When Stan had called Eric thirty minutes after first dark to request her help in interrogating Hugo further, Sookie had gladly agreed. These people who had caused so much hassle deserved to pay. Plus, Hugo was a vindictive little snake who chose to double-cross someone he supposedly loved instead of realizing his situation was hopeless and getting out while he still could. She strongly suspected Isobel hadn’t helped in that situation, either.
Yes, she was definitely looking forward to using her gift to find out what she could, namely exactly how deeply Hugo was affiliated with the FoTS, what he knew about that so-called “church”. She also wondered just how aware Isobel was about Hugo’s dealings with the FoTS.
Eric had reluctantly agreed after requiring Stan to keep news of her telepathy under the strictest of confidence, and hung up immediately after stating that they would arrive in two hours. That was when Sookie decided that vampires in general truly had no telephone manners.
As she dug through her sadly meager supply of fresh clothing, he paced the length of the room as he worried about news of Sookie’s telepathy running rampant in the vampire community. If news of her gift should reach his Queen… While he trusted Stan, he didn’t trust him that much. Vampires were such horrible gossips anyway, but to have news of a telepath?
Besides, only two, now three, beings were worthy of having that level of his trust: his Maker, his Child, and now Sookie.
Eric knew he could and would protect her, but such protection would be so much easier if her gift were kept secret, and as much as he’d like to, he just couldn’t risk placing that kind of hope in Stan’s silence. As his mind ran through contingency plans and options, one way of increasing her protection screamed at him on an instinctual level.
“Sookie,” his call stopped her just as she was heading to the bathroom to change. “Come,” he continued more gently as he indicated the bed. “There is something we should do before you dress.”
Confused as to his intentions as he sat down on the side of the bed yet wishing there was something she could do to alleviate his worry on her behalf, she placed her clothes on a nearby chair and approached him.
Eric drew her to stand between his knees and took her hands in his. “I want you to take some blood before we go,” he began bluntly. “I trust Stan about as far as I can throw him, which is to say I trust him, but not all that much. I don’t anticipate any trouble tonight, but with everything that’s going on, it is always best to be prepared.”
Sookie lightly squeezed his hands then placed them on her waist so she could rest her on warm palms on his bare shoulders. She wasn’t surprised when his hands snuck up the bottom of his shirt she was still wearing to grasp her hips instead.
“Ok,” she agreed. While the thought of ingesting more of his blood didn’t exactly tickle her fancy, she found that she actually didn’t mind as much as she thought she should. His blood did energize her, and it seemed to make her telepathy easier to use and control, too.
But the main thing right now, she realized, was that taking his blood might make him feel better. There was still too much danger and uncertainty even though they had connected with Godric…wherever he was now.
So, more blood, then… With that thought in mind, she steeled her stomach as she gazed into his darkening blue eyes. She could detect his excitement through their bond and mentally rolled her eyes. Trust a vampire to get excited about having someone take their blood.
Eric mentally cursed. The instant he had decided to offer Sookie his blood his libido had taken notice, and now he was hard as a rock and had no time to take care of the situation.
Sookie had surprised him by agreeing so readily to his suggestion; that she had done so without even asking any questions had made his already rigid cock give a painful jerk.
He sorely regretted not being far enough along in his relationship with her to warrant a quick, hard fuck, but she wasn’t ready, not yet at any rate. As soon as this dangerously annoying mystery was solved, however…
Forcing himself back into the here and now, he noted the acceptance in her warm gaze, and smirked at her gasp when he tilted his head and pricked the side of his neck with his fingernail.
When she quickly leaned in to fasten her lips around the small but freely bleeding wound, he groaned his pleasure. He was certain that she had no idea of the privilege he was granting her. Vampires tended to be extremely protective of their own necks and would never consider allowing anyone but those closest to them access to such a vulnerable place…usually only their Maker, and sometimes a beloved Child, were allowed such an honor. His hips thrust instinctively with her every pull, and he came with a great shudder just as his wound closed.
Sensing Eric’s pleasure through both the bond and his movements, Sookie held him closer than necessary, sucked a little harder, and, when his wound closed, she gave his healed skin a few final soothing licks to ease him back down from his bliss. The fact that she was somehow able to give the thousand-year-old vampire such a powerful orgasm stroked her ego and turned her on more than a little. She was sure she was blushing a nice, bright fuchsia.
With a final peck, she whispered against his throat, “Well, that must have been pretty good for you.”
He growled his satisfaction, then suggested with a nip to her earlobe, “I could return the favor if you’d like,” then laughed when he looked over and saw her deepening blush.
“Oh, I don’t think so. You keep that sexy beast put up for now – we have work to do.” She turned to leave his partial embrace but found herself quickly placed back onto the bed with the large blond vampire resting half on top of her.
By unspoken consent, both turned so that they were facing side by side as Eric’s expression turned serious.
“I hate that Stan knows about your telepathy,” he stated bluntly. “He has assured me that he will keep this information to himself, but Hugo and now Isobel both know. As I said before, I do not expect trouble tonight, but we may have issues later.”
“Your queen,” Sookie whispered fearfully. While she didn’t regret using her telepathy to help, she was becoming even more aware of the troubles that might result from it. “What can we do?”
“Not expose your talent to anyone else for a start,” Eric retorted with a pointed glance. “Just be careful and follow my lead, Sookie. I know you want to help, and while that is an admirable quality, it could also get you killed.” He stroked a finger down her cheek, captivated by the warm velvet softness beneath her blush. “Do not fear. I will protect you, but,” he drew his gaze from the softness of her cheek to meet her worried brown eyes, “take care, and follow my lead, dear heart. Make my job easier.”
Sookie nodded as she gazed into his worried blue eyes, then raised her hand to capture his own so she could place a kiss into his palm. With another nod of understanding, she left the bed before her own libido succumbed to his partially clothed magnificence.
By the time they were both showered and dressed, and Sookie had eaten a full dinner at a nearby supe-owned establishment, it was time to go to Stan’s place. While both were dreading it, both were also looking forward to finding more of the missing puzzle pieces. It was well and past time to go back home.
As they approached the entrance to Stan’s drive, Eric shut down the part of the bond that would transmit his worry since he knew she would need to concentrate. There were many fewer vehicles around than in their previous visit, for which Eric was thankful. In fact, the residence looked almost deserted.
This time, when they rang the doorbell, a much younger vampire answered and led immediately led them to Stan’s office. The rooms they passed were empty, lending an eerie quality to the place. Sookie expanded her mental net, and only counted four vampires in the entire house: Eric, the one leading them, one in a nearby room, and one a bit farther away and, oddly, higher up. There was only one human present – who was also oddly higher up.
That must be Hugo, she thought as she wondered about the almost empty residence. Maybe Stan really was serious about keeping her telepathy a secret?
At the young vampire’s knock, a voice only heard by the vampires ordered, “Enter.”
After the traditional nods of greeting, Stan offered them both a seat, then, his visage slightly less glaring than the evening before, awkwardly asked Sookie if she needed anything to eat or drink. Although his tone was meant to be congenial, the way he said “drink” made Sookie hide a shiver.
Stiffing a smile from her own amusement over his discomfort over the subject of human refreshments, she quickly replied, “Thank you, Sheriff, but I’m fine. I’d like to get to the business at hand if we could?” She breathed a bit easier when she felt Eric’s burst of approval over her answer.
Face immediately relaxing into appreciative relief, he said, “You are certain you cannot hear the thoughts of vampires?”
Sookie shook her head. “No, your minds are blessedly quiet.”
Stan appeared disappointed for a brief moment but continued, “I have the prisoners stored in the attic.” Noticing her surprise, he added, “I have reason to believe that Isobel was not as careful with her pet as she should well have been, and her actions have not only put you two in danger, but possibly myself, my nest, and who knows who all else in danger as well. That cannot go unpunished.”
Since Stan’s reasoning was going along the same lines as her own, she simply nodded, as did Eric.
“Come,” Stan suddenly commanded, all pretence at patience obviously gone. He rose and gestured for them to exit his office before him.
Sookie appreciated Eric’s gesture of support as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders as the Sheriff led them down the long hallway. Eventually they climbed two sets of stairs, and she glanced around curiously at the normal appearance of the landing, lit by a single sconce at the top of the stairwell, as they waited for Stan to unlock what looked like a heavy but ordinary door. Before he opened it, he donned a pair of gloves from the small table nearby, and tossed Eric an extra pair.
Once he opened the heavy door and switched on the single light, it became clear that nothing in the small, windowless room could possibly be considered “ordinary”. The walls, the inside of the door, and the door’s handle were lined with silver, and to each side of the narrow room sat a cage. The first cage held a toilet, a sink, and a chair…and Hugo. The second cage, positioned directly across from the first one, was made of bars coated in freshly polished silver and held nothing but a chair…and Isobel.
A small trashcan near the first cage held the smelly remnants of a fast food meal. There was a chair by the door which Stan drew toward the first cage then motioned for Sookie to sit. Other than those items, the room was painfully bare.
After a few minutes, she sighed in frustration.
She almost laughed when both Eric and Stan raised identical brows querying her annoyance. “He’s mentally reciting a weird version of The Lord’s Prayer,” she huffed. “Apparently the FoTS can’t even get that right.”
Stan hands fisted as he asked with deceptive calmness, “Would a little pain help clear his mind?”
“Unfortunately, no,” she had to reply. The more she thought about Hugo, the more she despised him. “All he’d think about then would be just the pain, but…” she trailed off in disgust at what she was going to have to do.
“But?” Eric’s deep voice interrupted whatever Stan was about to say, and calmed her nerves a bit.
Sookie continued, her voice resigned, “But I can get a much better read on him if I’m touching,” she shivered, “him, on his hand or wrist. No matter what he decides to chant to himself, I’d be able to read below the surface then.”
“One moment,” Stan ordered in a clipped tone, then went silent. A minute later, the young vampire reappeared carrying a sturdy chair, a length of rope, and two sets of handcuffs.
His silent appearance startled Sookie, and she begrudged Stan’s resulting delight at her discomfort. Seeing what they had in mind, she rose so they could reposition her chair after they removed Hugo from his cage.
With much cursing from Hugo, who was no longer hiding behind The Lord’s Prayer, they finally had the prisoner safely seated and cuffed to the chair with the younger vampire standing behind him with his hands bearing down on his shoulders. She suspected the rope wound around him and the chair several times was tighter than it really needed to be. She couldn’t say she cared.
Eric placed Sookie’s chair closer than he’d like to Hugo, who was still spitting curses, and encouraged her to sit. Finally Isobel, who had been watching the proceedings with minimal curiosity, told Hugo to shut the fuck up and get on with it. Everyone present silently agreed; Hugo didn’t.
His face giving every appearance of the first vampire in existence to develop a headache, Stan asked, “Does his mouth need to work for you to read his mind?”
“Not at all,” she replied succinctly.
Faster than she could see, the young vampire gagged Hugo with material he had apparently taken from his pocket. Sookie decided she was liking this vampire’s efficiency more by the second.
Hugo was no longer actively cursing, but he was still making annoying noises, and Stan gladly offered to glamour him into shutting up. Sookie almost agreed but then declined, stating that she didn’t want to risk it.
“Risk it how,” inquired Eric. He wasn’t sure what she was getting at. Throughout the proceedings he had kept a tight control over his emotions, only allowing support, courage and strength to flow through the bond, but internally he was livid.
This filthy traitor, this Hugo, may well have cost him and his Sookie an untold amount of trouble simply because he allowed himself to get caught up in the old vampire pet’s fantasy. Five minutes alone with Isobel should have told the stupid man that all he’d get from her was an eventual case of frostbite. Instead the fool had apparently allowed himself to get caught up in surrealistic daydreams and then had the cowardly gall to turn traitor. There were few beings that Eric despised more than a traitor with only sexual abusers and vampires who drank from children coming to mind first. He didn’t bother trying to mask his disgust of the stupid bastard.
“What if Isobel or the vampire who works with the FoTS installed a fail-safe glamour, something that would make his mind not work right or mess with his memory if someone other than them or Isobel tried to glamour him?” Sookie had already sensed several hazy and darker places in the worm’s mind.
Eric, Stan, and the young vampire all hissed in unison. Isobel merely looked bored.
“Fuck,” Stan erupted although he stood as still as a statue. “That is…that is a brilliant deduction, human.” Hugo’s loudly arrogant posturing suddenly devolved into quiet fear.
Eric didn’t like the new-found respect for Sookie that he saw growing in the other Sheriff’s suddenly brighter gaze. He started rubbing his hands over her shoulders in a comforting, possessive manner.
While he sent her a strong burst of respect, pride, and love, he stated firmly, “Well done, my pet, well done.” It galled him to have to utter the words but damned if he’d let Stan get any ideas. He just hoped Sookie knew the true meaning behind the despised phrase, and when he received her own love, acceptance and, oddly enough, slight humor back, he was immensely relieved.
Now that Hugo was blessedly quiet, Sookie resolutely placed her hand on his and proceeded to wander through his revolting mind.
It took a few minutes to wade through several hazy and almost hidden spots, but Sookie was finally able to get a clear scope of Hugo’s brain. The darker spots would take more time.
It seemed that the man had become so obsessed with Isobel that he’d turned his back on his wife, his children, and even his career, and that Isobel had not only known this, but had done nothing to discourage it.
She was clearly aware that he was addicted to her and wanted nothing more than to please and serve her. She knew that his greatest wish was that she would turn him so that could be at her side forever.
What she apparently didn’t know was that when it became obvious that her feelings for him were much less intense than his own, his heart and mind had turned bitter, and he had gone to the FoTS for comfort and consolation. Sookie was very slightly appeased that Isobel hadn’t known about his affiliation with the FoTS.
The FoTS, of course, had been very pleased to have a new highly malleable and highly placed spy, and had made copious use of his position while continually stroking his ego and feeding his self-importance. During his many meetings with middle and upper management of the Dallas branch of the FoTS, Hugo had indeed often been in the presence of that Deacon Brown…and Raban…
At first most of what she found were simply discussions about generic “church” business involving pandering strokings of Hugo’s inflatable ego, or times where elders would allow Hugo to sit in on meetings just in case he could add “crucial” vampire information. The specific information he provided in such settings was often nothing more than proof of his traitorous rat-like ship jumping.
Sookie gasped when she suddenly saw a conversation between several higher-ups in the “church” that Hugo had overheard. The traitor was an eager and fairly decent eavesdropper. Her eyes filled with tears as she heard a tall man with dark hair and a fake tan bragging about “the deed finally being done” with “that renouncer Elspeth.”
Her tears turned to anger when another man, this one closely resembling Deacon Brown, complained about how long it had taken “to sweet-talk her into burning her damn self”, that he and his wife had “wasted too damn much time on one damn vamper” and that they were glad that “the bitch finally decided to do the right thing, just too bad she didn’t take her little boyfriend with her when she burnt.”
It was very hard listening to endure, but, helped along by Eric’s steady support both by bond and by his hands massaging her shoulders, she continued.
Eventually she discovered a memory of the second man, the one who resembled Brown, having a conversation on a speakerphone with a Mr. Newlin about making sure that Raban knew nothing about Elspeth. Hugo and Brown were in some office with the Brown look-alike, and this Newlin was chewing them out royally over something about a different risk with Raban.
The next memory she uncovered made her physically sick to her stomach. Raban was working with Deacon Brown in the V trade. Hugo had been left unattended in Brown’s office at the FoTS, and was rifling through the files on Brown’s desk. The file that had caught his interest was labeled simply “The List” and when he had opened it, she could see through his mind’s eye that it was a list of vampires…because not only were Eric and Pam on it, but so was Felicia, and Thalia, and several other vampires whose names she’d overheard from Fangtasia. They were all under the category titled “Raban.” There were several other files on that desk, and she really wished that Hugo had taken the time to snoop through those, too.
A few minutes later, when she overheard a phone call where Hugo described Stan, listed the names of the vampires in Stan’s retinue, and then gave a detailed description of the inside of Stan’s compound, Sookie decided she needed a break.
She released the disgusting traitor’s hand so fast that it surprised Eric, but when she slapped Hugo across the face harder than any slap he’d ever witnessed before, no one said a word when she walked out, saying, “I need a break, but please leave him where he is. I’ll be back in a few minutes. We are so not done yet.”
After she reached the doorway, however, she paused, then turned around to face Eric and Stan. “Is there any way you can glamour him to not fall prey to any previous glamours, to void any other suggestions already planted in his brain?”
Eric and Stan both thought hard for a moment, then Eric, with a knowing gleam in his eye, stated, “Yes, in fact there is. Only very old vampires have the power and force to do it, but yes, it can be done.”
**A/N: I (Mer) am responsible for this mess – I hope it doesn’t disappoint!**