready to get put in the van for Maxine Fortenberry – get to that instead of cryin' a river over helpin' your girlfriend cheat on her test!"

Bill nodded and walked over to the desk to put down his mug and pick up the delivery note. Shipping Maxine's new appliances to her was bound to blacken his mood even more. For the last four years the first thing she said when they bumped into each other was that he should have stuck with Sookie Stackhouse instead of getting mixed up with Lorena Ball. Bill knew she was right, everyone knew she was right, but that didn't make it any less hurtful to hear.

He was a computer science superstar in Bon Temps high, that's how he met Sookie – they both loved technology. For Sookie it was practically in her genes but Bill had to struggle against his Mother's family – the Bellefleurs – and their reluctance to enter the computer age. Things with Sookie were perfect, until Lorena started paying him attention - the kind of attention that Sookie wasn't ready to give him yet. Like the hormonally charged teenager that he was, he thought with his dick rather than his head.

Sookie had been hurt when he cheated on her but, in her natural warm-hearted manner, tried to warn him. She must have told him a dozen times that Lorena was after something but he never listened. He was far too busy getting laid to listen. Lorena asked him such a small favour, and it was so simple to accomplish. But Bill got caught stealing the answers to the SATs. His School didn't care that they weren't for him and his full ride to LSU disappeared with his love-life.

"Like tears in the rain." Bill sighed.

"Bill! Stop talkin' to yourself and load the damn van!"

Andy Bellefleur shook his head and muttered all the way back to the office. He'd never really liked Bill; there was just something 'off' about him. There was something off about his Dad, Jesse, too but Andy didn't want to throw any accusations around. The Comptons had lived next door to the Stackhouses for as long as there had been a Bon Temps and there had never been a Stackhouse that was normal. Stood to reason that the Comptons would be just as full of crazy ideas and talking nonsense about family meaning more than money. Andy was a Bellefleur and proud as they come, the Bellefleurs had always been the richest, most successful family in Bon Temps – and no Stackhouse would ever take that away from them!

The names Stackhouse and Bellefleur were synonymous with rivalry in Bon Temps but it reached its peak in the 1960s. A small strip mall was built and both families rented units, both families refused to tell anyone what they would be selling and both families opened electrical appliance stores on the very same day. While Bellefleur's Electrical Emporium catered to a more exclusive clientele, Stackhouse Appliance-Mart sold every kind of quality to every kind of customer. Through the 70s and into the 80s, Bellefleur's Electrical teetered on the edge of bankruptcy but never quite fell over. In the late 80s, they got a reprieve in the form of Mitchell Stackhouse's crazy friend Fintan. Stackhouse Appliance-Mart was transformed into Stackhouse Computer Creations, leaving Bellefleur Electrical with a monopoly on household appliances, but also with an intense aversion to following their rival into higher technology merchandise.

Andy never forgot the day that the change over happened. His Grandmother, Caroline, called them all into the office and told them that Bellefleurs don't follow – they lead. No matter how much money they could make from games consoles or home computers, Bellefleur Electrical would never sell them because that would mean admitting the Stackhouses had gotten there first.

Once the van was loaded and Portia came out of the office to mind the store, Andy and Bill made their way to Maxine's house. The back of the van had barely been opened when she said it.

"Bill, you look so sad! If you had just stuck with Sookie, you'd be down there in Baton Rouge living it up just like she is!"

"You saw her? Sookie?" Bill stopped trying to shift the stove and waited with bated breath.

"She came back last month for a visit and, oh my, she's a pretty young lady! Happy as a clam too!"

Bill sighed and nodded, wondering what Sookie was doing – right at that moment. Was she sifting through the guts of computers to test motherboards? Was she creating an exciting new programme? Was she having a blast with her new college friends playing EverQuest? Bill bitterly shifted the stove into the right position for Andy to help him manoeuvre it inside Maxine's house and tried not to imagine it was him doing those things instead of Sookie.

LSU Baton Rouge – Annie Boyd Hall

Sookie grunted as the pounding got louder. She thought, at first, that this was the worst hangover she'd ever had but after a moment she realised that the pounding wasn't in her head. She blinked in the bright morning light as voices could be heard outside her door. Her roommate, Pam Ravenscroft, was shambling toward the door as it started to shake with the force of more pounding.

"Alright, alright, I'm coming."

Pam was still rubbing her eyes as campus security pushed into the room, followed by the Dean of the College of Science. Sookie was confused at their grim expressions and got out of bed to stand next to Pam.

"Is there something wrong?"

"I'm afraid there is Miss. Stackhouse." The Dean flicked his hand and Campus Security started pulling the room apart.

"Wait, what are you doing?" Sookie immediately woke fully and stepped toward the group of men and women tipping over her furniture and rifling her closet.

Dean Threadgill put a hand out to stop her and Pam gently put an arm around Sookie. "What are they looking for?"

"We've found something, Sir." A security guard with 'Flower' stitched on her left breast held up a bag that made Sookie gasp.

"Is that what I think it is?" Sookie pointed a shaky finger at the package.

"Miss. Stackhouse, we got a ... tipoff that you've not only been using but you've been supplying Marijuana to a number of students here."

Another Campus Guard held out two cups with lids. "We'll need you ladies to fill these up for drug testing."

"But I didn't do anything." Pam blinked and shook her head. "Sookie hasn't done anything either – I'm her roommate. I think I'd notice if she was selling pot!"

Numbly, Sookie made her way to the bathrooms to pee in her cup. She couldn't quite comprehend what was happening and wished she hadn't gone to that party last night. Why Felicia had invited her still confused Sookie – she was under the impression Felicia was still holding a grudge because she went on a date with her boyfriend while they were on a break. But Felicia had been nice to her last night; she had even baked brownies for the party. Sookie remembered the brownies were nice but that she came back to her room after two beers because she was feeling woozy.

While Sookie was in the bathroom, Pam was trying to reason with the Dean. She had no idea how the Marijuana got in Sookie's closet – but she was damn sure she would have known if Sookie was a drug dealer. No matter how hard she tried to defend her roommate, he kept saying how they had physical evidence and signed witness statements and that soon they would have scientific evidence too. The more she mouthed off, the angrier Dean Threadgill got, until J. Flower took Pam by the arm and marched her to the bathroom to fill her own cup. Pam could hear Sookie crying in the stall next to hers and was at a complete loss as to what she could say to calm Sookie down.

"I don't know why this is happening, Sook, I wish they could just bring in the logic probe."

"Is this a set up, Pam? If I knew I was going to get pwned this morning, I'd never have gone to that party last night!"

"Shut up you two. Just piss in the cups and get back out here."

The less Jade Flower heard from these two the better. She knew the Dean was already pissed that his top student had been implicated – and by one of the biggest slackers on campus, but the statements had been signed and the evidence had been found. If he didn't act on it there would be hell to pay. Once the girls had filled their cups, Jade had them write their names on them and place them in a clear plastic bag. She escorted them back to their room and told them to sit tight until the Dean called for them.

Sookie threw herself on her bed and Pam sat next to her, trying to calm her friend. "This is all a big mix up, Sook, Dean Threadgill knows you. He knows you're the hardest working person in your class. He knows you're not a goddamned stoner!"

"He said they had witness statements, Pam. Who would tell lies about me like that? Who would put a large amount of Marijuana in my room to bolster said lies?" Her eyes welled up and her nose tickled as it filled with snot. "Who would want me out of College so bad, they would see me sent to prison?"

Pam's eyes widened. "Prison?"

"Well, yeah, that's where they usually send drug dealers. What are the chances the Felicia has both the brains and the balls to cook up this plot?"

"Slim to none." Pam snorted. "And her boy toy, Clancy, and all the hangers on are from the shallow end of the user pool too. But they're rich and they rode Mommy and Daddy's checkbook all the way here – those kids are like the Borg – one or two can be handled, but the hive mind is hard to beat."

Sookie nodded sadly and both young women settled into a level of despondency they had no idea existed until that point.

Stackhouse Computer Creations – Bon Temps

Adele's eyes flicked to her cell phone as it vibrated across the top of the desk playing the William Tell Overture. She tore herself away from the boredom of working out staff costs to answer it, but soon found herself wishing she could have remained immersed in its banality.

"Adele Stackhouse speaking, may I ask who is calling?"

"Mrs. Stackhouse, this is Dean Threadgill from the College of Science at LSU. I'm afraid there's been some trouble with your Granddaughter."

"What kind of trouble? Is she in the hospital?"

"No, ma'am, Sookie ... will not be finishing her degree at LSU. We had some students report that she was using and selling drugs, drugs were found in her room and there was also evidence of drug use in her urine sample."

"My Granddaughter is an exemplary student with the highest grades in her class – she's a good girl. She does not use or sell drugs. I urge you to investigate this thoroughly."

"We have, which is why we are simply expelling her rather than pressing charges and getting the police involved. I know your Granddaughter – and I know that she's a good girl. But drugs were found in her system and in her room, the physical evidence is circumstantial but supports the claims that students brought to me."

"I see. Well, Dean Threadgill, when can I expect my Granddaughter to arrive home?"

"I'm sure she'll call you once she's calmed down from the disciplinary meeting. Please trust that if I find any evidence that supports Sookie's side of the story – I willfight to get her back into this school."

"Thank you for calling, Dean Threadgill."

Adele hung up and narrowed her eyes at the phone. She was torn, on one hand she was livid that Sookie's dream had just been shattered but on the other she was ecstatic that her youngest Grandchild would be coming home. No matter how much Adele wanted Sookie to stay in Bon Temps and use her computer talents in the family business, she wanted to see her use that gift to spread her wings and move on to bigger and better things.

What's for you won't go by you. If Sookie is meant for a big fancy IT job then it'll come to her.

Inside, Adele hoped that Sookie was meant to stay in Bon Temps and take over the store when she was too old and grey to manage anymore. Her other Grandchildren, Jason and Hadley, were ... not built for management. They neither had the brains or the diplomatic skills to really make it work. But Sookie ... Sookie could run Stackhouse Computer Creations standing on her head. Adele called Jason into her office and told him to drive to Baton Rouge right away – she wasn't leaving Sookie to pack up her things and drive all the way North on her lonesome. She dialled Sookie's cell phone and hoped that her Granddaughter wasn't so upset she couldn't answer.

LSU Baton Rouge

Sookie and Pam looked bleakly at the boxes that contained the last three years of their lives. While there were a lot of whispers that Sookie had been expelled for something she hadn't done – Pam was in the more unfortunate situation of several students and CCTV cameras watching her confront and physically attack Felicia.

"I can't believe you were stupid enough to hunt her down and kick her ass, Pam. Seriously?"

"I ... I had a Hit Girl moment. I'm not quite sure what came over me but I couldn't just let her get away with that."

Sookie sighed. "I appreciate that, I really do. But you've ruined your career path. What about your CSI dream?"

"You're my favourite person, Sookie. Generally, I hate people. They suck – but you're worth fighting for. I'll find something, I'm sure my cousin, Eric, can set me up in a job in his store. He's an assistant manager now."

"Wait ... Eric? The Eric? The Eric that took your virginity? He's your cousin?"

"Second cousin, but it's not icky. He was hot and we got hold of my Dad's Havana Club stash. Don't judge me." Pam narrowed her eyes jokingly at her best friend.

"Uh ... whatever, Ravenscroft ... or should you be changing that to Lannister?"

"Shut-up banjo Betty or I'll kick your ass like I did with Felicia."

"Oh yeah? You wanna take this to PvP?"

"No way."

Pam grinned and pulled her umbrella out of a box. Sookie followed suit by grabbing her full size replica lightsabre and they circled each other, both trying not to laugh as they knew what was coming next. They raised their 'weapons' and let out their war cry.


"What the fuck is goin' on in here?"

Jason stood in the doorway, bewildered. He was pretty sure his Gran had sent him down here to help Sookie bring her things back to Bon Temps because she'd been expelled. But she wasn't acting like she'd been kicked out of College.


As soon as Sookie saw her brother, the reality of the packing and the boxes came crashing down on her. Her lightsabre dropped onto the floor next to her and the moment of fun between her and her friend was gone. Jason shook his head at his little sister and grabbed the closest box to him.

"Best get started, Sook. We should be able to fit everything into both our cars."

Sookie nodded and picked up her lightsabre, cradling it gently as she put it back in the box with her collection of Orcs and Space Marines.

Buy Everything – Shreveport

Eric smiled as he saw her walk in. She must have been in her late twenties, not particularly well dressed, a little saggy round the middle – a prime target for his sales technique. He watched her as she ambled up and down the aisles until she came to the display of brand new washing machines. That's when he struck.

"A beautiful woman deserves beautiful things." He smiled his biggest, whitest smile and winked at her, making her blush like a schoolgirl. "Are you in the market for some new ... equipment?"

As he said the word 'equipment' he brushed back his suit jacket and placed his hand in the front pocket of his pants, drawing her attention to his pelvis. She licked her lips and nodded before clearing her throat and giving her head a little shake, as if to wake from a daydream.

Works every time. Eric thought smugly.

"Uh ... yes. I'm looking for a washer dryer combo."

"Well, come with me and I'll show you everything I've got."

Eric winked suggestively and took off his suit jacket before turning his back to walk in front of his customer, knowing full well she would ogle his behind. He was surprised to see his second cousin, Pam, standing with a shocked look on her face as he spun round.

"Pam, what are you doing in Shreveport?"

"Looking for a job, I was hoping you could set me up but if I need to come on to people who fell off the horde bus, then I'll pass."

Eric rolled his eyes and pointed to the Nerd Squad desk. "I'm busy right now, go and wait over there with the ... technical support unit. They speak your language. I'll come to see you when I'm done."

He shook his head and plastered the smile back onto his face, ready to flirt with the pathetic creature to the point she would buy something and get him a pretty penny in commission.

"So, Mrs ..."

"It's Miss. Miss Maudette Pickens." She held her hand out and Eric grasped it firmly, curling his fingers around hers.

"Well, Maudette, I'm Eric and I'm going to make sure you get everything you need."

Pam curled her lip in distaste as she watched Eric flirt shamelessly with his customer. She leaned on the Tech Support desk and picked up a Nerd Squad coaster to play with while she waited on him.

"Well helloooooo. My software just turned to hardware."

Pam blinked at the man in front of her. He was cute, if you liked guys. Pam hadn't been attracted to a guy in a long time but she never discounted them as an option – unless they hit her with corny pick up lines.

"You're not my type but when I'm looking for a four inch floppy to fill my drive I'll call you."

She huffed and turned her back on the desk, hoping she wouldn't get hit on again. She watched the interactions between the Salesmen and the Tech guys and was transported back to high school. It was Jocks versus the Chess club every day in Buy Everything – but which side would she be on? She was pretty and had a nice figure, Pam smoothed her pale blonde hair and tried to imagine herself as part of the sales team but as she listened, and tried not to laugh along with, the jokes that the Nerd Squad were making ... she wondered if she had the IT smarts to join with them.

When Eric was finished with Maudette, he made his way over to Pam. He took in her appearance and shook his head.

"What brings you to Shreveport, Pam? Shouldn't you be in Baton Rouge doing ... whatever your degree is in?"

"Bio-sciences." She heard the nerds behind her take a collective sharp breath. "But I got kicked out. I was hoping you could maybe help me out on the job front."

"You got kicked out?"

"Long story. So can you hook me up with a job or what?"

"You came here to ask for a job wearing Converse and a T-shirt that says 'All your base are belong to us'?"

Pam rolled her eyes. "Can you help me or should I see if the local diners are looking for waitresses?"

Eric sighed and looked around the store. "We need someone in small appliances – but you're on trial for four weeks. Come in at 9am tomorrow ... and wear something ... normal."

Pam saluted Eric and pushed away from the counter. "Thanks Cuz. I promise I'll wear a skirt and blouse but please tell me I don't have to throw myself at the customers to sell stuff?"

"Technically, we're not cousins." Eric narrowed his eyes at Pam. "And, no, you don't – I just find it's the best way to sell high cost items to lonely women."

"And pick up chicks." One of the geeks chimed in before slinking off away from Eric's hard gaze.

"Whatever." Pam chuckled. "Just make sure it doesn't backfire on you."

Bon Temps Baptist Church – Meeting Hall

Jerome Bernard Du Rone surveyed the small group in the hall. His son, JB, stood a little behind him next to the flip chart. Sookie smiled at JB and he smiled back her. She had been back in Bon Temps for a few weeks now. The first week had been spent in bed or playing WoW to escape how dismal her outlook on life was. The second week had been spent on the couch watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs. The last few days had been spent in the store, admiring the stock and backing up the drives on the main PC in the office.

She'd already encountered her first boyfriend, Bill, now she guessed it was the turn of the boyfriend. JB had taken her virginity, the week before prom and a week after going on their first date, they split up before graduation – Neither Sookie or JB saw any point in keeping things going. Culturally, they were polar opposites. They had nothing in common. Not a single song or movie or book.

Jerome cleared his throat and nodded to the tenants of the strip mall he owned. "Good evenin' folks. I'm sure you're all wonderin' why you're here and I'll just cut to the chase. The strip mall ya'll have your stores in ... I wanna use it for somethin' else."

Gasps echoed around the meeting hall and both Adele Stackhouse and Caroline Bellefleur stood up to basically say the same thing – they had contracts. Jerome put his hands out in front of him to calm the brewing storm.

"I know, I know. You won't lose your businesses ... they'll just be moving."

"Where?" Tara Thornton stood and spoke up. "I've got a big client base in this town – if I move I might lose them!"

"Not far, not far at all. In fact some of you might have noticed all the building going on just off I-20. Some have speculated that it's a mall, some say it's a multiplex ... but it's a retail park that I've invested in specifically so your businesses have somewhere to go when I open my new flagship gym where your stores now sit."

JB flipped his chart and everyone craned forward to have a look at the map of the retail park. Some of the businesses were already pencilled in for units – Tara and Collette had small units for their clothes store and beauty salon respectively. It turned out JB would be managing his very own small gym between Tara's Togs and Simply Beautiful. All of the stores currently in the strip mall were represented – except Stackhouse Computer Creations and Bellefleur Electrical Emporium.

"I know a couple of you will have questions – if you could just wait until I have the particulars finished with everyone and we'll discuss it after the presentation."

Jerome went on to tell them how the retail park was ready to open as soon as they told the shop fitters what they wanted and got their stock moved over. When everything had been explained and everyone was gone except the Bellefleurs and Stackhouses, Jerome called them to the front and circled two units with a blue pen and one unit with a red pen.

"Now, I know that the only units big enough to house your selling stock and over stocks are almost three times as big as the units you have now. The problem is they're double the rent." Both families gasped and started muttering amongst themselves. "Before you get all fired up, let me propose an alternative – you pool your resources. Become one big electronics superstore – like that Buy Everything place in Shreveport."

Caroline Bellefleur huffed and crossed her arms as her staff emulated the stance behind her – except Bill. Adele smiled at her and crossed her own arms.

"I have no problem with that; Stackhouse Computer Creations has gone from strength to strength. We could afford one of those big units on our own – but we'd need to take on a lot more people to be able to staff it adequately. That takes time that we don't seem to have. Can you say the same Caroline?"

Caroline narrowed her eyes and held back a hiss from her gritted teeth. "We'd be in a ... similar position."

There was no way a Bellefleur would admit, to a Stackhouse no less, that they couldn't afford the new unit.

"Then we've reached an accord." Adele smiled. "Haven't we?"

Caroline nodded and held out her hand regally. Adele rolled her eyes and grasped her hand firmly, shaking three times before letting go. "A superstore it is. What do you think of the name 'SB Electrical'?"

"Why is the S before the B?" Andy gruffly muttered.

Sookie rolled her eyes. "Do you really want to work for 'BS Electrical'?"

Jerome clapped his hands together and smiled that the most likely blockage to his plan wasn't going to be a problem at all.

"Well, I'll let you guys hash out the details with your lawyers and banks. I'll let the shop fitters know they'll be hearing from you. If you could have everything wrapped up by the end of the week it'd be swell!"

"A week?" Caroline squeaked.

"Not a problem." Adele looked pointedly at Caroline. "Make it so."

The Stackhouse Matriarch nudged Sookie as she and Bill started snorting, much to the confusion of the Bellefleur clan.

Buy Everything – Shreveport

Eric narrowed his eyes as he saw Pam taking another personal call on her cell on the shop floor. She'd already been warned about it - twice. He sighed and made his way over to the toasters and blenders, noticing that Pam was practically giddy as she slipped the phone back in her pocket.

"Pam, we've talked about this. You can't take personal calls on the shop floor – you're going to need to come to the office with me."

"Why, so you can fire me? Don't bother – I quit. My friend Sookie just happens to have advised me that there are a few openings in her family business and has given me first refusal on a job there."

"Oh ... well ... that's good. I guess. Are you leaving right now or will you finish your shift?"

"I'll finish my shift here – their store won't be opening for another week or two, so I'll need all the money I can get."

"Look, you can work here until you need to start your new job – to be honest I didn't want to fire you. It's been fun having a woman around the place who owns a brain. The other girls who work here ... they can read packaging – that's the extent of their product knowledge. But you've done your homework on every single product in the area you're accountable for."

Pam blinked. "To sell the products adequately it's important to know about them. More knowledge means more sales, which means more commission, which means more money in my pocket."

"If only everyone could see it that simply." Eric laughed and pulled Pam into a hug.

They broke apart when the store manager, Andre, cleared his throat behind them. "Eric, I need to see you in my office."

He walked away, expecting Eric to follow automatically. Pam raised an eyebrow and Eric shrugged, he was slightly baffled by Andre's harsh tone – usually his boss was in a good mood because his sales were always high. When Eric got to Andre's office, Andre was sitting behind his desk with an annoyed look on his face.

"Head office has just emailed me about you, Eric."

"Uh ... okay. What was it about?" Eric was usually confident and clear in his speech, but Andre's knitted eyebrows had him hesitate when asking the question.

"There's been a complaint; a big one. Do you remember Maudette Pickens or Dawn Greene?"

Eric smiled and nodded. "Yeah, I remember them. Dawn came in every week for a couple of months to buy stuff and Maudette spent $2,000 in one sale. That was a great month for commission."

The way Andre glared at him made Eric stop grinning immediately. "Their lawyer doesn't think so. It turns out that Johan Glassport trolls for new clients in a web forum called 'A Woman Scorned'."

Eric groaned and rubbed his face with both hands. "It's not my fault that those crazy chicks fell for the flirting and spent all their cash thinking I would screw them!"

"Glassport's company slogan is 'Where there's blame, there's a claim'. Our legal department is already in negotiations to settle – which brings me to your involvement." Andre closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Eric, your ... methods to get the sales are effective and have brought the store success but ... I can't defend them or you and neither will Buy Everything as a company. I'm sorry, Eric, but you're fired. "

Eric was speechless; he left Andre's office in a state of shock, his pale skin and glazed expression making his curious colleagues whisper animatedly.

"Eric? What happened?" Pam gently touched Eric's forearm to get his attention.

"They fired me because I didn't screw the customers."

Pam patted Eric's shoulder and pushed him toward the locker room with one hand and digging out her phone with the other. "Hey, Sookie. You didn't have any more sales positions going? It turns out Eric's LFG too."

*LFG = Looking for group. A common term in online games when someone needs a team of people to complete a quest or objective.