Disclaimer : I own nothing True Blood or Southern Vampire Mystery Series related. I don’t think the books will play a part in this particular story but better safe than sued. Everything save for my original character of Daina Stackhouse belongs to those far more famous than I even want to be.
Sookie simply could not believe it. He had left her alone on another Saturday night. She may not be as wild as some of her friends but come on! Taking a deep breath, she tried very hard to let go of her annoyance… and failed miserably.
She knew part of that was because Bill never actually told her where he was going or why he had to go, there was always that hint that he would rather stay with her but had no choice but to leave and handle something more important. The only explanation she ever got was the ever popular and annoyingly vague blanket excuse. Vampire business. Which she knew was nothing more than polite vampire speak for, mind your own beeswax. She was southern, she understood subtext thank you very much.
The more she thought about it the angrier she got, she was just picking up the phone to call that good for nothing boyfriend of hers and give him a piece of her mind when she was distracted by a knock at the door. With Bill gone she couldn’t think of a single soul who would be bad mannered enough to come over so late. Throwing the cordless phone down on the couch with a huff she stomped to the door throwing it open ready to give the mystery intruder what for only to find her cousin Daina waiting on the other side.
“Oh my goodness Daina! What are you doing here? Why didn’t you call? Where have you been?” Though she’d never admit it she’d been worried for her cousin off and on for a few years now, all the gossip coming out of that side of the family seemed to say she was walking a bit too much on the wild side of life, but looking at her standing on the front porch she didn’t seem all the worse for wear.
“Calm down Sook, hug first, let me in second, then questions one at a time third.” She stood waiting with her arms open wide and in that moment she felt the tears begin to gather in her eyes. It had been so long since someone just held her, not since gran really, she didn’t realise how much she had missed it.
Reaching out she drew her absent cousin into a tight hug. She’s missed Daina so much! She was the only other soul she knew who had telepathy, she’d never told Bill about her cause, well you just didn’t talk about other people’s afflictions it simply wasn’t done. Finally releasing her she stepped to the side to let her in bouncing in one place the whole time. Daina was here; she just couldn’t believe it!
“So what are you doing here Daina?” While it wasn’t the question she wanted answered first it was like to be the most pressing. At her cousin’s chuckle of amusement she guessed she’d heard that errant thought. She’d have to remember to guard her own thoughts while she was in town. Normally all she had to worry with was keeping others thoughts out now she needed to remember to keep her own in.
Daina would never go into her mind without permission, she knew that, it was simply a matter of being polite with family, but if she wasn’t careful with someone else like her around she might start projecting her thoughts in an effort to be heard. It was a problem they had learned to deal with as children, but they hadn’t been around each other for a while now so she’d forgotten the need for it in the intervening years.
“To answer your first question, my parents are out of town and I got bored and figured you wouldn’t mind the company being alone like you are. Nice loud broadcasting by the way I heard you all the way in California, Bon Temp to L.A., soon you’ll go international darling. The first Saturday it happened I thought about calling you but didn’t want to butt in to your domestic difficulties, the second time I thought about coming for a visit but mom dragged me to this thing that was apparently super important to her, I figured it was a pattern now so I headed your way day before yesterday so I could be here this time. I think you and I need to talk.” The don’t you went unsaid but was heard loud and clear by them both.
Not able to meet her cousins eyes she started towards the kitchen calling back to her that this discussion needed tea and most likely pie as well, sugar always helped with late night conversations of the soul bearing variety.
Daina was sixteen but thanks to her telepathy she always seemed far older. The last time they’d seen each other had been when Daina had turned eleven. It had been the day after her birthday and she’d told her dad that her mom was thinking about the man down the lane again, her mother had gotten angry and told Gran that it was all because the two of them were together so often that the strangeness was catching and that if they took Daina far enough away she’d stop saying such things. The next day they had been gone without another word, moved to California of all places, changed their last name and never looked back.
Well at least her parents hadn’t looked. Two years later when Daina had turned thirteen was the first time they’d talked long distance. She had been twenty-two already working for Sam when right in the middle of her shift Daina had popped into her mind for a chat. She’d been more than impressed by the younger girl’s reach, and her powers had only grown since.
Sookie doubted she even knew half of what her young cousin was capable of and if she was being honest she could admit that she didn’t want to know. If Daina had developed any more afflictions that meant that she could as well, and she didn’t want that. She just wanted to be normal.
“Oh honey, you hear people’s thoughts. The normal ship has sailed, do yourself a favor and wave bye-bye from the shore and embrace your inner freak that’s the only way you’re ever gonna find even a small slice of peace. Now let’s talk about this inconsiderate bastard your dating shall we.” Daina arched her brow in that way some women knew how to do, the one that said without the help of any words at all that lying wasn’t the way to go with this particular topic.
Sookie looked across the table at her cousin trying to shield her thoughts and not show her nerves. She hadn’t been this self conscious around someone since she was a child and she’d forgotten how overwhelming it could be to have to continually protect herself. Fighting not to rub her temples she silently begged Daina to say something, anything because if they were waiting for her to move the conversations along they would be waiting a good long while. This was not a topic she wanted to talk about, especially not with her teenage cousin, but it was also a topic she knew Daina wouldn’t drop no matter what.
“So… this Bill is constantly late, he leaves you alone on date night, and he proclaims you as his in public without even a courtesy question tossed your way.” She watched her cousin tick off Bill’s faults one finger at a time like she was listing charges. “Sorry Sook but why exactly are you with him?”
“No! It’s not like that,” at her cousin’s disbelieving look she became defensive of the man she loved. “Really Bill’s never late, and he’s only left me alone a few Saturdays and that’s only recently. He only claimed me to protect me, the vampire world is very dangerous.” Giving her young cousin a stern look she willed her to change the subject. This was not something she wanted to discuss with a child.
“So tell me about your first date with Bill. You skipped that part when you were telling me all about him. It must have been romantic to get you to go all ga-ga at the drop of a hat like this, I mean here you are defending his honor and everything he must be a real prince charming.”
“Oh, well we…” No one had ever asked her that before. Thinking about it now she couldn’t remember ever going on a date with Bill. He’d come to the house once to meet Gran as a favor to her and they’d gone for a walk after, and they’d gone to Fangtasia once or twice but only on business. Sometimes he would sit in Merlottes when she was working and sort of visit in between customers, but again that was work. Why hadn’t they really gone out yet? They’d been dating for months now and sleeping together for nearly as long.
The strained silence of the room snapped her out of her morose thoughts. Glancing up at her cousin she found her looking at her with exasperation filling her eyes. She’d forgotten to shield and Daina had gotten all of that. Staring down at the table she fought not the blush. She was so embarrassed, she needed to get ahold of herself before Daina got an even bigger peek inside her head.
Daina simply could not believe it, she had come to Bon Temp as a bit of a joke really, expecting to just sit with her cousin and regale her with tales of her telepathy skills and being able to hear her from so far away while simultaneously eating ice cream in her kitchen and bashing her boyfriends dumb decisions but this was something else entirely. This Compton guy had in effect turned her bubbly outgoing cousin into a stepford wife, and he had done it so easily too just to add insult to injury. He swanned off to wherever he wanted and she stayed at home playing the part of the dutiful little wifey, without the benefit of the ring. The idea of going out and having a good time without him seemed to never cross her mind, even though they both knew she had friends who would love to hang with her whenever she asked.
The thoughts she’d gotten thrown her way had been jumbled and fragmented, but she managed to get the gist of it. Old tight ass had never even taken her out on a date. That just wouldn’t do at all. Coming to a decision she gave her cousin’s bowed head a look of contemplation before she began to smile.
“Go get changed.” She liked this idea more and more the longer she thought about it. Sookie’s head jerked up so fast she was surprised she hadn’t done permanent damage.
“Get changed? Into what?”
“Club clothes, you and I are hitting the town, we are having a good old-fashioned girls night out. Well not this town of course, since most everything closes by nine and it has nothing really worth hitting anyhow. Except maybe Andy Bellfleur but that is something else entirely and I digress. We are going to have fun!” She did a little dance in her chair for emphasis, her bangle bracelets clicking and jingling against each other with every shimmy of movement.
“What?” Sookie’s confusion nearly broke her heart. Nearly, but the building rage was keeping the pieces firmly together and her voice was just as firm when she started to shoo her up the stairs.
“Go! Get! Changed!” As she watched her subdued cousin practically run from the kitchen and up the stairs she indulged in a quiet victory dance, this one a little more pronounced and with a bit more wiggle than her happy dance. She’d seen a lot in her cousin’s mind, not only the problem (Bill), but also the solution.
“Where are we going?” Sookie tried to quell her nerves by pestering her partner in crime, but it wasn’t working.
“I told you we’re going out to have fun, you know fun right you do still remember what that is don’t you? Would you relax? It’s not like you’re stepping out on your marriage. You’re going clubbing with friends, better than friends really with family, after being stood up for the third Saturday in a row.” She waved a hand dismissively like there was no reason to feel any concern, like what they were doing was perfectly reasonable even though they both knew it wasn’t.
“It’s just gonna be us though right, no mystery guys popping up half way through the night.” She wouldn’t put it past Daina to turn this night out into a surprise blind date. Or worse.
“Just us, unless you want more.” Daina’s leer was enough to make her fight a blush. She let her look speak for itself she was not that kind of girl.
“Ahh, come on Sook don’t give me that look. You’re what twenty-five, you’ve only ever slept with one guy, and you don’t even own slinky club clothes. I think your reputation is safe. All I’m trying to do is remind you that you have other options. Something I think your current honey needs to be reminded of as well. He got your virginity Sookie, not your freedom.”
“He knows that!” She was beginning to feel insulted and hurt by her cousin’s words.
“Does he? Do you? He left you sitting at home alone for not one, not two, but three consecutive Saturdays. During that long stretch of solitude did you ever think about calling Tara, Lafyette, or even Jason and going out on your own? No! Instead you sat at home alone being miserable and why? Because you think you’re in a committed relationship.” She had been squirming in her seat throughout most of Daina’s speech but that last sentence got her blood boiling.
“I am in a committed relationship!” She was in love, damn it! You couldn’t get more committed than that.
“Are you?” Her cousin’s even tone gave her pause. It was like she knew something about her life she didn’t. That scared her more than anything and like with most people, with fear came anger.
“Yes. I. Am.” She heard her cousin release such a long drawn out sigh of frustration that she almost took back her words. Almost.
“Alright Mrs. Committed, mind if I ask you a few questions?” She didn’t wait for a reply before plowing ahead.
“How many couples have you known in your life?”
“I don’t know dozens. Why?” She already didn’t like where this was going.
“Out of those dozens how many had never been out on a date?”
“Well none but…” She wasn’t given any time to finish her sentence and defend her relationship. She was sure she and Bill would go out on a date when they both had time, between work and after hours supernatural shenanigans it was just hard to find the time.
“Out of all those healthy, committed relationships, how many were as one sided as yours?”
“One sided!” She felt her fury rise only to be pushed back by Daina’s mounting rage. The glare she faced would be enough to make lesser beings quake in fear.
“Yes Sookie, one sided! He knows everything about you, everything! Your family, your friends, your work, your childhood, and even your telepathy. What might I ask do you know about him other than he’s a civil war vet turned vampire?”
She sat stunned in her seat trying to come up with an answer. What else did she know about Bill? When they talked they always seemed to either talk about her or usually what mess she had gotten into recently. Usually in regards to Eric.
“He had children before he was turned.” There that was something, he had mentioned them once or twice and each time he did he looked so sad and heart broken she just wanted to hold him until he felt better. Even thinking about the pain on his face now she wanted to tear up.
“What were their names? How old were they when he was turned? What happened to them?”
The questions were asked so quickly so… logically that her mind stuttered to a halt. Shouldn’t she know the answer to just one of those? She knew he had more than one child and that one of them was a girl, but she didn’t even know the genders of the rest. Trying not to let her frustration show she couldn’t stop her brow from creasing in worry, she knew nothing.
“You are not in a relationship Sookie. Not really. The only thing holding you back is you. There is one thing you have to ask yourself tonight Sook. Do you want to spend the rest of your life, however long that will be; with Bill thinking you made the right choice for the both of you? Or do you want to see what else is out there. What the world has to offer you and spend the rest of your life knowing you made the right choice for you.”
She didn’t know what to say her thoughts were racing. Her cousin was right, she and Bill didn’t have the nice normal committed relationship she used to think they did, but some small part of her mind was screaming at her that doing what Daina wanted her to do would be cheating. And she was not that kind of girl.
“Then what kind of girl are you?”
Her cousin’s question jerked her back into the present. Damn. She forgot to shield. Again!
“I am a lady.” At least she knew the answer to that question. Her answer made her cousin smile at her, this time with such true affection it made her smile back instinctively.
“That you are Sook. You’re probably the only real ‘Lady’ I know. One last question before we go. Are you a happy lady? Or just a content one?”
“Go?” They were going somewhere?
“Yeah we’re here.” Here? Glancing up she saw a bright neon sign she was more than familiar with.
Daina could admit to herself that she was excited. Hell she’d admit it to anyone else too, if they wanted to know. Sookie, however, was so preoccupied with not having a panic attack she wasn’t really paying attention to the people around her.
Her telepathy should have compensated for that, working in her subconscious to alert her to danger. That’s what should have happened, but the longer she was around her cousin the more she came to understand her. She’d denied her telepathy, tried to act like it wasn’t real for so long that she was a little… stunted.
She had enough skill to block but that was about it and even that took more effort and caused more pain than it should have, at her age she should have been capable of so much more, even without training. As they neared the front of the line she noticed Sookie’s stress levels spike even higher. Interesting. Finally, they reached the vampire at the door. Interesting again.
“Sookie, we weren’t expecting you tonight. Where’s Bill?” She could tell from the leather clad blondes tone that she didn’t really like Bill. Good, at least she wasn’t the only one who saw him for the numb nut he apparently was.
“Bill’s not here. My cousin Daina came into town unexpectedly tonight and wanted to go out. Daina this is Pam, Pam this is my cousin Daina.”
At the mention of her relation to Sookie the blonde, Pam, gave her a second more thorough once over. Starting with her feet and lingering on her hips and breasts before stopping at her eyes with a huge fangy grin.
“Pleasure to meet you.” The woman’s voice was dripping with innuendo, and hey why not?
Letting her look speak for itself she gave the hottie blondie her own once over that was met with a smirk of understanding and approval. Of course, this didn’t mean she was definitely hooking up with Pam. Just that it was a possibility. The night was young after all.
Catching her cousin’s thoughts, she found… disapproval. Not at the fact that she thought she was gay, no she was fine with that. She disapproved of Pam. Once they made it inside (her fake ID having passed inspection) she stopped for a minute to take it all in. She’d never been to a vampire bar before, and now that she had, she had to say it was cheesy.
“So, what do you think of Fangtasia?”
“It’s the vampire ride at Disney!” Her grin grew wider at her cousin’s burst of uncontrollable laughter. “Think I can meet Eric?”
“How do you…” She just gave her cousin a look that said it all.
“You know that’s really annoying.” Sookie was getting frustrated at her own inability to keep others out of her mind. Good for her, at least it was an emotion worth feeling, something her dear sweet natured cousin seemed to be lacking of late.
“Now you know how everyone else feels. All I can say is learn to shield better. Now about Eric…”
“Mmmm I heard my name. I hope you were speaking well of me.” Turning to meet the owner of the sex voice she’d heard she found the Viking himself. All she could think for several seconds was that Sookie’s mental images didn’t do him justice. If only… but no Sook had dibs.
“Oh how could anyone speak any other way about you?”
“Give it an hour you’ll figure it out.”
“Now Sookie don’t be rude. Introduce us.” She knew that calling her manners into question would do it.
“Daina, Eric. Eric my cousin Daina.” She saw his interest peak for a second at hearing they were cousins before he got it back under tight control. Bravo tall blonde and sexy.
“Then I am beyond pleased to meet you.”
“Ooooh smooth and delicious you’re just everything a girl could ask for aren’t you.” She tempered her words with a look that said she wasn’t serious. She didn’t want him to get the wrong idea. Beside her she felt Sookie’s jealousy flare momentarily before it was beaten back by confusion.
“Wait I thought…” She indicated the door and Pam.
“No I’m not one way or the other. I’m an equal opportunity girl.” She fought not to laugh as both Eric and Sookie and probably Pam all took that little bit of information in. Some doing so easier than others.
“Now I feel like dancing. Sook, since I know how tired you are after such a long day (of doing nothing) so I won’t force you to come with me.” She gave her cousins shoulder a not so subtle nudge in Eric’s direction. The vampire in question sent her a look of utter amusement.
“Daina wait!” Before her cousin could form a coherent and proper protest she was gone, swallowed by the crowd of scantily clad fangbangers and bored vampires. Of course, that wasn’t the end of the argument. God, she loved telepathy.
“Where are you going?”
“Dancing, didn’t I say that?” Another plus was that sarcasm still worked even from a distance.
“I could have sworn I told you.”
“Sookie! Oh, come on Sook, just give the guy a shot. Maybe even get some advice, he’s freaking ancient, you know he knows stuff.” Probably more than his fair share of stuff even.
“I am not discussing my relationship with Eric Northman!”
“Sook, you got two options. One you can have an open mind, check your preconceptions at the door, and give this a proper shot. Or two, I could become that embarrassing relative that breaks out the childhood stories you never want known every time you’re within ten feet of a hottie. Starting with this one. Before you answer I got one thing to say to you. Mittens!”
“Fine, fine, no need to get nasty. I’ll talk to him okay.”
“With an open mind?”
“With an open mind.”
“That’s all I ask.”
Sookie looked over at Eric. During her argument with Daina he’d moved them to his dais. Taking a deep breathe she prepared to give this exactly the amount of attention it deserved.
“That’s not what we agreed on.”
“Shut up and mind your own business!”
“Your cousin seems interesting.” It took her a moment to realize that had come from Eric. Having a genuine conversation in your head sometimes made it harder to keep track of the things being said out loud. It also inevitably leads to the confusion where you thought something that was said in a person’s head was really said out loud and answered them or even the reverse when you think something said out loud is said in their head and you end up sitting there seemingly ignoring them. God, it was so darn exhausting sometimes.
“Yeah she is. This is the first time I’ve seen her since we were kids.” She didn’t know why she offered that up, maybe as a show of good faith to Daina? See she could be nice.
“What brings her here?” Eric the badass was making small talk, she didn’t know how to react to that. She had promised to give it a good try with him and everything Daina had said about her relationship with Bill still echoed in her mind. Honesty was the least she could offer.
“The very least!”
“She showed up because Bill’s been MIA lately and this is her none too subtle opinion of him and our relationship.”
“Really?” He sounded neutral about the revelation but they both knew that was far from the truth, even if neither of them wanted to admit it.
Eric looked out into the crowd and watched Sookie’s so different cousin dance with several of his vampires. If what Sookie said was true then this girl was trying to push Sookie in his direction. If she could succeed where he had thus far failed he would owe her more than he could ever repay.
Sookie had gotten under his skin from their first meeting. Her steadfast refusal to leave Bill for him had baffled more than just him, which had been both an ego boost and reassuring in its own way. Maybe everyone involved had simply gone about it the wrong way. This Daina had already gotten farther than most, she’d gotten Sookie to actually speak to him without Bill, and it would seem without his shadow looming over the entire conversation.
“Do you know how long she will be visiting?” How long would he have her help?
“I have no idea. Daina pretty much does whatever she wants, she follows her own rules. She could be here just for the night or she could stay for six months. It all depends on how interested she is in what’s happening around her.”
He silently hoped that she found her cousin’s future happiness very interesting. Deciding not to waste this opportunity hoping for another, he turned the conversation back to Sookie and away from Daina, though she would not stray far from his thoughts either. If he could gain her aid it would make things easier than previously expected.
Daina had been dancing with the same vampire for what seemed like hours now, going back and forth in her mind about if she should seal the deal with him or not. She’d never been with a vampire before, and she was always up for trying something new, she just didn’t know if this was who she wanted to try it with.
Normally when she came across something she hadn’t tried before, Werewolf, other Fae, humans with different kinks, she’d just hop on with the first marginally attractive one she met who was equally interested. For some reason though when it came to vampires she’d been holding back even mentally for a few years now, ever since they came out of the coffin so to speak, and she couldn’t figure out why. It was almost like she was waiting for something, or someone, specific.
Shrugging it off for now she just continued to dance while Sookie had her little conversation with her hot piece of Viking goodness. Whatever it was she was waiting for she was certain it wouldn’t be long now before she found it she was starting to get that itch again, the one that said that big changes were coming.
Until then she was sure she could find someone, not of the undead, who was both attractive and interested in what she had to offer. She was a Stackhouse after all and rejection wasn’t really something they dealt with often, but for now even if she wasn’t going to sleep with tall, dead, and delicious she could still dance with him, he had all the right moves after all.