Story Description: Being thrown into the trunk by Debbie Pelt forced Sookie to the realization that there was no longer any time for her to put off answering the hard questions in her life. But will she have the opportunity to enact the epiphanies she makes while waiting for Bill to “wake up” in the trunk? And what of Eric? Will feeling Sookie’s terror make him more or less regretful about the feelings he hates having?
Inspirations: This SHORT is different from my usual, as it was inspired by two wonderful readers: valady1 & ncmiss12. Basically, I looked at their ideas and noticed that they were both set around the trunk incident in Club Dead. I decided to do a story beginning with that incident, based on SOME of their suggestions, though I did change certain things. I hope that both ladies are happy with the outcome. Below are the requests they made.
Request Number 1 (from valady):
I have at least one idea that I would like to see made into a short story. In Club Dead, the infamous trunk scene. Would love to see you write a story where Eric gets there in time to save Sookie (and if you want to have him accidentally off Bill, that would be a nice bonus).
Request Number 2 (from ncmiss12):
Another idea if you are still looking for ideas. [According to one of your other stories,] if Bill had not raped her, Sookie would have broken up with Bill and allowed Eric to court her. So what if Sookie parked the car in the garage and just left Bill there in the trunk and did not look inside. Then Debbie would not have been able to toss her in. Instead she went to get some dinner and wait for Eric. Then Eric shows up and drives her home. That would be an interesting story, that I had not seen written!
Like I said, I have taken these ideas and altered them a bit for my own purposes. I hope you will let me know what you think as you read!
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. No profit has been made from this work. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. The events in this story have been inspired by True Blood and the Southern Vampire Mysteries book series.
Chapter 01: Bridge over Troubled Water
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2004
To say that Sookie Stackhouse was freaked out was an understatement. She glanced nervously into the rearview mirror of the white Lincoln that Eric Northman had managed to get for her for the task she was carrying out.
She saw nothing suspicious—except for all the other cars around her. For all she knew—and given her luck—they were all full of people out to harm her!
“How do people in movies always know when they’re being followed?” she muttered to herself. “Is there a trick to knowing what cars really are suspicious?”
She scoffed and looked around. The large Lincoln Town Car she was currently driving actually looked “suspicious!” It was obviously pretty old—likely more than a decade past its prime, maybe even two. Heck! Even her little yellow “beater” had a CD player. The Lincoln had only a cassette player and dials that reminded her of the ones in the station wagon her parents had owned before their deaths.
The station wagon that had been washed away during a flashflood.
The one that became her parents’ first coffin.
Sookie shook off that sad thought for one much less emotionally charged. She wondered where Eric had managed to get the vehicle so late the night before.
Borrowed, stolen, or bought?
“Commandeered?” she asked as she glanced in the rearview mirror again—even more nervous than before.
If the car had been stolen and a police officer found her, she wondered how she could possibly explain the situation to him or her.
“You see, officer, a Viking stole this Lincoln for me so I could haul a Civil War vet from a king’s mansion. Oh—and please don’t open the trunk till dark. Otherwise, all the efforts I’ve put into my current mission will have been wasted. Thanks so much!”
She laughed at the absurdity of her own words—and at herself for saying them aloud—even as she glanced in the rearview mirror again. The Were who’d been at the gate of King Russell Edgington’s estate had seemed suspicious of her—or maybe he was still “cagey” from the fact that the full moon had been the night before. Either way, she felt as if she needed to be cautious.
“In case of emergency, break glass” cautious!
After all, her life had been teaching her all kinds of lessons lately about being vigilant about her safety.
The stake in her gut had simply been the last.
But what if her shields hadn’t been down before that incident? What if she hadn’t been scanning the thoughts of others enough to pick up the thoughts of Steve Newlin and his crony as they planned to stake Betty Joe Pickard, Russell’s second-in-command?
“Betty Joe would be dead,” Sookie answered her own question.
Of course, another good question was why she’d stepped in front of a stake meant for a stranger, a stranger affiliated with someone who was allowing Lorena to torture Bill in any old way she chose?
Maybe that was the question Sookie needed to answer first.
As affable as King Russell seemed, the truth was that the Were sent to kidnap her had had to come from somewhere.
Someone ordered him to come after her.
“Lorena must have tortured information about me from Bill,” Sookie reasoned. “And then Lorena passed that information along to Russell. But do they know that ‘Sookie Stackhouse’ is a telepath? Or did they just think that I knew where Bill’s computer thing was? Maybe my name’s already out there in the Supe world because of the Dallas thing? It’s not like there are many people who have the name ‘Sookie.’ Why couldn’t I have a name like Mary Jones? And why the hell am I talking aloud to myself? Okay—screaming to myself?!” Sookie cried out as she slammed the palm of her hand against the steering wheel and once again looked in the rearview mirror.
In a moment of irony only God could have created, Elvis’s rendition of “Bridge over Troubled Water” came on the only radio station she’d been able to tune into in the old car.
Sookie contemplated turning off the song, but—in deference to her friend—she resolved to keep it on, sparing Bubba a thought and hoping that he was okay.
Of course—not turning off the song was doubly difficult, as her parents had literally died because of a “bridge over troubled water.”
“Bubba would understand,” Sookie said as she looked at the radio console. Not seeing an off switch, she spun the volume knob counter-clockwise until the car was silent.
The negative of that silence, however, was that the events of the last few days hit her as hard as—well—as hard as Lorena had hit her just a little while ago.
“I killed her,” Sookie said to the car behind—a completely unsuspicious Toyota that still managed to make her paranoid because it had been following her for about a mile.
“Vampire blood,” she whispered, even as she stretched out her mind to try to capture the thoughts of the person behind her. Vampire blood had always helped her with her disability—whether it was in shielding her mind-reading so that no thoughts would come through or increasing her range.
Living in a rural area, Sookie didn’t often drive in anything that could be considered “traffic,” but speeding south on Interstate 55, she could hear the jumbles of many thoughts, whirling around her mind. In similar situations in the past (when she wasn’t driving), either she would simply let the inevitable migraine form and pray for sleep, or she would (once she had shields) raise her defenses as tightly as she could and pray that they would hold up.
She’d never actually tried to read a thought from another car.
At 65 miles per hour.
“But vampire blood could help me,” she told herself, even as she was able to zero in on the thoughts of the man driving the car behind her.
“BAP!” came his thoughts. “BAP, BAP, BAP!”
“BAP?” she asked, even as she probed, wondering if distance and rate of travel were affecting her ability.
“Buns, apples, peanut butter!” the man said. “BAP! Don’t forget BAP! B. A. P.”
“A grocery list,” Sookie sighed with relief, even as she admired the man’s strategy for remembering the items his wife had told him not to forget at the store. She even managed a little laugh as the man thought that “BAP” would be the sound of the ear boxing he’d get if he forgot what kind of apples his son liked.
Apparently, there was only one kind he would eat.
“Pink Ladies?” Sookie asked herself, never having heard of that kind of apple before, but thinking she might want to try it based upon the man’s recollections of it.
Of course, when the man’s thoughts drifted to a “pink” part on his own “lady,” Sookie quit listening immediately.
She’d once heard that men thought about sex every seven seconds. That simply wasn’t true—unless they were drunk or sitting in the middle of Fangtasia. No. In actuality—while men thought about sex more than women did—they didn’t do it nearly as often as one might think. However, when a man inevitably did switch to the carnal, Sookie knew to “switch off” the channel of his mind as soon as she could.
Because of her telepathy, she was in the unique position to know that no one needed to see men as they saw themselves mid-sex-act! And—most definitely—no one should be subjected to their thoughts as they remembered such acts. Having heard things like “one hole is as good as any other” or “it got better once we were doin’ it doggy style” had—understandably—made her pause when it came to relationships with men.
A vampire lover had seemed to be her salvation.
Once again, she looked in the rearview mirror. The vampire in question was currently resting in the trunk only a few feet away from her. After his torture by his maker—who was both sadistic and insane, according to Sookie’s short interaction with her—Bill Compton had managed to help her help him into the trunk before he succumbed to his day-death.
“Though Eric’s blood did most of the work,” she sighed, thinking of the vampire who’d given her his blood just the night before so that she’d be strong enough for the task ahead.
And so that she’d heal from the stake-attack!
She shook her head. She might have been the mind reader, but Eric Northman seemed to be a psychic at times; after all, he’d anticipated the fact that she’d need every ounce of blood she could get from him to a.) heal from her stake wound; b.) kill Lorena; c.) hoist Bill up and help him into the trunk of a car during the day; and d.) not go insane during the getaway part.
“Okay—so ‘D’ is still up for debate,” she muttered.
Of course, if the question of her sanity was up in the air, the status of her relationship with Bill Compton was up in the stratosphere!
She sighed as she allowed herself to contemplate a possibility more terrifying in some ways than the prospect that someone was following her.
A prospect worse than a stake to the side.
“What am I to Bill?” she asked.
“What is he to me?” she followed up, her voice now wavering. “What do I really want him to be to me anymore?” she tagged on.
Ironically, it was her burgeoning feelings for Eric that had caused her to question how she felt about Bill.
If she still felt anything for him.
After all, she’d been worrying that her softening feelings toward Eric—her almost-inescapable attraction toward him (if she was being honest with herself)—had originated from the moment she’d sucked the silver out of his body in Dallas.
The moment his blood had entered her body.
“But I was already beginning to trust him,” she sighed to herself as she remembered the hours after Luna had helped her escape from the Fellowship of the Sun church.
It had been Eric waiting for her at the hotel. He’d been Johnny on the Spot as he’d—oh so very carefully—pulled glass shards from her body and treated her wounds.
His fangs hadn’t even come down!
After Dallas, when her relationship with Bill was anything but simple—considering the fact that he’d gone “hunting” after the attack on Stan’s nest instead of making sure that she was okay—Eric had come through for her once again.
By attending an orgy with her!
“I’ll never look at pink Lycra the same,” she sighed to herself. Of course, the night before—as her back had been to Eric’s front as he’d fed her his blood—she’d gotten an even “bigger” indication of what the Lycra had been trying to restrain.
“A lot bigger,” she whispered.
And then she snorted.
“But is bigger really better?” she asked.
And she wasn’t talking about the size of her lovers’ nether regions.
At least, not just about them.
“It, I mean,” she muttered.
Because Eric couldn’t be counted as her lover—could he?
“Maybe he could?” she asked herself in the rearview mirror. After all, he’d had his fingers inside of her and would have likely had more inside of her if Bubba hadn’t interrupted—saved her from her own desires.
She shook her head. No—she wouldn’t count Eric as her lover—not yet. In baseball terms, he’d gotten only to second base. Or was the use of the fingers on certain “parts” considered third base?
Sookie frowned. Honestly, she thought that there should be five bases in the sex analogy—or maybe batting should be counted.
“Yeah, it should,” she nodded, though no one could see her.
“The batting is for kissing,” she said definitively. “How well that is done determines where the batter goes from there. First base for touching above the waist. Second for touching below the waist. Third for kissing and or sucking all the good parts below the waist.” She blushed. “That means fourth is for the actually deed.”
Sookie sighed. Certainly, she’d been in enough women’s minds to know that they all thought about the baseball analogy once in a while. Indeed, most women were consistently worried about which “base” was appropriate for the various dates they went on, for few of them wanted the men (or the women) in their lives to consider them to be “loose.”
She scoffed. If her brother were judged in the same way, the town would have kicked him out as a harlot by then!
Regardless of double standards—or baseball—the fact of the matter was that Bill Compton had been the only “boyfriend” she’d ever had.
Though a lot of people in her small town still thought of her as a “slut” for having had him.
Of course, because she wasn’t actually a “slut,” she had no other boyfriends (or lovers) to liken Bill to—at least not directly. However, she could think about his actions in comparison to what other women “thought” about their own experiences.
But she had wondered about the validity of such comparisons. After all, Bill was a vampire, and vampires—like her—were “different.” But, then again, their presence in her life was the closest thing she’d ever had to the experiences of “normal” women. She couldn’t “hear” their thoughts, so—like any “normal” woman—she’d had to base her assessments of them on only what she could see.
And on what they did.
And on good, old-fashioned “chemistry.”
Then again, Gran had once told her that “chemistry” wasn’t necessarily the best indicator of longevity.
Plus, the whole “chemistry” thing could be all out of whack if Bill’s blood had been affecting her as much as she was worried that Eric’s was.
“It’s all so fuckin’ complicated!” she complained over her shoulder, as if the dead-for-the-day vampire could hear her.
“But maybe good, old-fashioned common sense is what’s needed here,” she spoke at a more level tone. “Maybe the good, old-fashioned chemistry question should be shelved for the time being.”
As Sookie exited the Interstate and got onto the street that would eventually take her to Alcide’s apartment, which was still a good fifteen minutes away, she looked into the rearview to see if anyone had followed her.
She breathed a sigh of relief as no other cars exited where she did, though she’d feel a lot safer once she was in Alcide’s apartment.
Then again, there was a part of her that didn’t want to leave Bill “alone” for the day. She intended to park in the underground garage that serviced Alcide’s apartment building, but—even with Eric’s blood—there was no way she could get Bill from the trunk to the elevator and into Alcide’s place, where there were no light-tight places. Indeed, leaving Bill in the trunk would be the safest bet for him. The question was whether or not she should stay in the car and “guard” him until sunset.
Not that she could do much by way of saving him if a bunch of Russell’s Weres came looking for him.
Instead of forcing herself to return to her contemplation of her and Bill’s relationship, Sookie wondered what the likelihood of Russell’s people finding them would be. Sadly, the latter topic was the easier one to deal with in that moment.
“Because my life bein’ in danger again is better than the broken heart I’ve been workin’ on,” she mumbled to herself.
The truth was that she very well might be found by Russell’s goons, but there were some very big “if’s” involved in such a scenario.
For one, the Weres in Russell’s employ would only know there was something amiss if they found Lorena’s remains and/or noticed that Bill was missing. And she didn’t get the impression that they would be bothering the place where Lorena had been holding and “caring” for Bill.
And, even if they were alerted to a problem, they would have to connect the issue to her. In their eyes, she was a mere human, after all. And she’d been Russell’s “guest” the night before. There would be no reason for the guards to think she had killed and/or kidnapped a vampire.
Of course, if they did suspect her, they would have to be proactive enough—or care about vampire affairs enough—to choose to come after her before consulting with their employer.
Or they might be more inclined to track her immediately—in order to impress their boss.
The question was: Could they find her?
The answer was likely “yes.”
“Given my luck,” she muttered.
They’d know what she was driving. They might very well know that she’d gone to Club Dead with Alcide the night before. It would make sense, then, for them to start their search at Alcide’s place. And if they did, they’d look in the parking structure and find the car.
“Dammit and Fuck!” she yelled hitting the steering wheel again. “Why can’t it be nighttime?” she added, looking at the sky. The large puffy cumulous clouds there seemed to laugh back at her.
She sighed. “You know Gran would wash your mouth out with soap for cussing!”
Of course, though Sookie had always taken her Gran’s lessons to heart, and she’d had enough respect for her elder not to do things like cuss in front of her—Sookie understood well just how much people said profanities in their heads.
Still—she had to appreciate Gran’s consistency. She would box Jason’s ears, just as she would box Sookie’s—if they slipped up and used a curse word in her presence.
Making the turn onto Alcide’s street, Sookie found herself grateful for GPS.
“Grateful for Gran’s teachings too,” she sighed.
As an adult, Sookie could truly appreciate her grandmother’s lessons—but she especially appreciated the uniqueness of them.
Gran had been from a generation of women who often held beliefs that were anything but “progressive.” But, while Maxine Fortenberry was wistful for the “good old days” when black folks “knew their place,” women would “stay home and raise children,” and gay people “were safely tucked into closets” (and vampires into coffins), Gran celebrated each and every difference she came upon.
That was probably why she accepted having a granddaughter who was so very different.
Gran was also progressive when it came to sex. She didn’t dislike Jason’s actions because he’d had sex before marriage. What she disapproved of was the fact that sex seemed to mean nothing more than physical pleasure to him. Sookie also knew from Gran’s thoughts that she had disapproved of the double-standard women faced. She had felt that it was wrong when women were labeled as “whores” or “sluts” for behavior that was called “sowing one’s wild oats” in men.
And—as for her feelings about Sookie’s sexuality? Gran wouldn’t have been bothered by Sookie losing her virginity before marriage.
What did bother the elderly woman was worrying that Sookie might never experience love because her telepathy interfered so greatly with the amount of contact she could have with a man—a human man. Indeed, Gran had been almost as excited and grateful as Sookie had been when her granddaughter couldn’t “hear” vampires.
Soon after she’d told Gran that Bill was “silent” to her, Gran said two things about love that were fated to be Sookie’s last lessons from her: that the man she loved should put her first and that the man she loved should accept her just as she was.
Gran had let on that the first thing wasn’t so easy for anyone to do, and she’d even indicated that she’d failed to put grandpa first a time or two.
“But that’s what forgiveness is for,” Sookie sighed as she repeated the words that Gran had told her.
It was the second qualification about love that Gran said Sookie couldn’t compromise on. She said that there might be “little things” that she wanted to change about her mate. For example, Gran had shared that she’d always wished that Grandpa would learn to put his trash into the waste basket, instead of on the kitchen counter, which was only one foot away. However, she said that the person Sookie loved shouldn’t want to change the fundamentals of who she was. Nor should she want to change the fundamentals of who he was.
Sookie had figured that Gran was talking about her curse—her telepathy.
But Sookie didn’t have any more time to think about that as she pulled into the parking structure for Alcide’s building. Indeed, she re-tasked her mind for only telepathic duty as she drove cautiously around the narrow corners of the garage, moving toward the lowest level.
On the first level down, she heard a woman tired from work and ready to crash into her warm bed.
Sookie could empathize.
On the second level down, she heard a teen who’d taken his parents’ car without their knowledge and hoped that he wouldn’t get caught.
She couldn’t empathize.
Also on the second level down, she heard an older couple who were on their way to JCPenney because the man had gotten a gift-card for his birthday. He was contemplating getting a new pair of slippers and some underwear. The woman was hoping they’d be home before it began raining—as thunderstorms were in the forecast for the late afternoon and night.
As Sookie parked on the third level down, which contained much fewer cars than the other two levels, she stretched out her telepathy as far as possible—to the point that it caused her some pain.
There was nothing suspicious.
She breathed a sigh of relief and looked over her shoulder toward the trunk. “Bill, you and I both know that if Weres come, we’ll both be either taken or dead before nightfall. So I’m gonna go to Alcide’s and wait it out. There’s some TrueBlood in there for you. And I’ll come back after dark with more blood—hopefully with Alcide so that he can make sure you don’t do anything destructive while you’re tryin’ to heal.”
Feeling good about her decision, Sookie kept her shields down and hurried toward the elevator.
There was just one “if” she’d not considered, however.
What if Alcide wasn’t home?
As it turned out, he wasn’t.
And Sookie didn’t have a key.
“Fuck!” she yelled out to the empty hallway.
A/N: Some of you might remember that Sookie had been given a key to Alcide’s place in Club Dead. I have changed that little detail for the purposes of this narrative. There might also be a few other details that change here or there. It’s been a while since I’ve read the books, and my memory isn’t always so sharp. I hope you will forgive any discrepancies up to this point in the story. Of course, going forward, I will be changing A LOT!
For the time being-I won’t be able to post this story as consistently as I am Not without Action (which has a new chapter each week). I completed a draft of this in the fall, but my laptop was destroyed, and the story was lost-indeed, over 100,000 words was lost! I’d given only two chapters to Kleannhouse at that point. So at least I had them. So upset over the loss, I put aside this story for a while, but I’ve gone back to it. I’m currently RE-drafting it and hope that it will come to me smoothly, but I’m also incredibly busy with work. That being said, I hope you will look at this as a kind of “preview chapter” and a promise of more to come. Also, I mentioned this story was coming back when I had the full draft written, and some of you have PM’ed me about it, so I wanted to offer what I had. So-you will get this today and another chapter next week. After that, we’ll see.
Thanks so much to everyone still reading my work, especially since it’s not coming as fast as it used to because of my health issues. Y’all are the best.